Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Jesus Comes to Your "House" Today

In today's Gospel, Luke 19: 1-10, Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, who gained his wealth by cheating people, learns that Jesus is passing by his house.  He is a short man so he climbs a sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Him.  Jesus looks up and says: "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."  Quickly, Zacchaeus comes down and joyfully receives Jesus into his house, and vows to make restitution to those he has cheated: "'Behold, half of my possessions [and he is a wealthy man], Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.'  And Jesus said to  him, 'Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

Jesus sees and knows who is seeking Him even when the person him/herself does not realize that one's frantic engagement in this and that, running here and there, switching jobs and relationships feverishly is actually a search for the Divine, for the Reconciler, for the One who really brings salvation to one's "house."  And as urgent as a person's search for that which he/she believes is the answer to his/her problems, just as urgent is Jesus' invitation:  "Come down quickly," Jesus says to Zacchaeus.  He says the same to us: "Come quickly; salvation has come to your house today"!  Jesus does not want us to delay our coming to Him or letting Him come to us with the gift of salvation!

Am I, are you, willing to step off the speeding "train"of distractions and spend time with Jesus? will you, will I , accept Jesus' invitation today? He truly wants to bring salvation to our "houses."

Monday, November 19, 2018

Jesus Wants to Know What You Want from Him

Today's Gospel reading, Luke 18: 35-43, presents the story of a blind man.  He heard a lots of noise and asked the crowd what was happening. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by,  the blind man cried out:  "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me."  The more the crowd told him to be quiet, the louder he became. Jesus stopped and ordered that the blind man be brought to him. Jesus asked him: "'What do you want me to do for you?' He replied, 'Lord, please let me see.' Jesus told him, 'Have sight; your faith has saved you."

Just as Jesus asked the blind man what he wanted Him to do for him, so, too, He asks each one of us the same question. I encourage you to take the time to tell Jesus what you want Him to do for you, for our loved ones, your spouse, your children.  Tell Him!

Jesus,  I want You to open my eyes to Your presence every day. I want You to draw me ever closer to You, so close that You and I become one heart, one mind, one soul! I want to know you, love you, trust you and rely on You all of the time.  I want to obey the promptings of your Spirit, even in the smallest things you ask of me!  Please, Lord, soften the soil of my heart, remove the "cataracts" from my eyes that prevent me from seeing you and the "wax" from my ears that block me from hearing your voice!  I ask this in Your name, Jesus! Amen!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Setting God before our Eyes

Today's first reading, Daniel 12: 1-3, speaks of the second coming of Jesus, our Savior. "At that time," the prophet Daniel tells us, "there shall arise Michael the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until  that time. At that time....the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever."  For the wicked this event will be a time of "everlasting horror and disgrace," but not so for those who have clung to Christ, lived according to the Gospels and followed the directions of the Holy Spirit day by day--the Holy Spirit sent to us by Jesus upon His return to the Father in His resurrection from the dead.

My heart is saddened when I think of the many people who do not lead people to justice--people who close their eyes to injustice, who, out of fear, do not confront unjust legislature and executive orders, who close their eyes and ears to evil being perpetuated for fleeting gains of glory and accumulation of wealth for the wealthiest people in our nation.

Our inheritance, the psalmist tells us in today's responsorial psalm, (Psalm 16) is the Lord, not material gain! Those who realize that the Lord is their "allotted portion and [their] cup, [that it is the Lord ] who hold[s] fast [their] lot" are not afraid to lose their seats of honor in this world. Why? Because they  "set the Lord ever before [their eyes]; with [God] at  [their] right hand [they] shall not be disturbed." The heart of a person who stands up for justice and does what is  right "is glad and [his/her] soul rejoices." Such a person "abides in confidence; because [God] will not abandon [this person's] soul to the netherworld, nor will [God] suffer [His] faithful one to undergo corruption!"

May you and I be among those who seek justice in all we do and not be colluders with those who deny others their basic human rights for whatever reason or for whatever gain!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hearing the Cries of the Oppressed

Today's Gospel, Luke 18: 1-8, tells the story of a judge who care about no one, not God nor any human being. A woman persistently approaches him for a just decision and he delivers it to her, saying: "'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"  His response to her is to avoid negative consequences to himself if he continue to ignore her. He wants her off his back--he is, basically, thinking only about himself and does not really care about the woman.

Our God is not like that judge.  St. Luke says to us in this passage: "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.  Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

God sees our affliction. God hears our cries for help. God knows what we are going through. God cares and comes to help  us, as He did for the Israelites when He appeared to Moses in the burning  bush. God cared that the Israelites had become slaves of the Egyptians. It took time to free them but He held nothing back to bring them out of slavery into a land of freedom. Jesus, the Son of God, held nothing back either in securing our freedom from slavery to anything to which we have become slaves: hatred, bigotry, misogyny, prejudice, revengeful feelings and thoughts, promiscuity, jealousy, envy, selfishness, deceitfulness, corruption and any other evil trap into which were may have fallen. God is on our side in the darkest of moments and will not abandon us when the going gets rough and we know not how we will survive or get back on the right track! God knows when we need help--do we know that we need help? Are we calling for God's help. He is right there beside us waiting for us to turn to Him. He also sends people to help us just as He sent Moses to help his fellow Israelites!  Many times, we may be the one God is asking to help a neighbor in distress.  Are we listening?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Kingdom of God Right Here Right Now

In today's Gospel, Luke 17: 20-25, the Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God will come.  Jesus responds: The "Kingdom of God is among you."  The Kingdom of God is not a future but an everyday event brought forth when we are kind to another person, when we smile at someone, when we forgive others, show compassion and are loving toward others.  The Kingdom of God is revealed when others are helpful, useful, caring,  and honest; when persons refrain from gossiping or from hurting  others or themselves in any way. Yes, "the Kingdom of God is among" us, as Jesus told the Pharisees, and those who live by faith and hope and love--those who give "birth" to Jesus in this world--experience it and make it a reality for others and themselves!  A light shines in our darkness when we transform a little bit of earth into "paradise," into the Kingdom of God on earth!

Jesus tells us to not run off looking for Him when people say, "'Look, there he is,' or 'Look, here he is.'  For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation."  We, too, will suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation before entering our eternal glory. In the meantime, it is our challenge to make God's Kingdom a reality right where we are by our love, our honesty, our faith and hope in the Lord Jesus and in following His Way and His Truth, and being His Life here on earth.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Open to Goodness or Maliciousness?

In today's first reading, Titus 3: 1-7, St. Paul asks Titus to remind the people "to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise. They are," he says to Titus, "to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another." 

As I view the news each night, I begin to wonder what happened to righteous living. I ask myself: "How deluded and foolish have we become, "slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another"?  In faith, I know, and I hope you do, too,  a God who is generous and kind. God comes to save us, not to condemn us, we are told in the Gospels. Though I do not see it now, in the majority of the nightly news broadcasts, I know in faith that we will be saved from our foolishness, our disobedience, our delusions, our slavery to "various desires and pleasures, [from] living in malice and envy, [from]  hating ourselves and hating one another."  However, God has promised salvation to those who believe and who turn to Him in truth and in repentance, recognizing one's wickedness and sinful deeds!  Any one of us will be, or have been, given the graces which were given to the good thief on the cross when he acknowledged who Jesus was and turned to Him, begging to be remembered by Jesus when He entered the glory of the Father!  That grace is available to all who believe!  I do!  what about you?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Living as God Intends for Us to Live

In today's first reading, Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14, St. Paul enumerates the virtues practiced by those who are faithful to their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Such persons, men or women, are consistently true to their faith and to their marriage and religious vows.  They are men and women of integrity, "sound in faith, love, and endurance....reverent in their behavior, ....showing [themselves] as [models] of good deeds in every respect."  Living in this way is possible for all of us, "[f]or the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, [enabling and empowering us] to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good."

What a grace to be elevated to this kind of exalted living by the grace of God within us!  God not only invites us to do what is right and reverent, He also equips us to live in this way.  Furthermore, God implants an eagerness within our deepest being "to do what is good".  By walking beside us, taking us by the hand, God guides us to complete the good we intend to do. God never leaves our side and, when we call upon Him, He answers us in our weakness, making us strong in weak places!  Praise and thanks to our God!