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?