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?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Belonging to God

St. Paul, in today's first reading, Romans 1: 1-7, reminds you and me that we "belong to Jesus Christ", not to anyone else. No, not even to our parents or grandparents, husbands or wives.  We belong to Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, the Savior of humankind.  What does that literally mean? How do we get our arms around that belief? Or do we? Is it a mystery of God's incredible love in that God, through His Son's death and resurrection, has adopted us as His sons/daughters?  As  adopted sons or daughters of God, that also means that we are heirs of God.  The inheritance awaiting us is heaven itself, that is, eternal life with God: the all Good, the only Good, the ultimate Good, the absolutely Good, infinite Goodness, Compassionate Goodness, Merciful Goodness.   Who does not want to be with that kind of Goodness?

God does not enforce this Goodness upon us, however. God does not coerce us to accept His Infinite goodness or our eternal inheritance.  We can  turn our backs on God. We can follow our will and not God's. We can say "No thank you" to God, even though, as the psalmist says in today's responsorial psalm: "His right hand has won victory for [us], his holy arm."  That victory means eternal life with God forever for those who reverence God, acknowledge God, accept God as Lord of the Universe and Master of all humankind!

I accept God's gift of infinite love, mercy and forgiveness. I want to become one with God in all I do and say! How about you?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Eternal Wedding Feast

In today's Gospel, Matthew 22: 1-14, Jesus speaks to us through the parable of a king who gives a wedding feast for his son.  Twice the king sent out servants to invite in wedding guests. The invitation was ignored by some. Others beat and even killed the servants. The king, enraged, sent out troops to destroy the murderers.  When the feast was ready, the king sent other servants out to invite "whomever you find."  Both the good and the bad were invited and the "wedding hall was filled with guests".  One person entered "without a wedding garment" and was thrown out "into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth," as "many are invited, but few are chosen."   

Obviously, Jesus is speaking about the banquet in heaven to which we are all invited. Will you and I 1) ignore the invitation, 2) beat the messengers physically and/or verbally with rebellious words and/or with words that ridicule, 3) kill the messengers, 4) attend the banquet without "a wedding garment" with which we are clothed by good needs, by love and forgiveness of others, by generosity and helpfulness to the poor and needy, by repentance, honest admission of wrong-doing and acceptance of God's mercy, by justice in relating to others?

What choices are you and I making by the way we live our lives?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Abundant Kindness of our God

In the opening prayer of today's liturgy, we state that God, in the abundance of his kindness, surpasses the merits and the desires of those who entreat him, that He pours out his mercy upon us beyond our imaginings, pardons us of dreaded offenses and gives us what we dare not ask.  In today's gospel, Luke 11: 5-13, Jesus reminds us that if someone comes to our door at midnight asking for a loaf of bread, though we may turn him away initially, we would, by this person's insistence, respond positively to his request so that he stops pounding on our door in the middle of the night.  Jesus then asks us: who of us would give our children "a snake when he asks for a fish...a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" And we need to remember that God, in the abundance of his kindness, surpasses the merits and the desires of those who entreat him, that He blesses us beyond our imaginings, and, yes, gives us what we dare not ask!

What a God!  "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

God's Mercy

In today's first reading, Jonah 4: 1-11, Jonah describes God as "a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, [and] loathe to punish."  Knowing that truth, Jonah is reluctant to carry out God's command to warn Nineveh of impending disaster, if they fail to repent.  Nineveh repents and Jonah is angry with God.  It's like Jonah says to God: "I knew you would relent and not punish Nineveh. That is why I did not follow your command, in the first place. And sure enough, You showed them mercy when they put on sackcloth and sat in ashes, fasting and praying for forgiveness. I knew I should not have delivered your message!"  Angry, Jonah withdraws and pouts.

How often do we not act just as Jonah did!  God is merciful to the persons whom we believe, beyond a doubt, deserve to be destroyed. Those persons repent and go their merry way, rejoicing in the Lord. We were sure that these persons deserved punishment but were spared. And we pout, more often than not, and feel the pain of being embarrassed, as we spouted out the evil against the penitents!

May we have the humility to come to the Lord ourselves and say: "Be merciful to me,  O Lord."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Following God's Lead or My Own

In today's first reading, Jonah 1: 1-2:2, 11, Jonah flees from God much like a small child dashes away from its parents when they want the child to do something that is unpleasant or difficult to do.  In Jonah's case, God asks him to "[s]et out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up to me."  In an attempt to get away from God, Jonah boards a ship going in the opposite direction away from Nineveh.   On the sea, a terrific storm arises,  The turbulence is so horrific that the ship is about to sink.  The crew members determine that the problem is Jonah and,  in an attempt to save their own lives, throw Jonah overboard. A quiet comes over the waters and all is well for the crew but not so well for  Jonah. He is swallowed up by a huge fish which coughs Jonah up on the shores of Nineveh!

The theological message of this story is quite obvious. God is in charge of our lives and has sent us here to carry out His will both in small things and not-so-small things. When we rebel and choose our own will above God's, our lives are thrown into turmoil!  We lose our peace of mind, tossing and turning at night, for instance, unable to sleep.

When was the last time I refused to follow God's plan for my life? How have I rebelled? What kind of turbulence has my disobedience caused others in my life?  We might also ask ourselves what needs to be "thrown overboard," so that we restore our relationship with God and one another!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Our Relationship with God

In today's first reading, Baruch 4: 5-12, 27-29, the prophet says to the people of Israel: "Fear not, my people! Remember, Israel, [that] you were sold to the nations not for your destruction; it is because you angered God that you were handed over to your foes. For you provoked your Maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods; you forsook the Eternal God who nourished you and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you.  She [Jerusalem], indeed, saw coming upon you the anger of God...."

Is it possible that we, too, today, have "angered God"?  Is it possible that we, too, today have "provoked [our] Maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods"--to money, to wealth, to power, to domination, to militarism, materialism, consumerism, sexism, hedonism, relativism and, any other "isms,"?

To what, I ask myself, have I turned for the "life in abundance" that Jesus promises us in the Gospels and, as a result, have "provoked" my Creator God, forsaking "the Eternal God who [nourishes me]?  Do I seek happiness, comfort, love, wisdom, counsel only in "no-gods"?  Or do I seek God in the solitude of my heart, in the Scriptures, in communal worship, in personal and familial prayer times, in honest dialogue with fellow disciples of "the Eternal God," who nourishes us with "the true bread that comes down from heaven"?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Rejoicing in the Lord

In today's first reading, Nehemiah 8: 1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12, Ezra, the priest, gathered all of the men, women and children old enough to understand to an assembly. "From daybreak until  noon, he read "the book of the law of Moses which the Lord prepared for Israel."  At every liturgical celebration the priest or minister also read from the Scriptures,  a "law," prepared for our instruction, inspiration and strength. As in the O.T. gatherings when "the scroll" is opened "so that all the people might see it (for he was standing higher up than any of the people)...," our priests, from the raised sanctuaries in our churches,  bless "the Lord, the great God, and all the people..." As in Old Testament gatherings, we, by our attendance at liturgical celebrations, are reminded that each day "is holy to our Lord" and that "rejoicing in the Lord must be [our] strength."

How true is this for you, for me? Is "rejoicing in the Lord" our strength or do we bypass the Lord and seek strength in places and in persons are who unable to lift us up and, in no way, are God substitutes?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Challenge of Discipleship

In today's second reading, Philippians 2: 1-11, St. Paul admonishes us to do "nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his [her] own interests, but also for those of others."  Paul's statement--"but also for those [the interests] of others," implies that it is important to meet one's own needs and the needs of others. Self-neglect will lead to anger and resentment.

In terms of doing "nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,"  we have Jesus as an example of these behaviors. "Christ Jesus,...though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped [vainglory]. Rather, he emptied himself [for our sakes]  taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" [regarding us more important than himself].

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 25, we pray:  "Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior."  Jesus teaches us, by example, to follow God the Father's way, as He, in fact did throughout his life for our sakes.  As a disciple of Christ, you and  I are challenged to set aside our pride and selfishness and, with the courage, wisdom, humility, and generosity of Jesus to do as He did--give our lives for others! May God give us the graces today to follow Jesus' example.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Angels' Assignments

Today we celebrate the feasts of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.   St. Michael, we know took on Lucifer and his followers who rebelled when it was revealed in heaven that the Son of God would become man. In a war in heaven St. Michael fought Lucifer and his followers and  cast them out of God's presence forever.  St. Gabriel was the messenger God sent to Mary to announce the incarnation of the Son of God. He was also the angel who counseled Joseph in a dream to take Mary home as his wife, as she had become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Gabriel also warned Joseph in a dream to escape to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod's murderous rage and counseled him when it was safe to return to Nazareth.  Rachel was the angel who healed Tobias blindness.

In today's Gospel Acclamation, we pray: "Bless the Lord, all you angels, you ministers who do his will" (Psalm 13:21).   In today's Gospel, John: 47-51, Jesus tells Nathaniel that he will see greater things than what he saw the day Jesus called him to follow him.  "Amen, Amen, I say to you you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man."

The angels continue to do God's bidding protecting us, counseling us, healing us, directing us in what God is asking of us.  They also stand in God's presence praising God and can to whatever God wills here on earth or in heaven, having the ability to be in several places at one time.

Lord, may I listen to your angels as did Mary and Joseph. May I accept healing as did Tobias. May I call upon my Guardian Angel every day, knowing that you send  angels to be at my side day and night, watching over me, counseling me, directing me to make right decisions, correcting my mistaken conclusions, as you did for St. Joseph, revealing God's will to be as you did for Mary, healing me as you did Tobias.  Thank you Jesus for the angels ministering to us here on earth as in heaven!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

God's Delight in Us

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 149, we make the following proclamation: "The Lord takes delight in his people."  I invite you and me to rephrase that to say: "The Lord takes delight in me."  When you are awed by the sunrise or sunset, think of God gazing at you with awe as well. When you are overcome with an intense sense of gratitude for your son or daughter or the new child that you have just brought home from the hospital following his/her birth, think of God being filled with intense gratitude for you.  Yes, God delights in you day and night!

In our darkest moments, you and I might totally disagree that God could ever "delight"  in us. We might deeply deny this possibility when we are filled with a sense of shame and guilt, when we may have just exploded in anger or made an assumption about someone and that assumption is proven totally untrue, or at moments when we may have failed to defend another person when such is being bullied or when we join a "gossip party".

However, God, I believe,  always sees us as redeemed by His Son, that is, clothed with a robe of salvation, made righteous by His Son's sufferings, death and resurrection (cf Isaiah 61: 10).  About you or anyone else,  God  says to us: "My thoughts are not your thoughts" (Is 58: 8-9).

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rejoicing in the Lord

"Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord."  These are the words of the Israelites through King David in Psalm 122, today's responsorial psalm..  Today's first reading recounts the rebuilding of the Temple of the Lord by the Israelites returning from exile.  In exile, they suffered greatly because they were separated from their homeland and from the Temple.  May you and I pine for the Courts of the Lord, as did the Israelites. Throughout the world today we have families pining for the opportunity to return home, not knowing even whether there is a home to which they can return because of floods, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, wars or what have you.

Like those pining to return to their earthly homes, all of us, hopefully, are also longing to return to the home from which we came when sent to earth to fulfill a mission. That home is eternal. We return to it through death's door, through which we enter eternal life. We leave the "womb" of this earth and return to God, who gave us an earthly life. For a time we here on earth are exiled from God, separated from seeing God face to face.

Are we eager to return to our eternal home, to the Living Presence of our God? Even if we pine for eternal life, we do not need to wait until we die for encountering the Lord, sitting at His feet, rejoicing in His presence.  God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator of all that is good, the Maker of our Universe and all that is in it, companions us every moment of every day. He walks beside us, counseling us, encouraging us, challenging us, comforting us, strengthening us.  For this incredible privilege of having God at our side day and night, let us rejoice and give praise, rejoice and give thanks, by the way we live life here on earth, loving others and ourselves, serving and helping others along the way to eternal life!  And may you and I grow in this awareness every day!

Monday, September 25, 2017

God's Marvels and Those He Works through Us

I today's first reading, Ezra 1: 1-6, the Israelites are being prepared to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.  Cyrus, king of Persia, says to the Israelites:  "'[God] has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!  Let everyone who  has survived [the exile] in whatever place he may have dwelt, be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, together with farewell offerings of the house of God  in Jerusalem.'"

What marvels the Lord has done for Israel throughout their entire history to the very moment they were released from exile in Babylon.  Imagine the elation of the Israelites when Cyrus king of Persia, released them to return to their holy city Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord.

You and I, with the Israelites and the author of today's responsorial psalm, can, when things are going well for us, truly pray:  "The Lord has done marvels for us."  However, when darkness prevails, when we are exiled from our "homes," praising God for His marvels may be more difficult. In those  moments of darkness or "exile", may you and I recognize our need for the light and for  release.  If, however, we experience being in the light and are comfortably, joyfully and peacefully at "home," may we have the wisdom and the courage to reach out to others in need. Let us be "Cyrus," recognizing that we have been charged to build God's Temple here on earth, that is, to further God's Kingdom of love, peace, joy and forgiveness to all those who feel "exiled" in some way.

What have I done, what have you done today, to be a light in other's darkness, to bring others to a sense of being freed from  a "foreign" place.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

God's Faithfulness

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 100, we are reminded that God's "kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations."  I entered prayer this morning after a discussion about our president and "mean-spirited" members of Congress bent on repealing the Affordable Care Act, depriving millions of healthcare and eventually, over time, eliminating Medicare as well.  I hear the words of  our president during his campaigning for the office of presidency: What we need in America are more billionnaires. His resolve to make the wealthy wealthier is abominable to me, is cruel to the poor and oppressed who have everything to lose, especially if he succeeds in his efforts to destroy ACA and DACA and other executive orders, including those that will bring destruction to Mother Earth!

Frustrated by how to make a difference so  what looks like evil will not triumph,  I turned to God and complained about what is happening as the result of the efforts of the president and members of Congress to "make America great again" according to their efforts to increase their personal wealth and that of corporations from which they seem to personally benefit.  I was reminded in the responsorial psalm that God is faithful "to all generations."  I thought of Moses when the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites. "As long as Moses kept his arms raised [in prayer] Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek." Let's paraphrase that statement: "As long as you and I keep our arms raised in prayer, evil will not triumph!" That does not mean that evil will disappear but it will not have the upper hand! Prayer is powerful!    God does care about  the poor and oppressed. God cares about immigrants and the so-called Dream children. God cares that the sick have healthcare coverage and do not have to choose between getting the medication they need and putting food on the table. God cares about those with pre-existing conditions who may lose coverage, and so on.  God cares about you and me. Let us care about our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus--all of them!

Given the situations we face in the U.S. and in the world today, we need, I believe, to get on our knees and pray for God's intervention to stop the evil being sought by Congress and world leaders bent on flexing their nuclear muscles or muscles that lead to war and violence.  We need God's intervention now!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jesus' Attentiveness to Need

In today's Gospel, Luke 7: 11-17, Jesus raises the only son of a mother to life as he is being carried out for burial.  Without the grief-stricken mother asking Jesus for help, He intervenes to dissolve her dire straits, as women in her culture who had no husband or no sons were doomed to the status of a slave, were treated as second-class citizens. They had little or no rights, were not allowed to attend worship, were not allowed to go out in public or to talk to strangers, nor were they allowed to testify in court.  Women in her circumstances were reduced to a level of helplessness that was, in my opinion, cruel.  Jesus was moved to compassion!

In our day, Jesus also is moved to compassion in the areas of our lives where we experience helplessness.  Are we willing to bring our helpless situations to the Lord? If not, why not?

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Gracious, Caring, Loving God

In today's first reading, 1 Tim 2: 1-8, St. Paul reminds us that there is only one God and one mediator between God and us, that is, Jesus Christ who "gave himself as a ransom for all."  Think of the men and women  for whom we hoped our government would have paid a ransom so they could have been freed from ISIS or any other terrorist group or governments who were inhumanely cruel!  Now think of our fate in having disobeyed our Creator God, choosing our will over God's will, and thus heading for eternal damnation, to being in the company of the Father of Lies, Satan himself, for an eternity of hell!

No way would God allow his sons and daughters to come to that fate. No, He loves His creation unconditionally and would pay any ransom to save us. He did that in Christ Jesus, His only begotten Son! "God," Saint Paul reminds us in 1 Tim 2: 1-8, "wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth." EVERYONE: you and me, every one of our family members, our relatives, our co-workers, our bosses, those we love, those we hate, those whose behaviors we abhor, whose behaviors are repulsive to us, whose behaviors seem motivated by ugliness, evil, prejudice, envy, greed and malignant narcissism.

God "wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth," that is, their truth of needing a God, of needing a Savior.

WOW! What a God--a God of compassion and of kindness, a God of love and forgiveness, a God of mercy!  May I and you, in turn, be loving, caring, merciful and forgiving of ourselves and of others--all others!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Feast of the Sorrowful Mother

With special permission from the Vatican,  the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother celebrate their congregational patronal feast day, the feast of the Sorrowful Mother, on the Sunday following the feast of the Sorrowful Mother, September 15th.

As I reflected upon Mary standing beneath the cross, my heart felt pierced by Mary standing their watching her beloved son die an agonizing death.  As Jesus walked up the hill to Calvary to be crucified, as He was scourged and crowned with thorns and covered with blood and wounds, as He died an agonizing death on the cross, Mary, too, was tortured as His mother, as any mother would have been to watch their beloved child, in similar circumstances, put to death!  And as He was dying, Jesus gives His Mother to us, saying to the beloved disciple standing with Mary: "Son, behold your Mother" and "Mother, behold your son."  Mary is our Mother, as she is the Mother of the Son of God made flesh. We are her daughters and sons, as is Jesus her son and our brother.

Mary stands by us in our sufferings, as she stood with Jesus.  She stands by every person in the process of dying physically or dying psychologically to selfishness, greed, envy, anger, hatred and other evils that may grip our souls.  May we, in turn, comforted by Mary, offer support to those who are in pain, whether that be physical, psychological or spiritual.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Our Relationship with Jesus and Others

In today's first reading, 1 Tim 1; 15-17, Paul says to Timothy: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.  ...[F]or this reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life."

Would you, would I, in evangelizing by our relationship with Jesus, admit that we are the "foremost" sinner? We may acknowledge that we have been "treated mercifully," but would we really admit that we have sinned above all?  Let us also ponder the thought that Christ's patience with me, with you, is an "example for those who would come to believe in...[Christ] for everlasting life."

Wow! May your mercy toward me, Lord, lead others to you! And, in turn, may I show mercy towards others as you show mercy to me every single day!