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!

Friday, September 8, 2017

What Mary and Joseph teach Us

Today we celebrate the birthday of Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, who was given to us by Jesus from the cross as He was giving His life to the Father as a ransom for our sins.  From the  first moment of  her conception, Mary was without sin, chosen by God to be the one from whom His Son would take on human nature, as God shared His love with us fully in the person of Jesus, our Savior.
Mary, at around the age of 14, is visited by an angel and told that she "had won God's favor" (Lk 1:31). The angel tells Mary to not be afraid and to "listen!" "You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the  Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the house of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end."  Mary asks how this will happen and when the angel explains God's plan, Mary says "yes," risking her very life by becoming pregnant outside of her marriage to Joseph. Joseph, in turn, plans to secretly divorce her to spare her any shame when, he, too, is visited by an angel in a dream. This angels says to Joseph: "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins" (Mt. 1:20-21). And Joseph, too, says "yes" to the Lord, risking his reputation in the process.

Both Mary and Joseph are God-fearing persons.  They reverence the Lord and have, no doubt, built a strong personal relationship with the Lord.  They both have learnt to communicate intimately with the Lord, to listen to His voice and follow God's instructions, no matter what the cost. What about you and me?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Delivered from the Power of Darkness

In today's first reading, Colossians 1: 9-14, St.Paul prays for his disciples, asking God that they be "filled with the knowledge of God's will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light." That is why Jesus has come to this earth and why, to this very day, lives among us and within us.  The prayer of St. Paul is fulfilled in each one of us because God has "delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved 
Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  When did and does God do this? at our baptisms, our confirmations, when we receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion,  and every time we carry out the good God inspires us to do. God also does this for us every time, like Peter in today's Gospel, Luke 5: 1-11, we listen to God's instructions when everything within us says: "That is not going to work, Lord," and we do it anyway for a "large, miraculous catch!"




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Willed by God

In today's first reading, Colossians 1: 1-8, St. Paul identifies himself as "an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God."  By whose will are you who you are?  Did you consult God before choosing the career that you have chosen or before choosing your spouse or before making any decision, for that matter? Or do you act independently of God, as though you were your own being apart from God? Something to think about!

Jesus tells us in  John 5: 19-20, that He does nothing apart from His Father and that He was sent by the Father; that is, that He did not come of His own will but the Father's (cf. John 6: 57).  Neither you nor I, whether we realize it or not, are capable of doing good apart from God. And, yes, we also have been sent into the world by the will of our God. Perhaps one of the missions we have been given is to realize this truth and to act out of that truth: we are God's and it is God's will that we progress in becoming the person He intends us to become and to give the kinds of service He wants us to give.

We also dependent upon God for being freed of that which deprives us of being the person God intends us to be, as with Peter's mother-in-law who was in bed with a fever (see today's Gospel, Luke 4 38-44). Through members of her family, Jesus intervened,  rebuking the fever and it left her. She got up and ministered to her family. We have been sent here to serve others, as did Jesus, and to build up the Kingdom of our Beloved, of our God and King!

My prayer is that whatever "fever" holds us back from doing the will of God in our lives will be rebuked by Jesus, as was the fever that took hold of Peter's mother-in-law. And may the "fever" that cripples our government officials from doing good for others be rebuked by Jesus, also!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

God as our Refuge and Nurturer

In the collect of today's liturgy, we pray: "God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, you may nurture in us what is good and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you nurtured."  Lord, you nurtured what is good in young men and women who were born here in the U.S. of Mexican immigrants--men and women for whom the road to citizenship was opened up by our former president and today closed by our current president! Lord, keep safe these undocumented men and women, many of whom have earned degrees here in the U.S., are contributing members, as were their parents, including those already deported and separated from their children here in the U.S.  May the evil being considered be blocked by men and women of integrity, men and women of good will, men and women open to all races, all cultures and all that is good.

Open my eyes, also,  Lord, when I am planning actions that will bring harm to others, that will deprive others of their basic human rights, actions that could be motivated by hatred and prejudice that I do not even know is operating within me. Free me, Lord, from hatred and bigotry, from unclean spirits, such as those that possessed the man in today's Gospel, Luke 4: 31-37, and that may have taken possession of many serving our country in government positions.   Free government officials, of any nation,  from unclean spirits!

In spite of what I see and hear on the news each night,  "I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living" (today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 27), though right now it seems as though evil is triumphing!   As evil descends upon us, in any form, may we cling to the Lord, who is our "light and [our] salvation...[and who is our] life's refuge," (Psalm27).

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Living in God

During my time of reflection this morning, I was given the image of ourselves living in God as a fish lives in water!  That was followed by imaging me creating a box. On the left, right, back, front and on inside would be written:

          God walks on my left, protecting me and giving me courage!
          God walks on my right, taking my right hand to strengthen me!
          God walks behind me to catch me when I fall!
          God walks in front of me to show me the way and dissipate any fear of what lies ahead!
          God lives within me, directing me and giving me wisdom to follow His Way!

Yes, just as a fish lives in water, so, too, do we live in God!

Today's first reading, 1 Thes 4: 9-11, assures us of God's choices for us, namely, that we "progress" in the knowledge of God and aspire to "live a tranquil life, to mind our own affairs, and to work with your own hands," and, yes, that we "love one another," as God has taught us to do, dissipating any fear of what lies ahead, knowing that God gives us the Wisdom, one day at a time, to follow God's instructions.  He also gives us each day the strength and courage to abide by God's teachings put forth for us in the Scriptures!

These are my beliefs!  What are yours? And what does God teach you as you reflect upon the Scriptures each day? 



Friday, September 1, 2017

Living through the Eyes of Faith

In yesterday's first reading, 1 Thes 3: 7-13, Saint Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are "reassured about you, brothers and sisters, in our every distress and affliction, through your faith."  Could those who know me, know you, be reassured in what they are going through because of our faith?  Do you, do I, live each day and look upon each circumstance of life through the eyes of faith?  "Night and day," Saint Paul tells the Thessalonians, "we pray beyond measure to see you in person and remedy the deficiencies of your faith."

May the deficiencies of your faith and mine be remedied. May our hearts be so strengthened that we are found "blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones."  This is Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians and for us. It is my prayer for my loved ones and for myself, so that our faith strengthens others and does not lead to their downfall, causing them to lose faith in Christ Jesus and especially to lose faith in Jesus' invitation at each Eucharist:  "Take and eat; this is my body given up for you. Take and drink of this cup; it is the blood of the New Covenant poured our for you" (Luke 22: 19-20).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Living the Gospel by our Lives

In today's first reading, 1 Thes 2: 9-13, St. Paul reminds his brothers and sisters that they "proclaimed to [them] the Gospel of God" with much "toil and drudgery. We "treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his Kingdom and glory."

As I reflected upon that passage, the thought came to me that each one of us could paraphrase this in terms of how our parents  and how they passed on the faith to us. They preached the Gospel to us by their limitless effort to clothe us, feed us,  and provide opportunities for our education.  Yes, they passed on their commitment to the Gospel with much "toil and drudgery".   They exhorted and encouraged us and insisted that we "walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls [us to this very day] into his Kingdom and glory."

Thank you, mom and dad. Thank you, grandparents. Thank you, teachers. Thank you, pastors and fellow parishioners.  Thank you, God!

May we,  like those before us, continue to live the Gospel by our lives!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God's Knowledge and Love of Us

Today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 139, opens with us acknowledging that God has "probed me and...[knows] me."  We go on to pray:   "O Lord,...you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it. Behind me and before, you hem me in and rest your hand upon me." 

God probes me! God knows what I am thinking.God knows what I am pondering. God knows my desires.  God know what motivates me to do what I do or not do what I do not do. God knows me more than and better than I know myself.   And yet God loves me beyond all telling! Why? Because God sees me as one redeemed in the blood of Christ. In Holy Communion, God visits me: "Take and eat," God said to the disciples at the Last Supper: "This is my body given up for you. Take and drink; this is the blood of the New Covenant" (cf Luke 22: 19-20)--the blood which saves us from Satan's pursuit every day. The Blood of Christ marks us as God's redeemed, as ones saved by Christ, just as the blood of goats sprinkled on the door posts of the houses of the Chosen People saved them from physical death.

Thank you, Lord, for this gift of faith!

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Power of the Gospel That Is Ours Each Day

In today's first reading, 1 Thes 1: 1-5, 8b-10, St. Paul, praises the Thessalonians for their "work of faith and labor of love, and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,...knowing...how [they] are loved by God, how [they] were chosen."  The Gospel, Paul says to them, has come to them "in power and in the Holy Spirit."  He thanks God that they have "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven,...Jesus, who deliver[ed them] from the coming wrath" of Satan and Satan's followers.

May you and l also praise and thank God for the "work of faith and labor of love, and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ"  that has been given to us through our parents and so many other faith-filled men and women, who to this very day, lead us to Jesus.  Like the Thessalonians, we, too, have been given the "Gospel...in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction." That conviction grows as we stand in awe of God each day,  pondering the readings of each liturgy or seeking God in the events of our lives as they unfold each day.  Through grace, as with the Thessalonians,  we are given the choices each day to turn "to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven,...Jesus, who delivers [us] from the coming wrath" of Satan and his followers!  Every day, God is at work in  our lives, delivering us from Satan's lies. How aware are we of this gift of God's love, this concern on God's part, to redirect us to the right path--the path that Jesus modeled for us while here on earth and to this very day.

THANK YOU, JESUS!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Learning to Love Others beyond the Family in Which I Grew Up

In today's first reading, Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22, we meet Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth.  Naomi's husband, a man from Bethlehem, and her two sons die. One daughter-in-law returns to Moab while Ruth insists on staying with Naomi:  "Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God." What love and what loyalty.  Ruth will not abandon her mother-in-law!

Jesus, in today's Gospel, Matthew 22: 34-40, is asked which commandment of the law is the greatest. It is the commandment lived out by Ruth.  "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind," Jesus responds.  Those loyal to their husbands and wives, to their mothers/fathers-in-law, to their daughters/sons-in-law are witnesses to the love Jesus about which Jesus talks.

How loving and loyal am I to the persons God puts in my life, whether married, single or a member of a religious community? Am I willing to leave my  homeland for another, as Jesus left heaven for earth to reveal God's love for us? Would I, like Ruth,  say to another: "Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you" when I know in my heart of hearts that that is the right thing to do?

Friday, August 18, 2017

God, our Defender

In today's first reading, Joshua 24: 1-13, God repeatedly reminds the people that whatever successes they achieved was not of their own power but because God intervened when they called upon Him.  "Because they cried out to [Me, I] put darkness between hour people and he Egyptians....[It was I who] delivered [the Amorites] into your power....Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab,...summoned Balaam, son of Beor, to curse you; but I would not listen to Balaam. On the contrary, he had to bless you, and I saved you from him."

Enemies rise up on all sides. However, with God on our side, we need not be afraid. As of old, God will deliver those who call upon Him!  God will save those who depend upon Him for their salvation.

Upon whom do I depend? To whom/what do I look for the help I need to overcome evil in my life, within me, around me, to do the good that I am invited to do every day?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

God's Justice

In today Gospel, Matthew 18,  21-19:1,  Peter asks Jesus how many times does he need to forgive those who sin against him: "As many as seven times?"  Peter asks.  Jesus responds: "Not seven times but seventy-seven times," Peter. Jesus then goes on to describe the Kingdom of heaven in terms of a king settling accounts with those who owe him money.  The king has a debtor brought before him  who owes way more than he could ever pay off. The debtor's master, therefore, orders that this person's "wife, his children,  and all his property be sold as payment."  The poor man, totally distraught, begs his master to have pity on him. "Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full." The master dissolves the debtor's entire loan. He owes nothing, nothing at all.

That is us, folks!  Because of our sins, we owe God a debt that, in no way, are we able to pay off. In his mercy, God resolves our debt entirely through the passion, death and resurrection of His only begotten Son, whom He sends into the world to reveal God's love for us! Jesus pays our debt! emus is our ransom!

Will we, by the way we live our lives in justice, love, mercy, and forgiveness accept God's pardon?  Or are we squandering God's gift of salvation by doing what the forgiven man did: treating others mercilessly?  "Should [we] not have...pity on [our] fellow servant[s], as [God] has pity on [us]?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Reconciling with a Person Who Hurt Us

In today's Gospel, Matthew 18: 15-20, Jesus tells us that if someone has sinned against us we are to personally go to that person and tell him or her how we have been hurt by their behavior.  We are also reminded that "whatever [we] bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever [we] loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  By going directly to the person who hurt us and sharing our feelings, identifying the behavior on the other person's part that has hurt us we then free that person and ourselves.  By not reconciling with the person who hurt us we keep that person, whether a citizen here on earth or in heaven, and ourselves bound.  Jesus did not say that the act of reconciliation would be easy but it is important for our freedom and the freedom of the other person, if that person is open to being reconciled or humble enough to acknowledge his/her wrongdoing. And even if our effort to become reconciled is not accepted, we free ourselves.

What am I willing to do to bring about reconciliation?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mary's Assumption into Heaven

Today we celebrate the assumption of our Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven body and soul.

In today's first reading from the book of Revelation, chapter 12: 19a; 12: 1-6a, and 10b,  St. John describes the heavens opening and he sees "the ark of [God's] covenant."  Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. She carried the Son of God in her womb for 9 months and gave Him birth.

Mary is described in this passage as being"clothed with the sun".  She is crowned with "twelve stars" and, for sure, those stars are more brilliant than any diamonds worn by a bride! Under Mary's feet is "the moon."    Take a moment to imagine this picture of Mary.

John sees Mary in pain,  giving birth and near her stands "a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems...The dragon stood before the woman...,[waiting] to devour her child...She gave  birth to a son,...destined to rule all the nations...Her child is caught up to God and his throne [and Mary] fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God. Then [John says that he] heard a loud voice in heaven say:

                     'NOW HAVE SALVATION AND POWER COME,
                     AND THE KINGDOM OF OUR GOD
                     AND THE AUTHORITY OF HIS ANOINTED ONE!'" (emphasis is mine)


From the moment of Jesus' birth "salvation and power" have come, as has the "Kingdom of our God and the authority of His anointed one!"  God rules to this very day in ways that those of faith are able to observe.  May we, in faith, seek to know this "salvation and power." May we look for God's Kingdom among us--the Kingdom of God is within us, Jesus tells us in the Gospels--and may we acknowledge the authority of His anointed one in our midst.


             

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Graciousness of our God

In today's first reading, Dt. 6: 4-13, Moses reminds the people that "[t]he Lord is our God, the Lord alone!"  For that reason, he tells them that they are to "love the Lord...with all [their] hearts, and with all [their] souls, and with all [their] strength."  The Lord God is so essential to their lives of well-being and plenitude, that they are to drill these words into their children minds, wear these words "as a pendant" on their foreheads, "bind them at your wrist" and "write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates."  In other words, never lose sight of this message!

Further on in this passage, Moses reminds the people that the land they possess, the cities they live in, the houses in which they reside are pure gift:  "you did not build"  the cities; you did not "garner the goods" in the houses in which you reside; you "did not dig the cisterns"; you "did not plant" the "vineyards and olive groves," and also remember "the Lord, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, that place of slavery."

And how true for many of us, most of the time, that the fruits of our lives--the goods we enjoy, the houses in which we live, the food we eat--we did not plant, we did not build, we did not sweat over!  God blesses us every day with an abundance; and, it is the grace of God that brings us out of that place of slavery that threatens to devour us of the peace, the joy and the love that God desires of us each day!  God wants to free us, as Jesus freed the boy in today's Gospel, Mt 17: 14-20, of any "demons" that deprive us of the freedom purchased for us by the blood of Christ.  Do we frustrate Jesus by our lack of faith, as did the disciples in the Gospel of today?

Thank you, Jesus, for saving us, healing and putting at our bestowal every day an abundance of God's graces!




Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Abundance of Graces from our God

St. Paul reminds us in today's first reading, 2 Cor 9: 1-10, that "God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work....The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness." Engaging in good works means dying to selfishness, pride, greed, and so much more that blocks graces that God wants to give us in "an abundance", as we are reminded in today's Gospel, John 12: 24-24, where Jesus says to us:  "Amen, amen, I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me."

In what good works was I involved today?  In what ways did God supply the seed I needed or multiply the good I did today?  How did God "increase the harvest of [my] righteousness" today? To what, today, did I die in order to produce the fruits of honesty, humility, kindness, compassion and love?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Facing "Giants": What do we do?

In today's first reading, Numbers 13: 1-2, 25-14:1m 26-29a, 34-35, we read about the Israelites being sent into the land of Canaan to "reconnoiter the land." They returned to Moses reporting that truly Canaan is a land flowing "with milk and honey," but that giants live there. "[T]hey are too strong for us....And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants."  Moreover, "[t]he land we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants."  The people wailed all night against God.  Fed up with them, God says to Moses and Aaron:  "How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me....Forty days you spent scouting the land; forty years you shall suffer for your crimes: one year for each day. Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me...."  So their time in the desert--not in the land flowing "with milk and honey"--would be extended!

We create our own deserts by grumbling against God, by refusing to trust in the Lord and the Lord's promises.  How often do we not exaggerate the difficulties of a job that God asks of us:  "It's too hard." "I can't do that." "All the other kids are giants compared to me."  "There are others far superior to me; much wiser than me; much smarter than me; far more experienced than me," might be our complaints against God on any given day!

Lord, have mercy on us when, like the Israelites, we do not trust you!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Asking for God's Mercy

In today's responsorial psalm, Ps. 51, we pray for God's mercy, asking God, in His goodness and compassion, to wipe out our offenses. We acknowledge that it is against God whom we sin; that we have done evil in God's sight. We also share with God our realization that God is justified in whatever sentence is put upon us for our sinfulness and insistent turning away from God to our idolatrous ways. Standing before God in our sinfulness, we beg God to create "clean hearts" within us and to renew within us, also, "a steadfast spirit." Cast us "not off from your presence and your Holy Spirit take not from [us]."

To triumph over evil  or any destructive force that might overwhelm us, we are totally dependent upon God. In Numbers 12: 1-13, the first reading of today's liturgy, Aaron and Miriam are confronted by God when they level complaints against Moses. Hearing of Aaron and Miriam's complaints, God summons them, along with Moses, to the meeting tent.  He makes it clear to Moses' sister and brother that Moses "bears [God's] trust: face to face I speak to him; plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the Lord he beholds.  Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?"  

As with Aaron and Miriam,  God knows when we sin against one another and will call us to repentance.  Like Aaron, may we have the humility to say to God, at some point, "Ah, my lord! Please do not charge us with the sin that we have foolishly committed!"





Monday, August 7, 2017

God's Got Our Back!

Both readings of today's liturgy, Numbers 11: 4b-15 and Matthew 14: 13-21, speak of God providing food for His people. In the desert God sent manna from heaven each day.   "At night, when dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell." In the Gospel, the disciples ask that Jesus "dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves" as it was getting late. Jesus replies:  "There is no need for them to go away." The disciples discover that someone in the crowd of 5000+ people has five loaves and two fish. Jesus takes "the five loaves and two fish" and feeds the crowd of "about five thousand men, not counting women and children." We are told that "all ate and were satisfied."  In the desert, on the other hand,  the people complained about  God's choice of responding to their hunger by sending them manna to eat. They were angry about having no meat.

In the Gospel, the disciples could not believe that there was anything that could be done to feed a crowd of 5000+ people with only two fish and fives loaves of bread.  God's response to the Israelites in the desert and to the disciples gathered around Jesus, is one of patience. God had a plan then and does now in your life and mine!

In these two stories, we could be like the Israelites in the desert who are fed up with "manna" and complaining that life, in the past, was much better than it is now. Or we might identify with Moses, who goes to God and says:   "Where can I get meat to give to all these people? For they are crying out to me 'Give us meat for our food.' I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you will deal with me, then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no longer face this distress."  Might we be like the disciples in the Gospel who want Jesus to send the crowd away and not be bothered to feed any of them?  Some of us might be like the person in the crowd willing to share the little he/she has, trusting that God will provide. And, finally and hopefully, many of us are like the people who are fully satisfied, at the end of any day, that God has generously met our needs this day so that, in turn, we can meet the needs of others as well.

Whoever you are in these stories, may you humbly go to God and share your story!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Being Led by Jesus "up the Mountains" of Life

Today we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration. Jesus, we are told in today's Gospel, Matthew 17: 1-9, "took Peter, James and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves." 
Jesus chose them to go with Him; they did not do the choosing. Jesus also did the leading; the apostles did the following.  On that high mountain, apart from the  busyness of everyday life and all that such entails, the apostles witness Jesus being transfigured: Jesus' "face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, 'Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.'"  The apostles were terrified, but "Jesus came and touched them, saying, 'Rise, and do not be afraid." When the apostles opened their eyes, "they saw no one else but Jesus alone."

Like the apostles, Jesus also chooses us to go apart with him from time to time: to church, out to the woods, to a park, up a mountain, on vacation, visits to special friends or time away with one's spouse, a friend, a child--some place where amazing things happen and we would like the time to never end and we say: "It good that we are here," or "It was right for us to take this time to enjoy nature, to enjoy one another, to get away for awhile."  We come back renewed and ready to face the challenges of our lives, as Jesus was prepared by Moses and Elijah to go up to Jerusalem and where the apostles were equipped, also,  to deal with the hard times ahead for them as well!

We need time alone with Jesus just like the apostles did. We need that time every day, even if it is a 5- minute break from work or from the kids, as we gaze upon an awe-inspiring sunset or relax with a pet or sit in the quiet of the evening with quiet soothing music!



Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Pressures to Please Others and Abandon our Beliefs

As I bring a week's retreat to close, I am ready to glean the results of that retreat in my daily living--back to ordinary time, so to speak!  Today's Gospel, Mt. 14: 1-12, brings us the story about Herod, Herodias and their daughter, who pleased Herod so much by her dance for him on his birthday that he promises to a give her anything she asks of him. Little did he know that, prompted by her mother Herodias, who wanted John dead, she would ask for the head of John the Baptist, a prisoner of Herod's at the time.  He certainly does not want to kill John but he also does not want to break his promise in front of his friends.  His integrity is at stake!  So he gives in to her!

How often do we betray ourselves, afraid of losing face with our friends, so we do what we really do not want to do, even if that means committing a grave sin.  Doing so, I believe, means that I have been unfaithful in small ways and thus am more vulnerable to committing graver offenses!  Without grace, without God, we are apt to go astray, to betray our innermost self that is one with God. We are likely to do this, not once, but often. St. Paul struggled, just as we do, to do what is right.  He describes that struggle, in part, in Romans 7:21-25: "...[E]very  single time I want to do good it is something evil that comes to hand [as with Herod and Herodias]. In my inmost self I dearly love God's Law [and so did Herod and Herodias, I believe], but I can see that my body follows a different law that battles against the law which my reason dictates. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body....Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." 

Lord, you know my weaknesses. You know that often I give in to the dictates of sin within me rather than following the guidance of the Spirit within my deepest self. Have mercy on me, Lord, when I fall into sin and give in to pressures outside of me, as did Herod's daughter and Herod himself.  Temptation is everywhere but so, too, are You, O Lord! I ask for the grace to call upon you, especially when I am tempted to follow the voice that opposes at the Holy Spirit at work within me. I ask for these graces in Jesus' name. Amen.






Saturday, July 29, 2017

What St.Martha Teaches Us

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Martha. Her story of complaining to Jesus about Mary not helping her, as well as the story of her grief that her brother died and Jesus delayed in coming, are well known to us.   Martha is very real with Jesus. She holds nothing back, as she and Jesus are very close friends. Martha is a model for us to imitate in developing a close relationship with the Lord.  Like her, we too, at times, might become overwhelmed with meeting our responsibilities to others and, sometimes, resent all we have to do.  Resentment will pile up, as it did for Martha, when we compare ourselves to others and resort to complaining about them not doing their share of the work or, more accurately, not meeting our expectations!

It is the responsibility of each of us to balance our work and our prayer time--alone time with Jesus. No one else can do that for us.  When we begin to feel overwhelmed, we need to look at how well we are taking time to meet our personal needs, especially our need for solitude and reflection, spending time at the feet of the Lord, listening to Him and sharing our concerns with Him, being utterly honest with the Lord about what we are feeling and thinking, what's bothering us and weighing us down and for what we are grateful and leads us to praising God.  Meeting the needs of others must include meeting our own needs as well.  Doing both leads to healthy relationships with others, ourselves and our God.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The I AM in Us

In the Entrance Antiphon to today's liturgy,  we say to God:  "I will sacrifice to you with a willing 
heart, and praise your name, O Lord, for it is good."  God revealed His name to Moses,  telling him that "I AM" sent him to free God's people from slavery.  The name of God, "I AM", is good.  It is a name above all other names! It is a name that saves, blesses, purifies, sanctified, frees us!  The I AM as incarnated is JESUS!  There is power in the name of JESUS.  And there is power in every name, calling us to be respectful of each person, and of ourselves, as an image of God!  JESUS was a total reflection of FATHER/MOTHER GOD. You and I reflect God partially, I believe. We will be a full manifestation of our FATHER/MOTHER GOD, I believe, in eternity, where sin will be no more!

In the meantime, may each one of us "sacrifice" to God "with a willing heart, and praise God's name, for it is good" and we are good. May we, through grace, discover the good within ourselves, within others, and throughout all of creation.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

God, the Sower of Seed

In today's Gospel, Mt. 13: 1-9, Jesus speaks to us about the sower who went out and sowed a bunch of seeds. Some fell on a well-used path and was quickly consumed by hungry birds. Other seed fell on rocky, shallow soil. It sprang up quickly but with shallow roots had no way to survive.  Still other seed ended up in soil populated with thorns. The thorns multiplied and choked off the seedling plants; they died.  And, yes, some seed fell on soil rich and yielded a rich harvest.

As I reflected upon this passage, I thought of many people who, in my mind, do not fit the description of soil  that yields a harvest worthy of the Kingdom.  The soil that these people cultivate does not bear fruit that will last into eternal life.

As I prayed, the Lord reminded me not to judge anyone but to follow Him and that He is God; there is no other.  Furthermore, the Spirit repeated that God sows good seed and that I need to prepare the soil of my  heart to receive it, nurture it, and allow it to bear fruit that will last into eternal life. It is important, I was reminded, that I do not let worries about what is going in the political arena choke off the seeds that the Sower is sowing.  "Trust me," God said to me in prayer, "and cast your cares upon Me. I am God; there is no other. I am a Warrior God, I will fight for what is right. And at the right moment, all those choosing evil will fall into the traps they are setting for themselves. I will not stop them against their wills.  Choose Me, Dorothy Ann. Choose Truth. Choose Love. Choose Life, not death." 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Death and Life of Jesus in Us

"...[W]e who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal bodies." We know "that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you his presence.  Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God."  Truly, "we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us"  (2 Cor 4: -15).

Dying with Jesus and rising with Jesus--all for the sake of others in order that "thanksgiving" will
overflow for the glory of God!  What a treasure and what a gift to be  an instrument in God's hands for "abundance" to be outpoured upon others, to be the "cause" of "thanksgiving" to gush forth from others in glory of God's holy name!

What a sacred mission! And as difficult as it is to be "given up to death for the sake of Jesus," what a grace to rise with Christ to new life in the dying to selfishness, to impatience, to pride, to fear, to avarice and greed and whatever blocks grace from flowing through us!  May we, each day, see patience, humility, courage, love, generosity, wisdom and all the gifts of the Spirit rise in us to the glory of God forever and ever. Amen!  


Monday, July 24, 2017

In Hot Pursuit!

In today's first reading, Ex 14: 5-18, the Egyptians regret having allowed the Israelites to leave their country.  "What have we done!  Why, have we released Israel from our service!"  Angry, they go in pursuit of the Israelites with full force:  "Pharaoh's whole army, his horses chariots and charioteers, caught u[ with them as they lay encamped..."  The Israelites see the Egyptians coming at them in to pursuit. Terrified and angry, they turn on Moses: "Were there no burial places in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert? ....Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today." Through Moses, God parts the Red Sea and the Israelites pass through it on dry ground, while Egypt's whole army parishes in the middle of their attempts to cross over and return the Israelites to being their slaves!

How challenging it is for us to leave the "Egypts" of our lives--those environments or attitudes or behaviors or  people that enslave us to evil or deprive us of the freedom God desires for us.  When we resolve to do what is right, the evil one does not give up. He pursues us just as the Egyptians pursued the Israelites. Do we "stand our ground"  until we "see the victory the Lord will win" for those who are faithful to His commands, seek is help and long to see His face.



Friday, July 21, 2017

The Call to Be Merciful, not Sacrificial

In today's Gospel, Matthew 12: 1-8, the Pharisees confront Jesus about his disciples picking grain and eating it on the sabbath.  Your "disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on sabbath," they complain.   Jesus tells them that he "desires mercy, not sacrifice" of his followers.  Yes, the disciples could have sacrificed themselves and not satisfied their hunger, but that is not what God was asking of them in Christ Jesus.  At other times, throughout His earthly  ministry, Jesus performs acts of mercy toward the sick and, then, too, the Pharisees rebuked Him.

In our spiritual or religious formation, many of us had it drummed into us that sacrifice is very important--in fact, I believe that I was led to perceiving sacrifice as far more important than mercy. "Mortify yourselves," we have been told.  "Make sacrifices for Jesus," was an oft repeated refrain. How often did we hear: "Be merciful," toward others. "Be understanding!"  "Be compassionate." And, as importantly: "Judge not!"

As I was bearing down upon myself for not spending more time in prayer, putting off meditation as I chose to relax in other ways and pray later, a friend said to me: "Dorothy, be gentle with yourself."  In other words: "Dorothy, God desires mercy, not sacrifice."  If I am harsh with myself, forever demanding more and more and more of myself, how am I am to be understanding, compassionate, merciful toward others?  How about you?


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

God's Calling

Today's first reading, Ex 3: 1-6, 9-12, gives us the story of Moses' call to free his people from the oppression of the Egyptians.  He is out tending his sheep near Mt. Horeb and sees a bush on fire but not being consumed.  He decides to check it out: why isn't this bush being consumed, he must be asking himself. As he is approaching the burning bush, he hears a voice saying to him: "'Moses, Moses'! He answered, 'Here I am.' God said, 'Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father,' he continued, 'the 
God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. The cry of the children of Israel has reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them. Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the children of Israel, out  of Egypt."

I can imagine the following dialogue between Moses and God: 

Me? I'm a murderer.  I fled Egypt to get away from Pharaoh, who had every right to kill me for killing an Egyptian.  No way can I go back there!

Moses, I am sending you back to Egypt to free my people. They are oppressed.

I will be killed if I return to that place. 

I will protect you!

Find someone else, God! I will not go!

Moses, I am God! Go free my people. You are under my protection.

Oh, Lord, okay! If you say so!  Please help me. I am vulnerable. I will be  depending upon  you.

And, under God's protection, Moses, scared to death, begins his journey back to Egypt!

You and I, also vulnerable and dependent upon God, are sent into "Egypts," big and little, to free others from whatever oppresses them, to lift burdens we ourselves may even have placed on other people's shoulders.  God goes with  us! God protects us. And, yes, God equips with the tools we need to do His bidding!






Tuesday, July 18, 2017

God's Providence

Today's first reading, Ex 2: 1-15a, tells the story of Moses' birth, his being placed in "a papyrus basket, daubed...with bitumen and pitch," and hidden in some reeds on the river bank. The baby was found at age three months by an Egyptian woman who recognized the boy as very special and belonging to an Israelite woman. He is rescued and eventually adopted by Pharaoh's daughter as her own son and given the name "Moses," meaning "I drew him out of the waters." When Moses grew up and saw an Egyptian fighting with one of his own kinsmen, he killed him. Fearing that Pharaoh found out about the murder, Moses fled to Midian.

The first stanza of today's Responsorial Psalm, Ps. 69, describes Moses' plight: "I am sunk in the abysmal swamp where there is no foothold; I have reached the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me."

You and I--in our sinfulness, in the weaknesses to which we give in when we lord it over others, when we  need to have things work out our way and we refuse to compromise, when we are obnoxious and prideful, when we do not follow the Spirit's lead--can also sink  into "the abysmal swamp where there is no foothold; [we can then reach] the watery depths; the flood [then can overwhelm us]."

With today's psalmist, I "pray to you, O Lord, for the time of your favor...In your great kindness answer me with your constant help....I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify him with thanksgiving...."

As we prayed yesterday at the liturgy,  "our help is in the name of the Lord" (Psalm 124).  With God at our sides, we will not sink into the "abysmal swamp where there is no foothold."



Monday, July 17, 2017

God's Unfailing Help and Rescue

In today's first reading,  Ex 1: 8-14, 22, we are told the story of how the Egyptians enslaved the       Israelites, oppressing them "with forced labor," reducing them to "cruel slavery, making life bitter for them with hard work in mortar and brick and all kinds of field work--the whole cruel fate of slaves."   Every boy born to an Israelite was drown at birth, to limit increased population of the Israelite nation.

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 124, the Israelites pray: "Had not the Lord been with us...when men rose up against us, then would they  have swallowed us alive, when their fury was inflamed against us.  Then would the waters have overwhelmed us; the torrent would have swept over us; over us then would have swept the raging waters. Blessed be the Lord, who did not leave us a prey to their teeth."  

We know the story of how God freed the Israelites from the oppression of the Egyptians, how they escaped through the Red Sea, in which the pursuing Egyptians' horses and charioteers and the whole Egyptian army drown. We also know the story of how God brought the Chosen People to the Promised Land, being with them in all the battles that ensued in route!

We, too, encounter many a hardship on our journey to the Promised Land of eternal life: wars, domestic violence, oppression by the cruelty of some bosses and/or employees; hard labor, natural disasters, unemployment, chronic illnesses, the "loss" of children who get lured into drugs and those who become victims of sexual predators, and on and on!

God is right there with each one of us when hard times come our way! We may not see God or feel His Presence, but God has a plan to free us, make us whole, and restore us to the life He intends for us.   It is God who "does not leave us the prey" of the teeth of "predators." "Broken is the snare, and we [are] freed. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth," the psalmist prays, and so do we!












Sunday, July 16, 2017

Being Fertile and Fruitful

In  today's first reading, Isaiah 55: 10-11, the Lord reminds us that "[j]ust as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but it shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it."

As a parent, imagine that each instruction that you give to your children bears fruit, that is,  it does not return to you void but accomplishes the good for which you intended it. Imagine, also that, because of your guidance--the words of wisdom you speak to them-- you see your children grow in grace and wisdom, in strength to do what is right, especially when peers are pressuring them to make choices that will bring them harm!  Your words, as stated in the Gospel of today, Matthew 13: 1-23,  "fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." And you are truly proud of you sons and daughters, your grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Now, apply this to your relationship with God. God instructs you every day, sending His Word to you through the Spirit who dwells within you, through the Scriptures read at a Sunday liturgy and explained in the priest's homily, or in your reflection on a cherished spiritual resource which we read each day.  The word "fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." And God is truly proud of you!


Friday, July 14, 2017

"Here I Am," God

In today's first reading, Ge 46: 1-7, 28-30, God calls Jacob in a nightly vision:  "Jacob! Jacob!"  Jacob answers: "Here I am."  God then asks him to not be afraid to go down to Egypt, "for I will make you a great nation. Not only will I go down to Egypt with you; I will also bring you back here, after Joseph has closed your eyes." In today's Gospel, Mt 10: 16-23, Jesus says to his apostles:  "Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves."

Jacob is asked to a go to a foreign country and to trust that his needs and the needs of his family and relatives will be provided for. He is promised that he will grow into a great nation, as well!  When Jesus sent His apostles out during his three-year ministry and afterward, following Jesus' return to His Father in heaven, He provides them with the strength and the courage and the wisdom they need--He baptizes them with the Holy Spirit!  The Kingdom of God spreads throughout the world--a great nation of believers is developed through their obedience to God. And the Church continues to grow to this very day.  Men and women, today, are also sent out "like sheep in the midst of wolves."  We are to be as "shrewd as serpents and simple as doves," guided by, empowered by, made "shrewd" by the Holy Spirit, who equips us with wisdom, courage, and strength to say "yes," "here I am," Lord, to do your will just as Mary did, just as You did when God sent you to redeem us.  Yes, we are sent to by God to be His heart and voice in a world that is corrupted by greed and power--a world that has become enslaved to idols, false gods,  and substitutes for God.

God comes to set us free!






Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Mystery of Suffering

In today's first reading, Gen. 44: 18-21, 23b-29; 45: 1-5, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers.  He forgives them for selling him into Egypt, saying: "I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you."  Joseph, a man of faith, interprets what was an harrowing experience as a blessing from God, a part of God's providence.  In Egypt, he was the victim of false accusation and thrown into prison: "They weighed down with fetters, and he was bound with chains, till his prediction came to pass and the word of the Lord proved him true" (Psalm 105). When that happened, "[t]he king sent and released him, the ruler of the people set him free. He made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions" (Psalm 105).

God worked marvels in Joseph's life, as He does in the life of all of us. God had a plan for him that initially looked horrible and which, in fact, was  a criminal act on the part of his brothers.  God wrote straight with crooked lines, so to speak, bringing God good out of evil and continues to do so for us today. You and I are the strong persons, the women and men of faith that we are today, because of the sufferings we have endured and which we survived, as was Joseph. In the midst of such suffering, however, we usually do not see God's hand at work. That does not mean that God is sleeping or does  not care.  He is very much molding, melting, and transforming us through the cross, just as our lives were made holy through the sufferings of Jesus on Good Friday. Clothed in faith, we are transformed by what we suffer for the sake of God! Joseph was and so were his brothers!



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Justice to a Fallen World

In  the entrance antiphon to today's liturgy, we pray:  Your merciful love, O God, we have received in the midst of your temple.  Your praise, O God, like your name, reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with saving justice."

God's right hand is filled with saving justice for the U.S.--for all nations.  Right now, given the probability of  immoral, unethical and possibly criminal activities surrounding the presidency of the U.S., some members of the President's cabinet as well as of our Congress, we desperately need God's saving justice to be brought upon those who are violating the values of our Constitution, the commandments of God and the teachings of Jesus given in the Gospels.

In today's first reading, Gen. 41: 55-57; 42: 5-7a, 17-24, in which Joseph demands justice of his brothers who come down to Egypt seeking food for their family, we are given an example of God's justice. In fact, when Joseph threw his brothers into prison for three days, they believed it was God's justice being meted out to them for what they had done to their brother. Justice, in our day, will also come to those in powerful positions who are treating others cruelly so they can line the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poor--yes, even possibly to the unnecessary loss of lives.

"O God," we pray in the Collect, "who in the abasement of your Son have raised up a fallen world, fill your faithful with holy joy, for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin you bestow eternal gladness."  Raise up our President, members of his cabinet and of our Congress from their "slavery to sin"--the sin of greed, the idolatrous worship of wealth.  Raise all us  up from that which enslaves us to Satan's allurements.  I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen





Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Wrestling with Good and Evil

In today's first reading, Gen. 32: 23-33, Jacob, in the course of the night, takes his family across "the ford of the Jabbok." Once across, his family leaves him alone. "Then some man wrestled with  him until the break of dawn. When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob's hip at its socket, so that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled. The man then said, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go until you bless me.'  The man asked, 'What is your name?' He answered, 'Jacob.' Then the man said, 'You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed....Jacob named the place Peniel, 'Because I have seen God face to face,' he said, 'yet my life has been spared.'" 

In today's Gospel, Mt 9: 32-38, Jesus Himself also "contended with divine and human beings"; in fact, He contended with evil spirits and overpowered them. Amazed people proclaimed: "Nothing like this has never been seen n Israel."

We, too, wrestle with God and with demons, who prowl the earth seeking someone to devour, St. Paul tells us in  one of his letters.  We struggle/wrestle with good and evil, with that which is ugly and that which is beautiful. With God, with Jesus, we shall prevail.  Grace will triumph in our lives, as it did in the life of Jacob (Israel), as long as we keep our focus on Jesus, walk and talk with Jesus, relying on Jesus, on our guardian angels and our patrons saints to protect us, to help us, to guide and direct us in all of our ways.

  

Monday, July 10, 2017

God's Messengers: Are We Listening?


In today's first reading, Gen 28: 10-22a, Jacob leaves Beer-sheba and proceeds toward Haran. He comes upon a shrine there and stops for the night. He has a dream: "a stairway rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God's messengers [angels] were going up and down on it. And there was the Lord standing beside him and saying: 'I, the Lord, am the God of your forefather Abraham [and foremother Sarah] and the God of Isaac [and Rebecca]; the land on which you are lying I will give to you and your descendants. These shall be as plentiful as the dust on the earth, and through them you shall spread  out east and west, north and south. In you and your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing. Know that I am with you; I will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land. I will never leave you until I have done what I have promised.'"

To this very day, I believe, that angels continue to descend and ascend from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven, bringing messages to us from God and from us to God, as well! Are we listening? Are we tuned into heaven or too busy with messages from our iPods, iPhones, Internet, and other electronic devices to hear God speaking to us through His messengers?  Quietly, the angels instruct us to make that phone call, to do this or not do that, to close the iPad, to shut down the iPod, to turn off the TV or radio or the Internet and become quiet.  Only then will we be prepared to hear the Holy Spirit or one of God's messengers revealing God's will to us.

"Know that I am with you," God says to Jacob and to us. God is also with us, standing beside us, walking on our  left and our right!  God never leaves us anymore than He left His chosen people as of old. His promises to us--as shared with us through His Son Jesus and written down by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John--God will never break!

Those are my beliefs! What are yours?

Friday, July 7, 2017

God's Solicitations and Invitations

O, the goodness of our God, revealed to us in today's Scriptures, Gen. 23-1-4, 19; 24: 1-8, 62-67 and Mt. 9: 9-13.  The first reading speaks of Abraham's loss of his wife Sarah, his arrangements for a burial place  for her in the land of Canaan, and his efforts to assure that a wife is found among his own kinsman (he is not a Canaanite) for his son Isaac, according to the oath God made with him.  One of Abraham's servants goes in search of a wife for Isaac among Abraham's kinsmen and both Isaac and Rebecca are looking for each other when the servant returns go Canaan.

God is no less solicitous for our well-being, from womb to tomb!  Just as Isaac and Rebecca, a kin-person of Isaac's, find each other, so, too, I believe, does each of us find the right persons to accompany us in our lives, either as spouses, friends, co-workers, or members of a religious community and/or priesthood.  God's will is established forever for  each one of us and, if as with  Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rebecca, we are searching for that will, we will truly find it and be blessed.

In the Gospel, Jesus finds Matthew at his "customs post" collecting taxes and and says to him: "Follow me!" Matthew follows Jesus and Jesus dines with him in his house...."  Where were you when Jesus called you to your vocation in life? How often do you invite Jesus to dine with you,  to share your home, to share your family and friends?

If not now, when?





Wednesday, July 5, 2017

God's Question to Us: What is the Matter?

In today's first reading, Gen 21: 5, 8-20a, Sarah demands that Abraham "[d]rive out that slave [Hagar] and her son [Ishmael]. No son of that slave," she declares, "is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!"  Abraham is upset, as Ishmael is as much his son as Isaac.  But God makes it clear to Abraham that he is to listen to his wife Sarah and give her what she wants and He will bless Ishmael and make of him a great nation, also. Both Isaac and Ishmael, God assures Abraham, will be blessed by the Almighty.  So, the next morning he sends Hagar and Ishmael packing, out into the desert they go!  When Hagar and Ishmael run out of water and death is likely--no one can survive in the desert without water--God intervenes. God's messenger hears Ishmael crying and calls Hagar from heaven: "'What is the matter, Hagar?Don't be afraid' God has heard the boy's cry in this plight of his.  Arise, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation.' Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.  She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.God was with the boy as he grew."   

What might we learn from this passage? Number 1: God takes care of everyone! Number 2: There are situations that blow our minds, that make no sense to us, but God shows us the way to sanity--trust Him! Number 3: When we have no out, God is the "in."  God watches over us and knows when His intervention is paramount to our survival!  In other words, God has our backs, so to speak!  I believe that!  What about you?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Jesus' Compassion

The centurion in today's Gospel, Mt 8: 5-17, approaches Jesus and says to Him:  "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." And Jesus replies: "I will come and cure him." The centurion responds immediately and humbly: "Lord, I am to worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant shall be healed."

Several things to which we need to pay attention.First, the centurion's attitude toward his servant, an employee of his.  He treats that servant as his own child. He is empathic, concerned and wants the best for him. He is moved by his servant's suffering and acts on his behalf.  He does not take his servant for granted and does not treat him as inferior to himself. They are equal in God's eyes and in the eyes of the centurion.  He does not lord his authority over him.  Second: The centurion's respect of Jesus. He addresses Jesus as Lord, that is, as one having authority.  He's probably heard, and may have even seen miracles which Jesus has performed on behalf of the sick, of those burdened with long-term debilitating illnesses.   The centurion's faith and trust in Jesus is unshakable. He simply states the problem: "My servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully."  Third: Jesus' immediate response to the centurion's trust and faith: "I will come and cure him."  No hesitation!
Fourth: the centurion's humility and recognition of who Jesus is!  O, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter my roof; only say the word and my servant shall be healed!"

What about you and me? How respectful are we of others? How concerned about them when they are in pain? Do we act on behalf of others, going the extra mile, leaving our comfort zones to help
another person?  What about our trust and faith in Jesus as one who heals, as one who has our best interests in mind?  Do we even go to Jesus with our concerns or is He the last person  we think of when facing problems among ourselves, our family, our co-workers and/or employees, or personal problems?

Friday, June 30, 2017

God's Promises

The incredible love of our God! In the first reading, Genesis 17: 1, 9-10, 15-22, God appeared to Abraham, who is 99 years of age,  and asked that he and his descendants keep His covenant. He also promises Abraham that, a year from that day, his wife Sarah, who is 91, will bear him a son (Isaac):  "Him ...will I bless; he shall give rise to nations, and rulers of peoples shall issue from him." Abraham  laughs and objects, like saying: "Us, at our ages? You got to be kidding."  "Let...Ishmael live on in your favor." And God says: "As for Ishmael, I am heeding you; I hereby bless him," also.

 God cares about and directs the lives of all: those we treat  poorly as Ishmael and Hagar were treated by Sarah, as lepers were treated in Jesus' day (see today's  Gospel, Mt 8:1-4), as immigrants and the poor and the  vulnerable are being treated in our day by members of Congress and by the president of the U.S., as children and women are being treated by adherents of human trafficking, drug trafficking and those involved in the forced labor industry. All  are God's children. And all are here for a purpose designed by their Creator.

What is your purpose?  And, yes, we need to ask ourselves: whom am I treating poorly? About which of God's promises to me or anyone else am I laughing?  

   

Thursday, June 29, 2017

God Plans Being Fulfilled

As we celebrate the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, we are given the powerful Scripture passage from Acts 12: 1-11, in which we are told of Peter's imprisonment and the miraculous intervention of an angel.  Herod has Peter shackled hands and feet, secured by double chains and guarded by "four squads of four soldiers each."  On the very night when he is to be brought to trial, an angel taps Peter on his side, awakens him and says: "Get up quickly." We are told that the chains then fall off Peter's wrists and he is further instructed to put on his belt, his sandals and his cloak and follow the angel out of the prison, past a series of guards and through a locked gate that suddenly opens all by itself. Imagine being Peter! He must have wondered: "What the heck is happening to me? Am I dreaming? Is this real?" And suddenly, he finds himself a free man and the angel is no where to be found!

St. Paul also experiences in his life a powerful intervention that confirms that God has plans for him that he, also, never dreamt of--he is knocked down on his way to Damascus, blinded by the light and given back his sight miraculously by Ananias, who the Lord instructs to assist Paul, the man who was on a mission to imprison Christians! Ananias initially resists, saying: "No way, Lord. This man is a dangerous person. I want nothing to do with him."  The Lord prevails!  God's plan will become a reality for Paul, as for Peter! And it will for you and me and the world, as well!

God works in your life and in mine and in the world of our day, as He did in the time of Peter and Paul.  Unfortunately, the news media focuses mostly on the presence of evil in our world and so we may be less aware of the presence of good, the presence of angels and the interventions our God.

I might ask myself:   What is your focus? For what are you looking?  I can look for the good and focus on it or I can focus mainly on the evil, on sin, on the negative within myself and within others. Upon what do you focus?


Monday, June 26, 2017

Trusting and Focusing on the Lord

In today's first reading from Genesis 12: 1-9,  we encounter  75-year-old Abram, whom the Lord has just asked to take leave of his father's house and go forth to a land that God will show him.  It's like God said to Abram: "Just leave! Just trust me and start out on a journey. I will reveal your destiny. I know where  I want you to settle!"  Not only that, but God says to Abram: "I  will make of you a great nation--Abram and Sarai are childless--and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you." 

Abram, we are told, "went as the Lord directed him" and "journeyed on by stages...." Along the way, Abram is accompanied by the Lord--the Lord reveals himself and speaks with his servant throughout the journey. At certain points on the journey, Abram builds altars to the Lord and worships Him.

We are not unlike Abram. As with Abram,  God directs us along our faith journey, as well.  At one time or other, each of us has been asked to leave "our father's house".  We did so when we married or entered religious life or set out on a career as a single person to follow a dream that we believed was a calling from God.  God went with us, walking behind us or in front of us, at our right and left side, never leaving us alone. Along the way, God has blessed us and, without us knowing it, stopped others from "cursing" us or tripping us up.  Whatever obstacles we encountered, God helped up over the hurdles and continues to do so.  Like Abram, hopefully, we have special places where we set up , or seek out, altars to worship the Lord.

Truly, we are walking on holy ground as the Lord sanctifies it and us as we journey to our eternal home in imitation of Abram, who has gone before us!