Saturday, June 30, 2012

Faith in Jesus' authority

Today’s Gospel, Mt. 8: 5-17, reiterates the story of the centurion’s request of Jesus: “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”  Jesus immediately responds: “I will come and cure him.”  Imagine telling Jesus that someone you love dearly is sick and/or in serious trouble.  Jesus, without hesitation, says to you: “I will come and cure him/her. I will go and help.”  You and I do not need to imagine that. Our God is that way!  We may not see the results instantaneously but our faith tells us that God responded.  The point, I think, is the asking and that we bring our concerns to Jesus, knowing who Jesus is!

In the story just told, the centurion says to Jesus: No, you do not need to come to my house.  “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed…” And then he says: “You know, Lord, I, too, am a person under authority and I also have authority. I say to a servant ‘Come’ and he comes. ‘Do this’ and he does it.”  It’s like he is saying to Jesus: “Lord, you are author of heaven and earth. You have dominion over everything: health and sickness, light and darkness, evil and good. Just command the evil to leave my servant and it will be gone.”  What faith!  What about yours and mine?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Power in the name of Jesus and of faith in Christ

In the first reading of the vigil of Saints Peter and Paul, whose feast we celebrate today, we have the story of the crippled man who was brought to the gate of the temple each day to beg for alms (Acts. 3: 1-10).  When he saw Peter and John, he asked them for them alms as well. Peter looks intently at him and says: “ I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”

For a long time, my mind focused on the phrase: “…in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”  Finally, I picked up my pen and started writing.  What I heard Jesus saying to me in the depth of my heart was:

               “Rise up, Dorothy Ann, from self-putdowns, from  thinking ill of yourself.
               Rise up to the woman you are in my sight: a woman filled with grace.
               Rise up and walk in the light of that grace.
               Rise up in the power of the Spirit I have given you:

                              a Spirit of power,
                              a Spirit of hope,
                              a Spirit of optimism
                              a Spirit of faith.

               I brought you into this world in love.
               Live in my Love.
               Rise up in my Love.”

As I reflected further on this Scripture reading,I realized that Peter took the crippled man by the right hand and raised him up.  I, too, after being raised up to new life in Christ Jesus, need to share that faith with others, lifting them up by the right hand, raising them up as I was raised up.  The faith of Peter awakened the faith of the crippled man. We need each other to be awakened in our faith, to  live in Love, to rise above that which weighs us down, to take our rightful place in the ministry of discipleship and spread the News of the life, death and resurrection of Christ and to make a difference in the world of our day, as Peter and Paul did in their day.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Finding our way back to God

In today’s first reading,  2 Kings 24: 8-17, we hear about the collapse of Jerusalem, the people  surrendering to the King of Babylon and being deported, the treasures of the temple being confiscated. The breakdown of this ancient society is rooted in their rulers having become slaves to evil ways, the covenant having been abandoned, the idolatrous ways of the surrounding nations having been adopted. Infidelity after infidelity eroded the morality of the people. The consequences could not have been more frightful.

The Chosen People, through the psalmist, bring their situation to God’s attention: 

               O God, the nations have come into your inheritance,

               They have defiled your holy temple,

               They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

….We have become the reproach of our neighbours,                         

               the scorn and derision of those around us.

O, Lord, how long? Will you be angry forever?

Will your jealousy burn like fire?....

This isn’t about God being angry but about the Chosen people being unfaithful and suffering the consequences of poor choices! We aren’t any different from our ancestors, as we, too, have gone astray, chasing that which is not of God, taking on the God-less attitudes and ways of “nations” around us, bent on destroying anything of divine origin.  When our consequences are dire, do we, too, cry out: “O Lord, how long? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?” Or do we change our ways, repent and return to a life of holiness, justice, and truth? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Overcoming the odds

In today’s first reading, 2 Kings 22: 8-13; 23: 1-3, the high priest Hilkiah found the book of the law in the temple of the Lord. When  king Josiah heard the book of the law read aloud, He tore his garments as he realized that his ancestors violated God’s covenant. He gathered all of the people in the Temple and had the entire book of the law read to them.  The king renewed their commitment to the law of God and to being faithful to the covenant God had made with the people of Israel. 
Josiah is eighteen years of age. The example given him by both his grandfather, Manasseh, and his father Amon is horrible. Both were violent men. Both, as rulers of the Jewish people, led the people into idol worship and occult practices.  Their reign was corrupt to its very core.  Manasseh even murdered his own son. Amon follows in his father’s footsteps and eventually is himself murdered. Josiah breaks this pattern of corruption  and violence, of immorality and dishonesty.  He reverses the pattern of disobedience and disrespect for the law of God.

You and I also face decisions every day of choosing to follow a path of virtue or one that leads to corruption, or as Jesus states in today’s Gospel, following true prophets or false prophets.  We can engage in behaviors that corrupt or sustain a life of  virtue.  Like Josiah, we have the power to break bad habits and to reverse long-standing patterns around us. That power comes from the Word of God, the sacraments, the Eucharist, holy reading, the example of those who are faithful to God and the voice of the Good Spirit quietly guiding us in the depth of our hearts. Will we follow this Good Spirit, as Josiah did,  or will be  get swept away by the corruption, the violence, the immorality, the dishonesty, the “idol worship” and “occult practices” in our world, as did Manasseh and Amon? The answer is ours to make!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Faith Alive

In today’s first reading, 2 Kings 19: 9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36, we hear the story of how Hezikiah, King of Jud, handled the news of impending disaster.  Sennacharib, King od Assyria,  was planning to attack Judah, the Southern Kingdom of Israel, to do to them what had been done to the Northern Kingdom: disperse them, exile them from their inherited land and destroy the Temple, their place of worship.  Hezikiah went to the Lord and prayed:

“O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim! You alone are God over all    

the kingdoms of the earth. You have made the heavens and the earth. Incline your

ear, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Hear the words of Sennecherib

 which he sent to taunt the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid

waste the nations and their lands, and cast their gods into the fire; they destroyed

 them because they were not gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone.

Therefore, O Lord our God, save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms

of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”

Hezikah’s prayer was answered and 185,000 men of Sennacherib’s army died that night. Sennacherib retreated.
Your response might be: “What magic!” It was not magic. Hezikiah was a God-fearing person, a man who lived by faith.  He expected to see God in the events of his day.  If we live by faith, we will  also see God at work in our lives and in the world of today. If we do not keep our covenant with God, if we do not rely upon God, if we do not look for God, we, obviously will not find Him nor will we see Him at work in our lives. Disaster will be disaster period and not something out of which God brings a good.  Chaos will be chaos and chaos alone, not something out of which order will emerge in God’s time with our cooperation and reliance upon God.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Learning from John the Baptist

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. John the Baptist, the precursor of the Lord, the one who, in the desert, announced the coming of the Messiah.  You and I are also called to direct people to the Lord, to make Christ known to others.  Our greatness, like John’s, is Christ Jesus.  In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17: 28): a discovery that unfolds, for all of us, throughout our lifetime until that final moment when we surrender everything to the Lord and are born into eternal life. 
The journey is a difficult one. Like John the Baptist, we begin with all of the attention placed on ourselves—what will this child become (Lk. 1:66)—to the realization that life is not about ourselves, that we are not the center of the universe as we were as infants.   As we mature, we learn also that the world itself is not an Absolute, that it disappoints more than it satisfied, that fullness of life occurs in giving it away, not hoarding it, not clutching it; in serving others more than oneself, in dying to self for the sake of others and to a Higher Good than in living selfishly, from “Behold me” to “behold the Lamb of God, (Jn 1:29) who takes away the sins of the world.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

God's will last forever

God’s Covenant cannot be destroyed:  In  2 Sam 7: 16  God promises that David’s “house,” “kingdom” and “throne” will be established forever.  That means that the Messiah will come from the lineage of David and that Christ will establish a kingdom from which He will reign for all eternity.

In today’s first reading a greedy person, Athaliah, plots to destroy the royal dynasty of the line of David. As with Moses, an infant of the royal line is hidden, escapes the massacre, and is later crowned king, while the usurper is put to death. The homilist explained the murderous episodes—there is more than one—in light of the truth that God’s plan for our salvation would not be thwarted,  that God’s will would not be denied.
As we look at the world today, there are also schemes to erase God’s plan, to thwart the will of God, to erase God’s consciousness from the peoples; in fact, to deny the very existence of God.  The Old Testament proves that no such attempt will succeed.  There is always someone or a small remnant of people who keep this promise alive for us, who teach us “not [to] store up for [ourselves] treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal” (Mt 6: 19-23), as we read in today’s Gospel.  Who holds the treasure in their hearts and shares their faith and hope in God with you?  With whom do you share the treasure of your faith?  And for whom are you a shining example of hope in God’s promises?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Looking for a perfect father?

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, Mt. 6: 7-15, tells us “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  We are talking about a Father who is perfect, full of compassion, who understands what is good for us, what would be detrimental for us and who knows how to say “no” when saying so is what we need to hear.  e is the kind of Father who is present to us all of the tim,e who cares for us in the “good” and “bad"He is the kind of Father who is present to us all of the time, who cares for us in the “good” and “bad” times of our lives, who always treats us with respect, who does not withhold the truth from us or treat us immaturely but in ways that build our self-esteem, challenges and empowers us to greatness. God, as father, leads us to choose what is right and just and life-giving and teaches us to reject all that would harm us spiritually, psychologically and physically. 

This is the kind of father we highly respect, are eager to “visit”, to consult, to obey. We naturally pray as Jesus did: “Hallowed be thy name…Thy will be done” in us as it is in You. God desires our best, a best described by St. Paul’s prayer for us in Ephesians 3: 15-21: 

“This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every fatherhood, in heaven or on earth, takes its name.  In the abundance of his glory may he, through his Spirit, enable you to grow firm in power with regard to your inner self, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, with all God’s holy people you will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; so that, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond knowledge, you may be filled with the utter fullness of God.

“Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A generous request being answered

“As the Lord lives, and as you live, I will not leave you,” Elijah says to Elisha  in the first reading of today’s liturgy (See 2 Kings 2: 1, 6-14).  Knowing, however, that his life on this earth is drawing to a close, he says to Elisha: “Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.”  Elisha asks for “a double portion” of Elijah’s spirit and it is given him.  That may surprise us but let us move forward in history to the time of Jesus’ death.  Just prior to going to Calvary, Jesus leaves us His very self in the form of bread and wine—a gift far greater than Elijah giving Elisha a double portion of his spirit. Following His resurrection, Jesus tells the disciples that He is returning to the Father: “I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth….In a short time the world will no longer see me; but you will see that I live and you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you…I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom  the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything…Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you….” (John 14: 16, 19-20, 25-27)--all of this foreshadowed by Elijah and Elisha in today’s first reading.

Elisha receives double Elijah’s spirit. You and I receive the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the love between the Father and the Son, a Spirit of courage and boldness,  in Baptism, Confirmation and all of the sacraments, a Spirit that changed the apostles from men who cowered in the upper room prior to Pentecost to men who gave their lives for the sake of spreading the news of Jesus’ resurrection and the Good News of the Gospel to all nations. Nothing now was too much for them. They embraced discipleship completely!

My prayer: May my life reflect the fact that God has given me more than a double portion of His Spirit. He’s given me Himself, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, and the Spirit, the third person of the Trinity! Does my life reflect the fact that God the Father, God the Son,  and I are one in the Spirit?   

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Be ye compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate

Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” we read in today’s Gospel, Mt. 5: 43-48.  We see God’s perfection at work in His forgiveness of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.   That forgiveness included the acknowledgement and condemnation of Ahab and Jezebel’s sin, not Ahab and Jezebel themselves who contrived Naboth’s murder and then took possession of his vineyard.
“Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” means forgiving those who harm us, treat us unfairly, put our dreams to death and usurp that which we treasure.   To forgive, one needs to recognize and acknowledge that wrong has occurred. It also means letting go of the human tendency to strike back, inflict pain on the “enemy” in whatever way possible, hold on to grudges, and/or carry resentments around as excuses to continue acting angrily throughout our lifetimes.  Examples of the kind of generosity God shows the sinner abound in both the Old and New Testaments, all the way to Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery, the persons ready to stone her, Peter in his threefold denial and the good thief on the cross and you and I in all of our sinful behaviors and attitudes.  You and I are called to the same heroic deeds done in Jesus’ name and through the graces of redemption.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Choosing loyalty to higher values

In today’s readings, 1 Kgs. 21: 1-16 and Mt 5: 38-42 we are challenged in many ways.  Naboth’s family owned a vineyard next to Ahab, King of Samaria.  It was his family’s inheritance, which could not be permanently alienated from its ancestral owners, a long-held religious tradition (Stuelmueller, Carroll, C.P., Biblical Meditations for Ordinary Time,--Weeks 10-22,  Paulist Press, N.Y., pp. 28-29).  Loyal to his family, Naboth denies King Ahab’s request to purchase the land.  His wife, Queen Jezebel, distraught over King Ahab’s pouting and refusal to eat—an adult temper tantrum—promises her husband that she will take care of things.  She contrives Naboth’s demise, having evil men unjustly accuse him, a righteous man, of blaspheming God, as happened to Jesus Himself, when He, too, is accused of blasphemy, his death plotted and executed.  Naboth is put to death and Ahab seizes his property.  Jesus is put to death and freely shares His inheritance with us!

The kind of behavior we see in King Ahab and Queen Jezebel is not uncommon today.  Rich nations, wealthy corporations, powerful persons exploit the poor over and over and over again.Mass murders and assassinations are pre-arranged. The “strong” overpower the “weak" in so many other ways as well: adults abuse children, men abuse women, boys abuse girls, bullies and cowards of either sex take unfair advantage of those they deem weaker than themselves.  
God rains down justice. Naboth and Jezebel are confronted with the truth of their sinfulness. Naboth, we learn, repents.  In previous O.T. stories we read of other key persons in our salvation history who also fell from grace and repented. It is salvation history that continues to this very day in your life and mine.  I pray that today when Jesus gives me the opportunity to “turn the other cheek” (Mt. 5:39) that I will have the courage to choose righteousness and cling to my inner truth versus engaging in fleeting pleasures at another’s expense.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Being about that to which God calls me

Today’s Gospel, Lk 2: 41-51, tells the story of Jesus being lost in the Temple.  When Mary asked her son why he had done this to them and that his father and she were in anguish looking for him, his response was: Did you not know that I had to be about my Father’s business? We have the typical teenager—Jesus 12 years of age—acting independently of his parents and the parents distraught over his behaviour, his not telling them that he was staying behind to talk with the rabbis. In you and me is also this rebellious drive for independence when, at times, we are not upfront with one another in our marriage or in religious life or even at our place of employment.  Furthermore, we can be that way with God, hiding from Him, not being open with Him about what we are thinking, deciding or desiring and frustrating the Lord who desires that kind of transparency and intimacy with Him.

As I reflected further upon this Scripture, the Lord pointed out to me the importance of being about My Father’s business and that, doing so, at times means going against what others may expect of me, speaking my truth calmly, putting myself in a vulnerable position as I need to explain why I did what I did or why I am planning to do that to what I believe God is calling me to accomplish. It is so easy to assume a laidback position and simply not take the initiative, not assume responsibility, ignore the small inner voice calling me to accomplish a certain task such as, for instance, reconciling, challenging, or asking forgiveness of someone or suggesting a change in behaviors or attitudes that are inappropriate or offensive or non-life-giving in the family or in the community, or whatever!

How does this Scripture passage speak to you? To what on-going conversion is God calling you?

Friday, June 15, 2012

God's Tender Love and Deep Compassion

Today’s readings abound with statements of God’s love, a love that is eternal and is practical. God’s love brought us into existence, put us together in our mother’s womb, taught us to walk and talk, to think and understand, to feel and respond with compassion.  “I fostered [you] like one who raised an infant to his cheeks; …though I stooped to feed [you, you] did not know that I was [your] healer’( Hosea 11: 1, 3-4, 8c-9).  God goes on to say “My heart is overwhelmed, my pity stirred…I will not give vent to my blazing anger” when I see you walk away from Me, the Source of your life. I will not blaze out in anger toward you when I see you worshipping false gods, looking for fullness of life in empty cisterns; mocking Me, beating me, abusing Me, cursing Me,” as you do whenever you do these things to your family members, loved ones, strangers, your neighbour, persons different from you because of race, gender, or culture (cf. Mt. 25: 40). God seems to be reminding us that He is as hidden in the other person as He is in the Sacred Host.   My faith tells me that every human being, all of creation, is a sacrament, a sign of God’s  love for me, of  God’s Presence, of God’s life-giving Spirit, for in God,  “we live and move and have out being” (Acts 17:28). What does your faith tell you?
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the feast of God’s love. The second person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Son, in total obedience to the Father assumed human nature to show us the way back to the Father, that is, the way of obedience to our God.  In total self-giving, Jesus becomes the unblemished Lamb sacrificed to redeem all of humankind and so we pray at every Mass, the Lamb’s Supper, when the heavens open up and the Son of God comes down upon our altars:  “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”  Such love! What sacrifices am I willing to make in return for this love?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More miracles! More revelations! More challenges!

Yesterday we reflected on the test Elijah put to the prophets of Baal.  Through Elijah, Yahweh revealed that the only true God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God who created heaven and earth, the God who freed the people from slavery in Egypt, and who covenanted with Israel, His Chosen Ones: “…of all the peoples on earth, you have been chosen by Yahweh, your God, to be his own people “(Dt. 7:6).  Yahweh alone is [your] guide; no alien god for him” (Dt. 32: 11). 

The miracle on Mt. Carmel—Yahweh sent down fire to consume Elijah’s sacrifice whereas the prayer of the god of the 450 prophets of Baal did not respond to their same request—is followed by the miracle revealed in today’s first reading:  the drought is lifted over the land and its fertility restored. In the N. T., we meet Jesus giving the sermon on the Mount and sharing with us ways in which each of us will be transformed and made more fertile: don’t even use abusive language with others, don’t enter into communion with the Lord in the Eucharist when your communion with others is severed by anger, resentment, and/or revenge. Go first to your brothers or sisters to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. Then return to the altar of God. 

Jesus raises the bar for His followers and challenges us to be compassionate, understanding, and forgiving; in short, to love others in the way the Father loves us.

Do my behaviors, I need to ask myself, reflect this covenant? Is my life being transformed by the sacrifices I am giving to God through the way I relate to others and to myself? Do others see this transformation taking place in me, as they witness the way I love and respect others and myself, forgiving myself and others when we offend each other? Do others say: look how that family loves one another? Look how those women/men religious respect one another and seek reconciliation with each other?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Faith in action

In yesterday’s Scripture reading, 1 Kings 17: 7-16, Elijah is hiding from those who are out to kill him.   Today, in the first reading, 1 Kings 18: 20-39,  he is challenging the false prophets of Baal to a test.  What happened that Elijah has come out of hiding, first of all? God intervened as He does in each of our lives, reminding Elijah that He was providing for him, that He was God and there was no other.  Pointedly, in 1 Kings 17: 8,  God said to Elijah: "Move on"; stop feeling sorry for yourself and take up the task I have given you to do.  That did not mean that no problems would come up. He has no food and is told to go to Zeraphath, where he meets a widow gathering sticks to prepare a last meal for herself and her son and whom God designated as the one to meet Elijah’s need.  Imagine Elijah hearing the widow's plight and then proceeding to ask her for a meal for himself  first and ensuring her that there will be enough.  Both Elijah’s and her faith is challenged.  She takes the risk and has enough oil and flour for a whole year. The little she has, her giving out of her poverty, is richly awarded  because she exercised her faith.
In today’s Scripture reading, 1 Kings 18: 20-39,   we see Elijah challenging 450 prophets of Baal to a test of faith: you call upon Baal,  your god, Elijah tells these false prophets, and I will call upon my God to consume our sacrifices of a young bull. Let us see which God sends down fire from heaven to consume the holocaust.  Of course, the 450 prophets of Baal are unable to rouse their god while Elijah’s God, the one true and only God, responds to Elijah’s request. Fire descends upon the altar, consuming the sacrificial animal, the altar, the stones around the altar and the water.
The faith you and I have been given is no different.  Am I using it or losing it?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Body and Blood of Christ

“…I shall  not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (*Mark 14:25).  Every day at our Liturgies, the heavens are opened. Jesus comes down upon our altars, where Jesus offers the sacrifice of Himself, as the unblemished Lamb of God, to His Father for our purification and sanctification. All the angels and saints in heaven join us, singing Holy, Holy, Holy with us.  We lift our minds and hearts to heaven at every Mass. The Kingdom of God in our midst! With us, Jesus drinks of the fruit of the vine. At the consecration, Jesus says to us: “Take and eat. This is my Body.” “Take and drink. This is the cup of my blood”—the blood of the New Covenant, replacing the Old Covenant, in which  lambs and bulls were sacrificed repeatedly and sprinkled over the people.  In the person of the priest, Jesus, our High Priest, drinks the sacred wine and eats of the sacred bread. The Kingdom of God is here.

                We leave Mass nourished with the Living Bread come down from heaven and purified, made holy, our sins forgiven, in the Blood of the Lamb poured out for our salvation in every Eucharist. At the end of Mass, the priest says: “Go now in the peace of Christ,” and live as imitators, no, as other Christs. “I send you out into the world as lambs among wolves” (Lk 10:3).  If  you love me, Jesus, in essence,  says to Peter and to us: “Feed my lambs.”  Jesus is truly saying: Pass on the faith and help those less fortunate than you.  Reach out to the oppressed and forgotten among you.  Make compassion, love, and  understanding the foundation of your ways of relating to others so that they will flourish in my Kingdom here on earth and be open to the graces of My redemption and the Father’s everlasting love.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Equipped for every good work

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3: 10-17).  What an incredible God! You and I are equipped and competent to do whatever God calls us to do.  How differently would we approach a  task I wonder, if we remembered the truth that to whatever God calls us He first gives us the tools and the strength and the courage and the wisdom to accomplish it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The call to love

Today's Scripture readings, 2 Tim 2: 8-15 and Mk 12: 28-34, are all about love, about being willing to sacrifice for others, to love God and others with all of our mind, all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our strength. That is how Jesus loved Himself, His Father and us.  To love in that way, we need to begin with ourselves. If we do not love ourselves, we will not have love to give to others. If, for instance,we basically and fundamentally do not like who we are, if we are harsh and rejecting of ourselves, then what we will give to others, in turn, will be dislike, harshness, and rejection.  So love begins with self, a self that is loved unconditionally by God and by our parents.  Love begins in the family. A child is totally dependent on his/her parents to learn to love him/herself.

No where in the Gospels do we meet Jesus as a person with poor self-esteem or a poor self-image.  His mother, His foster father and His Abba God loved Him totally and taught Him to love Himself.  We meet a person  who is confident of who He is and likes who He is. Out of that acceptance and appreciation of self, Jesus remains humble and composed when others challenge His authority, question Him, and/or even oppose Him to the point of screaming for His execution. Jesus remains calm in all of life's travails, standing His ground meekly, humbly and truthfully. What about us? What are we doing to grow into this stature of a human being totally one with him/herself, at peace, and strong in the love that will transform this world into a world of peace, a world of cooperation and a world where all persons are respected and cherished for who they are as a Temple of the Holy Spirit, a co-creator with God sent here for a purpose that no one else has been given to do in building up the Kingdom.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Awaiting a new earth and a new heaven

In today's first reading, 2 Peter 3: 12-15a, 17-18, Peter speaks of the Lord's promise of a new earth and a new heaven where righteousness reigns.  We all await the fulfilment of this promise. In the meantime, however, we experience the lack of righteousness, our own and that of others.   Injustices and inequities  abound in this life.  So how do we maintain our peace and stability?  Peter gives us a couple of suggestions:  1) grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ,  2) recall God's patience with each one of us, 3) guard against being "led into the error of the unprincipled" and 4) maintain our stability.

Our stability is Christ Jesus, our  faith!  There are ways of nurturing our faith and of growing in the knowledge of Christ, namely, reading the  Scriptures from each day's liturgy, taking courses in Scripture offered by the parish to which we belong, studying the Catholic Catechism, availing ourselves of spiritual reading resources (from our parish libraries, for instance), become involved in our parish in some way. To guard against being "led into the error of the unprincipled" one needs to surround  him/herself with persons who value  living life according to principles that we personally value. We also need to become familiar with the Spirit that guides us from within.  We are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is active and always prays within us according to God's will.  Let's tune in!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Respecting Jesus day to day

"They will respect my Son,"  Jesus says to us in today's Gospel, Mk. 12: 1-12.   Respecting Your Son, O God, is respecting you, Father God.  Respecting you, O God, is respecting the Son.  Respecting you means wanting You, wanting to be imitators of You, living from love, acting lovingly and respectfully with all persons today, every day.

Sometimes, when facing difficult situations or trying circumstances that offer me the opportunity to choose life--being patient, humble, loving--I reject You, O God, who are pure love, infinite patience and gracious humility.  When I choose selfishness, wanting what I want, I am acting as did the tenants in today's Gospel .  By my impatience, pride, and lack of kindness, I "beat" those You send to collect the "produce" of self-sacrifice, patient endurance, and loving kindness.   The tenants choose their will, not Yours.  Whose will will I choose today?

Friday, June 1, 2012

The deeper purposes of things

The opening line of today’s first reading, 1 Peter 4: 7-13, is “Beloved: The end of all things is at hand.”  Keeping our end in mind, knowing that the day of our rebirth into eternal life could be any day, would we, I wonder, live today differently?  Believing the end time was imminent, St. Peter instructs us to “love intensely”, to “be hospitable to others without complaining,” and to use the gifts we have been given “to serve one another.” 

Wow!  What a message for all of us awaiting, if you will, our end time here on this earth.  We are here for one thing and one thing only, to love intensely, not half-heartedly or lukewarmly.  What happens to a person on this journey of love and transformation by Love when a person’s innate ability to love as God loves, to forgive as God forgives, to make whole as God makes whole, to serve others as God serves us,  when a person has been taught that life is solely about  filling it with material things, about never saying “no” to oneself, about using sex as an experiment, a thing of pleasure and instant gratification with no commitment or responsibility, with little or no love for self or others. What if one has been taught to perceive life from purely a narcissistic, consumeristic, materialistic, pragmatic, scientific end and only for personal aggrandizement and glorification of the self  with the deeper purposes of existence being ignored, avoided and untaught.

Seeing us misunderstanding and abusing the end for which we have been put here on this earth—to love as God loves—would Jesus not do for us what He did when, in today’s Gospel, He saw how the Temple  was converted  into a “den of thieves”? Would he not teach us the real purpose of life on this earth, its sacredness, its holiness, as He taught the moneychangers the real purpose of the Temple?