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).