Sunday, December 31, 2017

God's Peace Enabling Us to Walk as Jesus Walked

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, persons highly favored by God and playing a significant role in our salvation.  The first reading, Sirocco 3: 26, 12-14, speaks to us of the importance of how one relates to one's parents and how parents relate to their children! Paul asks us, in the second reading, Colossians 3: 12-21, to "[p]ut on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another; if one has a grievance against  another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so much you also do. And over all these put on love, that is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful."

There is no better counsel for the New Year! We do not need to look for any other New Year's Resolutions. If we read this passage from Colossians every evening and examine our behaviors that day in light of this passage, we are well on our way to experiencing the peace that only God can give!  In that peace is the strength we need to begin anew the next day as "God's chosen ones, holy and beloved," putting on "heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another."  It is in peace that we are given the wisdom to forgive others as God has forgiven us. It is the peace of Christ that opens our hearts to God's love within us, "the bond of perfection."

Let us pray for this peace that God wants to give us each day and each night.

Friday, December 29, 2017

God's Beloved Children

In today's first reading, 1 John 2: 3-11, St. John addresses us as the "Beloved".

What a powerful message. John names us for who we really are:  God's "Beloved",   that is "dearly loved," or "a much loved person,"  "one who is loved affectionally and unconditionally". By whom? God, our creator.  Proof? God sent His only begotten Son to earth to become one of us to teach us how to love and how much the Father loves us. He sent His only begotten Son who held nothing back to show us the depth, the breadth, the length and the height of God's love for each one of us--being obedient to the Father to the point of enduring a torturous death at the hands of evil men for our salvation!

In today's Gospel, Luke 2: 22-35, the prophet Simeon gives testimony to who Jesus is and why He was sent to us by saying:  " own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel."   Prophetess Anna, also there at the moment that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the Temple to meet the requirements of the Law, "began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38), and, not only the deliverance of Jerusalem, but also the deliverance of all humankind from Satan's determination to keep us out of heaven by luring us into sin and disobedience, into lying, cheating, and other sins that harden our hearts and block us from seeking forgiveness of our sinful behaviors and attitudes..

How does John the Baptist prepare the way of the Lord? By "proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Luke 3: 4).

May you and I, in humility, admit our sinfulness before the Lord, repent and be saved.  May we recognize our need for our Savior Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

God Watches Over Us

Today we celebrate the Feast of Holy Innocents, who were murdered by Herod.  Furious that the magi did not cooperate with his plan to "worship" the child Jesus, he ordered that all little children two years and under be slaughtered, in hopes that among them would be Jesus. God had other plans and spoke to Joseph in a dream after the magi left:  "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him" (Matthew 2: 13-18).

Joseph did not question God. He simply obeyed, got up in the middle of the night and left Bethlehem for Egypt!  As with Joseph, God also is intimately involved in our lives, directing us to do certain things to protect us from evil, though we may not be away of danger that is about to come upon us.  God watches out for us, as He watched out for His only begotten Son.  As children of God, the Lord cares about the dangers we may be entering and redirects us through the Spirit of God speaking within us. Those hunches we follow have a divine origin.  Are we listening, as Joseph did?  Do we live our lives as children of God? Do we realize that God watches out for us, day in and day out?  He cares!  He bothers. He takes us by the right hand and walks beside us through the valley of darkness. He is, in fact, our light in the darkness, as He was for Mary and Joseph!

Let us pray for this awareness!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

St.John, the Beloved Disciple

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John, the Evangelist, the beloved disciple who rested his head on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper, who was present when Jesus was transfigured and spoke with Elijah and Moses just before His Passion, Death and Resurrection. John was one of the apostles  who accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane and the only one to stand beneath the cross with Mary, Jesus' mother. John listened to Jesus' words throughout Jesus' three-year ministry and was the first of the apostles to believe in Jesus' resurrection. "[H]e saw and believed," John tells us in today's Gospel, John 290: 1, 2-8, when Peter and John entered the empty tomb and saw "the cloth that had covered [Jesus] head...."

We can fall in love with Jesus just as John fell in love with Jesus.  How?  By listening to His Living Word in the Scriptures, Words that have power to transform our hearts, enlighten our minds and reconcile us to God.  We can also fall in love with Jesus  by staying close to Mary, Jesus' mother, by being with others in their "Gethsemanes" and "Calvaries", as John was with Jesus. And, yes, we can fall in love with Jesus by receiving the Eucharist as John did at the Last Supper and whenever he broke the bread  with others "in memory"of Jesus, being given the power to do what Jesus did at the Last Supper--change bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus--a divine power given to every ordained priest through the bishop.

What am I, what are you, doing to fall in love with Jesus?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

St. Stephen's Witness

It is the day after Christmas and the Church celebrates the martyrdom of St. Stephen described in the first reading, Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59.  In the Gospel itself, Matthew 10: 17-22, Jesus asks us to "[b]eware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans....Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved."  Eight days after his birth, Jesus is brought to the temple and Simeon says to Mary:  "You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected--and a sword will pierce your own soul too--so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare" (Luke 1: 14-15).

Jesus also tells us in the Gospels not to be afraid when  you encounter troubles in the world, as He, too, encountered troubles and conquered them. In the darkest day of our salvation history, when Jesus hung on the cross dying, He, like Stephen, said to God: "Into your hands I commend my spirit." Three days later Jesus conquered suffering and death and rose again. Forty days later, Jesus ascended into heaven. Stephen, as he faced his murderers, was "filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of God standing at the right hand of God.'"

May we like Jesus and like Stephen commend our spirits to the Lord when we, in turn, are at death's door waiting to pass through death, by whatever means, and enter eternal life. Like Stephen, when we are dying, may we look to heaven and see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father waiting for our return to our eternal home.  In preparation for that moment, may we, throughout life's difficulties turn to the Lord for help.  May we always take refuge in the Lord and focus on the Lord when we are facing challenges instead of locking ourselves into our anger, feeding it and thus succumbing to temptations we would otherwise be able to resist because God is always at our side, as He was for St. Stephen.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Blessed, Faith-filled Glorious Christmas

In today's first reading, Isaiah 52: 7-10, the prophet Isaiah burst forth with "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation and saying to Zion, 'Your God is King!'"  As we take time to ponder the crib, looking at the baby Jesus, may we realize that that tiny baby born in a filthy stable is "Your God and King," Christ the Lord, Creator of the Universe, your Creator and the Creator and of every human being who lives in this universe.  That tiny baby is God the Son, who becomes one like us in all things but sin.  That tiny baby is the only begotten Son of God, who leaves the glory of heaven and does not cling to equality with God but humbly becomes a human being.  That tiny baby is God, His glory and His Power hidden from us!

My mind is baffled by the truth that God also hides Himself from us and for us in the consecrated Host.  Yes, my faith tells me that God is hidden in this Sacred Bread--we do not see God in His glory or power, yet, in the Eucharist, I believe, God does come to us in all of His power and glory to transform us into Himself, purifying our hearts,  renewing our minds, reconciling us to the Father--making us one with the Trinity  and with one another--and, yes, strengthening our wills to follow His Way more faithfully.

I invite each of us, with Mary and Joseph, with all of the angels of God, with those who have preceded us into heaven, to meditate/ponder:

The humility of God in the infant Jesus.

The humility of God in the Sacred, consecrated Host and whom, I believe, we receive every time we receive Holy Communion during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!  What a privilege and what a grace!

The humility of God dwelling in each human being who is full of grace and continually cooperates with God's graces to do what is right and just, merciful and loving, compassionate and understanding!

Truly God is with until the end of time! With all of the angels in heaven and on earth we sing: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will! Are you and I persons of good will?  If not, what needs to change?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Human Will Embracing God's Will

In today's Gospel, Luke 1: 57-66, we witness Elizabeth and John rejoicing in the birth of their son.  When the eighth day to circumcise him was upon them, those conducting the ritual wanted to name him Zachariah after his father. Elizabeth says: "No. He will be called John." The presiders objected: "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." Not being able to communicate with Zachariah because of his muteness, the presiders made signs to him.  Zachariah asks for a tablet and writes: "John is his name." Immediately, Zachariah's ability to communicate is restored!

Wow! Talk about God revealing His will and His power, both in the birth of John the Baptist and in restoring Zachariah's ability to speak!  God also wills for His plan to be fulfilled in us and that we, too, become His mouthpiece, conforming our wills to His!  Whatever within ourselves that we have distanced from God, God brings near to Himself. Whatever is  barren, God makes fruitful. And whatever part of our hearts has become hardened, God softens so that the will of God in our lives can be realized, as it was within Elizabeth and Zachariah.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Called by the Lord and Dedicated to God for Life

In today's first reading, 1 Sam 1: 24-28, Hannah brings Samuel to the Temple, saying to Eli: "'Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request.Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.' She left Samuel there."

I immediately thought of my parents. They, too, in faith, blessed me when I told them, at age 14,  that I wanted to be a Sister. In their blessing of me, they endorsed my being "dedicated to the Lord".  I entered the convent high school run by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother and following high school graduation entered the postulancy of this community. My parents drove me to their high school (some 160 miles from home) and left me there! In 2019 I will celebrate my 60th jubilee of being "dedicated to the Lord"!  Praise the Lord!  With Mary, in today's Gospel, Luke 1: 46-56,  "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant!"

In what ways have your parents blessed your calling in life, endorsed your dedication to the Lord, be that in marriage, religious life, priesthood, or the single life? Are you willing to bless your children/grandchildren and dedicate them to the Lord in the particular vocation to which they are called  to serve the Lord: be that the priesthood, religious life, marriage or the single life? Or do you put obstacles in their way, making them choose what you want for them, not what they want for themselves or that vocation to which God is calling them?

Remember God is the One who called you and and the One who calls your children or grandchildren, just as He called Hannah, Mary, Elizabeth and every other person throughout salvation history.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

God's Plan Stands Forever

In today's first reading, Zephaniah 3: 14-18,  we are asked to "[s]hout for joy,...shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your hearts,...! Yahweh  has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away. Yahweh,  [your King,] is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear. ...[H]ave no fear, do not let your hands fall limp. Yahweh your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival."

What is proclaimed by Zephaniah we await in hope!  The day of our salvation is NOW, also, however!  Day by day we live into the reality that our sentence as been repealed; our enemies driven away by Yahweh, our God, a victorious warrior.  In the responsorial psalm of today's liturgy, Psalm 33, we are reminded that "the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of [God's] heart, through all generations....Our soul, says the psalmist, waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield, for in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust."

What we see happening in the world of today and, in particular, in our government that seems to be rejoicing in the  passage of a bill that is predicted by many to deprive millions of health insurance and that eventually, it is also claimed, will tax the middle class and the poor to line the pockets of the rich and create more billionaires, will most likely bring much suffering to many peoples. God's plan, by repealing our sentence, frees us from being enslaved to sin. The government's plan is likely to enslaves us to the effects of the sin of greed for generations to come.

We "wait for the Lord, who is our help and our shield, for in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust," as we know that "the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of [God's] heart, through all generations."  

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"Nothing is Impossible" with God

"Nothing will be impossible with God," the angel tells Mary in today's Gospel, Luke 1: 26-38.  Messengers from heaven, to this very day, say to each one of us: "Nothing will be impossible with God."  The Spirit, God's communicator that dwells within our very being, repeatedly directs us to do something, to say something, to believe in God's plan for us or for another person. What is being asked we are able to accomplish because "nothing is impossible for God".  Like Mary, we need to be reminded from time to time and, many times, are the ones God calls upon to remind others: "You have found favor with God," or need to be told that we "are full of grace" since our baptism, our confirmation and at every Holy Communion when God, hidden in the consecrated host, comes to nourish us, purify us and strengthen us on our journey to our eternal home.  Why? Because "nothing is impossible with God"!  God spoke and the world was made. God spoke at the Last Supper--"Take and eat; this is my body. Take and drink; this is my blood poured out for you"-- and  the bread and the wine became the body and blood of the "Lamb of God" sacrificed for our sins as lambs, in the Old Covenant, were sacrificed as recompense for the sins of the Chosen People then. When the priest, at a Catholic Mass, says "Take and eat; this is my Body" and "Take and drink; this is my blood," the bread and the wine become the Lord Jesus--body, blood, soul and divinity--because "Nothing is impossible with God"!

The "Nothing is Impossible with God"  began with the creation of the world and continues in its re-creation every day in us and in all of creation! Immanuel--God with us--is forever!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

God's Plan of Salvation and Our Part in It

In today's readings, Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25a and Luke 1: 5-25, we meet two barren women,  a person who doubts God's plan to transform that barrenness into fertility, and two little boys taking shape in their mother's wombs who are destined  to be very important persons in our salvation history.  We also encounter two angels, both of whom open their conversation with : "Do not be afraid".  Zachary, who doubts God's power to transform Elizabeth's barrenness into fertility consequently loses his ability to speak for nine months.

You and I may identify with the barren women in this story or with Zachary who scoffs at the angel's announcement that his elderly wife will bear a child.  Are we experiencing a barrenness in our faith life, in our relationship with our loved ones, in our work environment, in the giving of our best selves in all that we do?   For sure, we are,like John the Baptist and Samson in that, we, too,  have an important part to play in salvation history now in the 21st century.  Do we know what that part is?  Perhaps we identify with Zachary in his doubting of God's plan of salvation, in His promises of great things to happen for a family member or for ourselves.

Lord, give us the knowledge of who we are in this Scripture passage and the courage to address the issues that we need to address for the plan of God to bear fruit in our life and the lives of those we love and in the lives of those to whom You send us to proclaim the good News in word by the way we live the Gospel message.

Monday, December 18, 2017

God Comes to Save Us

In today's first reading, Jeremiah 23: 5-8, God, through the prophet Jeremiah,  excitedly reminds us of the coming of the Messiah: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his day Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: 'The Lord our justice'."

Not only shall Judah be saved and Israel dwell in security, when God reigns, but so, too, shall any other country or nation. When God reigns in our hearts, in the heart of any nation or any government,  then, and only then, shall a person or a governor or leader lead wisely. Not otherwise.

How often I becry the fact that there is so much injustice in the world and so many unwise governors and leaders of the nations, so many unwise persons in the  Congress of the U.S..  However, those very facts remind me that only God is just. Only God is righteous. Only God governs wisely. We all fall short, including myself.  We are not God!  We need God's intervention. We need God's salvation!  Without grace, all of us will succumb to Satan, the  Father of Lies.  We are vulnerable, no matter what our position in life, no matter how many degrees we might have and no matter how wealthy or powerful we think we are.   Only by our cooperation with grace, our recognizing our need for a Messiah and the gift of salvation which God offers, will we resist Satan's lies. Relying on ourselves without calling upon the Lord, we are likely to continue to allow Satan, an intelligent fallen angel, to have  a heyday in his dealings with  us.  God alone can save us from the intelligent, cunning, deceitful ways of Satan, who roams this earth looking for someone to devour!

We thank you, Lord, for sending us Jesus, our Savior!  You alone are more powerful than Satan. And it is you who are our side, fighting Satan on our behalf!  Satan will not stand!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Rejoice: The Lord is Near

We open today's liturgy with the antiphon: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near"(Phil 4: 4,5).

Each of us today awakened because the Lord called us to continue our existence here on earth. As we journey through this day, God will give us new opportunities to grow in grace and wisdom (growing in age is automatic); growing in grace and wisdom depends on our openness to God.  God, who entered the earth, coming down from heaven and being born as a helpless Infant, tender, loving, in need of care--the God who created the Universe and all that is in it, human, plant and animal--continues the act of Incarnation every day.  The Incarnate God exists within us, sustaining us in existence. The Incarnate God exists in all that has life. God's creative energies continue their creative gift of life in myriad of ways, including our own life as unique persons. God works with us and through us to become the persons God designed us to be. God patiently awaits our acceptance of our need to be saved; yes, our realization that we need redemption--God's mercy and love making us whole, making us increasingly more  pure and more authentic, more altruistic, more generous with time and talent in helping others; making us lavishly more loving, making us deeply more honest, even in the smallest of ways that we do not live up to our potential as human beings!

[R]ejoice  heartily in the Lord, in [your] God is the joy of [your] soul" (Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11).

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Restoration of All Things

In today's Gospel, Matthew 17: 9a, 10-13, the disciples ask Jesus why the scribes keep saying that "Elijah must come first".  Jesus tells them that "Elijah has already come"  "to restore all things"  but the people "did not recognize him". They simply continued doing "whatever they pleased."  He then adds that the Son of Man "will...also suffer at their hands."

"Elijahs" also come to us each day to restore those parts of us that need to be reconciled to God. Do we listen or do we continue doing whatever we please?  Sadly, the example we see before us as we watch the news each evening tells us that people, for the most part, continue doing "whatever they please": passing legislature that brings suffering to the poor and needy, stealing money from the poor to line the pockets of the rich in what is called "tax reform", leaving millions without health insurance, separating children from their parents in enforcing the government's new immigration demands,  calling the news "fake news" and lying to us in a myriad of other ways.  People of integrity rise up to confront the corruption, the deceitfulness, the greediness and other criminal acts such as sexual assault on women and these people are not recognized or silenced in some way!

With the psalmist, in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 80, we cry out: "Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved."

Though we do not have the power to change other people, we can change ourselves and become open to persons in our lives who challenge us to look at those parts of us that need to be restored by grace!

Friday, December 15, 2017

"Planted Near Running Water"

In today's responsorial psalm, we pray: "Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life. Blessed [are those] who....[delight] in the law of the Lord and [meditate] on his law day and night. [They are] like [trees] planted near running water that [yield their] fruit in due season and whose leaves never fade. Whatever [they] do prospers"  (Psalm 1).

Sounds peaceful, serene, without problems or setbacks or suffering.  Not so, however. Even trees planted near running water battle strong winds, severe storms, and unexpected difficulties throughout any season of the year.  What sustains them? being near running waters--their roots are constantly watered and nourished.   You and I are, not only planted near running waters, but "live and move and have our being in God" (Acts 17: 28), as fish live in water.  Moreover, as we stay close to the Lord and take advantage of the Eucharist on a regular, if not daily basis; as we spend time reading the Scriptures, reaching out in serving others' needs, loving and being loved by others, we are like "a tree planted near running water that yield its fruit in due seasons and whose leaves never fade."

May you and I take seriously our call to be nourished in these ways, reach other to others in ways that nourish them and allow ourselves to be nourished by others, as well!  We will then be among those "who delight in the law of the Lord." And, truly, our lives will bear "fruit in due season."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

God is God; There Is No Other

In today's first reading, Isaiah 41: 13-20, we are reminded that God is our God, a God "who grasp[s us by our] right hand" and that God says to us: "Fear not, I will help you."  There are, no doubt, times in our lives when God's help seems wanting. In faith we know that it is not!  We cry out in pain, in frustration, in helplessness and powerlessness and God seems silent. How often than not, God chooses silence in which to work in the core of our being.  It is in the silence of nature in the spring time of the year that all of creation comes to life and new growth appears. It is in the silence of the womb that every human being takes shape.  We do not see the growth that is taking place beneath the surface of the earth or in the darkness of the womb, but it is so. So, too, when we call upon the Lord and nothing seems to be happening.

Help us, Lord, when you seem silent or distant to cling to you in faith and hope, not letting a sense of helplessness  or powerlessness to drag us into a depression.  Remind us, through Isaiah that when we "seek water in vain," and when our "tongues are parched with thirst," that you will, in truth, answer us. Deepen our belief in what you, O God, say to use through Isaiah:  "I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I open  up rivers on the bare heights and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water....That all may  see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel..."

I believe in Your Providence, Your Presence and Your Power, Lord, even when I do not feel such! And you?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

God Gives Strength to the Weary

In today's first reading, Isaiah 40: 25-31, the prophet reminds us that "[t]he Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.  He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound...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."

Think of the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. To "the fainting" God gave strength. To the  weak, God made "vigor abound."   Those who hoped in the Lord, renewed their strength. In some cases, they soared "as with eagles' wings; they [ran and did] to grow weary," walked and did not grow faint.  Think of Mary on her way to visit Elizabeth, of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Think of Jesus on His way to Calvary--how did He ever make it to the top of that hill where He was crucified. God provided the strength and the hope and the help He needed along the way. The same with you and me!  As long as we hope in the Lord, our strength is renewed!  I recall my mother saying often: "I don't know how we would make it without our faith!"  For me to this day, my strength is always renewed in prayer, in the times when I set time aside to soak in the light of God's Presence in contemplative silence. What about you?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mary's Visitation to Elizabeth: What a Visit!

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  One of the Gospels that could be used for today's liturgy was Luke 1: 39-45, the story of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. As soon as Mary entered her cousin Elizabeth's home, the child in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy and Elizabeth herself "was filled with the Holy Spirit." Elizabeth cries out in joy: "Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is there fruit of your womb. Why should I be so honored wit a visit from the mother of my Lord?"

No words passed between Mary and Elizabeth. John the Baptist, growing in Elizabeth's womb, recognized Jesus in Mary's womb. Elizabeth, too, recognized a Presence in Mary and just by Mary's presence was "filled with the Holy Spirit".  You and I also carry the Lord in our hearts. God--the Father, the Incarnate Son, and the Holy Spirit--dwells within us by virtue of our baptisms. In the Eucharist, consecrated at each Catholic Mass, God, hidden in the consecrated host as God was hidden in the Infant Jesus, God made man, we, too, are visited by God, as were John the Baptist and Elizabeth through Mary's visit.  We are filled with the Holy Spirit through all of the sacraments!

When you interact with another human being, are they blessed as Elizabeth was blessed by Mary? And when you encounter another person, do you encounter God Incarnate? Are you "filled with the Holy Spirit" in those to whom you relate and vice versa?

May you and I, as vessels of grace, be present to others in such a way that they are blessed by us, as Elizabeth was blessed by Mary's visit!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Preparing for Our Savior's Coming

As we are enter the second week of Advent, we continue readings from the book of Isaiah.  Today, Monday, the 11th f Dec., Isaiah again brings us a message of hope:  The desert and the parched land will exalt; the steppe will rejoice and bloom....The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carol and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God."  The prophet  asks us to "strengthen the hands that are feeble make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he does with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you."

May our hearts rejoice at the coming of our God, a God as tender and loving as an infant, a God who has the power to melt those parts of us frozen by hatred, greed, or deceitfulness; a God who has the power to turn sin into holiness, a God who is able to transform that within us that which is  enslaved to God substitutes: power, pleasure, and control.  God "comes to save" us from all that causes division and from all that prevents us from loving freely and generously, from all that creates indifference among us.

Let us prepare for the coming of our Savior by taking time to call upon the Lord on a daily basis, reflecting on the Word of God in the Scriptures or in a favorites book that lifts our souls to the Lord in prayerful reflection on the meaning of Advent.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Spending time on God's Holy Mountain

In today's first reading, Isaiah 2: 1-5, the prophet reminds us that "[i]n days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: 'Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.'" On the mountain of the Lord, "[t]hey shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again."

As we prepare for the coming of the Lord, may we take time to ponder His Word, listening to the Lord in silent contemplation, knowing that the time we spend with the Lord is not wasted time.  In the silence, God is transforming our thoughts into God's thoughts, instructing  us in his ways so that "we may walk in his paths."  It is when we sit at the feet of Jesus in solitude that our "swords"--that is, our harsh words, our anger, our prejudice, our jealousy, our greediness, our pride and any other negative behaviors--are "beat...into plowshares," whereby they are used to produce fruit that will last: love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, generosity and openness to be led by the Spirit.  It is in the prayer of solitude on God's mountain that we are trained in the ways of the Lord and abandon being at "war" with ourselves and others!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent: Preparing for Jesus' Coming

Advent:   A time to be alerted to the coming of Jesus, God with us,

Devoting time to seeing the Lord above all else,

Vying for greater intimacy with God, your Savior,

Ever mindful of one's need for redemption.

Now is the time to become reconciled

To the Lord, your God, and to one another in Christ Jesus and to make peace your goal!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Keeping Priorities Straight

In today's Gospel, Luke 21: 34-36, Jesus says to us:  Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day (the final coming of the Lord Jesus) catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.  Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and stand before the Son of Man."

Lord, help me keep my priorities straight. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily events of the day, to run frantically from one thing to another (and accomplish nothing of significance).  Help me focus on You versus being riveted to repetitive thoughts that deprive me of the peace which You,  Lord, want to give me.  Show me the way to Your peace! Redirect me when I lose that peace so that I have the strength to carry out your will in the small and not-so-small tasks or issues that you want me to address or accomplish today!  I ask this in Jesus' name!  Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Triumph over Evil

In today's first reading, Daniel 7:2-14,  Daniel shares a vision he has throughout the night:  ...the four winds stirred up the great sea, from which emerged four immense beasts, each different from the others": A lion with eagle's wings, a bear with three tusks in its mouth, a leopard with four wings and four heads, and a fourth beast with ten horns looking more terrible than all the others.  All of these beasts lost their dominion, their power and their strength, as the "Ancient One took his throne," and as "[t]he court was convened" and "One like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven...reached the Ancient One."  This son of man was given "dominion, glory and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed."

All of creation is subject to the Lord. All humankind belongs to God: all nations, all peoples, all nationalities, all races belong to God. Evil, in any form--arrogance, pride, prejudice, jealousy, deceitfulness, lust, slothfulness, violence, and other forms of rebellion against God and others--will be destroyed.  "Dominion, glory and kingship" belong only to Jesus, not to us!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Called to follow Jesus and Accept His Invitations

In today's Gospel, Mt 4: 18-22, we join Jesus as He walks by the Sea of Galilee. He sees two brothers, Simon and his brother Andrew.  They are casting a net into the sea, as they were professional fishermen. It was through this profession that they provided for their families. Jesus calls to them: "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of [people]." Peter and Andrew leave their nets and follow Jesus. As we walk along with Jesus, Simon and Andrew, Jesus spots two other brothers, James and John, fishing with their father. He calls to them as well.   "[I]mmediately they,[too,] left their boat and their father and followed" Jesus.

When Jesus calls us to follow Him, do we, also, leave everything behind to follow the Lord? Do we recognize that Jesus is not just an ordinary man but that there is something about this person that we cannot resist accepting His invitation to attach ourselves to Him, to follow His instructions and grow in intimacy with Him and in building up the Kingdom with Him?  Is our faith strong enough to trust the Lord's calls throughout the day? Or are we like those persons who, later, Jesus invites to a banquet and who conjure excuses for not accepting the invitation, as we read in Luke's Gospel (Lk 14: 18-20): "I have bought a piece of land and must go see it. Please accept my apologies."   "I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies." "I have just got married and so am unable to come."  If we refuse  Jesus' call, what excuses do we make? 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Glorifying God with our Lives

"Give glory and eternal praise to [God],"  who created you, breathes His breath into you, guards you as God walks ahead of you preparing the way, as God walks behind you to catch you when you fall, as God walks beside you as a companion on the way to eternal life!  In today's first reading, Daniel 5: 12-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28, we read that the son of Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar, defied God, desecrating the sacred vessels from "the house of God in Jerusalem", using them to drink wine with his lords, his wives, and his entertainers. Not only that, but also he and his companions also worshipped "the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone that neither see nor hear or have intelligence.  But the God in whose hands," Daniel tells him, "is your life breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify." The writing that suddenly appeared on the wall of the palace where the king entertained his lords, wives, and entertainers, terrified the king: "his face blanched; his thoughts terrified him, his hips shook, and his knees knocked." 

Daniel did not mince words about what the writings meant. His interpretation:  This writing that was inscribed: Mene, Tekel, and Peres. These words mean: Mene, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it; Tekel, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom  has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

We need to, I believe, pray for the grace to realize that God is our Lord and Master in life and in death, that we are here on earth to glorify the Lord and discover His sovereignty, His holiness, His unconditional love and mercy!  And, in turn, we are to be vessels of divine grace for others, obedient unto death as was the Son of Man, Jesus! Nothing else matters!  "Remain faithful until death, and [God] will I've you the crown of life," we read in Rev. 2 10c.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Finiteness of Earthly "Kingdoms"

In today's first reading, Daniel 2: 31-45,  Daniel interprets a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, in which it is predicted that his kingdom will be overtaken by an inferior kingdom.  In fact three other kingdoms will follow King Nebuchadnezzar's. In the lifetime of each of these four kings, "the God of heaven," Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar, "will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever."

In the Gospel, Luke 21: 5-11, "[w]hile some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, 'All that you see here--the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.'"

Only the kingdom of God shall stand forever. All other "kingdoms" or nations, all the riches we might accumulate and obsess about here on earth, all the luxuries into which we put our savings and all of our energies, are finite and will ultimately be destroyed.  All of us will leave this earthly kingdom, wherever it has been built for us or by us.  Naked we came into the world and naked we will leave this world to enter the eternal Kingdom, a Kingdom built on love.

How busy am I in preparing for God's Kingdom, that is, in growing in love with others, with myself, with God? How busy am I helping others, bringing about justice in my world, loving others tenderly, and walking humbly with God (cf Micah 6:8).

Monday, November 27, 2017

Praising God in all of the Vicissitudes of life

Today's praises in place of the responsorial psalm are from Daniel 3: 52, 53, 54, 55, 56. One of the blessings is:  Blessed are you who look into the depth from your throne upon the cherubim, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."

As I encountered the difficulties of this day and lost my "cool," I did not, for sure, pray a blessing or praise God.  I felt anything but blessed nor did I feel like blessing the person who "got under my skin."  I do know, however, that God sees into the depth of this person. He sees what I do not see and He loves her unconditionally.  He reads her heart--a heart that overflows with love for all and for whom she will go to any length to show her love.

The other lesson that God may be trying to teach us when "turbulence" appears is that it is important to praise God in both the pleasant or unpleasant situations of any given day! Truly we need to say: Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.  

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

In the first reading of today's feast, Christ the King, God reminds us that he himself "will look after and tend [His] sheep. As a shepherd tends is flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark.... The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, 
the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly" (Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 15-17).

Notice that God does not condemn anyone. Compassionately, God says that He walks in the places where we have been "scattered when it was cloudy and dark."  People, during dark and cloudy times of their lives, may have gone astray and lost their way in treacherous ways, ways that may even have thrown them into our prisons.  During the "cloudy and dark" times of one's life, a person may have lived in such a way that their marriage was destroyed, that their children abandoned them, that they lost jobs by which they were able to provide sufficient financial support for their families. What does God say:  "[T]he strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal..."  When will all this happen? In God's time, the right time.  God waits for humankind to turn back to Him and, sometimes, that first happen on one's death bed, as it did with the thief on the cross who turned to Jesus and said: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23: 42) and Jesus responded: "Indeed, I promise you,...,today you will be with me in paradise." 

Truly, God tends His sheep to their last, dying breath, bringing "the strayed...back," whenever they call upon Him!  Let us pray for each other that we, too, will have the humility to call upon God anytime, asking to be remembered by the King of Kings, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He will not disappoint us or turn us away ever!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

God Is on Our Side

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 9, we "give thanks" to the Lord for all of His "wondrous deeds".  We tell God that we "will be glad and exult" in the Lord, sing God's praises "because [our] enemies are turned back, overthrown and destroyed before [God]." We acknowledge that it is the Lord who "rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; their name, you blotted out forever and ever.  [We have realized, we tell God,  that the] nations are sunk in the pit they have made; in the snare they set, their foot is caught. For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor shall the hope of the afflicted forever perish." 

What a prayer, as true today as in the times of the Israelite's battles with their enemies, as reported in today's first reading, 1Maccabees 6: 1-13, in which we hear of King Antiochus' attempt to "capture and pillage the city"  of Elymais, "famous for its wealth in silver and gold, and that its temple was very rich, containing gold helmets, breastplates, and weapons left there by Alexander, son of Philip, king of Macedon, the first king of the Greeks."

The rich and famous, to this very day, are out to pillage wealth from other countries, wealth that is not theirs.  Some of the rich and powerful are also out to increase their wealth by exploiting the poor, the sick and the needy. Labor and human traffickers are bent on increasing their wealth by forcing children and young adults, women and girls and young boys into the sex trade and into forced labor with little or no pay and atrocious living situations.  In faith, we know that, eventually, those who engage in crime will sink "in the pit they have made."  Their own feet will be "caught in the snare they set" for others.  These enemies of a just society will "be turned back, overthrown," for "the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor shall the hope of the afflicted forever perish."

The questions that each one of us faces is: Am I involved in activities that bring suffering to others? Or, what can I do to alleviate those who are victims of crime?  Am I educating myself about human trafficking, slave labor and those at risk to be exploited by criminals involved in these situations, some also victims of persons who have exploited them!  Information is available on the Internet. Your parish may have a social concerns committee, from whom educational materials could be sought, as well! And, above all, prayer for victims and perpetrators of these crimes is desperately needed. God is  
still God--the same today as in the time of the Israelites, whose enemies were destroyed!  And, yes, we all have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who destroyed death and will do so in whatever form it takes today! Prayers are needed individually and communally, in private and in public!

We "will rejoice in [God's] salvation"  (Psalm 9).

Friday, November 24, 2017

Choosing Wisely

In today's Gospel, Luke 19: 45-48,  "Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things....The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words."

Have you ever been about to do something that you did not want anyone to know about--in fact, something you should not have been doing, in the first place--and someone walks into the room and, sheepishly, you walk away hoping no one noticed? How often the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people experienced just this in their attempts to snare Jesus.

This kind of behavior is part of the human condition. We are not always about doing good or planning to do what is proper. And, foolishly, we attempt to hide our wrongdoing.  God, not to punish us, is always aware of what we are about.  God only wants what is right for us. God wants us to be filled with joy and peace, which we deny ourselves when we take the easiest path and reject the way that leads to experiencing the fullness of life that Jesus promises.  And many times, I believe, God is disappointed when we choose poorly and suffer the consequences of our foolhardy choices, depriving ourselves of the joy of following the least-chosen path, the narrow way that leads to an abundance of life in Christ Jesus.  God, then, I believe, awaits our return, as did the Father of the prodigal son. God waits eagerly to restore us to a right relationship with ourselves and others, because it is then that we are also in right relationship with God Himself.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you, Lord, for all of the graces and blessings of this past year.
How wonderful, Lord, are the blessings you send us every moment of every day, beginning
with waking us up to new life after strengthening us through a good night's sleep.
And, thank you, Lord, for the gift of your Presence that envelopes us throughout the day.
Never may we forget that You wrap your arms of love around us as we journey through life here  on earth.
Kindly, Lord, continue to walk beside us, behind us, and in front of us, even when we forget our need of your protection. 
So in need of you throughout the day, especially as we encounter obstacles and difficulties, we call upon you for your protection on a daily basis.
Grant us, Lord, a heart full of gratitude, knowing that without you we will go astray, giving in to temptations too forceful for us to overcome alone.
In your mercy, Lord, save us, especially when internal enemies wage war against the good within us.
Very often, Lord, our weaknesses have had the best of us, when, like Peter on the waters, we have taken our eyes off you.
In times when we foolishly believe that we can journey through difficulties on our own powers, send someone into our lives to redirect us to the Truth.
Never, Lord, may we abandon our trust and faith in You as our Lord and Savior.
Grateful for your Love and Mercy, we pray with Mary: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit finds joy in you, O God....God, you who are mighty, have done great things for me. Holy is your name" (cf Luke 1: 46-49).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Faith Tested in the Fires of Purification

In today's first and second readings we encounter two men:  Eleazar, who is willing to give his very life in order to remain faithful to Yahweh and Zaccheaus, a chief tax collector,  who is willing to risk ridicule and the resentment of the crowd in his desire to see Jesus. Eleazar suffers martyrdom at the hands of the king who orders that he submit to a sacrifice ordered by the king's decree that violates the Law of Moses.  Zacchaeus, who climbs a sycamore tree to see Jesus as He passes by, is spotted  by Jesus and asked to "come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."  The crowd grumbles about Jesus, saying: "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner." Zaccheaus repents of his wrongdoing, as he cheated the people in his collection of taxes and says to Jesus: "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over."  Jesus assures Zacchaeus, saying: "Today salvation has gone to this house...For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

A couple of questions to consider: Would I be willing to sacrifice my life and refuse to violate the law of God, to break the ten Commandments, in the face of being scourged to death by not following a crowd taunting me to do so, as Eleazar was taunted to give in to the king's decree?  Would I, like Zaccheas, risk being ridiculed by a crowd of people, by my family and friends, who know how I have violated other people's rights, or even ridiculed the faith,  and here I am seeking Jesus, even going to extremes to see Him?  Am I willing to do anything it takes to right restore my relationship with Jesus and seek Him above all, no matter what people say of me?  Am willing to reconcile with "an enemy" even when others are taunting me to remain hostile with another person who may have hurt me in some way?  May we have the courage of Eleazar and Zaccheaus in living our faith!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Persons of Value "Far Beyond Pearls"

Today's first reading, Proverbs 31: 10-13, 1-20, and 30-31, speaks about a worthy wife. "When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting  his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life....She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.  Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fear the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gates."

I thought of my mother and two grandmothers!  What gifts these women were. And then I thought of my sisters and sisters-in-law, my nieces and nieces-in-law and also felt that these words applied to them as well.  I lingered a long time reflecting on the blessings all these women are! The value of each one is "far beyond pearls." And that is why, I believe, that their husbands entrusted their hearts to them. Truly God gave their husbands "an unfailing prize."    Each of these women bring their husbands good, not evil, all the days of their lives.And, I believe, that each of these women have also been given an "unfailing prize" in their husbands.  That is why their love for one another and for their children continues to grow in depth, in breadth, in height and in width!  God be praise!

Husbands, think of your wives.  Wives, think of your husbands. How does this verse from Proverbs touch you?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Persistency in Prayer

In today's Gospel, Luke 18-18, Jesus tells a parable in which He speaks about the necessity to "pray always without becoming  weary." The parable is about a widow who does not give up in persisting that the judge render her a just decision.  The judge holds out for a long time and then finally says to himself:  "While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver her a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me."  If this dishonest judge will finally respond positively to this widow, will God not respond to us when we call to him, day and night, for justice to also be done in our situations?  Luke emphatically states: "I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for [us] speedily. But when the Son of Man comes," Luke asks, "will he find faith on earth?"

We may find it difficult to continue praying for justice, when, day after day, the evening news repeatedly informs us of people within and outside of our government getting away with one crime after another: mass scale shootings, including children being shot in scho persons of color apprehended--shot and killed (some not even being the criminal that was being pursued)--innocent policemen ambushed and killed, undocumented persons  denied the right to pursue a legal path to citizenship, millions losing affordable health insurance, treaties to protect the earth and its inhabitants being revoked and on and on! I want to cry out:  God, where are you!  I am sure that children being bullied or persons facing terminal illnesses that will leave their children without a parent may also want to scream: God, are you  listening!

The Israelites were in the same position when enslaved by the Egyptians.  We read in today's first reading, Wisdom 18: 14-16; 19: 6-9: "When peaceful stillness compassed everything, and the night in its swift course was half spent, [God's] all-powerful word, from heaven's royal throne bounded, a fierce warrior, into the doomed land, bearing the sharp sword of [God's] inexorable decree....[A]ll creation, in its several kinds [then and in the time of Noah], was being made over anew, serving its natural laws, that  your children might be preserved unharmed. The cloud overshadowed [the camp of the Israelites]; and out of what had before been water, dry land was seen emerging; out of the Red Sea an unimpeded road, and a grassy plain out of the mighty flood. Over this crossed the whole nation sheltered by [God's] hand, after they beheld stupendous wonders."

God can and will do the same for us today!  God is mighty! God is a warrior God, who is on the side of those who, in faith, call upon Him day and night!  Let us, in faith, turn back to God for the help we need today to turn away from the darkness of sin!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wisdom Who is God

In today's first reading, Wisdom 7: 22b-8:1, we are told that "Wisdom is a spirit, intelligent, holy, unique, manifold,..., unstained, certain, not baneful, loving the good,...,beneficent, kindly, firm, secure, tranquil, all-powerful, all-seeing, and pervading all spirits, though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.  For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity....

Wisdom, I believe, is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  "[S]he, who is one, [three persons in the one God] can do all things, and renews everything while herself perduring; and passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets...."

St. John says to us in 1 Jn 4:4 that  we "are from God and [we] have in [us] one who is greater than anyone in the world.  That "one who is greater than anyone in the world,"  I believe,  is Wisdom, God, our Lord and Savior.  Why is it, I ask, that we encounter within ourselves and others "a spirit, intelligent, holy, unique...not baneful, loving the good,...,beneficent, kindly, firm, secure, tranquil"?  Are we not encountering in ourselves and others God, from all good comes?

Thank you God for your intimacy with us!  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Living according to God's Will

In today's first reading, Wisdom 6:1-11, God admonished those given authority over others, saying:
Hearken, O kings, and understand; learn, you magistrates of the earth's expanse! Hearken, you who are in power over the multitude and lord it over throngs of peoples [and over creation itself]!  Because authority was given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High, who shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels. Because, though you were ministers of his kingdom--[both humankind and the universe itself], you judged not rightly, and did not keep the law, or walk according to the will of God, terribly and swiftly shall he come against you, because judgment is stern for the exalted--For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test."

Each and every one of us, though we may not be in the highest positions of authority, have authority. We may be parents or teachers,  doctors or nurses, counselors or lawyers, public servants, foresters or environmentalists, ordinary citizens  involved in ordinary jobs, persons cultivating the earth and so forth.  Are we truly caretakers of those over whom we have authority? Are we truly caretakers of creatures that roam the earth with us? Or are we persons who exploit the earth and creatures who live upon it? We may think we have a right to treat others "under" us poorly--they are smaller than us, we may reason.  Or we may believe that we have a right to dominate and abuse the earth and earthly creatures--birds of the air, fishes of the sea, animals that roam our forests--not recognizing that all of the inhabitants of the universe carry out an important aspect of God's purposes and have not been put here to be exploited or abused  by humans. All of creation is to be appreciated as an important part of God's creation, as important as that of humankind itself.  

We are ministers of this "kingdom". We have been given " the Lord." When we do not judge rightly in how we relate to others and to the universe and all that is within it, when we do not keep the law that respects all persons, all animals, all plants, all created things "according to the will of God, terribly and swiftly shall he come against [us], because judgment is stern for the exalted--For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test."

Is God's judgment revealing itself in the natural and manmade disasters pounding the earth and its inhabitants across all continents?  Is reconciliation with God's plan for humankind and for the earth way past due? We are, after all, co-creators with God and have the potential to be one with God in His plan to build a Kingdom of love and peace, forgiveness and mercy--a place where all--men and women, plants and animals, all systems of the universe--experience the fullness of life Jesus came to give us.

Lord, have mercy on us for violating the covenant you made with us to be co-creator, sustainers, and protectors of all of creation and creative energies!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The gift of Imperishability Awaiting Us

In today's first reading, Wisdom 2: 23-3:9, we are reminded that we have been formed "to be imperishable" and that we were created in God's "own nature"."Our souls, when we die, we are told will be "in the hand of God and no torment shall touch" us.  When we leave this world, some people may think that we are dead. However, we will, very much so, be alive, living with God, our King, forever in His love.  Those of us who live life from this faith-filled perspective possess the "hope of full immortality." Yes, here on earth we will have been chastised a little, yet we "shall be greatly  blessed, because God tried [us] and found [us] worthy of himself, because in Christ Jesus and through Jesus' death and resurrection we are clothed with a robe of salvation. As gold in the furnace, [God] proved [us[ and as sacrificial offerings he [will take us] to himself [as we pass through the door of death into eternal life]."

May we be grateful to God for this incredible gift of mercy and love!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Discerning Good and Evil Spirits

In today's first reading, Wisdom 1; 1-7, we are told that God "is found by those who test him not, and [that God] manifest himself to those who do not disbelieve him. For perverse counsels separate a [person] from God, and [God's] power, put to the proof, rebukes the foolhardy; because into a soul that plots evil, wisdom enters not, nor dwells she in a body under the debt of sin. For the holy Spirit of discipline flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsels;and when injustice occurs it is rebuked."  

Truly, believe,  God is at work in those involved in the presidency of the U.S. and in all those involved in our governing body.  The foolhardy are, I believe, being rebuked. Those who plot evil are being denied wisdom. In those "fleeing discipline" and following "senseless counsels" wisdom has withdrawn its presence.  And, finally, "justice is being rebuked" over and over again. When will we wake up to God at work in our world? Or are we blind because we, too, are "fleeing discipline" and following "senseless counsels", disbelieving in our God, and "plotting evil"?  Are we deaf and blind because we dwell "in a body under the debt of sin" ourselves? Have we separated ourselves from God by believing in "perverse counsels"?

May we remember, at all times, that "God is the witness of [our] inmost self and the sure observer of [our] heart and the listener of [our] tongue. For the Spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows what [you and I and all humans say]. We are who we are before God and no other!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Kingdom of Heaven is Near

"My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God," we pray in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 63.   God's reply: I thirst for you more than you thirst for me. God is not putting us down.   Already on the cross, before you and I were born, Jesus, the Son of God, cried out in His torturous death: "I thirst!"  That thirst was for the salvation of each of us. In today's Gospel, Mt. 25: 1-13, Jesus asks us to be prepared for His coming, to be thirsting for Him, to be believers in Him, to be filled with love!  "The Kingdom of heaven," Jesus tells us, "will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps" (the oil of love, wisdom, faith, mercy, generosity, patience, hope, kindness and any other virtue modeled by Jesus and Mary in the Scriptures). Will you and I be prepared, or, like the foolish virgins, will our lamps be empty?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Wondrous Works of God

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 145, we praise the Lord for his wondrous works! These works are revealed to  us in both the Old and New Testaments.  In the first reading of today's liturgy from Romans 16:; 3-9, 16, 22-27, St. Paul tells us about all of the people who had been assisting him in spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection; in short, his dying to save us from eternal life and to strengthen us in being faithful to our God and Father in the spread of the faith.  In the responsorial psalm, Psalm 145,  we praise God for his greatness, for the splendor of His glorious majesty, and his wondrous works throughout the ages.  We ask for the grace that we will continue to give God thanks (the greatest prayer of thanksgiving is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the celebration of the Eucharist) and persevere in faithfully blessing the Lord by the good we do in building up the Kingdom, as Jesus did.  We pray, too, that we will "discourse of the glory of [God's] kingdom and speak of [God's] might."

God continues to bless us every day, providing us with the graces we need to be His disciples and spread the good news of salvation. This past week I had the privilege to teach a group of fifth graders about the call to holiness, a call given us at our baptism. The inspiration was given me to help the children see the call to holiness in very concrete ways in choosing good (love, truth, forgiveness, kindness, unselfishness,  generosity, obedience and many other virtuous behaviors) over evil (hatred, revenge, bullying, selfishness, stinginess, disobedience and other sinful ways). We spoke of being spiritual wrestlers, of being on God's team, wrestling with good and evil throughout our lives, as Satan persists in tempting us on a daily basis to choose evil over good. With God on our side, we will win the battle!, one day at a time!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Making God Our First Priority

In today's first reading, Romans 13: 8-10, St. Paul admonishes us to love our neighbor as ourselves. He reminds us that what we owe each other is love. In loving others we fulfill the whole law and in choosing to love others we are choosing to do no evil to anyone! However, it is not enough to do no evil. To fulfill the law of love, we need to do to others what we would want done to us: a kind word when we are down, a lift when we are too weak to help ourselves, assistance when we may have lost our job and have no way to provide for our family and so on.  In the responsorial psalm, Psalm 112, we are told: "Well for the [person] who is gracious and lends, who conducts his [her] affairs with justice."

In today's Gospel, Luke 14: 25-33, we encounter that difficult teaching from Jesus, who says to us: If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."  Is Jesus literally telling us to hate our parents and siblings and spouses to hate one another?  Of course not!  What Jesus is emphasizing is the importance of having our priorities straight!  We are to let nothing come between us and what God is asking of us! Sometimes we may be asked to do something for God/for Jesus that our family members strongly oppose and put forth efforts to block us from following the course that we know God is calling us to embrace.  That could lead to feelings of hatred on both sides, ours and theirs.  Each of us belongs to God. God has a purpose that we are called to fulfill and sometimes others we love do not understand why we are making the choice we are making. God is to be our first priority at whatever price!

What price am I willing to pay to be right with God? Remember the price God paid for us to be in right relationship with Him!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Body of Christ

Today's first reading, Romans 12: 5-16b, speaks to us about being "one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another."  As in our own physical bodies we are many parts and each part needs the other in order to survive and thrive, so, too, the Body of Christ. We all serve a significant part to the healthiness of the one Body of Christ and to the full functioning of the Body according to God's holy will.  Members of the one Body of Christ are each given certain gifts/talents to contribute to the wholeness and spiritual well-being of the whole Body.  If one member fails to contribute his/her gifts or chooses to "digest poison" in the form of wrongdoing, the entire Body of Christ suffers.   Our growth in holiness, in goodness, in love, in humility, in faith, in caring and compassion is effected by the choices each person makes.  If any one person makes right choices, the entire Body is enhanced. If any one person make poor choices, those choices diminish the "wealth" of the Body of Christ. We are made poorer or richer spiritually by each other's choices.

What kind of a member of the Body of Christ am I? What kind of choices am I making?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Jesus Christ, our Deliverer

In Paul's 11th letter to the Romans, verses 1-2a, 11-12,  25-29, Paul asks the question: "[H]as God rejected his people? Of course not! For I too am a child of Israel, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew."  Remember that Paul was a persecutor of the Christians, an unbeliever in Jesus Christ until his conversion. Paul acclaims that "through their transgression [the transgression of the Israelites and through his own transgression] salvation has come to the Gentiles [to all those not of the race of Israel, the Chosen People]."  Why has God allowed this? Paul believes that it is "so as to make them [us Gentiles] jealous. Now," Paul says,  if their transgression is enrichment for the world, and if their diminished number is enrichment for the Gentiles, how much more their full number?.... [A] hardening has come upon Israel in part," Paul instructs us,  "until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, and thus all Israel will be saved as it is written: The deliverer will will come out of Zion, he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;  and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."

And at every Mass, the priest holds up the consecrated Host, "the deliverer" whom Paul speaks about," and  proclaims: Behold the  Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!"

I believe! What is your belief?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

God's Elect

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls, all of those who have gone before us passing through the door of death into eternal life. In the first reading of today's liturgy, Wisdom 3: 1-9,  we are told that the "souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them."  Some may look upon the death of their loved ones merely from the viewpoint of being "an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But, the author of the book of Wisdom, tells us that "they are in peace."  You and I might  believe that they were punished here on earth, "yet...their hope [was] full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold tried in the furnace [of life here on earth], he proved them, as sacrificial offering he took them to himself."  Passing through the door of death, our loved ones now "abide with [God] in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect." And we, and they, are God's elect through Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Almighty, All-Knowing, All-loving, All-Good God

"Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb,"  we read in today's first reading, Rev 7: 2--4, 9-14.  Being saved, being made whole, being healed, being restored to the fullness of life is a gift from God, our Savior.  We see this process of being made whole, of striving for a restoration to wholeness, happening when we cut ourselves, for instance.  Our bodies naturally heal.  We see death and dying all around us this fall, as the leaves fall to the ground, disintegrate and become fertilizer for new life to burst forth in spring.  The never-ending cycle of birth and rebirth are daily examples of restoration to new life, to wholeness, to returning to fullness of life as God's gift to us.

It is not, I believe,  just when we enter eternal life and receive a new body that we know God's gift of salvation. We know it now here on earth in situations described above and in relationships that are restored when we co-operate with grace, seeking forgiveness after we have brought pain into another person's life.  Cyclically, beginning with the Trinity in the relationship of Father to Son to Holy Spirit and in the Trinity's relationship with each one of us and us with each other, the creative and healing powers of God flow, bringing us, every day,  to a new level of wholeness, to an ever-expanding level of fruition,  and to a sharing more and more in the fullness of life Jesus promises us in the Scriptures.

Truly, "[b]lessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might..." (Rev 7: 2-2, 9-14) belong to the Almighty,  the all-knowing, the all-loving, the all-good God, who put into existence these creative energies, beginning with the start of creation--humankind part of the ongoing process of creation--and extending to eternal life.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Marvels the Lord has done!

In today's first reading, Romans 8: 18-25, St. Paul reminds us that "the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed to us." "Creation," Paul says to us, "awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,  in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God...[A]ll creation," Paul tells us, "is groaning in favor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the reception of our bodies."

You and I and creation are all one, as we all move and live and have our being in God and God in us and, thus, we in one another.  The sufferings that any of us, and any part of creation,  "are as nothing compared with the glory" that awaits us in eternity.  The transformation of all of creation, of all creatures of this earth and of humankind will be mind-bottling. The glorious freedom that we all will experience is not something we can imagine on this side of the grave.  The robe of glory, the robe of salvation, the robe of righteousness that each of us wears and which God sees when He looks upon  us, even now, and which was bought for us by the blood of Jesus, we will see when the veil is lifted from our eyes and we enter our eternal homes.  That is why the psalmist in today's responsorial psalm proclaims:  The Lord has done marvels for us, as we will, like the Israelites brought back from exile, will be stored to our true home in eternity when we pass through the door of death!  PRAISE THE LORD! THANKS THE LORD! GIVE GOD THE GLORY!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Set Free from our Infirmities

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 68, we pray: "God is a saving God for us," and proclaim that "God arises; his enemies are scattered, and those who  hate him flee before him. But the just rejoice and exult before God; they are glad and rejoice."  Our response to the psalm is: Our God is the God of salvation."  Jesus, who is God, reveals God's saving nature to us in today's Gospel, Luke 13: 10-17.  A woman crippled for 18 years enters the synagogue. She "was  bent over, completely incapable of standing erect." As soon as Jesus sees her, he calls her over to Him, lays His hands on her and says:  "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."

That is our God: compassionate, tender, caring, ready to heal us of our infirmities, wanting to set us free, even before we ask.   We are that woman! We are also servants of Jesus, entrusted with the same healing powers with which Jesus set this woman free! Crippling spirits, that of others and our own, can be healed by our gentleness, our caring words, our forgiving words, our words of compassion, our understanding.

Jesus went about doing good. And as He did so, there were, many times, persons in the crowd who challenged him, as in this case with the leader of the synagogue:  Indignant that Jesus healed this woman on the sabbath, the man said to the crowd: "There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day." At that moment, I suspect, "cold water" was thrown on the rejoicing crowd.  Has there ever been a time when you or I made some disapproving comment and the entire exciting crowd became silent, as though hit with a bomb!

Jesus, though was not silenced. He recognizes hypocrisy in us when He sees it. He said to the leader of the synagogue and to the crowd colluding with him:  "Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath from this bondage?  

Are there times when you and I object to the good done by another, times when we apply the letter of the law to others and miss the spirit's call to be compassionate, understanding and act out of love?  Have we been hypocritical in our demands on others when we, too, have done exactly what we object in another?  You and I need to remember that, before God, we are not any better than anyone else. Like everyone else, we need God's salvation.  May God, in Christ Jesus,  set us free of whatever binds us from standing tall in God's love and mercy!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Imitators of Christ

In today's second reading, 1 Thes 1: 5c-10, St. Paul says to the people: "[Y]ou became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia." Yesterday I had the privilege to attend a funeral of a relative.  She, too, became an imitator of the Lord. She received the Word in the good times of her life and the not-so-good times. She experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit in her relationships with her loved ones and sometimes experienced the sadness that comes with efforts to love and be loved.  And in the end, through the Holy Spirit working in her,  became a model for all the believers who knew her.

Life is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. We encounter the good spirit and the opposing spirit within us and within others, as I mentioned in my most recent blog. I walked into my place of work this morning and someone points out how I have been deceived by someone. No, life is not easy. A part of me wants to set the record straight, which I could by the evidence shown me. Or I can let go and let God. In the turmoil, however, I know that the "Lord is my strength," as we pray in today's responsorial psalm. God is "my rock, my fortress, my deliverer."  As I brought all of the issues to the Lord in prayer this morning, I opened the Scriptures three times and pointed to a passage on each page. The  Lord gave me the following three messages:  The first passage was from Gal 5: 24--You cannot, Dorothy Ann, belong to Christ Jesus, unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires. In this case, I need to crucify my need to make things straight. The second passage was from Luke 10: 23-24--Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see and never saw it, to hear what you hear, and never heard it, and the third from Col 3: 11--There is only one Christ. He is everything and He is in everything!"  I am blessed to hear the words of Christ over and over again and to "see" Him at work in me and around me.

What are your blessings? What are you hearing and seeing that brings you to the feet of the Lord? What is God asking of you?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Humbly, Taking Everything to the Lord in Prayer

In today's first reading, Romans 7: 18-25a, St. Paul speaks about the struggle to do good. Sometimes the good spirit within  us  wants to do good but is met by an opposing spirit!  We all know that struggle. We are resolved to ask forgiveness, for instance, or to deal with a challenging issue but do not do so. We are determined to make that difficult phone call but do not do so. We intend to turn off that TV program or the computer and take time to play outside with the children but stay glued to the Internet, to Facebook or to a TV program. We are nudged by God to bring flowers home to our spouse for her birthday but find an excuse to go right home empty-handed.

"The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For, [St. Paul says of himself,] I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. ...[W]hen I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind." Paul asks the question: "Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."  The same is true for you and me.

I have found that when I honestly place a personal difficulty before the Lord in prayer, describing the frustration I am experiencing and asking God for help, I feel uplifted and confident that the next time I will overcome the opposing spirit. It is very important for me to be honest in prayer about the struggles of the day.  What I also find important is that I refrain from beating myself up for the times I fail to do the good I would like to have done and, with the psalmist in today's responsorial psalm, pray:  Teach me wisdom and knowledge, for in your commands I trust. You are good and bountiful; teach me your statutes....Let your compassion come to me that I may live,  for your law is my delight....I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts" (Psalm 119).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Righteousness and Eternal Life

In today's first reading, Romans 6: 19-23, St. Paul expands on yesterday's Scriptures. As "slaves of sin," Paul tells us, we "were free from righteousness. But what profit did you get...?For the end of those things [which are offensive to God and separate you from Love] is death.  But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life."

All of us are on a journey that leads to eternal life.  We will be given an option when we die, I believe,  as we are now given: choose life or choose death, eternal death that is!  Just as now we are asked whether or not we want to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, so, too, in death, I believe, we will be asked that same question.  On this side of the grave, all things work for the sanctification of those who believe. And even when I am in a period of unbelief, even when I have turned away from God, God waits for us to come back to Him. And when we do, He opens His arms to receive us into His heart.  He welcomes us in the same way as the Father of the prodigal son welcomed his wayward son, rejoicing, throwing a welcome-home party, giving us the best of what He has: sanctification and salvation!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Gift of Grace

In today's first reading, Romans 6: 12-18, St. Paul instructs us on the difference of being "under the law" or "under grace." He speaks of being obedient slaves either to sin or to grace. St. Paul warns us that we become slaves to the one we obey, whether that be sin or grace.  Sin leads us to death. Grace leads us to righteousness.  The incredible gift of Jesus' passion and death--the ransom paid for our salvation--is that, "although [we] were once slaves of sin, [we] have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which ]we] were entrusted. Freed from sin, [we] have become slaves of righteousness."

But how do we know whether we are slaves of sin or slaves of grace, you may ask.  When I am a slave of sin, I exist in darkness, so to speak.  I am then naked before God, as Adam and Eve were. I am then blinded as were the Pharisees, a finagler as was Peter, a traitor and schemer as was Judas, an adulteress or adulterer or one accusing/judging others of sin when I myself am a sinner and any other form of walking away from God.  I may be entertaining sinful acts, wishing harm to someone or rejoicing in harm that comes to another. On the other hand, if I am a slave of grace, I stand before God as did Abraham, Moses, David; as did Mary and the beloved disciples in the Scriptures. As a slave of grace, I am engaged in acts of love, in being just in my dealings with other; in being forgiving of self and others, in being humble and merciful. As one who is an obedient slave to grace, I am relieving the sufferings of others or supporting others in their suffering as did the disciples standing beneath the cross of Jesus, as did Jesus in healing the sick of a variety of diseases, welcoming others into His presence, calming "stormy seas" and restoring hope and life to others, in offering help where assistance is needed.

Who was I today: a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness?  Who do I want to be tomorrow? What do I need to change in  me if I am following erring ways and not co-operating with grace?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Glorifying God

In today's first reading, Romans 5: 12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21, St. Paul reminds us that, just as sin came into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, so, too, did righteousness come into the world through Jesus, the Incarnate  Son of God, who was obedient to the Father even unto death.  Psalm 40, speaking of Jesus, says: "Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Burnt offerings you sought not; then said I, 'Behold I come.'  In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God, is my delight."

You and I are made righteous through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Because of Jesus' obedience to His Father, and ours, grace overflows into our lives, as Paul also proclaims:  "Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  When you and I admit our sinfulness and acknowledge our neediness of God's overflowing graces,  and when we submit our will to the will of God, those graces are poured out upon us in an abundance that only God is capable of bestowing upon us.  May God's generosity lead us to say, with the author of Psalm 40: "The Lord be glorified."  And may that glorification of God become a reality by our words and deeds in the everydayness of our lives!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Manipulator and the Manipulated

In today's Gospel, Luke 12: 13-21, someone approaches Jesus and asks Him to "tell [his brother] to share the inheritance with [him]."   Jesus' response is classical:   "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator"?  Smartly, Jesus does not allow this person to get away with manipulating him!

How easy to thrust one's responsibility onto another person and to do so with finesse!  When it is done to us, or at least when someone does that to me, I initially experience shock! If I am not on my toes, I get sucked into the other's manipulative schemes! Only through a strong prayer life  and by recognizing our dependence upon the Lord are we prepared to recognize the moments God puts into our path to strengthen us in setting firm boundaries and to seeing the teachable moments before us, as did Jesus. Immediately Jesus sees the greediness of the person asking him to intervene. "Take care," Jesus says to the person, "to guard against all greed, for though you may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."

We are called to be"rich in what matters to God," not to pile up possessions for possession sake! By pursuing material things as the goal of life, we miss the purpose for which God put us here on earth. We are here to build the Kingdom and to be concerned about what God wants of us, that is, to repeatedly fall in love with the Lord, with others and with ourselves.  We are here to help others in need, to alleviate suffering--physical, spiritual, psychological--thus growing in love.  We do what God wants of us when we strive to be of one mind with the Lord and when we seek to obey the greatest of the commandments, that is, loving the Lord, our God, with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind and our neighbor as ourselves (cf   Luke 10:27).

What, today, have I done to "guard against greed," whether that be accumulating unnecessary material resources or guaranteeing that I am #1 and/or that I triumph over others? Seeking either of those "possessions" does not stores up treasure for oneself in heaven (Luke 12:21).  What have I done today to open myself up to the Lord, recognizing my need for His Spirit to arm me, protect me, and enlighten me to being manipulated by others or to being the manipulator?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Joy of Salvation

In the response to today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 32, we pray: "I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation."   Have you ever gone to prayer totally disgusted with yourself: the way you may have acted in certain situations, the way you may have ranted and raved about encountering difficult co-workers, the choices you may have made that reveal your weaknesses, are an embarrassment to you, deplete your energy and show that you want nothing short of perfection, thus frustrating yourself and others? And then you open the Scriptures and read: Blessed the [one] to whom the Lord imputes no guilt (Psalm 32) because Jesus has totally atoned for your sinfulness and wiped away all your sins. And for that reason God says to you and me, through Psalm 32: In you, I see no guile." And God assures you that He has taken "away the guilt of [your] sin.  My child, God says, "Be glad" in Me "and rejoice, you just [one]; "exult," you have been made "upright" through the blood of my Son."

This was my experience in prayer this night as I poured out my troubles to the Lord and  laid my frustrations at His feet!  Truly, I have experienced the "joy of salvation." What is your experience when you pour out your troubles to the Lord?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sent forth as Disciples of Jesus

In today's Gospel, Luke 10: 1-9,  Jesus commissioned 72 disciples to go forth in His name.
"Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. In whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household. If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to
you....Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.'" 

Jesus is saying to you and me, as disciples of Jesus, that our work as disciples of Jesus will not be easy, as we are being sent as lambs among wolves.  Risks and dangers are part of the terrain! We are sent to build God's kingdom just as Jesus did!  To be effective, it is important that we maintain our personal peace--we cannot share what we do not have! We also need the gift of discernment to recognize when another is not open to the peace we bring in God's name. If there is no openness, we need to move on, maintaining the peace God has given us.  Furthermore,  persons and places we visit are to be left in better shape than before our visit. And, yes, after our visits, those we spent time with should come to know that the Kingdom of God is real!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

According God the Glory God Deserves

In today's first reading, Romans 1: 16-25,  St. Paul gives testimony concerning the Gospel and its meaning in his life: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel," Paul proclaims.  "It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for the Jew first, and then Greek. For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The one who is righteous by faith will live.'"

Further on in this Scripture passage, Paul states: "...what can be known about God is evident [to the wicked]. Ever since the creation of the world, [God's] invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, [the wicked] have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened."

We can be other "Pauls," not ashamed of the Gospel and realize that "it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes," or we can choose to court wickedness, that is,  turning away from God and from all that is good in this life, disregarding the needs of others, engaging in bigotry, misogyny, greed, narcissistic pursuits, abusing power and acting out of pride and prejudice or
whatever separates/divides us from one another and from God.  In our claims to be wise, Paul warns us, we actually become "fools and [exchange] the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man..." When we do so, God, in Paul's words, will hand us "over to impurity through the lusts of [our] hearts..."  We will have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever."

Paul is talking to us right here in the U.S., I'm afraid! And, personally, each one of us needs to ask ourselves whether we have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie."  In our heart of hearts, we know the truth!  Also, I believe, we need to,  reflect upon whether or not we are worshipping creatures rather than the Creator--that which we most treasure is where our hearts lie.  On what, on whom, each day do I spent the majority of my time?  How angry do I get when a loved one calls me to task, reminding me of my responsibilities to family, to my religious community, to the vows I pledged at the altar?