Monday, December 31, 2012

The Word dwells among Us

“…[T]he Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son full of grace and truth” (Jn 1: 14).

Anywhere, any  place, in any circumstance, where love abides You are, Lord.  I may never know that  truth, if I never step off the world’s roller coaster of activity, chasing this object or that object.  Your presence is a quiet presence. Your power is a gentle power!  If I attack a situation like a bulldozer, with a demanding attitude that I am right and the other person is wrong; if I come out swinging at my “opponent,” real or imagined, I will not to attuned to God’s quiet power at work through gentleness and compassion, love, forgiveness, and understanding. Those ways of engagement, those ways of being present to others, are not God’s way.  When I am ranting and raving about the fiscal cliff, about anything, attacking one party and then another, attacking one person and then another,  I need to hear God’s declaration:  “… my thoughts are not your thoughts, ... so are my ways higher than your ways ... Isaiah 55:1.

Unless I stop to reflect on God’s dwelling among us and His way of bringing about our salvation (Jesus was not violent nor did he allow others to resort to violence on his behalf), I could easily go through this day and be among God’s own people who did not accept him (Jn1:11). Am I willing to humbly step back, powerlessly receive the power of a child of God (cf. Jn 1:12), not by human choice or by a human decision but by God’s choice (Jn 1:13).  Only then, like John, will I testify to the Light,  to the Word of God who dwells among us (Jn. 1:14)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reverence for the Word of God

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John, the apostle.  He opens his Gospel with the following truths of our faith: In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God…Through him all things came into being….The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:1, 14). When the Word of God spoke at the time appointed by the Father, you and I were created in God’s image.  Each of us is a word spoken by God. Through the prophet Isaiah, Yahweh reminds  us that no word returns to God  “void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Is 55:11). You and I will not return to God until God has accomplished in us and through us what God desires of us: a woman or a man who reflects the image of God in a world deprived of light, truth and integrity.

When others encounter us, do they see, hear, touch the heart of their Creator or have we substituted a false god in the choices we make and the words we speak?  The choice is ours to make. Yahweh says to us in Dt. 30: 19: Choose life, not death. In other words, we have the choice today to be a “word” of life, not death, in each of the choices we make.  We are free to accomplish God’s will or to sidestep that process by doing what Adam and Eve did in the Garden, choosing to do their will and not God’s. The consequences will be the same for us as for Adam and Eve—we deprive ourselves of “the paradise” that God intended for us and the freedom to be one with God in the choices we make today.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Make a straight highway for our God (Is: 40:30)

Every mountain and hill [shall] be laid low (Is. 40:4) and every prince

Reduced “to nothing” (Is. 40: 23)

Redeeming the world from all that Is not of God.

Yaweh has “not spoken in secret in some darkened land…I, Yahweh speak with directness. I   express myself with clarity” (Is 42: 1).


COME “near ad listen, you nations, pay attention, you peoples.” (Is. 34: 1)

Here is “my servant whom I uphold” (Is: 42: 2),

Ransoming you from sinful ways. The One I sent

I  have endowed…with my spirit (Is. 42:1).

See,  “there is no other God besides me”  (Is. 44: 7);

There “is no other savior but me” (Is. 43:11).

My “name is Yahweh; I will not yield my glory to another” (42: 8)

And neither will I “yield…my honor to idols (Is 42: 8).

See, “I am Yahweh, unrivalled, I form the light and create the dark. I make good fortune and create calamity; it is I, Yahweh, who do all this….Let deliverance, too, bud forth which I, Yahweh, shall create” (Is. 45: 7-8).





Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

This night, 2000+ years ago, the Son of God, God Himself, the Creator of the Universe, the Promised Messiah, was born of Mary in Bethlehem. The King of the Universe, the Creator of us all, is born in a stable, a shelter for cattle!   His first visitors are shepherds, a despised group of people in Jesus’ time.  Their fellow Jews are busy about many things unaware that God assumed human nature in order to transform it into a holy place where His salvation is brought to birth.  Sin, this night, is transformed into holiness in the same way as the stable was transformed into a place for a King.  Darkness gives way to an inextinguishable Light that, to this very day, continues to brighten our way.  To this very day, God looks upon our lowliness and reminds us, through the prophet Isaiah, “You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord, a royal diadem held by your God.  No more shall people call you ‘Forsaken,’ or your land ‘Desolate,’ but you shall be called ‘My Delight,’ and your land ‘Espoused. (Is 62: 4-5—First reading of the Vigil Mass for Christmas).

The symbolism of Bethlehem, of God born in a stable and visited by the lowliest of the lowly in Jesus’ culture, teaches us that nothing is too desolate  that the Lord avoids it.  Those others shun God embraces. Those considered too poor spiritually, physically or materially become the Palace of a King in whom  God delights.  

With the angels at Bethlehem, we sing: Gloria in excelsus Deo and peace to people of good will!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Surrendering all to the Lord

In today’s Scriptures,  1 Samuel 1: 24-28 and Lk1:  46-56, we have the story of Hannah who brings Samuel to the Temple to give him over to the service of the Lord and Mary’s Magnificat in praise of “the greatness of the Lord,” who had made her the mother of the Messiah, who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was conceived in her womb prior to her marriage to Joseph.  Both women’s wombs are made fertile. Both women consecrate the fruit of their wombs to the Lord and let go of their first-born sons: Hannah in the Temple, Mary on the cross when her Son surrenders to God’s will to pay the price for our redemption.  To what am I willing to die believing that new life is possible?  God’s plan for our salvation always involves a dying. Believing that God will bring life out of death always demands the faith of Mary, who said to the angel: “Nothing is impossible for God.” Do I believe that, when all around me is darkness and death, sacrifice and pain? Naturally speaking, darkness surrounded Mary when she said “yes” to the will of God, as she could have been stoned to death if she were found with child prior to her marriage to Joseph.   The miraculous encounter between herself and Elizabeth did not erase that possibility. It still existed until God intervened. That intervention was still a future event and demanded a surrender to the will of God, a dying to one’s fears and anxieties, a dying to anger and frustration and a rising to new life that faith gives to all who trust the Lord.

 Am a person of faith and trust? Or am I a person who wallows in fear and mistrust, anger and resentment in the face of this world’s injustices?

Friday, December 21, 2012

God's Makes Haste to Find Us

Today’s readings are from Song of Songs 2: 8-14 and Lk 1: 39-45.  Song of Songs reminds us that God is our Lover, our Beloved.  He comes to save us from sin and selfishness. He comes with haste. As Mary hurried to visit her cousin Elizabeth, so does  God hurry to visit us.  He comes “springing across the mountains” (Song of Songs 2: 8) that we use to block others from getting close to us, ourselves from getting close to ourselves and to the truth within us.  Those mountains and hills are not mountains and hills to the Lord. God levels them, making His way to our hearts, our thoughts, our anxieties.  As nothing stops a lover from reaching his/her beloved (that beloved is not always a person but  may be something that is destructive), so, too nothing stops God from finding us, His beloved child.  God stands “behind our wall, gazing through the windows [into our souls], peering through the lattices” (Song of Songs 2: 9)  into the deepest caverns of our beings.  As a leaping  gazelle or a young stag (cf. Songs of Songs 2: 9) dashes among the hills looking for that which their young hearts desire, so, too, does God look for us.  God longs to enter our wombs/our humanity as God entered Mary’s womb.  Just as Mary brought joy to Elizabeth and just as Elizabeth recognized God’s presence in Mary,  you and I also have the choice of letting Jesus into our lives and bringing Jesus to others, bringing joy to others, as well as recognizing God in those who enter our lives today (or, as the case may be, recognizing that they are not communicating a divine presence) and moving on to persons, places and things that to bring us closer to God.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

God is a powerful, loving God

"Nothing is impossible for God" (Lk 1: 37).  Lord, may we have the faith and the trust of Mary. Nothing is beyond God's power! Nothing is greater than God's power. God's power is love--sometimes tough love that brings us to our knees, that breaks open stubborn hearts, removes scales from our eyes and blockages from our ears. Mountains of pride, selfishness and greed brought low. Hills of decent leveled. (cf Is.  41:15). Humanity's sin against humanity will be no more! Salvation will come to all flesh (cf Is. 11:1;40:5 and Lk 3:6).

We will see the greatness of the Lord our God, above all gods: above the god of wealth and militarism, above the god of selling and buying, above the god of materialism and consumerism, above the god of sexual exploitation and illicit pleasures, above the god of power, domination and control.  Every politician, every country, every nation, every household, all men and women, every child and adolescent will come to know that God alone is God; there is no other God (cf. Is 44: 6-8). "Nothing is impossible for God" (Lk. 1:37).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Barrenness made Fertile by God's Power

In today’s first reading, Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25a, we are told the story of the angel’s announcing the birth of Samson, to a woman who has been barren. I pray, that like this woman, we, too, will not doubt God’s messengers in our lives. This woman did not bulk at God’s plan, though she had been barren throughout her marriage to Manoah.  She and her husband had tried over and over again, no doubt, to conceive children without success.  At God’s bidding her barrenness is removed. Her womb is made fertile.  The seemingly impossible is achievable.

We live in a world barren of faith in the Sacred, a world disrespectful of life, a world of barren wombs, violated wombs, wombs in which children have been slaughtered.  Nothing is impossible with God. God can transform our deserts into fertile ground or restore the Sacred in the profane, desecrated areas of this world.  Just as the wife of Manoah bore a son whom God blessed and in whom God’s Spirit stirred, so, too, will God  transform a spiritless, Godless world into a God-centered place where life, once again, is considered sacred and is used to give praise and glory to its Creator. 

And so we pray: O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay (Gospel Acclamation for the 19th of December)!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christ, our King is Coming! Alleluia! Amen!

In today’s first reading, Jer. 23: 5-8, Jeremiah prophesies that “…the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David.”  The psalmist, in today’s responsorial psalm,  Psalm 72, states that this King “shall govern…[the] people with justice and…[the] afflicted ones with judgment. For he shall rescue the poor when…[they cry] out, and the afflicted when…[they have] no one to help…[them]. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save….”

That righteous shoot is Jesus, our Savior and our King, the Lord of lords, the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world.  He is the one who shall reign forever  and who, unlike many in leadership today in any segment of society, in any walk of life, will act with justice.  He will rescue the poor—women and children, the unborn aborted child, gays and lesbians, immigrants and the undocumented; Blacks, Hispanics and Mexicans; Arabs and Palestinians, the disabled and elderly; yes, all whom society despises shall be rescued from the hands of oppressors. Those who exploit the poor will be brought low; they shall be no more.  “The tyrant will have gone; [all] who are alert to do evil will be cut off…(Is. 29: 17-24).  “…the way of the wicked vanishes” (Psalm 1).

These are the promises of our God, to which we say “Amen!” “Come, Lord Jesus, Come and save us!”

Monday, December 17, 2012

Massacre in Newtown: what do we need to learn?

Our hearts reach out in sympathy with those families who lost loved ones in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn on Friday, Dec. 14. This scene of horror resonates with the scenes of horror we have witnessed throughout the world in recent years, but especially here in the United States where shootings have occurred in other schools, in a theater, a place of worship, a public rally, and a mental health facility for returning veterans of wars.  We have and are, in many ways, teaching our young people that it is okay to voice one’s anger by using violence. We do it via government policies that authorize war against other nations. We do it through the media that uses violent movies and video games to entertain thousands of people. We do it in our abortion clinics where it is okay to slaughter infants in the womb every second of a given day.  We do it in our streets where drug dealers kill each other and where domestic violence spills out into the public arena. We do it in the privacy of our homes where parents war against one another and against family members.  We did it to the Son of  Man who came to teach us how to live in harmony and respect for one another, especially the poor and outcasts of our society, who taught us the art of forgiveness and invited us to be compassionate toward one another as His Father is compassionate towards us. We killed Him, the Son of God, who was obedient to His Father to the point of death to undo the disobedience of humankind.

Every day,  we have the choice of choosing behaviors in imitation of Christ, that is, love and respect for ourselves and one another, including love and respect for our children, behaviors by which we grow in humility by asking forgiveness when we wrong ourselves or another person, behaviors by which we choose obedience to our Creator.  Or we have the choice of choosing behaviors that are making us slaves to our anger, behaviors by which we choose to exert our power and dominance over one another, creating an environment of hatred and resentment, anger and distrust.  Am I aware of which path I am following: is it a path that leads to freedom from my impulsiveness, a path which does not feed my anger but nurtures love and forgiveness, discipline and unselfishness? Or is it a path which leads to me to sink into a rut of selfishness, anger, and revenge, as did Adam Lanza?

Pray God that we learn what we need to learn by reflecting on the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent, a glorious time of the year

Advent is a glorious time of the year, during which we are reminded through the prophets of the glorious things our God has and is doing! We are repeatedly made aware of the power of our God and that God's plan of salvation will not be thwarted.

In Jeremiah 23: 5-8, God says to us: "Behold, the days are coming...when I will raise up a righteous shoot" to rule the world. "As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security.  This is the name they give him: 'The Lord our justice'."

In his days, that is now, (insert a name)  shall be saved, (insert a name) shall dwell in security because the Lord our justice is at work in our world.  Just as, in Jesus' time, it did not look as though the Messiah had come, so, too, in today's world it may look as though God is not at work. In faith we know that He is, just as some of the Jews knew that Jesus was the Anointed One, the One sent by God to fulfill the covenant and build a Kingdom that will last forever, a Kingdom no one will destroy. Powers against Jesus were defeated--Jesus rose from the dead.  Powers bent on destroying God's Kingdom among us in our day will not succeed.  "Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill (the obstacles to justice and truth) shall be made low" the prophet tells us in today's first reading, Is.40:1-11.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Monday, December 10, 2012

God Victory Will be Ours

In Is 35: 1-10, Isaiah prophesizes about the fulfillment of God’s promise of sending a Messiah to turn the world back to God.  We know that, through Christ Jesus, we will be saved.  Satan, seemingly totally out of control in today’s world, will be overcome. Evil will be destroyed along with those who perpetuate evil and do not repent.  “Here is your God,” Isaiah says, “he comes with vindication” Is 35: 4),  All of us, in some way or another, long to be exonerated now. However, our justification might not happen until we enter eternal life, as it did not happen for Jesus until His resurrection.

Isaiah tells us that when the Messiah enters our lives and our world, our eyes and the “eyes of the  blind will be opened”, our ears and “the ears of the deaf will be cleared” (Is 35: 5).   Wars will cease between individuals, families, nations, cultures, men and women, rich and poor, homosexuals and heterosexuals; human trafficking and drug trafficking, and violence of any kind will cease. With the coming of the Messiah into our personal lives we will create a world in which the integrity of every human being will be honored, each one’s needs will be met.

Am I ready for this Messiah? Am I preparing a path in my life where Jesus is welcome, where the Spirit is heard and God’s instructions followed?  If so, how is that happening? If not, what do I need to change?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Come, Lord Jesus, Come

In today’s first reading, Is. 29:17-24, we read about the promised Messiah. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says to us:

                        In a very short time, Lebanon [the world] will become rich farmland,
and the rich farmland will seem like a forest.
At that time the deaf will hear the words of a book;
                        instead of having darkness and gloom, the blind will see.
                        The Lord will make the poor people happy;
                        they will  rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
                        Then the people without mercy will come to an end;
                        those who do not respect God will disappear.
                        Those who enjoy doing evil will be gone:
                        those who lie about others in court,
                        those who trap people in court,
                        those who lie and take justice from innocent people
in court (Is. 29: 17-21, The New Century Version or the Bible).

How seriously do we take this prophesy.  The prophet Isaiah is not only talking to the people of his day but to us as well.  Truly, the world as we know it will be changed.  God will open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. Blindness and deafness to the needs of the poor and oppressed; blindness and deafness to justice will be removed. Leaders throughout the world and in any segment of society, all peoples, great and small,  shall hear the words” of the Scriptures, the Torah, the Hindu Vedas, the  Quran—the holy books of all religions. Yes, people without mercy will come to an end; those who do not respect God will disappear” (Is. 29: 20).

God has promised and God will do it!  May we not lose faith as we wait for the fulfillment of this prophesy in the world of today!  It will happen. I believe it. Do you?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trusting in the Lord

 In today first reading, Is. 26: 1-6, we are encouraged with words: "Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock."  I am at our province headquarters in Oshkosh, WI.  I came here on the 3rd of Dec. and will be here until the 14th. I came to set up a vocation committee that consists of lay people, SSM Associates and some Sisters.  I said to the Lord on the way here: "Lord, this is a trust walk, an act of faith. I have no idea who I will be interviewing or whether the persons I asked for suggestions have any information for me." The first night at Franciscans Courts, our headquarters in Oshkosh, I went to the library around 7:00 p.m. and around 7:30 a sister who does chaplaincy work at Mercy Hospital in Oshkosh dropped by and gave me a list of names of persons she thought would be good committee members. On returning to my room, the phone rang. It was one of our Associates. She had a list of names for me.  I was overwhelmed. I had been praying the prayer: "Lord, bless me this day and I will indeed be blessed!"

I have 12 person interested in working with us to promote religious life and priesthood, to put forth effort to make SSMs known. I will be interviewing all of these persons and writing recommendations to the Council.

Our communication specialist, who also has background in marketing, has offered to analyze my work and help me develop strategies for more effective use of social media and maintaining ongoing contact with inquirers.

"Trust in the Lord! For the Lord is an eternal Rock!"  How many times the Lord confirms this truth for me! What about you?

Friday, November 30, 2012

People Fishing for the Eternal Kingdom

Today is the feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle.  Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee, sees two brothers, Simon and Andrew, fishermen, casting a net into the sea. He yells at them: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men [people]” (Mt 4: 18-22).  At once, they abandoned their nets and followed  Jesus.
Were they nuts? They were, probably, successful fishermen!  What happened to the boat and the net and the fish?  And this guy who was simply walking by and says “Come, foillow me. I will make you a different kind of fisher,” who was he? Why follow him and abandon a business? And we know that Andrew and Simon did not look back. They stayed with Jesus for three years and beyond, were at the Last Supper, suffered through Jesus’ crucifixion by Romans who occupied their country, witnessed his Ascension into heaven, were present at Pentecost when tongues of fire came down from heaven and rested on them, and, filled with the Holy Spirit, changed from cowardly men to bold proclaimers of the Word, of the Resurrection and of the Kingdom of God in our midst, a Kingdom that Yahweh told the Jewish people would never be destroyed.

So what happened? How could this be, you ask?  The fact is that once we encounter Jesus personally, nothing in this world is seen in the same way.  The Real is not what the world offers, though advocates of the world’s goods believe so and want us to believe so as well.  Our egos “chase success, power, a good name, achievements, and all the other stupid things we race after. God will always get…[us] on the run,” as He did Andrew and Simon (Rohr, Richard, OFM, Jesus’ Plan for a New World,” St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, OH, 1996, p. 38).  As we chase after the things the world offers, not that we do not need those things, “once in a while…[we] glimpse out of the corner of…[our eyes] what really matters. Gotcha” (Ibid.)”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

God Will be the Victor

Today’s first  reading, Revelation 18: 1-2, 21-23; 19: 1-3, 9a, continues with John’s vision. This time he sees a “mighty angel [pick] up a stone like a huge millstone and [throw it]  into the sea and said: ‘With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down, and will never be found again….Because your merchants were the great ones of the world, all nations were led astray by your magic potion.’”  After this scene of the destruction of Babylon, John heard “what sounded like the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying: ‘Alleluia! Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her harlotry. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’….Then the angel said to me, ‘[Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”

 You and I live in a world that has, in many ways, led people astray.  Extreme efforts to destroy the faith of its inhabitants are exerted by the powerful and mighty in every nation on this planet.  Desolation is spreading throughout the world: natural disasters, wars, violence of every kind, moral abominations, idolatry (worshipping sex, material fortunes, “freedom,” pleasure, power and control, etc.).    “…Flee to the mountains,” we are told in today’s Gospel, Luke 21: 20-28, that is, take refuge in God.  Pray, pray, pray for the conversion of this world.

 I know in faith that the “Babylons” of this world will be destroyed. I also know in faith that there is a remnant of people in the U.S., in Europe, Asia, in Africa and other parts of the world, as in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., who will remain steadfast in worshipping the one true God, who will follow the Lamb wherever He goes and are called to the eternal wedding feast. May I be among those chosen few who keep the faith, no matter how bad it gets before Jesus’ return.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winning the Victory Jesus Secured for Us

Today’s first reading, Revelation 15: 1-4, shares with us more of John’s vision. He sees “something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast and its image… They were holding God’s harps, and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb [Jesus, the Lamb of God].

‘Great and wonderful are your works,

Lord, God almighty.

Just and true are your ways,

O king of the nations…

….You alone are holy.

All nations will come

and worship before you,

for your righteous acts have been revealed.’”


You and I, as Christians, participate in the works of God. The prayer that opens today’s liturgy asks that the wills of the faithful be stirred up so that we will strive more eagerly to bring God’s “divine work to fruitful completion.”  What a grace that has been earned for us by Jesus’ shedding of His blood and surrendering His will to the will of the Father, which is that we are victorious over the beast!  Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit so that we have everything we need to reverse the tendency within us to rebel against God, to choose our own will over God’s will, to make a name for ourselves as Adam and Eve attempted to do by eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil in the middle of Paradise, what the people attempted to do in building the tower of Babel, what the Israelites attempted to do in worshipping the pagan gods of the countries that they had conquered on the way to the Promised Land.  We face the same temptations of those who have gone before us. We also are armed, however, with the same graces with which others have been armed and through which they  “won the victory over the beast and its image.”  If we cooperate with the graces we are given today,  we will “bring [God’s] divine work to fruitful completion.”  Yes, we will win “the victory over the beast and its image” because God’s work in us is “great and wonderful.”   I believe that! What about you?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Fully Ripe Harvest

“Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe,” ( Revelation 14: 14-19). Many of the liturgical readings at this time of year focus on the end time, whether that means the end of this world as we know it or the end of our personal existence as we know it.  This week a close friend of the family died. This person, for years, wanted to die and each year she would announce to us: “I won’t be around next year.”  We’d say to her” “You know, the day of your death is not yours to choose. God chooses that day for you.”   When each of us is “fully ripe,” I believe, that is the day that we leave this world.  And only God knows that moment! And what a mystery! My identical twin died at age 2 ½, one of my brothers at age 18, my mother at age 50, my father at age 67.Is it true, I wonder, that each of them was “fully ripe” for eternal life? I believe so or, at least, I hope so. My faith tells me that no death is an accident.  No, it is a design of God’s grace: He has a place prepared for us and it is time for that person to be given the inheritance God gained for him or her through Christ Jesus.  When God uses the “sickle” to “reap the harvest” for me to enter into the Kingdom where there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more heartache, no  more war, no more injustices or inequities, I hope I am ready.  What about you?

Monday, November 26, 2012

God as King

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of Christ, our King.  This morning in prayer I imagined the following conversation with the Lord. It went like this:
I am King.
You are a King’s daughter.
You are royalty!
You are the recipient of my inheritance,
eternal  life in my Kingdom.
I secured that inheritance for you
by my obedience as Son of Man to My Father’s will
—your salvation and the salvation of the whole world.
When I was nailed to a cross,
when I crushed the head of Satan,
all nations, all kingdoms of the earth, all languages (cf. Daniel 7: 13-14)
were brought under My rule and reconciled to My Father.
As Daniel prophesied, “all peoples, all nations and languages
serve [God].
[M]y dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away.” 
[M]y kingdom shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7: 13-14)
Look, Lord, at the world!
The world as you know it is passing away!
God shall reign forever. 
God reigns now and has reigned before this world ever came into existence
and will reign eternally.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hope that is Eternal

In today’s Gospel, Lk 20: 27-40, Jesus tells us that those who have passed through the door of death “can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

That is the hope to which all believers cling. It was the hope to which the 130,000 Vietnamese martyrs clung (we celebrate their victory today) when they were tortured and killed for their faith.  No matter how difficult or horrifying life becomes for those who believe in God, adhere to the values of the Gospel and stand up for what they believe, we know that our “crucifixions,” our dying with Christ is followed by a rising with Him.  Throughout this sojourn on earth, the Lord, as stated in today’s responsorial psalm, “trains [our] hands for battle, [our] fingers for war” (Psalm 144).  It is God at work in our lives who will give us the same victory He gave to David, his servant, and to Jesus, son of David and Son of God, who assumed human nature and was obedient to God even unto death for our sakes. 

What sacrifices am I willing to make for my faith, for the wellbeing of my family, my religious community, the good of the country, the civic and church community in which I live?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving God His Rightful Place

Yesterday, for me, there was something very sacred about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, a little taste of heaven, a giving thanks to God through bands, music, dances, and artistic displays of gigantic helium balloons and millions of people, in the midst of dealing with the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, gathered together to enjoy this expression of gratitude.

In this week’s liturgical readings, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, chases the money changers out of the Temple (those using religion for financial gain) and is Himself being pursued by those who want to kill him.  We, too, have within ourselves two opposing forces: those that want to give God His rightful place within our lives and within the world and those forces that want to silence God, want God removed/out of sight/destroyed in the world of today: a world, I believe, Jesus weeps over just as He wept over Jerusalem. Knowing that Satan roams the world seeking someone to devour by his deceit and his rebellion against God, Jesus stays with us in the Eucharist,  in the Scriptures, and, yes, hides Himself in the details of our lives.  By savoring God’s Word, memorizing Scripture passages, reflecting on the daily liturgical readings—“hanging on his words,” as did Jesus’ disciples as related in today’s Gospel, Lk 19: 45-48)—we arm ourselves against those evil forces, i.e. against Satan’s helpers bent on not allowing heaven and earth to be recreated as a place where God’s voice is not silenced but cherished and acted upon in accord with God's will.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Honor God’s name!
Acknowledge God’s presence!
Prepare God’s way!
Probe God’s messages!
Yes, know that God is always speaking Truth, seeking Truth, and inviting us to Truth!

The Lord is King!
Always present is my God! Halleluiah!
Now and forever near to those who seek Him,
Knowing my comings and goings and my thoughts from afar!

Sound the trumpet! God is near!  Halleluiah!
Give glory and honor and praise to God’s holy name!
In times of darkness and of light, in sorrow and in joy, in life and in death
Verify that God is God,
Invisible and infinite,
Never far from the brokenhearted is our
God and Savior!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The power of praise

In today’s first reading, Rev. 4: 1-11, we are told that there are creatures before the throne of God who, day and night, praise God, saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.”

The author of the book of Revelation sits in awe of who God is.  Awe is a form of praise. It is also humility, a holy respect of self, God and the other.  Praise draws us closer to God and God to us. Authentic praise of self and others creates intimacy.  Praise sanctifies us, cast out negativity and fills us with positive energy (cf. The Word among Us, November 2012, p. 40).  When we genuinely praise another, it has the same effect.  Praise is the antithesis of sin in us.  The author of the meditation for Nov. 21, 2012 in The Word among Us, p. 40, writes:

                 “To understand this truth, reflect on these words of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa,
                preacher to the papal household:

                ‘Praise is, par excellence, anti-sin. If, as St. Paul has said, the
                            mother-sin is impiety, that is a refusal to glorify and thank
                            God, then the exact opposite to sin is not virtue but praise!....’”

It behooves us each day to develop the art of gratitude. We might do that, at the end of each day, by asking ourselves the following questions:  for what today am I grateful? What today has my spouse, my children, my co-workers, my fellow religious done that has been music to my ears, put a song in my heart and lifted my spirit? Keeping a gratitude journal, so to speak, will change your life! And, furthermore, developing the habit of looking for the good each person in your life does each day and pointing that out to them will also change the environment in which you live.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Hot" Discipleship

Both of the readings in today’s liturgy, Rev. 3:1-6, 14-22 and Lk 19: 1-10, are invitations to conversion, to a change of heart and mind.  In Revelation, God tells us that He will not settle for “lukewarmness,” for apathy,  lethargy, or  half-hearted discipleship. “I wish you were either cold or hot…[B]ecause you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” 

Am I caught in an “I don’t care attitude” when another invites me to commit to Christian living--to being honest and upright, to being transparent in a spousal relationship,  to being loving and caring, forgiving and respectful, to building relationships within community if I am a member of a religious community? 

Zacchaeus, a tax collector, working for the Romans, was known  for extorting money from his fellow Jews. He was, in short, a crook, one engaged in cheating, in being deceitful and conniving.  He was also a man who must have heard about Jesus and wanted to see him. Being short in stature and knowing Jesus was coming down the road, Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree in the area. Jesus spotted him and invites him “to come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” Jesus invites. Zacchaeus accepts the invitation.  As a result of his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus is converted totally—no half measures anymore. He repents of his sinful ways, makes restitution for his crimes against his fellow Jews, and  promises Jesus to give back 4xs the amount he extorted from others in the payment of taxes to the Romans.

That kind of transformation is what happens in our lives when we truly let Jesus, our Savior, into our “houses.”  Am I willing to risk a visit from Jesus? Am I willing to have my lukewarmness, my apathy, my half-hearted discipleship transformed into full discipleship?  Am I willing to have my indifference transformed into being  “hot” in building the Kingdom of God here on this earth, in the world that I occupy: my home, my workplace, my parish, my community?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Faithfulness to Call to Love

Today’s first reading, 3 John:  5-8, begins with the phrase: “Beloved, you are faithful in all you do for the brothers and sisters, especially for strangers; they have testified to your love before the Church.”  Immediately, I thought of the Foundress of my religious community, Venerable Mother Frances Streitel, and the young women who dedicated their lives to the Gospel as Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother between the years of 1883-1895.  From 1888-1895, many of these young women were sent to the U.S. from Europe, beginning in 1888. In 1889, 1890, 1891, 1893 and 1895 hospitals, orphanages, schools and a health resort were opened to attend to the needs of immigrants, of the sick and the poor and parentless and uneducated children.  These young women religious left everything to follow Jesus.  Strangers could count on these women to respond to their desperate need.  These acts of heroism continue to this day by men and women religious and by lay men and women who leave their homelands in search of ways to support their families and to respond to brothers and sisters in Christ.

And Jesus says: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me (Mt 25:40).

These strangers testify, today,  before God in eternity “to the love of these young women religious who had  given their all to meet unmet need with the wealth that consumed them: God’s love, God’s compassion, God’s mercy.  They had little of nothing of this world’s goods but like Peter and John before the poor man sitting at the door of the Temple they could say: We have no money, but in the name of Jesus, we give you God’s love,  God’s compassion and God’s mercy. 

These heroic deeds on the part of women and men religious and parents who sacrifice everything to give their children what they need—that is, God’s love, God’s compassion and the good that comes from sacrifice  and learning to give of their all  to help others—continue to this day.

What role are you and I playing in this world so much in need to selfless giving for God’s sake?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Kingdom of God is among You

In today’s first reading, Philemon 7-20, we have such phrases as “…do what is proper,…out of love,” may “the good you do…be…voluntary,” return to those who know you as a mature person “in the Lord,”  “may I profit from  you in the Lord,” and “[r]efresh my  heart in Christ.”  Each of those phrases affirms Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel, Lk 17: 20-25, when He says to us:  “The Kingdom of God is among you”; don’t go looking for it anywhere else.  It’s the reason Jesus also said to John the Baptist:   the blind see, the deaf hear, the poor have the Good News preached to them (not necessarily in words but through the good that is done), the lame walk, the sick are healed and the dead (not just physically dead) come to life.  The same is true today.  You and I make God’s Kingdom visible in the good that we do. We refresh hearts in Christ by our love and forgiveness, by our conversion and repentance.  By the fruits of our lives, we  will be known as mature women and men in the Lord, as was Paul’s friend Onesimus (See Philemon 7-20). 

O Jesus, may all of this be true for all of us today and every day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Bath of Rebirth

In today’s first reading, Titus 3: 1-7, Paul reminds us that “…when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because  of [God’s] mercy, [God] saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life” (Titus 3: 1-7).  Without this intervention and because of original sin, our minds remain darkened and our wills weakened. So when invited by grace to “…be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise, …to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone’ (Titus 3: 1-7), we easily choose opposite behaviors and  give in to impulses and compulsions enticed by the Father of Lies, who places doubts in our minds of trusting the Holy Spirit of God prompting us to do good and avoid evil.   “…Though I walk  in the dark valley,” the psalmist reminds me, “I  fear no evil; for …[God is] at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage” to be obedient, to be open to every good which the Spirit invites me to embrace, “to be peaceable, considerate,” and “gracious” toward all those I encounter today.

Monday, November 12, 2012


"Increase your faith," the apostles plead with Jesus in today's Gospel. Jesus reminds them that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed, they would ask a mulberry tree to uproot itself and plant itself in the sea and it would obey their command.  And I want to say: "Oh, come on, Lord, do you really mean that?" The answer is: "Yes, he does," figuratively speaking. We know that a mustard seed has everything in it to become what it is intended to become.  Within you and me, a seed from our biolgoical fathers planted into our biological mothers had everything in it for us to become fully functioning, productive, human beings.  More awesome yet, however,  is the seed of faith planted into us by the Holy Spirit with we were baptized and confirmed in the faith.  Everything in that seed of faith makes it possible for you and me to reach our fullest spiritual living out our faith and to develop our spiritual potential to love as Jesus loved, to trust God as Jesus did and to believe in God's plan for salvation as Jesus did.

Friday, November 9, 2012

You Are God's Temple

Today’s readings, Ez 47: 1-2, 8-9, 12; 1 Cor 3: 9c-11, 16-17; Jn 2: 13-22, all speak about the temple, a holy place where God dwells in a special manner.  St. Paul reminds us in 1 Cor that each of us is God’s temple. Jesus, in Jn 2: 13-22, speaks about Himself as the temple which, though destroyed on the cross, He will “raise…up in three days.” 

In the first reading, an angel brings the prophet Ezekiel to the entrance of the temple, where he sees “water flowing out [not only] from beneath the threshold…toward the east” but from the south and north as well. That flowing water refreshes the salt waters and gives life to “every sort of living creature,” “abundant fish,” “fruit trees of every kind,” whose” leaves” never fade and whose “ fruit” never fails. You and I, baptized into Christ, filled with the glory of God through the sacraments, are made holy by Christ’s death and resurrection. Through our baptism, we have been missioned and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be ambassadors of Christ in the world in which we live. That means that through us, the purifying, reconciling waters of our baptism are to be flowing in such a way as to refresh life, produce fruit and “fish” in abundance.  What a gift and responsibility of being church in the secular world.

The Gospel retells the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple, chasing out those who violated the purpose of the Temple, that is, those who made His “Father’s house a marketplace”.  Does Jesus, living within the Temple of our being, find us violating God’s Temple? What in you and me needs to be cast out so that we truly are a refreshing presence of God  in our world, a source of God’s abundance, a bearer of fruit that will last, and persons through whom “fish” exist in abundance. In other words, to what extent are we “fishers of men/women,” persons who bring people to Christ and Christ to people by our faith, hope and love?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The supreme good: knowing Christ Jesus

Paul had everything going for him. He was a Jewish Rabbi of significant renown.  His zeal for his Jewish faith motivated him to arrest Christians who, in the Jewish tradition were perceived as traitors to the faith. Nothing was too much for Paul to protect his heritage or his religious upbringing.  His loyalty and commitment to Judaism was undeniable.  God, however, had other plans for Paul’s talent, strength, and loyalty.  Miraculously, Paul’s eyes were opened to God’s salvific plan for all God’s people.  Through grace, Paul was introduced to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  In today’s first reading, Phil 3: 3-8a, Paul tells us that, following his personal encounter with Jesus, he considers “everything as a loss  because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

What about me and you? Do we consider knowing Christ and developing an intimate relationship with Him as the supreme good of each day of our lives? If not, why not? And, if so, what efforts do I make each day to get to know Jesus?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

God gives generously

The statement in today’s first reading, Phil. 2: 12-18, that touched me is “…God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work” and the phrase in the responsorial Psalm, Ps. 27, which reads:   may I “gaze on the loveliness of the Lord…”  This evening, as I reflected upon the challenges of today, I realize deeply that it is God who put the desire in me to do the work of this day and also presented today’s work.  This leaves me feeling humbled, as I frequently wonder what the day’s work might be, as vocation ministry is not like going to a classroom every day or going to a counseling center to work with clients every day.  No, it is not that structured nor am I guaranteed that anyone will inquiry about religious life or be knocking at the door to become a Sister of the Sorrowful Mother.   Yet every day, God puts within me the desire to work in His vineyard and presents the day’s work to me as the day unfolds.

The second statement “may I gaze upon the loveliness of the Lord” touched me as I was beginning to complain about issues to myself.  “Wait a minute,” I said to myself. “What about seeking the loveliness of the Lord today instead of focusing on some negatives. What a difference the day might make”, I said to myself. And how true for me today. It truly unfolded with many surprises within it—gifts from the Lord, including the discipline to take on a challenging task!

May the Word of God continue to shape my life and yours.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The humility of God

In today’s first reading, Philippians 2: 5-11, St. Paul puts before us Jesus’ model of humility.  “[T]hough he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.”  Every day, false sacreds emerge for us. Those might be anyone or anything we elevate to the level of the Sacred, anything or anyone we put on a  sacred pedestal, as the serpent elevated the fruit on the tree in Paradise. “Eat of it, devour it, possess it, and you will be like God,” Satan insisted.  This temptation surrounds us every day. Someone gets an award; we do not.  Our mouths water! Someone is given recognition or praised in our presence while we stand in the background, hardly noticed, if acknowledged at all.   Our hearts ache.  Someone outperforms us, or we imagine being outperformed. We feel a twinge of jealousy or envy. If only we were this person or that person, if only we had this job or that job, this degree or that degree, these opportunities or those opportunities, we tell ourselves; then, we, too, would accomplish great things! Etc. Etc. Etc.

 This is not the path Jesus models for us. It is not what religious life is about nor what being a Christian is about. Jesus, Paul reminds us, “…emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and, found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”  He wasn’t here to show us how to gather accolades.   All of those  aspirations to be “Kings” and “Queens”  in our own right, to belong to an exclusive club, are deaths to which we  must die and rise with Christ in humility and love.  Jesus calls us to repentance and to conversion. Are we open today to being transformed by Christ and reconciled with God in the depth of our being, not on the pedestal of something/someone  we elevate to replace the Divine in our lives. What a challenge! Something only grace can accomplish in us.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Be Kind to One Another

In today’s first reading, Eph 4: 32-5:8, St. Paul asks us to “[b]e kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ…[L]ive in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us…Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving.”  What if I consistently lived thankfully, looking for that in any other person for which I could sincerely say “Thank you.”  What if I looked for things for which I sincerely said to the person I live with each day: “I truly appreciated….”  As a former parent trainer, I recall the first lesson of Commonsense Parenting, which encouraged parents to look for things for which to praise their children and/or affirm their efforts to do well and to do so consistently every day.  Of course, there were other skills parents needed to practice, such as setting limits, following through with consequences for unacceptable behaviors, which transformed the family situation tremendously. 

So, what if I were a truly grateful person instead of a critical one? What if, instead of concentrating on what I don’t like, I would spend my energy focusing on what I do like about myself, about others, about anything and everything!  Yes, what if I lived in love as Christ loves me and handed himself over for me (cf. Eph. 4: 33). Perhaps I would be so busy looking for ways to be for the other and ways of easing the burdens of life, that I would readily notice others bent over by life’s hardships, as Jesus noticed the woman in today’s Gospel unable to straighten up for 18 years. Without a word from her or even eye contact, Jesus healed her, touched her with the compassion of God.  He did not see an elderly, weak, crippled woman  but a human being held in high esteem by her God and worthy of love and compassion, a person whose self-esteem needed to be restored and whose brokenness needed to be made whole.  The same opportunities are given to each of us each day. How am I going to respond?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Co-heirs and Co-partners in Christ's Promises

As I reflect on today’s first reading, Eph. 3: 2-12, I am awed.  Paul reminds us that we Gentiles are “co-heirs, members of the same Body, and co-partners” in Christ’s promises given in the Gospel. What does Christ promise us in the Gospel? The first thought that comes to me is his promise to Dismis on the cross when He says to him: “This day you will be with me in paradise” ((Lk 23:43).  The second thought that surfaces for me is Jesus’ prayer “Consecrate them in the truth” (Jn 17:17), that they may all “be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (Jn 17:21).  The  third thought that sprung up in me is Jesus’ statement  in John 14:12  that those who believe in Him will do the works that He does  and will do greater things than these because Jesus is returning to the Father.
Wow! What promises! And each of us who believe in Jesus will realize these promises in our lives!

Monday, October 22, 2012

God's Handiwork

In today’s first reading, Eph. 2:1-10, St. Paul reminds us that we are God’s “handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”  Each of us, you and I, are “God’s handiwork,” not anyone else’s creation.  God’s and God’s alone! He created us, St. Paul says “in Christ Jesus,” not in gold, not in some precious metal, not in oil paints, or whatever other kind of material an artist would use, but “in Christ Jesus,” the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the human race. Imagine God saying to you personally: “I created you in My only begotten Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” God chose that which is most precious to Him to be the material of His re-creation of us.   How awesome is that fact!
Add to that realization, the fact that God has created each one of us “for good works that God has prepared in advance.”  Which of those good works have you and I realized thus far in our lives?  We learn from today’s Gospel that the good works that God has prepared for us in advance is not the accumulation of possessions or the building of hefty retirement accounts so that we can rest on our laurels, priding ourselves in needing larger warehouses in which to store our wealth. If we have been deceived along those lines and believe the lies the world hands to us,  God says to us through today’s Gospel, Lk 12: 13-21:  “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”  Luke goes on to warn us  that “[t]hus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself [herself]  but is not rich in what matters to God.”
Am I engaged in the “good works that God has prepared in advance” for me?  Am I “rich in what matters to God”? Am I rich in love and charity?  in mercy and forgiveness? in serving others out of love? in being there for others in need?  in gentleness and patience?  in humility?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Growing in knowledge of God

In today's first reading, Eph. 1: 15-23, St. Paul prays "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give...[us] a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him."   This evening the twenty-nine delegates of the 2lst General Assembly are going to visit the soup kitchen of the Community of San` Egidio here in Rome.  This Center serves the poor and the immigrants of Rome.  We will grow in our knowledge of God by witnessing those who serve the poor, as Jesus did, and by the poor themselves.  Both those who serve and those being served will remind us of our dependence upon God and upon one another to build the Kingdom, to grow in wisdom and grace, open to all.

How, with whom, and to whom today did you build the Kingdom.  With whom and through whom did you learn of God's wisdom today? Where and through whom did you experience a "revelation resulting in knowledge of God'?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Created to give praise to God's glory

In today's first reading, Eph 1:11-14, St. Paul reminds us that "In Christ we were chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accompolishes all things according to the intention of his will..."  God's will for you and me is that we realize the good for which we were created, that we triumph over evil in this world and radiates God;'s glory in all that we do. In other words, ultimately, we cannot fail, as God accomplishes this in us. His intentions become our reality over time.  Nothing will separate us from the love of Christ, from realizing that love and revealing that love in our relationships, in our world, in the Church, in our families, in our cultures.  We   are God's work of art in the process of becoming a manifestation of God's glory.  We exist, Paul tells us, for "the praise of God's glory."  We do not exist for the world, for someone else's glory, or even our own glory,  but for God's glory alone. How am I revealing God's glory in my daily life, in my relationships, in my ministry/job, in my relationhship with my children, my coworkers?