Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Plea for Justice

Again, today's first reading, Habakkuk 1: 12-2:4, is applicable to what is happening in the world of today.  Habakkuk is complaining to the Lord concerning the evil that exists in the world of his day. He says to the Lord, God:  "Are you not from eternity, Lord, my holy God, immortal?  O Lord, you have marked [evil men/women] for judgment, O Rock, you have readied [them] for punishment!  Too pure are your eyes to look upon evil, and the sight of misery you cannot endure. Why, then, do you gaze on the faithless in silence while the wicked man devours one more just than himself?"

Habakkuk's complaint is as true now as in his day.  Evil men and women "devour" others more just than themselves; they are, therefore,  marked for judgment--God's judgment.   The psalmist, in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 9, reminds that "[t]he Lord sits enthroned forever; he has set up his throne for judgment.  He judges the world with justice; he governs; the people with equity," so unlike humankind's way of judging and governing.  Also, as Habakukk emphasizes:  God's eyes are "too pure...to look upon evil." This is as true today as then."The sight of misery [God] cannot endure" today  any more than in days of old.  The day of judgment will come. God will intervene in God's time and bring justice to this world, creating a new earth and a new heaven where justice will reign and evil will be no more!

Regarding Habakkuk's complaint, God responds as follows: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash man/[woman] has no integrity; but the just [person], because of his [her] faith, shall live."  That promise will be fulfilled!  I believe that!  What about you?


Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Law of Love Written on our Hearts

In today's first reading, Jeremiah 31: 31-34, the Lord says to us through the prophet that "the days are coming...when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah....I will place my law within them, and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  No longer will they need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord. All, from least to greatest, shall know me,..., for I will forgive their evil doing and remember their sin no more!"  You and I have the law of God--the law of love--written on on our hearts.  We know right from wrong and are reminded by the Spirit every time we ignore what God has engraved on our heart.

To confirm and reinforce this message of love and forgiveness, Jesus became sin for us upon the cross, putting sin to death and clothing us in a robe of righteousness, as St. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5: 21:  God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  In Ephesians, Paul says to us:  "...[P]ut  on [your] new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4: 24).

Have I forgotten God's love? Am I too busy attempting to find salvation elsewhere where God is not? Have the excitements of the world blinded me? Has my heart become so hardened that I no longer sense the spirit nudging me to return to the Lord, to offer Him a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, to give Him my heart in sacrificial love for the life of those with whom I live and work, pray and play?




Wednesday, August 8, 2018

God's Age-old Love

In today's first reading, Jeremiah 31: 1-7, the Lord says to the Israelites through the prophet Jeremiah: "With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin Israel;....Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits."  Why?   Because the "Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel."

Over and over again Israel prostituted themselves, worshipping the false gods of neighboring countries. And over and over again God restored them and rebuilt "virgin Israel". So, too, with us How many times have we worshipped non-gods or chosen God substitutes, seeking love and security and peace where such cannot be found: in accumulative wealth earned in dishonest ways, promiscuity, avarice, prostitution, dishonest dealings,  human trafficking, drug trafficking, forced labor, cheap labor and so on.  How many times have we not gone astray, abandoning truth and justice and running from the disciplines that will lead us to the Lord, our God. And God says to us: "With an age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt," O virgin daughter/son!

When we turn back to the Lord, our God, with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind, God, we are told by Jeremiah in today's responsorial verse, "will turn [the] mourning [that comes from being unfaithful to the Lord]  into joy."  God "will console and gladden [us] after [our] sorrows."

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Keep Your Eyes on the Lord

In today's Gospel, Matthew 14: 22-36, Jesus, while dismissing the crowd,  sends the disciples to the other side of the sea ahead of him.   Once the crowd is dismissed, Jesus goes up to the mountain to pray by Himself.  The disciples are a couple of miles out on the sea and are being tossed around by a strong storm.  "During the fourth watch of the night, [Jesus] came toward them, walking on the sea." They are scared out of their wits, thinking a ghost is approaching them on this stormy sea.  "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter yells back at the ghostly figure and says: "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." "Come," Jesus responds to Peter. And Peter steps out of the boat onto the rough waters. Realizing what the heck he is doing, Peter becomes fearful, takes his eyes off of Jesus and begins to sink.  "Lord, save me."  And immediately, Jesus stretches out His hand and pulls Peter up drowning.

"Lord, save me," is a prayer all of us, no doubt, say often!  We  may drowning, so to speak, in grief, in financial or  relationship problems, in episodes with our children that we could never dream of, in facing illnesses--mental or physical--that baffle us and fill us with fear!  "Lord, where are you?" we ask!   "Be not afraid," the Lord says to us. I am right here with you. Together we will face these storms flooding  your life. You are not alone. I never abandon you. No matter how rough things become, keep your focus on me. Be not like Peter and focus on turbulent "sea."  With your focus on me, you will make it, because I am the God of life, not of death. I am the God of hope, not despair.  I am the God of power, not despair.  When you are too tired, too weak, to walk, I will carry you. Trust Me.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Building a Relationship with Jesus

Imagine being Peter, James and John, whom Jesus "led up to a high mountain apart by themselves." That, in itself, is an incredible gift! Alone with Jesus, the Son of God, the Most High God!  Every day, you and I are also invited to spend time alone with Jesus in prayer.  Is "the mountain" too high for us to climb? Or do we simply dismiss the invitation, proclaiming to be too busy?

On that mountain, Jesus is transfigured before them. "...his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them."  Seeing Jesus in this way alone was more than enough but that was not all. Moses and Elijah appear and begin a conversion with Jesus.  Flabbergasted and bewildered, Peter does not know what to say and blurts out: "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!"  Following that suggestion, a cloud covers Peter, James and John and they hear a voice say to them: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."  Suddenly, the three apostles are alone with Jesus! As they walk down the mountain, Jesus instructs them to share the experience with no one until He has risen from the dead! "Risen from the dead?"  Their unshared response: "What the heck does that mean?"

There are lots of mysteries in our faith. And like Peter, James and John, we find it difficult, many times, getting our arms around them, so to speak!  What we do know is that, like with the apostles, Jesus will and does prepare us for what is to come. That is why He took Peter, James and John up this mountain before going up to Jerusalem for His passing through death into eternal life, where the Father would bestow upon Him "dominion, glory, and kingship" (See today's first reading:  Daniel 7: 13-14).  

Peter, James and John had developed a very close relationship with Jesus and, therefore, were open to Jesus' invitations to send special times with Him alone.  What about you and me?  Are we willing each day to set time aside with the Lord to get to know Him, listen to Him, share our secrets with Him and He with us?  I hope so!




Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Generosity of Our God

In today's first reading, Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15, we read about the Israelites having been freed from the slavery of the Egyptians and are crossing the desert on their way to the land promised to them by their God.  Food is scarce. In anger, they grumble against Moses and Aaron: "Would that we had died at the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and had our fill of bread!" God, of course, who is always present, leading  us, walking beside us, behind us and ahead of us, hears their complaint! He does not get sucked into their anger and respond angrily. No! He says to Moses: I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion...I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God."

WOW!  That is our God then and now!

The bread that God sent down to the Israelites in the desert was perishable food, not food that lasts. The Bread set down to us now is bread that lasts into eternal life: that Bread of Life is Jesus, as we read in today's Gospel, John 6: 24-35. Jesus tells the people: Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you....[T]he bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world....I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

Are we aware of this Truth? Do we come to Jesus in the Eucharist, in the daily Scriptures, in our personal, communal and liturgical prayer seeking to know Jesus more deeply and more personally, to grow in our faith and trust and love?  Do we even pray for  these graces each day, recognizing our need for the Lord's help?




Thursday, August 2, 2018

Building God's Kingdom

In today's Gospel, Matthew 13: 47-53, Jesus likens the Kingdom of heaven  to "a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind."  When Jesus called the apostles from their fishing boats, He told them that He would make them fishers of men.  During His time here on earth in a physical body, Jesus, the Son of God, also went about "fishing" for men and women in need of a physician, persons needing healing of body, mind and spirit.  He ate with sinners, spoke with sinners, raised sinners from the dead, promised Paradise to a thief dying on the cross next to  him when he asked to be remembered by Jesus when He got to His Kingdom.

The Son of God was the transformation of God roaming throughout all of Galilee and the surrounding area. He was the Divine Potter reshaping people into the image and likeness of God in which each was made and about which each was commissioned to bring to fullness during their sojourn here on earth. Jesus showed the way to accomplish his work. He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life of God in our midst then and now!

May you and I realize ever more fully our mission to build God's Kingdom, as Jesus did and does!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

God, Our Refuge in the Day of Distress

Today's first reading, Jeremiah 15: 10, 16-21, the prophet expresses his despair.  He is deeply depressed and expresses anger at his mother for giving him birth. He describes himself as "a man of strife and contention to all the land! I neither borrow nor lend, yet all curse me."  He can't figure out how this can be! "When I found your words," Jeremiah reminds God, "I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart, because I bore your name, O Lord, God of hosts. I did not sit  celebrating in the circle of merrymakers; under the weight of your hand I sat alone because you filled me with indignation." God does not let Jeremiah off the hook.  "If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand. If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece. Then it shall be they who turn to you and you shall no turn to them.  And I shall make you toward this people a solid wall of  brass. Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail, for I am with you, to deliver and rescue you...I will free you from the hand of the wicked, and rescue you from the grasp of the violent."

What is true for Jeremiah is also true for us.  As God's mouthpiece, we need to stand up to evil. Doing so will not win us brownie points among others. In fact, as with Jeremiah, we may be cursed by others.  Devouring God's words, however, is not enough. We need to live a pure, holy life as well as stand up to evil, knowing that God is with us "to deliver and rescue" us!  God will free us, as He did Jeremiah, "from the hand of the wicked, and rescue [us] from the grasp of the violent," including the violence of Satan prowling the world, seeking someone to devour.

Remember, as we pray in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 59, that "God is [our] refuge on the day of distress."



Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Weeping God

In today's first reading, Jeremiah 14: 17-22,   God, through the prophet Jeremiah, tells us that He sobs,"without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over here incurable wound.  If I walk out into the field, look! those slain by the sword..."  What God sees today, I believe, are those slain by automatic rifles, machine guns, chemicals, and war machines of all kinds.  God goes on to tells us through the prophet that, as He walks around, He sees "those consumed with hunger"--hunger, I believe, for justice,  honesty, integrity; for compassion, patience, reconciliation, acceptance; hunger for hope and love and forgiveness! 

Humankind, Jeremiah says,  also responds to God in desperation:  "Have you cast Judah (put in the name of any nation on earth) off completely? Is Zion (or other peoples) loathsome to you? Why, [we complain,] have you struck us a blow that cannot be healed? We wait for peace [and justice and integrity], to no avail; for a time of healing, but terror comes instead."   Every night, as we watch the news with you, Lord, we hear of ongoing corruption, destruction, violence and hatred spreading across our land, our country and other countries!

With Jeremiah, we "recognize...our wickedness, the guilt of our fathers [and our own guilt]; that we have sinned against you," O Lord.  Have mercy on us, Lord. Open our eyes to the evil in which we may be involved.  Also deepen our awareness of colluding with others in their evil intent, especially when another's eyes are blind and ears deaf to the wickedness of their ways.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Created to be God's People, God's Beauty, God's Renown, God's Praise

"...[A]s close as the loincloth clings to a man's loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord; to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen," we read in today's first reading, Jeremiah 13: 1-11.  That passage also speaks of the nation to which you and I belong.  As a nation, as a country, as a city, as a family we are created to be God's people, God's renown, God's praise, God's beauty. Are we?  The people of Israel and of Judah did not follow God's ways, did not cling to God but sought their security in other gods, idols, worshipped by other countries, other nations, other tribes, other kingdoms!  They, in fact, rejected God as the only true God! Have you? Have I?

In the responsorial verse of today's liturgy, taken from Dt. 32: 18-19, 20, 21,  God very clearly voices His anger, saying to the people of Israel and of Judah: "You have forgotten God who gave you birth."  When God saw their unfaithfulness, the author of Deuteronomy says, "he was filled with loathing."  Angered, God said: I will hide my face from them...and see what will then become of them.  What a fickle race they are, sons [and daughters] with no loyalty in them!"  Is God saying that of our nation, of the country to which you and I belong? Is God saying that of you and me?


Sunday, July 29, 2018

A God of Sufficiency

In today's first reading, 2 Kings 4: 42-44, a man brings the prophet Elisha "twenty barley loaves made from first fruits and fresh grain in the ear."  Elisha directs him to give the food to the people to eat.  How, the man objects;; I don't have enough to feed the hundred people gathered here.  "Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, 'They shall eat and there shall we some left over."  Sure enough! They ate and there were leftovers. That is the kind of God who serves us and is there for us!

Jesus reveals these same attributes of God!  A huge crowd followed Jesus and the disciples across the Sea of Galilee. Jesus sees the crowd approaching and says to Philip:  "'Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?'  He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do."  In the crowd, there  was a little boy who had five barley loaves and two fish. Andrew, the brother of Peter, raised the question:  "...[W]hat good are these for so many?"  There were about 5000 men in the crowd besides women and children.  "...Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them...and also as much fish as they wanted. When they had their fill, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.'  So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with the fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat."

God is a generous God, a God of plenitude, a God of sufficiency!

How trusting are you and I, especially when we believe that we do not have enough to reach out to others in their need?  Do we believe that, with God's help, we will have what it takes to lift a burden from another person, to offer our help by assisting them financially or materially, giving of the little energy we do have,  knowing that by being there for others the little strength we have will be multiplied a "hundredfold"?  Your "two fish" or "five barley loaves" of love, of generosity, of patience goes a long way if we distribute such in faith!


Friday, July 27, 2018

Becoming One as the Trinity is One

Today's first reading calls us to faithfulness, to abandon positions of rebellion and follow the Lord. With Him, we are on a journey to the New Jerusalem, to the everlasting city of our God!  "I am your Master," says the Lord.  "I will take you, one from a city, two from a clan, and bring you to Zion. I will appoint over you  shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently...."  On this journey through this world, you and I  will eventually come to the point in our lives when we "will call Jerusalem the Lord's throne; there all nations will be gathered together to  honor the name of the Lord at Jerusalem, and [we] will walk no longer in...hardhearted wickedness."  

Every day, every hour, every yearGod is leading us toward union with Himself, with one another, all nations with all other nations, all peoples with all other peoples. Becoming one with the Lord,  one  with one another and one with our innermost self where God dwells are our goals here on earth.   Every day, every hour, every moment, God "appoints over [us, over you and me] shepherds after [His] own heart, who will shepherd [us] wisely and prudently,"  teaching us the ways of communion with one another and with our God! It is God who does the gathering, the coming together in unity, as in the Trinity, where Father, Son and Spirit are one.

In place of today's responsorial, we pray from Jeremiah 31: 10, 11-12abcd, 13.  We pray that "[t]he Lord shall ransom Jacob, he will redeem him from the hand of his conqueror, [Satan who seeks division, not unity]. Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming for the Lord's blessings: The grain, the wine, and the oil, the sheep and the oxen. Then the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy [as they enter into greater communion with one another],  I will console and gladden them after their sorrow [of being divided, of following wicked ways]."

O, the greatness and the mercy of our God!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Belonging to a Holy Family

Today we celebrate the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, grandparents of Jesus!  Under the cross, Jesus gave us His mother. Her parents, therefore, are our grandparents and her Son, Jesus, is our brother!  What a holy family to which we belong!

In what ways am I, are you,  growing in our relationships with this, our family?  Grandparents are very special. They "spoil" us--Joachim and Anne would "spoil" us in a good way, bestowing graces that lead us into the life of the Spirit, into a deeper relationship with their grandchild Jesus and their daughter Mary!  Have I, have you, ever thought of praying to Saints Joachim and Anne for the graces we need to deepen/ grow/nurture our faith? Have we ever prayed for eyes that see the Presence of their grandchild in our lives? Have we ever prayed for ears to hear Jesus' voice more clearly as Jesus directs us to do the good we are called to do?  Have we ever prayed to Saints Joachim and Anne for the grace to develop a heart that loves Jesus and grows in understanding Jesus' teachings and ways of relating?

In today's Gospel, Mt 13: 10-17, Jesus rebukes those who do not see, do not hear, do not understand His ways of teaching in parables and blesses those who do: "...[B]lessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen,  I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."  Faith is a gift that, like any physical gift, needs to be exercised or otherwise it atrophies. What am I, what are you, doing to build the faith we have been given as members of the holy family?




Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Being a Disciple of Jesus

The entrance antiphon of today's liturgy, describes the call of James the Apostle, whose feast we celebrate today:  As he walked by the Sea  Galilee, Jesus saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother mending their nets and called them" (cf. Mt. 4: 18, 21). And they followed the Lord and never left Him.

James and John were ordinary fishermen.  Nothing out of the ordinary, like all of us.  We are common folk whose hearts God knows!  He sees what we are made us--He is our Creator--and He knows of what we are capable, in spite of our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our fears, our misguided ambitions.  In the case of James and John, they commanded Jesus through their mother, that, in heaven,  one sit at his right and the other at his left in the Kingdom. Jesus replies:  "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink"  (Matthew 20-28)?

Following Jesus, in any vocation, is not about being treated to special positions above others. Service, after the example of Jesus, means a self-emptying, a giving of ourselves for the sake of the other. In Jesus' case, self-emptying entailed being a victim of other people's jealousy, a jealousy that led persons to succumb to the evil of putting Jesus to death, getting Him, so to speak, out of their way of the power they coveted!

Power struggles are part of life. In fact, prior to their total conversion into what it means to be a disciple of the Lord, James and John and the other apostles strove for power over one another. Jesus says to them in today's Gospel:  "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many"  (Matthew 20: 20-28).

Whom are you serving? For whom are you willing to give your life?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Belonging to, and Choosing to Belong to Jesus' Family

In today's Gospel reading, Matthew 12: 46-50, Jesus' mother and brothers come looking for Jesus. When alerted of their presence and their desire to speak to Him, Jesus asks the question: "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" He then points to his disciples and says: "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother."  Jesus broadens the definition of family beyond our biological families. Everyone who does the will of His Father are His mother, brother, and sister  are a part of Jesus' family. In this passage, Jesus also elevates all of us who follow the Spirit's direction, to the level of His mother, who, in fact, is the model of obedience to the Father and taught Jesus obedience to His heavenly Father as well.

Obviously, the most important fact is that we do what the Father wills of us. At times that might mean being in opposition to our family members, our relatives and our friends, as they might not support us when we make a choice we believe God is asking of us.  Are we willing, then, to follow the Spirit's lead?


Monday, July 23, 2018

No Sign is Needed: We Know What God Wants of Us

In today's Gospel, Matthew 12: 38-42, some of the scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign. Frustrated, Jesus says to them:  "...no sign shall be given...except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights."  Jesus then rebukes the people for their lack of repentance at His preaching. "...[T]here is something greater than Jonah here." Nineveh repented when Jonah warned them of their evil ways while many people to whom Jesus preached, and preaches today, basically ignore His message.  "At the judgment," Jesus says to them and to us, "the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here."

Among the questions that I need to ask myself are:  1) Do I realize that Someone greater than Jonah or Solomon lives in my midst, invites me to the Banquet of the Eucharist, lives in the very core of my being, directing to do good, calling me to repentance, nudging me to avoid the evil ways of dishonesty, gossip, greed, revenge, pride and other sinful ways?  2) To whom/what do I seek wisdom while avoiding an ever deepening relationship with Jesus in communal, liturgical and personal prayer, in living a life of love, mercy, and forgiveness; in holy reading and helping family members, one's neighbor and the outcast, a refugee, a homeless person in need?

It is not that you and I do not know what God asks of us, because the law of God, of love, is written on our hearts.  We have also been told what to do, as Micah, in today's first reading reminds us: You have been told..what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right [act justly], and to love goodness [love tenderly], and to walk humbly with your God"  (Micah, 6: 8).


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Christ as One Who Ends All Divisions

In today's second reading,  Ephesians 2: 13-18, St. Paul reminds us that Jesus "came and preached peace to [us] who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we [all] have access in one Spirit to the Father."   Paul was speaking to Jews and Gentiles, peoples who were at odd with one another, divided by different faiths. In Jesus, divisions cease between persons, cultures, nations.  Jesus "is our peace, he who made both [parties-- whether individuals or nations, different races or nationalities] one and  broke down dividing wall/[s] of enmity, through is flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create  in himself one new person [nation, race, culture, religion] in place of the two [or three, four, five, etc.] thus establishing peace, and might reconcile [all] with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it."

God sees us at war with those we consider inferior to us; He witnesses us at odds with different cultures, races, nationalities, countries. God, not only sees the divisiveness and the animosity that exist among us, but also takes action, sending us the graces we need to end divisions, to reconcile with one another as persons, as countries in opposition to one another, as persons  hostile toward those who may worship God differently than we do.  We have God on our side to help us accomplish the mission of reconciliation and to move toward greater union and deeper love in our relationships on all levels of existence: familial, interpersonal, societal, ecclesial, national, international.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Message from the prophet Micah

Today's first reading, Micah 1: 1-5,  I believe, applies to us today, as it did to the people of Micah's time.  The prophet Micah utters a warning to us in all segments of society in any part of the world:  Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches [or behind closed doors]; in the morning light they accomplish it when it lies within their power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and they take them; they cheat an owner of his house, a man [woman] of his [her] inheritance.  Therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, I am planning against this race an evil from which you shall not withdraw your necks; nor shall you walk with head high, for it will be a time of evil. On that day a satire shall be sung over you, and there shall be a plaintive chant: 'Our ruin is complete, our fields are portioned out among our captures, the fields of my people are measured out, and no one can get them back!' Thus you shall have no one to mark out boundaries by lot in the assembly of the Lord."

Are we listening to the Scriptures?  Is it possible that persons whom many applaud and trust may, in fact, be planning "iniquity, and work[ing] out evil"?  Is it possible that people's inheritances may be in the process of being squandered by levying heavy tariffs on imported and exported goods--an action that may ultimately result in businesses and farms going  bankrupt?  Is it possible that building walls, demonizing our allies and the canceling of important legislature and treaties that protect our environment and our security may, in fact, result in evil "from which [we] shall not withdraw our necks"?

In today's responsorial psalm, we pray: "Why, O Lord, do you stand aloof? Why hide in times of distress? Proudly the wicked harass the afflicted, who are caught in the devices the wicked have contrived. For the wicked [person] glories in his [her] greed, and the covetous blasphemes, sets the Lord at nought. The wicked...boasts, 'He will not avenge it'; 'There is no God,' sums up his thoughts".

Lord, may we heed the warnings of the prophet Micah and take seriously the prayer of the psalmist!


Friday, July 20, 2018

"Put Your House in Order" (Is 38:1)

In today's first reading,  Isaiah 38: 1-6, 21-22, 7-8,  God sends the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah to say to him:  "Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover."   Hezekiah, we are told, "turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord: 'O Lord, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was pleasing to you!' And Hezekiah wept bitterly."

What if, tonight, God sent you and me a messenger who informed us that we are about to die and, therefore, we should "put [our] house in order, for [we] are about to die."  How would we react? What would we say to the Lord, our God? Could we, as did Hezekiah, say to the Lord: "O Lord, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was pleasing to you"?

What would we need to put in order, if we had only a short period of time to live?  Could we say to the Lord: "I have been faithful and I have served you wholeheartedly as a husband/a wife, as a student, as a member of my religious community, as a parishioner, as a citizen?

What changes would I, would you, need to make so that we can say with Hezekiah at the end of our lives: "I have been faithful and have put my whole heart into my marriage, into my role as father/mother/grandfather/grandmother/aunt/uncle/son/daughter? What do I, do you, need to do differently so as to be faithful to my vowed commitment, my baptismal vows, and in carrying out my responsibilities to my parish, my civic community, my county?

In today's Gospel Acclamation, Jn 10:27, the Lord says to us: My sheep hear my voice,...; I know them and they follow me." Hezekiah faithfully followed the Lord!


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Seek the Lord above All

Today's first reading, Isaiah 26: 7-9, 12, 16-19, begins with the following statement: "The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level. Yes, for your way and your judgments, O Lord, we look to you; your name and your title are the desire of our souls. My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you; when your judgment dawns upon the world's inhabitants learn justice. O Lord, you  mete out peace to us, for it is you who have accomplished all we have done."

We have a lot to learn from that passage and questions to ask. First of all, how smooth is the way upon which I walk? If not smooth, is it because I am involved in unjust practises or burdened down by pursuits that are fleeting and unnecessary? Second of all, am I looking for God's way and God's judgments or am I busy seeking other people's judgment, hoping to be appraised mightily? Thirdly, what are my desires? "God's name and title"? Fourthly, for what does my soul yearn in the night?

If it is God's judgment that we are seeking, Isaiah tells us, then we will learn justice (and, I add, practice it)!  If we realize that whatever good we accomplish is God at work through us, we will then be filled with peace.

In the Gospel, Jesus says to us: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest."  "Come to Jesus" to learn the ways of the Lord! Jesus tells us that He has come that we might have fullness of life (in Him) and that He has not come to condemn the world but save it!  In seeking other people's judgment and looking to the law, we set ourselves up for condemnation! Jesus is meek and humble of heart and relates to us in that way!  Go to Jesus when you are burdened and when you are not!




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Prophet's Warning

In today's first reading, Isaiah 10: 5-7, 13b-16, the Lord God again warns Assyria, saying: Woe to Assyria! My rod in anger, my staff in wrath." As God watches the poor being neglected, truth being scorned  and lies being protected, could God be saying to us: "Woe to you"? As justice is being eroded by persons who have assumed the position of being guiltless and beyond reproach,  I believe that we need to get on our knees and beg Jesus to send the Holy Spirit, opening our eyes to God's presence, our ears to God's voice giving direction, our wills to follow God's precepts and our hearts to love and act on God's decrees!  "Against an impious nation," God sends prophets and prophetesses, warning us of being deceived by the powerful and cunning men of this world! Are we, am I, listening?  Are we, am I, seeing?

De we realize when other people and when we ourselves are, in fact,  saying: "By my own power I have done it [whatever good we project we may be doing, even when that good may actually be harmful for the people we are called to protect]? Do we realize when we, or others, are also saying: "...I have done it,...by my wisdom, for I am shrewd."  Are there times when we rejoice in having "put down the enthroned," by our power, by bullying, by making fun of others, by whatever means to this end?  The prophet points out the wrong being done by people of power in his day, when, in fact, they say:   [L]ike a giant, I have put down the enthroned; my hand has seized like a nest the riches of nations".  It seems that persons in power in our day are "seizing like a nest the riches" of others.   The question, however, that I need to ask myself is: Am I competing to be richer than others and willing to go to any expense to raise myself  above others in material or other kinds of riches?

The prophet asks the questions:  ....Will the axe boast against him [the bully] who hews with it? Will the saw exalt itself above him [the bully] who wields it? As if a rod could sway him [the bully] who lifts, or a staff him who is not wood! Therefore the Lord will send among his fat ones leanness, and instead of his  glory there will be kindling like the kindling of fire."

Is it time for us to heed the prophet's words? Is it possible that we have the "an impious nation" and the bully?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Stand Firm in Your Faith

In today's first reading, Isaiah 7: 1-9, the House of David is informed that the enemies of Judah are encamped in Ephraim and planning to attack the city of Jerusalem.  The heart of the king trembled in fear.  The prophet tells King Ahaz to fear not because his enemies "will not be able to conquer [the city of Jerusalem]."  Isaiah is sent to say to Ahaz: "Take care [that] you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail before"  those who are determined to "tear Judah asunder, [to] make  [Judah their]  own by force, and appoint the son of Tabeel king there."  The Lord continued to assure Ahaz: "This shall not be....[W]ithin sixty years and five, Ephraim shall be crushed,  no longer a nation. Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm."

The response to today's responsorial psalm reminds us that "God upholds his city for ever."  We go on to pray: "Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God. His holy mountain, fairest of heights, is the joy of all the earth. Mount Zion, 'the recesses of the North,' is the city of the great King. God is with her castles; renowned is he as a stronghold...."

Jerusalem is a symbol of the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, that stands forever.  As people of God we are part of that heavenly Kingdom, a Kingdom being built here on earth of living stones with God as our stronghold.  Of whom need we fear!  In Jeremiah 29:11, we are promised, that God has a future full of hope for us, not disaster. It seems that is what Isaiah is trying to get through to King Ahaz and us!  Let us stand firm in our faith that God is with us as we stand up to the enemies who seems to be destroying truth and courting evil instead of good for all peoples!  And let us stand firm in our abilities to cooperate with God in building a kingdom of justice and peace for all!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Shown the Salvation of God

In today's responsorial psalm, Palm 50, we read: "[T]o him/[her who] goes the right way I will show the salvation of God."  That is God's promise to us.

We may be very concerned about those who  do not choose the right path but instead choose evil over good, deceit over truth, unjust practises over justice, and even betray others, including one's country, for the fleeting, short-term goal of self-aggrandizement, looking popular, and/or being acclaimed as powerful and strong by a "mighty"few.  

We need to do more than simply voicing our concern over evil in the world of our day. If we only voice our concern and do not take action, good remains undone. Words only point to the good.  They do not do the good.  With Jesus, we must act on behalf of truth, of justice, of freedom. We live at a time when morality,  truth and authentic freedom are scorned by the majority.  Many men and women of integrity, it seems, cowl in fear of the repercussions of being honest. They seem to be working to save their lives instead of losing them for the sake of the Gospel. Hence evil continues to gallop across our country as we hide behind our fears! "God save us," we cry.  And God says to us through today's psalmist: "Though  you pray more, I will not listen....Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow."  And  I would add: Stand up to those doing evil: to those acting unjustly toward immigrants, barring"Dreamers" from citizenship, sending asylum seekers back to dangerous situations; denying the truth, putting children in cages and spreading messages of hatred and prejudices toward other races and religions.

If we defend what is right and condemn what is wrong, as Jesus did in his own day,  we will meet opposition as Jesus did.  Jesus tells us plainly in today's Gospel: "I have come not to bring peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household."  Jesus then adds: "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."   By taking up the crosses that come with standing up for the truth and doing what is right, we will be shown "the salvation of God."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Jesus Restores Us to Life-giving Ways of Relating

In the Gospel of today, Matthew 9: 32-38, Jesus casts out a demon that had taken possession of a man, rendering him mute. When Jesus expelled the demon, the mute man was able to speak!  I think of times when I have assumed a muteness, refusing to speak to someone with whom I had been angry, righteously so or in unrighteous ways; or when I myself have been given the silent treatment by another. Either way, the effects are painful and exclude God!

When I abandon God, God allows me to "return to Egypt," the place in which I was a slave to sin (compare today's first reading, Hosea 8: 4-7, 11-13).  One can become stuck in that place where one treats another with angry silence!  In those times, the words of Psalm 15 are applicable: They have mouths but speak not; they have eyes but see not; they have noses but smell not. They have hands but feel not; they have feet but walk not.  [Others] shall be like them, everyone that trusts in them."  Most times, in that frame of mind that leads us to treat others disrespectfully and put the blame on them, we do not see what we are doing that has contributed to the problem. We may be blinded by the tendency to blame others.  When  that happens, we do not assume any responsibility for to take steps toward reconciliation. Our hands seem tied behind our backs and we do nothing to make things right!  Others may join us and applaud us for holding firm in our choice to resort to the silent treatment.

May Jesus drive out the demon that renders us mute!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Jesus' Eagerness to Heal and Restore Life

In today's Gospel, Matthew 9: 18-26, an official, upon hearing that his daughter has just died, falls on his knees in front of Jesus and says to him:  "My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hands on her, and she will live." WOW! What a bold act on the part of this official! Absolutely no hesitation! No doubt! Unwavering faith!  "[L]ay your hands on her, [Jesus,]  and she will live!"  May you and I have such faith, pray for such faith and act upon it for the sake of the restoration of life for others--physical life, spiritual life, the life of a healthy relationship!  "Lay your hands, Lord Jesus, upon________________, and this person will live in the light, in love, in hope, in good health.

In this same Gospel passage, a "woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind [Jesus] and touched the tassel of his cloak. She said to herself, 'If only I can touch his cloak I shall be cured.'" And she was!   What courage and boldness on  her part, as well. By touching Jesus, she made him unclean according to Jewish law, as she was bleeding! So, undoubtedly, she hopes that he does not notice her.  However, Jesus knows that healing power went out from Him, so He turns around, not to rebuke her but to reassure her: "Courage, daughter! Your faith has healed you," not I healed you. "Your faith has healed you!"  The power in her faith releases the gift of healing in Jesus!  Are you and I as bold as this woman? Do you and I have the faith this woman has? If not, let us pray for this gift!

Fear of rebuke or fear of consequences does not hold this woman back!  She knows that Jesus has the power to heal people and she, unabashedly, approaches Him, though she is bleeding and would render Him unclean in the eyes of legal authority!  May you and I, when moved by the Spirit to approach Jesus with our needs, do so without hesitation!  Jesus waits, not to rebuke us, but to help us!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Promises of the Lord God

In today's first reading, Amos 9:11-15, the  Lord says to the people of Israel and to us, through the prophet Amos:  "I will raise up the fallen hut of David [and the fallen hut of this world]; I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old....I, the Lord, will do this.  Yes, the days are coming, says the Lord, when....I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel [of the people of the entire world]; they [the Israelites and the people of the entire world] shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink wine, set out gardens and eat fruits. I will plant them [everyone] upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked from the land I have given them, say I, the Lord your God."

The psalmist, in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 85, confirms this message, saying: "...[H]ear what  God proclaims; ...peace to his people [to us]. Near indeed, the psalmist says, is his salvation to those who fear [reverence] him...Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.....Justice shall walk  before him [God], and salvation, along the way of his steps."

God is doing and will do all of this and He also uses each one of us to bring these promises to fruition!  What am I doing, what are you doing,  to restore justice, to rebuild ruined relationships, to see to it that "kindness and truth" shall meet because you and I were involved in a conflictual situation?  What are you, what am I doing, so that people have "a ground" that they can call their own and thrive, able to set out "gardens," literal one and virtual ones, and "eat fruit," literally, spiritually, socially, civilly?


Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Prophet's Call of Baptized Christians

In today's first reading, Amos 7: 10-17, the prophet Amos is rejected, asked to leave Bethel, "for it is the king's sanctuary and a royal temple."  He is told that "the country cannot endure all his words." He is as unwelcome in Bethel as Jesus would later be in his own country.  Amos answers Amaziah, the priest of Bethel by saying: "I was no prophet,...' I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel."  Tell them the following:  "Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city, and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided...and you yourself shall die in an unclean land; Israel shall be exiled far from its land."

Who wants to hear the consequences that shall follow wrongdoing or that result from rejecting God's Covenant? Most times people do not want to hear the truth that there are consequences to making poor choices, to following the way of evil, of injustice and of violating people's rights!  There will be consequences to separating children from their parents as well as to denying the path of citizenship to "Dreamers," children born here in the States or brought here at a young age, knowing no other home but  here since childhood and now being adults.  There will be consequences to destroying treaties that protected Mother Earth and pulling out of the climate agreement with our allies. There will be consequences to belittling our allies and refusing to work with them for the common good!  There will be consequences to trade wars and whatever other ways are being used or considered "to create more billionaires"and "make America great again"!

Just as God called Amos from being a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores, so, too, does God call you and me from backgrounds others may frown upon! God calls the "weak" to confound the "strong."  How and to what is God calling you?



Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Gift of Faith

In today's first reading, Eph 2: 19-22, St. Paul shares with us the following good news: "You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through [Jesus] ...you...are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."

As I read that first that Scripture passage, two things came to my mind:1) the faces of a couple of abandoned children learning that they were being adopted and no longer would be without a family of their own and 2) imagining that I was able to choose to be a member of the family of my dreams--and no family I chose would equal  the love of, the privilege of, the royalty of, the holiness of, the richness of the family of God!  Being part of such a family is beyond my wildest dreams!  I was chosen by God Himself to be a part of this Family.  The Trinity paid a ransom: the cost of the Son's life. Jesus held nothing back to secure my being a part of God's family: the Holy Trinity whose Kingdom is forever and is right here, right now within me and around me and works through me!

How great thou art, O God! As with St. Thomas, whose feast day we celebrate today, Jesus calls me forth when I doubt that Jesus is the Son of God made man risen from the dead who poured out His blood for me on the cross and rose from the dead: Come here, (insert your name), "[p]ut your finger here and see my hands and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe" (today's Gospel, John 20: 24-29)St. Thomas, in humility, fell on his knees and exclaimed: "My Lord and my God" (John20:  24-29) and so do I!


Monday, July 2, 2018

God's Faithfulness

In today's first reading, Amos 2: 6-10, 13-16, the prophet Amos is speaking, I believe, directly to us today in the following message:  Thus says the Lord: for three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; Because they sell the just man for silver,  and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the head of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way....Upon garments taken in pledge they decline beside any altar; And the wine of those who have been fined they drink in the house of their god."  Some world leaders, including the U.S., I believe, are doing exactly what Amos states.  Just men and women are being sold for drugs, for sex, for loading the pockets of billionaires. Poor men and women are being sold for whatever some of the rich covet. By lowering taxes on billionaires and easing re taxes of the poor, profiteers "drink in the house of their god," that is unearned wealth, abused power and control. The "head of the weak" are being trampled "into the dust of the earth" and "the lowly" are forced "out of the way," put into cages, detained in detention centers, returned to a country where their lives and the lives of their children are in danger. 

Amos tells us that God "will not revoke" his word. Even though you and I are unfaithful, God remains faithful to His promises. We are told in the Gospels, that Jesus has come, not to condemn the world but to save it.  God does not go back on that promise.  Salvation is ours if we claim it by living in the the Light and in the Truth, cooperating with God's grace, living up to our baptismal promises. Salvation is ours by the choices we make to do good, act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God (see Micah 6:8). Salvation is ours when we respect each person's right to freedom and to a just wage; when we help all peoples experience liberty, justice and happiness; when we reach out to the needy and oppressed, the sick and deprived of this world; when, in short, we return evil with good.

What kind of choices am I, are you making? Am I, are you, living in the Light or have we chosen to live in the dark and spread darkness into other people's lives?  One comes leads to an eternity of darkness--not God' choice for you or me. The other choices leads to an eternity of light and love--God's choice for all of us.



Sunday, July 1, 2018

God Desires Life and Wellness

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 30,  we thank the Lord because He "changed my mourning into dancing."  In the Gospel, Mark 5: 21-43, Jesus did just that for the woman "afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years" and for Jairus, a synagogue official, whose  twelve-year-old daughter was dying.   Both were healed and restored to life and wellness. The faith of the woman, Jesus tells her, "has saved you." And he says to the distraught father: "Do not be afraid; just have faith."

God does not delight in you or I, or anyone, contracting a disease; nor does he rejoice in any one's death! We are told in today's first reading, Wisdom 1: 13-15; 2: 23-24, that "God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living....But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it." 

Jesus' actions reveal the truth that God desires our well-being and delights in each one of us being fully alive.  Jesus does not hesitate to restore individuals to robust health, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. He delights in inviting us into make choices which lead us to greater wholeness and to deeper communion with one another.  Choices that fragment us or cause us to be separated from one another cause God as much pain as they do us. God weeps with  us when we make such choices and stands by to rescue those who call upon Him.

Lord, do not let my enemies--Satan and his helpers--rejoice over me. "Preserve me from going down into [any] pit" (Psalm 30) that causes me to lead a fragmented, separated life that defies that I have been created to live life in a way that fosters union with others and leads to ever greater and greater wellness and wholeness!

To what choices am I being invited today that will lead to deeper union with others, especially with family members--one's spouse, children, grandchildren, relatives--community members, coworkers, parishioners, persons of other cultures, races religions? Which choices am I making that are causing division and fragmentation?




Saturday, June 30, 2018

Trusting in God's Abundance of Caring

In today's Gospel, Matthew 8: 5-17, a Roman centurion, a Gentile and a leader in Rome's occupying army, boldly approaches Jesus, asking that Jesus heal one of his servants. When Jesus responds affirmatively to his request and says He will come down to Capernaum and heal his servant, the centurion says: "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed."  What love, faith and humility!  Jesus is amazed at how the centurion reacted and says to is disciples, and to us, "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel (substitute so there statement is applicable to where you live) have I found such faith."

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow as He was when he literally walked through the streets or along the roads of Galilee!  Do I have the faith of the centurion? Would I ask Jesus to come down and heal a family member or a relative,  a friend, a parishioner, an employee, a coworker? If not, why not?  Do I have the faith to bring to Jesus' attention, as did Mary at the wedding feast of Cana, that the "wine containers" are empty?  Jesus, "they have no wine."  Jesus says to her in effect, "Why are you bothering me?"  Mary does not feel rebuffed, nor does she back down. She says to the servants: "Do whatever He tells you!"   Her faith in Jesus/in God is unshakable!

What about your faith/my faith?  How solid is it? How firm is it? How unshakable is it?  Do I use it daily in all circumstances, in moments when a healing of mind, body or soul is needed; in circumstances when a life is in danger, when violence is erupting, when corruption seems to have the upper hand, when victims of criminal activities seem abandoned by law enforcement and legal teams who find loopholes to set criminals free,  when world leaders make decisions that will make life for future generations extremely dangerous environmentally and difficult in many other way? Or am I, are you, unconcerned about future generations of any race or creed or culture?

May God open our eyes to our call to see other peoples' afflictions, hear their cries for help, know and care about what others are going through, and take action to help in some way! God did so for the Israelites and Jesus did so for those whom He encountered who needed help!  Now it is your turn and mine to carry on the mission of building God's Kingdom here on earth.  That is why we are here!


Friday, June 29, 2018

God's Power to Save Those of Faith

Today we celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, apostles of the Church. In the first reading of today's liturgy, Acts 12: 1-11, St. Luke shares the story of Peter's arrest and imprisonment,  which immediately followed the martyrdom of St. James. Seeing the people's celebration of St. James' death, Herod believes that he will delight the people even more by killing Peter. The night before being brought to trial, an angel frees Peter, who is heavily guarded by four squads of soldiers and "secured by double chains".  The chains fall off, the locked doors of the prison open and Peter and the angel pass all of the guards unnoticed! Securely outside of the prison, the angel leaves Peter and he realizes that what happened to him was not a vision but reality!

Paul's story is as mind-bottling and miraculous, as he is on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians and bring them to Herod for imprisonment and most likely the same fate as St. James. The Lord God knocks Paul down, then known as Saul, and says to him: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Blinded by the light, he gets up and is told to go into the city.  There, he will be met by a man who will direct him on to what he is to do instead of co-operating with the plan of human beings to to wipe out the followers of Jesus.

God is no less real in your life or mine than in the life of Peter and Paul nor any less real in the world of our day than in the world of Peter and Paul's day. Forces rose up against truth then, and now. Immorality, killings, false imprisonments,violence against people of integrity, the slaughter of innocents and other criminal behavior abounded in Peter and Paul's culture and continue in our day with people supporting these kind of choices in the belief that they are doing what is right--even believing that people doing evil are divinely inspired and divinely appointed to lead us.

God sent Jesus into this world, not to condemn it, but to save it. God sent angels, His messengers, to people like Mary and Joseph, Zachary and Elizabeth, Peter and others. He spoke to Pilate through his wife, who warned Pilate to "have nothing to do with this man," meaning Jesus whom the people desired to be be put to death by crucifixion. In this day and age, God continues to send warnings and also to intervene for us. Are we aware of these interventions?  Or are we too enamored by those yielding power and control and wanting that kind of power ourselves that we go right along with them, even believing that they are of divine origin?

Lord, I pray, open our minds and eyes and ears to the evil around us!  May we recognize the "Herods"  of today--persons as determined  as was Herod in Jesus' time to seize absolute power over others and to do whatever necessary to secure that power, including destroying men and women of integrity, men and women of faith, men and women committed to what is true, right and just!




 


Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Lord is Our Rock of Safety

In today's Gospel, Matthew 7: 21-19, Jesus tells us that if we truly listen to the Scriptures read or preached to us we are then putting into practice the Words of Jesus.  In living according to Jesus' preaching by His words and His actions we are building our "houses" on solid rock.  We will go through hard times but our faith in the Lord Jesus will not be destroyed nor will we stop doing what is right for our families, communities, or world.  "Rain" will fall.  "Floods" will come. "Winds" will beat against the house but it will "not collapse [because] it had been set solidly on rock."

I have been told about a little 3 or 4-year-old child battling a brain tumor. When the road gets rough, she sings "Awesome God" or "Jesus loves me; this I know 'cause the Bible tells me so"!  I also see in my mind's eye a little girl featured on the news this past year. She was in a refugee camp, having escaped her country because of a raging, violent war. She was thanking God for the safety of the camp!  Both these children are being taught to build their "houses" on rock!  The Lord is their Rock of Safety, as He is ours.

Do we live as these little children do?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Faithfulness to the New Covenant

In today's first reading, 2 Kings 22: 8-13; 23: 1-3, the High priest Hilkiah, found the book of the law in the Temple. He gave the book of the Law to the scribe, Shaphan, who read it to the king of Judah. He was appalled that the Covenant had been violated. "The king then had all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned together before him." The book of the law was read to all of them, as they gathered in the Temple of the Lord and listened to the reading. "Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the Lord that they would follow him and observe his ordinances, statues and decrees with their whole hearts and souls, thus revising the terms of the covenant which were written in this book. And all the people stood as participants in the covenant."

At every Catholic Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, we gather before the altar, where bread and wine are consecrated and become the body and blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. In our Amen, standing before the altar,  we recommit ourselves to obey the New Covenant sealed in Jesus' blood.

How faithful are we to the New Covenant to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, our whole soul and all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves? How faithful, that is,  are we in bearing good fruit in each choice we make throughout the day in our relationships with family members, co-workers, community members, and any other persons with whom we do business? Are we patient, forgiving, kind, just, merciful? Do we love tenderly? Do we sacrifice our time and energy and talent for the good of others?

With today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 119, may each of us pray: "Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart. Lead me in the path of your commands, for in it I delight. Incline my heart to our decrees and not to gain. Turn away my eyes from seeing what is vain: by your way give me life. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your justice give me life."  I ask fir these graces, as well, Lord, for all world leaders and especially for the leaders of this country in which I live.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Seeking God's Protection

In today's first reading, 2 Kings 19: 9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36,  the king of Judah is taunted by the king of Assyria. Assyria has destroyed many countries and next on their list is Judah!  A threatening letter is sent to the king of Judah, who takes refuge in the Lord. He goes into the Temple and reads the letter to the Lord and then prays: "O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made the heavens and the earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Hear [the threats of the king of Assyria, taunting] the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and cast their gods into the fire; they destroyed them because they were not gods, but the work  of human hands, wood and stone. Therefore, O Lord, our God, save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God."  The Assyrians did not succeed in their plans to destroy Judah!

It seems as though the Assyrians in warring with other nations and destroying them and then threatening Judah may have been attempting to become THE nation, superior to all others. Is that what is happening in the world of today by dictatorial regimes? The King of Judah sought help from the Lord God!  What do you and I do when leaders of world powers threaten one another? Do we go into the Temple of the Lord and share our concerns with God as did the king of Judah?  And just as importantly, what do we do when evil from within and without threaten our security in the Lord?


Monday, June 25, 2018

Seeking God's Help

In today's first reading, 2 Kins 17: 5-8, 13-15a, 18, we read about the consequences of the people of Israel having "venerated other gods,"  having "followed the rites of the nations whom the Lord had cleared out of the way of the children of Israel and the kings of Israel..."  The people of Israel and of Judah were warned to give up their "evil ways and keep [God's] commandments and statues, in accordance with the entire law..."  The people "did not listen, but were stiff-necked as their fathers, who had not believed in the Lord their God. They rejected...the warning which he had given them, till, in his great anger against Israel, the Lord put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left."

What, do you think, God is saying to us here in the 21st century?  Are leaders of various nations throughout  the world, are you, am I, venerating other gods"?  Are we following precepts that are contrary to what God is asking of us? Are we involved in "evil ways,"  not listening, not heeding, any of the warnings that God is sending to us to alert us of being on a path that will lead, ultimately, to our downfall, to a disastrous end that could be avoided if we followed God's ways?

As in today's responsorial psalm, we pray:  "Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us,...for worthless is the help of men." Help us, Lord, right the wrongs in which we are involved as a nation, as a society, as a church, as a family, as individuals.  I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen!


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Born to be God's Servants

In today's first reading, Isaiah 49: 1-6,  Isaiah speaks of his call: "The Lord called me from birth, from my mother's womb he gave me my name.  He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory....[T]he Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength!....I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth!"

Today, I believe, we need an "Isaiah" and a "John the Baptist"--"sharp-edged swords" and "polished arrows" to bring our country back to the Lord's ways.  We need an "Isaiah" and a "John the Baptist" to prepare the way for justice to thrive and injustices to be destroyed. We need an "Isaiah" and a "John the Baptist", true servants of the Lord, to challenge those desiring to be treated as gods themselves above all others or those making gods of absolute wealth, absolute power and absolute control at the expense of the poor, of immigrants, of minorities and of the environment itself.

However, let us not forget that God has called each one of us at birth to be His servants, to be persons through whom His glory shines by the choices we make to bring forth a just world, a world of righteousness and truth, a world governed with love! We are called to be a light in the darkness of this world, not persons who darken the world by our selfishness, domination and control of others for our own benefit!

What kind of choices am I, are you, making?






Saturday, June 23, 2018

Living according to God's Commands

In today's first reading, 2 Chronicles 24: 1-25, we learn that another king of Israel departed from the Covenant made with the people that there is only one God and that they are God's chosen people called to be faithful. No strange or alien gods were to be worshipped or served in God's place. Under King Joash the people "forsook the temple of the Lord, the God of their [ancestors--Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols; and because of this crime of theirs, wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although prophets were sent to them to convert them to the Lord, the people would not listen to their warnings." When "the Spirit of God possessed Zachariah, son of Jehoiada the priest," and he confronted the people's transgressions, asking them why they have been abandoning the Lord, he was put to death. As he was dying, he prayed: "May the Lord see and avenge."

Is it possible that people who are being treated unjustly anywhere in the world, who are victims of wars of any kind, who are being oppressed, abused, hunted down as"prey," treated as animals,  pray" "May the Lord see and avenge"?

May our eyes, and the eyes of world leaders,  be open to times when we abuse others, deny them their rights to be heard and treated with fairness!  May our ears be open to the prophets that God sends to warn us of wrongdoing and to challenge us to return to the one true God, our Lord and Savior.  When we go astray, may we return to the right path, knowing that God, as we pray in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 89, has "made a covenant" with us, his chosen ones, and that this covenant to love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves stands "firm forever."  The psalmist, a prophet of God, so to speak, warns us that if we "forsake [God's] law and walk not according to [God's] ordinances, if [we] violate [God's]  statues and keep not [God's] commands, punishing consequences will follow as the result of our violations of justice, mercy and not loving others as God loves us.


Friday, June 22, 2018

Being Instruments of God's Will

n today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 132, we affirm the covenant God made with David: The Lord swore to David a firm promise from which he will not withdraw: 'Your own offspring I will set upon your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and the decrees which I shall teach them, their sons, too, forever shall sit upon your throne. For the Lord has chosen Zion; he prefers her for his dwelling...In her will I make a horn to sprout forth for David; I will place a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame but upon him my crown shall shine.'"

In today's first reading, 2 Kings 11; 1-4, 9-18, 20, we again encounter how enemies to Israel attempted to put their own kin on the throne or to usurp the throne themselves.  Athaliah did just that when her son lost his life. In retaliation, she killed the entire royal family. She did not realize, however, that Joash, the future  king, was rescued from her slaughter and hidden away in the Temple! At the appropriate time, Jehoiada, a priest of the Temple, brought him forth and had him rightfully crowned king.   Athaliah, the usurper of the throne and worshipper of Baal, a false god, was put to death! This priest of God also had all the altars to Baal destroyed and had the people recommit themselves to the covenant God had made with them.  And, as with Athaliah, "all who worship graven things are put to shame, who glory in the things of nought.... (Psalm 97).

You and I, when we choose false gods, when we put our faith in things or humans in place of relying on the Lord, our God and Savior,  also experience shame.  We do not lose our physical life, as did Athaliah, but, in abandoning God's Covenant with us, we suffer a diminishment of our trust and faith in the Lord. How is it restored? By our turning back to the Lord, our God, or by the intervention of another who calls us back to the Truth. 


 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

God, the Center of Elijah and Elisha's Lives

"Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord," we pray in today's responsorial psalm.  In today's first reading, 2 Kings 2: 6-14, Elijah is taken from Elisha, the prophet to succeed him.  Knowing that he is about to leave, Elijah asks Elisha to stay with him. He also encourages Elisha to ask for whatever he would like Elijah to do for him before he takes leave of him. Elisha asks for "a double proportion of your spirit....'[I]f you see me taken up from you, your wish will be granted; otherwise  not.'"  Elisha watches as "Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind....When Elisha saw it happen he cried out, 'My father! my father!'...[W]hen he could no longer see him, Elisha--overcome with grief--gripped his own garment and tore it in two." In his grief and facing a challenge beyond him, Elisha cries: "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?"

Imagine someone dear to you about to leave you, someone you admire greatly for their service to and personal relationship with the Lord.  For what would you ask?  Also think of times that you have been overwhelmed with grief and facing seemingly insurmountable problems, what do you do? To whom to you call for help?


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Accountability

In today's first reading, 1 Kings 21: 17-29, God sends the prophet Elijah to Ahab.  He tells Elijah that Ahab "will be in the vineyard of Naboth, of which he has come to take possession."  God holds Ahab accountable of the death of Naboth!  When Elijah confronts Ahab in God's name, Ahab responds with the question:  "Have you  found me out, my enemy?" "Yes...Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the Lord's sight." Elijah then tells him what the consequences of his behavior will be!

In life and in death, we are told in the Scriptures, we belong to the Lord! Jesus is Lord of the living and of the dead!  When we have died to grace as did Ahab and Jezebel, God cares!  He will awaken our consciences in some way.  Many times He does so through an "Elijah" sent to call us to accountability!  That "Elijah" may be a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend, a peer, a co-worker, our pastor/minister or a total stranger!  God cares! And because God cares, He will hold us accountable for the choices we make! God does not rejoice in someone going astray and will, beyond doubt, seek ways to open our eyes to the evil we may have done or to the fact that we are on a path that leads to our destruction, our unhappiness, our becoming corrupted, deceptive, and a plaything of Satan!

We need to join the psalmist, who, in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 51, prays: "Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. For I acknowledge my offense (which Ahab does), and my sin is before me always: "Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight." Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt. Free me from the blood guilt, O God, my saving God; then my tongue shall revel in your justice."

So much evil is being done in the world of today!  In what ways am I complicit of the moral decline around us? Coming closer to home, for what and to whom do I personally need to ask forgiveness today and thereby accept responsibility for the ways in which I did not mirror God's love and caring presence, ways in which I did not enhance life  or make the world in which I live a better place?




Monday, June 18, 2018

Choices of Good or of Evil

In today's first reading, 1 Kings 21-1-16, we read about Ahab, king of Samaria, and his  wife Jezebel. Ahab wanted Naboth, his neighbor,  to give him his vineyard  to use as a garden, as it was next to the king's palace. Ahab, in turn, would give him another vineyard or simply pay him cash for the vineyard.  Naboth refused, as his vineyard was his own children's inheritance. Angry, Ahab refused to eat. His wife Jezebel engaged in actions of deceit, conniving to have Naboth murdered in order that her husband could take possession of the desired vineyard. She succeeded in her evil maneuverings!

Sound familiar?  Deceitful, wicked plotting to get what one desires goes on to this very day and many times such connivance leads to the loss of life--physical death, death of the spirit of an individual or mental demise! And though we may not be the actual person doing the evil, we may be an accomplice in the evil that is being planned, as were Ahab and Jezebel!

We are reminded in today's responsorial psalm that God does not delight in wickedness and that no evil person will stand in God's sight (Cf. Ps.5).  "God hates all evildoers," the psalmist reminds us, and destroys "all who speak falsehood; the bloodthirsty and the deceitful the Lord abhors."

All of us face choices every day of our lives!  In what kinds of choices am I engaged: choices that enhance life for others or those which destroy or diminish life for others?


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Building the Kingdom of God

Today's Gospel, Mark 4: 26-34, speaks about the Kingdom of God and that such is "as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,  he knows not how."   God's Kingdom "sprouts and grow[s]", day by day, night by night! How? By our loving and forgiving one another! By our honesty with one another. By our mercy! By our caring about one another, seeing other people's affliction,  hearing their cries for food, water, clothes; hearing other peoples' cries for justice and truthful living. We sow seeds of the Kingdom of God by, not just knowing what other people are going through but getting out of ourselves to do something that will enhance the life of a person in need. We see God's Kingdom sprouting, blossoming, growing as we witness husband and wife, a grandmother and a grandfather,  loving one another and pouring out that love in self-sacrifice for their children and grandchildren. We see this Kingdom growing by those who give us medical, dental, physical and emotional help; by those in public service who act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with their God (See Micah 6:8) as they provide honest and just service to others.

In what ways am I contributing to the growth of God's Kingdom: Am I sowing seeds of love and justice, mercy, truth, and forgiveness? Or am I living a life of lies, holding grudges, living a narcissistic life, a life of revenge, a  lustful life, a life lacking justice, a life without mercy or love?

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Heart that Overflows with Love

Today we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a heart overflowing with love for all humankind. The Gospel of today's Mass, John 19: 31-37, recalls  the depth of God's love, the death of Jesus on the cross.  The Gospel passage notes that the time is fast approaching when the Jews need to remove the bodies from the cross, so that they do not violate Passover customs! So, executioners break the legs of those being crucified, depriving them of the means to lift themselves up to get any air into their lungs. Jesus is already dead so, instead of breaking His legs, they thrust a lance into His side, from whence flows blood and water. I immediately think of the priest pouring a drop of water into the wine prior to the consecration of the Mass when the Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus and is offered to the Father in atonement of our sins and the sins of the whole world.  What a moment! Though Jesus does not ever die again, His sacrifice of love, I believe, is always before the Father.  Day and night, Jesus intercedes for us at the throne of God!  He awaits that day when you and I enter eternal life, a gift secured for us on the cross! Will you and I accept this gift in faith and love? Or have we already chosen our own gods, gods that cannot save us?


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Salvation in Christ Jesus

In the Collect of today's liturgy we pray: "Grant all that works for our good."  In the first reading Paul tells his beloved that he "bears all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory."   What God did for Paul, that is, using his imprisonment and sufferings for the good of others, so too, does God do for us. Our self-sacrificing love for others, no matter how small, brings about good for others.  Our intercessory prayer does the same.  We might not see how what we do for others "works for [their] good," yet, in faith, we know that  God is always at work in us and through us so that the salvation that is ours, and theirs, in Christ Jesus  is accomplished.

Lord, I pray, continue to show me your ways at work in me and in others.  Continue to transform all in me that thwarts Your will from being accomplished through me, namely, that blocks the good You want to bring into being in another person's life through what I suffer for them, even if that suffering is no more than remaining silent, for instance, when what they are saying is untrue of me or when, i  in another instance, they are being given credit that belongs to me.  May I be willing to hold nothing back in loving others as You love me, knowing that the work we are doing obtains, for them and for us, "the salvation that is in Christ Jesus"!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Facing Truth

In today's Gospel, "some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in  his speech!"  Hoping to corner Him, they ask Him whether it is lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not.  "Knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them: 'Bring me a denarius to look at....Whose image and inscription  is this?...Caesar's. So...[r]epay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.'"

Just as Jesus knew their intentions, so, too does He know yours and mine. Hypocrisy,  insincerity, a lack of genuineness and integrity do not escape Jesus! "Why," Jesus asks his interrogators, "are you testing me?"  Do you and I realize when we are testing Jesus? And when we are being testy and insincere in our relationships with others and with therefore with God, Jesus does not condemn us any more than He condemned the Pharisees or the Herodians, in this instance.  He gives them, and us, an opportunity to face truth. He does not leave them, or us,  off the cuff, so to speak, but puts forth a challenge!  In what ways has Jesus challenged you/me today, this past week, this past month?  In what ways has Jesus shown us His patience so as to bring us to repentance, to salvation?

Lord, open my eyes to my hypocrisy!  Show me the truth that is hidden from me when I set out to ensnare another person?

Monday, June 4, 2018

God's Providence in Each Person's Life

In the collect of today's liturgy, we pray:  "O God, whose providence never fails in its design, keep from us, we humbly beseech you, all that might harm us and grant all that works for our good."  We might reword this as follows: "O God, whose providence never fails in its design, keep from (insert any one's name, especially someone with whom you might be having problems) we humbly beseech you, all that might harm (this person's name) and grant all that works for (this person's) good."  Note how praying for this other person in this way changes your heart, and mine!

Let us remind ourselves that God's providence "never fails in its design" for this other person or for ourselves.  God has a plan for the good of other persons and our own good. When we think of others in this way, especially persons with whom we are having some kind of difficulty, our attitude changes from thinking ill of them, perhaps, to seeing them from God's perspective.  Also, when the problem I am having is that I want to help where I am unable to help, God reminds me that He is that person's Savior, not me. And that whatever is happening in this other person's life that I am finding problematic is of God's design and will bring about some good for this person to which I am not privy!  In other words, God is God and I am only one of His created beings just like the person with whom I am troubled!

Friday, June 1, 2018

God: the Center of All We Do

In today's first reading, 1 Peter 4: 7-13, Peter admonishes us as follows: "[L]et your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining."  Each of us, he says, "has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

Am I, are you, a good steward of the gifts God has given to us, that is, do we use our gifts for the good of another?  Are we "hospitable...without complaining"?  Note Peter's comment that however we serve others,  however we make the world in which we live, be that our family or community living space, we do so "with the strength that God supplies"!  Without God's strength, we would not be building up God's kingdom of love here on earth!  Furthermore, Peter tells us, the purpose of what we do here on earth, as father/mother, parent/child, priest/religious women/men,  is "that in all things God be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Going to Jerusalem with Jesus

Imagine yourself in the scene of today's Gospel, Mark 10: 32-45: You are on the way with Jesus to Jerusalem. On the way Jesus tells you that He is going to be handed over to the chief priests, to Gentiles--unbelievers--who are going to condemn Him to death, mock Him, spit upon Him, scourge Him, and crucify Him and in three days He will rise from the dead!  JESUS, who has become your best friend. You have fallen in love with Him. For three years you have hung on His every word. You witnessed His healings, His raising people from the dead, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.  You have seen Him cast out demons and challenge those who condemn others. You yourself have been challenged to live a life of service to others, to forgive others, not seven times but seventy times seven times.  You had meals with Jesus. You've seen Him walk on water and calm storms, literal ones and emotional ones!  And He tells you of His impending crucifixion at the hands of unbelievers!  He tells you that His end is near! Life with Him, as you know it, will be over soon!

Imagine your conversation with Jesus following this information. It goes something like this:

No, Jesus! This is not possible.  It will not happen. I will not let it happen.

It will happen.  It is my Father's will.

No! It cannot be Your Father's will. No Father would want this for His Son.

You do not understand.

Yes, I do. It cannot happen. It will not happen! I won't let it happen.

In the midst of my suffering, you will flee out of fright. On the hill of my crucifixion, you will be no where to be found.

Jesus! No, no, no. It cannot be.

It must happen, __(your name),________________. Through my death I will ransom you from eternal death.  Three days after my death, I will rise from the the dead and return to My Father, from where I will send you the Holy Spirit, who will teach you all things.  Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit,  you are to travel throughout the whole world and baptize all peoples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 

My Lord and My God! 


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

God's Delight in Us

Today's Entrance Antiphon reminds me that the "Lord became my protector. He brought me out to a place of freedom; he saved me because he delighted in me."  Let us personalize this antiphon and use present tense with Jesus addressing us as follows:  "Dorothy Ann (insert your name) , I am your protector. I  bring you to me every day, more than once, from that place that enslaves you or has the potential to enslave you. I bring you often to a place of freedom--freedom from being judgmental, freedom from idolatry (idolizing your will or something you think you must have to be secure), freedom from attachments, freedom from fear and pride and so on.  I save you from the traps Satan sets for  you. I pull you to safety because I delight in you!"

Our response is in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 98, in which we pray: The Lord has made known his salvation....His right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm....He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward [us]. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands, break into song; sing praise."

The Lord makes known His salvation to us in every liturgy, where He offers Himself to the Father in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, during which the priest, through the power of the Holy Spirit,  turns bread and wine into the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, who, then, comes to nurture, strengthen, sanctify and purify us in Holy Communion! Salvation is also shown to us throughout the day when we follow the Spirit's lead and  when others and we ourselves reveal God's love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and kindness to one another in how we treat each other.




Friday, May 18, 2018

"Do You Love Me?" Jesus Asks Us

In today's Gospel, John 21: 15-19, Jesus, after preparing breakfast for the apostles and eating with them, says to Peter:  "'Simon Peter, do you love me more than these?' Simon Peter answered him, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' He then said to Simon Peter a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do pi love me?' Simon Peter answered him, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Tend my sheep.' He said to him a third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?'  Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, 'Do you love?' ad her said to him, 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.' Jesus said ti him, 'Feed my sheep....'"

Jesus is not only asking Peter whether he loves him but he is also asking us that question, not once but many times as we journey through any given day: "Dorothy Ann (insert your name),  do you love me?"  And I think, He adds: "Then, act as though you do in how you respond to difficult situations, in the way that you meet a challenge. Show me your love as you tend to those with whom you live and work!"  If you are married, I think Jesus asks you to tend to your wife/husband, to your children or grandchildren, to your in-laws.  "Show me that you love me in how you speak to others, in how you pitch in to help one another, in how you go the extra mile and not find excuses to not get off the couch!"  "Do you love me?"


Thursday, May 17, 2018

One with Jesus and the Father

In today's Gospel, John 17: 20-26,  Jesus says to the Father:  "I have given them--you and me--the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me." Let us personalize Jesus' statement to read:  Father, "I have given  [Dorothy Ann]-- (your name)--the glory you gave me." What glory? The glory of being one with Jesus, as Jesus and the Father are one with one another. Jesus explains to the Father why He is asking that you or I be one with Him:  "[T]hat [Dorothy Ann--insert your name] may be one, as we are one, I in [her] and you in me, that [she] may be brought to perfection as one [with me],  that the world may know that you sent me, and you love [her] even as you loved me."

If you are married, I encourage you to read that passage with you and your spouse in mind, personalizes the passage! It then would read, for instance: "I have given Joe and Mary the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that Joe and Mary may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you [love] Joe and Mary even as you [love] me."