Monday, September 18, 2017

A Gracious, Caring, Loving God

In today's first reading, 1 Tim 2: 1-8, St. Paul reminds us that there is only one God and one mediator between God and us, that is, Jesus Christ who "gave himself as a ransom for all."  Think of the men and women  for whom we hoped our government would have paid a ransom so they could have been freed from ISIS or any other terrorist group or governments who were inhumanely cruel!  Now think of our fate in having disobeyed our Creator God, choosing our will over God's will, and thus heading for eternal damnation, to being in the company of the Father of Lies, Satan himself, for an eternity of hell!

No way would God allow his sons and daughters to come to that fate. No, He loves His creation unconditionally and would pay any ransom to save us. He did that in Christ Jesus, His only begotten Son! "God," Saint Paul reminds us in 1 Tim 2: 1-8, "wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth." EVERYONE: you and me, every one of our family members, our relatives, our co-workers, our bosses, those we love, those we hate, those whose behaviors we abhor, whose behaviors are repulsive to us, whose behaviors seem motivated by ugliness, evil, prejudice, envy, greed and malignant narcissism.

God "wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth," that is, their truth of needing a God, of needing a Savior.

WOW! What a God--a God of compassion and of kindness, a God of love and forgiveness, a God of mercy!  May I and you, in turn, be loving, caring, merciful and forgiving of ourselves and of others--all others!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Feast of the Sorrowful Mother

With special permission from the Vatican,  the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother celebrate their congregational patronal feast day, the feast of the Sorrowful Mother, on the Sunday following the feast of the Sorrowful Mother, September 15th.

As I reflected upon Mary standing beneath the cross, my heart felt pierced by Mary standing their watching her beloved son die an agonizing death.  As Jesus walked up the hill to Calvary to be crucified, as He was scourged and crowned with thorns and covered with blood and wounds, as He died an agonizing death on the cross, Mary, too, was tortured as His mother, as any mother would have been to watch their beloved child, in similar circumstances, put to death!  And as He was dying, Jesus gives His Mother to us, saying to the beloved disciple standing with Mary: "Son, behold your Mother" and "Mother, behold your son."  Mary is our Mother, as she is the Mother of the Son of God made flesh. We are her daughters and sons, as is Jesus her son and our brother.

Mary stands by us in our sufferings, as she stood with Jesus.  She stands by every person in the process of dying physically or dying psychologically to selfishness, greed, envy, anger, hatred and other evils that may grip our souls.  May we, in turn, comforted by Mary, offer support to those who are in pain, whether that be physical, psychological or spiritual.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Our Relationship with Jesus and Others

In today's first reading, 1 Tim 1; 15-17, Paul says to Timothy: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.  ...[F]or this reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life."

Would you, would I, in evangelizing by our relationship with Jesus, admit that we are the "foremost" sinner? We may acknowledge that we have been "treated mercifully," but would we really admit that we have sinned above all?  Let us also ponder the thought that Christ's patience with me, with you, is an "example for those who would come to believe in...[Christ] for everlasting life."

Wow! May your mercy toward me, Lord, lead others to you! And, in turn, may I show mercy towards others as you show mercy to me every single day!

Friday, September 8, 2017

What Mary and Joseph teach Us

Today we celebrate the birthday of Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, who was given to us by Jesus from the cross as He was giving His life to the Father as a ransom for our sins.  From the  first moment of  her conception, Mary was without sin, chosen by God to be the one from whom His Son would take on human nature, as God shared His love with us fully in the person of Jesus, our Savior.
Mary, at around the age of 14, is visited by an angel and told that she "had won God's favor" (Lk 1:31). The angel tells Mary to not be afraid and to "listen!" "You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the  Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the house of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end."  Mary asks how this will happen and when the angel explains God's plan, Mary says "yes," risking her very life by becoming pregnant outside of her marriage to Joseph. Joseph, in turn, plans to secretly divorce her to spare her any shame when, he, too, is visited by an angel in a dream. This angels says to Joseph: "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins" (Mt. 1:20-21). And Joseph, too, says "yes" to the Lord, risking his reputation in the process.

Both Mary and Joseph are God-fearing persons.  They reverence the Lord and have, no doubt, built a strong personal relationship with the Lord.  They both have learnt to communicate intimately with the Lord, to listen to His voice and follow God's instructions, no matter what the cost. What about you and me?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Delivered from the Power of Darkness

In today's first reading, Colossians 1: 9-14, St.Paul prays for his disciples, asking God that they be "filled with the knowledge of God's will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light." That is why Jesus has come to this earth and why, to this very day, lives among us and within us.  The prayer of St. Paul is fulfilled in each one of us because God has "delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved 
Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  When did and does God do this? at our baptisms, our confirmations, when we receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion,  and every time we carry out the good God inspires us to do. God also does this for us every time, like Peter in today's Gospel, Luke 5: 1-11, we listen to God's instructions when everything within us says: "That is not going to work, Lord," and we do it anyway for a "large, miraculous catch!"

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Willed by God

In today's first reading, Colossians 1: 1-8, St. Paul identifies himself as "an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God."  By whose will are you who you are?  Did you consult God before choosing the career that you have chosen or before choosing your spouse or before making any decision, for that matter? Or do you act independently of God, as though you were your own being apart from God? Something to think about!

Jesus tells us in  John 5: 19-20, that He does nothing apart from His Father and that He was sent by the Father; that is, that He did not come of His own will but the Father's (cf. John 6: 57).  Neither you nor I, whether we realize it or not, are capable of doing good apart from God. And, yes, we also have been sent into the world by the will of our God. Perhaps one of the missions we have been given is to realize this truth and to act out of that truth: we are God's and it is God's will that we progress in becoming the person He intends us to become and to give the kinds of service He wants us to give.

We also dependent upon God for being freed of that which deprives us of being the person God intends us to be, as with Peter's mother-in-law who was in bed with a fever (see today's Gospel, Luke 4 38-44). Through members of her family, Jesus intervened,  rebuking the fever and it left her. She got up and ministered to her family. We have been sent here to serve others, as did Jesus, and to build up the Kingdom of our Beloved, of our God and King!

My prayer is that whatever "fever" holds us back from doing the will of God in our lives will be rebuked by Jesus, as was the fever that took hold of Peter's mother-in-law. And may the "fever" that cripples our government officials from doing good for others be rebuked by Jesus, also!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

God as our Refuge and Nurturer

In the collect of today's liturgy, we pray: "God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, you may nurture in us what is good and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you nurtured."  Lord, you nurtured what is good in young men and women who were born here in the U.S. of Mexican immigrants--men and women for whom the road to citizenship was opened up by our former president and today closed by our current president! Lord, keep safe these undocumented men and women, many of whom have earned degrees here in the U.S., are contributing members, as were their parents, including those already deported and separated from their children here in the U.S.  May the evil being considered be blocked by men and women of integrity, men and women of good will, men and women open to all races, all cultures and all that is good.

Open my eyes, also,  Lord, when I am planning actions that will bring harm to others, that will deprive others of their basic human rights, actions that could be motivated by hatred and prejudice that I do not even know is operating within me. Free me, Lord, from hatred and bigotry, from unclean spirits, such as those that possessed the man in today's Gospel, Luke 4: 31-37, and that may have taken possession of many serving our country in government positions.   Free government officials, of any nation,  from unclean spirits!

In spite of what I see and hear on the news each night,  "I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living" (today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 27), though right now it seems as though evil is triumphing!   As evil descends upon us, in any form, may we cling to the Lord, who is our "light and [our] salvation...[and who is our] life's refuge," (Psalm27).