Sunday, March 31, 2013

HAPPY EASTER!  The Lord is Risen. Satan's head has been crushed. God has put enmity between the woman (you and I) and Satan.  The power of the resurrection is within us. In our baptisms we have died with Christ. We will also rise with Christ, not only at the end of our lives, but every day to new life, to a life of grace, a life of goodness, a life of holiness, a life of love, a life of forgiveness.  We, too, are empowered to forgive as Jesus forgave us on the cross. We, too, are empowered, to thirst for holiness and righteousness as Jesus did on the cross. We, too, are empowered to overcome evil with goodness, anger with patience, revenge with forgiveness as Jesus did on the cross. ALLELUIA!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mary Standing by and with her Son

Holy  Saturday: A day of mourning as Mary and the disciples grieve the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  Many must have known that the leaders of her nation were plotting to kill her son. No doubt, also, Jesus did not keep secrets from His mother.  He knew that His hour was approaching. I sense Mary did, too. Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper,  “Father,  the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; so that, just as you have given him power over all humanity, he may give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him” does not mean that the physical and emotional pain of His crucifixion and death were negated.  Both Jesus and Mary suffered the full blunt and excruciating agony of the way in which He was treated by the leaders of their nation.  Mary, most likely, witnessed all of it, I believe. She would not have abandoned her Son in the hour of His greatest need.  No healthy mother would do that to her child.

As I reflected on the high probability that Mary witnessed, not only Jesus’ dying on the cross, but also his being nailed to it, I thought of the millions of men and women, children and adolescents, young adults, “nailed” to agonizing, humiliating, violent abusive situations:

·         Those unjustly imprisoned

·         Those sold to the sex trade, to forced labor camps/factories

·         Those “locked” in abusive marriages or other relationships

·         Those enslaved to any and all kinds of addictive behaviors

·         Those battling terminal illnesses and chronic mental disorders

·         Those living in extreme poverty and forced to live on our streets

·         Those forced into gang activity

·         Those unprotected from being murdered in the womb

·         Those unable to escape verbal, emotional, mental, physical and sexual abuse in or outside of their families

O Jesus, you are nailed to the cross and crucified every day by humanity’s inhumane ways of treating each other.

 O Mary, is there any sorrow as great as your sorrow as you watch your sons and daughters, especially little children, being “nailed”  and abandoned to agonizing situations, as Jesus was nailed to the cross and crucified on Calvary?

Friday, March 29, 2013




Isaiah 52: 14; 53: 2b-6—There were many who were astonished at him—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals. He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised and we held him of no account. Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, stuck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday: “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end,” we read in today’s Gospel, Jn 13: 1-15.  This is the day Jesus begins His bitter passion.  Before doing so, He models humility, servanthood, and incredible love for us, both in the washing of the apostles’ feet, including those of His betrayer, and by the giving us the Eucharist, whereby He is with us always sacramentally.  Following the Passover meal Jesus leaves for the Garden of Gethsemane. He says to His disciples: “My soul is sorrowful to the point of death.”  He asks them to stay awake and pray with Him. They fall asleep. Will I?

Jesus’ suffering is so severe emotionally and spiritually that his “sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Lk 22:44).  He prays: “If you are willing [Father], take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine. Then an angel appeared to Him, coming from heaven, to give Him strength” (Lk 22: 42-43).  When I am in suffering severely, do I seek out others to pray for and with me? Do I realize that God suffers with me in those moments and, not only sends “angels” to give me strength but that He Himself comes also to be at my side to comfort me, strengthen m e, console me, and transform my way of handling the painful event so that I become a better person through it, that I move from “death” into new life?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jesus' confidence

“My appointed time draws near…,” Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, Mt. 26: 14-25. As the God-Man, Jesus knew that He would soon be given over to the power of Satan so that you and I would not ultimately succumb to his power. He was about to secure eternal salvation for the entire world. The One  who is guiltless, sinless, would soon assume the guilt of us all upon Himself as He hung upon the cross of crucifixion and death on Calvary.

Jesus knew the Hebrew Scriptures. The prophet Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Song, part of which was today’s first reading, Is 50: 4-9a, must have given Jesus a lot of strength.

The Lord God has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
He opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back….
The Lord God is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right…
See, the Lord
God is my help;
Who will prove me wrong?

To whom and to what do I look for strength?

What has God given me “morning after morning” to prepare me for what the day holds?

Am I as confident and secure as Jesus was when it seems as though Satan’s power has been unleashed upon me? Do I realize, in those times, that my help comes from the Lord God and that God will not let me “be put to shame,” that the One “who upholds my right” is near?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Called from birth to be God's servants

Today’s first reading, Is. 49: 1-6, is all about God’s servants, you and me, and about Jesus.  Each of us is called from birth to serve the Lord, to carry out the Father’s will for us, to live intelligent, creative lives for the sake of the Kingdom and to be as “sharp” in doing good, perceiving and avoiding evil as any “two-edged sword”.  We are conceal in the “shadow” of God’s love and “polished” by grace, even, and especially, when we think we have “toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly [spending our] strength.” 

 Think of Jesus’ ministry coming to an end in the way it did. Truly, it looked as though He had “toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent…[His] strength.”  At the Last supper He confides to His assembled disciples that one of them is going to betray Him and another will deny Him 3xs before the cock crows. In the darkest of hours, Jesus is abandoned by those He thought were faithful friends.

When things get rough in life, do I abandon others? Do I walk away from Jesus, from people who count on my support, even betraying them and walking out into “the night” to do that which I know is wrong of me to do?” When push comes to shove, do I deny knowing Jesus, knowing those who need me to stand by their side?  In the difficulties of life do I abandon the faith in which I was raised?

Monday, March 25, 2013

The victory of justice

In today's first reading, Is. 42: 1-7, Isaiah prophesizes that Jesus “shall bring forth justice to the nations, [shall] bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness….I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice.” 
As yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday, we read about the people loudly proclaiming Jesus as King, praising God for all the good that He had done in their midst. On Good Friday, we will hear those same people shouting for His death. He has disappointed them, as they were expecting a king who would restore their nation to greatness.  They felt betrayed and in their grief abandon Jesus to His executioners.

In today’s Gospel, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with “a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard” and dries them with her hair” (Jn 12:1-11).  Amid Judas’ protests that that costly perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor—proclamations to cover up his hypocrisy and intent to steal the money later for personal use—Jesus tells Judas to leave the woman alone, that she is preparing his body for burial.  Jesus protects Mary, who, in her poverty and lowliness and out of great love expresses reverence and gratitude to the Lord for His forgiveness of her many sins.  That same reverence and love is shown to each of us by Jesus on Calvary, where “our feet” are washed in the blood and water that flows  from Jesus’ side. And as Jesus tells Peter when washing his feet that he is clean all over, so, too, He tells us that, "though our sins are scarlet, they will be white as snow" (Is 1: 16-18)!   On Calvary we will witness justice being done to the nations of the whole world, as we watch Jesus surrender His life to His Father.  In that act of obedience, we will be restored, not politically or according to worldly desires, but spiritually to friendship with the Father.  On Calvary we will witness  Jesus crush the head of Satan--the principalities and the powers of Satan that we will see at  work in Judas this week,  shall be destroyed for us forever.   We truly will witness “the victory of justice” as we commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection.

O, the humility, the poverty, the reverence, the love of our God for all of humankind!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Crucifying the God-Man, the Word of God Incarnate

My mind is blown away by the fact that we have crucified the God-Man, God disguised in human form, God incarnate. How could we possibly have tortured the Son of Man, mocked Him with a crown of thorns, beat His body to pulp, made Him, after the loss of significant blood, to carry a heavy cross on which He would be nailed and left to die.  How could we ever have done such a horrible thing! 

This disobedience of Adam and Eve, the mistrust of God by our first parents,  the repeated rebellion of God’s people, including all of us,  since the beginning of the world is absolutely mind-bottling.  In this week’s news alone we are shown a group of kids forcing another kid to strip naked and then flogging him with their belts, a young man robs a young mother and shoots her toddler in the head, a white supremist kills several people on a murderous spree,  a double homicide followed by the suicide of a Marine in his barracks Thursday night, dozens of people killed in clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the city of Myanmar today, the Syrian civil war that has left thousands dead, homeless, and orphaned; and on and on throughout the world we read of modern day “crucifixions”.  “What you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me” (Mt. 25:45), Jesus tells us.  Yes, Jesus’ passion and crucifixion happens repeatedly throughout the world every single day.

And on the cross Jesus’ first words are “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Lk 23:34). To the thief who turns to Him and says: “Remember me when you get into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42) Jesus says: “This day you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43). Those are the same words Jesus says to any one of us when we turn to Him in our agony, our sinfulness, our criminality: “Father forgive them; they know not what they are doing” and, to repentant sinners begging for mercy who recognize the injustice they have done to others, “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

God, truly is  a God “of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and constancy, maintaining  his faithful love to thousands, forgiving fault, crime and sin….” (Exodus 34: 6-7) yet demanding justice for all.  That justice meant that one equal to God would be the only one who could atone for our rebellion against God. That justice is what we see on Calvary. That justice is also what is in play following our sinful behavior—the consequences we endure as the result of our sin is our opportunity to make amends, to atone for the injustice that occurred when we hurt others, when we are violent toward others in our words and actions.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jesus: A Threat to one's Comfort Zone

“The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me’”  (John 10: 31)?  The people ready to stone Jesus are God-fearing Jews. These are good people who see Jesus as a threat to the way of life to which they have been faithful their entire lives.  They see Jesus not just as another Jew but as a rebel, a dangerous man, who must be put to death, as far as they are concerned. 

The good works of His Father that Jesus showed the people, all of us, would culminate on Calvary, where He would give His life for the salvation of the world.  Jesus saved many people from their illnesses and sinful ways when He walked the streets of Galilee and the surrounding cities. He would save the whole world from the tree of the cross.

Many times, you and I do good works, the works the Father gave us to do before we even entered this world.  The greatest  work that we will do is the work of our redemption, dying with Christ day by day.  That dying is not the death of our physical bodies, when we, too, will leave this world and enter into the glory of our Father but the death that Jesus refers to often in His spiritual teachings.  “…[U]nless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest. Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12:24).  Or, his teaching to the apostles who were indignant toward James and John wanting first place in the kingdom:  “You know that among the gentiles those they call their rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. Among you this is not to happen. No, anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant , and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of man himself came not be served to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10: 42-45).

What is our response when the Spirit asked this kind of dying from us? Are we ready to throw stones at those who threaten our egotistic plans to ursurp power, to lord it over others, to demand service instead of giving service? Are we ready to stone anyone who  makes us aware of that we are protecting the “wheat grain” from falling into the earth and dying”?  Do we abandon the challenges of our faith in Jesus when our way of thinking like “the gentiles” is threatened?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

God's Promise to make us "exceedingly fertile"

In today’s first reading, Gen. 17: 3-9, God  tells Abram that he is to be the father of a host of nations, that God will make him “exceedingly fertile”, that “kings shall come from him”--that he shall be a royal kingdom--that he and his descendants will be given the land in which he was then staying.  Recall that God had asked Abram to leave the land of Ur and go to the land “that I will show you.”  He also asked Abraham (his name was changed when God established his covenant with him) to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, and Abraham obeyed  (God provided a ram instead). Abram trusted God, unlike our first parents, Adam and Eve.  Abraham, truly, is our father of faith and a model of trust.

The promises of the Old Covenant extend into the New Covenant established at the foot of the cross when Jesus entrusted Mary to John and John to Mary: "Woman, behold our son; son, behold your mother." Jesus, from the cross, is asking each of us to be mother, brother and sister to one another, to care for one another, to be responsible to and for each other. That means that no one should go without food, shelter, or land or the means to raise and provide for a family.  Everyone should be thriving and be exceedingly fruitful.

We await the fulfillment of the promise that the Royal Kingdom of God will be firmly established here on this earth. We believe that one day we truly will relate to each other as brothers and sisters, as one family in Christ Jesus, as men and women of faith, as Jesus prayed the night before His passion: I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me (John 17:21).  That day of prostrating ourselves before the Lord in deep faith, as Abram did, is coming--all will be one in Christ Jesus, our Lord, all Christ's enemies will be put underfoot. We also believe, as did Abraham, that God will make us--our country, our nation, all the nations of the world, all the peoples of the world-- “exceedingly fertile” and that we will come to the point of distributing this world’s goods equally to all people. God says to us, as He said to Abram:  “You will be my people and I will be your God.”   Do I believe it? do you?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blessed by the Lord, our God, our Deliverer

In today’s first reading, Dan 3: 14-20, 91-91, 95, the King asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “is it true…that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do not succumb to the King’s demands and are bound and thrown into the white-hot furnace. When the King peers into the furnace and sees three men unfettered and unhurt walking  on the red-hot coals with the Son of Man in their midst, he proclaims “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him.”

In the Gospel , Jn 8:31-42, Jesus, the one true God, reveals the Father’s will and  challenges the Scribes and Pharisees who are planning to kill him.  They carry out their plans and Jesus is executed by crucifixion on the cross.  Death has no power over Him.  He is risen from the dead and now sits at the right of God in glory as king “until he has made his enemies his footstool” (1 Cor 15: 25-26).

The three men in Daniel testify to the power of the one true God to save us from harm and set us free.  Jesus actually does save us and set us free from Satan’s snares to worship false gods. Those false gods are the focus of many of our commercials. Marketing experts “sound the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipes and all the other musical instruments” to  lure people into worshipping consumerism, materialism, individualism, sexism, and the ego’s demands to exert  power over others, use pleasure at other’s expense, and accumulate wealth for selfish ends.

We, too, are faced every day with the choice Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego made when they said to the king:  “…we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up."  Yes, every day we, too, are faced with the blaring invitations to worship the gods of this world, of pagan cultures and pagan societies or to worship the one true God and to listen to Jesus’ Gospel messages. Which choice will I make today?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Humility, Faith, Trust

In today’s first reading, 2 Sam 7¨4-5a, 12-14a, 16, Nathan informs David that he is not to build a Temple for the Lord, that that task will be Solomon’s responsibility.  David’s time had come to pass on the leadership role to his son Solomon. He was obviously in the second stage of his life, that of letting go, letting God and letting others. The first stage in life is to “build Temples,” become established in a career or in several careers, raise a family, be involved in service projects, in ministry, in initiating programs to better society. The first part of life is about  filling “the wine jugs” of one’s life with the choicest of “wines”. The latter years call us to even greater heroics, namely,  learning to “retire” into the background and surrender positions considered important in the eyes of the world  to others. It is a time to do what St. John the Baptist did: Learning to let Christ increase and oneself decrease, so to speak, living a life of humility, hope, and faith that rekindles and deepens one’s love for the Crucified Christ.  I cannot decrease if I’ve built nothing!  That is why the first half of life is very important. But no less important  is the second half of life, the life of elders, of wisdom figures, whose time of living a more contemplative lifestyle has come, a time to let God “raise up your heir after you”, a time of letting go, letting God, and letting others take their rightful place in “building the Temple”.  It is the spiritual journey of persons who “follow the faith of Abraham” (Romans 4: 13, 16-18, 22).

 Where are you in this faith journey? My prayer is that, whether you are in the first half or the second half of your life, may you look to God as your father, your God, the Rock, your Savior,” as we pray in the responsorial psalm of today’s liturgy, Ps. 89.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Followed by Kindness and Goodness

In today’s first  reading, Daniel  13: 1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 and Sunday’s Gospel, John 8: 1-11, we meet God’s justice, forgiveness, and compassionate intervention in the lives of two women: one unjustly accused of adultery and the other guilty of adultery.  Both, according to the Mosaic Law, faced being stoned to death if found guilty.  Injustice exists in both instances: the one accused falsely by two wicked judges and the other accused of this sin without the male partner also being made to accept responsibility for his role.

In the case of Susanna, God inspires Daniel to speak up on her behalf and confront the wicked judges. In the case of the woman in the Gospel, Jesus intervenes and challenges those who confront her and who are using her to trap Jesus. Jesus asks those without sin to cast the first stone and all walk away.

You and I, had we been among her accusers, would also have had to walk away, as we, too, are not without sin.  Jesus is our mediator, the One who intervenes for us, as Daniel intervened for Susanna. Yahweh says to us through the prophet Isaiah, “though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Is. 1: 18). That theme is re-echoed in the responsorial psalm of today’s Mass in the words:  “Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life.”  Why? Because we are redeemed, called to and empowered to conversion every moment of every day! Like the good thief on the cross, God says to us: “This day you shall be with be in Paradise.” For you and me, that does not only refer to the day we die, it refers to today.  “Salvation is now,” Paul tells us in 2 Cor 6:2.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rejoicing in the Election of Pope Francis I

We rejoice in the election of Pope Francis I.  What a gift to the Church, I believe, this pope will be. His humility, his love for the poor, his simple lifestyle, his approachability to which the people of his Archdiocese in Argentina can testify are indicators of the power of the Spirit at work in His life and His openness to the Spirit. 

Here is a man after the heart of St. Francis of Assisi, whose name as pope he chose. As archbishop of one of the largest dioceses in Argentina, he chose to live in a simple apartment rather than in the archbishop's palatial dwelling. He also gave up being transported in a chauffeured limousine and chose instead to take the bus to work or rode his bicycle. He also cooked his own meals.

Here is a man who follows in the footsteps of a poor Christ, as did St. Francis.  He has a heart for the poor and is very bothered by the inequal distribution of wealth in the world. In speaking to a group of Latin American bishops in 2007, he noted, as quoted by John Allen in a March 3, 2013, report published by the National Catholic Reporter,  that "we live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilitiesof a fuller life for so many of our brothers."

"He is no defender of clerical privilege, or insensitive to pastoral realities. In September 2012, he delivered a blistering attack on priests who refuse to baptize children born out of wedlock, calling it a form of 'rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism,''' writes journalist John Allen, for the National Catholic Reporter.

Let us join in thanking the Lord for this, His servant, and let us pray for him and the Church, all of us, that we may truly choose to live the Gospel life.

Christ, our Mediator

The entrance antiphon to today’s liturgy reads:  “Christ is mediator of a New Covenant, so that by means of his death, those who are called may receive the promise of an eternal inheritance.”

Imagine that that which you created, cherished, to whom you gave life, blessed, nurtured, supported; that to which you have given a guarantee of an eternal inheritance rebelling against you, choosing death over life, choosing one’s own will, choosing self,  over God and God’s will.  That is what Adam, Eve, Cain, the myriad of people building the Tower of Babel, the people around Noah’s time, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Israelites did repeatedly on their journey to the Promised Land; that is, each time they engaged in pagan worship of created things, of man- made things, of  sex and pleasures, wealth and power.  That is what we are doing in erecting false gods out of accumulative wealth used for selfish ends, the use of power to control and do violence to each other and against other nations, and when we engage in pleasure to violate our own and others’ dignity and integrity as children of God.

 “Who will rescue [us]…doomed to death? God—thanks be to him—through Jesus Christ, our Lord”  (Rom 7: 14-25).

On Easter, we will celebrate that restoration of humankind to its Creator!  Jesus, the New Adam, the One who is obedient to God the Father even unto death and who trusts the Father’s plan of our redemption, His will to make us one with the Trinity, will crust Satan’s head from the cross.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

God's Memory is Never Impaired

Today’s first reading, Is. 49:8-11, was written during the Babylonian exile. People wondered whether God had forgotten them.  Through the prophet Isaiah, God replies: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”

You and I, all of creation, have come forth from the womb of God, planted by God, formed by God, taken shape humanly in our mother’s womb by God’s design.  No mother or father forgets  the child God created with the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg.  And, by no means, does God forget the Masterpiece He created after His own image and likeness in cooperation with the parents He had chosen.

Ponder how much a child resembles its biological parents. Then reflect upon how every person in his/her divine DNA resembles God.  That resemblance, through grace, radiates over time in those who nurture their spiritual selves. How? By reading, reflecting upon and giving expression to the challenges  the O.T. prophets and  Jesus put forth in the Scriptures; by getting in touch with the truths in today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 145, and that reveal themselves  to those who live a reflective life, seeking God within the circumstances of their lives,  that God “is gracious and merciful,…good to all and compassionate toward all his works….lifts up all who are falling, and raises up all who are down.”  Yes, by discovering over and over again that the God who brought you into existence to carry out His will, to fulfill the purpose for which He brought you into existence, “is just in all His ways and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145).
May you discover a smidgen of that truth today

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Do You Want to be Healed?

In today’s first reading, Ez 47: 1-9, 12, an angel of the Lord brings Ezekiel to the Temple, from which flows water to the east of the Temple and from the south of the altar. The angel asks Ezekiel to wade through the water. At first it is ankle deep, then waist deep. The flowing water becomes a river through which Ezekiel cannot wade because of its depth.  In the Gospel of today, Jn 5: 1-16, we are in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate, where there’s a pool called Bethesda that has five entrances.  When the waters of that pool are stirred up, the first person in  is healed.  Jesus spots a man who lay there for 38-years unable to get to the pool before anyone else. Jesus has compassion on him and asked him whether he wants to be healed. The man says “yes” and Jesus made him whole.

 The water in both readings is the Living Water of grace,  of empowerment and life, of reconciliation and healing.  Through the waters of baptism and the waters of grace that flow into our lives from a myriad of sources chosen by God, we are made whole, cleansed of our iniquities, refreshed and enabled to bear fruit that will last.  The Water flowing from Jesus’ side from the cross continues to flow into our  lives, making our deserts fertile and softening the soil of our hearts and minds to God’s Word and God’s will, so that, we, in turn, become Eucharist to one another and sources of healing to ourselves and to the world in which we live.

God’s Word never ceases to amaze me.   May I move beyond amazement, however,  to action. May the leaves of my life “never fade”.  May I never fail to bear fruit because I, too, have acknowledged my need for healing when Jesus, in every Eucharist,  asks me  whether I want to be made whole and released from the sin that binds me.  My answer is “yes”. What about yours?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Creation of a new heaven and a new earth

The Lord says in today’s first reading, Is. 65: 17-21, “I am about to create new heavens and new earth;….No longer shall the sounds of weeping be heard there or the sound of crying… (Is.65: 17, 19) Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create;  for I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people”  (Is. 65: 18-19).

The pagan official in today’s Gospel, John 4: 43-54,  experienced the fulfillment of this promise. His son was dying and he sought out Jesus.  When he found Him in Galilee, he asked that he come down to Capernaum before his son dies. Jesus does not go down. He sadly states to the people gathered around: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” He then turns to the pagan official and simply says: “Go home; your son will live.” This pagan’s sorrow is turned into rejoicing. Everyone who meets him on his way home experiences a man filled with delight.

God is always creating something new in those who believe. He is always putting our sins behind Him, totally forgetting our transgressions.   Jesus’ triumph over death is an eternal NOW.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit rejoice eternally over Jesus’ victory. Yes, the prophesy of Isaiah is being fulfilled every single day. Even though our eyes do not see the “miracles,” the signs of Jesus’ triumph over death that are renewed in the depths of our hearts, in the recesses of our homes, in the bowels of our social, political and religious systems, every moment of every day, does not mean that God’s power to transform evil into good, death into life is not occurring in our midst.  Must Jesus say to us: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe” (John 4: 48)?  


Friday, March 8, 2013

Fruitfulness: A Gift from God

In today’s first reading, Hosea 14: 2-10, the prophet says to us: “Because of me you bear fruit.”  It is so easy, when we are successful, are doing well, are thriving, to attribute our “fruitfulness” to ourselves.  Without even realizing it, we may be looking to ourselves to be our own Savior and to be the Savior of others.  “Here, I will do that.”  “Oh, sure, no problem.”  “Call me if you get into trouble.”  We may say “yes” to everything and anything that is asked of us and then wonder where our resentment and anger are originating. 

A time will come for all of us when we will realize that God alone is God, that God alone saves, that God alone is all-powerful, all-knowing, ubiquitous and omnipresent.  The time will come for all of us when we have no “horses to mount” (compare today’s first reading); and, as a nation, no more drones to launch, no more military muscle to flex.  Yes, in the words of the prophet Hosea, the time will come for every nation, every country, every person  when each will no longer say  “‘our god’ to the work of our hands” (Hosea 14: 2-10).

Lord, may I have the humility to come to the realization that you alone are God, you alone are Savior, and that I am a creature dependent upon you; and that my fruitfulness comes from you, though I certainly am involved in the fact that I bear fruit that will last. That fruit is love, forgiveness, joy, peace.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Seeing God at Work: What's My Reaction?

In today's Gospel, Lk 11: 14-23, Jesus "was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed." Others accused Jesus of casting out demons by Satan's power. From Jesus' question to his objectors, "By whom do your people cast out demons," it is obvious that there were individuals among the objectors who also had the power to cast out Satan.   I can imagine the objectors saying to themselves: "Who is this guy? He is not one of us!He's not authentic!  He must be under Satan's influence!" 

Satan's goal on this earth is to create division, to cause chaos, to lead people to mistrust God at work in ourselves and in others.  The snare Satan sets for us is to engage in behaviors, in conversations, that pit one person against another, that leads others to question the authenticity and the motivations of another.  We may not be aware of  why we believe that "'nothing good' can come from the source which we are opposing.However, many times, when God is doing good in another, we are faced with mystery.  The response that brings about unity is one of reverence and awe, gratitude and affirmation; in short, behaviors flowing from our spirit-self, not from our egos. The ego always wants to be the center of attention, the one on the pedestal, the one who is right and the other wrong. The ego, as the egos of Adam and Eve, wants to be a god unto itself and does not believe God's promptings anymore than Adam and Eve did. Satan plants a doubt and says, in effect: "God really did not say you couldn't eat of that fruit. It really is not true that you will die. No, God knows that you will be like Him if you eat of it." And we know the rest of the story. We, too, get caught in this game of pretending to be God, always right and never wrong in our relationships with others, as with the objectors of Jesus doing good by the power of the Spirit working through  Him.

Humility in the face of God at work in another, especially if I do not like that person or believe what that person believes,  or if I perceive that person in competition with me, does not come easily.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Praying One's Experiences

This morning was one of those mornings when I knew that I had to bare my soul to the Lord and honestly search for what was going on within me, why was I so angry about a situation over which I have no control, where was I getting hooked?  I could have gone to today’s Scripture readings and had a Pollyanna experience versus getting downright “dirty” by looking at my disgruntled spirit!  I knew what I needed to do.

I asked the Lord to show me why I was so broiled with negative feelings.  Ever find yourself having thoughts of which you are ashamed?  “Me, thinking that way?”  “Oh, my goodness.” So I identified the ugly thoughts, the unkind thoughts, laid them before the Lord and asked God to give me feedback. I  swished to my nondominant hand and started writing. The following message emerged, I believe, from the  Holy Spirit counseling me from my true self:

 Dorothy Ann, I know your pain. You are not a bad person, an ugly person. I commend your honesty in acknowledging those negative feelings, recognizing, as well,      the accompanying thoughts. Let these thoughts pass by like dark clouds. Do not judge yourself or condemn yourself.
Your ego, wanting to control, has clashed with another ego wanting control as well. Two mountains have crashed into each other. For your sake and the other person’s sake, seek refuge in Me. Yes, come to Me. I will refresh you. Let me arm you with patience, humility and love.

 I prayed:  “Free me from the tyranny of my ego! Spare me from crashing into that “rock” and not heeding your warning:  Walk away.”

When I discussed the issue with my twin sister Doris, who is in heaven, she encouraged me to surrender my ego to the Lord, showed me what I was “fighting about” that got me hooked and then reminded me that the Lord knows what I need before I ask Him. She also asked me to trust the Lord and He will act.

I then thanked the Lord for the grace to say “I’m sorry” to the person with whose ego I clashed and asked forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


In today’s Gospel, Mt. 18: 21-35,  Jesus tells the parable of the merciful king who forgives the servant who has absolutely no way to pay his debt. The statement “he had no way of paying it back” is about us humans who are in debt to our God.  It does not take rocket science to know that we live in a corrupt, sin-laden world, of which we are all a part and to which we all contribute. If we think differently, we are deceiving ourselves. Peter, in today’s Gospel, asks Jesus how many times he has to forgive a brother or a sister, seven times? Jesus replies: 70xs 7xs.  We probably are not aware that, in a given day, we are capable of offending God and others 70xs.  And even if we are unaware of the times we fail to show love, express gratitude, show mercy or promote the good of others or how many times we bend the truth for our own sake at the expense of others or how many times we exploit others for our own aggrandizement—any time truth is covered up, any time we take unfair advantage of another, we thwart the building up of the Kingdom of God’s love and mercy and generosity.

Take those reflections to a larger scale: the number of persons exploited  and enslaved by the sex and labor trades throughout the world, how many lives are destroyed by the billions of dollars spent on war and nuclear weapons, by persons hanging on to power and control.  Let us look at how many persons, especially children and infants, die throughout the world because of unjust, sinful  policies and economic inequalities that lock families into devastating poverty that leads to starvation and homelessness while corrupt politicians protect their “gods.”  Truly we have “no way of paying back” the debt we owe God because of our  willful ways of choosing our wills over God’s will. We are in the same position as the good thief on the cross. Will we recognize our guilt and the fact that the Son of God is giving His very life so that we will have life in God. Do we realize that Jesus is paying the debt we owe for our sinfulness by the pouring out of His blood for the salvation of the world-- yes, the world in which we live and of which we are a part.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meeting God in Unexpected Places

In today’s first reading, 2 Kgs. 5: 1-15b, a little slave girl, an Israelite captured in a Aramean battle with the Israelites, believes beyond a doubt, that Naaman, the army commander of the King of Aram, would be cured of leprosy if he were willing go to the prophet in Samaria, willing to go into enemy territory.  Naaman goes and when he presents himself to the king of Israel, he encounters an angry, suspicious king. “I’m not God.  He just wants to pick a fight with me.” No faith there!  Openness to a miracle? Are you kidding!  He’s too caught up in his own importance. Naaman leaves the king and goes to
Elisha, the prophet of Israel. When the prophet sends out a messenger, Naaman is angered: “He doesn’t even come out to meet me in person and denies me the respect  I, commander of the Aramean army,  deserve.” Naaman is also insulted by the message: go bade 7xs in the River Jordan. “What? We have rivers in my own country. Why should I bade in your river?”  Naaman’s friends challenge him:  “Set your pride aside. If the prophet had asked you to do something extraordinary, you would not have hesitated. But because he only asked that you bade 7xs in the River Jordan,  you refuse. Go now and do as he suggested that you might be healed of your leprosy.”  Naaman listens to his friends.

 Many times what God asks of us seems ridiculous, even insulting, repugnant.  We dig in our heels and refuse to follow God’s lead because it didn’t come to us in the form we wanted it.  “I deserve better,” we reason.  “What kind of a request is that,” we angrily ask.  Coming from her? Coming from him? In the River Jordan? In Nazareth?   We can very much be like Naaman, like the angry, suspicious king, or like the people in the Gospel who, when they realized Jesus was challenging their lack of faith, attempted to destroy Him. Or we can be like the little slave girl and the prophet Elisha. And, yes, we can be converted by listening to those who point out our irrational thinking patterns and point us in the right direction. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Compassionate God, A Loving God, A Waiting God, A Grateful God

In the Gospel for today, Lk 15: 1-3, 11-32, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son. As we reflect upon that parable, we might  pray as follows:

Jesus, I am the prodigal over and over again. Each time I turn off the path that transforms my attitudes, my thoughts, and my behaviors into those that are prompted by grace, You await my return. Each day You peer down the path I have taken that distances me from being the disciplined, loving, patient, kind, forgiving woman (man), spouse, mother/father, Sister/Priest, employee/employer, servant/recipient of service You call me to be.  You wait for me to turn around (metanoia) and recognize that I have chosen a path that alienates me from my true self, from others and from You. You wait lovingly for any sign that I have turned around and when I do You excitedly rush toward me.   You cast behind You all of my sins and totally rejoice in my return!

 Imagine Jesus hugging you, throwing a party for you, rejoicing in heaven with all of the angels and saints! Yes, Jesus truly rejoices each time you and I turn back to Him. And He waits for that, every time we stray, every time we make choices that are not in tune with His Father’s will for us.  What an awesome God, a God about whom the prophet Micah in today’s first reading says: 

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt?  You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins (recall the time Jesus sent the demons into the herd of 2000 pigs, all of whom drown in the sea)…. (Micah 7: 14-15, 18-20).
This is your God, folks! And mine!

Friday, March 1, 2013

God's Plan at Work

Today’s Scripture readings, Gen. 37: 3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a, the story of Joseph being sold into Egypt, and Mt 21: 33-43, 45-46, the story of the tenants entrusted with God’s vineyard who mistreat and kill the servants and the son  whom God sends to “harvest the produce”, are about  God bringing good out of evil.  In the first story, God saves whole nations from extinction by Joseph’s intervention .  The parable of the tenants is about God saving all of humankind by the intervention of His Son. Both were sold—Joseph for twenty pieces of silver, Jesus for thirty. Joseph eventually won favor by the nation to which he was old. Jesus’ captors, those to whom Judas sold Him, treated Him cruelly, mocked Him, crowned Him with thorns, scourged Him, and had Him crucified. Through Joseph nations were saved from extinction. Through Jesus the entire world, all of humankind, is saved from eternal destruction.

God brings good out of evil in both cases. God does not ever stop doing good, transforming our disastrous behaviors, those done unto us and those done by us, into a good for all those who believe. His covenant endures through all generations down to this very moment.  Do I believe that? And, if not, why not? What do I need to do to restore my faith in my redeemer?  Do I realize that providence is always at work making all things whole, healing our brokenness, reconciling our differences, making us one with the Father, the Spirit and Himself?  When was the last time I experience these miracles in my life, in the life of my family, in the life of the Church, in society at large?