Friday, February 28, 2014

Jesus' Honesty, Sensivity and Mercy

In today’s Gospel, Mark 10: 1-12, a crowd gathered around Jesus and, as usual, He uses this opportunity to instruct them.  In that crowd are Pharisees who are following Him, not to hear His instructions, but to test Him.   Jesus is direct with them when they question Him about divorce and reminds them that Moses allowed divorce because of the “hardness of your hearts.”  When I am harassing Jesus for an answer to my questions, is it that I am unaware of the hardness of my heart and that I am not honestly seeking the Lord but looking to be justified, trying to prove my superiority, my self-righteousness.? Are my motives questionable? 

Jesus reminds the Pharisees that, “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”   How profoundly beautiful!  How significant the graces of the sacrament of Matrimony that empower a man and a woman to commit to one another “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, to remain faithful in their love for one another, to  work through the difficulties they encounter in their marriage, relying upon the Spirit to counsel them, guide them, enlighten them and strengthen in living out their marriage vows.

What about those persons whose marriage ends in divorce?  What about those who commit adultery and are unfaithful to one another?  Jesus does not condemn these persons, as we learn in His response to the woman who is dragged in front of Him and whose accusers are ready to stone her.  Jesus confronts her accusers and says to them: Those of you without sin cast the first stone. All walk away and Jesus says to the woman: Has anyone condemned you? She says “no”.  His reply:  And I don’t condemn you either. Go and sin no more!  Jesus is challenging her  and her accusers to learn from the mistakes they have made. Likewise, He challenges us to learn from our mistakes and to move on to living  in accord with God’s law of love and forgiveness, honesty and humility, fidelity and truth.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Vita Consecrata--Consecrated Life


Reflection II


Throughout the ages men and women have been called by God to dedicate their lives to the Lord alone, to follow the Lord unreservedly, leaving mom and dad, brothers and sisters, boy-friends and girlfriends, the corporate business world, the world of computers and i-pods and smart phones, a lucrative profession for the Lord.  Called by the Holy Spirit to choose the dream of Christ for the American dream, they set aside making a fortune in this world—or a least a smidgen of a fortune—and raising the ideal family of their dreams to embrace all of God’s children as their own, willing to make sacrifices that will lead others to the Lord, willing to lead others to the riches that only God can give.  This call to consecrated life originates from God, from God’s Holy Spirit, who prompts some men and some women to embrace this challenge, to not be outdone in generosity, as the One who calls is God Himself.  Like the apostles who left a lucrative fishing business, who left the post of collecting taxes and pooling in “big money” and lording it over others and abandoned, most likely, dreams others had for them, so, too, some women and some men are called, to this day, to leave everything for the one thing necessary: following the will of God for them personally, trusting the Lord and no other. “In this way, through the many charisms or spiritual and apostolic life bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit, they…[help] to make the mystery and the mission of the church shine forth, and in doing so … [contribute] to the renewal of society”  (Vita Consecrata, #1).

Placing My Trust Rightly

In today’s first reading, James 5: 1-6, St. James has strong words for those who become rich by cheating the poor and refusing to share their wealth to make the world a better place for all peoples The Scriptures do not condemn wealth. What is sinful is taking advantage of the poor, exploiting the poor, denying them just wages and thus jeopardizing their ability to shelter, feed, clothe and educate their families. What is also being condemned is trusting in one’s wealth, putting all one’s energies in accumulating and consuming material goods as gods in themselves upon which their salvation depends. “This,” the psalmist says, “is the way of those whose trust is folly, the end of those contented with their lot: Like sheep they are herded into the nether world; death is their shepherd and the upright rule over them,” in eternity, that is. But even here on earth, living selfishly is hell in itself.

Jesus says to us in Mark 8: 35: “Whoever would save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for the sake of the gospels’ will save it.” Am I willing to be “broken bread” and “poured-out wine” for others? Am I willing to give service to others, helping the poor and oppressed, addressing injustices, sharing my wealth with the less fortunate? Jesus says to us in today’s Gospel, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.” And that reward, for rich and poor alike, is eternal life. “God will redeem me from the power of the nether world by receiving me” (Psalm 49), the psalmist says to each of us.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tolerance and Wisdom versus Fear and Jealousy

In today’s Gospel, Mark 9: 38-40, the apostle John expressed his fear and jealousy that persons other than the apostles and disciples of the Lord are casting out demons. He does not yet possess the wisdom that would enable him to be relaxed, tolerant and accepting of others doing the same good works that he himself does. His view is narrow. The “law” he applies is rigid. Jesus, on the other hand, does not feel threatened or the least slighted that this man is casting out demons in His name. He does not question whether this man has the necessary credentials or the right educational background to be acting in His name. He recognizes his goodness and says to John: “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” Every morning, I release to the Lord any personal feelings that other people’s beliefs, values or intelligence threaten me. That has had a powerful effect upon me: with the grace of God, I have significantly resisted the temptation to put others down and am no longer afraid of other people’s intelligence as I once was. My tolerance of other people’s opinions, decisions and actions has grown, as I realize that, they, too, are doing the good that they believe God is asking of them. I am not their judge. That lesson, I believe, is what Jesus is trying to teach John and those following His Way, His Truth, and His Life. That is a lesson that we, like the apostles and earlier followers of Jesus, may need to learn repeatedly. “Wisdom,” Sirach tell us, “…puts us to the test….With her precepts she puts us to the proof, until our heart is fully with her” (Sirach 4: 11-19). Jesus’ heart was fully with Wisdom! You and I, God willing and through the grace of God, will arrive at that same spot before we die. We see this Wisdom in many of our elders!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The first reading of today’s liturgy, James 4: 1-10, begins with the question: “Beloved: Where do the wars and where to the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” In the Gospel, Mark 9: 30-37, Jesus admonishes the twelve apostles for arguing among themselves about who is the greatest among them. They enter into this argument right after Jesus told them that He would be “handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” Totally ignoring Jesus, they fight about who is in first place in Jesus’ eyes. Jesus tells them that, in God’s Kingdom, those who are first are those who are “last of all and the servant of all”. He then brings a little child into their midst—children in those days were in last place and actually were not ever counted. As with women in that culture, it was as though they did not exist. Jesus puts His arms around this child and says: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” Being a disciple of Jesus is about being like little children, who simply go about being little children, enjoying life, playing with each other, learning what is put before them to learn, assuming whatever role is given to them, exploring and being excitedly open to the wonders of the universe, of life itself, of who God is, who adults are, who they are as little children and what possibilities to live life fully are open to them. Children do not come into the world filled with jealousy of others, vying for first place, or arguing who is greatest among them. Those are learned behaviors passed onto them from adults in their lives. Receive a child as a child, in all its innocence, purity, openness, lack of prejudice, honesty (children say it as it is), awe, wonder. Teach that child about God, about love and gratitude, about forgiveness and service, about generosity and compassion. You will not only have received a child, you will have opened yourself to Jesus and to Jesus’ Father and your Father, God the Almighty. What more could we want from life, truly?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Reflection I--Vita Consecrata: The Life of Religious Women and Men

VITA CONSECRATA--CONSECRATED LIFE Reflection I Consecrated life is a gift from God the Father through the Holy Spirit to the Church. Through their profession of the vows of poverty, consecrated chastity and obedience, women and men religious follow the chaste, obedient, and poor Christ. They are the face of Christ in the world of today. Through our lives of consecrated chastity, obedience and poverty—holding all things in common for the sake of the common good, for the sake of the mission of Christ to proclaim and build up the God’s Kingdom here on earth—we women and men religious direct all people to one thing necessary: living a life of faith, hope and love here on earth until that day when love alone reigns forever. Jesus tells us in Luke 17: 20-21 that the Kingdom of God is among us. We religious make the invisible visible by living, loving and being totally for the sake of that Kingdom here on earth! (Compare Vita Consecrata, #1).

The Lord is My Shepherd

Yesterday’s responsorial psalm was Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want….” The LORD is my shepherd. Who? The Lord God Almighty, the All-knowing, All-seeing, All-loving, All-caring One. God Himself guards me, protects me gives me life, sustains it, nourishes it, strengthens it, and preserves it for life eternally. The Lord IS my shepherd, not “was” or “will be” but IS my Shepherd this very second, this very hour, today and every day of my life, one day at a time! The Lord is MY Shepherd. God has chosen me as HIS special sheep, the lamb He carries on His shoulder. I am His. He is mine. He has his eye on me all of the time because I belong to Him and to no one else. The Lord is my SHEPHERD. He knows the terrain I will encounter today, whether it has dangerous potholes in it, whether it leads to unsafe crossings, whether it is smooth and inviting yet deceptively evil, unsafe and/or treacherous. He knows where the path leads and will turn me around to safer ground, if need be. As my Shepherd, God leads me to “green pastures” where my needs will be met: my need for full development spiritually, intellectually, physically, socially, emotionally. All I need to do is step forward, get off the couch, so to speak, and move toward the goal that promises me authentic freedom, peace and joy. Then it is that God empowers me to be nourished on all levels. As Shepherd, He gives me the provisions I need to become the best version of myself every second of every day in all kinds of “weather” and on all kinds of terrain. “The Lord is my Shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

Faith Expressed in Charity toward Oneself and in Service to Others

St. James, in today’s first reading, James 2: 14-24, 26, asks us what good is our faith without good works. “See,” he says, “how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” Sometimes the good works that manifest our faith is being good to ourselves, saying no to “the millionth” request to become involved in one more good work! How hard it is for us workaholics to pull back or to say “no” when we are already overextended or over involved. Do I have enough faith in God and in others to 1) say “no” when one more task is over my limit, 2) to trust that others are capable of doing that to which I need to say “no, not now; my plate is full”, or when I need to take a day off—even a vacation and/or a retreat day and do nothing but rest in the Lord. Last night one of my fellow religious with whom I live asked me: “When are you going to say “no”? The fact that I felt defensive and hurt was an indication that she hit the nail on the head of what I was called to do at this point in time: exercise my faith by saying “no” to the next request to take on another commitment. What about you? Is your faith supported by good works, including the good work of being kind to yourself when you need to pull back and rest in the Lord, take a retreat day or a vacation day to regroup, rejuvenate yourself personally or as a couple so that you have something worthwhile to give in service to others/to your family?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

God Has No Favorites

In today’s first reading, James 2: 1-9, St. James challenges us in terms of how we would treat a poor person and a wealthy individual both entering our assembly or entering into our presence. Would we show deference to the wealthy person and ignore the poor—much worse send the poor away in disgust? St. James then reminds us that the poor are “rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom.” Not that the wealthy cannot be “rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom,” but in “discarding,” or ignoring the poor in preference to the rich, I am engaging in sinful behaviors. In fact, I am, in such a instance, poorer, much poorer, than the ragged, plain-clothed individual. God has no favorites, St. James reminds me. I am no better off than any other person nor is anyone else better off than me. All of us--the rich and the poor, the employed and the unemployed, blue-collared workers and garbage collectors, farmers and executives, doctors and domestic workers--are totally dependent upon the mercy of God. We all stand before Him as sinners, heirs of the Kingdom only because of God’s mercy. Lord, may I welcome the poor and learn from them. May I realize that we stand on the same playing field, are on the same journey to the Promised Land, waiting the same reward for our dependence upon You, our humility, our faith, our love, our trust, our repentance and the good works we do here on earth in proclaiming and building up Your Kingdom.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Word of God Planted within Me

“…humbly welcome the Word that has been planted in you and is able to save your soul” (James 1: 21), we read in today’s first reading (James 1: 19-27). When we plant seeds this spring, those seeds, if given the right amount of rain and sunshine and other nutrients, will grow into flowers, vegetables, depending on their DNA, so to speak! The DNA planted within us is the Word of God, Christ Jesus. That seed will grow strong, mature, over time. My whole being will become the being of Christ, as I nurture it, surround it with an environment that supports it, namely, if I do good works, engage in humble service, avoid evil, repent of my sinfulness, spend time reflecting upon the Scriptures, take time to sit at Jesus’ feet in prayer and openness to the Spirit of God, the “Sun” of grace. That seed will grow when I feed it at the Table of the Lord (the Eucharist) and commit my ways to the ways of the Lord. The growth of that seed also depends upon my openness to the healing power of Jesus, which flows in me and through me in each encounter of the day that is graced by love, in the same way that the blind man in today’s Gospel, Mark 8: 22-26., encountered Jesus' love through his friends. In stages, as he trusted the Lord and was ready to be fully healed of his blindness, his eyes were opened, at first to see dimly and indistinctly and then to seeing clearly. May I Lord, be open completely to what you want me to see, what you want me to hear, and to how you want me to love you and trust you this day in all of its events and encounters, in all of its challenges and difficulties, in all of its sorrows and joys. May I allow Your Word to grow strong in me this day and to bear fruit that heals others and myself.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Choices that give life or take life away: Which do I Choose?

In today's first Scripture session, Sirach 15: 15-20, we are reminded that, if we trust God, we shall live; that God sets before us fire and water, life and death, good and evil and will give us whichever we choose. O, the Wisdom and the greatness of our God! In the second Scripture lesson, 1 Cor 2: 6-10, Paul speaks of a wisdom, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age--all of whom will pass away--but a wisdom we know as Christ Crucified, a wisdom modeled by Christ who gave His life for the ransom of us all. We, too, having the choice of water and fire, good and evil, life and death, are faced every day with choices that lead either to life or to degrees of death. We are faced with the option of giving of ourselves so others, and ourselves, live life more fully or choosing to live only for ourselves, saving our lives selfishly for our own purposes. The choice is ours. God gives us what we choose. What am I willing to lose for the sake of another, husbands/wives for the sake of their spouse and their children, women/men religious/priests for the sake of those we serve, for fellow community members, for the good of others?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

God''s Generosity and Concern for All

In today’s Gospel, Mark 8: 1-10, Jesus is moved with compassion for the crowd. The people have been with him for three days. His concern is that if they go home without a meal theymight collapse on the way. Notice, that no one from the crowd had requested a meal. Jesus noticed and responds out of the depth of his concern. From seven loaves, He feeds the four thousand people and has some left over. What a lesson for us; namely, that if we wait upon the Lord we, too, will be saved. God notices and is concerned and will respond lovingly and with an abundance in response to the unmet need. God never abandons those He loves and He loves all of us. He knows our needs. He is aware of our hunger, a hunger for justice and right, a hunger of love and belonging, a hunger for right relationships, for understanding and forgiveness, for meaning and purpose, for sustenance and warmth, for protection and safety. Sometimes, instead of waiting upon the Lord and bringing our hopes and fears, our needs and longings to the Lord we take it upon ourselves to make things happen without divine help, as Jeroboam did in the first reading. Made King following his father Solomon’s demise, Jeroboam begins to fear that the other kingdoms will return to David’s house and seek his death. So he creates two golden calves as gods and the people, with him, fall into idolatry. When I am afraid, what gods do I turn to instead of waiting upon the Lord, who has a future full of hope for me? Do I take things into my own hands when what I think should be happening is not happening fast enough, such as a reconciliation with a family member, an acknowledgement of injustice, the righting of a wrong? “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved; in quiet and in trust your strength lies,” says Isaiah (Is 15:30). Do I truly believe that?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Jesus' Valentine Gift to the Deaf Man

In today’s Gospel, Mark 7: 31-37, Jesus heals a deaf man and removes his speech impediment. The man is so grateful that he is unable to contain his joy or not announce the Good News, even though Jesus requests that he tell no one about the miracle. There is no way that he can remain silent. By going about Galilee healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf and casting out demons, Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God has come. And the man who was healed tasted this Kingdom. He’s come out of hiding, so to speak, and proclaims the Kingdom’s presence. Here on earth, people are given a foretaste of heaven in the good that happens when loved ones, or they themselves, are restored to health; when broken hearts are healed by the voicing of apologies and when offensive behaviors are transformed by love and forgiveness. In fact, when our eyes are opened by love and our ears are unblocked by hearing affirmative, encouraging, loving messages, we get a glimpse of life after death where there will be no more tears, no more heartaches, no more pain. The glory generated by genuine love and forgiveness here on earth is a foretaste of the glory in heaven that awaits those who love God, self and others. Lord, open my eyes today to your love within me and around me. May I be a messenger of your love and compassionate Presence today especially to those whose ears have been deafened by negative energy around them. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Power of Faith

In today's Gospel, Mark 7: 24-30, a Gentile approaches Jesus asking that he heal her daughter of a demonic possession. His response to her is that the Chosen People come first. She is referred to as a "dog". She comes back with: "Even dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table." She insists. Nothing is going to deter her from getting the help for her daughter that she is seeking. She will not be turned away from the gift of healing that Jesus is capable of giving. She's heard of His miracles and she is going to be a recipient of such. Jesus sees her faith and says to her: "...[G]o [home]. The demon has gone out of your daughter." Wow! would I have that kind of faith. If I had been called "a dog," I would have felt insulted, especially coming from Jesus. I have difficulty when someone I consider older than I, more powerful than I, having more authority than I, insults me. I shy away and leave that person's presence, usually sulking and need time to think things through before I resurface with the confidence needed to address the situation in my favor. May each of us learn, however, to stand up for ourselves, as this woman did. Jesus certainly will help us become our own person and remain persistent and patiently, respectfully and kindly ask for what we need, as did this woman. She went away filled with gratitude and knowing that what she was asking of Jesus was the right thing to do. May you and I approach Jesus and others with that same confidence, that same kindness, that same persistance and patience in time of need, our own or that of others.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon

In today's first reading, 1 Kings 10: 1-10, the queen of Sheba comes to visit Solomon to test his wisdom. Is he truly as wise as others have said he is, she is wondering. To her astonishment, she discovers a wisdom greater than she has ever encountered in the past and more profound than the reports she has heard. Solomon, as a young man, a boy, perhaps, when entrusted with the throne, asked the Lord for wisdom. "O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David, but I am a mere youth.... Give me, your sevant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong"(See 1 Kings 3: 4-13). Note Solomon's humility, his recognition of being God's servant and his request for wisdom. Do I realize that I, too, am God's servant and do I recognize the importance of asking the Lord to give me a wise heart? Frequently, in the Gospels, Jesus takes his apostles aside to teach them wisdom. For instance, in today's Gospel, Mark 7: 14-23, he teaches them that what enters a person's body is not what makes one unclean but what comes out of one's mouth defiles: envy, jealousy, greed, unkindness--abusive, disrespectful, demeaning, murderous, adulterous, deceitful, arrogant words--are what make me unclean in the sight of God and my companions on the journey of faith. I pray, Lord, for this wisdom--the wisdom You taught your apostle and which you also teach me. May I wisely take time each day to allow You to take me aside and explain the Scriptures so that my heart becomes one with Yours.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

God Dwells among Us

In today's first reading, 1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30, Solomon is amazed that God, the Creator of the Universe, has entered the Temple. How, he wonders, does God, whom the highest heaven cannot contain, dwell in a temple built by humans. More than that, however, God becomes a human person Himself. He takes on human flesh as the Son of Man, God Incarnate. He becomes one of us and experiences everything about being human, except sin. He is acquainted with sadness and sorrow, rejection and acceptance, joy and gratitude. Because he became human, he knows firsthand what it is like to be treated rudely, arrogantly, abusively, to be spoken to disrespectfully,to be looked down upon with disdain. His feelings have been bruised by sarcasm and ridicule. He's been abandoned, left to die--yes, he has been the man left for dead on the roadside, having been beaten and robbed. He is our homeless and immigrant population, the so-called alien person that people want deported, cast out of their countries, their towns and cities, their parishes and their homes. How can it be so? That is God's love for humanity, a love that is infinite.He is elated when we experience the best of what it means to be human. He grieves when we experience the worst of what it means to be human, when we allow sin in us to have the upper hand over grace. For that reason He became human, died and rose from the dead that we, too, will rise from all that creates death in ourselves and in others. What a great God we have, one like us in all things but sin so that we, too, can become the very holiness of God and realize the best version of ourselves.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Resting in the Lord

The apostles were all excited about the success of their mission experiences. People were being healed, demons driven out, and the Kingdom of God proclaimed. They returned to the Lord and reported all they had done. Jesus listened and then invited them to "[c]ome away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." How difficult to do that a times, at least for me.I have a tendency to always want to keep going, to seek the applause, the attention of others: "Look at what I did," is a natural human desire. A part of me, for sure, only wants the glory for the Lord but another part wants to be recognized. "Come a deserted place," Jesus says to me. I need to learn over and over again that the Lord is in charge. That whatever good I do is from the Lord at work within me. The glory truly is His and I need to withdraw into prayer and solitude to give the praise to the Lord, to thank Him, and be purified.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

God's love, affection and desire for our safety

Both of the readings of today’s liturgy, 2 Sam 18: 9-10, 14, 24-25, 30; 19:3  and Mark 5: 21-43, speak of the bond of love, affection, and concern members of a family have toward one another and God toward His family, us, his children. In the first reading, David is inconsolable when he hears that his son Absalom was killed, even though Absalom was hunting down his father to murder him.  In the Gospel, we experience the tenderness, the love, and the affection of God/Jesus toward the woman who touches the hem of his garment, the official of the synagogue whose 12-year-old daughter is dying, and the little girl herself.  God, a God of tenderness, compassion, and love, wants to heal us and make us whole.
David  and Absalom reflects God’s relationship with us. Though we may turn against God and choose our will over His, as Absalom turned against his father and David chose to commit adultery and murder, God does not stop loving us or wanting the best for us. He desires that no harm come to us .  His healing power flows into us, also,  when we, like the woman suffering from an illness for 12 years and at the end of her “rope,”   but touches the hem of Jesus’ garment, when we but come to Him in faith as did Jairus, asking that his little 12-year-old daughter be brought back from the gates of death.  God’s only response to our faith and trust is love and healing, tenderness and forgiveness, no matter how far we have distanced ourselves from Him. God does not ever walk away and, like David, Absalom’s  father, wants no harm to befall us. His will is to bring us safely back to our eternal home.  What is yours?

Monday, February 3, 2014

David's Reliance on God

In today’s first reading 2 Sam 15: 13-14, 30; 16: 5-13, King David is being pursued by those who want him dead, who are clinging to his past sin of adultery and murder and are convinced that all of the misery in their lives is due to David’s sinfulness.  As he flees his pursuers, a man follows him, leveling curses at him and throwing stones at him.  One of the men fleeing with David wants to kill the person who is harassing David. David’s reply: “What business is it of mine or of yours,…that he curses? Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, ‘Why are you doing this?’” David maintains his peace.  He is well aware of his sinful past, has repented and returned to serving the Lord to the best of his ability, realizing that there are consequences to his sin against Uriah.
All of us are sinners.  That does not mean that we do not love the Lord or are incapable of doing good.  David teaches us humility and repentance, of the importance of  acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking reconciliation with our God.  No matter what our past, there is salvation for us in God (compare Ps 3 of today’s liturgy).  With David, we can pray as David did in Psalm 3 of today’s liturgy: “…[Y]ou, Lord, are my shield; my glory, you lift up my head!  When I call out to [you,] Lord, [you] answer me from [your] holy mountain. When I lie down in sleep, I wake again, for…[you,] Lord sustain me. I fear not the myriads of people arrayed against me on every side.”

This reminds me of the “myriads of peopled arrayed” against the Catholic Church “on every side,” holding the sins of the past, the sins of certain priests or bishops or popes, the weaknesses of the hierarchy against it, just as David’s son Absalom and his followers held David’s sin against him and were bent on destroying him and his followers. In both instances, people have taken their eyes off of God, our Creator, and Jesus, our Savior and are riveted on things they cannot change. Only God is unchangeable and perfect. No human being in any state in life is perfect, whether of the Church or outside of the Church, whether members of our own families or the families of others and, “no”, not even us. We all need God’s mercy. Let us keep our eyes on the Lord, not on his servants or kings or priests or bishops or even the Pope. We are all dependent on the mercy of God to accomplish God’s will. And God’s plan will not be thwarted even in the hands of the worst of sinners.
Lord, teach me to rely on you and you alone, to seek you and you alone!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Jesus Shares in Blood and Flesh to Secure our Freedom

In today's second reading, we are given the following message:  "Since the children share in blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and free those who through fear of death have been subject to slavery all their life" (Hebrews 2: 14).  "Who through fear of death have been subject to slavery all their life," what could that possibly mean? People scramble here and there, for this or that, compulsively consuming drugs and alcohol to the point of becoming unconscious, delirious, numb. Other people slavishly seek one experience after another, get involved in one sexual encounter, then another and another and another; run here, run there, seeking more and more material goods, larger paychecks, more yachts and summer homes, more and more expensive vacations, more clothes, more gadgets. Others are desperate to look younger and younger, going under the knife for face lifts and tummy tucks and what have you to defy age, to remove wrinkles and liver spots. Are we, in fact, afraid of death, afraid of advancing toward eternal life, afraid of going to Jerusalem with Jesus, unsure that our resurrection will be glorious?

St. Paul says to us in 1 Cor 2: 7-11, "It is of the mysterious wisdom of God that we talk, the wisdom that was hidden, which God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began. None of the rulers of the age recognized it; for if they had recognized it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but it is as scripture says: 'What no eye has seen or ear has heard, what the mind of man[woman] cannot visualize; all that God has prepared for those who love him, to us, though, God has given revelation through the Spirit, for the Spirit explores the depths of everything, even the depths of God."

Is it that we are failing to explore the depths of life that we live on its surface only, living to get drunk or to numb out with material things, tummy tucks and face lifts or whatever the world offers as THE way to be fulfilled, actualized, made popular and powerful? Are we ignorant of THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE, and thus slaves to a fear of death?