Friday, June 30, 2006
Let us pray: God, help us to protect the New Jerusalem where your Son dwells from all attacks by the temptation to sin or shirk our Christian duty to act in response to your love. Give us the faith to turn to you for help when we are under siege as well as when we are too comfortable.
Jesus, pour out your unconditional love on us when we hand our problems over to you through obedience in faith. Do not allow us to test you but to trust you.
Holy Spirit, help us to listen to what Jesus expects of us. Give us the strength to respond in love, in word and in deed to the mission Christ sends us forth to accomplish. Amen.
In today’s readings, we see the social order attacked by external forces and internal disease and a challenge to act laid before our conscience.
In the reading from the Hebrew Bible, political opponents and military forces advance against Jerusalem, surround the city and attack it. The people in the city suffer famine and the leaders flee only to be captured, killed or taken prisoner. The poor are spared and left behind to work in the vineyards and farms.
In the Good News, the leper in Jesus’ social order is an outcast from society. He turns to Jesus with love and respect and trust. Faith like this opens the path to the cure provided by the boundless and unconditional love of Jesus. Jesus reaches back to the leper. Once cleansed, Jesus sends the leper out on a mission of action and purification that restores him back into community. The Leper exhibits his faith in Jesus so Jesus chooses to act and then asks the leper to act.
We are assaulted physically, mentally, emotionally and socially every day that we encounter evil or blind indifference in ourselves, in our family, in our community, in the Church, in our nation and in the world.
What has you under siege? Stress from work? Flood damage? Health problems? Family issues? Problems at work or at school? For what do we hunger and starve? Can we stand in solidarity with the poor, left behind to tend to the land in servitude?
How do we see ourselves as the leper in today’s Good News? Is there something that is eating away at your physical body or your mental sharpness or keeping you from fully experiencing the joy of Christian community? Where can we turn for purification? How can we welcome Jesus into our lives? How can stop from fleeing the mission Jesus is asking us to undertake?
In St. Therese's writings on The Little Way, we learn that all are called to holiness at all times including when we are the proverbial lepers. The path to such holiness (piety) requires pruning, stripping oneself to put off the old ways and put on the new person in Christ. Dorothy Day wrote of St. Therese: “She knew that she had ‘to die in order to live’ and that every wound meant a killing of the ego.” She was aiming for that perfection in which she would say with St. Paul, “It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.”
Human nature is transfigured once the choice is made to respond with faith like the leper or St. Therese – “Be it done to me according to your Word” – and follow Jesus. It is a choice that must be remade each day in order to respond to grace, to grow into the new person described in the Scriptures.Today’s readings and St. Therese teach us the necessity of knowing and loving God first, and then ‘all these things shall be added unto you.’ All these happy loves of physical health, the necessities of life like food, clothing and shelter, union with the community of family, friends, and those we love from faith and action.
In his homily last week, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton had a message of action for the congregation in Detroit as well as for us. “Each one of us is called to become that new creation, to grow into the fullness of who we are as disciples of Jesus, who live with Jesus within us. Each of us is called to carry on his work. Jesus is in our midst. That’s what we hear so powerfully in the Gospel -- that Jesus is in our midst, most of all because Jesus lives within each one of us. “Let us renew our own commitment to grow as a disciple of Jesus, to grow more fully into him, to carry on his work.”
Bishop Gumbleton challenged his congregation and us “to stand up as Jesus did” with the leper and be the one who reaches out to the outcast and unloved. As we do that, what Jesus did long ago to that leper will begin to happen within our community more and more. The outcasts will be restored to communion with the community, reconciliation and purification will come about, and our church will grow in love as we accept the mission that Christ’s unconditional love sends us out to accomplish.
How will you meet that challenge next week?
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Take from me Father, all the obstacles in the way of your love. Give to me Jesus, the simple yet profound faith to move mountains out of the way of your narrow path. Set me free Holy Spirit, that I can live my life for you. Amen.
"Build my Church." Matthew 16:18
Society puts us in chains, maybe not always physical chains like St. Peter felt around his wrists but social chains. We are expected to do certain things, act certain ways, and achieve certain successes if we are to “get ahead.”
Jesus only asks for our faith, our listening, and our love. That’s all. He doesn’t judge us by what we drive, or what job we have or where our house is located. He rescues us from the need to do what the world asks. By rescuing us, Jesus asks us to love him and to love our neighbors. From what has the Lord rescued you?
Jesus is the cornerstone, the stone that the builders rejected. Peter is the rock and foundation of the church. Jesus' church means the community that he will gather that, like a building, will have the faith and action of Peter as its solid foundation. Peter shows us how to be Church – by his faith and witness to Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
You and I may be a brick, a doorknob, a roof timber, a floor tile, or a window pane in that church. Each of us is asked like Peter, to have faith in the Lord and witness that faith through our actions in the world.
Peter was given the keys to the entire kingdom. What keys has the Lord entrusted to your hands? For what room in His father’s mansion are you caring? What tasks has the Lord asked you to complete for the Kingdom?
Not sure? Listen closely and carefully. The Lord speaking to you. Speaking through the sound of that bird outside your window. Speaking through the light coming up over the horizon. Speaking through the words of scripture today and yesterday and tomorrow.
Listen and love as Peter and Paul did no matter what the price. We are Jesus hands now. It is up to us to continue to build His church through our piety, study and action.
How can you build church today? Is there someone in your neighborhood you need to reach out to? Is there someone in your family? In your workplace? On the streets of the city? In hospitals and nursing homes? In the prisons of the world?
This week, Jesus asked some of His followers to follow in the footsteps of St. Peter, footsteps that led to jail. Art Laffin wrote to let me know that earlier this week, on June 26, the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims and Survivors, in Washington, seven supporters of TASSC International (Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition) were arrested on the restricted portion of the White House sidewalk as they called for an end to torture. In New York City 25 friends from Witness Against Torture--A Campaign to Close Guantanamo, were arrested at the US Mission to the UN.
The Bishops of the United States have spoken out unequivocally against torture. Everyone may not experience a call to witness the gospel of love through willing imprisonment from a resistance action as these sisters and brothers did. However, as Christians, our bishops have laid out a strong message for us and they have taken that message to members of Congress. “In a time of terrorism and great fear, our individual and collective obligations to respect basic human dignity and human rights, even of our worst enemies, gains added importance.”
If we are to take up the task of building the Church, let us learn from the imprisonment of St. Peter, the statement of the Bishops and in the actions of the faithful who gave up their freedom to create a community of love and end the horrors of torture, war and poverty in our world.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Jesus, help us today to listen to your rules for growth and life and act accordingly. Touch our hearts with the words of the Psalmist.
Instruct us in your rules for life so that we might observe them. Give us discernment so we can observe your rules and keep them in our hearts. Lead us down the narrow path of your commands to the narrow gate so we can enter into it with you.
Pull our hearts toward you not toward economic gain or career advancement. Help us to turn our eyes away from seeing what is selfish but rather what is selfless and life giving. Jesus, we desire your friendship and your teaching. In your justice, give us the instructions for life and the ears to truly hear your words. Amen.
“Every good tree bears good fruit.” Matthew 7:15
If Jesus were teaching us today, we might not understand his images as much as the first century Christians did because they were closer to the land.
Jesus is connecting discipleship to the fruits (or outcomes) of discipleship. If Jesus wants to cultivate good trees in his orchard, what is the right relationship between Jesus the grower and us His trees? What makes a good tree?
If the good fruit is the outcome of our discipleship, what makes us a good tree? What rules do we have to live by? Simply this: Listening to our loving gardener Jesus and doing what he asks of us.
The root meaning of the Latin and Greek words translated as “rule” is trellis. Jesus establishes a framework upon which life can grow with this teaching. Henry writes, “While a branch of a plant climbing a trellis cannot go in any direction it wants, you cannot know in advance just which way it will go. The plant is finding its own path, within a structure. The space in which it moves is open, though not without boundaries.”
Jesus prescribed for us today a path for growth. That path is not that our actions and words are consistent. The path is that our actions flow from the will of God. It is not about saying and doing that leads us up the trellis. Rather it is about hearing the words of Jesus and following them. Hearing and doing.
Jesus and St. Benedict built the rules/trellis to help human goodness grow – indeed to help the experience of God that is already abiding in our hearts to unfold. To let our good trees bear good fruit.
Good fruit…with all this water we should be able to grow plenty of good fruit. We have an abundance of water. Help us to share not only out of our abundance but out of our subsistence.
I just heard about an interesting book on the radio today (while sitting in an especially slow cross-town, rain-soaked traffic jam. Serve God, Save the Planet by Matthew Sleeth has recently been published and poses, from the sounds of the interview on WAMU, as a way for evangelicals and environmentalists to work together to save creation.
You may not yet be convinced of the inconvenient truth about global warming, but if we don’t take care of the environment, then there may be no trees growing, good or bad. Here is one of Dr. Sleeth (yes, he is a medical doctor – emergency room specialist, not a Ph.D.):
To begin with, here is a Christian tradition that all can benefit from: celebrating the Sabbath. The fourth commandment - "Honor the Sabbath" - is a mental health prescription that has served humans well for millennia. If Americans did no work, no shopping, and no driving one day a week, we would instantly produce fewer greenhouse gases, use billions of gallons less fuel, and be closer to sanity and to God. The Sabbath is God's gift to man, 52 times a year.
If we all walked to church, then we wouldn't be fighting in the newly expanded parking lot either to see who gets out first.
Dr. Sleeth has a number of other suggestions from changing to fluorescent light bulbs to using a clothesline instead of a dryer to riding a bike to work. Maybe all these suggestions won’t work in our lives, but the thought of such a holy alliance is intriguing.
Now where did we put those clothespins? The rain is supposed to end by Thursday, Noah, right?
 Henry, Patrick. Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of St. Benedict. New York: Riverhead Books, 2001. Page 1
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Jesus, isn’t the Golden Rule enough? Jewish and pagan cultures for thousands of years have followed that in one fashion or another.
Instead, you implore us to go further than that – to take the narrow path that leads to life. Please dwell with us and within us to give us strength to meet the challenges you have placed before us – to live and love in a community with the obedience of faith while following your commandments.
Make us worthy to be your New Jerusalem. Help us to study your words of liberating love and the call to live according to it. Amen.
“Enter through the narrow gate.” Matthew 7:14
My how Jesus changes EVERYTHING! No longer do we see a God who would send angels down to wipe out an enemy. Now, the Son of God calls upon us to take the path of peace. That “pre-emptive” strike against one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp would not be the narrow gate of the Good News.
Jesus starts in a very familiar place for those who are listening to him – traditional Jewish law that is what we now call the Golden Rule. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” Conversely, do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you. By using familiar scripture and law, Jesus can augment it with the new lessons he teaches.
Then, we get the Jesus Effect – the added challenge of his Good News of love and friendship. Enter through the narrow gate. Jesus knows that love is a challenge in the world. Because he dwells within us, he does not want us to take the path of least resistance. He wants our lives to be fortified by our faith commitment to His message.
Jesus challenges each of us to enter through the narrow gate – to challenge and question the dominant aspects of our culture (violence, consumerism, etc.) and to accept his message of love. The basis of the narrow gate in the New Testament is love and life, not violence and vengeance as in the story from 2 Kings.
So, if Jesus dwells in us, protects us and strengthens us, we become his city, His New Jerusalem. He protects us by offering his own life to save us. How much more should we protect Jesus within us from any further destruction!
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. Even though the narrow path may be harder to find and harder to walk along, let us take the narrow path of piety, study and action together.
We have all been challenged by the weather lately. It is pretty easy to give in to your impatience and emotions – pent up for hours in a traffic jam or cleaning up a flooded basement – and explode in anger. Especially when we are grid locked and somebody cuts us off or that new pump does not work.
Maybe this is a little reminder that it will take us a while to make it to and through the narrow gate. Be patient today as we cope with the next deluge. Let’s hope that path of Jesus is as crowded with sincere disciples as our local roads.
And when the daily challenges are too great, repeat a phrase from today’s Good News. Enter through the narrow gate.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Good Morning, Dear Lord. Go before me today that I may look on this world and see You. Guard me in all I undertake. Keep me aware of the love that You pour out on me today. And help me offer it to others all day.
“…and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you… You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first”
“Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.”
The fall of the kingdom of Israel, is measured out to a people who chose false gods and disloyalty. Yet even so, the psalmist cries out in hope that God will answer; that God will not be disloyal. God’s right hand is still there for us to protect us from sin and to show us when we have a wooden beam in our eye obstructing our vision.
As we expect love and forgiveness, Jesus teaches us, we must love and forgive. The Pharisees of his time were blinded by what they measured: they obeyed the laws; they wore long and impressive stoles to prove their devotion; they stood at the front of the synagogue which is their “rightful” place as chosen sons of Yahweh. But these measures are all man-made not God-given, not true.
What wooden beams in our lives blinds us to the righteousness of others? Why do we judge the failings of others whom God would forgive? What are our blindnesses by which we will be measured? Pope Benedict, in DEUS CARITAS EST tells us that we must cultivate a relationship with God in order to see our neighbor through Jesus’ eyes.
“Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift. Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn 7:37-38). Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God (cf. Jn 19:34).”
“If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. … Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. The saints—consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta—constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbour from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its realism and depth in their service to others.”
Today, when you feel a prick of irritation or exasperation, pause for a moment and truthfully consider: Why am I annoyed? Is this a plank in my own eye which I am blaming on the person in front of me? Say a prayer of thanksgiving for that irksome person. And say a prayer of remorse for yourself; ask for help from God’s right hand. Start again, just as the psalmist asks of the Lord.
Welcome to all our new “Babe Chicks”, the Women of the 122nd Cursillo!
Saturday, June 24, 2006
God, author of the word made flesh, sometimes you need a storm to get our attention like you used with Job. Yet, when you use such tactics, how little we appreciate the enduring love and faith of Jesus which can calm the seas and the quell forces of nature like teh rain and lightning outside.
When we truly appreciate the works of the Lord, all that troubles us will be calmed by your love.
As these wonderful women of the 122nd Cursillo wrap up their weekend experience, be with them as they are reunited with those whom they left on Thursday. Dwell within them always, no matter what troubles they face in their relationships, in their health, and in their lives. Amen.
“The love of Christ impels us.”
“Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.”
“Do you not yet have faith?”
After a weekend like this, who can not “not have faith?”
Jesus, you took these 27 children on Thursday and showed them anew the power of your friendship and how it will work for good if they shape those lives with piety, study and action. Rather than a boat, you put them together on a weekend.
Despite witnessing many miracles, the disciples in today’s Good News did not show great faith as Jesus calms the stormy seas. To bolster our faith and support along our journey, Cursillo provides to new and old cursillistas many ways to go forth from their weekend into their Fourth Day. The old things have passed. The new things have come. But through it all, God’s love is everlasting. Alleluia!
It is now time to cross back to the other side from which we came. Help us to go gently because those we left behind have not known this storm of loving friendship that we encountered this weekend. Impel these women and all cursillistas to stay close to Christ and invite them into your Group Reunion, Parish Ultreya and Diocesan Ultreya.
May the hand of the Lord be with the 122nd Women’s Cursillo. God, the women of the 122nd Cursillo are continuing their encounter with your Son this weekend. You have called each of them from birth by name. Please call them this weekend and we pray that your servants will hear you.
As they receive buttons proclaiming “I’m Loveable. God don’t make junk” may they recall how you fashioned them as a sharp-edged sword or polished arrow to help you conquer sin and reveal your glory. May their lips echo that of today’s psalmist who proclaims, “I am wonderfully made.” Through the Holy Spirit, may they show you the obedience of Zechariah and grow strong in the spirit with you as your cousin John grew with you. Amen.
"I will make you a light to the nation." Isaiah 49:6
By Saturday, weekend participants have learned about all three legs of the Cursillo tripod: piety, study and action. On the Feast Day of John the Baptist, we see emulated in his story the entire tripod.
Zechariah was struck mute by the angel when he failed to trust in the Lord. After having time to reflect prayerfully on this for the balance of Elizabeth pregnancy, when the time came, Zechariah took the action commanded by the angel and he was blessed with his voice again to proclaim the Good News.
In piety, John lived the kind of humility that Jesus so often preached to all. John studied his cousin to know him intimately. Because of this loving knowledge, John knew that he was not worthy to tie the sandal of the one to come after him. John, the other miracle baby of the Good News, son to Mary’s older cousin Elizabeth, lived a life of action baptizing people in the desert.
As cursillistas, we are asked to be like John, and through our faith and action, be a light to the nations...our neighbor...and our enemies.
How well do you know Jesus? Can you keep up the fire that was lit for you on this Cursillo Weekend?
We continue our prayers for a successful encounter with Christ. May these candidates, like Zechariah and the followers of John the Baptist, seek out the Lord and find Him when they are in need and may they grow strong in the Spirit.
Friday, June 23, 2006
God, we pray for the women of the 122nd Cursillo and all of us that we may be able to walk with you this weekend. Keep their ears open to your word. Keep their eyes open to the beauty of your creation. Keep their minds open to the ideas the Holy Spirit shares with them through the team and spiritual directors. Keep their hearts open so that the friendship of your son Jesus has a way to dwell in them. Amen.
“Christ dwells in your hearts through faith.” Ephesians 3:17
“Look upon him whom they have pierced.” John 19:37
What a tremendous feast day to celebrate as the candidates of the 122nd Women’s Cursillo experience the power of prayer in a most powerful way!
The Sacred Heart of Jesus. The symbol of the love and obedience in faith that Jesus offers to His Heavenly Father as an example for us. The symbol of the love and friendship that Jesus offers to you and all of us today and always – without exception.
Jesus knows and loves you. Through his life, Passion, agony and death, he gave himself up for us. As Max Lucado wrote, “He chose the nails” so that we don’t have to. The Sacred Heart was pierced by swords and thorns and whips but mostly by our sins. From it flowed blood (Eucharist) and water (baptism) and for our salvation. Its Precious Blood is offered to us in Daily Mass so that Christ may always dwell in us.
Today, let us join St. Paul in prayer that all of us may know the redemptive love and friendship of Christ and be completely immersed in the fullness of God.
Immerse yourself in support of the 122nd Women’s Weekend at Mount Zion. As Jesus offered himself to lift us up from our wayward ways, what palanca are you doing today for a candidate on this weekend or for someone in your life that needs your support to know the wisdom of God and the friendship of Jesus?
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
God, light your fire at the Village of Mount Zion this weekend so all will know your glory. Blessed are they who see and experience Jesus’ friendship – those on the weekend, those beyond the weekend, and those yet to experience the friendship of the weekend.
Jesus, may your friendship blossom at
Holy Spirit, watch over this weekend and be the messenger swiftly flying the prayers and requests from the candidates to the ears of God before God even hears the prayers. Amen.Study
“Blessed is he who shall have seen you and who falls asleep in your friendship.” Sirach 48:12
“His lightnings illumine the world.” Psalm 97:4
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8
Today, 27 candidates continue the journey that is known as the 122nd Women’s Cursillo. They seek God’s friendship.
Elijah worked to get the message across through wind and rain, earthquakes and fire. Jesus did so by introducing a simple prayer. This weekend, through simple friendship, these women will experience a new life in Christ. Twenty-seven women with 27 times 27 prayers. And the Lord knows all of their requests before they are even made.
As they experience the silent retreat tonight, Psalm 97 promises to illuminate their spirits through the darkness of the summer night to be open to Christ’s message this weekend. Let them fall asleep tonight in God’s friendship and awaken refreshed for the journey ahead – on the weekend and beyond.Action
Pray the Lord's Prayer on behalf of the weekend.
God, source of all creation, everything we do you knew before it happens. We know that you have already blessed the team for the Women’s 122nd Cursillo many, many times. Clearly you have blessed them abundantly with candidates and a beautiful setting.
Bless this team in its final preparation and help them to do your work now and always, through your Son, our friend, the Lord Jesus Christ. We ask that you continue this work of beauty over the next three days, from Quiet Night in the mountains through a closing filled with the love of your spirit.
Jesus, grant your friendship this weekend to the 122nd Women’s Cursillo. May the team reach out in your spirit and be examples of your friendship. Help them to enlighten the candidates at the Village of Mount Zion like you illuminate the world. Keep the eyes and ears and heart of the candidates open to your friendship and grant them their every prayer, before they even ask you. Amen.
“I will not leave you.”
Cursillo thrives on the kind of Piety that would make Matthew proud.
As the team and candidates departed from family and friends to climb this mountain of a weekend for the Lord, there are many people that they left behind.
Like the Lord, though, they still dwell in the hearts and minds of spouses, children, siblings, parents, friends and all who rely upon these wonderful women.
On the weekend, there will be many times that prayer partners leave the physical room where talks are given in order to prayer in support of a team member giving a talk at that moment.
Plus, people across the land will be offering Palanca for the weekend in quiet and thoughtful ways.Action
Pray quietly in support of the 122nd Cursillo.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Jesus, help me do what is hard. Help me to love my enemies as you loved those who put you to such a cruel death. Let your Kingdom of Peace come to all creation. Amen.
“Love your enemies.” Matthew 5:44
Today, Jesus continues to raise the bar of love for his disciples. It’s easy to follow the easy commands. Honor your mother and father. Love your neighbor.
But, we see throughout this chapter, that Jesus does not always command us to do the easy things. Instead, he extends earlier commands with harder ones. Christians can not be merely content to follow the easy commands but must surpass those standards of behavior.
Jesus also goes on to instruct the disciples, as children of God, to imitate the example of their Father and seek perfection through this enemy-loving command. The only other time in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus calls for perfection, he is relating an equally difficult command. That story is of the rich young man whom Jesus tells to give everything he owns to the poor and follow Jesus. In the parallel text, Luke demands that disciples be merciful as God is merciful. Matthew calls for perfection – God-like behavior.
Christ died for the sins of his children…children who called for his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. He did not defend himself and he told Peter to put away his sword.
For Christ… died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
Today, his children continue to pay little heed to his message of unconditional love for all. Yet, each day, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us in the Mass. But then, do we go out and sow his peace?
Jesus showed us how to love our enemies. Yet, today, the media reports story after story about how we should hate our enemy and his or her ways. Can we try harder to imitate the loving Jesus who dwells within each of us? After all, we echo these ideals every time we pray the prayer that Jesus taught us…”as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Maybe we repeat it so often to be a reminder to ourselves and all those who hear us pray.
How can we help raise the bar of love and support families?
Network, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby, points out that we can support families by helping them earn a fair, living wage. According to the following information that is on their website http://www.networklobby.org/hotnews/index.html#_Issue_2:
It has been ten years since Congress voted to increase the minimum wage (even though they have given themselves an annual raise seven years in a row). A minimum wage employee working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks in a year makes just $10,700 a year – an income that places a family of three thousands of dollars below the poverty line. Nobody working full time should have to live in poverty.
The House Appropriations Committee voted last week to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, by passing Rep. Hoyer’s amendment to the Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations bill. Senator Kennedy is also expected to introduce an amendment to raise the minimum wage to the Senate's Defense Appropriations bill. Now is the time to build some momentum for a vote that is ten years overdue.
Will you tell your representative and senators to protect working families and increase the minimum wage! Send them an e-mail here: http://capwiz.com/networklobby/issues/alert/?alertid=8854721&type=CO
Monday, June 19, 2006
Help me, Lord, to keep in my heart and mind the words of our Lady: “My soul magnifies the Lord and My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. Because He has looked upon His servant in (my) lowliness.” May I look upon others with her joy and faith rather than suspicion and selfishness. May I act out of the abundance You give to me. May Your Word of Love be the source of my every word, every deed, every hope today.
The evil and violence in the first reading from Kings almost takes my breath away. The anointed king of the 10 tribes and his wife murder a man and steal his “ancestral heritage”. Their greed and lust seem overwhelming as does the helplessness of the innocent man caught in their scheme.
Gratefully I read the words of the psalmist who captures my dismay most exactly: “Lord, listen to my groaning”. What else to do but groan in the face of evil perpetrated by the powerful on those less powerful? The author, perhaps David himself, 3,000 years before my time and hundreds of years removed from King Ahab, feels and describes my horror and distress. Yet he does not despair. He believes that “the bloodthirsty and the deceitful the Lord abhors”. Yes, I am called to remember that God is on the side of the good. Although daily I hear of systemic evil, of corrupt power doing violence to the vulnerable, I can, with the psalmist say with deep conviction: “At dawn I bring my plea expectantly before you…”
But that isn’t enough. God does want our trust. Jesus teaches us to ask God “bring us not into temptation and deliver us from evil”. Jesus further tells us that God wants more. “I say to you offer no resistance to evil… give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” Jesus turns on its head the messages that we receive every day from the media and from well-meaning friends who say “watch yourself, it’s dangerous out there”.
Of course it’s dangerous. But “deliver us from evil” includes the evil of suspicion that we harbor in our hearts for those different from us and even those who speak falsely against us and seek our downfall and our death. “Deliver us from evil” includes the evil of our complicity with immoral government leaders who trample those they should serve with the attitude that: those people deserve what they’ve gotten because of their sloth, their actions or that they threaten me. It is love we should harbor in our hearts. Love and respect. We should know, and act as if we know, that God is the God of all Created beings.
Jesus asks us to go beyond the 10 Commandments. We know we should not kill or covet others’ goods or spouse. Jesus asks us to love unequivocally. Tough to do. Remember with the psalmist: God will “destroy all who speak falsehood” or God will forgive. That is up to God, not up to me.
Who is it that we fear? Distrust? Hate? Do I think that sharing what I have leaves less for me? Look at initiatives sponsored by your parish for the homeless, the unwed, the displaced, the mentally ill, the addicted, the refugee, the immigrant. Sign up to help. Or start an outreach rooted in “go with him for two miles."
Sunday, June 18, 2006
God, creator and source of all, tell us what you need us to do. Let us take the Body of Christ and pass it on to the wilderness poor. Help us pick up your cup and cross in discipleship. Holy Spirit, help us never to betray our mission or deny your being. Give us the gifts needed to do everything that the Lord has told us. Amen.
“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.” Exodus 24:3
“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” Hebrews 9:14
“While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’” Mark 14:22
How do we receive the promised eternal inheritance?
Discipleship. Doing what Christ commands. Today’s readings unite past, present and future. Passover, Passion and Salvation. However, rather than focusing on the words of the institution of the Eucharist, Exodus and Mark’s narrative recall Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand when he broke bread for the many. Jesus body will soon be broken like the bread is broken and shared. In addition, the cup of salvation refers back to sermons Jesus made to James and John (among others) of the cup and the cross. “Can you drink the cup that Jesus drinks?”
Jesus wants us to have his body and spirit dwelling within us. He tells us to “Take it.” Jesus tells us that his blood is shed for many – to forgive our sins and to give us eternal life. Take it…and do something with it, with Him.
Take up the cup
Call upon the name
Be His servant
Offer sacrifice of thanksgiving
My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of His people
Eucharist is not just about the paschal mystery of God dwelling in us and sharing his eternal inheritance with us. It also is about what we do about Eucharist. The disciples in Mark’s Gospel don’t yet understand what is happening. We know the end of the story from 2000 years ago. But can we write a new ending today? We can when we “cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God” by putting our faith in action – by drinking from the cup of eternal salvation.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
God, source of all life and being, help us to take refuge in you, leaving behind the material and physical temptations of this world.
Jesus, friend to all, help us seek counsel from those who will lead us closer to you.
Holy Spirit, inspiring the world, set us free from all that we think, say and do to block the way of our spiritual union with the Trinity. Show us the path of love that is not obstructed with our possessions. Amen.
“He left and followed.” 1 Kings 19:21
In what do we take refuge?
In our comfortable homes? In our air-conditioned, power-steering, power-braking cars? In our dual-channel 40 watt stereo with subwoofers? In that home theatre system and 7.1 surround sound speakers?
In whom do we seek counsel?
Dr. Phil? Oprah? Andrew Weil? Your career coach? Your American Express Financial Adisor? Your stock broker? If we are truly to make good to the Lord all that we vow, then we need to stop pursuing the counsel of those who seek to help us to get ahead in the world and instead seek those who can counsel us to strengthen our spiritual lives.
What do we set before us?
The Lenox collection. The silver tea service. The interior decorator. The designer coffee from Gevalia. Those kitchen appliances from LG. The Williams Sonoma catalogue. A night out and dinner at the finest restaurants in Georgetown.
Elisha left all he owned behind. He kissed his mother and father goodbye. He liquidated his belongings and distributed them to the people in his village. All that in order to follow Elijah. His actions remind us of the disciples. Peter left behind his fishing boats. Matthew left behind his tax collecting. What are you prepared to leave behind so nothing stops you from following the Lord and being the Lord’s attendant?
What are you attending to this weekend? Perhaps you have grass to cut. Groceries to buy. Perhaps you need to clean up a little around the house. Entertain some friends.
Can you remember others, too? Donate some food to donate to a local pantry or to brown bag Sunday? Visit someone in a nursing home or hospital. Volunteer. We can be the Lord’s attendant when we serve our sisters and brothers.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Jesus, we have to do some pruning in order to avoid the near occasions of sin. We have to keep our hands and minds and eyes and ears occupied with your word and works so the Other One doesn’t call our name in temptation. Help us to leave our former lives and temptations behind in order to follow your commands. Amen.
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” 1 Kings 19:11
What would the Lord say if he passed by Babson Court this week? Or Winnepeg Drive? Or Sideburn Road? Or Earps Corner Place? Or Ashton Oaks Drive? Or Hemlock Way? Or your street?
Would the Lord ask what we are doing about the problems in the world? Would Jesus wonder if we read the Bible and took His message to heart? Would Jesus wonder why he died for our sins only to find us watching “Big Brother” or “The Sopranos”? Or would Jesus wonder why we were calling for take-out dinner while people were starving, hungry for nourishment of the body, spirit and heart from the companionship that we withheld from them?
Elijah was working hard for the Lord and still struggled. Have we been as zealous as Elijah? Do we have room for improvement? What will we tell those who come after us?
Jesus continues to raise the bar. Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel, continues raising the behavior standards for Christians beyond the requirements of Mosaic law. Jesus introduces the concept that the intention is just as bad as the sin and we should take severe action to avoid the intentions to sin. After all, when we sin in thought, word or deed, who do we think we are fooling?
What do you have to remove from your life to be without sin?
Today, two stories have piqued my attention. First, twenty-seven religious leaders have started publishing a statement urging the United States to “abolish torture now -- without exceptions.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/12/AR2006061201484.html. You can read the entire Statement at this site: http://www.nrcat.org/statement.aspx. It begins:
Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions hold dear. It degrades everyone involved --policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation's most cherished ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.
Please join over 5,000 people including Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Rev. William J. Bryon, former president of The Catholic University of America, Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel, Dr. Rick Warren, Rev. Jim Wallis, your humble Lighthouse Keeper, and other people of faith who want to end torture now.
In addition to people from all walks of life stepping forward to take action, today, we heard that one famously wealthy American plans to step down from his corporate position to devote time to his philanthropic and charitable interests, especially advancing global health care.
Bill Gates “plans to relinquish all daily duties at the company and instead focus his legendary competitive drive on improving global health and access to technology,” according to a story in today’s Washington Post.
Even though we may not be able to stop working, how can we re-order our priorities to do more evangelical action either in the political arena urging our leaders to support Christian principles consistently and in the religious arena?
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Jesus, you command us to love…at any and all cost as you did. To get your love, you only ask that we love.
Knowing that our petitions will not be heard by you or our Father unless we forgive others, please grant us the strength of spirit and faith for us to be reconciled first with our sisters and brothers. As you join forgiveness with our ability, may you also join our ability to be with you in the future to our present ability to give love before all else. Amen.
“Go first and be reconciled.” Matthew 5:24
Jesus raises the bar and sets a new standard of behavior for the Christian disciple to follow.
Under Mosaic law, the commandment was “Thou shalt not kill.” Jesus raises that to, “Thou shalt not be angry.” Even if you don’t strike another, anger alone is not to be tolerated.
As a sacrament, Reconciliation imparts to us the love of God who does the reconciling. But it also gives us the duty to live by God’s merciful love and share that reconciliation with others. From the Sermon of the Mount onward, Jesus insists that prayer must include a conversion of the heart. This kind of conversion requires forgiveness as we forgive others.
This conversion also demands that the Christian leave individualism behind because the love we receive frees us from it. This is not about our salvation alone but rather the salvation of all the children of God. If we recite the “Our Father” sincerely, our divisions and opposition have to be overcome (Catechism 2792). God can be satisfied only by prayers that make peace. As St. Cyprian writes: “To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Forgiveness comes into play in real life. It is not just some theological construct.
Read (at the link above) a moving tribute to James Cameron, who died at 92 on Sunday, nearly 76 years after he survived a lynching attempt in Marion, Ind. In the article, Avis Thomas-Lester writes about how reconciliation provided the miraculous intervention that saved Cameron.
A rope was pulled so tightly that it left marks for the rest of his life. As the crowd screamed racial epithets, he prayed. "Lord, forgive me my sins," Cameron recalled saying, in an interview last year.
As he waited to die, a voice he did not recognize called out that Cameron had had nothing to do with the slaying. He was cut down, the only person known to have survived a lynching attempt. Many years later he was given a piece of the rope. He kept it at the Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, which he founded to teach the history of African Americans, including the ugly story of lynching.
What sins do you need to ask Jesus to forgive? What anger do you need to bury first?
Tune in to www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com for continued inspiration on your post-Cursillo fourth day journey. Let me know if you would like to pick a day soon to offer the daily reflection.
Jesus, how long will we straddle the issues which you have given us before we consistently choose life? Abortion. War. Economic Justice. Death Penalty. Immigration. Instead of insisting that you send us another sign, help us to receive your instructions and do as you command us without questioning and rationalization.
Answer our prayers, Lord, so that we can lead others to friendship with you without the doubts that troubled Thomas but with total obedience in faith. Lead us to believe that you dwell within us.
“Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to their senses.” 1 Kings 18:37
Sometimes we never know why we face certain tasks and what role these duties play in our journey of faith. Take the people listening to Elijah today. Three times does Elijah command them to fill four jars with water. They do so without questioning him just as the wine steward fills the stone jars at the wedding at Cana.
The turning the water into wine at Cana was a sign that showed the power of God and led people who witnessed that transformation to begin to have faith in Jesus. The offering of Elijah was transformed by the fire of the Lord into a sign that led the people to believe.
All because someone filled a few jars with water…a simple act that led to a very awesome result.
As recently quoted by Catholic News Service, Retired Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, formerly head of the Archdiocese of Houston, said, “There was a time when growing up, I never thought of the death penalty ... but in time, I've come to see in reflecting upon the reverence and the sacredness of all human life, that this doesn't make any sense being for the death penalty. If God is the author of all life, and God has sovereignty over life, then God doesn't give up this sovereignty when someone is convicted of a horrible crime.”
Is there an issue for you, where you differ from the church’s teachings? Or is there an issue which has not grabbed your attention to think like the church teaches?
Take Elijah’s directive. Fill four jars with water and pray that the Lord send you a sign that will strengthen you in faith.
Leave a comment letting me know if you would like to pick a day soon to offer the daily reflection.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
St. Anthony, patron of the poor, bless us on this day when we celebrate your life and work. Bless our lives and work so that we may not place our lamp under a bushel or lose the flavor which spices up our lives and our world.
Be with us to assure that our words and deeds serve the Lord as Elijah and you did in your preaching, teaching and deeds. Amen.
“For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” 1 Kings 17:16
“Your light must shine before others.” Matthew 5:16
Elijah came to announce Christ’s coming and to suffer as Christ would. Elijah went where the Lord directed and completed the work that the Lord required. His role in salvation history prefigures the role that John the Baptist would play in Christ’s lifetime.
By proclaiming God’s word and actions with the widow in the first reading from today, Elijah influenced the world of the widow…assuring that she and her son would be able to eat for the year. The reading underscores the need for both food that satisfies physical needs with food that satisfies spiritual needs just like Jesus promised the woman at the well in John’s Gospel.
In the famous reading from Matthew, we learn that by our deeds borne from faith, we – like Elijah – are to influence the world for good. As cursillistas and Christians, we can no more escape notice than a city set on a mountain. If we fail in good works, we are as useless as flavorless salt or as a lamp whose light is concealed.
Today, with this great reading on the salt of the earth as our guide, the Church also celebrates the life and work of a saint who truly did not let his light shine under a bushel – Anthony of Padua, a doctor or the church. One sermon by Anthony of Padua in the year 1226 revealed:
“Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. Gregory says: " A law is laid upon the preacher to practice what he preaches. " It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his action.
As Anthony of Padua taught and as cursillistas know, prayer and study must both inform faith in order for a stable spiritual experience and relationship with God.
A tradition on St. Anthony’s feast day is to buy small loaves of bread. The reading from Kings also gives us the story of Elijah providing bread for the poor on this feast day.
St. Anthony bread is a term used for offerings made in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony. Sometimes the alms are given for the education of priests. In some places parents also make a gift for the poor after placing a newborn child under the protection of St. Anthony. It is a practice in some churches to bless small loaves of bread on the feast of St. Anthony and give them to those who want them.
Different legends or stories account for the donation of what is called St. Anthony Bread. By at least one account it goes back to 1263, when it is said a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony which was still being built. His mother promised that if the child was restored to her she would give for the poor an amount of corn equal to the child’s weight. Her prayer and promise were rewarded with the boy’s return to life.
Another reason for the practice is traced back to Louise Bouffier, a shopkeeper in Toulon, France. A locksmith was prepared to break open her shop door after no key would open it. Bouffier asked the locksmith to try his keys one more time after she prayed and promised to give bread to the poor in honor of St. Anthony if the door would open without force. The door then opened. After others received favors through the intercession of St. Anthony, they joined Louise Bouffier in founding the charity of St. Anthony Bread.
For whom can you buy a loaf of bread?
Monday, June 12, 2006
Help me open my heart and mind to you today, Lord, finding wisdom and fortitude in the Word you give me. I am awed to know that you loved the psalmist and Elijah so long ago as You love me today. O God who made heaven and earth, Oh Lord Jesus who sanctified the Mount with your Words, keep my feet on Holy Ground, as I take these words throughout my day. Help me to live them out. May my gratitude and my reverence for Your presence in my life make it possible for me to recognize You in all of Your Children I meet today. Amen.
Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth...both now and forever... (Psalm 121)
When Jesus saw the crowds… He began to teach them… (Matthew 5)
Often in my prayers I ask for clear direction: “God, could you write it down for me?” Perhaps, in part, I am perplexed because I do not listen with the ears of faith – a faith that says “The LORD will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.” Perhaps I am listening for rationality, logic, the “right” answer that fits into my life. But today‘s readings do not offer that.
In today’s first reading we find Elijah, called by God to prophesy to King Ahab who is introducing false Gods to the 10 Tribes. God will teach this King and the disloyal people through famine. God then instructs Elijah to go and hide; God says to trust that birds will bring Elijah food! Rational?
Today’s second reading gives us a picture of God’s own Son speaking directly to the people in words which don’t, on first reading – maybe even second reading – sound rational: blessed are the meek? Poor in spirit?
Remember to whom Our Lord speaks. He is talking to people who are poor. He is talking to a people oppressed by a brutal occupying force. He is speaking to a people weighed down by 700 laws dictating every move they make. Their leaders do not follow Jesus; rather they remain sheltered in the temple. Those who follow Jesus are common, lowly. They follow out of thirst for God.Jesus speaks to them as children of God. These people are Creations of the God who Is. Immutable. Forever. A Refuge. The Mover. Creator of Heaven and Earth. Jesus speaks to these Children, sitting down in the dust with them, telling them how much God loves them and that He is with them in their poverty, their love of righteousness, their steadfast patience and hope in waiting for the Messiah. Jesus tells them that they will find reward with God.
He is speaking to them as the human Incarnation of the Absolute, Forever God. Jesus wants them and us to trust in Him, to seek Him now, to give glory to the Father now and not wait for some indefinite future. He is the way, the model and the path. He tells them how.
But we know it is far from simple. Blessed are the peacemakers: Elijah brought discord and disturbance because he spoke God’s Truth in the face of a human government’s untruth. Blessed are the meek – not the weak: Jesus did not cower when He faced Pilot. Jesus spoke with gentle, powerful Truth.
Do I mourn at the plight of the world or am I so tired of bad news that I ignore it? Do I hunger and thirst for justice or accept that “they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps”? Do I relate to others with compassion and humility or do I have to have the last word because I know that I am right? Do I seek peace or accept war as justified to save lives? Does the thought of persecution or ridicule keep me silent? Do I show mercy to those who have nothing to give back to me in return?
Can I trust that the Lord, indeed, will give me my daily bread even if it be delivered by ravens? And can I believe that when I act in accord with these beautiful promises made by Jesus on the Mount, that I am by no means diminished? Rather, I walk upon Ground made Holy by His Sacrifice for me by following His Word.
Read the Readings slowly, thoughtfully. Pause and look into your own heart. Read them again. Do you see the eyes of Jesus looking back at you? Do you find poverty of spirit or pride? So you find your heart “clean” or stuffed too full with self-serving intentions and actions? Choose one of the verses of the Gospel and live it out today. Live it as if you are on the Mount with Jesus all day long. Do so with the courage that The LORD will guard you from all evil…both now and forever. Do so with joy! You will be with the Lord!
Good Morning! I made my Cursillo in 2001 and my group was “Living Rainbow of Faith.” Please consider reflecting on the Liturgical Readings and what they mean to your life – and ours – for this column. After all, this is “your daily tripod”. E-mail Lighthouse Keeper with your choice of day. Then Pray, Study and Act!
Let me know if you would like to pick a day soon to offer the daily reflection.
Tune in to your e-mail or www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com for continued inspiration.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, help us to have great faith in our union with you on this Trinity Sunday. Grant to us the spirit of adoption so we will move mountains as we cry out to you as your children, “Abba!”
Give us the strength to go where you tell us to go -- up mountains, through deserts, across valleys and into cities and towns. Help us to make new friends and bring them in union with your friendship. Amen.
"For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” Romans 8:14
Today is Trinity Sunday, a day to celebrate the new life we get through Jesus and also the new relationship of intimacy that we have with God.
Throughout our lives, we make new friends. When we move, get a new job, change schools, or start volunteering, we meet new friends and build new relationships. Great change has just occurred before today’s Gospel reading. This is the end of the Gospel of Matthew.
Jesus has been put on trial. Condemned. Crucified. Died. Buried. And the women found him missing from the tomb. They encounter him and he gives the order to meet up in Galilee.
As Paul writes in the Second Reading today, the glory that believers are destined to share with Christ far exceeds the sufferings of the present life. Paul considers the destiny of the created world to be linked with the future that belongs to the believers. As it shares in the penalty of corruption brought about by sin, so too will it share in the benefits of redemption and future glory that comprise the ultimate liberation of God's people.
As we move to the Gospel, we see Jesus in the only resurrection chapter in Matthew’s book meet up with his remaining disciples on a mountain -- apart from the city And the activity of the world. Jesus ordered them up a mountain not unlike God ordered Moses up a mountain to get the commandments in the Hebrew Bible. So we know that something big will happen here.
When they saw him there, they doubted – just as Thomas doubted in Luke’s Gospel because he had not seen. They still were not in that complete union with Christ. They doubted – had little faith.
Since universal power in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus, he gives the disciples a universal command to baptize all the nations of the world. Baptism is the rite of entrance into the community but also entrance into the union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The disciples are no long followers of the teacher but now must become the teacher to others.
Write Palanca this week and submit those to the team members for the Women’s 122nd Cursillo. You can find the address for Palanca here: http://arlingtoncursillo.org/CursillosSubweb/w122/w122.htm.
Also, while on the site, pick some time on the Palanca clock to spend an hour in prayer for the weekend.
(Tomorrow will mark the first day another Cursillista will submit a reflection for Your Dialy Tripod. Our message will come from a woman who was on the 113th Cursillo at Missionhurst. Let me know if you would like to pick a day soon to offer the daily reflection. Tune in to your e-mail or www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com for continued inspiration.)
Jesus, help us proclaim your Good News to those who need the message the most…those who are farthest from you. Help us to put up with hardships in order to do you work. But also, help us to give so much that we give out of our very being and sustenance, not just out of our excess. Amen.
“Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2
Today’s scene of the widow contributing to the temple is the final confrontation in the series of Temple discourses that Jesus has in Mark’s Gospel shortly before Jesus exits the Temple for the last time. While some see this as a quaint story about charity, Ched Myers points out that this episode provided Jesus and now us with an object lesson on the exploitation of poor and a reminder of what the Good News calls on each of us to do.
From the time of Deuteronomy, there was a special place for the poor, the anawim (Hebrew for “the little ones”) in society. This group typically included widows, orphans and strangers. In fact, if a king did not take care of the poor, he could lose his throne.
You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. (Exodus 22:20-23)
Caring for the poor plays a critical role in the biblical view of the world and its understanding of persons, property and community. Isaiah underscores the central role in serving the poor.
Isaiah puts it this way:
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn. (Isaiah 58: 5-8)
Now, let us look at the widow in Mark’s Gospel in a new light. Jesus is angry. He is sitting today “opposite” to the treasury. He watched the difference between the rich and the poor. Then Jesus teaches that “she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:44) Myers points out that Jesus is infuriated by a widow made destitute by her tithing obligation. We see Jesus' wrath flare up. Myers contrasts the facts of the day with the responsibilities outlined in Exodus and Isaiah. The Temple no longer protects the little one, the poor, the anawim, but crushes them.
The whack on the other side of my head was delivered by Paul in his letter to Timothy.
“Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2
He went on to write: “put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.” Reflecting on today’s scripture – combining a call to ministry and a call not to exploit the poor – helped me remember some my Just Faith group two years ago. Participating in Just Faith is not like taking a class or enrolling in a Bible study group.
The experience you have in Just Faith will help you understand these challenges and live your commitments in a new and different way.
You will find that Just Faith is more than a class. In a class, you just read books. You will read but this is more than JUST reading. You learn from the books but also from each other and from people beyond your classroom.
Second, Just Faith is more than a retreat. You’ll have some time to reflect on the Gospel call for jubilee justice in retreats at the beginning and throughout the experience every week in prayer. But the experience is more than JUST an inner journey.
Third, Just Faith is more than another service project. You will go places and meet people that take you out of your normal routine in new settings called “border crossings.”
Those of who have been around St. Mary of Sorrows longer than I will recall that there used to be a sign in the Gathering Area that said, “Christianity is not a spectator sport.” Just Faith continues that tradition. Through this experience, you will get closer in touch with the fullness of your Catholic Faith and the commitment God asks of a friend. You will get renewed in your desire to engage in the kind of loving good works that our faith requires of us.
If you are too busy, perhaps you should consider doing a little pruning on your calendar. The Just Faith Experience just might help you bear more fruit. Contact your parish and get more information about enrolling in Just Faith next fall before your calendar fills up. If your parish doesn’t offer Just Faith, maybe you can find one nearby that just does.
 Myers, Ched, et. al. “Say to This Mountain:” Mark’s Story of Discipleship. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003. Page 165-166.
 Kammer, Fred, S.J. Doing Faith Justice: An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought. New York: Paulist Press, 2004. Page 15.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Lord, deliver us from the persecutions that we endure for your sake. We know criticism from the forces of culture and death will be inevitable. When we try to put the brakes on these forces, sometimes it takes a lot of pressure on the pedal. Lord, we ask you to put your weight behind our efforts so we have the courage to do what you ask of all of us.
Like Bishop Fiorenza, enlighten our minds and lives so we can shift our outlook and soften our hearts toward the lives of those facing the ultimate punishment. Give strength to all of our political and moral leaders so they can impose the truly ultimate judgment – love.
“All who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:12-13
Prayers Work! Look no further than today’s headline in "The Washington Post."
Kaine Delays Execution of Inmate Inquiry Into Killer's Mental State Ordered
Choose life! Yesterday (Thursday June 8) our airwaves and papers were filled with stories of the death of one of the leaders of the Iraqi terror cells. We saw chapter and verse, pictures and video, images from guided missiles and images from gutted buildings.
Getting less attention but equally important, Thursday Virginia Governor Tim Kaine chose lfe. He decided to take a prudent step. Rather than proceed with the execution of a man on death row when major questions have been raised about the inmate's mental health and capacity, the Governor took a step back from the brink. Rather than commit to a step from which there is no turning back, Governor Kaine decided to look into the subject further.
For this decision – hopefully based on the Gospel and teachings of the Catholic bishops – the Governor is already being pilloried in the press by his opponents who favor perpetuating the madness of a death and vengeance culture. Paul predicted as much in today’s first reading.
Paul's example for Timothy includes persecution, a frequent emphasis in this Pastoral Epistle which is addressed to a leader in teh early Church, rather than the entire community. Timothy is told to be steadfast to what he has been taught and to scripture. The scriptures are the source of wisdom, i.e., of belief in and loving fulfillment of God's word revealed in Christ, through whom salvation is given.
Today, maybe this message is intended for a different Timothy.
You can read the Governor's statement at this site:
Now is time to let the Governor know that he has support for his actions in the state so he will know that he has our “palanca” to make the same decision the next time such a case come to his desk. With our support, he may have the courage to stand up to the death penalty lobbyists as they stalk the hall of Congress.
You can write to the Governor at this site:
Here is the message I sent...
Dear Governor Kaine,
You can count me among those who criticized you fairly and strongly when you let proceed the execution of one inmate back in March. Today, you can count me among your supporters for your decision in the Percy Walton case.
Thank you for choosing the path of prudence. Thank you for choosing the only preferential option of life for Mr. Walton. Once he is executed, you can't study him back to life.
Please ignore those critics seking cheap headlines who will drive your reputation into the ground on the basis of one decision -- like I did back in March. Forgive me.
My prayers will continue that this is the side we will see more often. Ironically, today's reading at Mass is from 2 Timothy. St. Paul predicts that you will be persecuted:
"Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvationthrough faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work."
The Lighthouse Keeper
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Jesus, forgive us. We have chained the word of God in our lives. We trap it on the bookshelf. We hide it under the table. We clutch it in our heart never sharing it with others. We don't even acrry it with us into church. And the words we hear we leave it in the pews echoing in empty chambers.
Inspire us to take your word from the seminary to the sanctuary and from the sanctuary to the streets from the streets to the Senate witnessing to life in all forms.
Help us to carry your Word forth like Paul, no matter what the cost. Help us to persevere with you so that we also may reign with you. Teach us your ways and grant us understanding so that we are not far from the Kingdom of God. Amen.
“But the word of God is not chained.” 2 Timothy 2:9
We encounter a short, pithy summary of the Bible and the Christian life here in 2 Timothy.
If we have died with him we shall also live with him;
If we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.
When sin dies in us through baptism and faith, we also die with Jesus. When we die with Jesus, we gain eternal life just as when Christ died for our sins to grant us eternal life. To reap these rewards, we must unchain the word of God and let it spring forth in our minds, on our lips and in our hearts. The Christian life explained by Christ and Paul is no poetry reading though. It features endurance, witness, and even suffering like Paul in jail and Jesus on the cross.
Jesus will be true to those who are faithful but he also will protect those without faith because he can not NOT love us. He is love.
In the Gospel, Jesus is once again put to the test by questions from the people. Just as Satan tested Jesus three times, the people test Jesus three times with questions. Again, Jesus does not get trapped or misled. The two great commandments come right back to love. He is love. That doesn’t surprise us any longer.
Congress is busy squandering money needed to help the poor these days. First the Senate is trying to undo the estate tax which provided needed revenue for government programs for the poor. Now the House is trying to gut foreign aid provisions.
According to the Virginia Catholic Conference supported by Bishop Loverde:
Sometime this week, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the FY 2007 foreign-operations appropriations bill that includes funding for international-assistance programs to improve the health of mothers and their children, educational opportunities, agricultural production, and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
Currently, the House bill provides $3.4 billion to combat global HIV/AIDS and provide treatment and care for people affected by this disease in the hardest hit regions of the world. It also provides $2 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account, which helps poor countries address poverty and promote economic development. Meanwhile, core humanitarian and development programs that fund education, agriculture, and other projects are still nearly $220 million below FY 2006 levels.
While funding levels for all of these programs are less than what the U.S. bishops have supported, there may be further attempts to reduce international-assistance spending during the House of Representatives debate this week.
To ensure that these programs are protected from further cuts, PLEASE SEND A MESSAGE TO YOUR HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE TODAY.
God, you set us here with a purpose and with the tools and teams needed to accomplish your work for the common good of all – the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless. Help us to recognize and exercise the gifts you have confirmed in us through the Holy Spirit for that mission of love.
Teach us through the scriptures, our leaders and our companions on this journey so that we are neither misled nor tempted to test you. When we follow you, we are led properly by the Good Shepherd to where you design us to serve in life. Amen.
Stir into flame the gift of God that you have. 2 Timothy 1:6
What if Paul was writing to you today? Fill in your name and life details…
Greetings to you and all your friends and followers in Arlington, Virginia. I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears of Maňanita and Palanca, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first sprung forth on your Cursillo weekend experience at the Missionhurst sitting with Carlos and Jerry and Larry and Dave at the Table of Faith and Action back in October 2001. I am confident that faith still lives in you.
Let me remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have rather than letting it sit idle wasting time watching television checking your investment portfolio or in trivial pursuits.
God did not give you a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. You must exercise this power to keep it alive in you.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. There is no easy way out.
He saved us and called us to a holy life of piety, study and action, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began. Now that love is made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus in close moments we have with our sisters and brothers thanks to the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith, hope, charity and love that are in Christ Jesus who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
When you follow Jesus, you don’t continue the life you led before…you lead an entirely new life – a new life far better than the life you had before because Jesus transcends all human life.
So get out there and get to work. But guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. May God have mercy on you and grant you peace.
Jesus wants us to be about his work for the common good of the Body of Christ and the children of God. However, if some of our political leaders have their way, American inequality is about to take a giant step forward with efforts to repeal or gut the estate tax.
From http://www.sojo.net/ and the Quakers: The estate tax has been in place for nearly 100 years and is a substantial source of government revenue as well as a major catalyst to charitable giving. Despite the fact that the estate tax only affects the wealthiest half of 1 percent of Americans - most family farms and small businesses are exempt – at a time when programs for the poor desperately need these revenues, some are trying to mislead us into cutting this tax. Many millionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet support this tax and oppose repeal efforts.
As tempting as some political leaders say this action might be, we have to resist this temptation. As Jesus reminded us earlier this week, we must render unto “Ceasar” the just payments asked. Any repeal of the estate tax will cost an estimated 1 trillion dollars in federal revenue over the next 10 years, substantially increase the deficit, dramatically diminish the resources available to help low-income families escape poverty, and further increase the pressure on the budget from the high cost of war.
Make a call to preserve the common good! Ask your senators to oppose repeal or drastic cuts in the estate tax!
Call toll-free, 1-800-459-1887*, now!
Here's the message: Please tell your senators to vote against any motion or bill to repeal or drastically cut the estate tax. We cannot invest in the common good if we hand hundreds of billions of dollars to a tiny number of millionaire heirs.
Use the toll-free number above to reach the U.S. Capitol switchboard and ask to be connected to your senator's office. (The person at the switchboard can figure out who your senators are if you're not sure).
+ See how many estates paid the estate tax in 2004.
* The toll-free number is provided courtesy of the American Friends Service Committee which has launched a budget campaign, http://go.sojo.net/ct/wda1el91tzI8/. AFSC welcomes groups to circulate and use the toll-free number in support of nonpartisan budget goals and without linking the alert to a Web site soliciting donations or actions which may be used to support partisan lobbying or work.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Jesus, give us the patience to wait for and hasten your coming to us through our piety, study and action. When you find us, may we be without blemish before you and at peace. Guide us to growth in piety and knowledge of you, our Lord and savior, so that we may fulfill your commandment to love one another. Amen.
“We await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:12
The first reading connects to the passage today from the Gospel of Mark where Jesus meets – head on – the challenge of the old earth and the old heaven where the people put him to the test.
Today, Jesus once again turns the question around on the interrogator. In these instances, Ched Myers et. al. point out that Jesus is approached by opponents who challenge him with a question concerning political authority. Jesus in turn answers the question with another question in which he compels his grand inquisitors to declare their own loyalties to divine authority. Rather than reacting defensively, Jesus spars with the opponents in order to reveal their true intentions.
In this we see the conflict between heavenly and earthly authority. Jesus’ questions challenge the assumptions of both the dominant culture and of his own disciples. And like Peter, he awaits a new heaven and a new earth in which the social order is turned upside down.
Just as Jesus probed authority, we too must probe with our questions the discrepancy between rhetoric and reality, between stated values and practice. Those who define the questions frame the public debate. But are their motives always out of humility?
Lately we have seen proponents on both sides of the aisle trying to frame the public debates on war, economics, stem cell research, gay marriage, and more. Those in power whom Jesus faced did not like to be questioned by opponents. Do you?
Is Jesus questioning you today, too? In Mark, Jesus is portrayed not as the answer to our questions by rather as the questions to our answers.
How is Jesus questioning you? After all, you are richer than almost all the citizens of Jerusalem and Galilee of His time. If Jesus the answer to your questions? Or is he the question to your answers.
Sometimes what Jesus leads us to differs from our prevailing views. In this week’s Arlington Herald, we can read about how Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza’s views of the death penalty changed over time as he contemplated the call of the Good News.
How do Jesus’ question for you cause you to change? to act?
 Myers, Ched, et. al. “Say to This Mountain:” Mark’s Story of Discipleship. Maryknoll, NY; April 2003 (NY: Orbis Books).
Sunday, June 04, 2006
God, you are the only true landowner. Help us to be good stewards of the gifts which you have entrusted to our care. Guide our lives so we respect the dignity in each person and also so that we call on our leaders, as Jesus did, to be good examples.
Protect us from the forces urging us to reject you. Help us to carry out your work to rebuild the temple of the Kingdom of God on earth. Through our devotion, knowledge and mutual affection help us to fulfill your commandment to love one another. Amen.
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Mark 12:10
“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7
As we emerge from the 90-plus days of the Lent, Triduum and Easter seasons, our first readings back in ordinary time remind us of the very basics of Cursillo. In 2 Peter 1, we see Peter connect all three facets of the Cursillo tripod. He connects piety, study and action as a continuum of qualities that build upon each other to the ultimate task – love.
Peace in abundance comes through knowledge (study) of God and Jesus Christ. Knowledge comes through piety (devotion) based upon self-control of the desires of the body and endurance of the hardships and tests that we face. Devotion leads to mutual affection – mutual with God and mutual with our sisters and brothers because they too are children of God. When we have mutual affection, we will perform acts of love for each other in the form of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
If Peter is presenting us with a prescription for the spiritual life, then Jesus in Mark’s Gospel is giving us a prescription for interactions with the religious and legal authorities as well as each other in the global village.
The story of the vineyard draws on Isaiah’s “love song for the vineyard” in Isaiah 5ff. While these are allegorical parables of the rejection of the Messiah, the stories also reflect the experiences of the tenant farmers of the day who were beholden to absentee landlords. Yet God is the only true landowner.
Land today is a fight for value. People buy and sell houses to turn the transactions into financial security for the future. Land today also is a flight for value. Right in our midst, there are people who have no home, no land and no privilege. Others leave their homeland trying to migrate here as did our ancestors in order to share in the better life that the American promise holds out.
The immigration debate as well as trade debates, challenge us to develop an economy in which all people share in its success.
“Our faith calls us to measure this economy, not by what it produces but also by how it touches human life and whether it protects or undermines the dignity of the human person. Economic decisions have human consequences and moral content; they help or hurt people, strengthen or weaken family life, advance or diminish the quality of justice in our land,” wrote the U.S. Bishops in 1986 on the economy.
It was twenty years ago that the U.S. bishops published the pastoral letter “Economic Justice for All.” You can read it at this Internet site http://www.osjspm.org/cst/eja.htm. The Bishops concluded:
Like Mary in proclaiming her Magnificat, we marvel at the wonders God has done for us, how God has raised up the poor and the lowly and promised great things for them in the Kingdom. God now asks of us sacrifices and reflection on our reverence for human dignity - in ourselves and in others -and on our service and discipleship, so that the divine goal for the human family and this earth can be fulfilled. Communion with God, sharing God's life, involves a mutual bonding with all on this globe. Jesus taught us to love God and one another and that the concept of neighbor is without limit. We know that we are called to be members of a new covenant of love. We have to move from our devotion to independence, through an understanding of interdependence, to a commitment to human solidarity. That challenge must find its realization in the kind of community we build among us. Love implies concern for all - especially the poor - and a continued search for those social and economic structures that permit everyone to share in a community that is a part of a redeemed creation (Rom 8:21-23).
How can you touch human life to protect the dignity of each human person in your economic life?
 http://www.osjspm.org/cst/eja.htm, section 365.