Thursday, December 13, 2018

Transformation through Emmanuel with Us

In today's first reading, Isaiah 41: 13-20, the Lord speaks through the prophet, saying to us:  "I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.' Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the Lord; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and double-edged, to thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff. When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off and the storm shall scatter them. But you shall rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the Holy One of Israel."

Reading this, I am, at first, offended by the Lord describing Jacob and Israel as worms and maggots. What? a worm? a maggot?  Then the thought came to me of the transformation of each of us when, as Isaiah says later in this passage, we are made "a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and doubled-edged, to thresh the mountains [of sin] and crush them, to make the hills chaff."   What are we, in Christ Jesus, threshing and turning into chaff which the wind blows away?  Mountains of pride and selfishness, of deceitfulness and corruption; in short, sin in us is transformed, by grace, into holiness! All of this leads us to "rejoice  in the Lord, and glory in the Holy One of Israel."

Through the shedding of His blood on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, Jesus clothed us with a mantle of justice and put a robe of salvation on us. In our baptism we died with Christ and rose with Him; hence the "mountains" are crushed and the "hills"turned to chaff, rough ways are made smooth and the heavens are opened for the redeemed!

That is why God became human!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

God's Design and God's Purpose

Today we celebrate the feast of  Our Lady of Guadalupe--Mary's appearance to Juan Diego, a Native American belonging to the Aztec tribe!   As with Jesus, Mary's love for the poor and oppressed are revealed in this visit to Juan Diego.  Because the bishop did not at first believe Juan Diego that Mary wanted a cathedral built on the spot where she appeared to him, he asked Mary to choose someone else. And Mary said "No, I have chosen you."  The Bishop wanted proof, so Juan Diego asked for such and was told that there would be roses on a snowy hill nearby. He found the roses and wrapped them in his cloak and took them to the bishop. When Juan Diego opened his cloak and gave the Bishop the roses, there on his cloak was an imprint of our Blessed Mother clothed as an Aztec woman. Many miracles have occurred  for the Mexican people through the intercession of Mary in the cathedral built at her request.

Like Juan Diego and like Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe,  and like so many others who have gone before us, each one of us has been called to fulfill God's design and purpose that only we, with God's help, are able to do.  If we refuse, that particular purpose is not accomplished. God designed it so! We might, as was the case with  Juan Diego, want God to choose someone else whom we believe is better equipped to carry out what God is asking of us; however, God choose you and me for a specific purpose and equips us to carry out His design no less than He equipped Juan Diego and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to do what was theirs to do.  When what is being asked of us seems too difficult, and we encounter our weaknesses, that is when God intervenes for us. At times like those, we also know much we depend upon God to empower us to do the good that is ours to do. May you and I humbly step up to the plate and embrace God's will for us as Mary and Juan Diego did!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

God Rules with His Strong Arm

In today's first reading, Isaiah  40: 1-11, Isaiah asks us to "comfort, give comfort to my people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.  Indeed, she has received from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins....A voice...[cries] out [that] [a]ll flesh is grass, and all their glory like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it. So then, the people is the grass. Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of the God stands forever....Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules with his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms her gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care."

We belong to God. Because we are God's creation, God's cherished children, God did not hold anything back in His love for us.  His recompense is our salvation secured for us by the death of
God's only begotten Son, by God in human form put to death as a criminal!  As on Calvary, so, now, God "rules with his strong arm." God gathers us in his arms, carries us in his bosom, leads us with care now and always until that moment with "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken....A voice....[that] says...."Here is our God! Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm."

My faith tells me that God is always in work in our world: in the earthquakes, the fires, the disasters, the mud slides, the floods, the rescues, the surfacing of truth, the generosity of persons reaching out to help those in need, the divisions caused by greed, dishonesty, injustice.  What looks like disaster, as on that very first Good Friday, will at some point give rise to new life!  Why? because God "rules with his strong arm."

Monday, December 10, 2018

God's Desire for His Healing Power to Flow into and out of Us

In today's first reading, Isaiah 35: 1-10,  Isaiah says to us: "Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save [us]. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing....A highway will be there, called the holy way; no one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it. No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it.  It is for those with a journey to make and on it the redeemed will walk. Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will  meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee."

I read that with intense gratitude for God's graciousness to us, His immense love.  God held nothing back to secure salvation for those who believe!  God showed His love to us in Jesus' life, death and resurrection!  In today's Gospel, Luke 5: 17-26,  the love of God for His people is shown in Jesus' healing all those  who personally sought Him out or of those brought to Him by others, including the paralyzed man dropped in front of Him through the roof of the house in which Jesus was sitting. The people who brought this paralyzed man to Jesus would let nothing stop them from getting this man the help for which he longed. They were as persistent to receive God's gift of healing as God is persistent to give us this gift, be it physical, psychological, or spiritual healing.

I believe! What about you?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Glory of God's Voice within our Hearts

In the Entrance Antiphon to today's liturgy, we are reminded that "the Lord will make the glory of his voice heard in the joy of [our] heart[s]."  Am I hearing that voice? And, if not, what is blocking me from hearing it? Am I keeping myself too busy? Are my thoughts clouded with the noise of anger, jealousy, or worry?  Have I shut God out in my pursuit of security in material things? Have I hardened by heart by a lack of gratitude, by pride, by hatred and prejudice?  Have I chosen people, possessions and power as my gods?

It is never too late to turn back to the Lord, to seek the Lord above all else, to repent and be saved! If we have gone astray, God, like the father of the prodigal son  (Luke  15: 11-32), waits for our return with arms open in mercy!  His love for us never wavers! God who, as St. Paul says to us in today's second reading, Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11,   "began a good work in you [and me on the day that we were baptized and He] will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus."  Yes, it is God's will that we enter into His glory when we die, that is, that we accept the free gift of salvation!  Is that your will/my will? Let us prove it by living lives of integrity, honesty, purity, love, mercy and justice.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Mary's Immaculate Conception

Today the Catholic Church celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception--yes, we believe and the Catholic Church has proclaimed that Mary was free of sin from the moment of her conception!  Jesus took on humanity in  her pure body!

Mary was conceived without sin. You and I were redeemed from sin.  We open today's liturgy with a prayer of praise concerning the gift of salvation:  "I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bride adorned with her jewels."  How generous is our God!  God's intent is that we are one with Him forever. Satan's intent is to bar us from eternal life with God. He began his pursuit of that goal in the Garden of Eden, where he tempted both Adam and Eve. Both fell to his lies of becoming like God and that the limits of not eating of a certain fruit were foolish.  God's instruction: "You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil; when you eat from it you shall die."   Cunningly, Satan approached Eve and asked:  "Did God really say, 'You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden?"  After placing that doubt in Eve's mind, Satan says: "You certainly will not die!  God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.'  The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom, so she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with  her, and he ate it." The rest of the story is history and Satan has been at work ever since, doing to us what he did to Adam and Eve and every day people get caught in Satan's trap!

Satan may be powerfully cunning, a liar who sets traps for us and gets us, many times, in our weakest spot, our desire to be a god, to be subject to no one, to rely totally on ourselves as "know-it-alls" who put our hands over our ears when someone tries to awaken us to the wrong in which we might be engaged.

God knows our vulnerabilities and that is why God clothes us with a "robe of salvation" and wraps us "in a mantle of justice."  Through Mary's intercession and by virtue of Jesus' death on the cross to save us from Satan's power, may you and I, now and forever, be cleansed of our sin and embrace salvation as it is offered to us over and over again, especially when, like Adam, we know our nakedness and hide from God, recognizing that we have fallen for Satan's lies!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rejoicing in the Lord, our God

In today's first reading, Isaiah 29: 17-24, Isaiah prophesies about a time when "the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; all who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a man, who ensnare his defender at the gate, and leave the just man with an empty claim." 

On that day, the humble, those alert to do good, those who are ready to forgive, those who show mercy to others, those who support justice and do not set snares to bring down the just "shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall [their faces] grow pale.  [Those who] see the work of...[God's] hand in [their] midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel."

As I listen to the news each evening, I often hear about evil being perpetrated by "the tyrant," by those "alert to do evil," and by "those whose mere word condemns a man [and those] who ensnare [a] defender at the gate and leave the just [person] with an empty claim."  I pray that our Savior comes to all of us, transforming our hearts of stone to human hearts, whereby we become alert to doing good, to supporting justice, to removing "booby traps," and to referencing the Lord, our God!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

God's Parental Love

In today's Entrance Antiphon the Lord says to us:  "I will look after my sheep...and I will appoint a shepherd to pasture them, and I, the Lord, will be their God." Let us personalize this statement to read:  "Dorothy Ann (your name), my daughter, I look after you. I pasture you. I, the Lord, am your God."

Let us ponder being God's daughter/son! Could we possibly have any parent greater, more loving, more compassionate, more understanding, more caring, more protective, more merciful, wiser, more comforting than God Himself?  Often I watch a little child, a preschooler, relate to his/her parent. Little children cling to their parent, want to be picked up, cuddled. That child will lay his/her head on its parent's shoulder, will grasp a parent's leg and hang on. The parent will whisper into the child's ear, caress its face, correct the child, give it instruction--some times received and some times rejected--and even in those latter times the child looks to the parent for comfort or the parent automatically picks up the child and caresses it!  See God relating to you in the way of a loving, caring parent and see yourself relating to God as a toddler relates to its parents!

"Dorothy Ann (your name), I look after you!  I pasture you. I protect you. I love you. I care about you. I, the Lord, am your God, who created you, brought you into existence and sustain you every day. It is I who awaken you very day for another opportunity to know my love, my protection, my compassion, my caring! I love you more than you could ever know and am closer to you that you could ever imagine!"

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

God's Compassion and Ready Response to Human Need

In today's Gospel, Matthew 15: 29-37, Jesus "went up the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him,  having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others.  They placed them at his feet, and he cured them...." 

Every time we take time for prayer, for participating in the Eucharist, we, too, ascend the mountain of the Lord.  Whenever we "go up that mountain," let us take with us and lay down at Jesus' feet the lameness, the deformities, the blindness and deafness, and any other "diseased" parts of ourselves, of our world, of other people that need healing. Jesus will heal all in need of healing, if we acknowledge our brokenness and the "dis-eases" that cause divisions in our families, our nation, our world and within ourselves.

We are told in the Gospel that when Jesus looked out at the crowd that had  gathered before Him and simply stayed with him he said: "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,  for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat (think of Jesus in the tomb for three days following his death and then coming back to life)."  He would not not dismiss the crowd without giving them something to sustain them on their journeys back home. The disciples ask Jesus how they could possibly feed so many. Jesus asks: "'How many loaves do you have? "Seven,' they replied, 'and a few fish.'" And we know the rest of the story. Jesus took the loaves and the fishes, "gave thanks, break the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn game them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over--seven baskets full."

Scripturally, seven represents an abundance. It also reminds us of the seven sacraments whereby God's abundant blessings flow into our lives, sustaining us and making us whole, as God, now, as then, "is moved with pity" for us and does not want us to collapse on our way to the Kingdom!  He wants us to arrive safely!  He wants us to be well fed for the journey!

Obviously, this is not just about Jesus reaching out to human needs, it is also a call to us to go and do likewise!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Just Judge is God

In today's first reading, Isaiah 11: 1-10, Isaiah prophesies about the Messiah.  "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide right for the land's afflicted." 

Women, in Jesus' culture, were treated unjustly, oppressed and poor--women and children counted as nothing in Jewish culture and still do in some Eastern countries.  God chose two women to hail the coming of the Messiah: Elizabeth, who gave birth to John the Baptist, the precursor of the Lord chosen to make way for the Messiah, and Mary, who gave a human nature to God Incarnate. Mary recognizes God's openness to the poor and the lowly in the Magnificat when she prays:  "....He [God] has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly [in this specific case, Mary and Elizabeth].  He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.....

In the Gospels, Jesus often points to the poor and lowly, seeks them out, dines with them, protects them.  If we want to enter Jesus' kingdom, He asks us to become like little children (children, along with the poor, such as shepherds, were discounted in Jesus' culture).  Another example of Jesus' openness to the oppressed is his response to the good thief on the cross: "This day you shall be with me in Paradise."  The poor, the oppressed, the outcasts have a special place in Jesus' heart! Do they in yours and mine?  What in me or about me, what in you and about you, do I, do you, oppress or treat unjustly, despise?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Lord our Justice

Today we begin the season of Advent, a time of waiting for the coming of the Lord.  On Christmas day we will be celebrating the incarnation, the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, as one of us. God stoops down to us to lift us up to God.

In today's first reading, Jeremiah 33: 14-16, the Lord says to us:  "The days are coming...when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land." How badly we need this Savior as individuals, as a nation, as church, as family, as municipalities, as countries, as a society--worldwide and otherwise!  When the Savior comes, there Lord tells us, "Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: 'The Lord our justice.'" We shall be safe and feel secure in Christ Jesus, our justice, our salvation, no other way and by no other means! You and I cannot save ourselves. Humankind cannot save itself. Our disobedience to our God needs one equal to God to reconcile us to God. Jesus, by being obedient to God the Father into death is our justice!  And for that reason, with the psalmist in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 25,we beg the Lord as follows:

Your ways, O Lord, make know to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me, 
for you are God my Savior,
and for you I wait all the day. 

Good and upright is the Lord;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.

All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the Lord is with those who fear [reverence] him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.

May you and I be among humble, allowing the Lord to lead us to justice and teach us His way.  Only then will we be secure!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Coming of the Lord

In today's first reading, Revelation 22: 1-7, St. John is shown "the river of life-giving weave, sparkling like crustal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [Jesus Christ, our Risen Savior] down the middle of the street. On either side of the river grew the three of life....; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations. Nothing accursed will be found anymore....Night will be no more, nor will [we] need light from lamp or sun, for the word God shall give [us] light, and [we] ball reign forever and ever....Behold I am coming soon [to take us to this Kingdom that last forever and in which "nothing accursed shall be found]."

Imagine! Nothing accursed shall be found in the everlasting Kingdom nor in you or me or anyone else allowed to enter that Kingdom!  The gates to that Kingdom were opened for us by Jesus' life, death and resurrection. The blood of the Lamb has purified us white as freshly fallen snow!  Our sins are as far from God's mind as East from West.  They are remembered no more, as we learn from Jesus' response to the good thief on the cross when he asked Jesus to remember him when He entered His Kingdom. Jesus' response:  "This very day you will be with me in Paradise."  Jesus says the very same thing to you and me when we turn to Him and ask to be remembered!

May you and I be ready when our last day on earth arrives, be that today, tomorrow or years to come! God eagerly awaits that day!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Come, Follow Me; Trust Me

In today's Gospel, Matthew 4: 18-22, Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee. He sees two brothers, Andrew and his brother Peter, and calls out to them: "Come after me!"  A little further down the shore Jesus sees two other brothers, James and his brother John. They, too, are called by Jesus and, like Andrew and Peter, immediately leave their fishing business and families and follow Jesus. These four men never look back!  Their lives are changed forever.  We have that same example in Mary, the Mother of Jesus! She says "yes" to the angel Gabriel. Her life, too, is changed forever. Other women, once they heard the words of Jesus, follow Him all the way to the cross.

You and I also have been called to follow Jesus' Way. If we are being true to our call, our lives, too, are being transformed by grace. Walking in the footprints of Jesus is not easy and certainly was not easy for Mary or for any of the apostles or any other men/women who believed in Jesus. As with Jesus and Mary and the apostles and other disciples of the Lord, we, too, are often blindsided by "Herods" and challenged by "Pharisees". At times we have needed to change course along the way, sometimes becoming "refugees" in strange territories--that territory could be in our own family situations.  Nor are we spared sudden storms along the way, as did the apostles when out to sea in the middle of the night, about to drown, they wondered whether Jesus, who was actually sleeping through the storm, cared about the danger they were facing that stormy night.  We learn throughout our lives, that, though the terrain might be very difficult to navigate at times, God is always there.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Called to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb

Today's first reading, Revelation 18: 1-2, 21-23; 19: 1-3, 9a, clearly describes what will happen, at the end of time when God comes to judge the world, to harvest the earth, separating good from evil, and opening the heavens to all those invited to "the wedding feast of the Lamb." John tells us that he saw an "angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth became illumined by his splendor. He cried out in a mighty voice:  'Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great. She has become a haunt for demons. She is a cage for every unclean spirit...a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast....With...force will Babylon the great city be thrown down, and will never be found again....Because your merchants were the great ones of the world, all nations were led astray by your magic potion.' After this, [John tells us, he]  heard what sounded like the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying: 'Alleluia! Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her harlotry...."  Then the angel said to me, "Write this:  Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb."

You and I have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb! May we be ready when our last day here on earth arrives to accept Jesus' invitation to the Eternal Banquet. We prepare for that final hour every day by putting God, family and community first in our lives, by self-sacrificing love for others, by living honest and moral lives or lives of integrity, by respecting others and ourselves and by keeping our focus on Jesus, the Lamb of God who saves us from being corrupted by the unprincipled and immoral persons of this world! Truly "Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb" and whose knowledge and actions reflect that truth!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Giving Witness to God's Power

In today's first reading, Revelation 15: 1-4, John "saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast and its image...."  In today's Gospel, Luke 21: 12-19, Jesus alludes to the fact that we will give "testimony". Testimony to what? God's power at work in us.  That we are victorious over the beast is God at work in us. The "victory over the beast" is the victory over temptations to lie, cheat, seek places of honor, lord it over others, lust for possessions or honors which others enjoy and other temptations which we overcome by God's power.  All of us, every day, witness to God's power at work in us, that is we become martyrs (a martyr is one who witnesses). We are witnesses, "martyrs," when we are honest, when we refrain from grabbing other people's attention when such is had by another. We "suffer" the martyrdom of humility, generosity, goodness, kindness, mercy, many times in secret--no one knows but ourselves.

The author of the reflections in Word Among Us for the liturgical readings for Nov. 28th reminds us   "[t]hat every time [we] make a choice for someone else over [ourselves, we] have won a victory. Every time [we] cooperate with God's grace instead of giving in to temptation, [we] have won a victory. [We] may not see it but God is shaping [our] character. He is making [us witnesses] to His power."

What an awesome God, who is always at work within us!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Harvest of the Earth

Many of the readings for the recent liturgies speak of end times.  Today's first reading, Revelation 14: 14-19, speaks about the "earth's harvest [being] fully ripe. So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested....[A]nother angel came out of the temple in heaven who also had a sharp sickle...'Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth's vines, for its grapes are ripe.' So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth's vintage. He threw it into the great wine press of God's fury."

This passage is full of symbolism!  The "grapes" of the earth are obviously evil deeds that will meet "God's fury".  There is a harvest of good  deeds, however, that is "fully ripe."   May you and I be part of "the fully ripe" harvest,  the harvest of those whose lives are being transformed every day by our relationship with Christ and one another. May we be among those whose being, washed in the blood of Christ, is being poured out every day by our self-sacrificing love for the sake of others. May you and I be men and women who follow the Lamb in seeking those who are lost, who shield those under our care from Satan's snares, who teach others the way to being Eucharistic people broken and poured out for the sake of others' well-being.  If we seek to live this way and keep our focus on Jesus we will not be afraid when the "fully ripe" earth is, in fact, harvested and its "grapes" thrown "into the great wine press of God's fury."

Monday, November 26, 2018

"Two Small Coins" (Luke 21: 1-4)

In today's Gospel, Luke 21: 1-4, Jesus shares with us his watching people put their offering into the treasury.  He notices, among the wealthy persons contributing, "a poor widow putting in two small coins". Jesus says to us: "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."  I couldn't help but think of persons at the end of their day giving God the gifts of their service to others that day and then the elderly sitting in nursing  homes or assisted living facilities, grieving the fact that they have so little to give, no energy, falling asleep as soon as they sit in their recliners and not "being useful" to anyone anymore. "How come I am so tired," an elderly woman in her nineties complained to me today. I suggested that maybe her body is simply worn out from all of the years of her services to others when she was active and that today all she has to offer God are "two small coins."  

There are days for all of us, young and old, who come to the close of a day and believe that all we have to offer are "two small coins." Those "two small coins" offered humbly to our God are worth as much as, if not more that the 8 hours of hard, exhausting teaching hours in a classroom, or doing whatever,  when the ego proudly proclaims how hard it worked on a given day that we proclaim successful!

Sometimes, all you and I may have to give the Lord at the close of a day is what seems like failure and weakness with no accomplishments of which our egos can boast. Will Jesus not then say to us: "I tell you truly, you put more in the treasury today than on days when your egos were able to boast of all they accomplished because from [your] poverty, [you] offered [your] whole livelihood."  What we deem failure is in fact, spiritually speaking, a huge success from Jesus' perspective.  Let us offer to God our all, our livelihood, however meager it seems to us!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Christ: King of Heaven and Earth

Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, whose Kingdom is not of this world and, in fact, functions totally opposite of earthly kingdoms.  Jesus' kingdom is not a dictatorship, not one where power is wielded to the point of killing those in one's way to their "throne" of power and control and lording power over others. No!  Jesus' kingdom is one of being servant to all, sacrificing everything, even life itself, for the good of others, to reconcile all to God, to reveal to us God's eternal love, mercy, justice and kindness and secure God's gift of eternal life for all! The reflections from Word Among Us for November 25, 2018 reconfirms that "Jesus' kingship is unlike any we have ever seen. Instead of exerting power over his people, [Jesus] submitted himself to [our]power--even if it meant lettering [s] put him to death. And because he refused the temptation to lord it over his people, God raised him up and established him as the one true King over all of creation."

Jesus' kingdom here on earth is a kingdom that converts all to being men and women of mercy, of forgiveness, of servanthood. Those under Jesus' reign bring peace and justice to our world, are persons who live lives of humility and love, generosity and sacrifice for the good of the other.  Models of Jesus' servanthood abound among us and many are parents, who, 24/7, sacrifice for the good of their children, teaching them, in turn, to live a life of justice, respect, love, generosity and merciful forgiveness. Such children learn how to say "I'm sorry; forgive me."  These children learn how to share from both their abundance and their scarcity to those in need! They do not build walls of division or isolation, whereby those who have lord it over those who do not have their basic human needs met!  These children learn who Jesus is, how to listen to His voice and follow His ways!

How about you and I? To whose Kingdom do we belong?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all who visit this blog!  It's a day to be grateful to the Lord for all of His goodness to us:

  • The gift of life itself
  • The gift of our parents who gave us life here on earth
  • The gift of eternal life that awaits us
  • The gift of our faith, our hope, our love
  • The gift of our families: our mom and dad and our siblings and all of our relatives
  • The gift of our friends
  • The gift of our education: grade school, high school, college--undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate work
  • The gift of our teachers, school counselors, teacher assistants, deans, janitors, coaches
  • The gift of the universe and all of the galaxies
  • The gift of the sun and moon and stars and all of the planets
  • The gift of air, of chemicals, minerals, atoms, molecules 
  • The gift of sand and pebbles, mountains and hills, valleys, deserts and fertile lands
  • The gift of intelligence, imagination and contemplation
  • The gift of all of the sacraments Eucharist and of  the Scriptures
  • The gift of male and female in all species
  • The gift of freedom
  • The gift of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • The gift of redemption, of repentance, of reconciliation and forgiveness
  • The gift of Mary and Joseph and all disciples who have handed down the faith to us
  • The gift of all religions
  • The gift of all countries, nations, nationalities, races and cultures
  • The gift of friends
  • The gift of the seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter
  • The gift of farmers and all professions
  • The gift of food-bearing plants
  • The gift of all plants and all animals and all of the fishes in our lakes, seas, rivers, oceans
  • Our creative abilities
  • And so much more! 

For what are you grateful?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Holy, Holy, Holy

In today's first reading, Revelation 4: 1-11, John shares with us a vision he was given of heaven:  I John had a vision of an open door to heaven, and I heard the trumpetlike voice that has spoken to me before, saying, 'Come up here and I will show you what must happen afterwards.' At once I was caught up in spirit. A throne was there in heaven, and on the throne sat one whose appearance sparkled like jasper and carnelian. Around the throne was a hero as brilliant as an emerald. Surrounding  the throne I saw twenty-four other thrones on which twenty-four elders sat, dressed in white garments and with gold crowns on their heads....In the center and around the throne, there were four living creatures....Day and night they do not stop exclaiming: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.'"

That door to heaven opens at every Sacrifice of the Mass, a prayer of thanksgiving offered to God by all Catholics every single day.  During the Mass, memorializing Jesus' death and resurrection, the door to heaven opens and we acclaim with all the saints and angels in heaven: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!'  Shortly following that prayer, the priest consecrates the bread and wine, calling upon the Holy Spirit to come down from heaven, as the Spirit did upon Mary, and sanctify the ordinary bread and wine. Now present on the altar is Jesus in His body and blood, soul and divinity. Following Jesus' command to "do this in memorial of Him, we offer God the body and blood, the soul and divinity of His Son Jesus, as Jesus once offered His life for us on Calvary, showing us the length, the depth, the height and the breadth of God's love for us. With all the angels and saints of God present with us at this memorial of Jesus' death and resurrection, we acclaim: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty who was, and who is and who is to come!"

Can any greater prayer of thanksgiving be offered to our God!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Jesus Comes to Your "House" Today

In today's Gospel, Luke 19: 1-10, Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, who gained his wealth by cheating people, learns that Jesus is passing by his house.  He is a short man so he climbs a sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Him.  Jesus looks up and says: "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."  Quickly, Zacchaeus comes down and joyfully receives Jesus into his house, and vows to make restitution to those he has cheated: "'Behold, half of my possessions [and he is a wealthy man], Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.'  And Jesus said to  him, 'Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

Jesus sees and knows who is seeking Him even when the person him/herself does not realize that one's frantic engagement in this and that, running here and there, switching jobs and relationships feverishly is actually a search for the Divine, for the Reconciler, for the One who really brings salvation to one's "house."  And as urgent as a person's search for that which he/she believes is the answer to his/her problems, just as urgent is Jesus' invitation:  "Come down quickly," Jesus says to Zacchaeus.  He says the same to us: "Come quickly; salvation has come to your house today"!  Jesus does not want us to delay our coming to Him or letting Him come to us with the gift of salvation!

Am I, are you, willing to step off the speeding "train"of distractions and spend time with Jesus? will you, will I , accept Jesus' invitation today? He truly wants to bring salvation to our "houses."

Monday, November 19, 2018

Jesus Wants to Know What You Want from Him

Today's Gospel reading, Luke 18: 35-43, presents the story of a blind man.  He heard a lots of noise and asked the crowd what was happening. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by,  the blind man cried out:  "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me."  The more the crowd told him to be quiet, the louder he became. Jesus stopped and ordered that the blind man be brought to him. Jesus asked him: "'What do you want me to do for you?' He replied, 'Lord, please let me see.' Jesus told him, 'Have sight; your faith has saved you."

Just as Jesus asked the blind man what he wanted Him to do for him, so, too, He asks each one of us the same question. I encourage you to take the time to tell Jesus what you want Him to do for you, for our loved ones, your spouse, your children.  Tell Him!

Jesus,  I want You to open my eyes to Your presence every day. I want You to draw me ever closer to You, so close that You and I become one heart, one mind, one soul! I want to know you, love you, trust you and rely on You all of the time.  I want to obey the promptings of your Spirit, even in the smallest things you ask of me!  Please, Lord, soften the soil of my heart, remove the "cataracts" from my eyes that prevent me from seeing you and the "wax" from my ears that block me from hearing your voice!  I ask this in Your name, Jesus! Amen!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Setting God before our Eyes

Today's first reading, Daniel 12: 1-3, speaks of the second coming of Jesus, our Savior. "At that time," the prophet Daniel tells us, "there shall arise Michael the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until  that time. At that time....the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever."  For the wicked this event will be a time of "everlasting horror and disgrace," but not so for those who have clung to Christ, lived according to the Gospels and followed the directions of the Holy Spirit day by day--the Holy Spirit sent to us by Jesus upon His return to the Father in His resurrection from the dead.

My heart is saddened when I think of the many people who do not lead people to justice--people who close their eyes to injustice, who, out of fear, do not confront unjust legislature and executive orders, who close their eyes and ears to evil being perpetuated for fleeting gains of glory and accumulation of wealth for the wealthiest people in our nation.

Our inheritance, the psalmist tells us in today's responsorial psalm, (Psalm 16) is the Lord, not material gain! Those who realize that the Lord is their "allotted portion and [their] cup, [that it is the Lord ] who hold[s] fast [their] lot" are not afraid to lose their seats of honor in this world. Why? Because they  "set the Lord ever before [their eyes]; with [God] at  [their] right hand [they] shall not be disturbed." The heart of a person who stands up for justice and does what is  right "is glad and [his/her] soul rejoices." Such a person "abides in confidence; because [God] will not abandon [this person's] soul to the netherworld, nor will [God] suffer [His] faithful one to undergo corruption!"

May you and I be among those who seek justice in all we do and not be colluders with those who deny others their basic human rights for whatever reason or for whatever gain!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hearing the Cries of the Oppressed

Today's Gospel, Luke 18: 1-8, tells the story of a judge who care about no one, not God nor any human being. A woman persistently approaches him for a just decision and he delivers it to her, saying: "'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"  His response to her is to avoid negative consequences to himself if he continue to ignore her. He wants her off his back--he is, basically, thinking only about himself and does not really care about the woman.

Our God is not like that judge.  St. Luke says to us in this passage: "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.  Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

God sees our affliction. God hears our cries for help. God knows what we are going through. God cares and comes to help  us, as He did for the Israelites when He appeared to Moses in the burning  bush. God cared that the Israelites had become slaves of the Egyptians. It took time to free them but He held nothing back to bring them out of slavery into a land of freedom. Jesus, the Son of God, held nothing back either in securing our freedom from slavery to anything to which we have become slaves: hatred, bigotry, misogyny, prejudice, revengeful feelings and thoughts, promiscuity, jealousy, envy, selfishness, deceitfulness, corruption and any other evil trap into which were may have fallen. God is on our side in the darkest of moments and will not abandon us when the going gets rough and we know not how we will survive or get back on the right track! God knows when we need help--do we know that we need help? Are we calling for God's help. He is right there beside us waiting for us to turn to Him. He also sends people to help us just as He sent Moses to help his fellow Israelites!  Many times, we may be the one God is asking to help a neighbor in distress.  Are we listening?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Kingdom of God Right Here Right Now

In today's Gospel, Luke 17: 20-25, the Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God will come.  Jesus responds: The "Kingdom of God is among you."  The Kingdom of God is not a future but an everyday event brought forth when we are kind to another person, when we smile at someone, when we forgive others, show compassion and are loving toward others.  The Kingdom of God is revealed when others are helpful, useful, caring,  and honest; when persons refrain from gossiping or from hurting  others or themselves in any way. Yes, "the Kingdom of God is among" us, as Jesus told the Pharisees, and those who live by faith and hope and love--those who give "birth" to Jesus in this world--experience it and make it a reality for others and themselves!  A light shines in our darkness when we transform a little bit of earth into "paradise," into the Kingdom of God on earth!

Jesus tells us to not run off looking for Him when people say, "'Look, there he is,' or 'Look, here he is.'  For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation."  We, too, will suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation before entering our eternal glory. In the meantime, it is our challenge to make God's Kingdom a reality right where we are by our love, our honesty, our faith and hope in the Lord Jesus and in following His Way and His Truth, and being His Life here on earth.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Open to Goodness or Maliciousness?

In today's first reading, Titus 3: 1-7, St. Paul asks Titus to remind the people "to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise. They are," he says to Titus, "to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another." 

As I view the news each night, I begin to wonder what happened to righteous living. I ask myself: "How deluded and foolish have we become, "slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another"?  In faith, I know, and I hope you do, too,  a God who is generous and kind. God comes to save us, not to condemn us, we are told in the Gospels. Though I do not see it now, in the majority of the nightly news broadcasts, I know in faith that we will be saved from our foolishness, our disobedience, our delusions, our slavery to "various desires and pleasures, [from] living in malice and envy, [from]  hating ourselves and hating one another."  However, God has promised salvation to those who believe and who turn to Him in truth and in repentance, recognizing one's wickedness and sinful deeds!  Any one of us will be, or have been, given the graces which were given to the good thief on the cross when he acknowledged who Jesus was and turned to Him, begging to be remembered by Jesus when He entered the glory of the Father!  That grace is available to all who believe!  I do!  what about you?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Living as God Intends for Us to Live

In today's first reading, Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14, St. Paul enumerates the virtues practiced by those who are faithful to their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Such persons, men or women, are consistently true to their faith and to their marriage and religious vows.  They are men and women of integrity, "sound in faith, love, and endurance....reverent in their behavior, ....showing [themselves] as [models] of good deeds in every respect."  Living in this way is possible for all of us, "[f]or the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, [enabling and empowering us] to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good."

What a grace to be elevated to this kind of exalted living by the grace of God within us!  God not only invites us to do what is right and reverent, He also equips us to live in this way.  Furthermore, God implants an eagerness within our deepest being "to do what is good".  By walking beside us, taking us by the hand, God guides us to complete the good we intend to do. God never leaves our side and, when we call upon Him, He answers us in our weakness, making us strong in weak places!  Praise and thanks to our God!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Things that Cause Sin Are Inevitable But So Is Grace

In today's Gospel, Luke 17: 1-6, Jesus tells the disciples that "[t]hings that cause sin will inevitably occur but woe to the one through whom they occur."   Children watch adults intently, especially their parents, but others as well. Children imitate the good and the bad we do! A child is proud that he/she is like mom or dad.  Adults themselves will engage in evil because a leader--the president, a sport's star, a popular actor/actress--does so. A popular argument is that  "everyone does it."

Jesus issues a warning to us in today's Gospel:  "It would be better for [those who lure others into wrongdoing] if a millstone were put around his [her] neck and [that person] be thrown into the sea than for [one] to cause [another] to sin, [especially a child]."  Am I luring others into sin? Am I being lured into sin by others?  All of a sudden, do I find myself joining group gossip or am I the one being joined?  Am I teaching others to tell "white lies'? Am I cheating and teaching others to cut corners, as well! What example am I giving to others? Let me remember that where sin abounds grace more abounds, because Jesus comes to my aid always!  May I call upon Jesus' name when I am being lured into temptation.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Living for God Alone!

In today's first reading, Philippians 4: 10-19, St. Paul is grateful to the Lord and to the Philippians for being their for him, in good times and bad, in times of abundance and "famine."  Through the strength of the Spirit within him, St. Paul had learned to survive in any circumstance in which he found himself. Out of his abundance and his poverty, he served the people and they helped him. It was a receiving and a giving. Sometimes, Paul  needed the people to give to him out of their abundance and at other times Paul had to give from his abundance.

Like Paul, we are both needy and rich.  At times, out of our richness,  we are able to give and, at other times, in our poverty,  we are the ones who need others to share their riches with us.  We are to learn independence and interdependence, both materially and spiritually! When we learn to take care of ourselves in good times and in "bad," we are then able more efficiently and generously to give to others in their need.

In the Gospel, Luke 16: 9-15, Jesus warns us that, if we are serving "two masters", we will "either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot," Jesus says to us, "serve God and mammon."  We are here on earth to glorify God and to do good to and for others as a means to give glory to our God.  If we divide our attention to glorifying oneself or money, for instance, we will resent the single-minded and single hearted call to give glory to God alone!  As we journey through this life, we are on the way to the realization of our deepest union with God and to become more and more united with others in God!  Our ultimate goal is union with God for all eternity and living in the Kingdom of Eternal Love.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Bounty of the Lord in our Lives

In the first reading, Philippians 2: 12-18, St. Paul is writing from his prison cell, filled with joy as he anticipates being martyred for the faith.  He is encouraging the Philippians to continue working out their salvation in the Lord Jesus. He asked them to do God's work without "grumbling or questioning."  Recall a time in your life when nothing was too much for those you love--nothing was too much for the Lord! May you and I have the courage to continue doing what we are called to do, as husbands/wives, parents/grandparents, employers or employees, members of a parish, a civic community  or a religious community.  "[B]e blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you  hold onto the word of life [Jesus Christ].... ...[E]ven if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith [martyred], I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me [and with each other]."

As in the case of the Philippians, we, too, live "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation."  Living honestly and morally,  doing what is right for all peoples, I believe, is at an all-time low in the U.S. and likely throughout the world of the 21st century.  Do you, do I, "shine like lights" in this world or are we part of the darkness?  Are we colluders with those spreading darkness in the world of asylum seekers, persons fleeing corrupt and violent dictators in their own native countries? Are we in collusion with those hating others because of their skin color or their sexual orientation or because they practice a faith  other than our own?  Are we among those spreading messages of hopelessness or do we, in the words of the responsorial psalm, "believe that we shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living. [Are we waiting] for the Lord with courage...; [are we] stouthearted"?  Are we ourselves persons whose goodness, honesty, love, and faith bring others to proclaim: I have seen/experienced  "the bounty o the Lord" today? If not, why not? And if not, what behaviors/attitudes do I, do you need to change?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Putting on the Attitude of Jesus

In today's first reading, Phil 2: 5-11, S.Paul users us to put on the attitude of Jesus, who, "though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in  human likeness; and  found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross."

Jesus took on humanity, our humanity!  Jesus left heaven, emptying Himself and becoming our slave.  He worked Himself to the bone, so to speak, taking on and destroying death for our sakes.  Nothing was too much for Jesus to show us the depth, the breadth, the height and the length of God's love for us.  As St. Paul says to the Philippians, Jesus, the second person of the Blessed Trinity,  did "not regard equality with God" something to which He had to cling! He chooses humility. He chooses littleness. He chooses total dependence, as any infant, upon His mother and foster father Joseph! God, the Creator of heaven and earth, totally dependent for all of His needs upon a teenage mother, whom He Himself created and sustained in her existence!  He did not bulk. He did not sulk! He did not rebel! He humbly submitted to Mary and Joseph! Not only that! At the age of 33, He humbly submitted to those who rebelled against Him and had Him crucified like a notorious, despised criminal!

St. Paul begins this passage to the Philippians by asking each of us to have "the same attitude" that is ours "in Christ Jesus."  What attitude? A humble, obedient one by which we do not consider it necessary to cling to glory or significant positions of honor and power, being above others! We are asked to let go of entitlements, as Jesus did, and assume positions of humility, submission, and obedience to a High Power at work within our lives!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Jesus Showing Us How to Put Other's Interests ahead of One's Own

In today's first reading, Phil 2: 1-4, St. Paul asks 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 [or her] own interests, but also everyone for those of others." Imagine a world in which everyone acts out of altruistic motives, not ever "out of selfishness,"  a world where no one's ultimate goal is  one's own glory at the expense of truth or justice!   Furthermore, imagine a world in which every one would be more concerned that the interests and needs of others were met over and above one's own!  Such a world, obviously, exists only in heaven.   However, let's get personal. What if I and you did "nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory"?  How would my world, or yours,  be different from what it now is? Looking back on today, what would I/would you have done differently if, in every circumstance, we had "humbly regarded others as more important" than ourselves?

Jesus lived this way! Never did He do things out of selfishness or vainglory! Any clues there of how you and I need to change our way of thinking and acting?  Jesus, the Son of God, "humbly [regarded] others as more important than [Himself] to the point of dying on the cross to show us the depth of God's love for us--He would hold nothing back to reveal how much God loves us, looking out for us totally!

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Feast of All Souls

Today we celebrate the feast of All Souls--those women and men who have returned to their eternal home before us. For many of us, that means that we have said good-bye to our grandparents, parents, some of our siblings, Aunts and Uncles, some of our cousins, nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews. All have been "brought to life" in Christ Jesus, we are told in the entrance antiphon of today's liturgy.  The first reading, Wisdom 3:1-9, reminds us that the "souls of the just [our loved ones] are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.....[T]hey are in peace.....[C]hastised a little, they... [are] greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;... the Lord...[is] their King forever."

We do not know the day nor the hour that you and I will be born into eternal life nor do we know the circumstances of our death. God knows! And God will be at our side when we die. God will come to us at that moment and be the light in the darkness of our death. God will take us by the hand and guide us through death's door into eternity, saying to us:  "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Mt. 25:34)! 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Being Children of God

In today's first reading, 1 John 3: 1-3, St. John reminds us that we are children of God.  I am a child of God now, St. John states, and what I "shall be has not yet been revealed. [I] do not know that when it is revealed [I] shall be like [God], for [I] shall see [God] as [God] is. Everyone who has this hope based on [God] makes [him/herself] pure as [God] is pure."

Wow!  Do I, do you, really grasp the depth of St. John's statement. First of all, do we really understand the reality of being God's child?  We know what it means to be the child of Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so! But do we grasp what it means to be a child of God. And if we are God's children, and we are, then we are also God's heirs!   The  inheritance that God has stored away for us, so to speak, is life with God for all eternity in the Kingdom from which Jesus came down to earth and to which He returned following His resurrection.   Second of all, St. John states, that "when it is revealed we shall be like [God], for we shall see [God] as [God] is."  We know that, in His creation of each one of us, we are made in God's image and likeness. From St. John's statement, our being made in the image and likeness of God, it seems,  is amplified/magnified, or could we say, glorified in eternity, when we are given new glorified bodies. And there is no way now to fathom that reality here on earth.  Thirdly, John states that anyone "who has this hope based on [God] makes [him/herself] pure as [God] is pure!"  My prayer is that we do just that with the grace of God at work within us!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Narrow Gate

In today's Gospel Luke 13: 22-30, Jesus speaks about those who will gather around the banquet table in His kingdom, those who strove, here on earth, "to enter [eternal life]  through the narrow gate." Jesus reminds us that many will not enter that narrow gate because they will not be strong enough to do so!  Strength comes from the Lord, the creator and redeemer of all! Strength comes to those who recognize Jesus as their Savior, as the one who alone can take them through that "narrow gate".

The narrow gate is  the gate through which Jesus journeyed while here on earth--obedient to a Higher Power.  Obeying the Father's will led to Jesus' death by people who were jealous of Him and who were concerned that others were listening to His teachings and worried that so many were following His way of humility, honesty, righteousness, justice and love for all persons and especially for sinners, the oppressed, the poor, and the outcasts of His culture!

Choosing the "narrow gate" of holiness, as Jesus showed us, will lead to conflict with those who choose the broader gate.  "Everyone is doing it," is the reason so many choose to follow the crowd through the broader gate. It's easier!  No sweat! No sacrifice!  "You'll be like God," Satan told Eve and Adam in the Garden!  How many people act as though they are a God, the Higher Power others are to emulate! As with Adam and Eve in the Garden, many fall for Satan's lies and reject the "narrow way."

What choices are you and I making?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Reverencing the Lord and One Another

In today's first reading, Ephesians 5: 21-33, St. Paul talks about marriage and the need for love and respect for each other. In Genesis, the message is that a man is to leave his mother and father and become one with his spouse.  Both are to grow in mutual love for one another,  become united in mind and heart toward a common goal: that their children grow in their relationship with the Lord, come to know the Lord and embrace their faith and call to become spiritually mature individuals. That maturity needs to be modeled by parents.  Spiritual maturity, a call to self-sacrificial love,  is the same for persons in religious life and/or priesthood. We are here to become one with others in our goal to be one with the Lord Jesus and His will for us.  God wills that we grow to greater unity with God and with one another, that we are fruitful and multiply goodness--the goodness of bearing children in our image and likeness and who grow in their image and likeness of God!  How do we do that? by personally living humbly in our relating to each other, in being reverent of one another,  in forgiving one another, and in being compassionate and understanding of one another!

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 128, those are declared "blessed" who fear the Lord, that is, reverence the Lord. Reverencing the Lord begins with reverencing ourselves and one another.  Those who "fear the Lord, who walk in his ways,...shall eat the fruit of [their] handiwork; [they] shall be blessed...and favored."

May you and I grow in reverence!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Bent Over as the Woman in Luke 13: 10-17

In today's first reading, Ephesians 4: 32-5:8, St. Paul admonishes us "to be kind to one another compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. Be imitators of God,  Paul says to us, "as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God..."  Tonight, after praying my experience of being disappointed, frustrated and angry, I realized how much I need help to assume attitudes of humility and submission to the will of God as being revealed in the circumstances of my life. What was I actually doing? Trying to control circumstances and have them go my way, not the way of another person. I was assuming a position of domination, not submission, as Jesus did in His sufferings, death and resurrection.

When I came to reflecting on today's Gospel, Luke 13: 10-17, I realized that I was the crippled woman that Jesus healed--crippled, bent over as she was. From what? my need to be in control or to have others submit to my wishes and not me to theirs!  I spelled out the situation to the Lord, baring my soul to the Lord and asking for help.  And help was given me as it was to the woman who, "for eighteen eyes had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect."  When I asked Jesus to set me free, He said to me:  "...[Y]ou are set free by my sacrificial love.  When you fall into a trap that Satan sets for you, I will always set you free when you recognize the trap, acknowledge it, and ask to be set free.  I am always there with you ready to help!"

From time to time, we all fall into traps that Satan sets for us.   Share with Jesus a trap into which you  may have fallen and ask to be freed!  Jesus will respond as compassionately as He responded to the woman in today's Gospel!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sent on Mission to Proclaim the Kingdom of the Lord

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Luke, the evangelist, who worked along side St. Paul in making Jesus known to the Gentiles.  Both Luke and Paul, friends of Jesus, did what the responsorial psalm, Psalm145, proclaims:  "Your friends make known O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom." The psalmist goes on to say to followers of Jesus: "Let them discourse of the glory of [God's] Kingdom," a kingdom of peace and justice and love.  As disciples of Jesus, we are to make "known [God's] might and the glorious splendor of [God's] kingdom, [a] Kingdom...for all ages."  We are to let people know that God's "dominion endures through all generations," not just Jesus' generation. We are also to reveal the truth that "the Lord is just in all his ways and holy in all his works. [And furthermore,] near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth."

In today's Gospel, Luke 10, 1-9, Luke tells the story of when Jesus appointed 72 disciples to  proclaim the Kingdom and thus precede him to places which He Himself "intended to visit....[B]ehold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.....In whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in [that] house." 

In order to do God's work, we need to, first ourselves, be at peace. If the persons we are sent to assist, be that family  or community members, members of our parish, or our fellow employees, are not at peace with our presence or message, we need to move on to other places/persons, as Jesus counseled the 72.  When the Lord send us out on mission, we also need to be prepared to encounter "wolves."  Not everyone wants to hear about the Gospel way of life and not everyone lives a life  that brings them to knowledge Jesus, the Lord who, as identified by the psalmist as one who "is just in all his ways and holy in all  his works."  As with Jesus, we will encounter opposition in living the Christian way of life and being true to ourselves!

Are you/am I ready? If we keep our focus on Jesus as we journey through any given day, or come back to the Lord when we lose our focus,  we will always be ready!


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Discernment of Spirits

In today's first reading, Galatians 5: 18-25, Paul clearly describes when we are allowing ourselves to be guided by the spirit or by the flesh.  When guided by the spirit, we are generous, gentle, self-controlled and faithful to the Gospel. The fruits of the spirit are love,  joy, patience, kindness and the like. On the other hand, when we are slaves to the flesh, we are out of control, throwing fits of fury, engaging in  orgies or bouts of drinking, being licentious, impure, idolatrous, envious, divisive and the like.  "Those who belong to Christ Jesus, Paul reminds us, "have crucified their flesh with it passions and desires."

In today's Gospel, Luke 11: 42-46, Jesus further clarifies the difference of living according the spirit or according to the flesh.  When we are following the ways of the flesh,  we "pay no attention to judgment and to love of God."   Our focus is rather on externals: gaining places of honors, being "greeted in...marketplaces," being recognized by the phylacteries or other devotionals we wear, the number of prayers we recite,  and which others notice we recite, and so on. In short, we become our own god! On the other hand, those who focus on the ways of the Gospel, go about doing good for the sake of the Kingdom, to give praise and glory to God's name,  "washing other people's feet," as Jesus did, being servant to others in ways that do not draw attention to oneself and, with God's assistance, dying to sin and rising to new life.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Unsurpassing Love of Christ

In today's opening prayer, the Collect of the Liturgy, we ask God to "pour out on us...the spirit with which [God] so remarkably endowed Saint Margaret Mary, so that [like her] we may come to know that love of Christ that surpassed all understanding and be utterly filled with [the Lord's] fullness."

What  a prayer!  I, you, are asking God to fill us with Jesus' love, nothing else! Full of love! God's love! Look at what Jesus, full of love, did for us, for all! Saved us from the slavery of sin! Purified us white as freshly fallen snow!  Opened the gates of heaven for us! Secured us an eternal inheritance! Shows us the way to the Father! Dines with us every day in the Eucharist! Never leaves our side!

Look at what Mary, full of grace, full of God's love, did for us! First of all, said 'yes' to God's plan for our salvation, and hers! Conceived in her womb the Son of God, giving birth to God Incarnate!  Second of all, taught Jesus to surrender to the will of His Father, called Him forth at Cana to reveal God's compassion to the bride and bridegroom! Noticed the need of the newly weds and brought that need to Jesus' attention, as she continues to do day in and day out for you and me, letting Jesus know our unmet needs. Teaches us, also,  to pay attention to each other's needs!  She stood beneath the cross, supporting and comforting her Son in His sufferings and does so for us! She witnessed, I believe, her Son's resurrection and ascension and was present at Pentecost. Finally, she guided the apostles and early members of the Church to spread the Good News, and is at our side also urging us to be faithful to our calling!

Yes, like Mary, may we be filled with the love of Christ and let that love pour forth from us into others! May we know the fullness of life that Jesus promises us, as did Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and Mary our Mother.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Jesus' Call to Repentance

In today's Gospel, Luke 11: 29-32, Jesus says to the crowd: "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah,"  that is, the preaching of Jonah and the subsequent repentance of the Ninevites.

The generation of Jesus' time and our current generation are no different from one another.  There is an abundance of evil in both generations.  In Jesus' generation, people plotted for Jesus' death and, out of jealousy, murdered him on Calvary between two thieves.  In our generation, people also plot to kill others who get in their way. People may be killed because they are about to expose evil or because they are blocking others from fulfilling their lustful desires or from acquiring properties by illegal, unjust schemes.

Where evil abounds, grace abounds as well. Jesus' death and resurrection brought about our redemption and, for that reason,  it is possible for evil to be transformed into a good. People committing evil are offered the grace to repent of their wrongdoing.  Eyes of men and women in actual or virtual prisons are opened. Hope is restored. Hatred destroyed. Evil does not triumph ultimately!

However, if people do not  heed Jesus' call to repentance and, thus, do not follow the example of the Ninevites, they will remain in the pit that Satan sets for those who follow the ways of evil spirits.

Where am I/where are you in this scenario? Are we following good spirit or bad ones?  Are we even aware of sin in our lives and our need for Jesus?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Jesus' Directness

In today's Gospel, Mark 10: 17-30, a man runs up to Jesus, kneels down, and poses the following question to him: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?  ....You know the commandments," Jesus says to him and spells out what those commandments are. The man answers: "Teacher, all of those I have kept since my youth."  Jesus looks at the man and loves him deeply. He says to him:  You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have  treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."  The man's face fell, and he walked away from Jesus saddened, "for he had many possessions," of which he was not ready to let go!

With some fear, I asked Jesus:  What must I do to inherit eternal life?  With greater fear, I asked Jesus to tell me what was the one thing that I lacked?  And He told me!

What question or questions do you need to ask Jesus? After you ask that question, wait, in prayer, for Jesus' answer!  Be not afraid!  Jesus is gentle but honest. And remember, as with the man in today's Gospel:  Jesus looks at you and loves you deeply!

Friday, October 12, 2018

God's Mercy

In today's first reading, Galatians 3: 7-14, St. Paul reminds us that "no one is justified before God by the law."   Only our faith in Christ Jesus justifies us.  "[T]he one who is righteous by faith will live,"   Paul tells us. "But the law does not depend on faith... Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,  for it is written, Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree, that the blessings (the gift of faith) of Abraham might be extended to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

Thank God for the gift of faith, especially on days when our behaviors would be condemned by the law.  God does not condemn; no, God saves! Christ has ransomed you and me from the curse of the law "by becoming a curse" and gives us the grace to forgive those who "curse" us and, yes, defends us from ourselves when we want to stand in judgment of self!

With the psalmist, in today's responsorial psalm, let us  pray:

"Majesty and glory are [God's] work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the Lord." 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Smartness or Stupidity: Which Is it for Me/You?

In today's first reading, Galatians 3: 1-5, St. Paul is frustrated with the Galatians who have turned to the flesh and away from the Spirit. "Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?"   Paul is having a hard time comprehending how people can turn away from a God who poured out His love them upon the cross, surrendering to the Trinity's plan of salvation even unto death.   Jesus held nothing back to redeem us from the law, which condemns us, and from the cruel deceitfulness and wickedness of the devil who will go to any length to get us to deny Christ and turn away from our salvation, to deny Truth and Justice, Love and Mercy.  Satan seems to be having a hay day in the world of today. Evil seems to be triumphing over good, as on that first Good Friday.  However, we know that, as black as Good Friday was with the Savior of the world being put to death as a criminal that day, death--evil--was destroyed on that day and resurrection followed.  Good is going to triumph over evil. The wicked will not have the last word. Jesus will! Good people will!

On whose side will I be that day? the side of evil or the side of good? the side of justice or the side of injustice? the side of honesty or the side of deceitfulness? the side of love and mercy or the side of hatred and mercilessness? the side of humility or the side of pride? the side of forgiveness or the side of revenge?

Where do I stand today?  The choice is mine to make in cooperation with Jesus, who comes daily to save us, not condemn us!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Growing in Truth and our Need for One Another's Aid

In today's first reading,Galatians 2: 1-2, 7-14, Paul goes up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus.  He shared the Gospel that he preached to the Gentiles with Cephas, James and John, whom Paul considered pillars of the faith. Cephas, James and John recognized that Paul was entrusted with the same Gospel to preach to Gentiles, the uncircumcised, that they were preaching to the circumcised. They also recognized the grace bestowed upon Paul.  The Holy Spirit was working in each of these individuals to spread the Good News of Jesus in different parts of the world and to different people of the world in which they lived.

God does the same gifting today, the same work in each of us, using us to build the Kingdom and spread the Good News of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and Pentecost! Just as Paul and his co-workers,both men and women, by the way,  needed one another and so, too did Cephas, James and John need Paul.   It was during this visit, that Paul challenged Peter's hypocrisy.  It is through and with each other that we grow in honest living and preaching of the Gospel, no less than in the days of old when the Church was in its infancy, so to speak!

May I have the courage to name hypocrisy when I see it and to be called when I am being hypocritical.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Consulting the Lord above all else!

In today's first reading, Galatians 1: 13-14, St. Paul tells us that, after Jesus revealed Himself to him,  he  "did not immediately consult flesh and blood, nor did [he] go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me..."  How often when something amazing or overpowering--good or evil, triumphs or failures--happens to us do we not go to "flesh and blood," or rush to our "Jerusalems" to seek counsel or share our stories.  What if we went first to the Lord and poured out our souls to Him and, after prayer,  consulted "flesh and blood."

A few days ago, I had an experience in which I did not approve of the way I reacted. Tonight I first shared it in prayer with the Lord. In my heart, I heard the Lord say to me:  "Seek Me, Dorothy Ann, not justification or approval from anyone. I am enough for you."  How humbling but how true!

As, in many of my prayer times when I pour out my soul to the Lord, my loved ones in  heaven want "a piece of the pie", so to speak. In my heart I heard my mother say to me:  "Dort, your mom! .... (she then gave me expert advice that applied to the situation).  Other family members also let me know that they love me and were supporting me. Then, in the depths of my heart, I heard my mom say to me: "Dort, [w]e are here for you. Seek our counsel." 

I need to learn, or the Lord is teaching me, to seek Him above all, to trust Him above all, to rely upon His counsel above all.  How much heartache I would spare myself, if I followed this advice!

How about you?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Being a Person of Compassion,Love and Concern for Others in Need

Today's Gospel, Luke 10: 25-37, presents the story of the Good Samaritan.  We may think of the Good Samaritan as Jesus and the wounded person as ourselves. By being caught in Satan's web of constant lies and being slaves of sin--selfishness, greediness, lustfulness, deceitfulness, pride, hatred, racism, judgementalism and other sinful behaviors--we lie in the ditches of life half dead, bleeding, beaten down, wounded, weakened and in need of healing. Jesus, the Compassionate One, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, sent not condemn the world but to save it, is not going to walk by us, ignore us, or be too busy or too holy for us.  No! Jesus stops, binds up our wounds and cares for us so that we may be made whole again, provided that we co-operate with His efforts.  Are we willing to change our behaviors, our attitudes and walk the Way God points out to us through Jesus Christ in the Holy Gospels?

We may also read this Gospel story and see ourselves as the Levite, the priest or the Samaritan.  The Levite and the priest past the wounded man, the person in need--in fact they cross the road and walk on the other side--not wanting to become unclean, according to Jewish law, and not be able to perform their religious duties!  Do we find excuses to not help our neighbors in need? Or are we, in fact, the good Samaritan who renders assistant to the wounded in our midst: in our homes, our streets, our churches, our places of employment?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Freedom or Slavery

Today's Gospel, Luke 10: 13-16,  begins with strong, harsh words spoken by Jesus:  "Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you,  Bethsaida!  For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you."  Jesus is not trying to bully the inhabitants of these two cities. Rather, He is expressing His grief that they have not turned back to God. Instead they remained slaves to their sinful way of life in spite of the many ways in which Jesus revealed God's love and mercy.

To this very day, it is very easy to get caught in a lifestyle dominated by greed, immorality, lust,  resentments, envy, avarice,  and other corrupt activities.  Satan is a Father of Lies, a "professional" at conning people into choosing wrongful actions to the point that people do not even realize when they have been deceived. The scene in the Garden of Eden plays out over and over again in today's reality: Satan entices one person to sin and that person lures another, while both find ways to pass the blame onto another  person or something else, refusing to accept responsibility for the choice one has made.

All of us need to pray with the psalmist the words of Psalm 139, today's responsorial psalm:  Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way and take to heart the words of the psalm:

"O Lord, you have proved me and you know me;
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."

So, I may cover up the truth from my fellow human beings and from myself, but not from God.  God knows me through and through and is deeply saddened when I make poor choices, choices whereby I become more and more a slave to sin and less and less a slave of the truth that makes me free.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Transcending Ego Disturbances

In today's first reading, Job 19: 21-27, Job  speaks of being hounded by his friends "as though [they] were divine."  He complains that they "insatiably prey upon" him!  How easy it is to pontificate against those whose behaviors we abhor and who seem to "insatiably prey upon" us!   Are we not then acting as though we were God?

It is easy to focus on the negative aspects of life, and there are many, and to get stuck on complaining about this or that or the other thing that disturbs our ego self.  I caught myself doing just that today and realized later, in prayer,  that, instead of seeking counsel from the Holy Spirit, I was focusing on an ego issue important to the prideful part of the self and about which another was hounding me.

Job did not cling to the words of those hounding him or complaining about him. No, he turned his focus to God and said to his critics:  "[A]s for me, I know that my Vindicator lives..."  If, like Job, you and I focused on God when things get rough around us, for whatever reason, we  certainly would not be "crying" about issues that naturally disturb the ego self.  May the Lord grant us the graces needed to redirect our thoughts to things of the Spirit self.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Fit for the Kingdom!

In today's Gospel, Luke 9: 57-63, three different persons indicate a desire to follow Jesus. When invited to do so, each has an excuse before making a commitment.  Jesus points out that following Him is not easy. Sacrifice is required. What seems more important than an immediate, direct and complete response needs to be relinquished.  How often, when the Spirit calls, do we not say:  "I've gotta do this or that first." That to which the Spirit called us to give time and attention is then left undone, forgotten.

Jesus uses strong words at the close of this passage when speaking to the person who asked to first say farewell to his/her family at home and then follow Him. Jesus says: "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God." Experiencing and building the Kingdom of God right here, right now, often depends on our obedience to the Spirit's invitations to do the right thing, the loving thing NOW, not later when whatever we chose to do instead crowds out the opportunity to grow in self-sacrificing love!

Lord, I ask forgiveness for the times that I have excitedly said that I want to follow you but when the rubber hits the road, so to speak, I have chosen my will, not yours!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Dealing with Difficult Times and Depressing Feelings

In today's first reading, Job 9: 1-12, 14-6, Job is so depressed that he cursed the day that he was born:  "Perish the day on which I was born, the night when they said, 'It is a boy!' Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire," Job asks God in his despairing moments. Depression is a horrible experience. Many suffer its ravaging emotions, its darkness, not knowing what to do or to whom to turn. Sometimes medication simply does not seem to work. All seems lost!  To get out of bed in the morning, to put one foot ahead of the other, so to speak, to keep on and stay involved in life in spite of one's lethargy is a monumental task.

Many of us, when going through hard times, are encouraged by the psalms. In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 88, we pray:

O Lord, my God, by day I cry out;
at night I clamor in your presence.
Let my prayer come before you; 
incline your ear to my call for help.

For my soul is surfeited with troubles
and my life draws near to the nether world.
I am numbered with those who go down into the pit;
I am a [person] without strength.

My couch is among the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom you remember no longer
and who are cut off from your care.

You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit,
into the dark abyss [of depression].
Upon me your wrath [seems to lie] heavy, 
and with all your billows you overwhelm me.

That is what depression feels like! Both Job and the psalmist teach us to mince no words in our prayer but to tell the Lord how it really is with us when we are troubled, troubled to the point of death!  Let us not pretend that all is well when all is not well!  God wants honesty from us, not because He does not know what we may be suffering but because honesty sets us free. When we can name an emotion, we are in control. When we are unable to name our emotions, they control us! Let us take control by acknowledging before God what we are truly feeling when we are down or hurt, angry or frustrated.  I have found that sharing my feelings with the Lord in writing and then asking for God's counsel works for me. God always comes through with words of Wisdom that lift my spirits, that give me the courage to go on and stay involved in life, giving the best I am capable of giving!

How about you?

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Weeping, Repenting, Acknowledging our Need for Mercy

In today's second reading, James 5: 1-6, St. James challenges those who have become wealthy by corrupt, deceitful ways:  "Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvest your fields....[you who] have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure [at the expense of the poor]...[who] have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have  murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance."

This passage brings to my mind those who, to this very day, have accumulated wealth unjustly or illegally: in the sex trade industry, in dealing in illegal drugs, or who have coerced young boys and girls into forced labor; those who, in fact, have withheld wages from their employees, filed bankruptcy and left those to whom money was owned without being paid for their labors and who have engaged in other corrupt practises.

James goes on to invite those who have gained wealth by engaging in unjust practises to grieve:  "Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away,  your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire."

We know from the Gospels that God does not rejoice in those who choose evil over good and who, for that reason, risk eternal damnation. No, God rejoices more over the one sinner who repents than over 99 persons who are in right relations with their God.  Let us pray for that one person whom we know is making millions and billions of dollars in unjust, illegal, deceptive ways. Because of your prayers and mine, my this one person weep and wail over the miseries he/she has caused and return to the Lord repentant of their sins. And may you and I recognize that for which we, too, need to weep and wail in repentance! God knows that for which we need to repent. May we be open to knowing what God knows about us!

Friday, September 28, 2018

"A Time to Die" to Being Judgmental

In today's first reading, Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11,  the author states that there is "a time to be born and a  time to die."  The thought came to me that, given what is happening in the world of our day,  it is especially the time to die to judging others.  For instance, it is easy to point fingers at those involved in the nomination of a new justice to the Supreme Court, or to judge the President or members of congress or of the  Senate or leaders anywhere in the world or to judge those who do not embrace the political party in which we believe.  However, when we have a finger pointing at others, three fingers are pointing at ourselves.  The sinner that we need to convert, so to speak, is ourselves, not other persons. The Lord rejoices over one sinner repenting of his/her sin; let that one sinner be myself!  May I change from being the publican boasting of not being like that person over there to being the one who is saying to God:  "Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I have sinned."  God's mercy is infinite!  God's arms are open to embrace the sinner, as the father of the prodigal son embraced his son upon his return to him after a life of debauchery and sinful pleasures.  May I be that prodigal son/daughter!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Guidance from the Author of Proverbs

Today's first reading,  Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13, again instructs us, clearly stating what God expects of us as His sons and daughters, that is, what gives God pleasure. "Like a stream is the king's heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases [God], God directs it."  My prayer is that my heart and your heart are like streams in the Lord's hands, in that we allow the love of God, God's compassion and forgiveness, God's justice and truth to flow out of us into the hearts of others.  "To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice," the author of Proverbs tells us.  I may think that I need to do this penance or that penance, treat myself harshly, endure strict fasts, and/or, for instance, sacrifice needed sleep to spend hours and hours in prayer in order to be "acceptable to the Lord."  No, Proverbs tells us!  What God wants is that we act justly and do what is right, as also emphasized by the prophet Micah (cf. Micah 6:8).

This passage of Proverbs also clearly speaks of what displeases God:  "Haughty eyes and a proud heart--the tillage of the wicked is sin....Whoever makes a fortune by a lying tongue is chasing a bubble over deadly snares. The soul of the wicked...desires evil; his [her] neighbor finds no pity in his  [her] eyes....A [person] who shuts his [her] ear to the cry of the poor will himself [herself] also call and not be heard."

Some questions that I need to honestly ask myself are:  Would I describe my behaviors as haughty or deceitful? Am I chasing bubbles or desiring evil?  Do neighbors wait in vain for me to show compassion and have pity on them when they are in a crisis situation? Have I shut my ears to the cry of the poor?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Choices in Life

Today's first reading, Proverbs 3: 27-34, clearly spells out the dilemma of the wicked and challenges us not to envy such, as he/she grows wealthy and piles on what looks like one success upon another and another.  "Envy not the lawless [individual]  and choose none of his [or her] ways: To the Lord the perverse one is an abomination, but with the upright is [God's] friendship. The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but the dwelling of the just [God]  blesses; when dealing with the arrogant, [God] is stern, but to the humble [God] shows kindness."

Whom do I envy and why? Whose goods/wives do I covet? Am I among the upright or the perverse ones spoken of above? How much at peace am I or am I a disturbed individual who seeks to escape his/her troubles by excessive drink, overeating, compulsive shopping or obsessively running after one relationship after another or whatever addiction that enslaves me?

The response to today's responsorial psalm, (Psalm 15) reads: "The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord."  The psalmist goes on to speak about persons who are upright: "[An individual] who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his/[her] heart and slanders not with his tongue. Who harms not his fellow man [woman], nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; by whom the reprobate is despised, while...[honoring] those who fear [reverence] the Lord....[An individual] who does these things shall never be disturbed."

Am I a person about whom others would say these praiseworthy things?  Is the psalmist describing me/you? If our answer is "no," what changes do we need to make in our way of living?