Tag Archives: Christ

Ep58 The Big Mysteries of Christianity



Father Len and Irish grapple with the mystery of the three big events that are the foundation of Christianity: God taking on human flesh and living among us, God being tortured and killed by us, and God’s miraculous resurrection from the dead.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explains why we should view these events as a whole, as one.
  • Father Len identifies three groups of Christians and their sensibilities: Christmas Christians, Good Friday Christians, and Easter Christians.
  • Christmas Christians love the idea of God becoming a human being and the practice of giving and receiving gifts as a way of showing appreciation for the gift of people in their lives.
  • God recognizes there’s a problem in creation and it’s us. We don’t realize that being a true human being means living a life of love. So God takes on human flesh to teach us the way of love.
  • Good Friday Christians see the brokenness in the world. They have a deep awareness of sin in the world. They recognize the fight between goodness and corruption and injustice, even in ourselves. They see and understand the need to “die” for what is right.
  • Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, believe that we can solve the problems of the world, on our own, with education and our intellect. Father Len explains why this is a big lie.
  • We have to be able to see sin and corruption in the world and realize that it’s not the world that needs to change, it’s us. We’re the ones that have to change.
  • Father Len uses the movie “The Help” to illustrate how Christ’s model for becoming a true human being and living a life of love actually works.
  • The struggle against injustice and oppression and dying to our ego purifies the soul. It gets us ready to enter the kingdom of God here and now.
  • Christ’s resurrection from the dead is not just a singular event. It represents a whole way of life that begins for us right here and now and is fulfilled in heaven when we die.
  • If Christ didn’t die, he couldn’t have been resurrected.
  • Resurrection for us is not returning back to our former life. That’s resuscitation. That’s continuing to live like zombies with half a conscience.
  • The resurrection for us is a whole new life. It’s Christ putting his life in our hearts. It’s freedom from all the shame and darkness in the world. It’s so extreme that in the early church those who were resurrected were called “new persons.”
  • Easter Christians live in the resurrection. Their hope is in them and beyond them. They live with love and joy inside them that can’t be taken away because they’ve died to anger and fear.
  • “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • All our sins begin on the inside, in our hearts.
  • Our modern culture tells us that the problems in the world are outside of us. Therapists believe this is the result of a generation raised with the idea that self-esteem is all important. A generation constantly told, “you’re smart, you’re good, you’re beautiful, you’re special, you’re a winner, you can’t be the problem.”
  • If you’re not participating in the resurrection, right here and now, why do you think that you’ll be participating in it in heaven? If you spend your whole life denying your own brokenness, not becoming something new, better, and connected, what makes you think that you will be ready for heaven?

Ep56 Bible Symbols Revealed and Explained-Part 2 Trees



Father Len reveals that trees are symbols for God and human beings and trees represent the most important choices we make in life.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Trees are the third most common thing mentioned in the Bible.
  • God loves trees and gives them a ring every year on their birthdays.
  • Trees are places where human beings choose to worship or reject God.
  • There is a tree present at every major event in the Bible.
  • Every major character in the Bible is associated with a type of tree.
  • The only thing Jesus ever harmed was a tree that produced no fruit.
  • The Bible begins and ends with the “tree of life” and trees are present throughout the Bible.
  • The story of human history is choosing between two trees: the tree of life and the tree of good and selfishness.
  • There are two types of food. One gives us physical life. The other gives us spiritual life.
  • If we eat the fruit of the tree of good and selfishness we are cut off from the covenant with God and disconnected from the source of life.
  • The temptation to eat the fruit of the tree of good and selfishness is the promise of the power to define what is good and evil for ourselves rather than God.
  • We don’t have to earn the fruit from the tree of life. God gives it freely to us.
  • When anybody makes a commitment to God in the Bible there’s always a tree, an altar, and water present.
  • The tree of good and selfishness often appears in the form of an Idol in the Bible. The Idol is a false tree we create to define our own version of morality.
  • The Hebrews called idols “luxuriant trees” representing the pursuit of power, sex, and money for happiness. The Hebrew letters for “luxuriant tree” cleverly spell Garden of Eden backwards.
  • Addictions always promise happiness, but in the end leave us destroyed.
  • Trees in the Bible symbolize commitments and altars represent the rituals around the commitments.
  • The spiritual life in the Bible is pictured as a tree that must push its roots down deep to find the water of life necessary to produce good fruit in all seasons of life.
  • Jesus’ cross is called a tree in the Bible representing the tree of life. That’s why there is one cross next to or above the altar in every Catholic Church. It’s a reminder of the tree we should be eating from each day for eternal life.

Ep55 What Is Salvation?



Father Len reveals the meaning of the salvation God seeks for all of us.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Salvation is about freedom and belonging and being saved from harm.
  • Freedom doesn’t mean doing whatever selfish thing you want to do. That’s merely a form of slavery to the ego.
  • Salvation is freedom to be with and for others. It’s a whole lot of dying to your ego.
  • Salvation is not just about me being free. It’s about me and everybody else becoming free. I’m not free unless you’re free.
  • There is an unease in human beings, an innate desire to escape from freedom. Sometimes being confined is less fearful than being loosed. Being restricted can feel better than being free because freedom means choices and choices and choices. And, choices can be difficult.
  • Human beings really want freedom and structure. Structure that makes it possible for us to be free and at the same time feel safe.
  • “The Fear of Freedom” by Erich Fromm
  • Freedom without structure is just chaos. It’s emptiness.
  • The Catholic Mass is a prayer for the order in the kingdom of God, not the order created by human structures or capricious living.
  • There’s always this tug-of-war in the human heart between freedom and safety, between freedom and structure, between chaos and order.
  • Salvation is just another word for freedom, but it’s freedom with structure.
  • Totalitarian lifestyles and their appeal are created by the fear of freedom without structure.
  • God gives us the law to grant us freedom with structure that liberates our spirit for the service of love and community.
  • The ultimate place of freedom and order is heaven where everyone is completely free, but not self-absorbed.
  • Jesus came to show us the way to salvation; freedom from our ultimate enemies of hate, injustice, selfishness, and ego.
  • There is no such thing as personal salvation. Salvation is always tied to belonging to a family and community and everyone in the family and community being free.
  • Salvation is a mix of freedom, structure, responsibility, and belonging.
  • Catholics believe three things are needed for salvation.
    • Repentance: leaving our old life and slavery to our sins behind.
    • Trust and faith in God.
    • Baptism and the new life it brings.
  • Nowhere in the Bible does God save an individual. God always saves a community.

Ep52 Dying to Live



Father Len reveals the path to a happy, healthy, and holy life involves multiple deaths and funerals.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len shares the story of an alcoholic to illustrate the consequences of denying death in life.
  • The “gospel of prosperity,” which professes that if you’re good God will give you health and stuff throughout your life without sacrifice, is a hoax.
  • To get to happy and holy requires doing a lot of funerals.
  • Change is easy, transitions are hard.
  • Every change in life involves a death. Every step forward involves a loss.
  • Money can be like steroids for your worst vices.
  • It is dangerous not to accept the many deaths and funerals required to get to a better life.
  • People want change in their lives, but what they can’t stand is the transition to the change.
  • The way of the cross means dying to your ego, selfishness, greed, and fears; dying to all those things that prevent the fullness of life.
  • The opposite of the way of the cross is a constant need and desire for more – more wealth, more security, more stuff – and a constant fear of losing anything we have which actually makes us prisoners of fear and greed.
  • The spiritual life is not about addition, but subtraction. The way of the cross is the way of subtraction.
  • Christ shows us that the way of life is through the cross.
  • “Litany of Humility” Prayer
  • The spiritual life is this choice between death and life. It’s kind of a trick question. Those who choose a type of death, dying to things like hate, selfishness, fear, addictions, and their own agenda are choosing life. Those who choose life as it is right now will experience no change, no growth, no increase in love or compassion. What they’re really choosing is death.
  • “If you die before you die, when you die, you will not die.” – Sign at the Monastery of St. Paul in Greece.
  • TED Talk from Jia Jiang about conquering fear by dying to it: “What I learned from 100 days of rejection”
  • Dying to fear sets us free.
  • There are lots of funerals on the bridge to happiness.

Ep51 Why Did God Create Us?



Father Len reveals three reasons God created us with some illustrative and inspiring stories and a funny Twinkies analogy.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len reviews the two creation stories in the Bible.
  • Everyone is born an Earthling and we only become true human beings when we can love to the point of death.
  • We are meant to evolve into a relationship of unconditional love with God, other people, and creation itself.
  • Pagan myths trace their creation to something grand and declare their superiority to other people and their origin.
  • In Christianity, we have this idea of a Trinity. God is a Trinity: lover, beloved, and love itself. We are created by perfect loving relationship, a Trinity for relationship.
  • God is pure unconditional, self-sacrificing, and self-giving love.
  • Baltimore Catechism question: “Why did God make you?” Answer: “God made me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this world and be happy with him forever in heaven.”
  • Heaven is a place of ultimate community and unconditional love. Where we’re all completely different, but united together. Hell is the opposite, to live by and for only one’s self.
  • In Heaven, we’ll be together as one as grapes in wine. Shedding our selfishness like grapes shedding their skins. We’ll become one without losing our uniqueness, totally united, just as grapes in wine.
  • Christ sums up all of his teachings this way: “love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and your neighbor as yourself.”
  • God is not a rule keeper handing out punishment for misbehaving. We inflict our own punishment when we choose only to think of ourselves.
  • We’re created for relationship and love, work and responsibility, worship and freedom.
  • Our sin or our holiness affects creation and how we relate to each other.
  • People who live in long and loving relationships live longer, are happier and healthier.
  • It is better for your health to eat a Twinkie with friends than a salad by yourself.
  • People who live life having a purpose beyond themselves live longer, happier and more satisfying lives.

Ep50 The Origin of St Valentine’s Day



It’s not about chocolates and roses. Father Len shares the real story of St. Valentine’s Day and its inspiring purpose.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • All the world’s great feasts have a religious beginning.
  • This story is about a persecuted and jailed priest named Valentine.
  • Miracles happen when Father Valentine is asked by his jailer to educate the jailer’s blind daughter and Father Valentine introduces them both to Christ.
  • Who opened your eyes to love?

Ep48 God is a Trickster



Father Len reveals how and why God uses loving trickery to expose truth and help us understand and live our purpose.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explores the common theme in the religious mythologies presented in Joseph Campbell’s “Power of Myth” that first got him thinking about God as a trickster back when he was in junior high school.
  • The trickster in every religious mythology is a rebel who is creative and helps humanity in unexpected, backwards and upside down ways.
  • The theme of the trickster God, the God who turns things upside down, is also present in the Bible.
  • Father Len shares the story of Moses, the coward with a stuttering problem who becomes the greatest prophet in the Old Testament to illustrate God’s unexpected, upside down, and backwards ways.
  • The Bible tells us God’s ways and wisdom don’t necessarily follow straight lines or human logic with lines like: “Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard what God has in store for us.”
  • Father Len shares his theory on why God loves to play the trickster.
  • The mystery of God means we can never truly understand the infinite. The God of infinite love and infinite possibilities.
  • Truth can be very tricky.
  • Father Len shares a Native American religious myth to illustrate why God sends us tricksters in life.
  • When God created the world, he gave every single creature a gift that must be shared for creation to work properly.
  • We crave clarity. We demand things be either horizontal or vertical, hot or cold, black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. But, God provides ambiguity and less clear lines that must be fully explored with an open mind to be understood.
  • God is willing to forgive what we consider unforgivable.
  • Father Len uses stories about the “Feast of Fools” and the “Feast of the Ass” to illustrate the value of tricksters in religion and life.
  • We need tricksters and fools to keep us from getting trapped in our orthodoxy and thinking we have the answer to everything in life.
  • There is real danger in orthodoxy that boxes God into simple neat little answers.
  • The heart of any civilization is its spirituality.
  • God sends us people like Francis, Dorothy Day, and Catherine Doherty who seem foolish and silly at first, but in actuality they are tricksters sent by God to expose truth.
  • Tricksters have this sacred role to help us laugh at ourselves, see the world from different perspectives and expose hypocrisy and foolishness and our spiritual rigor mortis.
  • Christ is the ultimate trickster and holy fool. He does everything in unexpected ways. He destroys our enemies by making them our brothers and sisters. That’s a great trick. He destroys death by welcoming death. That’s unexpected.
  • God is the trickster who’s always overturning our ways.
  • Habits have a way of deadening the impressions from our experiences, causing even the holiest of things to become superficial or lost.
  • When things happen in our lives appear to be silly or foolish, could it be the trickster God trying to help us see what is real and true?

Ep46 Interpreting and Understanding the Bible



Father Len reveals the obstacles to accurately interpreting and fully understanding the Bible and what it takes to overcome these hurdles.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len shares a fun study about how people rate their driving abilities to illustrate the effect of ego on how we see ourselves and view the world.
  • Human beings believe their opinions and decisions are rational, but studies reveal they are most often based on personal desires.
  • It takes great humility and freedom from ego for us to accurately see ourselves.
  • In spite of more than 400 detailed prophecies in the Bible about the coming of the Christ, very few people showed up for the birth of Jesus.
  • Father Len explains why shepherds and Zoroastrian priests were the only people to go to Bethlehem to honor and celebrate the birth of Christ.
  • For all eternity, God desired to take on human form to teach us how to be true human beings. Ironically, the great desire of human beings is to become godlike, chasing power and wealth and distance from the problems of fellow humans.
  • In spite of constant study of the Messiah prophecies and authoring a complicated compilation of these prophecies, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essene monks missed the coming of Christ because they were highly judgmental and filled with hate.
  • If you read the Bible through the lens of your own ego, prejudice and social position, you’re always going to come up with a wrong interpretation.
  • Hatred, selfishness, and ego blind us from finding God even if we memorize and are able to quote the Bible.
  • The Bible warns us of false prophets, those who interpret Scripture through their own agenda.
  • The “Left Behind” series of books by Tim LaHaye is an example of false prophecies.
  • Sincere desire to discover truth, humility, and love are essential to accurately interpreting the Bible.
  • It takes years to gain humility and the self-awareness to recognize how often we interpret the world from our own perspective and we’re not always right.
  • “Awareness” by Anthony De Mello

Ep45 Bible Symbols Revealed and Explained-Part 1 Water



Father Len reveals what water symbolizes and why it shows up so often in the Bible.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • The Bible contains many symbols that God repeats over and over again.
  • The symbols help us understand what it means to be a human being.
  • Many symbols in the Bible end up becoming part of the way Christians worship.
  • In the Bible, water always symbolizes change, a change in consciousness as we are becoming who we’re meant to be.
  • There’s always some sort of death associated with each change as we give up something of our old selves in the process.
  • Father Len explains what Catholic Christian worship rituals involving water symbolize.

Ep17 Race, Culture, and Jesus



Father Len reveals why Jesus came into the world as a Jew and why God created multiple races and cultures.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • God chose an enslaved, weak, and hated people to show God’s strength and bring love into the world.
  • Father Len reveals his joke about every Jewish feast.
  • The Bible constantly wrestles with racism.
  • There is just one race in the Bible. That’s humanity. There are many different nations, but they’re all part of one family.
  • Humanity is united by the language of love not rules, regulations, politics and technology.
  • Father Len tells his favorite racism story where God’s punishment for a Middle Eastern woman’s racism is to make her skin white as snow.
  • The Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, has made dozens of appearances around the world over time. Always appearing as a person of the nation in which she appears. This to signify that Christ is present in all of us no matter what the color of our skin or our country of origin.
  • If Jesus came into the world today he might well have black skin and be of African descent.