Thursday, June 22, 2017

Commitment to Christ, to the Gospel

In today's first reading, 2 Cor 11: 1-11, St. Paul voices his fear that those to whom He preached Christ Crucified and shared the Good News of Christ will allow themselves "to be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ," as Satan is very cunning. Just as he deceived Eve, St. Paul is afraid that he will deceive those who have come to a believe in Christ through his preaching.

Satan works as hard to deceive you and I as he worked to lure Adam and Eve away from God's commands. Adam and Eve gave into Satan's lies. You and I are also vulnerable to the lies of "the serpent" who slithers into our lives luring us into believing that "anything goes," that it is okay to tell white lies, to gossip about others, to bend the rules to fit our fancy, to do whatever because everyone is doing it, and on and on!  "It's okay to cheat on our marriage vows, on the vows we confessed as men and women religious, as priests. It's okay to give in a little to temptations to get even, to seek selfish ambitions to be above others, to lord it over others", and so on and on and on!

Have I allowed my "sincere and pure commitment to Christ" to become corrupted? "Oh, only a little, my ego says!" Corruption is corruption! Lord, I pray, that I will return to you in repentance and seek Your help to return to being sincere and purely committing myself to You again! I pray, Lord, for the humility to admit my vulnerability and to  repent of the times  I made excuses for becoming lukewarm in service of You, the times I lost my first fervor, my first love!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sowing Bountifully or Sparingly

In today's first reading, 2 Cor 9: 6-11, St. Paul reminds us that "whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."  How challenging it can be at times to sow bountifully. If you are like me, sometimes you cut corners by letting the other person do what we easily could do ourselves or do for others. Or we let the other do our share of the chores that need being done. Or, we know what our responsibilities are as partners in marriage, as members of a religious community, as children, as employees but shun them. For instance, a child may say to him/herself: "If mom and dad don't notice, I will get away without practicing the piano or spending time reading", or whatever.  Or, a husband or wife might say:  "Mom/dad can do that; I am tired; I've worked hard all day" and don't lift a finger to help. When we sow sparingly, we also reap sparingly:  we feel depleted, dissatisfied, less loved, less compassionate, less fulfilled.

Those who sow bountifully give the 100-150%.  Nothing is too much for them.  They notice things that need to be done. They look for ways to be helpful. They do not wait to be waited upon but are the waiters. They do not wait to be served, but are the servers.  These persons  "have an abundance for every good work...," St. Paul reminds us in this passage. They are "being enriched in every way for all [their] generosity." 

Are you satisfied with yourself? Are you sowing bountifully or sparingly? The choice is yours and so are the results!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jesus Becomes Poor for Us

"For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich so that by his poverty you might become rich."

Oh, the greatness of our God, who says to each one of us that He chose poverty--anything on this earth is poverty compared to living in eternity--so that you and I would become rich in grace. He left heaven for earth for each one of us. He took on human nature and all of its weaknesses, expect sin, to save us from eternal death. He assumed death at the hands of wicked men, knowing man's inhumanity to man so that you and I would be redeemed by His generous love, compassion, and mercy.

We recently witnessed a man being brought back to the States in a coma after 15 months of treatment that led to such a horrible fate. Every day, we witness man's inhumanity to man--beatings of toddlers to death because of a bed-wetting problem, children  and youth sold to human traffickers as sex slaves,  children starving to death because of greed that leaves a huge populations without the means to provide adequately for their families, persons condemned to hard labor for stealing a poster and other unjust sentences that leave individuals suffering cruel treatment, and on and on and on as government leaders pass legislation that favors the rich at the expense of the poor.

Jesus, the Son of God, assumes human nature to redeem it, to know human suffering at its worst--being tortured with the scourging, the crowning with thorns, and the crucifixion! Being condemned to death as an innocent man, He knows the pain of persons falsely imprisoned and falsely condemned, punished beyond reason for wrongs committed.  He knows man's lack of compassion and lack of mercy. He came to show us God compassion God's mercy, and  God's love.  Yes, Jesus "became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you [and I] might become rich" in mercy, love, and compassion in how we treat others and that man's inhumanity to man will someday be stopped!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Blessings and Encouragement

In today's first reading, 2 Corinthians 1: 1-7, Paul greets the people of Corinth by saying: "[G]race and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."   That same greeting is given to us today wherever we are and whoever we are.  Also in  this passage, Paul proclaims that our God is a God "of all encouragement," a "Father of compassion," one  who "encourages us  in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God."

Here in this life you and I are an extension of God. We are blessed by God in order to be a blessing to others. We are encouraged by God in our suffering,  pain, and challenges of life in order that we, in turn, will encourage others as they encounter realities of this life that leave them baffled, confused, hurting or traumatized, not because God wills life's calamities but that, in them, we may seek the Lord, discover God's presence and rely on God's power to bring about our salvation.  

The psalmist, in today's responsorial psalm, invites us to "taste and see the goodness of the Lord."  With the psalmist, may we be able to say at the end of the day: "I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears."  May I also accept the invitation of the psalmist to "[l]ook to him [God] that...[I] may be radiant with joy, and ...[my face] may not blush with shame."    May I "glorify the Lord,...extol his name", and take "refuge" in the Lord" in every circumstance of life and especially in the difficult times.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Our Guardian Angels

In today's first reading, Tobit 12: 1, 5-15, 20, the Archangel Raphael reveals himself to Tobit, assuring him that he:

"will conceal nothing all from you...[T]he works of God are to be made known with due honor. I   can now tell you that when you and Sarah prayed, it was I who presented and read the record of your
prayer before the Glory of the Lord; and I did the same when you buried the dead. When you did not hesitate to get up and leave your dinner in order to go and bury the dead, I was sent to put you to
the test. At the same time, however, God commissioned me to heal you and your daughter-in-law
Sarah. I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord.

"So now get up from the ground and praise God. Behold, I am about to ascend to him who sent me;
write down all these things that have happened to you."

Notice the role of our Guardian Angels:

1) To keep no secrets from us concerning ways of the Lord
2) To present our prayers to "the Glory of the Lord"
3) To "read the record of our prayers" (those prayers might also be the good we do on earth--the angels read the record of Tobit's works of charity in burying the dead, of taking risks to do good)
4) To put our faith to the test, as God sometimes requests
5) To heal us, as commissioned by God
6) To encourage us --"So now get up from the ground and praise God"
7) To direct us to praise God

My prayer is the prayer to my Guardian Angel, as I was taught as a child: Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits you here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Friday, June 9, 2017

God's Faithfulness

In today's first reading, Tobiah and Raphael and  his new bride Sarah visit Tobiah's parents, Tobit, who is blind, and his mother Anna.  Before arriving, Raphael says to Tobiah:  "I am certain that his [Tobiah's father's] eyes will be opened." And instructs him on what to do to restore his father's sight. Following the Archangel's instructions, Tobiah smears fish fall on his father's eyes and peals off the cataracts. Tobit is delighted and sings out a song of praise to God for the ability to see again.  Not only is Tobiah blessed immensely by the Lord God, so, too, are his parents.  And the entire family does not hold back in praising God and sharing their joy with others.

Today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 146, is a song of praise to our God, who "keeps faith forever, secures justice of he oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free, sight to the blind. The Lord," the psalmist reminds us, "raises up those who are bowed down;...loves the just. The Lord protects strangers. The fatherless and the widow he sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. The Lord shall reign forever, your God , O Zion, through all generations."

We need to remember that the Lord "keeps faith forever," as we listen to the daily news. My faith tells us that the way of those crippled by Satan's lies and who are worshiping wealth, securing it by unjust means, will be thwarted, brought low and "the fatherless and the widow" who have been made so by unjust wars and violent crimes to secure riches "will be sustained" by grace and helped by those giving them shelter and welcoming them into a secure place.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Power of Prayer

In today's first reading, Tobit 6, Raphael and Tobiah, upon Raphael's suggestion, visit Raguel, a relative of Tobiah's.  They are well received and Tobiah asked to be permitted to marry Sarah, Raguel's daughter.  Sarah has already been given to marriage to seven other men and each, on the night of their marriage, before consummating the marriage, each of the men have died. Tobias is made aware of this but still wants to marry Sarah.  Raguel says to him:  "She is yours according to the decree of the book of Moses. Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven!  Take your kinswoman; from now on you are her love, and she is your beloved." That night the couple pray together and then "went to bed for the night."  The following morning both are very much alive and continue their life together as man and wife.  In their prayer, before retiring, both begged to be delivered from what must have seemed like a curse. Tobias prayed,  saying to the Lord: "Now, Lord, you know that I make this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Send down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age."

The power of prayer!

The power of love!

The power of humility!

The importance of putting God, including God, in all of our decisions!

Tobiah and Sarah knew all of these important qualities: putting God first and including God, the power of love, the importance of humility, and the essential element of praying together with one another as a married couple. Doing so is not something to be ashamed of! Members of a religious community pray together several times each day. Do you in your marriage pray together? Do you, as a single person, have a prayer partner?