Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas: The Birth of Our Savior

Merry Christmas!
Earth has seen your faithfulness, O God, in the birth of our Savior!
Righteousness, O God, is Your gift to us through Your Son, Jesus, born this day in Bethlehem!
Righteousness, O God, is Your gift of love, mercy, and forgiveness poured out upon us through Your Son Jesus, who set His glory aside to take on our humanity, died on the cross a torturous death to save us from sin and rose triumphant over death four our sake.
Yes, Lord, today a light truly shines upon us, for You are born to give us a rebirth into eternal life with you.

Counselor God, Wondrous God, Prince of peace, Father of future ages, King of all nations, your reign will be without end.
Heavenly angels, O God, announced your coming to the shepherds.
Really, really, may we through grace, make room for You in our hearts and homes each day.
Interiorly purified and strengthened by Your Word each day, may the radiance of Your glory shine through us by Love manifested in our deeds!
Sincerely, reverently, and humbly, may our souls be opened to Your Loving embrace and merciful concern for the well-being of our mind, body and spirit!
Time and time again, Lord, You knock at the door of our hearts, waiting for us to invite you in for a chat, for nourishment and peace the world cannot give.
May we heed your knocking and share our secrets with you: our worries, our concerns, our heartaches, our frustrations, our joys, our sorrows, our dreams;
And may we never forget to say “Thank you” for your generosity in sending us Your only Begotten Son to save us from sin and death, from selfishness and fear, from all that would deter us from coming to you for help as we face this world’s violence and emptiness of Satan’s deceptive ways.

So, Lord, we say “Thank You,” this Christmas and every day that our Savior has come and we are now called Your holy people, Your redeemed, and that we are no longer forsaken and left to battle Satan alone as he prowls the world looking for someone to dev our (Compare Isaiah 62: 11-12)!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

God's Kingdom among Us

In today’s first reading, 2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16, King David wanted to build a house for the ark of God.   God says to the prophet Nathan, who had encouraged King David to do so, to let King David know that it was not the will of God that he take on such a task.  “Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Should you build me a house to dwell in? It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.   And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance….I will raise up your heir after you, spring from your loins, and I will make his Kingdom firm….Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.’”

God sent His Son into the World, born of a woman on this holy night.   Jesus came to earth to establish God’s Kingdom here and to secure our place in that Kingdom for all eternity by ransoming us from Satan’s snares. e did so H He did so by His obedience to the Father unto His death on the cross and His triumph over death in His resurrection.

My prayer:  Thank you, God, for your great love in leaving Your throne and the peace of heaven to enter a sin-infested, troubled, violent world to secure for m—for all of us--a place in heaven!  You left heaven and came to earth to redeem it and take it out of Satan’s power. You, warrior God, took on Satan and his legions of devils, who war against us!  How great God’s love for each of us—Jesus gave His life as ransom, beginning with His taking on human nature when conceived in Mary’s sacred womb and being born this holy night!

                I did so for your sake!
                I gave my life to save yours!

Your thoughts?   Your prayer?our prayer

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Coming of Our Lord to Bring about Relationship Changes

In today’s first reading, Malachi 3: 1-4, 23-24, the Lord God says to us: Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day, to turn the hearts of the fathers[mothers]  to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers/[mothers].”   Is it possible that the Lord says this because the root of anger, hostility, and animosity is a father’s/a mother’s rejection and indifference towards the children, a parents’ abuse of their children and one another with harsh, loveless words?  Is that why Malachi says that the Lord sends prophets “to turn the hearts of the father/mother to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers/mothers” and, I would say, to one another?  And, in fact, is God saying that divisions, animosities, hostilities must give way to unity, respect, humility, love, mercy, understanding and forgiveness, starting with a father’s/a mother’s attitude towards children and toward one another; that parents’ authority over children is not to be abusive, oppressive, and/or frightening?

As our models, we can, I believe, take to heart the example of the holy family!

These are my thoughts as I reflect upon Malachi 3: 1-4, 23-24. What are yours? To what is God calling you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Almighty Is Doing Great Things: Do I Realize It?

Both the first reading of today’s liturgy, 1 Samuel 1: 24-28, and the Gospel, Luke 1: 46-56, hail two great women who give God that which was most precious to them, their only child!  They held nothing back from God. Hannah prayed for a child and God answered her prayer, changing her sterile womb into a fruitful one. She gave Samuel back to God.  Mary was chosen to bear in her womb the Son of God, who took on flesh within her through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary echoed her son’s “yes” to God’s will for Him in saving humankind from the destruction of sin and eternal damnation by surrendering His life to the Father on the cross and in His resurrection from death. Mary gave her Son back to God.

What am I willing to give back to God for all of His graces God give to me? What is your response to God’s goodness to you and your family?

Mary prays: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant.  From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

Do I realize the greatness of the Lord at work in my life and in the life of the world? Do I realize that God, my Savior, “had looked upon his lowly servant”, upon each and every person on this earth, and that, given the gift of redemption, each and every one of us “will be called blessed: [yes, ] “the Almighty [is doing] great things for [us] and holy is His name.”

Friday, December 18, 2015

"What You See is Not What You Think"

In today's first reading, Jeremiah 23: 5-8, the prophet prophesies that The Lord will "raise up a righteous  shoot to David."   The royal dynasty has deteriorated.  Israel's king sunk into a cycle of corruption, murdering Uriah and committing adultery with his widow.  The royal dynasty also included apostates like King Ahaz (2 Kgs 15) and weaklings like King Zedekiah (Jer 38: 5, 19, 24-26).  The royal house itself had become corrupt.  God promises, however, that out of the stump of Jesse a righteous King shall be be born.  The prophets held on to their belief in God's promises in the most wretched of times, in times of upheaval and darkness.

In the Gospel of today, Mt 1: 18-35, Joseph, who is betrothed to Mary, discovers that she is pregnant and not with his child.  From human appearances it looks as though she has also become corrupt and committed adultery, as did King David.  Joseph agonizes over what he sees and decides to divorce Mary quietly when God intervenes. In a dream an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and says to him: "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"

The prophets, Mary and Joseph, are righteous people living in a world that is corrupt, that is immersed in sin. They cling to God's promises and listen to the Spirit's Voice, directing them to make right choices, even if those choices could be misinterpreted, misunderstood, and/or ridiculed or even could lead to death. Their faith and trust in God was unshakable. Their "house" was built on Rock, the Rock of the Scriptures, the Word of God!

We might ask ourselves:  Upon what is my "house" built? Whose voice do I follow? When I face dilemmas similar to or as baffling as Joseph's, how do I handle them? In what ways does God confront my ways of thinking when they are contrary to what God is asking of me?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Our Humanity Infused with God's Divinity

In the opening prayer of today 's liturgy, we pray: O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature...look with favor on our prayers, that your Only Begotten Son, having taken to himself our humanity, may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity," that is, in all that is divine: love, mercy, compassion, selfless giving, being for the other, gratitude, justice, peace, understanding, healing words and actions, purity, integrity,honesty, patience, humility and inclusiveness. Because God assumed our human nature and died on the cross for our salvation, becoming divine like Jesus is possible, as possible as God taking on human nature in Mary's virgin womb! "O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come...[and] teach us the path of [this holy] knowledge."

This is my prayer today. What is yours?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chaos, Woe and Darkness: Invitations to be Creative or to Accept Help

In today's first reading, Isaiah 45: 6b-8, 18, 21b-25, Isaiah makes the statement that God forms "the light" and creates "the darkness", that God makes "well-being" and creates "woe."  My response to the Lord was: "Lord, I have a difficult time believing that darkness and woe (the woes of illness, of war, of violence, and so on) come from You. The Lord's response may sound something like this:

Dorothy Ann (or your name), chaos, woe, and darkness are all part of life, as is order, blessing/joy, and light.  Chaos, woe and darkness are not such for Me. They are opportunities, challenges, and obstacles which, overcome, lead to life anew.  They are opportunities that call for your creativity, that invite you to collaborate with others.  Nothing is really awful or a failure but are temporary blockages to something more profound like discovering My help, My strength within you and others to make things better or to right wrongs.  Your depleted energy, for example, which indicates that your brain is healing, is a blessing that teaches you to respect an injured part of your body and to be attentive to need, your own and others.  Human need, weakness--yours or others--is a time when I, your God, rain down strength and healing from My storehouse of gifts.  It is also when I inspire you to offer help or, if  you withhold what you could do, to realize your stinginess and sinfulness.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Facing the Truth and Sharing It

In today’s first reading, Numbers 243: 2-7, 15-17a, Balaam utters a blessing upon the Israelites, prophesying, in fact, that a “star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.” He utters this blessing after being asked by the messengers of the king to curse Israel.  He is unable to do so.  In no way is he able to act against the Lord’s will. 

However, Balaam tried to avoid doing what God was asking of him.  He waited overnight—maybe tomorrow he will hear something different from the Lord so that he could do what the Moabite king wanted of him.  The donkey on which he was riding bolted and walked off the road. It even talked back to Balaam when Balaam angrily attempted to beat it into submission: “Am I not your own beast, and have you not always ridden upon me until now?”  In other words the donkey is reminding Balaam that it has always been obedient to him; why is he not willing to obey his master!

In the Gospel, the people also attempt to avoid recognizing the Truth in their midst. Jesus brings them face to face with their craziness when they want to know by whose authority Jesus teaches. He says that He will answer their question if they answer His: By what authority did John the Baptist baptize?

At some point you and I, also, must be honest with ourselves, with others and with God.  We cannot forever avoid the Truth as it reveals itself in our lives, in the lives of others and in the events of our day!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

God Rejoices Over You

In today's first reading, Zephaniah 3: 14-18a, the prophet writes: The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals."

A MIGHTY Savior walks among us in the debris of war, in our brothels where young men and women, children, adolescents and young adults are sex slaves; in our back gullies where innocent persons are raped, and in our homes where family members are abused.

"[God] will rejoice over you--each one of us--with gladness, and renew [us]in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals."  It is hard to believe that when we find ourselves in appalling situations or are ourselves creating havoc in someone's life.  God is a mighty savior. God does not grow weary of us, Isaiah tells us.  Those who hope in the Lord will soar like eagles out of the messiness of their lives in due time--God's time!

May your hope grow strong as you prepare for the second coming of the Lord. That coming is as sure as the rising and the setting of the sun each day!  If you are down, may pondering the Scriptures renew your strength and direct you to make choices that lead to freedom.  Call upon the Lord with hope and faith! He is nearer to  you than your breath!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Who Am I Trying to Please

In today’s Gospel, Matthew 11: 16-19, the people complain about John the Baptist as being possessed by a demon  because he did not drink nor eat with them as they expected.  Jesus, on the other hand,  did eat and drink with people and they called him a “glutton and a drunkard.”  Matthew concludes this passage with the statement: “…wisdom is vindicated by her words.”  We probably all know that we will never please everyone no matter what we do.  We can try but our efforts will be in vain and we will be left feeling empty and a bit crazy!  “…wisdom,” in our lives, will be “vindicated” by the works we do in accord with God’s will for us, not by whether or not we pleased everyone.   If we are true to what we are called to as unique persons with a special mission/purpose  to fulfill  as the Spirit leads us through the gift of each day, Wisdom will vindicate us. We will then be at peace. On the other hand, if our goal is to please everyone we will not rest in the peace of Christ, a peace the world cannot give. The choice is ours to make.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

God's Ways Are Not Our Ways

In today's first reading, Isaiah 41: 13-20, Isaiah continues to prophesy about the Messiah, the One who God sends "to thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff."  As we face mountains of violence in our world and sin within and around us, we may wonder where God is. What a mystery that God enters this world in the darkness of the womb, in the darkness of night, in a manger among cattle, as a helpless infant. Or is an infant helpless? The hearts of "giants," of proud, cold, heartless men and women melt in the presence of an infant. Infants change men and women into compassionate, loving, caring adults. Lives, sometimes centered on self alone, suddenly or gradually become more concerned about the well-being of another--a helpless, dependent child--than their pursuit of riches, or material things, of catching up with the Joneses of our society, of being proud owners of luxury items, and so on and on into infinitude.  Parents of helpless infants learn to live for others, to put others first, to spend their lives in love!

O the Wisdom of our God! We learn how to live according to God's will God from weak infants, needy children and adults and our own neediness. We learn to seek God in the dark moments of life and when encountering a weakness that has the power to awaken us to our need for God. We also learn to seek God above all else when we find ourselves in the deserts of life from which  we cry out in thirst. Are we seeking God when we encounter these human realities?  God's heart pines for us to know Him.  In this passage from Isaiah God says to us:  I, the Lord, will answer [you]; I, the God of Israel [put the name of your city, your village, your nation here], will not forsake [you]. I will open up rivers [of grace, of divine power] on the bare heights, and fountains in the broad valley [of your life]; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water. I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle and olive; I will set in the wasteland the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine, that [you] may see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel [put the name of the place where you live] has created it." 

Everything in life is meant to show us God's power to "thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff." Do we wait upon the Lord to do this or do we take things in our own hands? In our frustration, do we play God?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

God Does Not Grow Weary in Responding to Our Needs

In today’s first reading, Isaiah 40: 25-31, Isaiah reminds us that God “does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.”  How often, I wonder, do I not reduce God to my level of weariness and my limited knowledge? If I did not, consciously or unconsciously, do this, then why am I hesitant to follow God’s lead, to rest, to take my burdens to Him, or to realize that God knows me through and through, that God knows the heart and the mind of every human being?  Every detail of a human endeavor is known to God before anyone initiates or implements that plan. Why, Isaiah asks, do we say “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”?  If I took the time to disclose my plans to the Lord, He would give me the enlightenment that I need to move forward with the plan or to discard it because it is against God’s will and violates the rights of others.

Jesus says in today’s Gospel, Matthew 11: 28-30: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” But, no, I keep on frantically being involved. I do not give myself the gift of letting go and sitting with the Lord in total stillness, letting the Lord give me the peace which the world cannot give. Only then will I do what is right and experience God’s abundant blessings.

 Often during His lifetime, burdened by the demands of His life, Jesus stopped and withdrew into the mountains to be with His Father in prayer. We, too, need to do that. Our desire for peace, our hope in the Lord, needs to be expressed by stopping from time to time to visit the Lord in quiet. We will then know the truth of Isaiah’s teaching: “They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mary, the Immaculate Conception

Through Jesus Christ, we are adopted into a new family, a holy family, a transformed family, a redeemed family on the road to eternal salvation.  The first member of this family is Mary, born without sin, who gives birth to Jesus, to the Son of God made man, taking on human nature.  God would come to dwell in each one of us, beginning with Mary's "yes." He entered her sinless nature, her womb, at that "yes."

God's plan from the beginning of the world was unfolding and continues to unfold in our lives. Goodness, which is rooted in our very nature, would take on evil.  Jesus also says "yes" to God's holy will, unlike Adam and Eve, who disobey God in the Garden of Eden and unlike the Chosen People, who over and over again on their journey to the Promised Land, followed their own will instead of God's.  Jesus is the new Adam and the New Israel, obedient to the Father unto death.

Through that obedience, you and I become adopted children of God. We become part of the Holy Family, " Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as [God] chose us in [Christ], before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him." The only way we appear "without blemish before him," is through the blood of Christ poured out upon us from the cross. "In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ," Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12, "in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved."

Yes! our destiny is both Mary's destiny and the  destiny of Jesus, the first born of the dead.  The gates of heaven, closed to us when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, was opened to us when Mary and Jesus said "yes," a yes that took Mary to the foot of the cross and nailed Jesus on the cross for our salvation.  Our "yes" will also take us to the foot of the cross, to endure the suffering of saying "no" to sin and "yes" to God every day of our lives. May we realize that God meets us in each of those situations to help us in our weakness, to strengthen our resolve to say "yes" as Mary and Jesus (and Joseph) did.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Promises of the Lord

In today's first reading, Baruch 5: 1-9, the prophet asks Jerusalem "to take off [its] robe of mourning and misery....For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship.....Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God. Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones. For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God."

What promises, not only to Jerusalem, but to every city and town, nations and peoples!  Every continent, every race, every religion is ask "to take off its robe of mourning and misery.  "...God will show all the earth" the splendor of God" hidden within it. Are we willing to yield our robes of mourning to the Lord? Are we willing to leave corruption and sin, injustices and deceit behind?  God has named us forever "the peace of justice."  "Lofty mountain[s]" of pride and lust, gluttony and avarice God has commanded to "be made low."   Isis and Al Quaeda, abortionists, human traffickers, those perpetrating slave labor, all those involved in corruption of any kind will be defeated. That within you and me that needs to be brought low will be leveled and virtue risen in its place.

O, the glory and the splendor, the power and the honor of our God in our midst. God, who is our leader and our warrior, will not be stopped in His plan of saving us. We may for a time be "led [our] enemies]...but God will bring [us]  back...borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones," Baruch prophesies!

These are some of my reflections on today's first Scripture reading, Baruch 5: 1-9. What is God saying to you in this reading?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fullness of Redemption

Isaiah, in today's first reading, Is 29:17-24, gives us a glimpse of what awaits those who accept God's gift of redemption:

"On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.  For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; all who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a [person], who ensnare his defender at the gate, and leave the just [person] with an empty claim...."

You and I are those  redeemed by the Lord's blood poured out on the cross,  where Jesus became sin for us!  Imagine that day when you and I have passed through the doors of death into eternal life. On that day we will have left the gloom and darkness in this world. Our blindness and deafness will be removed. As lowly ones, as the poor of the Lord,  as those in need of God's infinite mercy, will see with new eyes and hear with new ears.  The tyrant and the arrogant within and outside of us will be no more.  Those bent on doing us evil or that within ourselves bent on evil will be cut off. Empty will be the claims of those whose mere words condemn us and that within us that condemns us or others, as well.

Because I believe that, I am filled with joy! What about you?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Trusting in the Lord

In today's first reading, Is 26: 1-6, Isaiah exhorts us to "trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock."  This theme is reverberated in today's Gospel, Mt 7: 21, 24-27, where Jesus speaks about persons who build their houses on sand or on rock. If built upon rock, the house stands firm when the rains come and strong winds blow.  If not, "the house" collapses.  This week, when I again encountered a situation that went contrary to my hopes and seemed totally irrational and lacking justice, I lost it!  A "door"  was closed to me and a window opened. But I kept "pounding on the locked door".  I need to ask myself how profound or how deep is my trust ;and in whom do I trust? Do my reactions to the challenges and difficulties of life, to my encounters with others, when they are acting on principles that differ from mine, indicate a strong or a weak trust?  When my plans go awry, do my reactions reveal that "my house" is resting on sand?

In the responsorial psalm from today's liturgy, the psalmist says to us: "Give thanks to the Lord, for [the Lord] is good, for his mercy endures forever. It is better," the psalmist teaches, "to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in [human beings, male or female]. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes [princesses]."  I had to return to the Lord, my Rock,to the One in whose Love and Peace I move and live and have my being (cf. Acts 17:28) . As I rest in God's Love and Peace, the Lord molds my mind, cleanses my heart and recreates me into the person He designed me to be (See Jesus Calling,  November 10th meditation).

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving: Its Sacred Meaning

How great, O God, is Your love for each of us
And how deep and wide is Your mercy.
Pleased with each of Your children, O God, You pour out Your love for us from the cross, in every Eucharist, in the daily Scriptures and in the each event of our lives.
leased with each of Your children, O God, You take up a dwelling place in our hearts.
Yielding to the demands for reconciliation of humankind to Your Father, Jesus, You surrender to the Father’s will even to death on the cross. 

Thank you, Lord, for your mercy toward everyone in the world, toward each of my family members, all of my fellow religious, all in the church, rich and poor alike, all who believe and all who don’t.
Halleluiah to You, O God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier,
And glory, honor and praise to Your holy Name!
Never let us forget to say “Thanks, God, for Your eternal Presence in the world, in our personal, familial, and civic lives.
Kindness flows from You into our lives every moment of every day.  Thank you as You wait for us to acknowledge Your goodness at work within our lives.
Salvation is guaranteed by You, O Jesus, who died on the cross for us. This guarantee goes to all who believe and repent, no matter how deeply we may have fallen into sin, getting trapped by Satan’s lies. Thank you!
Give thanks for a God who loves us to the point of dying on the cross to procure our salvation. Thank you, Lord.
Instead of condemnation, Jesus, You come to save us from evil, from Satan’s snares.
Vividly enduring a torturous death, Jesus, You humbly offer Your life as a sign of God’s unquestionable love for us.
In this torturous handling by ruthless executioners, Jesus, You  prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” You pray this over and over again when any one of us is hurting another person or oneself.
Never doubt God’s love.  If it were necessary to die again (and it isn’t), Jesus, You would do so to procure our deliverance. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Give thanks: at every Eucharist, You, O Lord, give thanks to the Father for His love for us and His plan for our salvation!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Praying One's Experiences

"Thank you, Lord, for all of the circumstances of my life: the challenges, the circumstances, the graces, the disappointments, the good and the "bad" times, life's sad moments and happy moments."

As I deal with the effects of a serious brain injury, I found myself offering God the following:

  • My declining energy
  • My frustration when my energy wanes
  • My not being able to follow/create a disciplined approach to the day because of my energy's inconsistent strength
  • My feeling powerless and out of control of how the day unfolds because of my energy's decline
The symbols I created of these realities was the chalice offered at Mass: each chalice was given the following label:
  • My injured brain
  • My healing brain--just as I believe in the sun when it is not shining, so, too, do I believe in God's healing power at work in my brain when I do not feel it or experience the effects of the healing
  • The effects of an injured brain
  • My attitudes--negative and positive--toward my injured brain and the effects of such
I then reminded myself that God is at work in the silence of my brain:  healing it and molding my mind into thinking as God thinks,  I am reminded in Jesus Calling, Nov. 20,  to [s]hift my] focus from [my] performance to [God's] radiant Presence [and that the] Light of [God's] Love shines on [me] continually, regardless of [my] feelings or behavior." 

May you also believe in the radiance of God's Presence shining on you always, no matter what and shift your focus to this reality and away from your accomplishments!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Power of Faith and Trust

In today's readings, Daniel 1: 1-6, 8-20 and Luke 21: 1-4, we are introduced to people in the Old and New Testament who placed all their hope in the Lord, their God and Savior.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael,  and Azariah choose to obey their God rather than defile themselves and abandon their faith.  Rather than eating the food and drink from the king's table, they are given vegetables only at their request. The other men also being trained for high positions in the king's court are served from the table of the king . At the close the the three-year training period, Daniel and his companions are found to be healthier than the others. Also, "[i]n any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom."

In the Gospel, the widow puts two small coins in the church treasury, giving her entire livelihood to the Lord, trusting God's Providence to care for her and meet her daily needs.  Others give only of their surplus! In this reading, the Lord challenged me regarding my willingness to give of my poverty, whether that be financial or otherwise--my time, my energy, my generosity, my giftedness.

Last night I retired with an bombardment of negative thoughts concerning some challenges I face. Obviously, my sleep was disturbed, my trust shaken.  The strength of my faith was tried and did not, in any way match the disciples of the Lord portrayed in today's liturgical readings.  I opened my Office Book and began Morning Praise.The following words "jumped off" the page and penetrated my heart:

"Why are you sad, O my soul?
Why groan within me?
Hope in the Lord; praise God still,  
My Savior and my God!"

The depression, the anxiety, the sadness was dissipated and I was at peace again, renewing my trust in the Lord, my Savior and my God!God

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Goodness, the Greatness and the Power of God

O, how great is the Lord, our God.  Every day the radiance of God’s face shines upon us, molding our minds, cleansing our hearts and re-creating us into the person God designed us to be (See Sarah Young’s  Jesus Calling, November 10th meditation).  All praise, all glory and honor to our God.  As Creator and Redeemer,  God is also re-creating all of creation according to His original design. These concepts may be difficult for us to grasp, as all around us we see death and corruption, violence and destruction of earth’s beauty and persons stripped of their dignity by those who rape the body, kill the innocent already in the womb, and who torture the mind, and vilify others in a variety of abusive ways.

In today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 9,  David reminds us that our enemies will be “turned back, overthrown and destroyed.” Over and over again , God has, in the past, “rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; their name (the name of the wicked) …[God] blotted out forever and ever. The nations (those committed to idolatry—God substitutes--and those blaspheming God by violence perpetrated in the name of religion) are [will be] sunk in the pit they have made; in the snare they set, their foot is [will be] caught” (Psalm 9).

And as we prayed in the response to the psalm, we “will rejoice” in the our salvation.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Firm in our faith

I return to this ministry after an extended medical leave resulting from having  a "brain bleed" in four areas of the brain.  God spared my life for many reasons and one of those reasons, I believe, is to continue sharing faith with all of you.

In today's first reading, Maccabees 2: 15-29, we encounter Mattathias, a Jew who does not give in to the pressures to worship idols, that is, to obey the king's decree to abandon the faith of his ancestors. He risked his life by confronting "the officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy [and who] came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices" to foreign gods.

Every day, like Mattathias,  we are given opportunities to stand firm in the faith of our ancestors. We may be challenged to profess Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior by not lying, cheating, gossiping about our neighbors, berating those who we do not understand, refusing to respond to the cry for help of those fleeing persecution and the violence in their homelands and so on.

Another way to look at this faith challenge is to realize that we might be asked, at any given time, to do for others what we would want others to do for us or to take the time to listen to someone we may prefer to avoid, or, in fact, to go out into "the desert," as Mattathias and those determined to "live according to righteousness and religious custom" did.  It is in that "desert," alone with God, that we are more likely to hear God speaking to our hearts, strengthening us to choose righteousness and reject Satan's temptations to fit it with whoever and whatever is inviting us to "worship idols" or to choose false gods.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Coming before the Lord in Sorrow and Repentance

In today's first reading, Ezra 9: 5-9, the prophet bows before the Lord in sorrow and repentance, acknowledging that "[f]rom the time of our fathers even to this day great has been our guilt, and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered up, we and our kings and our priests, to the will of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace, as is the case today."  He then adds: "And now, but a short time ago, mercy came to us from the Lord, our God, who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place; thus our God has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our servitude."  Ezra could be speaking of the world in which we live today.   He could be speaking of each one of us. Why do I say that?  You and I,  from time to time, are weighed down with sorrow, realizing that we, too, have strayed from the right path.  We are well aware of the wickedness that exist in our world  today and, yes, we are turned over to the will of foreigners, "to the sword, to captivity (in many forms), to pillage, and to disgrace." Then, amazingly, sometimes, it seems, out of nowhere, we experience God's mercy, the good will of another, giving us "new life," restoring our "ruins," and bringing us  back into good graces with the Lord our God,  with others and with self.

In what ways have you experienced being brought back into good graces? In what way have you been  "in captivity" to negative attitudes, negative behaviors, poor choices? How have you experiences being disgraced? And, in what ways have you experienced "God's mercy," the good will of another, the "ruins" of a situation for which you were responsible being restored?

Talk to God about these situations. Share your thoughts and feelings with the Lord. Stand beneath the cross and let the precious blood and water flowing from Jesus sacred side cleanse you, restore you, strengthen you, make you new.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Lord God is My Help

In today's first reading, Is 50: 4c-9a, we encounter the Suffering Servant Song where Isaiah prophesies about Jesus.  Through Isaiah, Jesus tells us that "the Lord God is my help; therefore I am not disgraced...I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right...Who disputes my right?  Let [that person] confront me. See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong." In the Gospel, Peter attempts to prove Jesus wrong when He tells them that "the Son of Man must suffer greatly and  be rejected  by goth elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days,....Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him." Jesus tells Peter to "get behind me, Satan, You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

None of us wants to go to Calvary. None of us wants to suffer. How often when suffering occurs in our lives, in the lives of those we love, in the world itself,  in our churches, families, civic communities, do we not think "as human beings do" and "not as God does."  "How can God allow such a thing to happen?" "One disaster after another!" "Where is God in all of this?"  "I can't believe anymore!" "I am leaving this church, this community." "I'm divorcing this person and going out on my own,  back to my mother/father!"

"How can God allow ISIS, human trafficking, abortion, the violence of war, the tragic legislation against the poor and oppressed, against women and children, legislation which protects the resources of the rich while the poor suffer want?" we ask.  God brought the salvation of the world out of Jesus' death and brings salvation to each of us out of our sufferings as well. Jesus rose from the dead, and so will we.

Go forth, Jesus says to us,  before He returned to His Father, and make disciples of the whole world. Live the Gospel; proclaim it by your lives, using words only when necessary, St. Francis of Assisi, says to us.  By the work we do, in Jesus' name, wrongs are made right for us, as for Jesus, who did the work His Father sent him here to do!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Jesus: Savior and Master of our Lives

St. Paul, in today's first reading, 1 Tim 1: 15-17,  states the obvious; namely, that Jesus came into this world to save sinners and that he, Paul, is the worst of such.  Recall that Paul was pursuing Christians to put them to death. He would, today, be a member of ISIS or of any group killing Christians.   He would be a member of tribes in Africa killing other tribes, a member of gangs in any city out to destroy other gangs. He was not someone you or I would want to meet anywhere.  He would be despised by most, hunted down by police, his face among the "Most Wanted" ones.

God knocks him down on his way to Damascus to seek out Christians. He finds him at his worst and transforms him into an apostle, His disciple. Jesus transforms the passion that he used against the gospel into a passion to spread the gospel.  The ugliest sin in him--treating persons as objects to be destroyed--was transformed by grace.  He  now, through God's grace and mercy, works for the good of all, proclaiming the Good News of salvation. He becomes the Light and abandons the darkness.

You and I have the same choice.  We, too, are persons who are sinners, who need God to intervene i our lives, turn us around often and put us on the right path.

How has God intervened in your life?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Be Merciful and Compassionate; Put on Love

In yesterday's first reading, Col 3: 1-11 Paul outlines a life that is contrary to God's will; namely, that in our "nature [which] is rooted in earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and that lust [for power over others achieved by deceitful and coercive means, wealth that is hoarded at the expense of the poor, material things accumulated as God substitutes, and so on],which is idolatry."  In today's first reading, Col 3: 12-17, we are given "the recipe," if you will, of synchronizing our will with the will of our Father/Mother God, our  Creator:  "Because you are God's holy ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord as forgiven you. Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect."

We have examples of persons who clothed themselves in the virtues Paul mentions: Nelson Mandela,  who forgave his enemies, lived a life of kindness toward those who had him imprisoned for 26 years for working for the equality of all peoples;  a woman who pinned a prayer on the lifeless body of a child killed by terrorists that read: "Remember, Lord, those of good will and those of evil will. Do not hold the evil against those who did this but may all of the fruits born of this evil deed  be their forgiveness"; Mother Frances, the Foundress of my religious community, who forgave those who, in her absence, deposed her from the office of Superior General, replacing her with another person; and, above all, Jesus on the cross, who said to His Father: Father, forgive  them for they do not know what they are doing.

In  what ways am I, are you, taking seriously Paul's message?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Setting Our Sights High

It is interesting how Satan lures us into temptation and when we fall leads us to laugh and take pleasure initially in what we have done that is sinful, like enjoying gossiping about  someone or something or looking scornfully at a homeless person or feeling good about ourselves when we walk away from the  good God invited us to do or the challenge to make  better that about which we are complaining. We may even find a way to  congratulate ourselves when we lust for power, are envious  of another's success, or jealous of anyone. Satan call also lead us to justify unjustifiable anger.

Saint Paul reminds us that we "have been raised up in company with Christ" in our baptism.  We are strengthened by Christ in His Word, in the Eucharist, in Reconciliation, in our own love, understanding, compassion, mercy and forgiveness of others, and they of us: acts of God that begin with self and are possible because God first loved us.

"Set your hearts," Paul tells us, "on things above rather than on things of earth.  After all, you have died" with Christ in baptism. We have also risen with Christ in our baptism, risen to being sons and daughters of God, made new and placed on a path to holiness by Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus destroyed Satan's power on the  cross. Being the Father of Lies, Satan, however, wants us to believe that we have no power to turn away from sin once we have fallen. Because of our faith in Christ Jesus we know that is not true. Yes, over and over again, we can reset "our  clocks to "heavenly time."

Being a Presence in our World that Radiates Holiness

Today we celebrate the birthday of Mary, Mother of God, our blessed Mother!  In the office for today, the second antiphon reads:  "When the most holy Virgin was born, the whole world was made radiant; blessed is the branch and blessed the stem which bore such holy fruit."

The world was made radiant!  Mary's "yes" brought salvation to a fallen world, a sinful world, a world that frequently, to this day, says "no" to God!  Every  "yes" to God's will and every "no" to God's will effects every human being on the face of the earth. When you and I cooperate with grace, we radiate the world within us, around us and beyond us. When we say "no" to God's will, we bring darkness into the world and that darkness effects, not only  us, but others as well.

"Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, proclaims joy to the whole world, for from  you arose the glorious  Sun of Justice, Christ our God; he freed us from the age-old curse and filled us with holiness; he destroyed death and gave us eternal life" (Antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah).

St. Paul reminds us that God did not give us a spirit of cowardliness but of power--the power of holiness poured into us by the Holy Spirit at our baptism and confirmation and re-enforced, renewed, in our reception of every sacrament, in our sitting at the feet of our Lord as we ponder the Scriptures of old and the Scriptures of our lives.  May people know by our lives that Jesus "destroyed death" and"freed us from the age-old curse" of saying "no" to God's will. With Mary, today and every day, may our lives be a resounding "yes" to the Lord.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Energy of Christ within Us

In today's first reading, Col 1: 24-2:2 and 3, St.Paul states that he was commissioned by Christ to become a minister in the Church for the sole purpose of preaching the word in its fullness, "that mystery hidden from ages and generations past but now revealed to his holy ones....For this I work and struggle," he says, "impelled by that energy of his which is so powerful a force within me."

You and I, by virtue of our baptism, also have been commissioned by Christ to preach the word in its fullness by our lives and, when necessary,  St. Francis of Assisi says, with words.  In baptism and confirmation and the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, by the holy sacrament of matrimony, priesthood and religious vows, we, too, are "impelled  by that energy of his which is so powerful a force within [us]."

Christ lives in each one of us. His power is within us. The good we do and are invited to do is empowered by Christ.  May we have the wisdom and the courage to be a source of goodness in the lives we touch today. And may we recognize and acknowledge Christ in others, as well, remembering that they, too, are members of Christ's body, the Church.  

God Is in Our Midst

In today's first reading, Is 35: 4-7a, the prophet says to those whose hearts are frightened: "Be strong, fear not!"  I think of all of the people in the world whose hearts are filled with fear: those escaping countries ravaged by war and/or violence of any kind, those fleeing, or trying to flee, their human captors  (six traffickers, slave labor, drug lords, out-of-control addicts of any kind), those trying to free themselves from a variety of addictions, those terrified for the lives of their children and/or of themselves because of those addicted to anger and unjust behaviors,  and so on!  "Here is your God," Isaiah says, "he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you."  "When", we ask, as we watch the news and hear of the evil that seems to have gripped our world,   will "the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared," as Isaiah tells us. When will "the lame leap like a stag,... the tongue of the mute...sing"?  When will "[s]treams...burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe." When "will [t]he burning sands...become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water"?  When, through grace,  we change our behaviors and attitudes that create these kinds of realities in our our world!

We know, in faith, that everything Isaiah says will become a reality in the resurrection of the dead, in our resurrection.  In the meantime, we live with the reality that the "weeds" will grow along side the "wheat," as it also did for Jesus during his earthly sojourn.  He did not escape violence,  hunger, famine, nor will we!  However, we have the assurance that God walks with us through the deserts of life, endures the violence with us and gives us the strength to endure and the hope to persevere in our faith until the end of our lives here on earth.

It is our responsibility to do what we can in assisting others in need, to bring justice to our world, to free those oppressed in any way and to bring hope to the hopeless, as we, too, build up hope within ourselves through our relationship with Jesus, by drinking at the well of Living Waters,  feeding ourselves with the Bread of Life, nourishing ourselves with the Scriptures and strengthening our resolve to become instruments of reconciliation and forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Yes, we are called to follow Jesus' example and rely on the Lord, who makes us strong and quiets our fears!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Knowing the Grace of God in Truth (Colossians 1: 1-8)

In  today's first reading,  Colossians 1: 1-8, Paul says to the Colossians, "...we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones because of the hope reserved for you in heaven....Just as in the whole world it [the Gospel] is bearing fruit and growing, so also among you, from the day you  heard it and came to know the grace of God in truth..."  You and I have come
"to know the grace of God in truth" because that truth is/was spoken to us through our parents, teachers, pastors, associate pastors, friends, counselors, co-workers; through our very selves, through creation itself, through the goodness in our lives and the good you and I have and are doing each day and will do today, as well as the good others do.

Like Jesus, in today's Gospel, Luke 4: 38-44, we, too, leave our places of worship and encounter issues that need to be addressed, that need our compassionate responses, our healing touch (a smile, a listening ear, an errand run or a good deed done on their behalf, a service rendered). We may confront "demons" today, as Jesus did in the people that others brought to Him or which are within ourselves (pride, deceit, lust, abuse of power and control, jealousy, envy, avarice, impatience, imprudence, and so on).   We may also be pressured by the crowd to give in to demands that we know are not the will of God for us. Jesus says to the crowd: "No, I have been sent to proclaim the good news of the reign of God to other lands, to other peoples. I cannot stay here."    We may not be called to other lands but to another task that is beckoning us.  Sometimes, we may find it hard to "depart" for that to which we are called--what will others think if I leave this conversation, this crowd; if I don't continue to join in or go where the crowd insist on going?

Jesus very clearly states the reason He has been sent to this world. Am I as clear as Jesus was in terms of what my mission is--why I am where I am today?  Did I, today, prepare myself to address the issues that will come by way today by taking time to pray, as Jesus did?  Am I faithful to "the grace of God in truth" that I have come to know and which is stretching to bear fruit and grow within me?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"Be Stouthearted and Wait the Lord" (Ps 27)

In today's first reading, 1 Thes 5: 1-6, 9-11, Paul cautions us to be alert concerning the coming of the day of the Lord.  When we least expect it, this day will come like a thief in the night. We have no idea when we will be met with the end of our lives here on earth.  However, we are reminded that we are children of the light, not of the darkness, and that "God has not destined us for wrath but for acquiring salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."   Though Paul is speaking about our deaths, we could also reflect on this in light of the daily invitations to die to selfishness, to demanding our way, to wanting immediate successful results in whatever we are doing, to not encountering setbacks, or disappointments, or illness.  Suddenly, like a thief in the night, a "storm" arises within us or around us that slows us down, throws us into confusion, steals of us of our serenity, blocks our way.  These are opportunities for "acquiring salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."  However, those very experiences bring me face to face with the demons in my life (compare today's Gospel, Luke 4: 31-37): my insistence on having it my way, of encountering no obstacles, of sailing smoothly to my destination. My pride and entitlement issues raise their heads and do not want to die easily.

In the Gospel, Luke 4: 31-37, the demons in the demoniac suddenly meet their demise.   They are dead "in the waters," so to speak.  To confront the "demons" in my life requires faith and trust. I need to encounter the Lord personally, as did the person in today's Gospel.  As mentioned in the liturgy's responsorial psalm, I need to discipline myself to "wait for the Lord with courage; [to become] stouthearted, and wait for the Lord."   May I have the courage to do just that. And if I fail, may I have the humility to talk to the Lord about my failure, to repent, and ask for the grace to learn from these kinds of mistakes.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Stumbling Blocks to Faith in Christ Jesus

In today's Gospel, Luke 4: 16-30, Jesus returns to his home town and participates in the synagogal services.  He opens the scroll to the book of Isaiah, where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."    The people are astounded by His explanation of the Scriptures.  He spoke with authority, unlikes the Scribes and Pharisees.   They say to one another: we know this man's brothers and sisters and mother. We know that he is Joseph's son. Where does he get all this wisdom and the power to heal the sick and raise the dead to life and restore sight to the blind--miracles they know he has done in other places.  He then tells the people that he cannot do these things here in Nazareth, his home town,  because of their lack of faith.

Imagine Jesus visiting you or me  and saying to us: I am unable to proclaim liberty to you, am unable to restore your sight or free you from  that which oppresses you because of your lack of faith.  And then tells us that He has been able to do so among those people whom we consider inferior to us, less worthy than us and certainly not the ones we recognize as God's beloved. Faith in Christ Jesus demands absolute surrender to the Lord, a sincere acknowledgement that we are totally dependent upon God, that God is our Lord and Savior, the Creator of our being, the One who sustains us, mentors us, prepares the way for us to do good in this world.

Faith also demands that I recognize Jesus in others.  Jesus' home town folks rejected Jesus, wanted to throw Him off the cliff.  He slips out of their grasp.   The people said of Him: "Who does He think He is? We know his mother and brothers and sisters. We know he is Joseph's son."  Who do I reject because "I know who he or she is?  I know from where he or she comes?  No way will I listen to him or her."  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Being a Source of Encouragement to Others

In today’s first reading of Ordinary Time, 1 Thes 3: 7-13, Paul says to the Thessalonians:  “Brothers/ [sisters], your  faith has been a great encouragement to us in the middle of our own distress and hardship.”  I ask myself:  Do I radiate faith and trust when the waters around me are turbulent?   In the midst of hardship,  am I a source of strength to others because my faith is strong and my trust in the Lord unwavering?

Paul also says to the Thessalonians:  “…[W]e can breathe again, as you are holding firm in the Lord.” He also reminds them that they “shall continue to flourish if [they] stand firm in the Lord.” The question is:  Am I holding firm in Christ Jesus?  Is my religious community, the parish community, the family unit holding firm in the Lord?  Is my faith, I ask, firmly rooted in the Lord or in the accumulation of gadgets, in the next book I will read, in material things, accolades, being popular, being more “successful” than the person to whom I compare myself?

We learn in this passage that Paul is anxious to return to the people in order to “remedy any shortcomings in [their] faith.” Who remedies the shortcomings in your faith or mine?  Would others be eager for my return because, by my very presence, I “remedy any shortcomings” in their faith? Or am I a hindrance in the growth of another's faith because of my negativity, my anger and resentment, my cynicism, my critical attitudes, my competitiveness, my jealousy and misguided motivations?

Things to think about!  As you reflect upon 1 Thes 3: 7-13, what questions rise within you?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Walking in a Manner Worthy of the Lord

Today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 139, acknowledges that God has searched me and knows me and that there is nowhere or  way, in the long run, that  I can actually flee from God’s presence.  However, I can spend a lifetime closing my mind to God’s messages and refusing to look for God in my experiences.  Yes, I can spend my life’s energy avoiding the “empty tombs” of my life, avoiding the darkness to find the Light, climbing “Mount Tabors” and refusing to come off the mount (of pride, self-righteousness, erecting tents for myself and like-minded individuals. I can also spend all my energy making excuses when confronted  by the Lord.  For example, like Jeremiah, I can try to shut out God’s call to be a prophet by saying:  “I am too young, Lord.”  Like Isaiah I can object to God’s will by saying: I can’t do what you are asking; I come from a people of unclean lips.” With  Peter  I can say: “Depart from me, O Lord, I am a sinful [person].”  Like the apostles on the road to Emmaus, I can leave places with which  I do not want to deal, places that rattle my comfort zone.   Like Paul, who persecutes others different from Himself and following other beliefs, I can mount thrones of passionate pursuits that leave me blind, as I resist interventions.  Yes, we can run from our experiences  in whatever ways we choose to run from them even to the point of death. How sad if we turn to Truth only on our death beds!

In today’s first reading,  1 Thes 2: 9-13, Paul confronts the Thessalonians, “insisting that [we] walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls [us] into his Kingdom and glory”—so, too, are we invited to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls [us] into his Kingdom and glory.” That means facing our truth, a truth that comes to us in being open to others, especially to those persons, perhaps, whom  we avoid in our personal lives.  In order to walk in a manner worthy of God, we need to bare our souls to the Lord Himself, facing our “demons,” going into the darkness  of our lives to find the Light, coming down from our “Mount Tabors” and walking with Christ to that place where we die to our sinful ways (our  pride, our lusts for power and control, our selfish ways, our self-righteousness, etc.) and resurrect to new life in Christ Jesus. And, finally,  as did Mary Magdalen, we need to  enter  our “empty tombs” to encounter the Risen Christ and risk being fully transformed by Him, no longer afraid to take the message of the Risen Christ to whomever we are sent.