Friday, August 18, 2017

God, our Defender

In today's first reading, Joshua 24: 1-13, God repeatedly reminds the people that whatever successes they achieved was not of their own power but because God intervened when they called upon Him.  "Because they cried out to [Me, I] put darkness between hour people and he Egyptians....[It was I who] delivered [the Amorites] into your power....Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab,...summoned Balaam, son of Beor, to curse you; but I would not listen to Balaam. On the contrary, he had to bless you, and I saved you from him."

Enemies rise up on all sides. However, with God on our side, we need not be afraid. As of old, God will deliver those who call upon Him!  God will save those who depend upon Him for their salvation.

Upon whom do I depend? To whom/what do I look for the help I need to overcome evil in my life, within me, around me, to do the good that I am invited to do every day?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

God's Justice

In today Gospel, Matthew 18,  21-19:1,  Peter asks Jesus how many times does he need to forgive those who sin against him: "As many as seven times?"  Peter asks.  Jesus responds: "Not seven times but seventy-seven times," Peter. Jesus then goes on to describe the Kingdom of heaven in terms of a king settling accounts with those who owe him money.  The king has a debtor brought before him  who owes way more than he could ever pay off. The debtor's master, therefore, orders that this person's "wife, his children,  and all his property be sold as payment."  The poor man, totally distraught, begs his master to have pity on him. "Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full." The master dissolves the debtor's entire loan. He owes nothing, nothing at all.

That is us, folks!  Because of our sins, we owe God a debt that, in no way, are we able to pay off. In his mercy, God resolves our debt entirely through the passion, death and resurrection of His only begotten Son, whom He sends into the world to reveal God's love for us! Jesus pays our debt! emus is our ransom!

Will we, by the way we live our lives in justice, love, mercy, and forgiveness accept God's pardon?  Or are we squandering God's gift of salvation by doing what the forgiven man did: treating others mercilessly?  "Should [we] not have...pity on [our] fellow servant[s], as [God] has pity on [us]?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Reconciling with a Person Who Hurt Us

In today's Gospel, Matthew 18: 15-20, Jesus tells us that if someone has sinned against us we are to personally go to that person and tell him or her how we have been hurt by their behavior.  We are also reminded that "whatever [we] bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever [we] loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  By going directly to the person who hurt us and sharing our feelings, identifying the behavior on the other person's part that has hurt us we then free that person and ourselves.  By not reconciling with the person who hurt us we keep that person, whether a citizen here on earth or in heaven, and ourselves bound.  Jesus did not say that the act of reconciliation would be easy but it is important for our freedom and the freedom of the other person, if that person is open to being reconciled or humble enough to acknowledge his/her wrongdoing. And even if our effort to become reconciled is not accepted, we free ourselves.

What am I willing to do to bring about reconciliation?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mary's Assumption into Heaven

Today we celebrate the assumption of our Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven body and soul.

In today's first reading from the book of Revelation, chapter 12: 19a; 12: 1-6a, and 10b,  St. John describes the heavens opening and he sees "the ark of [God's] covenant."  Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. She carried the Son of God in her womb for 9 months and gave Him birth.

Mary is described in this passage as being"clothed with the sun".  She is crowned with "twelve stars" and, for sure, those stars are more brilliant than any diamonds worn by a bride! Under Mary's feet is "the moon."    Take a moment to imagine this picture of Mary.

John sees Mary in pain,  giving birth and near her stands "a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems...The dragon stood before the woman...,[waiting] to devour her child...She gave  birth to a son,...destined to rule all the nations...Her child is caught up to God and his throne [and Mary] fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God. Then [John says that he] heard a loud voice in heaven say:

                     'NOW HAVE SALVATION AND POWER COME,
                     AND THE KINGDOM OF OUR GOD
                     AND THE AUTHORITY OF HIS ANOINTED ONE!'" (emphasis is mine)

From the moment of Jesus' birth "salvation and power" have come, as has the "Kingdom of our God and the authority of His anointed one!"  God rules to this very day in ways that those of faith are able to observe.  May we, in faith, seek to know this "salvation and power." May we look for God's Kingdom among us--the Kingdom of God is within us, Jesus tells us in the Gospels--and may we acknowledge the authority of His anointed one in our midst.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Graciousness of our God

In today's first reading, Dt. 6: 4-13, Moses reminds the people that "[t]he Lord is our God, the Lord alone!"  For that reason, he tells them that they are to "love the Lord...with all [their] hearts, and with all [their] souls, and with all [their] strength."  The Lord God is so essential to their lives of well-being and plenitude, that they are to drill these words into their children minds, wear these words "as a pendant" on their foreheads, "bind them at your wrist" and "write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates."  In other words, never lose sight of this message!

Further on in this passage, Moses reminds the people that the land they possess, the cities they live in, the houses in which they reside are pure gift:  "you did not build"  the cities; you did not "garner the goods" in the houses in which you reside; you "did not dig the cisterns"; you "did not plant" the "vineyards and olive groves," and also remember "the Lord, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, that place of slavery."

And how true for many of us, most of the time, that the fruits of our lives--the goods we enjoy, the houses in which we live, the food we eat--we did not plant, we did not build, we did not sweat over!  God blesses us every day with an abundance; and, it is the grace of God that brings us out of that place of slavery that threatens to devour us of the peace, the joy and the love that God desires of us each day!  God wants to free us, as Jesus freed the boy in today's Gospel, Mt 17: 14-20, of any "demons" that deprive us of the freedom purchased for us by the blood of Christ.  Do we frustrate Jesus by our lack of faith, as did the disciples in the Gospel of today?

Thank you, Jesus, for saving us, healing and putting at our bestowal every day an abundance of God's graces!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Abundance of Graces from our God

St. Paul reminds us in today's first reading, 2 Cor 9: 1-10, that "God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work....The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness." Engaging in good works means dying to selfishness, pride, greed, and so much more that blocks graces that God wants to give us in "an abundance", as we are reminded in today's Gospel, John 12: 24-24, where Jesus says to us:  "Amen, amen, I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me."

In what good works was I involved today?  In what ways did God supply the seed I needed or multiply the good I did today?  How did God "increase the harvest of [my] righteousness" today? To what, today, did I die in order to produce the fruits of honesty, humility, kindness, compassion and love?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Facing "Giants": What do we do?

In today's first reading, Numbers 13: 1-2, 25-14:1m 26-29a, 34-35, we read about the Israelites being sent into the land of Canaan to "reconnoiter the land." They returned to Moses reporting that truly Canaan is a land flowing "with milk and honey," but that giants live there. "[T]hey are too strong for us....And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants."  Moreover, "[t]he land we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants."  The people wailed all night against God.  Fed up with them, God says to Moses and Aaron:  "How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me....Forty days you spent scouting the land; forty years you shall suffer for your crimes: one year for each day. Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me...."  So their time in the desert--not in the land flowing "with milk and honey"--would be extended!

We create our own deserts by grumbling against God, by refusing to trust in the Lord and the Lord's promises.  How often do we not exaggerate the difficulties of a job that God asks of us:  "It's too hard." "I can't do that." "All the other kids are giants compared to me."  "There are others far superior to me; much wiser than me; much smarter than me; far more experienced than me," might be our complaints against God on any given day!

Lord, have mercy on us when, like the Israelites, we do not trust you!