Tired and Confused

SCRIPTURE (Numbers 21:4-9) (JN 8:21-30)

From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road,
to bypass the land of Edom.
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live."
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.


The people are tired. Our patience has worn thin.  Many of us may be tired of our commitment to our Lenten promises. Some of us may be tired of Lent, in general.... when will it be Easter already?  For those of us in educational settings, many of us may be becoming desperate for Spring/Easter break.  Our patience has most certainly worn thin.  And this is to say nothing of our response to our broken society.  We are DEFINITELY tired and lack patience with our societal dysfunction, shouting matches, and heartache.

We are just like the children of Israel in the desert. What seemed like a hopeful journey at the beginning has become a very long and arduous path.  We are parched.  We are desperate for life and for the promised land.  How long, oh Lord, how long? Please just give us a taste of the milk and honey so we know we are still on the right path.  No more of this wretched food, Lord.

Even in today's Gospel, there is a sense of desperation, of confusion... the people don't understand who Jesus is.  Jesus speaks in a veiled manner about where he is going and who he is. It's as though Jesus doesn't want to be clear about the path ahead.  They too, collectively, seem to be very much "in it;" in the thick of the journey.

But there is at least one thing that both Moses and Jesus were both perfectly clear about: even though the people in the present may be tired and confused, God is there.  God is "in it" too.

Moses prayed for the people and God responded in mercy.  Jesus said, despite the confusion and anger of those around him, "The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone."

The reality is that we may not experience sudden relief.  The children of Israel still wandered in the desert and Jesus had yet to travel his long, difficult path while carrying a cross.  And so it is with us.  We still have some weeks before Easter.  Our world is not yet showing signs of robust health.  We have a long way to go.

And yet, God has not left us alone.  Let us take comfort in this truth as we journey on, together.

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These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.



  • What is making me most tired today?  How can I release some of this burden to the Lord?
  • Are there things I can do to offer support to a friend, colleague, or loved one today?
The reason ‘help’ is such a great prayer is that God is the gift of desperation. When you’re in despair you’re teachable.
— Anne Lamott


Take six minutes to be rejuvenated with some tent revival singing of, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord."


My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following
your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 



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Laura is the campus minister at Messmer High School.  She is blessed to accompany young people as they grow in their lives of faith, service, and leadership.


SCRIPTURE (Romans 4:13,16-18,22)

Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith,
so that it may be a gift,
and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.
That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.


Law was given to us so that we could clearly understand what it took (consistently, 24/7) to be righteous before God.  As a result, it is through the Law that we are reminded that we are sinners.  Fortunately, our faith in the Redeemer saves us from our sins.

What is faith?  Merriam-Webster describes it as “something that is believed especially with strong conviction”.  Having faith is simple to say but consistently believing in something with strong conviction may not be so easy!

The Hebrew patriarch, Abraham, was an imperfect person, who sometimes acted on his own volition rather than awaiting God patiently.  However, what Abraham had was faith and a personal relationship with God.  As Paul describes in Romans 4:13: ”Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith”.  It was by his faith that Abraham and Sarah, in their elderly years, gave birth to Isaac, making way for God’s promise.  And today, we, by faith in Abraham’s Descendant and God’s perfect sacrifice, our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s law is fulfilled.

In our daily trials, we must remember to lean on our faith in Jesus, the Redeemer, to protect us, relieve our anxieties, and to guide us in His righteousness.  Although for me personally, it is not difficult to forget that Jesus died for my sins, I do sometimes forget that He is a living God, right here and now.  We must have faith that He is here right this very moment, to protect and redeem us in our moment-to-moment journeys, for the benefit of us and our neighbors.

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These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.




  • Do you have faith in the presence of Christ in your life and heart, right now?
  • Have you forgotten about your faith in times of personal or professional crises?
  • When has your faith been tested, and have you leaned on the living God to guide you through?
  • Who has acted in faith, inspiring you to act on faith when called?
  • What will you do when your next challenge arises, large or small, with respect to your faith?
Having faith does not mean having no difficulties, but having the strength to face them, knowing we are not alone.
— Pope Francis


This Lenten Season, have faith in the realization that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is living inside us, eagerly awaiting to share the yoke through the trials of our daily lives.  This is Truth, a statement from our Lord!  In this Truth, we must have faith, and be counted as righteous through God!


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Timothy Christian.  He is an executive who is also author of Behaviors of Change: Turning Failure into Hope through Sustainable Life Strategies

Life Wins Out!

SCRIPTURE ( Fifth Sunday of Lent  Year A )

JN 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying,
"Master, the one you love is ill."
When Jesus heard this he said,
"This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
+Let us go back to Judea."

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
"Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you."
Jesus said to her,
"Your brother will rise."
Martha said,
"I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day."
Jesus told her,
"I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?"
She said to him, "Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world."

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
"Where have you laid him?"
They said to him, "Sir, come and see."
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, "See how he loved him."
But some of them said,
"Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?"

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, "Take away the stone."
Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him,
"Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days."
Jesus said to her,
"Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?"
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
"Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me."
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
"Lazarus, come out!"
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
"Untie him and let him go."

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.



Like every couple, Maribeth and I have disagreements. What often moves these disagreements to arguments is how we interpret what the other person says.  Communication is a two-way endeavor and the truth is what we hear is received through the lens of our past.  What we hear is often interpreted from a place of fear, insecurity, judgment or jealousy.   It is our own “stuff” that accelerates the argument and causes more hurt and pain.  Left on their own, unchecked or confronted these are symptoms that could lead to the death of a relationship.  Not facing our fear, insecurity, judgment or jealousy can become the wrappings of death that bind and paralyze us.   

Fortunately, the Good News is a paradox of life emerging from death.  It is a story that echoes the human experience.  Being human is experiencing loss, failure, brokenness and death time and time again.  We lose friends, jobs, hope, youth and eventually our lives.  All of nature, shows that through the changing of the seasons, the planting or “death” of a seed, or the growth of a flower through concrete, new life can emerge from loss and death.  Life will always win out.  We are a part of a cycle of life, growth, death and rebirth.  It is a microcosm of our story of faith.  Raising Lazarus from the dead is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ own death and Resurrection. It affirms our daily experience of life, failure and new opportunities.  The disciples are confused Jesus took so long to get to the tomb.  They regret that Jesus didn’t save Lazarus before he died.  Jesus tells them that “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  It is to give glory to our God of forgiveness, our God of healing; our God of second chances; our God of hope; our God of life.  Jesus then commands Lazarus to come forth from the tomb.  Although returned to life he needs to be untied from burial bands and cloths that hold him bound.

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Each one of us is like Lazarus.  We wear the burial bands and wrappings of death.  One might be able to imagine the names of our sins written on each cloth.  For some it might be prejudice, greed, insensitivity, control, addiction, anger or fear.  For Maribeth and I, the burial cloths from which we need to be untied are the things that allow us to misinterpret the words of the other.  Those names are fear, insecurity and jealousy.  Regardless of their names those items bind us in hurt and resentment.  We are untied through forgiveness and mercy.  It would be wonderful if neither of us had any issues.  It would be more peaceful if there were never any disagreement.  That simply is not real.  Our choice then is to remain tied and bound in the burial cloths of death or to seek life.  The life comes first from forgiveness, compassion and understanding.  Then it comes by embracing the commitment we have made to one another.  This commitment demands that we continue to grow as individuals and a couple.  Often, when things settle down, there is an opportunity to reflect, when we can address the shortcomings that contributed to the argument.  We change.  We embrace life more fully.  I am humbled and grateful that Maribeth compassionately offers forgiveness, understanding and another chance.  Life wins out!  

It is also what God offers us.  Even in the midst of what can feel like a devastating loss and death, life emerges through God’s mercy and forgiveness, often surprisingly and miraculously.  It happened for Lazarus.  In two weeks the greatest victory of life will occur through Jesus. His faith, particularly during the most excruciating death, becomes the antidote for sin and death.  It is the miracle that changed the course of history and brought about our ultimate freedom.  Therefore, we must always live in hope.  An argument, addiction, jealousy, hatred or prejudice is never the end of the story.  Death is not the end.  Life always will win out.  Always! 

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These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.




  • What are the burial cloths that bind you and keep you from life?
  • What are the losses you have experienced?  How has life emerged from these challenges?
  • What offers you hope? 
  • How have you seen life win out or overcome ‘death’?


Something beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart; a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges just at the point when our knees hit the floor.
— Marianne Williamson


FAST from control.  Surrender your day and trust God.   

PRAY to live a life of passion, depth and meaning. 

GIVE life.  Advocate for someone who is vulnerable, so their life will flourish.



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Joe Nettesheim is the Founder and Director of 12plus1.  He has been involved in Church ministry since 1991.  Besides 12plus1 he also teaches part time for Dominican High School and Cardinal Stritch University Clare Center for Catholic Life.  Although they do have the occasional argument, he and his wife Maribeth have a wonderful life, with their blended family of 5 children, 2 sons-in-law, 6 grandchildren and TS Eliot, the golden doodle puppy.