The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? The Day Jesus Was Wrong The Promise of the New Name The Two Feet of Love Facing the Hour Looking Backwards Touching the Leper Touching the Leper Misunderstanding God Doing It Poorly God’s Midwife A Name for the Holy Spirit The Coffin So We Do Not Have to Touch Being Better to Each Other Earthquakes and Galilee Lazarus as a Disciple Seeing More Learning from Peter Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/2/14 Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/9/14 Choosing a Master Goodness in Temptation A Pinch of Salt Teaching the Commandments The Freedom of the Baptist Christ’s Broken Body Faith Is More than Looking The Twelve Days of Christmas God’s Timing Resurrection and Transformation The Good That Is Gone Zacchaeus Moments God in the Smallest Things Trust and Community When God’s Commands Do Not Fit The Faith of Honeybees Choosing Hell Following the Dishonest Steward The Ninety-Nine The Freedom to Let Go Beyond Politics The Balance of Humility Not Fearing Fire The Beauty Remains To Welcome as a Samaritan A Moveable Peace Bring On the Women! The Two Sides of Bread Waiting for the Ticket The Groove of the Spirit Jesus Is Not Like Congress A Divine Partnership What Kind of Love Is This? Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? The Mystery of Salvation Being Thankful How Is a Burden Light? The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment I Will Go On Three Wise Choices Will You Also Leave? Show No Partiality Carrying the Cross for Whom? Outside the Lines The Camel and the Needle

Christian Optimism

January 31, 2016 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

January 31, 2016
Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
Fr. George Smiga

Two friends went out for a walk. One was an optimist, the other a pessimist. The pessimist spoke first, “Another cloudy day in Cleveland. I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun. Why do we live in such a gloomy place?” The optimist responded, “Too much sun is not a good thing. Do you know that we have one of the lowest rates of skin cancer in the country? In this sense, we are very lucky to be living here.” Then the two friends started climbing a hill. “This hill is steeper than I remember it,” said the pessimist, “I thought we were going for a walk, not a hike. By the time I get to the top I’ll be covered with perspiration.” “Exercise is good,” said the optimist, “Trust me, by the time we get home and take a shower, you’ll feel great and be very thankful we had this climb.” Just then a huge flock of birds flew over the friends, and deposited their droppings on the both of them. “This is disgusting,” said the pessimist pulling the bird droppings out of his hair. And then he saw that his friend was smiling. “Okay,” he said, “I’m ready. Tell me why you’re smiling because we are covered in bird droppings.” “I’m smiling,” said the optimist, “because I’m thankful. I am thankful that God did not make buffalos fly.”

Every day, perhaps more than once a day, we face some kind of disappointment or failure. When that happens we have a choice of focusing on what is wrong or looking for what is good. Some people would say that looking for the good is an illusion or a trick to make us feel better. But finding what is good in our lives is a creative process. In almost every situation there is mixture of both good and bad. It is up to us to decide which of these two aspects are we going to claim as our own.

Jesus chooses the optimistic option in today’s gospel. He comes to his own town, to the people who know him and love him the most, and he preaches to them the gospel. It is a disaster. Not only do they reject him. They try to kill him. This is why the most important line in today’s gospel is the last line, “Then Jesus passed through their midst and continued on his way.” The rejection that Jesus experienced at Nazareth could have stopped him. He could have said to himself, “If this is the way my very family responds to my message, then certainly I’ll never be successful in proclaiming the Kingdom of God.” But Jesus did not focus on the rejection. He focused on what was good and then continued on his way, continued in his mission. The text does not tell us what the good thing was upon which Jesus focused, but it does not have to. We know that Jesus was always in touch with the goodness that came from his relationship to his Father. We too are in relationship with God as our father. Therefore, we can and should develop a Christian optimism, an optimism that is rooted in the love that God has for us.

When we mess things up at work or at school, Christian optimism does not pretend that there is nothing wrong. But it reminds us that God knows our intentions and our weakness, and God will help us learn from our mistakes. When someone we love is in trouble and we do not seem to be able to help, Christian optimism does not deny that there is a problem. But it reminds us that God loves the people in our lives as much as we do and will not abandon them. When we look at what is wrong in our world, Christian optimism does not try to pretend that working for peace or justice will be easy. But it tells us that God is committed to peace and justice and will work with us and through us to build the kingdom.

Christian optimism is a lot more than thinking positively. It is believing that the good things that we want for ourselves and others are what God wants as well. And, if God is with us and for us, we can always find something good upon which to focus. We can always find something to give us hope.

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