Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Born Anew in the Spirit, in the Transcendent, Holy One

In today’s  Gospel, John 3: 7b-15, Jesus says to Nicodemus and to us: “You must be born from above.”   He also reminds us that “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” What does it mean that you and I must be born from above? For me, that means that everything--all of my activities, all my relationships, the challenges and difficulties of any given day, the joys and exciting moments of a day, the disappointments and moments of sadness--has both an earthy reality and a transcendent one.  I can meet God or ignore God in any of my experiences. If I am genuinely seeking God and if let God find me in each of the day’s events, if I look upon Him whom they have pierced, repent and believe,  I will “be born from above,”  that is, I will be transformed into Christ’s way of seeing things, Christ’s way of dealing with difficult situations, Christ's way of loving and forgiving.  What I need to work at is training myself to look for God above all else.  When I troubled about my behavior or about anything, I need to take those experiences to the Lord in prayer, seeking His counsel and asking for His help. Yes, I need to bare by soul to the Lord.   When I recognize  my need my need to help and for mercy, I then open my being to being "born from above." Earth and heaven then touch each other. That which is below and that which is above meet in a humble embrace of love in those moments.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Crown of Victory

The entrance antiphon for today’s liturgy reads:  This is the one who was not deserted by God on the day of struggle and now wears a crown of victory for faithfulness to the Lord’s commands, alleluia. Obviously this One is Jesus Himself but also all of those who have gone before us and were faithful to what God asked of each of them on their journey of faith.  I think of my own mother and father, both of whom were faithful to what they believed God was asking of them as individuals, as husband and wife and as parents.  Yesterday Pope Francis I canonized two popes: Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul  II, both of whom also were faithful to what they believed God asked of them  as priests, bishops and popes.
What is God asking of you, of me, on our daily walks with Him, in our interpersonal relationships,  in our ministries (careers), as Christians, in our particular vocation in life, be that marriage, religious life, priesthood, or the single life?  How do you and I become the best version of ourselves physically, spiritually, emotionally, interpersonally, as a family or community member,  in our parish and civic communities, as a responsible citizen of the U.S.?  In all of these dimensions of our lives and in all of our struggles God does not desert us.

Let us remember in prayer today the 16 people, our brothers and sisters in Christ,  killed in the tornadoes that ripped through Arkansas last night and all of those families who lost absolutely everything. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Our Inheritance

In today's second reading, 1 Peter 1: 3-9, St. Peter praises God that "his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of  Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time."

Jesus has secured for you and me

  • a new birth,
  • a living hope,
  • an imperishable inheritance,
  • an undefiled inheritance,
  • and unfading inheritance.
Think about it.  We here on earth lock our valuables in "safe boxes."  The most valuable gift God has won for us through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus is "locked" up in heaven where thieves cannot steal. In the words of St. Peter, by the "power of God" it is "safeguarded through faith."   Our faith here on earth will be tried. We will pass through many trials, including death itself. However, this gift of eternal salvation is ready for the day when we are born to eternal life, passing through the birth canal, death itself. Our "imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance" will "be revealed in the final time" when we leave this earth for eternal life.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Risen Lord among Us

In today’s Gospel story, John 21:1-14, Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. Peter and his companions have been out fishing all night long and have caught nothing.  Jesus is on the shore that morning, preparing breakfast for them.  He sees them coming to shore and asked them:  “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”  Of course, they haven’t.  He says to them:  “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”  They follow the Lord’s direction and, yes, they land a huge catch, 153 large fish.  
Other important lessons assert themselves in this story.  Like the disciples, if we follow the Lord’s instructions, if the Lord intervenes on our behalf—and He always does—we will be shown the power of the Risen Lord, who walks among us, goes before us, and anticipates our needs. If we are open to being directed and if will set our pride aside-- letting go of “That won’t work; there are no ‘fish’ there. We know, we are the professional fishermen here--we will experience the Lord’s generosity, His care and concern. He will provide, and always does provide, for us abundantly. We will only know that if we act in humility, exercise our faith and our trust and, at times, try what we have not tried before.  Sometimes, we are called upon to do that which seems foolish, as casting on the other side of the boat must have sounded crazy to Peter and his companions that morning.

As you read this story, also notice that, at first, the disciples do not recognize that the man on the seashore is Jesus. After following his lead and catching a huge number of fish, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (no name is given, as that disciple is you and me), says to Peter: “It is the Lord.”  Many times we need others to show us God at work in our lives, as we may be too close to the situation and/or too busy frantically working at a task that we do not see beyond what is most obvious to others.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What Love Does

In today’s first reading, Acts 3: 11-26, St. Paul says to us: “Repent…and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”
Hear,  in that statement, the compassion of our God, who’s had a plan since the beginning of the world that our sins will be wiped away, that we will be refreshed in Christ Jesus, who,  in God’s mind, at the beginning of time, was already  commissioned  to bring about our salvation. God will wait, for as long as it takes, for us to recognize our need for repentance and our need to be forgiven. God will wait for us to turn or return to Him.  Meanwhile, the heavens have received Jesus “until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old”  (Acts 3: 11-26).

As we move through time, we will, as did the people in the time of Jesus, act out of ignorance (Acts 3: 1-10), not recognize Jesus in our midst, mistake Him for a gardener or a stranger who, in our minds, seems to not know that is going on (compare the Easter stories in each of the Gospels). At others times we will be afraid, confused, and hide as did the disciples when Jesus was crucified, died, was buried and rose again.  These behaviors do not frighten Jesus, who will engage us, as He did his disciples in today’s Gospel, Luke 24: 35-48, asking “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?” “Peace be with you.” And to calm us even more, Jesus will ask us, as He asked the disciples in today’s Gospel, “Have you anything here to eat?” He will simply sit down with us to a meal, sharing ordinary life with us, with our families, with our friends. It is in the ordinariness of life that Jesus will most deeply touch our lives and put us at ease. That is what love does!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Emmaus Walk: Struggling to Make Sense of it All

Today’s Gospel, Luke 24: 13-35,  is the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus.  They simply left their group in Jerusalem, baffled by what has happened the last few days. The person whom they thought would save them from Roman occupation and restore the kingdom of Israel has just been crucified, put to death by Roman executioners at the request of the people, who, when Pilate asked whom to release to them Barabbas, a convicted criminal, or Jesus, they shouted “crucify him, crucify him”. In their confusion and grief and as they were struggling to make sense of it all, Jesus, unbeknownst to them, joins them. To their amazement, Jesus asks them what they are discussing along the way.  “What? Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem these days that does not know what has happened?”  Jesus does not reveal Himself but asks: What things? “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel…”
How could Cleopas and his companion not recognize Jesus, we may wonder.  Think of times when people are absolutely traumatized by tragedy of any kind.  Their first reaction, and mine as well, is “Where was God?” “Why did God allow this to happen?”  Some people totally abandon their faith at that time, will have nothing to do with God. Some, in fact, claim to be atheists—no more belief in this religion stuff.  That is the point at which the two disciples left Jerusalem and headed for Emmaus.  It was over for them.
To come back, we need an intervention, just like these two disciples did. We need someone who can help us make sense of what happened, who can restore our faith in humanity and in God, who can help us hope again, believe again, love again.  Who is that for you? Jesus, for sure, in some hidden way, through another human being, will open your eyes and transform your darkness into light, your despair into hope, your doubt into faith.  I have experienced it over and over again on my "Emmaus Walks" or "Emmaus Moments".  What about you?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Whom Am I Seeking?

“’Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?’ She thought it was the gardener and said to him, ‘Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni,’ which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, ‘Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father…” (John 20: 11-18

 For whom am I looking  as I walk through “the garden” of life today? Am I looking for Jesus? Or, am I looking for myself, for power, for recognition, for dominance, for control, for superiority over others? Onto whom/what am I holding/clutching/clinging?   Am I clinging to my anger, resentments, impatience, mistrust, anxiety, pride? Am I clutching onto my will and ignoring the will of my Father in heaven. In the liturgy of the Mass today when I prayed “Hallowed be thy name; Thy Kingdom come on earth as in heaven,” did those words fall short because what I was really praying was “Hallowed be my name; my will be done on earth, not the Lord’s?

If so, then when I actually do encounter Jesus today, I will not recognize Him. I may not even hear him call me by name.  Lord, I ask for mercy and a transformed heart so that, in truth, it is You I seek, Your Way and Your will that I follow, Your Truth that I embrace and Your Voice to which I listen. I ask for these graces in Your name. Amen!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Alleluia. He is Risen! Imagine the women going to the tomb the day after the Sabbath, “towards dawn on the first day of the week…[S]uddenly there was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it…[T]he angel spoke, [saying] ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and now he is going ahead of you to Galilee; that is where you will see him’’  (Mt. 28: 1-8). As they are on their way to tell the disciples, “suddenly, coming to meet  them was Jesus. ‘Greetings,’ he said.  And the women came  up to him and, clasping his feet, they did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; there they will see me’” (Mt. 28: 9-10).
Imagine being witnesses of an angel whose “face was like lightning, his robe white as snow” rolling away the stone that sealed the tomb.  As they are carrying out the angel’s request that they go tell the disciples that the Lord is risen and are to go to Galilee where they will see him, Jesus Himself appears to them and repeats the angels message.  Wow! Truly, the Lord is risen!  Like the angel, we, too, men and women are His messenger, are called to be evangelizers to one another, to share our faith in the Risen Lord. In Galilee, Jesus says to his disciples:  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of the time” (Mt. 28: 18-20). He was speaking to both men and women, not to men only!

How faithful am I to proclaiming the Gospel with my life and, if necessary, using words, as St. Francis teaches.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Host of Heaven exult in celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Angels minister to the Resurrected Christ, loudly proclaiming His triumph over death.
Peoples everywhere throughout the world  rejoice and are glad: Jesus has broken the bo bonds of death.
Peoples everywhere raise mighty voices, singing Alleluia the darkness of sin has been banished!
Yesterday and today, Christ the Beginning the  End, the Alpha and the Omega. All time belongs to him and all the ages To him be glory and power through every age and forever.Amen.


Every age is protected and guarded by the glorious wounds of the Lord, washed clean in His blood poured out on the cross.
All time belongs to Christ, our Risen Savior, who shines over all, glorifies all in His  destruction of sin upon the cross.
Standing in the awesome glory of the holy light that dispels the darkness, we sing alleluia the King of kings, Christ the Lord.
Though unworthy, we are, through the mercy of God, redeemed and reconciled with the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit.
Even now, throughout the world, Christian believers are set apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin by the power of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  That resurrected power transforms our sin into grace, our darkness into light.
Rise up with Christ, the Morning Star that never sets. May the light of your baptism and mine never be undimmed  as we walk through this Valley of tears hand in hand with the Lord.

Source: The opening liturgy of the Easter Vigil.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday: Gratitude for Jesus' Heroism

Thank you Jeus and Mary, for all that you suffered for us.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your unsurpassing love!
Thank You for Your infinite mercy!
Thank You for taking our sinfulness upon Yourself and reconciling us to our Creator, Father God!
Thank You for Your "yes" to be our Redeemer!
Thank You for being a sin offering to God, our Creator, Father.
Thank You for being the Unblemished Lam of God, who spared us from eternal damnation, from life without God.
Thank You for being Unsurpassing Goodness, taking on evil and destroying its lasting effects.
Thank You for being scourged in our place and thus redeeming those beating others physically, verbally, emotionally and those who are victims of such abuse.
Thank you for being mocked for our sake to redeem those mocking us, us who mock others, and those being victims of bullying.
Thank you for being nailed to the cross and thus redeeming us nailed to addictions, abusive, painful attitudes and behaviors by which we crucify others and ourselves.
Thank you for submitting to violence in order to redeem us from our violence toward each other.

What are your "thank yous"?

Friday, April 18, 2014

FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON GOOD FRIDAY (Is 52: 14-15 and 53: 1-10)

God the Son treated inhumanely, disfigured beyond recognition,

On whom was placed the sins of humankind, “wounded for our rebellion,”

On whom the guilt of us all was placed, that He might reconcile us all to our Creator.

Disastrously “crushed because of our guilt” He was led to the slaughter and “never opened his mouth.”


“Forcibly, after sentence, he was taken” to Calvary for the

Rebellion of us all who “had gone astray like sheep, each taking his/her own way.”

“Ill-treated and afflicted, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb led to the slaughter house.”

“Despised, the lowest of men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering,” He was “one from whom…we averted our gaze….Which of his contemporaries was concerned

At his having been cut off from the land of the living, at his having been struck dead for his people’s rebellion?  He was given a grave with the wicked, and his tomb is with the rich…”

Yet “he had done no violence, had spoken no deceit. It was Yahweh’s good pleasure to crush him with pain; if he gives his life as a sin offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his life, and through him Yahweh’s good pleasure [our salvation] will be done.”  Isaiah 52: 14; 53: 3-10).

The Punishment of Reconciling Fell on Jesus

Good Friday:

“By 3:00 p.m. today, Lord, you will have been put to death. Your returning to the Father will occur very soon. Your journey back to the Father will include being tortured, scourged, spit upon, slapped, crowned with thorns, kicked, shoved, stripped naked, nailed to a cross and “hung up" to die.  Isaiah described you as “inhumanly disfigured” (Is 52: 14), that you “no longer looked like a man—so many nations will be astonished and kings will stay tight-lipped before…[you], seeing what had never been told them, learning what they had not heard before. Who,” Isaiah asks, “has given credence to what we have heard?...[You] had no form or charm to attract us, no beauty to win our hearts; …[you were] despised, the lowest of men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering, one from whom, as it were, we averted our gaze, despised, for whom we had no regard. Yet ours were the sufferings …[you] were bearing, ours the sorrows …[you were] carrying, while we thought of …[you] as someone being punished and struck with affliction by God; whereas …[you were] being wounded for our rebellion, crushed because of our guilt; the punishment reconciling us fell on…[you], and we have been healed by…[your]  bruises.”
My bones were not broken,  Dorothy Ann (insert your name). My heart was.  I saw and experienced the ugliness of sin and its torturous effect on all of creation, male and female, humans and animals, all of the earth. It was not pretty. It was repulsive to look at, as was I on the cross.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jesus' Unconditional Love

Holy Thursday

Imagine Jesus sharing with you what it was like to gather for the Last Supper with His friends. He says to you:

            (Insert your name)            ,  I knew that my hour had come to return to My Father.  I also knew that Judas Iscariot would betray me, turn me over to the authorities who would condemn me to death.  I knew all of this.  My heart was heavy with sorrow as I watched Satan take possession of Judas' heart. To this very day, those times when Satan deceptively, secretively, and cunningly possesses anyone, I am deeply saddened.  I never stop loving anyone to the very end, hoping that each troubled person will turn to me for help.  Judas had no idea tat I loved him unconditionally. I did not will his destruction. 

My greatest happiness that day would have been Judas' repentance. With the other apostles, I washed his feet. I also shared bread and wine with him at the Passover Supper and addressed him as friend in the Garden. I did not sever the friendship bond; he did.  The  same is true of my feelings toward all humankind, male and female. Our friendship--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--is unconditional with every person, with you and your loved ones, with you and any of your enemies, with you in good times and bad, in times of darkness and light, when you walk away from me and when you draw close. I love you always, in every place and in every circumstance of your life. I am Your God and there is no other. If you have strayed from Me and My Ways and My Truth and My Life, please return to me. I am waiting to embrace you with love and I will wait as long as it takes. I love you unconditionally. Nothing you have done or will do will change that fact!

Bye, now, my betrayer has arrived. I must leave you for awhile. Remember that I love you!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jesus' Composure

“He is near who upholds my right….See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong?” we read in today’s first reading, Isaiah 50: 4-9a.  In the Gospel, Mt. 26: 14-25, Jesus says very calmly “one of you will betray me.”  The apostles then break into a frenzy, asking who it is and, Judas, the betrayer, attempts to cover up his sinful intentions by saying “Surely, it is not I, Rabbi?”  The others simply ask: “Is it I, Lord?” Judas adds emphasis: Surely!    All of us know when we have sinned. We know when our behaviors are dishonest, when we are covering up what is really real!  That is why Judas added the emphasis. 

Jesus, knowing that His Father was near, upholding His right, remains calm and proceeds with the Last Supper meal, offering the disciples bread to eat and wine to drink, telling them: “This is my body, given for you….This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you” (Luke 22: 19-20).  What love! What compassion. What composure as He willingly accepts his upcoming death for the sake of our salvation.

How composed am I when I am faced with a situation that is anything but kind, when another turns against me, lashing out at me, throwing a “grenade” of uncontrollable anger at me, when another sins against me, as Judas sinned against Jesus? Can I, like Jesus, let the other person’s actions be that person’s accuser or do I rely upon my own weaknesses and  become retaliatory?  Can I allow the person’s conscience to be his/her judge and not be condemnatory? Jesus does.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Night Transformed by the Light

“Hear me, …listen….You are my servant,…through whom I show my glory….I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth , “ we read in today’s first reading, Isaiah 49: 1-6.  In the Gospel of today, John 13: 21-33, 36-38, after Judas, in the darkness of the night,  leaves to betray Him,  Jesus says: “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once….”  Through the Cross, you and I, the redeemed of Christ, are  glorified in Christ Jesus here and now and will be for all eternity.   We are more than His servants, the Lord tells us in Isaiah,  and are called to more than raising others up and restoring each other and ourselves  to right relationships with the Lord. We are “a light to the nations," a light in the darkness of our world.  It is when it is most dark that the light shines most brightly for all to see.  In those dark moments, it may seem as though “the light” has gone out, as it seemed so in that upper room and on Calvary. Calvary, however, is our brightest moment, the moment of salvation for all those who put their faith in Christ Jesus. In whom do I put my faith, especially  in those situations that shakes it?
Open my eyes, Lord, to You during the Calvary moments of my life, in life’s darkest moments  when all around me and within me seems like night.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mary's Generous Anointing of Jesus

In today’s Gospel, John 12 1-11, Jesus is at Bethany , where Mary and Martha prepare a dinner for him.   Among the crowd gathered in Bethany was Judas Iscariot who was, along with the chief priests, looking for a way to betray Jesus.  When Mary pours a liter of costly perfumed oil over Jesus’ feet, Judas protested: “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He was not at all interested in the poor; he was a thief who stole from the purse, the money bag entrusted to him.  His betrayal of Jesus started long before that horrible evening in Gethsemane.  He betrays Him in little things, that is, in his dishonesty of the trust Jesus had placed in him as the keeper of the purse.  He’s been stealing all along and covering up his dishonesty.  None of the apostles at the Last Supper, are aware that one of their own is in cahoots with the chief priests.  Who, so close to Jesus these past three years would do such a thing, they must of wondered.  And here he is at a dinner at Lazarus’ house—the friend whom Jesus raised from the dead—protesting Mary’s generosity toward Jesus!  Doesn’t Judas know that this is the Son of God, the Christ, the Lord’s Anointed One?
We, too, might be floored. However, each one of us has a Judas inside of us, that part of us that betrays friends, that part of us that does not recognize Christ in our neighbor, that part of us that protests the generosity of others, that engages in dishonest schemes from time to time. And none of us is condemned by Jesus, not even Judas.   The first reading of today’s liturgy, Isaiah 42: 1-7, reminds us that “a bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.”  No, each of us has been called “for the victory of justice” (Isaiah 42: 6). God has grasped each of us “by the hand” (Isaiah 42: 6) and rescued  us from Satan’s snares when Jesus was crucified, died and rose from the dead. The “perfumed oil” of redemption has been poured out upon our feet and we are thoroughly cleansed of our sin.

What an awesome God, a God of compassion and mercy toward all who call upon Him in truth!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who is this Jesus?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues to reveal that He is the Son of God, the “I Am,” who, before Abraham was, He existed.  Imagine being one of the Pharisees listening to Jesus.  “Who is this man who claims to be God,”  I might be asking myself.  As I gaze upon the host at every Mass, I ask myself, “Who is this God who stoops to earth below and changes bread and wine into His body and blood? Who is this God who, every day in the Eucharist, becomes my Food, my Transformation, my Cleansing into the purity of God? Who is this God who became sin for me on the Cross to crucify sin in me so that I become a new person in Christ Jesus.

“I AM the I AM,”  Jesus says to me. I am your life in God. I AM the I AM who created you, watched you take shape in your mother’s womb as I was molding you into the person you are at your very core. I formed you and I transform you every day.  I AM the I AM who knows you through and through, who loves you unconditionally and completely, when you are awake and asleep, when you come to me and when you walk away from me, when you are aware of me and grateful and when you are deaf, blind, and ungrateful. I AM the I AM who pastures you, gives you rest, heals you,  makes you whole and fruitful. I AM the I Am who conquers sin in you and plants the seeds of holiness and goodness within you and around you and empowers that goodness to create new life that springs up into eternal life. I am your God and there is no other!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Standing firm in my faith

In today’s first reading, Daniel 3: 14-20, 91-92, 95, we read of the heroic testimony of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refuse to worship  King Nebuchadnezzar’s  false god, a golden statue.  Death or life is put before these three men and they choose life. “We have no need to defend ourselves before you,” they tell the king.   “If our God, whom we serve, will save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
What faith! What courage! Nothing will deter these brothers from remaining faithful to their God-- the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of their ancestors.

Do I stand up to the “Nebuchadnezzar’s” in my life? Do I have the courage to do what is right and just no matter what the consequences? If those consequences are costly, do I still hold firm to what I believe? Maybe I will lose some friends. Maybe I will be left standing with no one taking my side. Maybe I will be denied a promotion, be slandered, put down, ridiculed. Maybe even my family will reject me for my faith in the one true God and in Jesus Christ, my Savior.
Lord, I pray for the faith and courage of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego.  May I stand firm in the faith that my parents handed down to me, even when those around me scoff at my beliefs or challenge me to abandon my faith.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Look upon Him Whom You have Pierced

In today’s first reading, Numbers 21: 4-9, the Chosen People complain bitterly against God and Moses for bringing them out  into the desert.  “Why,” they ask, “have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food.”  Sound familiar? Every day, no doubt, there is something /someone about whom to grumble  and to bitterly proclaim our disgust.  Winter hangs on. Spring holds back!  Another tornado hits. A mudslide buries homes in a nearby State. Another shooting occurs. War breaks out. Another individual goes astray.  Another crime is exposed to the light.  The list goes on and on and on. Or we may be complaining of less weightier things that are part of daily life: the computer bulks when I am in a hurry to get to something done. The printer breaks down in the middle of an important print job. The battery goes dead on the car when I am rushing to get home, the brakes give out. The kids are screaming for attention when I’m busy. The TV blocks a Packer game, etc. etc., etc.
God was not oblivious of the people’s grumbling, discontent, rebelliousness.  He understood their anger but He also held them accountable.   “In punishment the Lord sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died.”   When the people cried out for mercy and acknowledged their sin, the Lord instructed Moses to [m]ake a seraph and mount it on a pole, and whoever look[ed] on it after being bitten….[lived]. The punishment for our sinfulness was the death of Jesus. He became sin for us.  All who look upon the cross of Christ and ask for mercy are saved  both here on earth and in eternity from everlasting death, from being separated from the Lord forever.  Truly the “Lord looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoners [all of us enslaved to sinful patterns of behavior and to destructive attitudes that precede our acts of rebellion against God and others].” He offers His only Begotten Son, allowing Him to become sin  for us in order “to release those doomed to die” (today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 102), to bring us to a new way of living and thinking, a way that transforms misery into happiness, frustration into joy, rebellion into cooperation, death into life.
Oh, the goodness of our God. What an awesome God! What a merciful God! What a compassionate God!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Looking into the Mirror of another Person's Life

Today’s first reading, Wisdom 2: 1a, 12-22, speaks of the difficulty we sometimes have when we encounter someone who mirrors what we are not, that is, the holiness of God. Why were some of the people in Jesus’ day so hostile toward Him? Is it possible that they saw in Him what was lacking in their own way of life and in their personal way of relating to others.   In our lives, a Christian who takes seriously what the Scriptures ask of him/her may cause us some discomfort or even lead us to complain: “She thinks she’s so holy” or “He thinks he goody-two-shoes; I can’t stand him.” What we may see in that mirror is what is lacking in our own attitudes, commitments and  behaviors.  Sometimes we want to do away with those who, in a real sense, put us to shame.  With the author in today’s chapter from the book of Wisdom, we might believe that “[b]ecause his  life is not like that of others, and different are his  ways  [that]  he judges us debased; [that ]  he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.”  The truth is that we judge ourselves “debased.”  It is not the person doing good who is judging us. We are the judges of our faithfulness, our ways of being Godlike, of living authentic, Eucharistic lives, whereby we allow ourselves to be broken for others, to be poured out as blessed wine to quench anothers’ thirst for righteousness, justice, and goodness.

May we have the humility, O Lord, to look upon others as You do and when they are doing good give praise to you. May we also have the humility to look at our own lives and ask the question: how can I live the Gospel more authentically?  When the goodness of another repulses me, when I feel uncomfortable around someone who is  pouring our his/her life for the sake of another’s well-being, may I have the wisdom to look deeply into my own heart to discover the source of my discomfort.   I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Power of Intercessory Prayer

In today’s first reading, Ex 32:7-14, we learn of how fed up God is with His people and is ready to eliminate them from the face of the earth.   Did God forget the covenant He made with His people following the flood when He said that He would never destroy the people again? Or is God simply voicing the depth of His disappointment in the Chosen People?  Imagine, they have made a golden calf and are worshipping it, stating that this is the god who saved them from the Egyptians.  Can they be that stupid, I ask?  A golden calf? A God? Are they crazy?
Before I go too far, let me stop and think!  When I depend totally upon myself or another human being or something another person or I have created to save me from my despair, am I not doing the same thing?  When I forget who has the power to transform that which is contributing to my frustration and anger, that which is rendering me hopeless and forlorn, am I not also forgetting the God who brings me out of the “Egypts”  of my life?
How often do I not look to things not of God to “make my day”! 
The author of Exodus 32: 7-14 reminds me that, through the intercessory prayer, in this case, of Moses, God relented of “the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.”   Moses cries out to the Lord, “Let your blazing wrath die down!”  And it does!  All of us are brought back into God’s graces by the intercessory prayer of others and vice versa. Let us never forget the importance of asking for prayers and being an intercessor for people around the globe.  Let us, too, remember that Jesus is continually interceding for us and, when we do not know how to pray, the Spirit prays within us in accord with God’s holy will for us (Rom 8:26).
No wonder miracles of grace continue to surface throughout the world of today. Open my eyes to them, Lord!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Graciousness and Kindness of our God

In today’s first reading, Is 49: 8-15, the prophet says to us:
Along the ways,…[you] shall find pasture,
On every bare height shall…your pastures be…
For…[God] who pities[you] leads [you]
and guides [you] beside springs of water.
[God] will cut a road through all [your] mountains,
And make [your] highways level.
See, some shall come from  afar,
Others from the north and the west….
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
Break forth into song, you mountains.
For the Lord comforts his people
And shows mercy to his afflicted.

 As I meditated upon this passage, the thought came to me that the “bare height” where our pasture shall be is heaven itself, that God, who pities us, leads us to this Promised Land, cutting through the mountains of our lives, leveling the highways.  “See, some [come into eternal life] from the mud slides in the State of Washington, others from the watery grave  where the Malaysian plane’s  tragedy occurred, others from the devastating 8.2 earthquake off the coast of Chile.  So, too, does God remember those who die by the violent hand of another, those who  suffer because of a terminal illness, an ugly divorce, a domestic dispute. God knows and cares about all who suffer the brutal ravages of a war, all who are the target of ethnic cleansing, who are bullied because they are different from those who abuse them.      “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you,”  God tells us, no matter how much it seems otherwise. 

 “I do believe, Lord, help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Water that Transforms , Heals and Makes Us One with God

In today’s first reading, Ez 47: 1-9, 12, the prophet is invited by an angel to “the back entrance of the temple of the Lord.”  He sees “water flowing out from beneath the threshold toward the east….  The angel, Ezekiel tells us “had him wade through the water.” At first the water was ankle deep, then up to his knees and finally up to his waist until he was unable to cross it. A river ran through it and anything near the bank of the river flourished and bore fruit. Salt waters, into which the river flowed, were made fresh.
In the Gospel, the ill, the blind, the lame and crippled sought healing in the Bethesda pool.  Whenever the waters in that pool swirled, the first person into the pool was healed.  A man crippled for 38 years never made it to the pool first. Jesus noticed his plight and asked him if he wanted to be made whole. He responded: “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on the way, someone else gets down there before me. Jesus said to him.  ‘Rise, take up your mat, and walk.’”
Jesus also notices our infirmities, that which cripples us mentally, spiritually, socially.  He says to us, as He said to the crippled man:  “Do you want to be well?”  In our case, we need to avail ourselves of the sacraments of reconciliation and of the Eucharist.  We need to “pick up our mat,” that is pick up the Bible and read about God’s promises to those who seek Him (the psalms might be a good place to begin or the Gospel readings). We need to stop the noise around us, become quiet before the Lord for 2, 3, 5 minutes a day, if not longer: “Listen to the stillness; God is at work,” that is, the Living Water within us is swirling to make us whole.   Are we willing to  accept “the angel’s” invitation to wade through those waters that made us new, that  transform us into Christ, that lead us to oneness with God and others, as Jesus and the Father are one with each other and with each of us?