Imagine the situation in which the Jews who believed that Jesus was/is the Messiah lived. Many were persecuted by their families who believed they were traitors to their ancestral religion. St. Paul says to the Hebrews, in the first reading of today’s liturgy, “[a]t times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; at other times you associated yourself with those so treated….[D]o not,” he says to them, “throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what…[God] has promised. For, after just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come; he shall not delay” (Hebrews 10: 32-39). Jesus says the same to us: “’[D]o not throw away your confidence’ or your faith in Me at work among you and within you. I have planted the Kingdom of God into the soil of this world’s existence, among all peoples of the world, in all circumstances in the world. The seed of the Kingdom, the seed of holiness and justice, righteousness and goodness will not be suppressed by sin or by the evil that exist in the world. The seed I planted is watered every moment of every day by the water and the blood I poured out on Calvary. You may not realize that the seed I planted is maturing any more than the farmer (See today’s Gospel Mark 4: 26-34) realizes that the seeds he buried in the earth are germinating. But your faith tells you this is so. Hang on to the faith that your ancestors gave you, especially when it is tried by the “fire” of tribulations and sufferings that are part of your life and was part of mine.”
Friday, January 30, 2015
Thursday, January 29, 2015
“I am the light of the world,” says the Lord; whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” That is the Communion Antiphon of today’s Mass or Liturgy. How, we might ask ourselves, do people survive the disasters of their lives: the loss of loved ones, the despair of serious mental illnesses that throw them into a pit of darkness for weeks and months and even years? How do people survive the loss of jobs that deprive them of means to support their families, to provide shelter and food, to save for their children’s future education? How do people survive wars, their cities and homes and landscape being destroyed by bombs while terrorists hide in burned out buildings aimed to kill or maim anyone within range? How do Christians remain hopeful when fleeing persecution? How to people of color stay hopeful when injustices abound and the lives of their children hang in a balance, should law enforcement brutally deprive them of their lives? How do children of immigrant families maintain faith when they face deportation because their parents, undocumented, have worked long hours in our factories and on our farmlands faithfully doing work that their employers seek them out to do and for which minimum wage is paid?
“Come to me all you who are burdened and I will refresh you,” says Jesus, the One who is their light in the darkness of their lives. That same Person, the Son of God, whom, in faith, trust, and love we follow each day, is also the light in our lives. This Jesus knows what it is life to live with one’s life in the balance, as Scribes and Pharisees followed Him, seeking a way destroy Him. Unjustly, He was crucified by those who felt threatened by His way of living and who were fearful of who He really was. How many men and women and children are the victims of violence by those who are jealous of them, fearful of them, hating the very sight of them, not wanting them in their neighborhoods or living next door. Jesus knows the feeling!
“Come to me all you who are burdened and I will refresh you, says the Lord.” “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life,” even in the darkest of days.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
“…now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, … and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him, not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives (emphasis mine); how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self (emphasis mine) from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God” (Hebrews 9: 11-14).
The Old Covenant was but a shadow of the New. God’s power in saving the Israelites from the slavery of the Egyptians—all who sprinkled their doorposts with the blood of the slaughtered unblemished lamb were saved from death--was but a foreshadowing of God saving us by the blood of His only begotten Son from the slavery of Satan, a slavery far more devastating than any kind of slavery here on earth by human beings enslaving other human beings. Satan roams the world in search of souls to cast into everlasting fire, separated from God for all eternity. The slavery that we endure here on earth never separates us from God, as God’s connection with us is eternal, is of the spirit and can never be severed by what can happen to us physically. Spiritually, God has secured our eternal redemption in Christ Jesus, the unblemished Lamb of God who takes away sin and who sits at the right side of His heaven Father in heaven interceding for us.
Steep me, O God, in this mystery of redemption and the price it cost your Son to save me from the slavery of sin.
Friday, January 23, 2015
In today’s first reading, Hebrews 8: 6-13, St. Paul speaks about the second covenant God made with us. St. Paul explains God’s intention: “…. [T]his is the [second] covenant I will establish with the house of Israel…: “I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be my people….I will forgive their evil doing and remember their sins no more.” As I reflected upon the reflections I wrote yesterday, I went to the Lord for feedback. This is what I heard in prayer:
Dorothy Ann, I see a terrified teenager, a distraught mother, entering an abortion clinic. Some of these women are being forced to abort their child. These women are—many of them—confused and have been convinced that the fetus is nothing more than tissue and that discarding it, aborting it, is not killing a child or ending a life. They truly believe there is no life there to end, anymore than when their blood flows when menstruating and they are not pregnant. These women, many of them, truly do not know that they are ending the life of a child. They believe that they are discarding tissue and tissue only.
Judas thought he would see me walk away from danger, as I had done so many times before. He did not perceive himself being an accomplice in my execution. In the case of an abortion, that is, in many instances, the position of both the mother and the abortionist physician. They have no idea what they are doing anymore than my executioners knew that they were killing the Son of God made flesh by participating in an act that would save the world.
As in today’s first reading, I say to every mother and every abortionist: “I forgive …[your] evil doing and remember…[your] sin no more.” I say the same to you, Dorothy Ann, whenever you engage in evil doing. “I remember your sin no more.” In the words of the priest: Go and sin no more!
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Today is the anniversary of that terrible day when the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision was made, when judges ruled that it was legal to murder one’s child in the womb. How horrible, despicable, inhumane and insane of humanity to believe that it is okay to discard a human life before it is born. Yet, every day, a mother, in her teens or older, with or without the child’s father, enters an abortion clinic to kill her child. An accomplice is ready to help her accomplish her plan. Five thousand (5000) children sheltered in their mother’s womb are killed each day in the U.S. That is 1,825,000 a year in the U.S.A. alone.
On the cross, as executioners were killing Jesus in the most inhumane way possible, as inhumane as methods used to kill unborn children, Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). So, too, I believe, Jesus prays today, pleading with His Father for our forgiveness when we, too, hurt others, killing them physically or torturing their spirit or their minds in the womb or out of it.
His pleas might sound like this:
Father, forgive them, when they kill their children in the womb, for they know not what they do.
Father, forgive them when they euthanize an elderly person treating them like trash to throw away. They know not what they are doing.
Father, forgive them when they use children and young people as objects of pleasure and profit! They know not what they are doing.
Father, forgive them when, in the name of Allah, they behead or torture another human being and demand ransom for that person’s life. They know not what they are doing.
Father, forgive them when children are, or anyone is, beaten, physically or sexually abused, emotionally or verbally tormented with words that kill the spirit of that person. They know not what they are doing.
Father, forgive them when they kill or threaten to kill the Michael Browns, the Trevon Martins and others of our societies confronted by policemen and assumed to be criminals or perceived to be dangerous. They know not what they are doing, not really.
Father, forgive those who sell babies for organ parts, for they know not what they are doing.
Father, forgive those who sell children into the slave market of organized labor, for they know not what they are doing.
This litany of crimes against humanity could go on ad infinitum. Thank God that “Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession … for [us] (Hebrews 7: 25-8:6, today’s first reading).