Thursday, December 14, 2017

God is God; There Is No Other

In today's first reading, Isaiah 41: 13-20, we are reminded that God is our God, a God "who grasp[s us by our] right hand" and that God says to us: "Fear not, I will help you."  There are, no doubt, times in our lives when God's help seems wanting. In faith we know that it is not!  We cry out in pain, in frustration, in helplessness and powerlessness and God seems silent. How often than not, God chooses silence in which to work in the core of our being.  It is in the silence of nature in the spring time of the year that all of creation comes to life and new growth appears. It is in the silence of the womb that every human being takes shape.  We do not see the growth that is taking place beneath the surface of the earth or in the darkness of the womb, but it is so. So, too, when we call upon the Lord and nothing seems to be happening.

Help us, Lord, when you seem silent or distant to cling to you in faith and hope, not letting a sense of helplessness  or powerlessness to drag us into a depression.  Remind us, through Isaiah that when we "seek water in vain," and when our "tongues are parched with thirst," that you will, in truth, answer us. Deepen our belief in what you, O God, say to use through Isaiah:  "I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I open  up rivers on the bare heights and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water....That all may  see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel..."

I believe in Your Providence, Your Presence and Your Power, Lord, even when I do not feel such! And you?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

God Gives Strength to the Weary

In today's first reading, Isaiah 40: 25-31, the prophet reminds us that "[t]he Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.  He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound...They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint."

Think of the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. To "the fainting" God gave strength. To the  weak, God made "vigor abound."   Those who hoped in the Lord, renewed their strength. In some cases, they soared "as with eagles' wings; they [ran and did] to grow weary," walked and did not grow faint.  Think of Mary on her way to visit Elizabeth, of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Think of Jesus on His way to Calvary--how did He ever make it to the top of that hill where He was crucified. God provided the strength and the hope and the help He needed along the way. The same with you and me!  As long as we hope in the Lord, our strength is renewed!  I recall my mother saying often: "I don't know how we would make it without our faith!"  For me to this day, my strength is always renewed in prayer, in the times when I set time aside to soak in the light of God's Presence in contemplative silence. What about you?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mary's Visitation to Elizabeth: What a Visit!

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  One of the Gospels that could be used for today's liturgy was Luke 1: 39-45, the story of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. As soon as Mary entered her cousin Elizabeth's home, the child in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy and Elizabeth herself "was filled with the Holy Spirit." Elizabeth cries out in joy: "Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is there fruit of your womb. Why should I be so honored wit a visit from the mother of my Lord?"

No words passed between Mary and Elizabeth. John the Baptist, growing in Elizabeth's womb, recognized Jesus in Mary's womb. Elizabeth, too, recognized a Presence in Mary and just by Mary's presence was "filled with the Holy Spirit".  You and I also carry the Lord in our hearts. God--the Father, the Incarnate Son, and the Holy Spirit--dwells within us by virtue of our baptisms. In the Eucharist, consecrated at each Catholic Mass, God, hidden in the consecrated host as God was hidden in the Infant Jesus, God made man, we, too, are visited by God, as were John the Baptist and Elizabeth through Mary's visit.  We are filled with the Holy Spirit through all of the sacraments!

When you interact with another human being, are they blessed as Elizabeth was blessed by Mary? And when you encounter another person, do you encounter God Incarnate? Are you "filled with the Holy Spirit" in those to whom you relate and vice versa?

May you and I, as vessels of grace, be present to others in such a way that they are blessed by us, as Elizabeth was blessed by Mary's visit!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Preparing for Our Savior's Coming

As we are enter the second week of Advent, we continue readings from the book of Isaiah.  Today, Monday, the 11th f Dec., Isaiah again brings us a message of hope:  The desert and the parched land will exalt; the steppe will rejoice and bloom....The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carol and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God."  The prophet  asks us to "strengthen the hands that are feeble make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he does with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you."

May our hearts rejoice at the coming of our God, a God as tender and loving as an infant, a God who has the power to melt those parts of us frozen by hatred, greed, or deceitfulness; a God who has the power to turn sin into holiness, a God who is able to transform that within us that which is  enslaved to God substitutes: power, pleasure, and control.  God "comes to save" us from all that causes division and from all that prevents us from loving freely and generously, from all that creates indifference among us.

Let us prepare for the coming of our Savior by taking time to call upon the Lord on a daily basis, reflecting on the Word of God in the Scriptures or in a favorites book that lifts our souls to the Lord in prayerful reflection on the meaning of Advent.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Spending time on God's Holy Mountain

In today's first reading, Isaiah 2: 1-5, the prophet reminds us that "[i]n days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: 'Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.'" On the mountain of the Lord, "[t]hey shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again."

As we prepare for the coming of the Lord, may we take time to ponder His Word, listening to the Lord in silent contemplation, knowing that the time we spend with the Lord is not wasted time.  In the silence, God is transforming our thoughts into God's thoughts, instructing  us in his ways so that "we may walk in his paths."  It is when we sit at the feet of Jesus in solitude that our "swords"--that is, our harsh words, our anger, our prejudice, our jealousy, our greediness, our pride and any other negative behaviors--are "beat...into plowshares," whereby they are used to produce fruit that will last: love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, generosity and openness to be led by the Spirit.  It is in the prayer of solitude on God's mountain that we are trained in the ways of the Lord and abandon being at "war" with ourselves and others!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent: Preparing for Jesus' Coming

Advent:   A time to be alerted to the coming of Jesus, God with us,

Devoting time to seeing the Lord above all else,

Vying for greater intimacy with God, your Savior,

Ever mindful of one's need for redemption.

Now is the time to become reconciled

To the Lord, your God, and to one another in Christ Jesus and to make peace your goal!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Keeping Priorities Straight

In today's Gospel, Luke 21: 34-36, Jesus says to us:  Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day (the final coming of the Lord Jesus) catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.  Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and stand before the Son of Man."

Lord, help me keep my priorities straight. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily events of the day, to run frantically from one thing to another (and accomplish nothing of significance).  Help me focus on You versus being riveted to repetitive thoughts that deprive me of the peace which You,  Lord, want to give me.  Show me the way to Your peace! Redirect me when I lose that peace so that I have the strength to carry out your will in the small and not-so-small tasks or issues that you want me to address or accomplish today!  I ask this in Jesus' name!  Thank you, Jesus!