About Me

My photo
This blog is simply meant to bring God the glory; no more and no less. I'd love to hear from you! Comments, questions, conversation. rebecca.labriola@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fish Tales. Wednesday, March 25. 2015. Lent.

I like to try and have quality conversations with my students.
And sometimes that high quality conversations include
play-by-plays of scenes from Finding Nemo.
Good stuff.

Yesterday we were talking about the part where
Marlin and Dory end up on the tongue of a whale.
Apparently, if you're a fish, whale taste buds are nice and bouncy.

Dory claimed to speak whale
and had a nice conversation with the whale that sounded a lot like a mooing cow.
While Marlin was intent on getting out of that whale's mouth
so that he could continue on his journey to find his son.

These two unlikely friends had completely different attitudes about their situation.

As Dory continues to converse,
the whale lifts his tongue
and the two fish hang on to those taste buds for dear life so as to not get swallowed.

Dory relays what the whale said,
only, she can't quite understand him.
She proudly announces,
"He either wants a root beer floor or us to go down his throat!"
Marlin, being the sharper of the two, yells in a panic,
"Of course he wants us to go down his throat!"

And Dory lets go.
And falls down the whale’s throat.
In sheer abandonment.
Not a care in the world.  

Marlin is forced to let go and follow Dory.
Though he is reluctant, afraid, and angry.

It just so happens that Dory was right.
And not about the soda pop.

The whale did want the fish to go down his throat.

But not to eat them,
to help them.

He timed it just perfectly so that as the pair fell,
the whale shot gallons of water and two fish out of his blow hole.
The pair was once again on their way to find Marlin's son.

We are fish.
God is the whale.

Often we find ourselves in situations,
a rock and a hard place.
We pray and seek.

Maybe we hear an answer.
But maybe that answer is crazy.

Maybe we know in our gut.
But maybe our gut is asking for a root beer float.

Maybe we hear but we are unsure what we hear.
But maybe we hear only what we want to.

Sometimes the crazy thing is the God thing.
Sometimes the normal thing is the worldly thing.

We don't want to be the first one to let go
and drop down into the whale's throat.

Marlin thought Dory was insane.
We don't want to be labeled insane.

But look at the outcome.

Exactly what they were hoping for
and what they needed to continue their journey.

When we find ourselves in tough places,
we automatically see it as a hindrance and an interference.

But in reality,
it might be just the right stepping block,
just the right move,
just what we need.

Where are you today?
Where do you need to be?
What is the Lord saying to you?
What are you hearing?
What are you choosing to hear?
What do you need to hear?

The process may be scary.
It might be hard.
We might kick and scream.
Or we could go with complete abandonment and trust like that little blue fish.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lessons from Acts of the Apostles. Wednesday, March 18. 2015. Lent.

I love the Acts of the Apostles.

It is so relatable,
and tangible.

It makes sense
and can so easily be related to our lives.

It reminds us that we still have this call to be witnesses to Christ.
That we have a duty to spread the Gospel.

It shows us that we are not alone in our sufferings.
Persecution began as soon as the Church did.

The Church’s first martyr, St. Stephen,
was killed in Chapter 8 of Acts.
Chapter 8!

From the get-go the Christians suffered persecution,
some even to the point of death.

I was re-reading the part that talks about St. Stephen’s martyrdom
and I am fairly certain my jaw literally dropped.

“They [the Sanhedrin] threw him [St. Stephen] out of the city and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul….Now Saul was consenting to Stephen’s execution.” 
Acts 7:58 & 8:1

The first time read this,
my thoughts were something of the like,
‘Hm, Saul, that’s a nice name. Sounds familiar.’

I am not joking.
I must have been tired.

The second time I read it,
paying much more attention to detail,
I came to realize that Paul,
my absolute favorite author in the Bible,
was present,
and consented to,
the murder of the Church’s first martyr.

I do not know if I learned this pivotal tidbit of information before or not,
but if I did, it was nowhere to be found in my noggin.

I know that Paul persecuted Christians
but there is something that stands out about him consenting to St. Stephen’s murder.

What Paul witnessed was gross and gruesome.
No human eye should have to see what Paul saw.
No human heart should have to carry that burden.

Paul had this experience.
He was then given a choice as a result of that experience.

He could continue to support the persecution of Christians.
He could support the Christians.

he did both,
the second option just took him quite a bit of time to get to.

Paul was a murderer.
He had blood on his hands.
He disappointed God.
He sinned.
Big time.


After Paul’s conversion,
he supported the Christians.
He became a Christian.
He is one of the greatest examples of a Christian.

God used Paul.
God used a murderer.
God used a sinner.

God wants to use you.
He wants to use you despite all of that.

He was to take you, oh sinner,
and help make you one of the greatest Christians of all time.
Just like Paul.

He wants you to witness.
He wants you to help souls get to Heaven.
He wants you.

Because He loves you.
He loves you far too much to just let you sit and dwell
on the fact that you screwed up.  

He created you for a purpose
and until we break the chains,
the bondage of sin,
we won’t be able to fulfill that purpose.

He wants you.
He loves you.

And we need Him. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Rich Man and Lazarus. Wednesday, March 11. 2015.

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Luke 16:19-31

This was the Gospel reading from last Thursday.
This one has always stuck out to me.

If a heart can grimace,
that is exactly what mine does when I read this parable.
You can probably see it in my face too.

The rich man who had everything he could ever want,
had the opportunity to feed Lazarus.
And feed him scraps at that.
But he refused.
He would not feed the man in dire need
with even the scraps from his own table.

Lazarus had nothing.
Nothing material, no food, no riches.

But upon death,
Lazarus had everything he could ever imagine.
He gained Heaven.
He no longer had need or want of anything.

Upon the death of the rich man,
he no longer had anything but
pain, suffering, and torment.

The rich man thought that he might make a request:
he wanted Lazarus only to dip his finger in water
to cool the rich man’s burning tongue.

When I sit and think about that request,
I can only begin to imagine the pain of hell.

I’ve burnt myself a fair number of times over the years.
Immediately, I head for the sink so as to have a flow of cool water
to mask the pain.
Sure, it makes it feel better,
but it still burns terribly.
And continues to burn for a good while.

These burn experiences don’t even begin to compare to the pain in hell.

The rich man begging for just a drop of water
makes my stomach churn.
Oh the pain.

And I feel such pity for the rich man who then asks
for his brothers to be warned by Lazarus.
He believes that if a dead person comes,
then his brothers will believe.

Abraham assures the rich man that Moses and the prophets
will witness to his brothers.
The rich man says it will take someone rising from the dead
in order for his brother to repent.
Abraham responds that if the message of the prophets does not change them,
then the dead coming back to life will not change them either.

I feel so much pity for this rich man.
But how often am I this rich man?

How many times can I give and I don’t?
How many times has Jesus tried to get my attention and He can’t?
How many times have I asked for a bigger and better revelation?

Too many times.

I’d rather be Lazarus here on Earth so that I can be granted the grace of Heaven.

Here’s the poor,
the lowly,
the looked-down-upon,
the simple,
the grateful,
the God-fearing.

May we one day be granted the joy of Heaven

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vice & Virtue. Wednesday, March 4. 2015. Lent.

Often times,
the thoughts running through my head are laughable offenses.

I have become far too good at tweaking things one way or another
to get the outcome that I want.

I am a mastermind when it comes to comparisons.

It doesn’t take long for my sinful heart to look at another person
and convince myself how much better I am than them.

When I pick apart other peoples’ flaws
my flaws pale in comparison.

And suddenly,
I am flawless
and they are steeping in flaws.

Sad but true.
Honesty at its finest.

I’ve been reminded of something recently.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to be better than anyone at all, or at least not so bad, so long as you take care in picking out which supposed virtue to advertise and which vice to overlook.”
[Magnificat Lenten Companion]


The person next to me might have some raging vices.
But so do I.
Oh boy so do I.

We choose to see the vices of others as the worst thing in the world.
But our vices?
Minimal, if we even have any.

We overlook the virtues that they do have
because we are too concerned grooming the virtues that we still have left.

I need to realize that
maybe what they lack,
I have been gifted with.
And what I lack,
they have been gifted with.
This Lent,
might we commit to bettering ourselves before we
so ‘generously’ offer to point out others’ vices?

Might we concern ourselves with the planks in our own eyes
before we offer to get the splinter out of our brother’s?

We could all benefit from more virtues and less vices.

Let us pray for such a blessing.