Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year

Happy are those who believe in the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh. May our determination to follow His ways deepen in 2019.
All who believe in Jesus and accept the Lord as their Savior are saved!  May our knowledge of needing God as Savior increase in 2019!
Power is given to those who wait upon the Lord.  May our ability to wait upon God be strengthened in 2019!
Power is given to those who rely upon the Lord above all! May we seek God above all in 2019!
Yielding to the will of God is what Mary, the Mother of God, models for us. May we follow her example more consistently in 2019!

Numbered among those who belong to Jesus, may we cherish that belonging more than ever in 2019!
Enlightened by grace, may we, like John the Baptist, point out the Lord to others, as John pointed out the Lord to us.  May our ability to recognize Jesus in others be stretched in 2019!
When we experience an emptiness in our lives in 2019, may we turn to Jesus, who came that we might have fullness of life.

Your success in 2019 depends on whether you keep your focus on the Lord.
Every day of 2019 offers us opportunity to grow in our love for God, others and self. May we seek to deepen this love by our humility, our willingness to forgive and our reliance upon God!
All of us have received from Jesus' fullness, "grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1: 1-18). May our gratitude and awareness of grace grow in 2019.
Remember that the Word of God became flesh and dwells among us!  Seek Him in all of the events of 2019!  He is there to be found by those who seek Him!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Clothe Yourselves in Love

In today's second reading, Colossians 3: 12-21, St. Paul encourages us to clothe ourselves with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another...And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly....

I cannot help but think of all the money and fuss we sometimes make over the external clothes we wear, the makeup we put on to look beautiful, and the length to which we will go to have our hair looking awesome.  Do we, I wonder,  go through the same lengths to clothe ourselves with humility and kindness, compassion and understanding, patience and forgiveness?  Do we  go to the Lord each day and ask to be clothed with love or are we too busy clothing ourselves externally? Do we let Christ's peace enter our hearts or are we too busy being critical of others or blaming others for our discomfort, misery or dissatisfaction, or, even, building accolades for ourselves?

Lord, give me a change of heart! Refocus my eyes to see the gifts you give me each day.  Help me, Lord, cultivate a grateful heart. Clothe me in love, Lord. And may I , in cooperation with grace, put forth effort daily to clothe myself with "compassion, kindness humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another...."  Thank you, Lord, for your generous response to this prayer.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Partnering with God, as Mary Did

It is not even a week since Christmas and we are encountering what living the Christian life is all about: surrendering to the realities of life.  In today's Gospel,  Mary and Joseph present Jesus to the Lord and themselves  undergo the purification rites "according to the law of Moses".  They are to "offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.....[W]hen the parents brought in the child Jesus...[Simeon] took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: 'Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of  your people Israel.'"  Simeon then prophesies, saying to Mary:  "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce)..."

Imagine a young mother and father being given dire news about their child either at his/her birth or at  his/her baptism and also told that their hearts will be pierced with sorrow because of the destiny of their infant.  Now, Mary knows that Jesus is the Son of God, conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit, not by an earthly father but a heavenly one.  Shouldn't everything be rosy for Mary? Not so! How did she manage the sorrows of her life? Mary surrendered to God, trusting Him throughout her life: at the Annunciation,  at the birth of Jesus, the Presentation in the Temple, the flight into Egypt, the wedding feast of Cana, his public ministry, Calvary, the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost. She let go and let God be God and she always "the handmaid of the Lord"--God's servant!

Life here on earth, as it was for Mary, is like a rose bush: it's beautiful and brings much joy but it also has thorns!  The thorny side of life is what we sometimes resent!  The thorns in a rose bush, however, I think,  keep hungry creatures from devouring it. So, too, the thorns of life are a protection for us, as it is those very difficult times that have the power to turn us away from evil toward the good, away from relying upon oneself alone to partnering with God.  The sufferings of life, I believe, are filled with graces that empower us to rely upon God, not upon ourselves alone. God is a powerful protector and helper as we deal with life's thorns and climb the mountains we encounter on our way to eternal life as God's servants here on earth!

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Impact of Negative Emotions Left Unexamined

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the male infants and little boys two years and younger slaughtered by Herod, who felt threatened when he heard from the Magi that, Jesus, the king of the Jews, was born in Bethlehem.   When the magi did not return to Herod to let him know where to find Jesus so he, too, "could do him homage" (Mt 2:9), Herod pursued other actions in his determination to destroy Jesus. 

In today's Gospel,  Matthew 2: 13-18,  Joseph is warned of Herod's intentions.  An "angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said 'Rise, take the child and and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.'"  Joseph followed the angel's suggestions!

In our lives, we have choices: 1) to follow the angels' suggestions in our lives and trust God's Presence to keep us safe from Satan's snares or 2) to get carried away by fear, anger, jealousy and an insatiable thirst for power and control and "wealth" of any kind--anything or anyone in our way is then destroyed in some way: infants in the womb, men and women and children seeking asylum from violence in their own countries, men and women of integrity threatening another's corruption deception and unjust pursuits, persons in the way of a romantic relationship outside of marriage, and so on!

 Fear can drive us to do horrible things, including murdering children, killing our spouse, destroying anything or anyone who gets in our way of staying in control, holding on to power, gaining wealth and prestige--pursuing idols that we are convinced we must have.

Lord, open my eyes to what might be motivating me to do what I do!  Open my eyes to your Presence, my ears to the voice of the Spirit, my heart to love you and my will to follow you!  May I have the courage to examine my motivations and recognize negative emotions driving me to act irrationally!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

St. John's Witness to Jesus, the Word Made Flesh

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John, the Evangelist, the one invited to Mount Tabor where Jesus' glory was revealed, the one who leaned on Jesus' breast at the Last Supper and who accompanied Jesus into the Garden of Gethsemane, the one who stood beneath the cross with Mary on Good Friday and to whom Jesus entrusted His Mother,  and the one who, seeing the burial cloths in the empty tomb truly believed that Jesus had risen and that death had no power over Him.

In today's liturgy, John addresses us in his first letter: "Beloved: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life--for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us--what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (1 John 1: 1-4).

"What was from the beginning" when the world was made was THE WORD, the Son of God, the one who became the Incarnate God born of the Virgin's womb on Christmas day!  That second person of the Blessed Trinity is the one John had seen with his own eyes, is the one John had looked upon and had touched with his own hands.  John had seen THE ETERNAL WORD of God in the person of Jesus Christ. To this second person of the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnate God, John gives testimony and proclaims Him to us so that, with John, we, too, may have fellowship with the Father and with the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What a gift!  God wants fellowship with us!  He held nothing back so that we would have access to the Divine Word by our lives made holy by Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection.  John tells us  that he  and the other apostles proclaimed and gave witness to the WORD MADE FLESH "so [their] joy may be complete" (1 John 1: 4).

If you and I are looking for joy, we will experience such when we, too, give witness to the Lord and proclaim Him to the world of our day, when we, too,  are light in the darkness of the world, as Jesus was and is to this very day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

St. Stephen's Faith and Ours

Today, Dec. 26, we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr.  "Stephen," we are told in Acts 6: 8-10; 7:54-59, "filled with grace and power,  was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke...[Stephen's debaters] were infuriated, and...ground their teeth at him.  But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God....[Stephen's persecutors] threw [Stephen] out of the city, and began to stone him...As they were stoning Stephen, he called out 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."  Like Jesus on the cross, Stephen asked God not to hold the sin of his executioners again them. WOW! A man unafraid to stand up for what and for whom he believed!

Jesus tells us in the Gospels that, like Him, we will meet opposition, that we will be persecuted for our faith and testimony to the Father, just as Jesus was.  We will encounter the cross--misunderstandings, hatred, and an onslaught of  obstacles on our way to eternal life.  Will we, like Stephen, keep our eyes on Jesus! Will we look up to heaven from whence comes our help, as we are told in the psalms, or will we downplay our faith, water it down, to avoid difficulties that are likely to arise from detractors, unbelievers, or those who have chosen other gods? Will we join the "Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, Alexandrians" of our day and throw "stones" at those who disagree with us?

May we, like Stephen, stand up for what we believe,  especially when others want to debate us. Let us also hold on to God's promise that He will instruct us on what to say when we are dragged before the "tribunals" of our day!  God is with us always!  Let us not be afraid!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

What delights our God!

In the second reading of today's liturgy, Hebrews 10: 5-10, St. Paul reminds us of when Jesus came into the world, God wanted obedience to His will, not sacrifices of thousands and thousands of animals to appease for sin.  As explained by St. Paul to the Hebrews and to us about Jesus becoming human and what God wanted of him: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight. [Jesus' response:] Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.'....[Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings] are offered according to the law [and the law cannot save anyone]. Then he [Jesus] says, 'Behold, I come to do your will.'"

We cannot save ourselves. Only Jesus can! By His obedience to God's will we are saved and sanctified. The gift of salvation is freely given to us!  As with Jesus, God does not want sacrifices from us. He wants our obedience to the Spirit's promptings to do good and avoid evil, to forgive those who hurt us and not hang on to resentments,  to ask for pardon, to love and not hate, to act in justice and mercy and not out of revenge exacting demands, such as an eye for an eye.

In  today's responsorial psalm, we pray: "Lord, make us turn to  you; let us see your face and we shall be saved" from Satan's lies and the ways he lures us to turn away from You.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Mary's Focus

When Mary entered Elizabeth's home and greeted Elizabeth, the child  in Elizabeth's womb leaped with joy.  The Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary when Jesus was conceived now overshadowed John in Elizabeth's womb. Elizabeth, also filled with the Holy Spirit, recognized Mary, her young cousin, as the mother of God, and cries out: "How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you.... (Luke 1: 39-45).  Mary could have focused on  herself following that greeting but does not.  She focuses on God, proclaiming God's greatness: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant"  (Luke 1: 46).  She does, however, acknowledge that she has truly been blessed:  From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name"  (Luke 1: 47).  Notice, again, though, that she immediately directs our attention to "the Almighty."

Where is your focus/my focus?  When something great has happened in our lives, do we turn our attention and that of others to ourselves or to the Lord God?

Friday, December 21, 2018

Emmanuel, God-with-us

The Entrance Antiphon to today's liturgy states clearly that our "Lord and Ruler will be coming soon, and his name will be called Emmanuel, because he will be God-with-us."  Yesterday's Gospel was about the messenger of God, Gabriel, visiting Mary and telling her that she was to conceive and bear a son, that her son would be "great and will be called the Son of the Most High...and of his Kingdom there will be no end....The Holy Spirit will come upon you, [Mary,] and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.....[F]or nothing will be impossible for God."

In a few days we will celebrate that great moment when Mary gave birth to Jesus, to "Emmanuel, God-with-us."  God's plan for our salvation would not be thwarted or blocked in any way.  Even now, though it looks as though evil is triumphing in this world of ours, God's will for our salvation will not be thwarted. God will triumph in the world of today, as God triumphed when Herod sought to kill the infant Jesus. God also triumphed in Jerusalem during those three dark days of Jesus' arrest, condemnation, crucifixion and death.Three days later Jesus rose from the dead and continues to dwell among us, having returned to His Kingdom in heaven, from where He sent the Spirit to be our Advocate, to teach us all things that Jesus taught during his ministry here on earth.

Emmanuel, God-with-us, in the Eucharist! Emmanuel, God-with-us, in our sufferings and ultimately in our death and resurrection to new life in Christ Jesus.  Every day when we die to ourselves, to sin and selfishness, we give birth to Jesus and rise to new life in Christ Jesus.  God is with us just as God was with Mary and Joseph and all those who have gone before us, believing in Jesus, in God, living in their midst, dwelling in the core of their very beings.  From our core inner selves, our spirit selves, God radiates to the world in the good that we do, in the faith that we live!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

God: Incarnate, Humble and Intimate

Today's Gospel, Luke 1: 26-38, presents the Annunciation:  An angel appears to Mary, declaring that she has found favor with God, hailing her as "full of grace,"  one with whom the Lord is!  This greeting "greatly" troubles Mary to the point that the angel needs to calm her down: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." The angel then goes on to say: "You will conceive in your womb and bear a son....How can this be, Mary asks, since I have no relations with a man?  The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.... for nothing is impossible for God...Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

The second person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God, through the power of the Spirit, assumes our humanity in the womb of Mary, a 15 or 16 year old engaged to be married to Joseph.  Mary becomes the mother of God Incarnate!  God becomes one of us, fully human yet fully divine!  His glory is hidden in the infant Jesus and revealed to only a few persons on earth. God's glory, God's divinity, God's power and infinite holiness hidden in Jesus' birth, throughout most of His earthly life and on the cross, according to God's plan for our salvation! This same God is hidden in the host consecrated at every Catholic Liturgy and given to us as spiritual food in every Holy Communion!

Jesus says to us: "I became human for you. I lived for you. I died for you. I rose for you. I sent the Holy Spirit to you.  It is that Holy Spirit that comes down on every altar during the consecration and changes bread and wine into my body and blood, soul and divinity for your sanctification and salvation. I delight that you participate in this sacred banquet in anticipation of the eternal banquet in heaven."

How humble is our God! How awesome. How intimate! How caring!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Consecrated to the Lord from Baptism

Both readings of today's liturgy, Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25a and Luke 1: 5-25, tell the story of two women who were barren and were about to become fertile.  The stories also reveal that both Samson and John the Baptist will be consecrated in the womb and chosen as key persons in salvation history. Concerning Samson, the messenger of God said that he is the one "who will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines." John the Baptist, Zachariah, his father, is told "will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God."

Every child that God brings into the world,  including you and me, though not consecrated in the womb but first at our baptisms, has a key role in the salvation of the world.  We, too, are called to turn to the Lord ourselves and thereby turn other people to the Lord.  We are also to cooperate with God in our deliverance from that which overpowers and distracts us from the one thing necessary: the Lord our God and His Spirit at work in our lives!

As we pray in today's responsorial psalm, Ps. 71,  God is our refuge, "a stronghold," the One who "rescues [us] from the hand of the wicked".  On God we depended "from birth; from [our] mother's womb [God had been our] strength."  It is God who makes it possible for us to carry out the purpose for which He created us. It is God who consecrates us to be a significant person in the salvation of the world in which we live! It is God who transforms our barrenness into fertility for the good all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christ Comes to Set Us Free

The Entrance Antiphon of today's liturgy reminds us that "Christ our King is coming, he is the Lamb foretold by John."  In the Collect of today's liturgy, we lift our voices, saying: "Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we, who are weighed down from of old by slavery beneath the yoke of sin, may be set free by the newness of the long-awaited Nativity of your Only Begotten Son." 

Each one of us, every day, experiences the "slavery beneath the yoke of sin" that weighs down upon us.  We may do things or say things that we regret having said or done, or regret not having said or done things that we knew needed to be done or said. Also, our thoughts may be anything but kind. We, as well, may find ourselves grumbling or complaining about something, resentful of what is being asked of us as a committed responsible member of a religious community or as a father/a mother, a child, a student, an employee.  We may even tell God that what is expected of us is too much to ask of us.

Let us turn to the Lord and ask to "be set free by the newness of the long-awaited Nativity of [God's] Only Begotten Son."  Let us acknowledge our  weaknesses and/or our complaining about the challenges we face in our lives, knowing, in faith, that because of our humanity we need God's help. In graciously, humbly and courageously meeting our responsibilities in life, we need God to infuse us with the graces of the Holy Spirit to be faithful and committed, to hold nothing back, as Jesus held nothing back for us as He gave His life in self-sacrificing love on the cross. On the crosses of our lives, may we do the same for others as Jesus did for us--pour ourselves out for the other's sake, "bread" shared and broken as at every Eucharistic sacrifice of the Holy Mass!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Jesus Enters our Humanity Fully and Lovingly

Today's Gospel, Matthew 1: 1-17, presents the genealogy of Jesus.  His ancestry contains murderers, assassins, adulterers, prostitutes, persons involved in all kinds of deception, corruption, and idolatry!  Throughout all of that history, God's plan of salvation and showing humankind the depth, the length, the height and width of God's love is never thwarted. God, the Creator  of the Universe and of all of humankind enters humanity. Jesus, the Incarnate God, as the God man, was plotted against throughout his public ministry by educated men who saw him as a threat. They became jealous of him to the point of having Him, the Son of God, crucified as a public sinner.

Just as the plan of God to save humankind from Satan's snares and to show us the depth of God's love for us was never thwarted throughout the history of the Jewish people, so, too, today, God's love for you and me and for every member of our ancestral history  is never thwarted. God's plan to save us will prevail!  God's love for us is not fickle or inconsistent.  He waits for us to return to Him,  if we have gone astray. He waits for our return as the father of the prodigal son waited for his son's return from a life of debauchery and wasteful living. God does not give up when we give up on ourselves or on a family member or anyone else! God waits because God's love for us is eternal and unconditional.

Will you, will I, come back to the Lord in repentance when we have lost our way and got caught in Satan's lies?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Transformation through Emmanuel with Us

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

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

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

That is why God became human!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

God's Design and God's Purpose

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

God Rules with His Strong Arm

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2018

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

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

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

I believe! What about you?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Glory of God's Voice within our Hearts

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

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

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Mary's Immaculate Conception

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rejoicing in the Lord, our God

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6, 2018

God's Parental Love

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

God's Compassion and Ready Response to Human Need

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Just Judge is God

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

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

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

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Lord our Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Coming of the Lord

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

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

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

Friday, November 30, 2018

Come, Follow Me; Trust Me

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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Called to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Giving Witness to God's Power

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Harvest of the Earth

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2018

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Christ: King of Heaven and Earth

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

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

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

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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

For what are you grateful?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Holy, Holy, Holy

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Jesus Comes to Your "House" Today

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

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

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

Jesus Wants to Know What You Want from Him

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

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

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

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Setting God before our Eyes

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hearing the Cries of the Oppressed

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Kingdom of God Right Here Right Now

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

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Open to Goodness or Maliciousness?

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Living as God Intends for Us to Live

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2018

Things that Cause Sin Are Inevitable But So Is Grace

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

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

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Living for God Alone!

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Bounty of the Lord in our Lives

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

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Putting on the Attitude of Jesus

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

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

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

Monday, November 5, 2018

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

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

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

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Feast of All Souls

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

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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Being Children of God

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

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Narrow Gate

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

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

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

What choices are you and I making?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Reverencing the Lord and One Another

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

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

May you and I grow in reverence!

Monday, October 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sent on Mission to Proclaim the Kingdom of the Lord

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Discernment of Spirits

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

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Unsurpassing Love of Christ

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

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

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

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