Monday, July 21, 2014

I Have Seen the Lord

By Beth DeCristofaro

(Mary) turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?”  She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her.  (John 20:14-18)

Jesus, you made Mary Magdalen the first witness to your Resurrection.  May we learn to love as she did and always give you first place in our hearts.  Let our encounters with you change us into faith-filled witnesses so we can proclaim with Mary, “I have seen the Lord.”  (Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia)  )

So how could Mary possibly not recognize Jesus with whom, tradition has it, with whom she traveled and served during his ministry?  Perhaps in rising He was so transformed so that he was unrecognizable.  Maybe it was the dark of the early morning that hid his face.  Could her weeping have blocked her vision?  Or that her preconceived notions of death, loss and permanence obscured the new reality and Truth from her.

Actually, in all of those possibilities I see myself and how I have not always been able to perceive God’s presence in my life.  Not recognizing the resurrection in someone who has hurt me or who acted “wrongly,” I have continued to judge or give a cold-shoulder treatment.  There have been many periods of my life in which I experienced darkness, acted on my own impatience and made questionable choices.  In times of sorrow I have cried “Why me?”  Both prejudice and an attitude of complete righteousness about things have led me to be less loving that I might have been.

But Mary’s eyes were opened and her joy returned when she heard her name on Jesus’ divine lips.  She did not let her moment of impaired vision slow her down to witness and proclaim that Jesus was risen.  Mary gives me the hope that I too can proceed forward from my sightless moments and stand again with Jesus, knowing he is always present.

A Baptist Minister, a friend of mine, says “If only people would read the Bible everyone would get along.”  I believe that if everyone would look for God in themselves and others we would all get along.  Say a prayer for those who cannot acknowledge God is loving and present so they act out of their own blindness and self-interest.  Say a prayer for God’s peace to be revealed and confessed for those caught in and those causing conflict in the world.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good Ground for Hope

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you.  And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.  Wisdom 12:18-19

The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.  Romans:8:26

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13:43

Fear of the Lord is one of the gifts of the Spirit.  The parables about the kingdom reveal that the good will be rewarded and the bad will be punished.  We live in the world of instant gratification.  It is logical that rewards encourage and punishment discourages one from doing what they are doing.  Sometimes it seems that children can only be guided by fear of punishment.  How sad the lot of children who never grow up to discover the joy of doing something because it is right to do!  We learn to be responsible for our own decisions by the ways we learn from the negatives of a bad decision.  It is certain a parent would have shown us why something was a bad decision from the get-go.  But lessons learned by having to live with a bad personal decision gives a value and a appreciation for the advice of elders.  Finally, it all makes sense following the advice of God in the example of Christ.  Our piety is the doing of the right things because it puts us in sync with Christ.

We study the mysteries of our faith with the spiritual guidance of Christ and his ministers.  Many a good teacher touches our lives by sermons and the best sermon of all is a holy life.  We learn from the example of others what God is asking of us in our efforts to form and nurture small Christian communities.  Our study deepens our understanding of the teachings of the Church and we come to appreciate our growing closeness to the mystical body of Christ, which is the church.

Our work is to eradicate our sin.  We glorify the name of God by our good lives, as Christians, when we live up to what it means to be Christian by our trying to be just like Christ in all we do and say.  We glorify the name of God by our good actions.  God is good and forgiving when we are doing our best to live up to what Christ wants of us.  The Spirit comes to our weakness and makes up the difference between what we do and what we should have done when we invite the Spirit to do his thing in our lives.  When the harvest comes, the weeds of our imperfections will be left behind.  What we do is the best we can do when we give the Spirit reign in our hearts.  The mustard like seed of our efforts will grow up to be great support for everyone when it reaches its maturity.  The ordinary of our life will become the extraordinary when we give the spirit control of our hearts.  Our job is to spread the good news of the Kingdom.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Learn from Me

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Salvation we have not achieved for the earth, the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth.  But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise; awake and sing, you who lie in the dust.  For your dew is a dew of light, and the land of shades gives birth.  Isaiah 26:18b-19

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope. (Isaiah 42:1-4)

Our soul yearns for justice as much today as did the people living with the prophet Isaiah.  However, it is not to be.  We labor, day and night, trying to get ahead.  We are burdened by the responsibilities to our families, our church, our selves, our neighbors and our church.

What is justice?  What is truth?  We tend to define these concepts from our vantage point rather than from the Lord’s – who defines it from the vantage point of the disadvantaged – the poor whom he looks up to from the manager and the oppressed he looks upon from the cross. 

If we plan inequity, we face the wrath of the Lord.  However, if we take the perspective of the Lord, we risk the outrage and condemnation of the “Pharisees.”  We must learn from Jesus, not popular culture because Jesus is the person in which the old times and the future times merge to fulfillment. The Spirit of the Lord is upon Jesus.  When we take up his commands, that spirit will be with us as well because there can be no neutrality where Jesus is concerned.

Around us are all signs of war and evil.  Jets are getting blown out of the sky.  Innocent youth kidnapped and murdered leading nations to the brink of war.  The poor get poorer while the rich get richer.  We are driven apart by issues when we look through our own lens.  Gay marriage.  Abortion.  Healthcare.  Capital Punishment.  Gun laws.  Taxes.  Environmental laws.  We are all recruiting Jesus into our partisan camps rather than changing ourselves and moving into His camp. Jesus did not come to see us scatter us to different camps.  He is the shepherd who is here to bring us together into one flock.

As Christian Piatt, a feature writer for Sojourners, points out, “Jesus is always throwing us curveballs.”  He writes that our behavior reminds him of an old saying.  “God created us in God’s image, and ever since then, we’ve gone to great lengths to return that favor.”

The solution:  look inward for how we must change to the outside world in order to meet Jesus where he is – on the cross.  “While it would be comforting to validate ourselves by claiming Jesus as a Baptist, Disciple, Catholic, or something else, what we’re effectively trying to do is keep from changing ourselves. We want to rest in the certainty that we’re all right how we already are, with no real need to grow or do things differently.”

How can you change one part of your perspective this weekend?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Something Greater Than the Temple

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

(Isaiah came to Hezekiah and said:) “Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD: “O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was pleasing to you!” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go, tell Hezekiah: Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the LORD’s temple; I will add fifteen years to your life. I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; I will be a shield to this city.” (Isaiah 38: 1-6)

You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die. (Isaiah 38:17)

(When the Pharisees chastised Jesus because his disciples picked heads of grain and ate them on the sabbath, Jesus replied:) “I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.” (Matthew 12:6-8)

Lord, I am in awe of the mercy You show this humble servant as I strive and so often fail to do Your will.

Oh, how quick we are to play God—when someone else is involved.

There I was at Mass last Sunday, smiling and chuckling when the earnest young transitional deacon referred to Little Shop of Horrors and said, “Now, that might be before your time for some of you. In fact, it’s before my time.” There was something so sweet, so tender, so vulnerable about it.

My smile turned to a frown when the celebrant said the Breaking of the Bread/Agnus Dei in Latin. Some folks joined in; people my age and younger either mumbled through it or stood quietly. Now that’s before my time, I thought, thinking nothing sweet, tender, or vulnerable about it. Why was he choosing an option that so obviously excluded so many of us? Should he even be mixing Latin and English at a Mass? Is that even allowed?

In short, I had become a Pharisee, focusing more on the particulars instead of letting God be God through the celebrant. How different my reaction to these two men, neither of whom know me by name, both of whom are called to a special vocation. After all, the Mass is a remembrance and celebration of Jesus’s sacrifice and resurrection, His winning of eternal life for us. I know the response in English, and saying it that way regardless of the language the celebrant used fills me with awe. Something greater than the temple or the celebrant is here—if we get our pettiness out of the way.

Offer a rosary or other prayers for someone ordained or called to the consecrated life.

Put Your House in Order

“Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.”  Isaiah 38:1b

I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.  If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.  For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  Matthew 12:8

What the Catholic Worker Believes by Peter Maurin
1. The Catholic Worker believes in the gentle personalism of traditional Catholicism.
2. The Catholic Worker believes in the personal obligation of looking after the needs of our brother.
3. The Catholic Worker believes in the daily practice of the Works of Mercy.
4. The Catholic Worker believes in Houses of Hospitality for the immediate relief of those who are in need.
5. The Catholic Worker believes in the establishment of Farming Communes where each one works according to his ability and gets according to his need.
6. The Catholic Worker believes in creating a new society      within the shell of the old with the philosophy of the new, which is not a new philosophy but a very old philosophy, a philosophy so old that it looks like new.

The section of the prophecy of Isaiah in today’s reading is about healing and recovery.  In essence, when Jesus admonishes the Pharisees, he also is telling them to heal their relationship with the Son of Man on his terms, not on theirs. 

On the surface, the Pharisees interpret the actions of Jesus and his disciples as ignoring the rules that apply to everyone else.  But, when Jesus came on the scene, he brought a whole new relationship to the old rules and tried to impart that outlook to those around him.  In the Nazareth Temple, after reading from Isaiah, he declared these scriptures are fulfilled as people listened to the words Jesus read.  Now, Jesus also is pointing out to the Pharisees, that the prophecies of Isaiah to put your house in order – in a new order – are fulfilled. 

In addition to new relationships according to new rules, Jesus also wants us to shift our perspective from sacrifice to mercy.  This also calls for us to change the focus of our action.   As we put our house in order, we need to continue to focus on the actions that we are spurred from our apostolic commissioning. 

From apps like “I Can G Without” to “Charity Miles,” mobile technology is actually acting as a catalyst for more charitable donations.  Disaster relief giving has been spurred by text-massage-based giving. 

Explore these or other apps and try one out to support a new cause or a long-time favorite.   

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

To the Childlike

Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time 

For he says: “By my own power I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd. I have moved the boundaries of peoples, their treasures I have pillaged, and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned. My hand has seized like a nest the riches of nations; As one takes eggs left alone, so I took in all the earth; No one fluttered a wing, or opened a mouth, or chirped!” Isaiah 10:13-14 

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.” Matthew 11:25 

He has mercy on those who fear Him In every generation. 
He has shown the strength of His arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit. 
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, And has lifted up the lowly. 
 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. 
(From the Canticle of Mary) 

Inequality between those with power and property and those who have less or none is an ongoing concern voiced by the prophet Isaiah. The “good news” proclaimed by St. Matthew echoes a similar theme about revealing knowledge to those who are not learned. 

 Jesus did not spend his time on earth amassing a large fortune, a powerful army, an academic degree nor a great estate. All he had when he was born was all he had the day he died. Yet he left behind a legacy of much love for the poor, the orphaned, the sick, and the powerless. He counted himself among those. 

At a time when our minds turn to vacation, it helps to always recall those who have no time for vacation.  In solidarity for their needs, today, let's spare a thought and a prayer for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, many of whose lives have been affected by Typhoon Glenda. 

Work through your preferred international relief and development organization such as CRS or World Vision to speed help to those affected.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Unless Your Faith is Firm

Memorial of St. Bonaventure

By Beth DeCristofaro

Thus says the LORD:  This shall not stand, it shall not be!  ….  But within sixty years and five, Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation.  Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm! (Isaiah 7: 7,9)

(Jesus said) But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. …  For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom,  it would have remained until this day.  But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on thday of judgment than for you.  (Matthew 11:22,23-24)

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord finds awake when he comes and knocks at the gate. (Communion Antiphon for the Mass of the day)

Raised in the D.C. area, I lived in a rather safe neighborhood, certainly not with enemy armies marching toward my community   We were taught to anticipate then avoid dangerous situations and what behaviors might be chancy.  I walked often to my favoritelibrary to lay reading in the stacks for hours but always left before dark usually walking with a friend or at least boldly striding as if I had a friend with me.  My parents and teachers also emphasized that God’s protection was a reality.  To my simple understanding, my guardian angel and God were there for the immediate rescue if need be while Isaiah asserts the Lord’s time is within sixty years.

Woe to you! proclaims both the prophet and Jesus to those who strike out on their own making deals with the enemy rather than relying on God.  I wonder if Jesus would say the same to the USA which has chosen guns for self-protection and individual rights over the safety of our children.  Arguments include “Bad guys have guns so should we for oursecurity”.  Jesus admonished those who might harm children that they would be punished.  Might I have been hurt during my childhood?  Yes.  Might any one of usindividually or as a nation face hurt, tragedy, failure?  Yes.  May we defend ourselves?  Yes.  However, Jesus tells us to do everything with love.   

Seize the day and look closely at how you might be complicit in the gun violence racking our country.  Do you vote for leaders who prioritize the right to gun ownership over the need to keep our children and neighbors safe from gun violence?  Does self-protection trump faith in the Lord who will keep us from all ultimate harm?  Is there a letter you can write to a politician or a group you might join today to speak out about the need to cease violence before we too, like the “house of DavidChorizior Bethsaida hear God’s voice saying “Woe to you!”

Monday, July 14, 2014

Make Justice Your Aim

​Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin  

Wash yourselves clean!  Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;  cease doing evil; learn to do good.  Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,  hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.  Isaiah 1:16-17  

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  Matthew 10:37-39 

Come, let us set things right. 

Establishing "right relations" with the Lord and with each other is the aim of Jesus' preaching and teaching especially this difficult passage from Matthew. Jesus wants to be first on our dance card, our hit parade and in our proverbial black book. Ahead of our mothers and fathers. Ahead of our brothers and sisters. ahead of our sons and daughters. In addition, Jesus wants to take that new relationship to a higher level. It is not about the kind of relationship we have had with Him in the past full of sacrifices and giving things up for Lent. Jesus wants us to take things up for Him. Starting with the cross and then moving on to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Then to the precepts and the Catechism. Maybe then even finding way for piety, study and action. 

Seize the moment. How will you start to set things right with The Lord this week?  A little more prayer and contemplation, renewing your study or doing some new volunteer work or charitable giving?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

On Rich Soil

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:10-11

We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 18:22-23

“But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13:8-9

Our piety makes it possible for the seed of God’s word to fall on rich soil.  Piety gives us ears to hear God’s word.  The eyes of our soul make it possible to see the presence of Christ in another and recognize Christ in each other.  Piety also makes it possible to preach always even when we are using few words.  Our piety is recognized in all the ways Christ calls us to be his presence in our world today.  Our piety is what the Word has accomplished in us because we have the good soil of our piety.  Piety is also the history of all the ways we have been nourished by the word of God.  Piety is how we have grown into Christ in our living out the word and absorbing Christ as our body and blood made rich by his Body and Blood.

Our study reveals the presence of God in our lives.  Study is how we prepare the soil of our souls for the coming of the word.  Study includes all the ways we take the wax out of the ears of our soul.  Attractions can be soul stoppers in their addictive potential.  The examination of our consciousness of the Lord’s presences in our lives is one of the most profitable studies of our own life.  We study how well God uses us. We learn from the discovery of ways he has been active in our lives how to build a life style that keeps active our awareness of how to be closer to God is in our lives.  We study how to continue to do what we have learned from the Lord touching our lives with good spiritual books.  That is how we better recognize the actions of the Lord in others and ourselves.

The Corporeal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are what we are trying to increase in the actions of our lives.  What we do for the hungry, thirsty, naked, prisoners and the sick is enriched by how the Spiritual Works of Mercy elevate our lives to a higher plane.  Therein lies the work of the Lord in our lives.  What we try to do for the last, lowest and least one of our companions is what Christ sees us doing for him.  We try to be more than his companion imitating his life.  We try to be saints who are in their time and circumstance updates of the Christ we are serving.  We too try to be a real Christ by the way we accept his word into our lives and live it.

Send Me!

He touched my mouth with it and said, “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”  “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”  Isaiah 6:7-8

Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  Matthew 10:26-27

I place my words in your mouth!  Jeremiah 1:9b

What do we cultivate in this world?  Today’s sacred scriptures remind us to have courage and to persevere in our mission no matter what face of danger we encounter.  When we have the courage to proclaim the word in the world, then the Lord will advocate for us.  Proclamation equals intervention.

Just like in Isaiah, through grace (God’s friendship), we are forgiven for our sins.  In return, the Lord places His words (concealed and secret) in our mouth and asks us to carry them into the world and make them known to the world.  The concealed and secret coming of the kingdom is to be proclaimed by all of us and no fear must be allowed to deter us from making such a proclamation.  This is not something we should whisper in secret in the dark of night.  It is something to make known for all to see. 

The reward when we carry this out is great.  Basically, Jesus Himself will be there to intervene on our behalf.  No one less than the Son of Man himself will acknowledge us if we have acknowledged Jesus.  Surely there are saints to pray to for assistance.  And Mary.  They can put in a good word for us with the Lord.  However, when we carry out the great commission and speak it in the light, Jesus (the Son of Man) will then acknowledge or deny us before his heavenly Father and speak it in the light.

“Our mission as Church is to defend the rights of the migrant, no matter what the political situation or polls may dictate,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration.  “We must continue to push our lawmakers on both sides to act on this important national issue, as our fellow human beings continue to suffer under this broken system.”

It may not be very popular in this political climate to make such a remark, but the Church has consistently spoken out for just reforms of our immigration laws.  In light of the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, we cannot keep this secret and concealed.

“As advocates for the most vulnerable, we are committed to shining the light of the Gospel on these migration issues and being the voice of the voiceless,” Bishop Elizondo said. “This is a crucial time for us to remind our lawmakers of their responsibilities to the common good, especially when it concerns the strangers among us.”

A few years ago, my daughter spent a year working at an orphanage near San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  As I hear the stories of children escaping the crisis there, I wonder if any of the boys that were in the care of Amigos de Jesus are among those who have make the trek to our southern border.

All of us (or our grandparents or great-grandparents) came from somewhere else.  We benefitted from the ability to have the accident of our birth in the USA.  How can we deny that to others if the courts rule that they are escaping unjust conditions? 

Where were your ancestors born?  When did they come here?  Why did they come here?  How can you put a human face on the immigration crisis?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Spirit of Your Father

Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot

By Melanie Rigney

I will heal their defection, says the Lord, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them. (Hosea 14:5)

Behold, you are pleased with sincerity of heart, and in my inmost being you teach me wisdom. (Psalm 51:8)

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:16-20)

Lord, free me from concern about earthly opinions. I ask for the courage to do Your will always.

“My political views are those of the Lord’s Prayer.” That quote from St. John Bosco pretty much sums it up for me, in terms of the United States and the Catholic Church. Am I loyal to the Magisterium? Yes. Do I think it’s my job to police members of the clergy, locally or up to and including Pope Francis? No. I’m not that smart or educated. I struggle enough with obedience in my own life.

And so, I found it a bit humorous recently when in the space of twenty-four hours, I was challenged twice on my view of the Church’s relationship with women religious: that there’s always been friction; that friction helps smooth the rough ends of anything; and that women religious do and always have done many amazing things for those living on the margins financially, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.

One person who contacted me in essence said I was na├»ve, that there’s no room for conciliation and compromise today, only confrontation and combativeness. The other challenge came from an acquaintance who advised me I’m being “watched” because a few years ago here at Your Daily Tripod I wrote an essay acknowledging some people’s frustration over the issue and advising prayer for the strength to remain faithful... which was about the same advice I gave the first person who contacted me.

For the longer I’m at this, the more I understand that it’s not about loudly arguing with others about what my views may or may not be on any Church or secular political issue. It’s about bringing souls to the Kingdom in whatever way God chooses to use us and, in my case, the way is in writing about the struggle in us all to love and believe. God provides the words and the grace; we provide the faith.


Today, consider a challenging relationship. What are the words the Lord desires you to say? Use His, rather than your own.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Heaven is at Hand

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; Yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer.  Hosea 11:3-4

Jesus said to his Apostles: “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.  Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”  Matthew 10:7-8

Prodigal Son’s Prayer
Lord, I lay my heart before You
And I pour out my very soul.
Desperate, You know what I need
As empty before You I go.

Lord, strengthen my weary heart--
Make it strong once again.
For only You can meet this need,
Hold me tight, my Savior Friend.

I know no other way to go
I’m spent beyond my measure.
Fill me Lord, my Life, my Song
Spin my life with peace, Your Treasure.

Gone are the majestic royal terms that many of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible used to portray the Lord.  Hosea personalizes the image of the Lord and the relationship which the Lord has with His people – even if they do not understand it.  After all that the Lord has and will do, “[T]hough I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer.”  (Hosea 11:4b)

However, that relationship is not a one-way street.  In return for the grace of His friendship, Jesus issues instructions for the ministry of his disciples.  Today, Christians are instructed to carry out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and the seven precepts of the church to start. These lead us to want a deeper relationship and to explore how to get there through pious practices, studying sacred scripture and putting love into action.

These days, it is hard NOT to know who your healer is.  The obvious choice are your health care providers: nurses, doctors, dentists, medical technicians, and aids of all types (even the medical equipment salespeople may instruct the surgeons in the operating room).  However, when I have visited hospitals like George Washington University Hospital or Fairfax Hospital for scheduled or emergency procedures, the steady stream of people coming into my room or to my bedside are hard to track.  Sometimes I may encounter a person for only one critical procedure but that might mean the different between life and death.  Heaven may be at hand but if you get through this illness, then we can finish a little more of our work on earth. 

Plus, I have usually been so drugged up or had so many IV lines into my arms and hands, that it is hard to write down the names of everyone who comes into you room. One good development that I like is at some hospitals, your regular team signs a little white board in the morning and then later when the night shift changes.  Nurse: Joe.  Tech: Paula.  Aide: Susan. 

Whose healer are you going to be today?  (Will you sign in so they know who you are or will you serve them anonymously?) 

Who will be your healer?  How will you know when they show up and have done their job?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Break Up For Yourselves a New Field

By John Guerre

Israel is a luxuriant vine whose fruit matches its growth.  The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; the more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up.  Their heart is false, now they pay for their guilt; God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars.  If they would say, “We have no king” – since they do not fear the LORD, what can the king do for them?
The king of Samaria shall disappear, like foam upon the waters.  The high places of Aven shall be destroyed, the sin of Israel; thorns and thistles shall overgrow their altars.  Then they shall cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall upon us!”
“Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety;  break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.”  (Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.  Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, make this proclamation: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  (Mathew 10:7)

Look to the LORD in his strength: seek to serve him constantly.  Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.  (Psalm 105: 4-5)

Prayerful reading and reflection on these readings for today has brought for me two key messages and two key challenges – how to be spiritually “in this world but not of this world,” and what does the concept of “discipleship” really mean for me.  As I read daily of terrible wars fought predominantly by young, ideologically driven and unemployed young men, and an ever-expanding social and financial inequality in our society and the world, I am struck by Pope Francis’ warning that the global economic system is near collapse because of a ‘throwaway culture’ of greed and the ‘atrocity’ of youth unemployment.  What am I to do?

In the first reading, Hosea warns the people of his time of the foolishness of gaining more and more “abundant fruit” and “sacred pillars” in life, a life centered not on our Lord God and love of neighbor, but on the accumulation of more and more abundance, building more “altars” and “sacred pillars,” and doing so with a “false heart.”  Today, we live in the Western World and an American culture that continues to be organized and driven in large part, not by love of neighbor but by the accumulation of wealth, consumerism, and ever-increasing consumption of goods and leisure.  The gap between the “haves” and the “have not’s” of our society - the poor, the sick, the elderly, the chronically unemployed, the handicapped, the immigrants, and other marginalized groups continues to grow. 

As Pope Francis says “….we have put money at the center, the god of money.  We have fallen into a sin of idolatry, the idolatry of money.”  Am I doing my part to close this gap?

In the second reading, Mathew chronicles the first occasion of “discipleship”; Jesus names His first Twelve Apostles.  The mission Jesus gives to them is: “…make this proclamation: The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  As modern-day believers and followers of Christ, we are continually challenged to discern our own calling in this modern world in which we each find ourselves – a world of family, work, parish, relationships, community, and country.  Just as the First Twelve, we, too, are charged by Jesus to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to the world in which we live.  But how to do on a daily basis is my continuing challenge?

The good news, as Pope Francis explained in his June 13, 2014 daily Mass, is that “When the Lord wants to give us a mission, wants to give us a task, He prepares us. He prepares us to do it well, as he prepared Elijah.  The most important part of this……is the whole journey by which we arrive at the mission the Lord entrusts to us.” 

Hosea’s “new field” for me began with my Cursillo in 1969, but it was not until 5 years ago that I was invited to became active in a “fourth day” Post-Cursillo Group Reunion.  Weekly, I am now blessed to be on my journey, joining with my Group Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as we mutually continue to discern Christ in our lives and better understand through one another’s experiences, God’s unique mission for each one of us in our own families and individual circumstances. 

Given that the ultimate goal of our “discipleship” and the Cursillo Movement is “the transformation into a living Christianity of a society which had ceased to be Christian,” my suggestion is to begin “Grouping” - if you are not already doing so. Although long in coming, my Post-Cursillo – Fourth Day experience continues to be a much-needed weekly blessing in my continuous discernment of what discipleship means for me personally - in a world of false “altars and sacred pillars.”