Thursday, July 31, 2014

God's Way of Communicating with Us

In today’s first reading, Jeremiah 18: 1-6, the Lord asks Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house.  “Rise up, be off to the potter’s house; there I will give you my message.” Jeremiah responds without hesitation and, sure enough, there is the potter working at the potter’s wheel.  The art piece that he was trying to make did not turn out well so he started over until the vessel was to his liking, was truly a work of art to be admired and used for its designed purposes.  The Lord’s message to Jeremiah was addressed to the house of Israel. “Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done?...Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.”

As I reflected upon this passage, the thought struck me that God speaks to us in ordinary language! “Get up! Rise! Be off.” Who does not understand that kind of language? It is so ordinary that I frequently pay no attention. “The Lord speaking? You got to be kidding. I’m too busy now.”  And I miss the opportunity of grace. I miss God’s message that was waiting for me or the message that God wanted delivered to another through me.  How sad that the simplicity and the humility of God trip me up into oblivion.  How often I continue in my stupor. I choose not to pay attention! 

Jeremiah paid attention! “Jeremiah, pray for us that we, like you, will “rise up, be off” to that place to which God directs us, that we engage in that activity to which  God is calling us, to that person where God awaits us. No matter where it might be, what it might be, God will meet us there. He has an important message to deliver to us through a certain person, at a certain place! Pray that we will have the humility to follow God’s mundane, humble way of making Himself known and sharing the Wisdom of God.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Continuous pain, Incurable woundedness

In today’s first reading, Jer 15: 10, 16-21, Jeremiah laments about having been born, sees himself as a person “of strife and contention.”  He complains that he neither borrows or lends yet “all curse me.”  He cries out in his pain, saying to the Lord: “Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?”  How many people, I thought, are in that state of mind, tortured by emotional and psychological pain, traumatized by the violence of war, sitting in refugee camps, and so wounded by past traumas of sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse that their psyches remain, it seems, incurably wounded. 

The Lord responded to Jeremiah, asking him to repent of any wrongdoing and bring Him “the precious without the vile.”  Each and every person is the precious one in God’s sight. Before God, none of  us is despicable, wicked or loathsome.  In Christ Jesus we have been made clean, purified, healed and made whole.  Jesus Himself took our vile with Him when He entered Gethsemane. His agony was our agony,   as Jesus, the Son of God, lives in the Eternal Now.   Not only His agony in the Garden but also His crucifixion on the cross and his resurrection are our sufferings, our crucifixions and our resurrections, as, in Baptism, we died and rose with Christ. Before willingly going into His final hours,  Jesus prayed to His Father, and ours, that we would all be made one in Him as He and the Father are one. His prayer would not have fallen on deaf ears. You and I, if not now, later will know this oneness with the Lord and with one another. Vile will not separate us from the Lord.  On the cross,  Jesus set us  free us from that which defiles us, saying to the Father: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” when they commit evil or go astray. Jeremiah repented of any wrongdoing he might have done. 
May you and I repent of all that defiles our thinking or choosing or interacting with others and believe in the resurrection, accepting the grace of being set free.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Look! Those Slain" all around Us (Jer 14: 17-22)

In today’s first reading, Jeremiah 14: 17-22, Jeremiah laments that if he walks “out into the field, look! those slain by the sword,” and, if he enters the city, “look! those consumed by hunger.”  If Jeremiah enters the fields and cities of our world, he will come across persons slain by drones, rockets, gunfire, grenades, bombs and other weapons of violence.  He will enter refugee camps and the slums of our cities and find those “consumed by hunger” and thirst. Like Jeremiah and his our ancestors, we “wait for peace, to no avail; for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.” Do we,  like Jeremiah and, in our day, Pope Francis, “recognize…our wickedness, the guilt of our…[ancestors, our predecessors, our government officials engaging in corrupt decision-making, our clergy abusing vulnerable persons, parents harming their children, and on and on].” Do we acknowledge, as Jeremiah and Pope Francis do, “that we have sinned against” the Lord?
We certainly deserve to be asked, as Jeremiah asked his people,  among “the nations’ idols is there any that gives rain,” are there any that reconcile enemies, makes whole that which is broken,  frees those who are enslaved, imprisoned, maimed by corruption, blinded by sin; any that frees prisoners of obsessive gambling, abusive behaviors toward  children and youth and women, releases perpetrators of violence, slaves of deceit, greed, selfishness, and/or trapped  into all of the “isms” that dominate our cultures?

With the prophet Jeremiah, we, too,  in our day and age need to cry out: “Is it not you alone, O Lord, our God, to whom we look? You alone have done all these things” that lead to salvation,  reconciliation, restoration, and the  righting of wrongs being done to millions of people in the world of today. O, God, “[f]or the glory of your name, deliver us” (today responsorial psalm).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Called to be God's Praise, God's Renown, God's Beauty

In today’s first reading, Jeremiah 13: 1-11, the prophet is asked by the Lord to purchase a linen loincloth and wear it on his loins but not to put it in water. Later, the Lord asks him to hide the cloth in the cleft of a rock. Much later, he is commanded to retrieve it. It has rotted and is good for nothing. That, the Lord says to Jeremiah, is what will happen to the Chosen People. “I will allow the pride of Judah to rot, the great pride of Jerusalem….For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me,…; to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen.” No, “they have provoked me with their ‘no-god’ and angered me with their vain idols, [and I] will provoke them with a ‘no-people’; with a foolish nation I will anger them.”
In Christ Jesus and through the apostles, God has chosen Gentiles, all non-Jewish peoples, “to be His people, His renown, His praise, His beauty”. Like the Chosen People of the Old Covenant, however, many persons of  the New Covenant are also “provoking God with their ‘no-god’ and angering God with their vain idols.” (Dt. 32: 18-21, today’s responsorial psalm).

In your baptism, confirmation, reconciliation and reception of the Eucharist, you and I are those Gentiles made into God's people, God's renown, God's praise, God's beauty. Are we, too, provoking God by clinging to “no-gods”? Are we angering God with our vain idols? Or are  we building God’s Kingdom by growing in God’s love, the love into which we were baptized and confirmed and are nurtured in the Eucharist, in the reading of the Word and in our efforts to realize our union with God and others. From “the Rock that begot…[us]” (Dt. 32: 18-21),  may we stand firm in our efforts to plant seeds of love, reconciliation, justice and peace into the world in which we live.


Friday, July 25, 2014

A Treasure Within Us

In today’s first reading, 2 Cor 4: 7-15, St. Paul reminds us that we “hold…[a] treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.”  That treasure is the death of Jesus, a dying that leads to the manifestation of the life of Jesus in us.  “…[W]e are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh,” Paul says to us.  That dying is a death to our self-will, to human pride, to the wealth of possessions when such would  distract us from living for others; a dying  to any sinful inclinations within us.  That dying leads to the power of God rendering us obedient to the Father’s will, as Jesus was obedient. It leads to the power of God rendering us humble, as Jesus was humble, abandoning His place in heaven to come to earth below to transform it into the image of its Maker, to make justice spring up on earth as in heaven, to proclaim God’s Kingdom among us and within us. That dying leads to the power of God making us one with Jesus in  the self-emptying of ourselves for the sake of others.
O, truly, we “hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us,” that God  may be glorified in the hour of our dying to sin and selfishness, to narcissistic endeavors as God was glorified  in Jesus’ hour on the cross.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


In today’s Gospel, Mt 13: 10-17, Matthew quotes Isaiah’s prophecy that is being fulfilled in the midst of the people whose lives He touches during his three-year public  ministry:  [They] shall indeed hear but not understand,…[they] shall indeed look but never see.  Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them.”  Jesus comes into the world of today and speaks that same message. He wants us to hear with our ears, see with our eyes, and understand with our hearts and be converted and be healed by Him. Do I accept God’s gift or do I, as we read in today’s first reading, Jeremiah 2: 1-3, 7-8, 12-13, evoke God’s outcry: “Be amazed…O heavens,  and shudder with sheer horror, says the Lord. Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; [t]hey have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water,” that is, they look to no-gods for  “food” and  “drink” that will perish, consuming more and more material things, building “empires” that will be reduced to rubble, trampling on the poor of this world, crushing the vulnerable, committing violence against the innocent, bringing upon themselves the judgment of God: This is a “wicked and adulterous generation” (Mt. 16:4), prostituting  themselves on false gods.

Lord, I pray that more and more people, every day,  will turn to You,  “the source of living waters,” to you, Jesus, in the Eucharist, the Scriptures, the sacraments.  May we come to know in our hearts, see with our eyes, and hear with our ears that You alone can save us, You alone are sanctifying us, You alone quench our thirst and feed our hungers for eternal life, for peace, for love and forgiveness, for wholeness and healing. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

God's Empowerment

Today’s first reading, Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10, presents Jeremiah’s call to be God’s prophet, an instrument in the hands of God to proclaim His message, to reveal God’s presence, and give hope to a people who were facing a takeover by the Babylonian empire and were eventually sent into exile. It was the prophet Jeremiah who warned them of this possibility but also reminded them that, after 70 years, they would return to their homeland and experience, once again, God’s mercy and favor.
Jeremiah’s response  to God’s call came out of his fear and sounded something like: O, God, I am only a boy.  Find someone else! I am not capable of doing what are you asking of me. Please, look elsewhere.” Sound familiar? How often do we not back away from a difficult assignment or a problematic issue. “Oh, God, not again.  I’m too tired, too old, too scared, too weak” or whatever excuse looms in our minds.  We will find one that we hope will stick!

When we do that, however, our focus is on our own resources, our own power and, of course, we are then unable to manage the turbulent waters of any task.  God never asks anything of us without giving us the tools we need, as He did for Jeremiah:  “…the Lord extended his hand and touched…[Jeremiah,’s] mouth, saying, ‘See, I place my words in your mouth! This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.” God does the same for us, giving us the right words and giving us the graces we need to “root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant” that which needs repair, be it a relationship with a spouse, a fellow religious, a co-worker, a boss; be it rooting up and tearing down, destroying and demolishing sin in our hearts and minds and choices; be it building and planting seeds of faith in our children, in a rebellious child. God is there at our side. God, in fact, equips us with the necessary tools to bring about the changes that need to be brought about for our sakes and the sake of others in order that God’s  Kingdom is made real “on earth as in heaven.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Devastating Discovery Transformed by a Personal Encounter

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles,  the one Jesus sent to tell the apostles that He had risen from the dead. We pray in the “Collect” of the Mass, “O God, whose Only Begotten Son entrusted Mary Magdalene before all others   (emphasis mine) with announcing the great joy of the Resurrection, grant, we pray, that through her intercession and example we may proclaim the living Christ and come to see him reigning in your glory.”
The Gospel recounts that  first Easter morning. Mary is desperately eager to go to the tomb to give Jesus’ body the proper anointing that was not possible when they took His body off the cross. There was not time before the Passover restrictions would have been applied. So she rushes to the tomb that Easter morn. It is still dark. She finds the stone removed from the entrance of the tomb and the tomb empty.  She stands outside the tomb, occasionally bending in peering into the darkness of the tomb, hoping his body is really there. She sees “two angels in white sitting… one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.  ‘Woman, why are you weeping?”  Where, O where, have they taken my Lord, she cries out.  The risen Jesus is standing right behind her. She turns and sees him but does not recognize him. “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” “Mary,” He says, and she immediately recognizes Him.

Crucifixion! Darkness! Empty tombs!  Only  gardeners! Nobodies!  The scene repeated over and over again in the history of the world! Crucifixions, scourging, “crownings” with thorns, empty “tombs,” no bodies to be found, the “living” not even recognized they are so downtrodden, beaten, left for dead, unrecognized.  We pass the homeless and hardly steal a glance! Children are in unsafe situations and we hardly notice!  Women and men are being “whipped into submission” and we hardly notice. “Tombs”—no life worth living in neighborhoods and refugee camps across the globe! “Mary,” Jesus says, and the devastingly, dark emptiness of the tomb experience is transformed by a personal encounter! Do I realize that I have the same power among "the tombs" of today?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Walk the Talk

In today’s first reading, Micah 6: 1-4, 6-8, we continue to hear, through the prophet, how the people of God had gone astray and then proceeded to offer “burnt offerings, with calves a year old,….thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil….” In the responsorial psalm of today’s liturgy, Ps. 50,  we are given the same message:   “Why do you recite my statues, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?”  You have been told,” Micah says to the people, “what is good, and what the Lord requires of you:  Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”   How saddened God must be today when, looking down upon the earth, God sees the many ways in which we have forgotten this message and tossed discipline out of the window, the discipline, that is, of doing “the right,” loving “goodness,” and walking “humbly” with our God! If we did that, would planes be shut down anywhere in the world, would nations war against one another,  would children, youth and young adults be sold into the labor slave markets or into human trafficking, drug trafficking? Would parents be contemplating killing the child in its mother’s womb? Would corrupt politicians or corrupt anyone be considering ways to cheat the poor and oppressed, the marginalized and peoples of so-called minority cultures?
“When you do these things,” God asks through Psalm 50, “shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.…[Those who] offer praise [the praise of doing “the right” and loving “goodness” and walking “humbly” with God] as a sacrifice glorif[ies] God; and to…[those who go] the right way I will show the salvation of God.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Abiding Presence of the Lord

Today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 102, reminds us that the Lord abides with us forever. David, the author of the psalms, says to the Lord: “You will arise and have mercy on Zion, for it is time to pity her.”  It is time for the Lord to pity the world, to pity the U.S., and all other nations also involved in violence and corruption.
               “For her stones are dear to your servants [, Lord,]

and her dust moves them to pity.

The nations shall revere your name, O Lord,

 and all the kings of the earth your glory,

 when the Lord has rebuilt Zion

 and appeared in his glory;

when he regarded the prayer of the destitute,

and not despised their prayer. 

Let this be written,” David says to us,

 “for the generation to come,

and let his future creatures praise the Lord:

‘The Lord looked down from his holy height,

from heaven he beheld the earth,

to hear the groaning of the prisoners,

to release those doomed to die.’”

 Furthermore, in the words of this same psalm:

                 [W]e [cry] out in anguish under your chastising.

                As a woman about to give birth

                writhes and cries out in her pains,

                so we in your presence, O Lord.

                We conceived [evil] and writhed in pain,

                giving birth to wind;

                salvation we have not achieved for the earth

                [by whatever means we foolishly thought  we

                might save ourselves].

                The inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth.”

 So, out of your love for us, you sent  a Savior, Your Son, our brother, who died that we might have life with You for all eternity. Every moment of every day, our redemption is being accomplished during our brief sojourn here on earth. You would have it no other way, Lord!  What Love! What Mercy! What Compassion!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

God, A Disciplinarian Who Never Abandons His Children

In today’s first reading, Isaiah 10: 5-7, 13b-16, God, like  any good parent who disciplines his/her child when that child acts against the parents’ will, so, too, God disciplines us when we do not obey. He  uses Assyria to discipline the Israelites for their disobedience.   In the words of   Psalm 94 of today’s liturgical celebration, the Chosen people have trampled upon the poor: “[w]idow and stranger they slay, the fatherless they murder. And they say, ‘The Lord sees not; the God of Jacob perceives not.’”   Throughout the Old Testament, whenever the people strayed  from the laws of God, the Lord allowed other nations to overtake them. In today’s reading, Assyria is the instrument used by God to bring His people back to living righteously, honorably and humbly, caring for one another, acting justly and lovingly toward the poor and oppressed of the land.  Assyria boasts, saying “by my own power I have done it (conquered Israel), and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.  I have moved the boundaries of peoples, their treasures I have pillaged, and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned.” In other words, Assyria also insults the Lord God and is likewise disciplined by God in His efforts to turn people back to living honorably as instruments in God’s hand.  God alone is the Lord. God is Master of the Universe, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier of us all.

As of old, so, too, today. God uses every circumstance of our lives to redeem us, make us holy, righteous, just, caring, loving, and forgiving toward one another, treating all as brothers and sisters in the Lord.  As we stray from the path of goodness, justice, and humility, do we, like our ancestors in the Old Testament say , in the words of the psalmist, “The Lord sees not; the God of Jacob perceive not?”  If so, we, too, need to hear the next few verses of Psalm 94, where God says to us: “Understand, you senseless ones among the people; all, you fools, when will you be wise? Shall he who shaped the ear not hear: or he who formed the eye not see? Shall he who instructs nations not chastise, he who teaches …[humankind] knowledge? For the Lord will not cast off his people, nor abandon his inheritance; but judgment shall again be with justice and all the upright of heart shall follow it” (Ps. 94).
Is it possible that all of the disasters throughout the world are God’s way of disciplining us and bringing us to the point of acknowledging who, really, is God and who is not?  Are we being given wakeup calls and not hearing, not listening?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Remaining Tranquil

In today's first lesson, Isaiah 7: 1-9, we read that "when the word came to the house of David that Aram was encamped in "Ephraim, the heart of the king and the heart of the people trembled, as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind."  The Lord sends Isaiah to King Ahaz, encouraging him to remain calm in the face of an invasion from the North.  "Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail...." The "blazing anger" of the northern kingdom "shall not stand, it shall not be!....[W]ithin sixty years and five, Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation. Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!"

"It shall not be!" "This shall not stand."  How often do you and I "tremble like trees in the wind," not remembering that every hair on our heads is known to the Lord. And, yes, He protects each strand.  He knows when disaster looms, when Satan is about to strike, hurling boulders of temptations at us, rocks that could destroy "houses" not built on faith.  "Take care you remain tranquil," no matter what!Why? Because the power of redemption, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is at work in the world, in you and me, in our families, in our loved ones, in our parishes, our workplace, in areas that seem about to fall to Satan's deceptive snares.  "It shall not be" because God is in charge. God took possession of us in our baptism into Christ Jesus. We belong to Him, not to the world, not to that which is not-God. 

Do our actions in the face of "invasions of the tempter" reveal the strength of our faith?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Forgive All Our Transgressions

In today's first reading, Hosea 14: 2-10, the prophet suggests that we go to the Lord and say:  "Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render" praise to you, O Lord.  "Assyria will not save us..."  For us that might translate into: "Military force will not save us." "America will not save us." "Having more possessions will not save us." "Money will not save us." "Controlling others, having our own way, will not save us." You alone Lord are our savior. Let us, as Hosea suggests, say to the Lord:  "We shall say no more, 'Our god, to the work of our hands' for in you...[we] find compassion." You alone, O Lord, "will heal our defection." You alone, O Lord, "love us" to the point of death on the cross and the total giving of yourself in the Eucharist, in the Scripture, in the all of creation, in every human being  where the Spirit dwells.  You are God. There is no other. May we learn to follow the Spirit's lead, to worship you, the one true God that Your plan of salvation for the entire world will be realized, where all may be one in you and in one another as the Trinity is one in three.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Greatness of our God

In today's first reading, Hosea 11: 1-4, 8e-9, the prophet reminds us that God is the one who taught us how to walk on solid ground, planted us in His love, supported us in the very arms of our God, fostering us and holding our cheeks against God's face as a parent holds an  infant next to his/her cheek. God is that tender and loving toward us, His son/daughter from infancy.  Through Hosea, God complains that, though He has stooped to feed us, we do not know that God is our healer.  " was I who taught...[you] to walk, who  took...[you] in my arms; I drew ...[you] with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered...[you] like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet, though I stooped to feed...[you,] my child, ...[you] did not know that I was...[your] healer.

God looks down from heaven and sees nations fighting against one another, people fighting within their own countries, killing the innocent, causing families to flee for safety, to leave their homes and go into exile in other lands.  God sees children and women and men cowering in closets in fear for their lives and/or throwing their hands up to their faces to protect themselves from repeated blows. God stoops down from heaven and sees women and children being sold into the sex industry, becoming slaves of cheap labor so companies can sell products at low prices and make billions of dollars in profit. God stoops down from heaven and weeps when the unborn are being slaughtered in the womb or killed as they enter this world. God stoops down from heaven weeping when the scales are set against the poor of this world.

And God says, through the prophet Hosea:  "My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred.  I will not give vent to  my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again [insert the appropriate place]; for I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you."

What a gracious God! What a loving God! What a forgiving God! What a caring God, One, without us realizing it, heals our woundedness, transforms our weaknesses, and leads us to forsake our sinful ways and transform the world with love and forgiveness, persons molded by grace to become who we are in Christ Jesus: the adopted son/daughter of God bringing life and wholeness to our neighbors, turning our weapons into plowshares and doing on earth what is willed in heaven.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sowing justice

In today's first reading,  Hosea 10: 1-3, 7-8, 12, the prophet tells Israel that it "is a luxurious vine whose fruit matches its growth. The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; the more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up. Their heart, [though, Hosea says,] is false....God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars.....Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rains down justice upon you."

In the first part of our lives we are about the business, if you will, of becoming luxurious vines whose fruit match our growth."  We attain degrees and need to do that. We make our mark in the world, making a difference in other people's lives, growing in maturity.  Hopefully, we move from a self-centered life to an other-centered lives. We grow in grace and wisdom,  and not, in the words of Hosea, building altars to ourselves and forgetting about justice, forgetting to seek the Lord and His Ways, His Truth and His Life.

If our hearts are false, that is,  if we are building altars to ourselves by our accumulation of materials things that we do not need for building up the Kingdom of God; or if we are focusing only on ourselves and not on sacrificing ourselves as Jesus did for the welfare of others, God will gently and mercifully "break down...[our] altars and destroy...[our] sacred pillars". Only then will be we ready to "sow...justice"--that is putting other people's needs on an equal footing with our own or putting others before ourselves, being concerned that their rights are protected as much as our own. We will begin relating to others as modeled by the Trinity, where all are equal and all participate in giving and receiving of that fullness to each other and to persons beyond themselves, you and I!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Choose New Wine Skins

In today's Gospel, Mt 9:14-17, Jesus  tells us that no one "patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth."  The new cloth will shrink and cause a bigger tear in the old cloth.  Also, Jesus says, do not put new wine into old wine skins. As the new wine ferments, the old skins will burst.

Jesus is speaking of making all things new. Lepers, sinners, the sick, the lame, the dead, women, Gentiles will be included, respected, healed, made whole and sent to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. No one will be excluded.The old way--exploiting the poor, excluding women, refusing to dialogue, passing judgment, compartmentalizing people into class systems with the rich getting richer off the poor, multiplying rules made by humans who seek to control and exert power over others--will be replaced by God's Way, a way of mercy and love, forgiveness and compassion. Peace and justice shall meet. No longer shall industrial pursuits, economic superiority or one gender being chosen over another just for gender sake, no more "a tooth for a tooth," no more power dynamics of lording oneself, one's race, one's nation over another. There is only one Way, the way of the Trinity, where all persons are equal, all striving for a common good: the salvation of the world and the giving everything, even one's life if necessary, to bring wholeness to another, to respect the dignity of the other as a child of God.

The old does not fit any longer. Jesus shows us the way to be obedient to the Father even unto death. Each person must give way to the Divine Will, as Jesus did,  in order to know the fullness of life that Jesus brought to this earth. To truly become the likeness of God, to be transformed into God, to reach our full potential as human beings to  experience our oneness with all that is, with all persons,  and to come to union with God, we need to let go of the "old wine skins." The choice is ours.  May we choose wisely!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Follow Me

In today's first reading, Amos 8: 4-6, 9-12,  Amos confronts the people, saying to them:  "When will the new moon be over," you ask, "that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?  We will diminish the containers for measuring, also add weights, and fix the scales for cheating!  We will buy the lowly...[person] for silver, and the poor...[person] for a pair of sandals...."
Amos is speaking to us today, to those who are diminishing the value of money, who fix the minimum wage, who buy infants, children, adolescents and young adult women and men, girls and boys, for sexual exploitation and slave labor. Yes, the lowly are being purchased for silver. The Lord's response in Amos 8: 4-6, 9-12, I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentations....I will make them mourn as for an only...[child] and bring their day to a bitter end."

In the Gospel, Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector, who also was cheating the poor of his day. "Follow me."  And Matthew got up and followed Jesus. When his disciples confronted Jesus about eating with sinners and befriending sinners, His response was:  "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.  Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

We never need to lose hope, no matter how sinful our past might be. God is a merciful God. He stills calls us to follow Him and will always be inviting us to repent of our sinful ways, to leave sin behind and embrace the Gospel. The response is ours to make. How we answer will either lead to freedom that only God can give or to "a bitter end." Which will you and I choose?