Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day

M—Memories of Veterans swirl through my mind this day, grateful for the sacrifices each has made on our behalf.
E—Events of war, to this very day, brings up images of fallen soldiers and civilians offering the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for us, just as Jesus did to save us from total destruction and bring us to our eternal home. Veterans, you are awesome!
M—Moons ago, you, dear Veterans, may have fought in a war that maimed you physically or scarred you emotionally. Those scars never really leave you, no more than the scars of the crucifixion have left Jesus. They will shine in glory for an eternity of a life where you will, too, shine brilliantly!
O—Oh, may we never forget the price you Veterans paid for our freedom as a nation.
R—Really and truly, you Veterans are our celebrities, deserving to be memorialized on our sidewalks and highways throughout the U.S.
I—In all truth, you Veterans are the ones who deserve salaries that support you and your families throughout your life times with no worries of how to provide for your families from womb to tomb!
A—All Veterans are to be respected for their loyalty, courage, and self-sacrificing love of country. Thank you!
L—Let your heads be lifted high, as you recall your years of service, your dedication, your bravery, and efforts to save lives while risking your own!

D--During this Memorial Day and always, may the Lord shower down an abundance of blessings upon you and your family.
A—And may you know a peace the world cannot give.
Y—Your reward in heaven, I believe, will be great and will shine with a brilliance that you deserve. Your story deserves to be heard. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

One with Our Creator

In today's first reading, Acts 17: 15, 22-18:1, Paul speaks to us of our origins: In God, Paul tells us,  "we live and move and have our being....[W]e are the offspring of God"!

We spring off of God. God has given "life and breath"  to every member of the human race and has given us the option of dwelling "on the entire surface of the earth."  God also made the entire universe for us: the sun and the stars, the galaxies, each of the seasons--spring, summer, fall and winter.  He set boundaries for each of the seasons, for each of the bodies of water, for all humankind, really, so that we  "might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us,"-- remember that we "live and move and have our being" in God Himself.

WOW! Listen to God say to you personally:

"(Your name)____________, I, your God, made the world for your enjoyment, for your learning about Me.
I, your God, made all that is in the world as a means for you to "grope" for me and "find" Me.
I am not served by any of you because I need nothing from you (See this statement in this passage of Acts).
I serve you, bathe you in grace.
I protect you from the Evil One.
My Son returned to Me on Ascension Day in order to send you the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and He is preparing a place for you in heaven.
I, Your God, am the one who sent My Son to take on human nature. He lives in Me and I in Him. He was sent to show you my love for you by ransoming you from death by His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. By His death and resurrection,  He destroyed death's power over you. So, if you believe in Me, I will see you in heaven, also."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Being Cherished by the Lord

In today's first reading, Acts 16: 11-15, we meet Lydia, a woman who worshipped God and listened intently to Paul and his companions proclaim the Lord Jesus. As she is listening to Paul, the Lord "opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying." Graces poured into her heart and she and her household asked to be baptized in Christ Jesus.

As you and I listen to the Word of God that comes to us in the Scriptures, in our participation in sacred liturgies, or through others witnessing to the Lord, our hearts, too, are opened by Jesus.  Graces pour in and, like Lydia, hopefully, graces pour out onto others with whom we interact throughout the day!  Triumphantly, through the Holy Spirit operative in our lives, we live the Pascal Mystery as the day unfolds, having sat at the Lord's feet in prayer.

Because of the mercy and compassion of the Lord, we experience what the psalmist in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 149, says to us; namely, that the "Lord takes delight in his people, and "adorns the lowly with victory."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Whispers from the Spirit

In today's first reading, Acts 16: 1-10, Paul and Timothy are traveling through various territories and are prevented from going into certain provinces.  The "Spirit of Jesus did not allow them," we are told. In a night vision, Paul is requested to "[c]ome over to Macedonia and help us"and Paul and Timothy do so.

You and  I, like Paul and Timothy, know when the Lord prevents us from doing something we thought was right. We may hear a whisper within us saying: "Don't go in there.""Don't do that!" "Go talk to so and so." "Sit down and be quiet!"  "Ask forgiveness; say you are sorry."  "Volunteer at such and such a place." "Stop seeking revenge," or whatever!  The Spirit now, no less than in the days of Paul and Timothy, guides Jesus' disciples and those who follow God faithfully.

My prayer:  Lord, may I listen to Your instructions, as did Paul and Timothy, and know also when you are preventing me from going in a certain direction when what I am pursuing is not in accord with Your holy will for me or is a choice that will lead me into Satan's trap! Your Spirit, Lord, does not ever mislead me!  May I grow in trusting You, even in the smallest things of life each day: smile, listen to this child, visit this elderly parishioner/Sister, invite so and so to lunch, take time to reflect on today's Scripture readings, pray the rosary, go for a walk out in nature, and so on!  Thank you,Lord for the guidance of Your Spirit. Amen.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friends of God/of Jesus

In today's first reading, Acts 15:22-31, the apostles and presbyters choose representatives to go to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to address a serious issue. In the Gospel for today, John 15: 12-17, Jesus tells us that He chooses us and sends us out into the world to bear fruit that will last (that fruit is love).  The God of the Universe chooses us. "It was not you who chose me," Jesus says to us, "but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain..."

Moreover, in this same passage, Jesus tells us that He no longer calls us slaves, "because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard fro my Father."  As a friend of Jesus, you and I can approach Jesus anytime to confide in Him, to seek His counsel, to share the intimacy of our lives with Him.  We are always welcome into His presence.

What an awesome God! What a privilege to be God's/Jesus' friend, His confidante, His beloved son/daughter!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Vine and the Branches

In today's Gospel, John 15: 1-8, Jesus says to us:  "I am the vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you."

Attached to Jesus, the Vine, I am fed with abundance and equipped to do whatever good the Spirit prompts me to do in Jesus' name.  Attached to Jesus, I am able to weather whatever storms I encounter in life this day.  Attached to Jesus, I am able to see through the darkness I may encounter on any given day. Attached to Jesus, I am purified of the lies I "swallow" without being critical of what I hear. Attached to Jesus, I am purified of sin that I may have committed this day.  Attached to Jesus, I am made whole and enlightened. Attachment to Jesus makes me a recipient of Jesus' Wisdom, Jesus' strength, Jesus' courage, Jesus' prudence, Jesus' abundance, Jesus' inheritance and Jesus' divine life! WOW!

To remain attached, I need to seek Jesus above all, drink at the "well" of Jesus' words--the Holy Scriptures, receive the sacraments, and live as Jesus' lived. In short, as we are told in Micah 6: 8, Yahweh asks only this of you: "to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God." When we do these things, we remain attached to Jesus.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship

In today's first reading, Acts 14: 19-28, we are told that Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived to the place where Paul was proclaiming Christ. These Jews won over the crowd and stoned Paul, leaving him for dead. When disciples of Jesus surrounded Paul, he got up.  These disciples with Paul left for Derbe, where they strengthened the faith of others, exhorted them to remain true to the faith. They also reminded the disciples of Jesus in Derbe that they would suffer much for their faith but not to waver.

I am left when several questions: Do I strengthen others in the faith or do I weaken other's faith by my lack of love and compassion, by my impatience, by my judgmentalism? Do I make life difficult by my grumbling or complaining when I encounter difficulties?  Do I realize that discipleship is costly? And, do I realize, that, like Paul, I sometimes need other disciples to help me get up when I am down?

Jesus tells us before returning to the Father that, like Him, our journey of faith will encounter hard times.  Many times, the difficulties we encounter are unexpected: friends and family turn against us or we are shunned because of our beliefs. Doors are closed in our faces when we think that what we are doing is something to be welcomed or appreciated, or, at least, not blocked.

Jesus says to us not to be afraid, for He has conquered the world, that is the ruler of this world, Satan. We, too, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will overcome the world of sin, of selfishness, of fear--of all that is not of God. And, like Jesus, we will learn obedience from what we suffer,as did St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Frances Streitel, the Foundress of my religious community, to name a few.

These are my beliefs! What are yours?

Monday, May 15, 2017

To God Be Glory Given

In today's first reading, Acts 14:5-18, Paul and Barnabas, through their faith in Jesus and the faith of the man needing healing, restore a man to health, saying to him: "Stand up straight on your feet," and he does.  The crowd immediately proclaimed:  "The gods have come down to us in human form," and prepare to "to offer sacrifice" to Paul and Barnabas.  Appalled, the apostles "rushed out into the crowd, shouting, "Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you human beings?"

How easy to get lured into being worshipped! How easy to want the glory and the honor that belong to God! How easy, in fact, to expect privileges that belong to God alone and only to God, not to ourselves.  In today's responsorial psalm we pray:  "Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory because of your mercy, because of your truth....Our God is in heaven' whatever he wills, he does. their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men [human beings]."

Lord, I ask for forgiveness for the times that I worshipped "the handiwork" that the Holy Spirit  created using my hands, my intelligence, my creativity. Forgive me for the times I wanted to be glorified and did not give the credit for the good I accomplished through You.  "Not to [me], Lord, but to your name give the glory."  May I learn this lesson, Lord!  Thank you!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The gift of salvation

In today’s Gospel, Jn 12: 44-50, Jesus tells us that He came into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it.  He also reminds us that the one who rejects Jesus, and does not receive Jesus’ word, “already has a judge: the very word I  have spoken will condemn [that person] on the last day.”   If I do not believe in Jesus, I also do not believe In him who sent” Jesus and my  unbelief in the Word of God is what condemns me, not God Himself.  I believe and continue to believe that the God who created me, saved me in Christ Jesus and continually sanctifies me in the same Lord and Master enters your life and mine to save us, not condemn us. That is why I pray every day for persons throughout the world that their eyes, and ears, and hearts will be open to God’s love, that all will repent of any wrongdoing and turn to the Lord for mercy!

What is your belief?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Hand of God Was with Them and Is with Us

In today’s first reading, Acts 11: 19-26, we learn that those who had been scattered by the persecution that followed the murder of Stephen did not cowl in fear but went forth to other places to proclaim “the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them,” the author of Acts, tells us, and “a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” Barnabas was sent to Antioch and, when he arrived, he “saw the grace of God,” and  rejoiced and encouraged the people to whom he had been sent to “remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart.”

Wow! What testimony! What courage! And what a commitment to the Lord God! Would you and I, I ask, after witnessing a disciple of the Lord being stoned to death and fleeing persecution continue to “proclaim the Lord Jesus”?  Would we, in arriving at a new city/town/country recognize “the grace of God” working in strangers? Do we recognize God at work in those with whom we live? Within those with whom we worship each Sunday? Within our co-workers? 

May we, every day, take time to reflect upon the Scriptures of the daily liturgy, or any other Scripture or spiritually-uplifting reading. Doing so, we will grow in our awareness of God at work in others, and in ourselves. We will awaken our ability to rejoice and encourage others in their faith development and in using their faith to bring others to Jesus!

Monday, May 8, 2017

God's Inclusivity

In today's first reading, Acts 11: 1-18, while St. Peter is at prayer, he sees a vision of "something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners..." "It came to me," Peter says.  In this sheet were "the four-legged animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky."  Three times, Peter hears a voice that said to him: "Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat." Peter refuses! No way will he slaughter unclean animals, wild beasts, birds or reptiles.  He then hears a voice that says to him:  "What God has made clean, you are not to call profane."

Who or what do I label profane or unclean, not worthy to be spoken or listened to or invited to my table? Is that person a Democrat? a Republican? a Trump or a Clinton? An Obama? A black person? a white person? a Korean? a Phillipino? a Russian? an Englishman/woman? Anyone from a culture I have been taught to despise?  Anything that I have learnt to shun?

Monday, May 1, 2017

For What and for Whom Am I Looking?

In today's Gospel, John 6: 22-29, the crowd of 5000 men, whom Jesus had just fed the day before with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, went in search of Jesus. They found him on the other side of the sea.  They ask Him: "Rabbi, when did you get here?"  Jesus answers them:  "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled."

Our motivations are not hidden from Jesus.  He knows what we are up to, all of the time, and easily could say to us when we attempt to pull the wool over his eyes: "Don't give me that. I know why you are here! I know for what you are looking.  Your motivations are clear to me, even is you are not being honest with Me or others or with yourself. Jesus is not being sassy with us but letting us know that we need to be honest and inviting us to be so.  Are we looking for Jesus? Truly? Are we, in fact, looking to do the will of God and how to build up the Kingdom or are we pursuing  self-interests, especially at the expense of others?

May we, through the work of the Spirit within us, grow in awareness of our motivations and come clean with God, with others and with ourselves. May we seek the Truth that sets us free!