I am a big fan of Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention program in the world. I have watched some of his talks on Youtube, and I have read his two books, “Tattoos on the Heart” and “Barking to the Choir.” In fact, when I went with my wife and younger children to visit our oldest daughter in LA this summer, I made them all take the tour of Homeboy Industries and we got pictures with Fr. Greg. I was thrilled! My kids were very good-natured with me.
I was thinking of Fr. Greg when I read the gospel today. He tells a story of a bracelet he received from the Dalai Lama that is simply some cord with a knot in the middle. For Fr. Greg, the knot symbolizes God and throughout the day, when the knot gets out of the middle of his wrist, he keeps readjusting it to remind himself that he needs to keep God in the center of his life.
I think about that story a lot when I say my prayers. In fact, on my good days, that is my prayer. “Dear God, please keep You at the center of my life throughout this day.” I think I could pray worse prayers than that. That is what I think Jesus is offering to us in today’s gospel. God is always there for us. That doesn’t mean life will be easy or without disappointments, loss, or suffering. However, God is there, right in the center. I just need to keep adjusting the bracelet.
—Steve Ruemenapp serves as director of community formation, is husband and father of four.