Author Archives: stevedalgetty1

Lift up the Gates of Your Heart

Does the Spirit of God reside in you?  

At the time of Moses, God would reside in the Tent of Meeting. (Exodus 33:7-11) Later, the Israelites built a temple for him in Jerusalem. In Psalm 24, we read, “Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – he is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:9-10)

The psalmist was declaring that the gates of the city be opened so that the people could experience God’s visitation and presence. A millennium later, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that “a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21, 23) He would also declare that the “the Kingdom [of God] is within you.” (Luke 17:21) St. Paul would add, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)

God’s desire is not to reside in a Temple of bricks and mortar, but in the temple of our hearts.

Beverly who is an oncology nurse in Gilroy, California, says to her patients as she begins an IV, “Let’s pray that this IV will be painless.” At some point she will ask her patients if she can pray with them. They always say okay. At a time when medical care can become quite impersonal, Beverly says, “We get very close to many of our patients. I went to Pat’s house to help her out before she died. We’ll go to the hospital and pray with patients, even in a coma. People tell me, ‘You shouldn’t get so close to your patients,’ but I tell them that ‘this is my God job.’”

Beverly is bringing God’s presence to the patients that come to her clinic. She cares for them; she intercedes for them; as a Gospel singer and concert violinist, she sings and plays for them – she loves them just as Jesus would love them if he were physically present. He is present to them through Beverly. Read more in Hope for the Workplace – Christ in You, p. 37,

When we open the gates of our heart to his presence, God shares his own Holy Spirit with us. The Spirit of God comes to dwell in us and empower us to do the same things that Jesus did and even greater things. God’s love becomes our love, his strength becomes our strength and his word becomes our word – all for the purpose of bringing about his Kingdom through us to the people and circumstances of our lives.

Lift up the gates of my heart, O Lord that the love and mercy of your presence may be manifest to all whom you place in my path – my wife and family, friends, colleagues, bosses, subordinates, customers, suppliers and strangers.


The High Cost of Lies

It takes a lot of effort to support a lie. Can you remember a time when a little “white lie” led to another lie and then another?

The chief priests and elders of Jesus’ day did not know how to deal with an empty tomb and the possibility that Jesus, whom they crucified, was raised from the dead. Most everything that Jesus said and did was outside their paradigm for a Messiah. His resurrection was untenable to them. So, they devised a lie and paid those who were guarding his tomb a large sum of money to testify to the lie.

Matthew reports, “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep. So the soldiers took the money and did as they were told.’” (Mt. 28:12-13, 15)

Providing cover for a lie can get complicated, taking time, creating anxiety and exacting an emotional toll. How often have we seen a public figure pay a high price for living a lie, sometimes costing them their marriage, family, career and, like the chief priests, even hush money?

In Hope for the Workplace – Christ in You,, there is the story of Pat who had struggled to get a job after completing her master’s degree. She obtained temporary work at a small university to write a report about the effectiveness of a federal grant for a media center to improve teaching methods. When her report included survey data about the lack of use of the media center by the faculty, she was asked by the department chair to alter the data so that he and the university would not look bad. He implied that a permanent job would be in the offering if she acceded to his request, but probably not if she refused. Pat refused to go along with the lie. The job was not offered. But Pat’s conscience was clear, and her response helped her get a better job elsewhere several months later.

Truth is less complicated than a lie. It is liberating. It is cleansing. The lack of truth is an obstacle to the Holy Spirit acting in our lives, while its presence testifies to the power of God. Truth is the pearl “of great value.” (Mt. 13:46) Paul says love rejoices in the truth. (1 Cor.13:6)

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) “If you hold to my teaching…then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

How much do we value the truth? How much is a lie costing us? Let us pray for the courage not to exchange the truth of God for a lie. (Romans 1:25)

Do You See the Risen Jesus?

Jesus was dead. They saw him die, and they saw the tomb where he was buried. The trauma was indelibly printed on their minds and would not be easily removed.

Now he was appearing before them, but they did not recognize him. Mary Magdalene did not recognize him until he said her name, “Mary.” The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize him though he walked with them until nearly dark. Only at the breaking of the bread as they began to eat were their eyes opened.

To overcome the trauma of seeing Jesus’ torturous death they needed proof to confirm what their eyes were now seeing. After offering them his peace, Jesus “showed them his hands and side.” (John 20:20) Later he eats fish to show that he is not just spirit but also flesh. (Luke 24:42-43) On another occasion, he confirms his presence with a miracle catch of 153 fish. (John 21)

Overcoming our paradigm of death and its irreversible nature is no small matter. It was true for the disciples and it is true for us. Yet, that is exactly the hope that God offers on Easter morning in the person of his son, Jesus. God became one of us to show that life does not end with our physical death. Who we are has less to do with our physical nature than with our soul and spirit, which are a created by God and mysteriously joined with our physical nature at conception.

Jesus bequeathed to both the disciples and us something to take the place of his physical presence – the Holy Spirit, which he described as giving us the power to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit enables the words of Jesus to become a reality in our lives — he is in us and we in him just as the Father is in him and he is in the Father. He says the result is that, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:12-13)

With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can experience Jesus’ personal presence in our daily lives. For me, it first happened on an October evening many years ago when I met him in a personal way and he took the sin and disorder from my life. We now meet for coffee and prayer every morning. I also see him every day in the big bright smile of our daughter with Down syndrome whose many hugs reflect her natural inclination to love.

I see him in the love of my wife and all or our children and grandchildren as they respond to his love for them. I see him in the inmates of the local jail who accept the humility of their present circumstance and seek the sacrament of reconciliation. I see him in the teenagers and college students we know who postpone career decisions to serve him on college campuses and impoverished areas.

Where do you see the risen Jesus?

A Life Pleasing to the Crowd

Who do we seek to please – the crowd or God?

After questioning Jesus, Pontius Pilate concluded that he had committed no crime and offered to release him in accordance with the custom to release one prisoner at the feast of the Passover. The chief priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of an insurrectionist named Barabbas instead of Jesus and have Jesus crucified. Pilate resisted at first, but then Mark reports, “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas…He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15)

The crowd seldom gets it right. How often do we see conventional wisdom that is not wise, popular opinion that does not reflect the truth, and consensus that leads to the wrong result?

Cynthia Cooper, the vice president of Internal Audit for WorldCom who discovered the massive fraudulent accounting in 2002, says in her book, Extraordinary Circumstances, “Most of the people who participated in the WorldCom fraud were ordinary, middle-class Americans. They had no prior criminal records and never imagined they would be confronted with such life-altering choices. They were mothers and fathers who went to work to support their families, spent weekends going to their children’s activities and church, and were respected within their communities.” In speculating on the motivation of the mid-level employees who participated in the fraud, she said they simply “felt pressured and afraid that they would lose their jobs if they didn’t go along.” (See Hope for the Workplace – Christ in You, p. 11,

One of the few things Jesus did say when questioned by Pilate was that he had come into the world to testify to the truth. Ironically, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” though the embodiment of all truth was standing before him in the person of Jesus. (John 18:37-38)

Like Jesus, our decisions and actions should testify to the truth. Unlike Pilate, we should not be governed by what the crowd or others want, but rather should be seeking the truth which is what God wants.

The crowd yelled, “Crucify him!” But the crowd got it wrong. God redeemed the wrong and took the cross, a symbol of Roman cruelty and oppression, and transformed it into a symbol of love, sacrifice and hope.

How Do You Deal with Temptation?

How often do we choose sleep instead of prayer at the beginning of our day? After Jesus and the disciples retired to the Mount of Olives following their celebration of the Passover meal, Jesus said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:40) He then withdrew to pray about his impending passion. Even he was tempted to ask God to free him from the trial he was about to undergo, but then submitted to God’s will.

Meanwhile, the disciples were not praying as he suggested, but had fallen asleep. He chastises them for sleeping and not praying, saying again, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” We know what happened next; they succumbed to the temptation of fear, and all of them scattered, abandoning Jesus at his arrest.

Jesus’ antidote for temptation is not complicated. It is simply prayer. In his suggested prayer to his disciples and to us, his concluding petition is, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Mt. 6:13)

Jesus invites us to pray just as he did the disciples. He invites us to begin our day with him and the Father. He knows from his personal experience that we will not be able to withstand the temptations we face each day without prayer. Prayer nurtures our relationship with Jesus and the Father. The temptations we face are many and varied — telling the boss what he wants to hear instead of the truth; getting angry when things don’t go our way; engaging in negative humor at the expense of others; flirting with a co-worker; overstating an item on an expense account; getting short with our spouse; or not spending time with our children at the end of a busy day.

One of my more frequent temptations is to get impatient with a store clerk or the person on a help desk when their response seems to take too long or is off the mark. When I don’t pray, my pride’s expectations are often disproportionate to the problem at hand.

With each temptation that Satan threw at Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus countered with a scripture that refuted Satan’s premise for the temptation. Prayer and scripture are weapons Jesus gives us against temptation and the wiles of Satan. St. Paul describes them as the armor of God and adds to them truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, and the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 6:13-18) To these, the Church adds the sacraments of reconciliation and the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

“Why are you sleeping?” Jesus asks. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

“Yet Not My Will, But Yours”

How often do we ask God to free us from a difficult burden? It may be a serious illness, dealing with a rebellious child, satisfying a demanding boss, overcoming a hurt from a family member, or wanting to avoid the consequences of our own wrongful conduct.

Getting free of the burden is usually our first priority. Even if we take the matter to prayer, our first prayer is likely that the burden be lifted. Even Jesus, in a demonstration of how real his humanity was, asked God before his arrest to take the cup of his impending trial, torture and execution, along with the crushing weight of taking onto himself all the sins of humankind.

But after pleading that the cup be taken, Jesus laid down his will to God’s will. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

In Hope for the Workplace – Christ in you (, there is the story of Bob, an insurance broker who made a substantial investment in a new company providing specialized insurance products, and then lost the entire investment due to the unethical practices of a partner operating the venture. A few years later, Bob read in the newspaper that the partner had been convicted of embezzlement in another business venture and sent to prison. Bob said, “I begin to sense that the Lord wanted me to go visit him in prison. My first reaction was, ‘No way!’ I was still angry with him for what he had done.” Yet, Bob was willing to let go of his will and submit to the Lord’s will, and make the visit.

Bob said, “When I walked into the visitor’s area, he was shocked to see me. Tears started to well up in his eyes. He couldn’t believe that someone whom he previously hurt would come to visit him. He was a different man. He had been attending a Bible study and was open to talk about spiritual matters. I visited him a couple more times and we would read scripture and pray.”

When he was released from prison, Bob gave him a Bible, invited him to a Christians in Commerce breakfast and continued to encourage him in re-establishing his life.

When Bob submitted his will to God’s will, God transformed his unforgiving heart, and then used him to support his former colleague’s new life.

Jesus said, “My food [sustenance] is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) We worry and carry on about so many things in life. Yet, seeking God’s will in all matters might sustain us above all else.

“Then Satan Entered Judas”

How do we explain evil, which is a bit of a mystery to most of us? We see its effects and deplore its presence. We wonder why some people seem to exhibit it more than others. Like St. Paul, we see tendencies in ourselves toward evil that we lament. (Rom. 7:19)

In all four Gospel accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus announces that one of the disciples will betray him. Luke reports that the chief priests were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus. “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” (Luke 22:3) Judas goes to the chief priests and agrees to take money in return for betraying Jesus.

As one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas had traveled with him, listened to his teachings, and saw him perform numerous miracles. What caused him to want to betray Jesus? Was he a loyal disciple one moment and then suddenly a betrayer? What caused Satan to enter him? John suggests that he was a thief who, as keeper of the money, regularly helped himself. (John 12:6)

Since our physical nature is so closely tied to what our physical senses can perceive in the physical reality around us, it may be hard to get our minds around the non-physical or spiritual reality that also surrounds us. Yet we can observe the demonstrable effects of good and evil. While we may not be able to physically see the Holy Spirit and Satan, we can readily observe the fruit of their presence. With the Holy Spirit we see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness and self-control. With Satan we see idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, sexual immorality, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and the like. (See Galatians 5:19-24)

What makes us vulnerable to Satan’s attack? Peter says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)  Like all predators, Satan attacks our weaknesses, bad habits and self-indulgences, inclining us to serve first ourselves instead of others. He inspires hurt that leads to anger and unforgiveness. His goal is to separate us from God whom he hates.

The antidote to Satan and the putrid fruit he dispenses is accepting God’s offer to dwell in us through the Holy Spirit and embracing his example of death to self – the cross. This is impossible for us without God’s presence and grace. But as Jesus says, “With God all things are possible.” (Mt. 19:26) Many years ago, I met Jesus one evening and asked him to take the present sin and disorder in my life…and he did! It was truly a life-changing moment.

James says it well when he exhorts us to “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:7) Sin begets more sin. Grace begets more grace.

The Stones Will Cry Out

Do you hold back your praise of God for the blessings and miracles in your life?

As Jesus was entering Jerusalem prior to his passion, a crowd of his disciples began to praise God joyfully in loud voices for all of the miracles they had seen. Their exuberant and unrestrained praise caused some Pharisees in the crowd to complain to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Jesus responded, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:39-40)

All of creation had been awaiting God’s personal and physical visitation to make things right upon the earth. That visitation was now taking place in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Son of David, the King of Kings. Jesus is saying that if those who recognize his visitation and miracles are restrained in their joy and praise, even the stones, inanimate objects of creation, will cry out.

Years later, St. Paul captures this same thought when he says, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” He adds, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth” for God to bring his saving presence to the human race. (Romans 8:19, 22)

As current day disciples, are we loud and joyful in our praise of all the good things God has done in our lives, or are we restrained in our cool and sophisticated ways?

On a winter evening in 1977, I was prayed with for the release of the power of the Holy Spirit by some sisters from the St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton House of Prayer at an evening of renewal program in Briar Cliff Manner, New York. I experienced a visitation and personal encounter with Jesus Christ and my faith was renewed. It was a mountain top experience. I remember driving home in a blinding snow storm on the hilly and curvy roads of upper Westchester County, New York. I could hardly see beyond the hood of my car, but it didn’t matter, for I was brimming with joy and praise of God for his visitation and the changes that he was bringing about in my life. Even the blizzard, like the Pharisees, could not restrain my joy and praise.

Today, with five older children and thirteen grandchildren, this space is not sufficient for me to acknowledge and praise God for all the miracles I have witnessed in my life.   But if you will stay tuned into this blog, I promise that I will share some of the many blessings with you in the weeks ahead.

Let us be loud and joyful in our praise of God for his presence and miracles in our life today!

“Surely Not I, Lord?”

How easily we profess our innocence when confronted with possible wrongdoing. While the disciples were eating the Last Supper with Jesus, he said, “‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.’ They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’” Matthew 26:21-22

Notice how each one of them protested, yet all of them abandoned Jesus at the time of his arrest. Mark reports that one fled even though he was naked. And, of course, we are all familiar with Peter’s three denials.

Our tendency is to resist acknowledging our sin or wrongdoing. Even when we acknowledge it, we often develop excuses or rationalize our conduct. We resist correction and then compound our resistance by getting angry with the person who is trying to help us.

This occurs in varying ways. It can be a job evaluation that indicates we are not doing our best. Sometimes it shows up in an argument with a colleague when we don’t get our way. We may dismiss our use of negative humor or participating in gossip about the boss. We may go along with a business practice of questionable integrity so as not to rock the boat.

Following a social engagement with some friends my wife commented that I had been harsh with one person in connection with a certain political discussion. I protested, claiming to have been quite reasonable in my comments – “surely not I, Lord.” It took me a while to acknowledge that what counted was not my perception, but the perception of the person with whom I was having the discussion.

No matter how long we have been walking with the Lord, we are still capable of betraying Christ’s presence in us, along with his mercy and kindness. We can deny our wrongdoing, or acknowledge it, seek forgiveness and pray for greater faithfulness. Proverbs 12:1 gets it right when it says, “He who hates correction is stupid.” (NIV)

Do I humble myself and acknowledge when I do something wrong, or do I say, “Surely, not I, Lord?”

Showing Up

Are you available to reflect God’s presence on a moment’s notice?

Last week a Christian friend mentioned that he was going to Cuba with a Christian group. He said that he wasn’t sure what he would be doing, but then realized that over the years the most important thing he could do was just show up. He said that he found that God’s grace was at work in any given situation or need. It is also at work in us and the people we are with. We just need to be available to bring God’s presence in us to the people and circumstances at hand.

In Isaiah 6, the prophet finds himself in the temple in the presence of God. He immediately becomes aware that he is unworthy to be there, being a man of unclean lips who lives among a people of unclean lips. An angel touches his lips with a live coal taken from the altar and declares that his guilt is taken away. Isaiah then hears the Lord say, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah replies, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” He instructed his disciples to declare that the kingdom of God is at hand. “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons,” he told them. “He who receives you, receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Mt. 9:35; 10:7-8)

Last year I started to volunteer in a local jail ministry and was recently wondering whether what I was doing was contributing much to the ministry. Another volunteer usually led the prayers and arranged for participation by the inmates. About the most I did was take attendance. Then I recalled that the last time I was there, one of the inmates who was about to partake in the sacrament of reconciliation came to me and asked what he should do since he hadn’t been to the sacrament in years. I told him not to worry, that the priest would gently guide him, but he said, “I know there are certain prayers I am supposed to say and I don’t remember them. Would you write them out for me?” So, I wrote out an Act of Contrition for him.

Several minutes later he came back into the room and his face was beaming. I could tell that he had just experienced God’s forgiveness and renewing grace. He thanked me profusely, but I didn’t do anything. Like my friend said, I just showed up. God was already there.