Monday, March 31, 2014

The Power of Intercessory Prayer

In today’s Gospel, John 4: 43-54, Jesus returns to Cana.  A royal official heard that Jesus arrived there from Judea and went to intercede on behalf of his dying son.  He asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus responds, it seems, rather harshly, saying : “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” This did not deter the royal official. He came to Jesus on behalf of his dying son and he was not to be turned away.  “Sir, come down before my child dies.”  Jesus says to him, “You may go; your son will live.”
Do we realize the power of intercessory prayer, whether that prayer is for a person who is dying physically or a person who has gone astray?  In My Utmost for His Highest,  Oswald Chambers says to us, in the meditation for March 11, “If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of ridicule and criticism, instead of turning it into intercession on their behalf.” That statement hit me between the eyes, so to speak. It was as though Jesus was saying  to me directly:  “Dorothy Ann, when God shows you where another person is failing, that is a call to make intercession for that person, not an invite to engage in ridicule or criticism of that person.”
Just as this father had an obligation to seek Jesus’ healing for his dying son, so, too, do you and I have an obligation to intercede for another when God opens our eyes to how that person is falling into sinful patterns. That act of charity on behalf of another is as crucial as it is that others pray for you and me when we, too, have landed into one of Satan’s snare. Our welfare and that of others depends on the power of prayer, on God’s mercy. And God, who hears all prayer, acts on behalf of the person for whom we are praying, just as He interceded for the royal official’s son at his father’s request.

Friday, March 28, 2014

God alone Saves

When I opened today’s Scriptures, what jumped out at me was the first sentence of Hosea 14: 2-10: “Thus says the Lord:  Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt.”  How often I collapse through my guilt.  My ego is quickly deflated when the Spirit alerts me to my sinful behaviors and/or attitudes.  This is an invitation to “return, …[Dorothy Ann] to the Lord, your God.”  You need to repent, acknowledge your selfishness, your pride, your deceptiveness, your envy and/or jealousy, your resentments and anger. You need to ask yourself: “What is going on here?” 
The Lord then says to me, further on in this reading: “…[R]eceive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.” “Offering bullocks [or any other animal for sacrifice] was Israel’s way of saying “I’m sorry, Lord. Forgive us our sinfulness, our worship of idols [how often the self, the ego is our idol] and make us right with You, the only true God.   Translating this in terms of the New Covenant, it might read:  [R]eceive what is good, [Dorothy Ann, that is, receive God’s forgiveness, become reconciled with Me, your God, in the sacrament of Reconciliation], that we [the Trinity] may render the offering [of Jesus’ body and blood] in the celebration of the Mass. 
Even more powerful are the next words in this reading: “Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount; we shall say no more, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands….” The “Assyrias”, that is,  whatever source that is not God  to which  I look to rescue me from my shame--will not save me. Nothing, other than God, has the strength to whisk me away from evil. I have no “horse” to mount other than the mountain of the Lord.

Help me, Lord, to live by this decree, so that in the words of today’s Gospel, Mark 12: 28-34, I will realize that “He is the One and there is no other than he.”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Walking in God's Ways

In today’s first reading, Jeremiah 7: 23-28, God, through the prophet, challenges us to listen to God’s voice. “Then,” Yahweh says, “I will be your God and you shall be my people.”  To whose voice am I listening? God continues:  “Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.”  In whose way am I walking? Which path am I following?    Of the Israelites,  God says: “…[T]hey obeyed  not, nor did they pay heed.  They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.” God instructs Jeremiah to say to the Israelites:  “This is a nation that does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.” Does God say to me personally: “You do not listen to my voice; nor do you take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared in your life; the word itself is banished from your speech”?
If it is true that you and I have stopped listening and have turned our backs on Jesus, we have the consolation Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel, Luke 11: 14-32.  Jesus is casting out “a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed.”    A demon is anything that or anyone who lures us away from God, invites us “to turn our backs,” on God.  Evil is all around us; that means that evil spirits, truly, prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls (Prayer to St. Michael for protection).  This is occurring every moment of every day and night. However, no less now, than when Jesus walked the earth, does Jesus drive out the demons that silence us when it comes to our faith in God, our faith in Jesus, our faith in the Trinity and its presence in our world, a presence that will overcome Satan in whatever way he deceives us and those around us. Yes, “it is by the finger of God that…[Jesus] drives out demons, [and therefore we know that] the Kingdom of God has come upon us.” We shall be set free, and always are being set free,  to return to the Lord, to turn our backs back to the Lord and again begin to hear His voice and heed his commands. Praise to our God!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Revealing our Wisdom and our Intelligence

In today’s first reading, Dt. 4: 5-9, Moses is instructing the people to observe God’s commandments, His statues and decrees “that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your…[ancestors], is giving you….Observe them carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He has come to fulfill the law, not to destroy it.  Jesus, who carries out the spirit of the Law, challenges us to more than the externals of the law.  Jesus teaches that fulfilling the law means loving one’s neighbor as oneself, responding to  persons “left to die” by the side of our “roads” even when that means breaking a letter of the law in some way;  or choosing to be authentic when others  fear disapproval of their “friends”.   It means giving two tunics and turning the cheek when charity invites us to give of the more, not just what the letter of the law requires. It means withholding “throwing the first stone” when others are caught in serious sin, though the law has certainly been violated.  If we keep the commandments, Jesus promises,  we will have life and have it to the full. That is why He has come to this earth. That is why he will gave His life for our ransom. He wants to enter the Promised Land, to take full possession of ourselves, to know wisdom and to be intelligent in how we live our lives.
Do people, we might ask ourselves,  perceive us as “wise and intelligent” or do we simply blend in with the majority of folks who are swept away by the demands of the world, of secularism, materialism, consumerism, hedonism and all the other false gods of this world.  Are we persons who simply take the easy way out by following the crowd wherever it goes? “Everyone is doing it!” “What’s the big deal—no one else observes the commandments.” “Aren’t those outdated,” we might ask when reminded to refrain from sexual intercourse outside of marriage, when challenged to be honest in our dealings with others, when reminded to keep holy the Lord’s day and so on.
How wise and intelligent are we?  


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Announcement of God's Plan

Today we celebrate the Annuciation.  The Trinity begins their plan to give birth to the New Covenant, the covenant of God loving us to the point of, not only the Second Person of the Trinity taking on our humanity but also assuming all of the conditions of our humanness, except sin itself. He comes out of love for us, wants to show us the way to the Father, the way of humility, obedience and love beyond all telling.   Jesus becomes the New Israel who, unlike the Israelites who repeatedly mistrusted  God and created their own gods,  trusts the Father to the point of His passion and death and rising the third day.  This plan, for fulfillment, needed a woman who, unlike Eve,  would say “yes” to God, would trust God.  Thus, the Trinity sent Gabriel to Mary to ask her to take on this assignment, so to speak.  She is terrified at the angel’s words.
Imagine being Mary, a girl of 14 or 15 years of age, just betrothed to Joseph, who is to become her husband. “I will become pregnant?  I’m not married. I don’t know a man in that way. How can this possibly be?” Truly, she is confused, scared, taken aback! “Conceive a child out of wedlock?” she might have thought. “Joseph certainly will divorce me. I will be alone.  I could possibly be stoned to death.  With some luck, maybe not killed but left to myself,  facing the prospect of living in dire poverty, an outcast of my culture.”
The angel calms her. “Mary, you have found favor with God. Be not afraid….The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  …[Your] cousin Elizabeth,…has also conceived a son in her old age [she’s ninety], and this is the sixth month for her who was…[known and looked down upon for being] barren; for nothing is impossible for God”  (Luke 1: 26-38).
Full of grace, Mary says “yes ”:  “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1: 28).

Lord, may I have the faith, the humility, the courage and the trust of Mary to say “yes” to you today, no matter how impossible what you are asking of me may sound or how scary that my “yes” might lead to suffering of some sort.  Filled with grace, may I trust you as Mary did and also as Jesus did in leaving heaven and coming to earth to take on human nature and all that being human entails, apart from sin itself. May I leave my comfy zone to follow God’s plans for me today!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Awesome God

In today's first reading, Ex 17: 37, the Israelites are out in the desert and have no water. They complain to Moses: "Why did you take us out of Egypt to die out here in the desert. We have no water."  Moses intercedes for them and is told to take his staff, the one he stretched out over the Red Sea, and strike the rock. Water will flow.

What an awesome, caring, loving God. In my prayer, I said to the Lord:  Lord, I thirst  and You bring forth water from the rock, from the most unlikely places in my life.  The soil  of my heart is not just hard. Sometimes it seems as though it has turned into a rock.  You instruct Moses, and you instruct me, to take the staff that Moses stretched over the Red Sea (for us Christians, that was stretched out on the cross on Calvary), saving the people from the pursuit of the Egyptians (for us, the pursuit of Satan) and touch the rock/Rock.  'I am there,' you instruct Moses, 'standing front of you on the rock in Horeb.  Strike the rock, and water will flow from it...' You  tell me that I will not die but live from the water of grace that flows at my bidding.  "Know", You say to me,  "that I am always 'standing in front of you on the rock' of your faith. I always know where you will find water as you wander in the desert of your life.Ask me and your thirst will be quenched with Living Water flowing from my side."

"Lord," I said, "I'm thinking of those hauled off to be part of slave labor camps/factories, sex brothels and hotels where young girls have been transported to be used by human traffickers, sexual predators, and/or pimps to increase their bank accounts. Why, in the words of today's first reading, did you ever allow young girls to be taken from "Egypt"?  Hear their anguished cries. Listen to their night sobbings, their agony at being deceived into thinking that  they were being rescued from their poverty and taken to a better place, a "land flowing with  milk and honey," to the "Promised Land," where they could make enough money to help out their families back home from dying of starvation or wallowing in desperate poverty. Lord, send a "Moses" to save them, I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen."

Friday, March 21, 2014

God's Plan Hidden in the Events of Our Lives

Today’s first reading, Gen. 37: 3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a, presents the story of Joseph, whose brothers sold him for 20 pieces of silver to Ishmaelites.  In Egypt, as stated in today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 105, Joseph is “weighed down with fetters, and he was bound with chains, till his prediction came to pass and the word of the Lord proved him true….[He was] made lord over…[the king’s] house and ruler of all his possessions.”  In God’s plan, Joseph is destined to be the one who saved the Israelites from starvation. When his brothers come down to Egypt for food, Joseph says to them: “Have no fear. Can I take the place of God? Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people” (Gen 50:  19-20).
Many times, without us realizing it, God’s plan for our salvation and for a good unforeseen by us is accomplished  through the convoluted, ill-intentioned, inhumane actions of one person or many persons toward other human beings, of family members toward other members of the family, though God never wills evil on anyone. Joseph recognizes that God used misfortune  and the evil actions of his brothers to bring about a greater good for all those involved in selling him to the Ishmaelites instead of killing him.

God also uses everything in our lives to bring about unforeseen good, to save us from death, to rebuild our lives, to make His Presence known, to reveal  the ultimate compassion and love of God, our Father, Redeemer and Comforter,  whose plan to redeem us is hidden in every event of our lives.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thriving, Striving, Serving

In today’s first reading, Jeremiah 17: 5-10, the prophet states: Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. They are like trees planted beside the waters that stretch out their roots to the stream: they fear not the heat when it comes, their leaves stay green; in the year of drought they show no distress, but still bear fruit” (translated into the plural to include both men and women, as Jesus did). 

Before Jesus suffered His death and triumphed over evil in His resurrection, He left us His body and blood in the Eucharist, food to nourish us, to keep us alive in famine, to feed us during times of drought so that, at those times, we can continue to bear fruit.  Those who hope in the Lord, who put their trust in God, will never be disappointed.  We have been given rich soil in which to root our lives: the sacraments, the Scriptures, communal worship, loving and helping our neighbors, and forgiving both ourselves and others when wronged.  During difficult times, we will be able to bear the heat of the day, rejuvenated at the springs of everlasting water.  God has given us the law of love, a law that, not only delights those who practice it but also transforms their whole being into the person of Christ. We become Christlike, bringing good news to the poor, unlike Dives in today’s Gospel, Luke 16: 19-31, who feasted without sharing his food with Lazarus, a poor man lying at the gate of his home, a poor man “covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.”

Truly, “blessed are they who hope in the Lord” (Ps.1) and serve those in need, especially within one’s own family but also beyond.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Be Not Afraid of What I Am Asking of You

“’Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary  your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his house” (Mt 1: 16, 18-21, 24a).
Imagine the agony of Joseph in discovering that Mary, to whom he is engaged,  is pregnant.  He trusted her. He loves her dearly and felt privileged that she is to be his wife. He then finds out that she is carrying a child that is not his own.  Distraught, he plans to divorce her quietly so as not to shame her.  He also is terrified that she could be stoned to death, the consequences, in  that culture, if found to have conceived a child out of wedlock.  Struggling with the situation, a messenger from God appears to him in a dream one night and reveals to him the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy and that the son she is carrying is the Messiah, the one who “will save his people from their sins.”  “Do not be afraid, Joseph, to accept Mary as your wife; take her into your home.” And Joseph obeys the messenger of God.

Joseph suddenly realizes, in a profound way, the purpose for which God created him: to protect, cherish and love Mary and to be the foster father of Jesus, the Son of God made man.  He is to provide for both of them, being compassionate as His heavenly Father is compassionate, being understanding, and caring.  He is no longer identified with his job, that of a carpenter. His calling is much more profound than that. His career is not his calling. It is not the reason God brought him into existence.

For what purpose did God bring you into the world? What is your calling?  What gives substance and meaning to your existence? What transcends  job/career for you and transforms you into the best version of yourself as a human being?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Learning to do Good

In today’s first reading, Isaiah 1:10, 16-20, the prophet spells out the fast God desires of us; namely, that we “cease doing evil; learn to do good.  Make justice…[our] aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.”    In today’s Gospel, Mt. 23: 1-12,  Jesus challenges us to, not just teach others to do these things, but to do them ourselves as followers of Christ.  We are not in this world to place burdens on others , as the Pharisees did (see today’s Gospel, Mt. 23: 1-12) but to lift them ourselves.  Neither are we, as did the Pharisees, to “widen …[our] phylacteries and lengthen…[our] tassles,”—wearing our religion, so to speak, on our sleeves. We are not here to simply and ostentatiously assume places of honor, to be addressed as “Father,” “Sister,” “Brother,” “Mother”.  We are here to  become like our Father in heaven and like Jesus, to whom we are brother , sister, and mother when we do the will of our heavenly Father  (compare Luke 8: 21); that is, we are called to wash the feet of our tired, crippled neighbors,  our overly burdened family members, in short, to be servant of all, to humble ourselves and “raise” others up, as Jesus rose us up on the cross. We are here to learn to forgive others as Jesus forgave his persecutors. Like Jesus, we are  here  to be “poured-out wine” and “broken bread” for the sake of others  who are weighed down by the difficulties of life, those who may be suffering persecution, enduring injustices or  “withering”  under the  violence of war, domestic abuse, slave labor, human trafficking or any other  criminal activity. “Come, now,” God says to us in Isaiah 1: 10, 16-20, “let us set things right….”
How will be able to what God is asking of us? God, as promised in Ez. 18: 31, “will give…[each of us] a new heart, and a new spirit…[God] will put within…[us.]  …[God] will remove the heart of stone from…[our] flesh and give…[us] a heart of flesh.”


Monday, March 17, 2014

God of Compassion and Full of Mercy

Today's readings, Daniel 9: 4b-10 and Luke 6: 36-38, both speak of God's mercy and compassion, reminding us that our God is a "great and awesome God, ...who keep[s His] covenant toward those who love...[Him] and observe...[His] commandments" (Daniel 9: 4b-10) .  We are also reminded by Daniel that "compassion and forgiveness" belong to our God.  In the responsorial psalm, Psalm 79, we ask God to dispatch his mercy and compassion quickly, "for we are brought very low" by our wickedness.  We live in a world wrought with such crimes as human trafficking, forced slave labor, drug trafficking and myriad other forms of corruption.  Every day, children, adolescents, young adults, male and female, are sold or seduced into the sex trade, into labor camps, into the use of illegal drugs.  Persons are kidnapped and/or outrightly sold and sacrificed for their organ parts.   Every day families flee from the violence of war and the ravages of poverty to protect themselves and their loved ones. Every day, somewhere, adults, in all walks of life,  sink further and further into patterns of corruption, worshipping the idols of materialism, consumerism, hedonism and the likes!

In the responsorial psalm of today's liturgy we pray: 

Help us, O God, our savior, because of the glory of your name.
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name's sake.
Let the prisoner's sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death--
the death of all those criminal acts named above.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.

At every Mass, Jesus comes down upon our altars as Savior and Lord, as the One who purifies us, strengthens us and claims us as His own. At every Eucharist, Jesus renews His covenant with us--yes, God empowers us every day to be "merciful, just as..[our] Father is merciful" (Luke 6: 36). Every day we are empowered to say "no" to Satan and the evil spirits that roam this earth for the destruction of souls. That is why millions also resist Satan's evil ways and follow Christ. 

What a "great and awesome God" walks beside us, dwells within us, beckoning us to resist evil and empowering us to do so!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Seeking God in One's Anguish

In today's first reading, Esther C: 12, 14-16, 23-25, Esther is "seized with mortal anguish."  She praises God for his blessedness, realizing that there is absolutely no one who is able to help her face "the lion and turn  his heart to hatred for...[their] enemy."  May prays, in effect, that "the lion"  and "those in league with him may perish. Save us, " she begs, "from the hand of our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness."

We certainly could pray Esther's prayer when we hear about babies being sold for their body parts; little girls and boys, young women and men exploited by human traffickers for the sex industry and as slaves in labor camps and/or factories and others victims of drug traffickers, domestic violence and the horrors of war.

With Esther, and with the victims of the crimes mentioned above, we pray:  "As a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers that you, O Lord, always free those who are pleasing to you. Now help me [help the victims of these crimes], who...[are] alone and have no one but you, O Lord, my God....Save us from the hand of the enemies [involved in human trafficking, drug trafficking, the abuse of women and children, male and female; the violence of war]; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jonah's Dilemma and Ours

In today's first reading, Jonah 3: 1-10, Jonah is asked a second time--he refused the first time--to confront evil and to enter the city of Nineveh announcing that the city would be destroyed in 40 days.  Jonah was afraid of being mocked, ridiculed, made fun of should the people heed God's warning, repent and that, then, God would withdraw his threat to destroy them and, instead show them His mercy. 

There will be times when you and I will be asked, as Christians, to risk being ridiculed or mocked for taking a stance that is, to say the least, unpopular.   The Spirit may ask us to confront an evil or walk away from an evil that our friends want us to engage in or in which we want to take part so as not to stand apart or not to be mocked.  We will as disciples of the Lord find ourselves tempted to go against our conscience so that we will not look like fools for Christ's sake.   God says to us in Dt. 30: 15-20: I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you...may live" and experience the fullness of life that Jesus promise. The choice is ours! Jesus shows us the way!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Be holy as I, the Lord Your God, am holy

Today's first reading, Leviticus 19: 1-2, 11-18,  opens with: "Be hold, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy."  This counsel follows with a set of "shall-nots."  If we change the "shall nots" to positive behaviors that lead to being transformed into God image, into the image of the Trinity, the text might read as follows:

"Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy":

  • Respect the goods/the possessions of others.

  • Be honest in all your relationships with them.

  • Speak the truth about  and to others. Be affirming of the good within and performed by them.

  • Honor God's name.

  • Be generous and just with others.

  • Be helpful, caring and compassionate toward the deaf, the blind, and those handicapped in any way.

  • Judge others fairly.

  • Be inclusive and treat all persons alike: the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, males and females; this culture, this sexual orientation, this religion or another.

  • Assist others especially when their lives are at stake.

Do all this for I am the Lord and God of all. I am the One who created and sustains the existence of each person as each progresses in holiness, learns to reject Satan, and builds my Kindom on earth as in heaven.

In this passage, what, in particular, is God calling me to this Lent?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Made sin for us"

In the second reading of today’s liturgy, 2 Cor 5: 20-6:2, we are confronted with the following truth:  “For our sake…[God] made…[Jesus] to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”  As I meditated on this passage, my heart clung to the statement “He was made sin for us.”  “Made sin!” The Son of God Incarnate, the Holiest of Holy, in His incarnate nature is “made sin” for us. No wonder Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is sorrowful unto death.”   The ugliest of the ugly: sin itself for “one who knew no sin.” 
Recently, in a magazine entitled “The Week,” I read a brief article about George Zimmerman, who killed Travon Martin and was acquitted of that murder. He was bemoaning the fact that he is scorned by society, his life has been threatened repeatedly, he is not safe and carries a hefty financial debt for legal fees.  Jesus was scorned.  Jesus was a hunted man, threatened by the Pharisees repeatedly as they sought  a way to justify killing him. Jesus was not acquitted but put to death for our sakes. “He was made sin for us.”

Every sin throws us into the darkness of shame and guilt.  The more hideous the sin, the uglier are the consequences.  Jesus bore those consequences for us so that we might “become the righteousness of God in him.”  What love! What mercy!
O, God, have mercy on me for the part I played in the burden you carried to the cross for me

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

God's Ways

In today’s Gospel,  Mark 10: 28-31, Peter wants to know what’s in it for him.  He says to Jesus “We have given up everything and followed you.”  Jesus reminds him that he will get his reward and with it “persecutions.”  None of us wants to be reminded that our journey with the Lord includes going to Calvary with Him, that we will encounter difficulties, that some days will be more challenging than others. We will, at times, be traveling rough roads. At other times roads that are smooth sailing and, even then, may encounter a “storm”.  Jesus also reminds Peter that the first will be last and the last first. Following Jesus is not about accumulating accolades, getting “A’s,”  being applauded for our work.  Am I willing to give up working for the “super-bowl ring,” or the million dollar jackpot? Am I willing to answer Jesus’ call to sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom, to reach out to “lepers,” the poor, the outcast, to bring sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, to right the wrong of unjust practices without being recognized for my work?  Am I willing to seek out those who are lost, to free others whom I have cast into the darkness of discrimination, prejudice and unforgiveness? Am I willing to free myself from my fallen nature  and let Jesus take me into Himself to be one with God and others, where there are no favorites, where competition does not exist and all are one?

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Fist Full of Dandelions

In the Gospel of today, the rich man wants to know what he needs to do to inherit eternal life.  He’s kept all of the commandments but is there more he needs to do, he wonders.  Jesus, “looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then, come, follow me.’”
 Ever find yourself saddened, depressed, sluggish, feeling that something is missing, something is holding you back from experiencing life to the full, of being the person you want to be, of contributing in a way that makes a difference?  Imagine Jesus approaching you, looking upon you with love, and saying to you:  “Surrender totally to Me, (your name)______. Let go of needing to be perfect and accept the best that you are capable of giving me at any time.  Doing that, you will not hold back but will give generously, graciously, gratefully and joyously, like the little child that comes running in with a fist full of dandelions. That little child is giving all. You, too, are giving all even when the gift is, from your perspective, a “dandelion” and not a “rose.”  You problem is not the “dandelion” contribution but your unmet expectation. You always want the “dandelion” to be a “rose.” What is missing is your faith in my ability to transform your-less-than-perfect gift into a gift that does make a difference, to transform your “dandelions” into “roses.”

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Tenderness of Our God

Today’s Scriptures speaks of  the tenderness of our God! I love to watch  parents hugging a child, stoking its hair, holding a child close to their bosom.  The tenderness between loving parents and a child reflects God’s tenderness toward each of us. The first reading of today’s liturgy, Is 49: 14-15, asks us: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” And, “even should she forget, I will never forget you.”

The Gospel, Mt 6: 24-34, echoes this same theme of God’s tender, loving care, inviting us to ponder the flowers and the grasses of the fields, the birds of air, and how God watches over each of them and provides for all of their needs.  Certainly their splendor and their beauty does not come close to the beauty of any one of us created in God’s very image, male and female.  And if God provides adequately and sumptuously for every bird, every fish of the sea, every flower that graces our landscapes, every blade of grass that blooms in the morning and fades at night, how much more does God provide for us..  “Why,” Jesus asked, “are you fraught with worry? Your heavenly Father knows…[what] you need…”  Besides, he says, “tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”And no matter what today’s or tomorrow’s “evil” is, God, like any good parent,  knows how to help us deal with it.  Do I have the faith of a child who, no matter what, trusts its loving parents to provide what is needed as he/or she faces the day’s “evil”?  No wonder Jesus says to us,  in Mt 18: 3, that unless, we become like a little child, we shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Only when we face today’s “evil” with the trust of a little child do we experience  the presence of God’s Kingdom of Heaven right here and now.

How trusting am I? How believing am I that God will provide?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Awesome, Transforming Power of Anointing

In today’s first reading, James 5: 13-20, St. James says to us: Are you suffering,…pray! Are you in good spirits, offer praise.  Are you sick, be anointed by a priest.  “The prayer of faith will save…[you], and the Lord will raise…[you] up. If…[you] have committed any sins,...[you] will be forgiven.” Reflect upon the power of the Anointing of the Sick!  Your sins are totally forgiven and you enter eternal life free of sin, blameless before God—a grace that is not cheap. It was paid for by the suffering of Jesus in his passion and death on the cross. What an awesome, gracious, and caring God.
What a gift to have been given membership in the Church. It is through that act of faith and love that I have come to know Jesus. It is through my relationship with the Church’s teachings, the liturgy, the Scriptures—and many parishes now offer courses in Scripture—daily Mass, at which Jesus comes down upon our altars and, as at the Last Supper, says to us: Take and Eat. This is my Body given up for you. Take and drink. This is my Blood poured out for you. Jesus, then, in Holy Communion, enters the Temple of my body and cleanses it, purifies it, as He did the Temple of Jerusalem prior to His Passion, Death and Resurrection. And there are so many other graces afforded us in each of the Church’s sacraments!

Oh, the greatness of my God, and yours!