Sunday, April 30, 2006
Oh, Happy May! As this month begins, Jesus, you will find us in our room waiting for you in faith just as Mary was quietly awaiting your Incarnation. Through your grace, help us to overcome our fears. When you come, please bring us the gift of Faith so we can believe in the One God sent. In our belief, Jesus, help us to begin to build the Kingdom of God on earth working one person at a time. Amen. '
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”Jesus answered and said to them,“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” (John 6:28-29)
Faith and Good Works. Faith vs. Good Works. Faith and Action. Of this I now know…faith always comes first.
Look how eager the people of faith were to seek out Jesus! They had witnessed his miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and they wanted to be fed MORE. So Jesus offered up the key to our faith…the key to the treasure: Believe in the One God sent.
When people truly believe, the promise of hope becomes a prophecy. When people truly believe, the gift of faith becomes a commandment to be Christ-like. The commandment makes us figure out how to feed the 5,000 or accomplish the change Jesus wants to see in us and the world.
Where is Jesus in your life today? Is he on the other side of the Sea of Galilee? Or maybe just across the Chesapeake Bay? Or across the Pacific Ocean?
If Jesus is far away from you, who created that distance? Jesus wants and waits for you to close that gap like the Prodigal Son returning home. Because when he sees you coming, he will run toward you even faster. You, too, will find him on that other shore.
The Million Voices for Darfur is making a special outreach to faith communities. Following the rally in Washington Sunday, they are asking people from faith communities to speak out and ask our national leaders to make a solution in Darfur a priority. As a leader in the Church of Life, please seek Jesus in the faces of the people of Darfur. Will you help by sending a postcard or e-mail to your elected representatives asking them to help save lives. For more information, visit this web site: http://www.savedarfur.org/faith
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Jesus, please come among us. Help us to accept our fear not to harm the unrequited love that you offer endlessly. Give us the courage and wisdom and understanding to carry out the awesome commands that you have given to us, your friends. Give us the obedience in faith to go out into the world and profess your Holy Name by providing the service that such friendship deserves and demands in return for your never-ending love. Amen.
“[T]hey were startled and terrified.” Luke 24:37
“You are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:48
How do we get from the first reaction to the final description?
When the Lord entered the place where the disciples were gathered, they were startled and terrified. At times like today, they don’t seem to know what to make of his appearance at first. At confirmations at the Easter vigil and through this season on to Pentecost Sunday, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit endows is “fear of the Lord.” In the Hebrew Bible, this is a sign of true piety. But, when we ponder the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Piety itself is already one of them and “Fear of the Lord” is separate. How does the sense of fear of the Lord differ in the New Testament?”
The virtue of “fear of the Lord” can not be reduced in modern times to mere awe. Its meaning is much larger and more beautiful. A person truly in love actually fears doing something that would hurt the beloved or create distance in the relations. This fear does not coincide with dread.
Only with this insight can we make the leap from groveling in fear to the witness stand. With this fear of the Lord developed out of love, Jesus confirms the choice He made when he called the disciples to follow Him. Then, He makes his disciples witnesses.
There are two senses of the word witness that Jesus confirms. First, there is the sense of personal knowledge of an incident. Second, there is the sense of testifying about that knowledge publicly. Witnesses take a stand and speak out verbally or through their actions. Having knowledge but not going public does not make you a very good witness.
So once Jesus calls us friends, he puts in us a sense of fear – not a Friday the 13th fear – but a fear that we don’t want to do anything to harm that friendship. To protect that friendship, we must have the same desires and the same dislikes as Jesus. So, as his friends, we do what he commands us to do to be in union with him. Cursillo gives us the model so we can, through piety and study, come to know Jesus as our friend and then, go out into the world and witness to that friendship in our actions.
Look in your local newspaper for how you can support the Church’s call for justice and fairness in the US immigration laws. Why not look for Jesus at the peaceful protests planned for Monday to welcome strangers in a strange land? Pick up your flag and a candle and stand on the streets to publicly witness the need for fair immigration laws.
Jesus, cross over all obstacles to reach me today so I can carry out your works of justice and mercy. When you reach me, let me accept your commands as did Stephen, Philip, and your followers chosen to serve all people. Amen.
How will I act today knowing that the eyes of the Lord are upon me?
Jesus, how will you come to me today? Help me to be alert so I see you.
When will you come to me today? Will you come in the daylight so I can recognize the Body of Christ? Or like the disciples in the boat, might you come under cover of darkness making it a challenge to recognize you.
What obstacles are between us that you will cross to reach me? Not even the wide seas or the tallest mountains can stop you from seeking me out and reaching me.
What if I was one of those chosen to serve? When you get to me, how will I react? Will I see you or like those who encountered you after the Resurrection, will my recognition and epiphany happen slowly?
What emotions will I experience? Fear? Doubt? Trust? Confidence?
What choices will you make today about how to spend your time, talents and treasure in ways that are just and merciful?
How will you give praise and thanks to God through the deeds you do to serve and to build his Kingdom here and now?
Friday, April 28, 2006
Jesus, we know that you will test us today. Help us to react as Resurrection Apostles trusting that your mission comes from God. Help us not to put anything human in the way of your desire to draw closer to us through our piety, study and action. Amen.
On this Friday in the second week after Easter, our scriptures are found here http://www.usccb.org/nab/042806.shtml for reading and reflection.
“[H]ave nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them.” (Acts 5:38-39)
“[T]hey had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” (Acts 5:41)
What does it say? At first glance, today’s readings seem totally unrelated. First we have a story of how the disciples escaped death but did suffer flogging at the hands of the Sadducees. Then in the Gospel from John, we flash back to Jesus’ life before the Passion. We hear about one of the signs Jesus performed when he fed the five thousand with five barley loaves and two fish – clearly an early sign of the Eucharistic celebration.
Jesus takes the initiative in the Gospel and questions Phillip…”Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
At this point, even after witnessing the first three signs Jesus performed in John’s Gospel, there is still that human skepticism. “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”
What does it all mean? Perhaps that after the Resurrection, that skepticism turned into discipleship. The Apostles truly took up their cross and followed Jesus. They willingly suffered punishment in order to be true to His commandments.
What does it matter? How Jesus might be testing us today. How will we react to Jesus’ test?
· Take the safe way out and react like Gamaliel who encourages his peers to ignore it and it will go away?
· Be too practical like Phillip and question Jesus from a skeptical human perspective thinking that the endeavor is of human origin and we have to buy the food of eternal life?
· Like the witnesses to your New Eucharist and recognize you as the Messiah wanting to carry you away and make you king?
· Or, like the Apostles after the Resurrection who trust in the Lord and are obedient to His commandments even if it means suffering for His sake?
What does all this mean for how we approach our day today?
Look no further than the headlines…
Kaine Permits Execution To Proceed Despite Beliefs
Governor Says He Has No Reason to Doubt Killer's Guilt
It wasn’t Calvary…it wasn’t Good Friday. Can’t you just hear Pontius Pilate stating, "I find no compelling reasons to doubt Jesus Christ’s guilt or to invalidate the sentence recommended by the jury and imposed, and affirmed, by the courts," Pilate said in a brief statement issued 2 1/2 hours before the Nazorean was put to death by capital punishment on the cross. "Accordingly, I decline to intervene."
Just like Gamliel…he didn’t intervene. I for one let Governor Kaine know today how disappointed I am that he could forget the lessons of Easter so quickly. Will you? Let him know how you feel at this site: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm
I am happy to share my letter to the Governor if you are interested.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Jesus, we know what you asked us to do but sometimes we are reluctant. Give us the wisdom and understanding of Pentecost to know what to do and say…and give us the courage to do it and say it. Amen.
We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29
What we witness in today’s first reading from Acts is the latest in a string of actions we might today call civil disobedience – a phrase popularized by Henry David Thoreau. I prefer to see things more like acting in a manner that is consistent and congruent with Gospels…acting in obedience in faith, answering to a higher authority.
The Apostles know what potential punishment they might face – death like Jesus – for their continued teaching. Yet they do not stop. Since the time of the Pentecost was fulfilled in Acts 2, the gifts of the Holy Spirit bolster the witness of the Apostles to the life of Jesus.
Walter Tejada, an Arlington County, Virginia Board member, joined with other local elected officials from the Washington metropolitan region in calling for national comprehensive immigration reform that includes paths to earned legalization. You can read more here.
Consider joining the May 1st evening vigil. Tejada and others ask that at 8:15 p.m., wherever you are, go out to the street or to a public place and hold up a lighted candle and an American Flag as symbols of your support for fair and just immigration reform.
Invite your family, neighbors, Church or Cursillo group reunion to join in this vigil in support of comprehensive immigration reform including earned legalization for all hardworking immigrants and their families. Then, take a picture and send it to your United States Senator or Representative in Congress.
(If the e-mail doesn't come through every day, reflections are posted at www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com.)
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Jesus, you teach us constantly through your Word and Work. You are the Light of the world.
Give us the courage to take what we have learned and go into the temple area. There we can continue your teaching so that we might testify to the light and lead people away from whatever darkness tempts them. Amen.
“Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” (Acts 5:20)
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (John 3:21)
After the disciples were miraculously released from prison, they no longer were retreating into their “comfort zone” to fish. They went right back out to the temple area to tell the people everything about their mission and become “fishers” of souls. Even though they face scourging by the authorities who try to convince them to stop this “unauthorized” teaching, they do not stop.
They want their works to be clearly seen as done in God. They want to live the truth openly as commanded. They want to work to save the world. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17).
Courage is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It takes courage to witness in the public square to the message of the Gospel like the Apostles. While I was in Los Angeles recently, I was able to see the effects of Cardinal Mahoney’s courage. He spoke out for just immigration laws – laws that he hopes will recognize that there is no such thing as an “illegal” person because we are all born in the image of God. This message gave the people in his flock – and his fellow Bishops and Catholics across the country – the support and courage that they needed to call on political leaders to support just laws.
Do you need some courage to find your voice? What issue do you feel called to speak about? Act about? John’s Gospel doesn’t instruct us to “condemn the world” but to testify to the light. How can you do this so as to bless the Lord at all times?
(If the e-mail doesn't come through every day, reflections are posted at www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com.)
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen. --Reinhold Niebuhr
For the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, today’s scriptures are located here to study: http://www.usccb.org/nab/042506.shtml
“The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” (I Peter 5:10)
How successful would Peter be as a copy writer in an advertising agency today if the Church were the client? When ads and mass mailings promise to grow our hair back, make us look and feel younger and thinner, and when all our problems will be solved by one act, Peter lays out the truth. “You WILL suffer a little.” Just like Christ did for us in his Supreme Divine One Act.
For that suffering, we get the sacramental God of grace who will restore (baptism or reconciliation), confirm (confirmation), strengthen (Eucharist or the sacrament of healing the sick), and establish (marriage or Holy Orders) us in the world.
Not a bad deal but not a deal but I doubt that most of modern society will rush to join. We prefer cushions on the pews. This letter and reality lesson from Peter also reminds me of the lesser known second verse of the popular Serenity Prayer above – “accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.”
Are we really ready to accept those hardships? What hardships do you need to accept? What suffering does Peter promise you?
Think of someone you know who needs some extra support. Grant them a little serenity by paying them a visit. If they live too far away, why not write them and offer Palanca? Who says Palanca is just for weekends anyway?
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Jesus, enable us, your servants, to speak your word with all boldness, where ever you want us to share your Works. You make the wind blow where it wills. Help us to hear the message that comes to us on the wings of your divine wind. In the spirit of Nicodemus, help us, dear Jesus, to accomplish your apostolic action without hesitation, fear or concern. Help us to believe even though, unlike Thomas, we have not seem. Amen.
Today, we encounter Jesus early in His ministry teaching Nicodemus under cover of darkness. What we have here is the original prophesy of Jesus requiring leaders to be born in the spirit amplifying the teaching from Sunday when the disciples were born of the spirit after the Resurrection. Nicodemus also learns from Jesus that “the wind blows where it will” just like Jesus entered the locked upper room and breathed on the disciples with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at His own will.
Nicodemus was probably a member of the Sanhedrin. He tries to take Jesus’ teaching literally and when doing so, finds that it doesn’t make sense. Nicodemus is like the reverse Thomas. Nicodemus is told the teaching but can’t accept it until he gets to know Jesus better.
Ironically, Jesus appears as a stranger after the Resurrection and people slowly come to the realization of His true identity. Jesus’ teachings appear difficult to comprehend and after the Resurrection comes to pass, the teachings make much more sense.
Through encounters with Christ, people have continuing “epiphanies” when they recognize the Messiah in the face of others. In the case of Nicodemus, we can’t be sure exactly when the light went off in his brain but by the end of Good Friday, that light went off and Nicodemus was ministering with Joseph to bury the dead body left behind by Jesus.
So while we may celebrate Epiphany Sunday in January, these realizations happen throughout the Gospels to many others beyond the Three Kings.
Why would the Church put this reading today? It does not sequentially follow the Easter story. However, it does amplify the theme people reacting in faith without evidence. Although Nicodemus did not react in faith right away…he did come around publicly before the Eleven unlocked the doors. Unlike Thomas, Nicodemus did not need to put his hands in Jesus side to believe. He was engaged in his Cursillo action on Good Friday while the disciples were still locked away as he helped bury the dead.
When did you last have an Epiphany and recognize Jesus in the world?
How do you respond to little “ephiphanies” that the Lord sends to you?
Do you listen with obedience in faith to these messages from the Lord? Or do you ignore them during NBA playoff season? Or until after the Stanley Cup or World Cup? Or until after the bills are paid or the dishes washed?
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Jesus, we so much want to get ahead. Teach us that the way to get ahead in your Kingdom is not the way of Survivor. Your Amazing Race is to vote people onto our islands. To help those who are not the fleetest to cross the finish line first. To serve those, not to compete and beat them.
To get ahead in your Kingdom, we need support. Send forth your Holy Spirit and the Cloud of Witnesses to inspire us in our work today.
To get ahead in your Kingdom, we need forgiveness when we stumble and stray. Send us your disciples of today to forgive us our trespasses and give us the grace and love to forgive those who sin against us.
Help us to put aside the rules of this world which fill us with doubts and tempt us to pursue false ideals. Instead, let us recognize you as our Lord and our God without having to put our hands in your sides because we see your body amongst us in close moments with the anawim – the least among us. Amen.
Get to know Jesus through today's scripture for the Second Sunday of Easter. http://www.usccb.org/nab/042306.shtml
On this Second Sunday of the Easter season, we look ahead to Pentecost. With the Holy Spirit as companion and guide now that Jesus is preparing for his Ascension, Jesus sends the apostles into the world. At our confirmation, each of us also was likewise commissioned into this missionary spirit of the Church.
In addition, during this visit, Jesus institutes the sacrament of reconciliation and blesses the Apostles to forgive sins.
As Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit onto the disciples, we are reminded of God breathing life into Adam. As Thomas puts his hand in the wounds of Jesus, he also harkens us back to the creation of humanity in God’s image and a companion for the journey formed from Adam’s rib.
In addition to the double sacramental close moment with Christ in the Upper Room, today’s first reading gives us a view of how Christian community was formed in the early days of the church. There was no Protestant work ethic. Each work according to ability and shared all with the church.
Friday we saw Jesus ask the disciples to bring all their fish to Him in a complete offertory. Today, we also are asked to give to the Church and to help those “least among us” in the persons of the orphans, widows and “anawin.” This communitarian society bring up images of women and men living in poverty, chastity and obedience to an order such as those started by St. Francis and St. Benedict. In addition, recalls the image of modern Christian communities of Catholic Workers or Bruderhof communities living in voluntary poverty to serve through hospitality and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy the needs of the poor. They also witness to the Gospel values daily in today’s society.
What we don’t see in today’s first reading from Acts 4 is capitalism at its best and worst. Sharing is the order of the community. Everything, every fish the early Church caught, was offered up for the good of all. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we even gave one-tenth as much?
Who are the anawim?
Anawim is the plural form of an Old Testament Hebrew word which is variously translated as "poor", "afflicted", "humble", or "meek". It is the Anawim, "the lost and the forgotten ones", to whom Jesus refers in his beautiful beatitudes on The Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven", and "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth". ( Mt5:3,5) What a revolutionary thought: God loves everyone!
In a wonderful foreshadowing of these blessings, the prophet Zephaniah (Zeph 2:3, 3:12-19) relays God's message that, even in the worst of times there will remain " a faithful remnant" in our midst. God's Remnant then, are the people who find their security and treasures, not in the trappings of the material world, but in God. This faithful remnant, the Anawim, guarantees the future survival of all God's people, by containing within themselves the very keys to the kingdom itself. For is it not in how we treat and welcome the Stranger at the Gate, "the least of these", which truly bring us into the very meaning and heart of The Cosmic Christ: "Love One Another".
In both The Great Commandment, and throughout Matthew 25, we are commanded by Jesus to aid our neighbors - to constantly strive to redress the grievances of those who are abandoned or alone, alienated and marginalized, to protect the dignity of the poor and to stand with the oppressed as they attempt to become free of that which oppresses them. Christ emptied himself and became poor, so that we might become rich. Jesus constantly ministered to the poor and the sick, to the outcasts of society.
It all starts with faith but can not die on the vine without our actions in the world that show the love of our enemies and those who persecute us.
God, give us the courage of your first disciples. After witnessing the Resurrection, they went out in the world and could not be stopped from proclaiming your Good News in their actions.
God, support us with companions on this journey who will help us and encourage us when the world tempts us to stray from the path you want us to travel. Make it impossible for us not to speak about what we have learned.
God, nourish us with your Body and your Blood so that you become us and we become you. Through our actions and proclamations at His command, make us as companions of Jesus. Amen.
Today on the first Saturday after Easter, we are invited to read the Daily Scriptures at: http://www.usccb.org/nab/042206.shtml
“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
What are we supposed to do when we find the tomb is empty? “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
So much for sitting around in the Upper Room. So much for fishing in the Tiberius. So much for hanging out at Starbucks or becoming fanatic Redskins fans. So much for all those episodes of Law & Order, CSI, and Alias – The Final Season that await my viewing. This is the final season for the Lord. And you are next in line at the lectern…and for Calvary.
Wasn’t it St. Francis who added, “…and sometimes use words” to this prime directive?
What happens when the world doesn’t want us to proclaim or tempts us to stray fomr this command? St. Paul gives us the answers in the first reading today. “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
Cursillo – and Christianity – gives us the tools (piety, study and action) to support this mission that we share with the universal Church. Cursillo also gives us the reinforcements we need through companions – Acompañante – to guide us and accompany us and to pray for us while we go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. .
Last night at the opening session of the Region II Encounter, a talk by Msgr. John Fey quoted Capuchin Fr. Edward Foley who said of the Eucharist, “Be what you see. Receive what you are.”
Think about that line the next time you bow before the Eucharist. Be what you see. Receive what you are.” Awesome. The Body of Christ. Be what you see. Be the Body of Christ. Receive what you are. Receive the Body of Christ. Awesome summary of that paschal mystical moment.
Be the Body of Christ to others. Receive Christ and let Jesus permeate your whole being. Coursing through your digestive system, Bob. Into your blood, Judy. Pulsing through your nervous system, Kat. Msgr. Frey told us that as Christ was pierced on the cross, His blood and water flowed out of His body in baptism, reconciling our sins, uniting us in marriage, ordaining us in ministry, bringing the Holy Spirit upon us. As we receive His body and blood, He becomes part of us and we become part of Christ to do His work and preach His Word in our lives.
Our job as Cursillistas is nothing less than the job of the whole Church.
Immigration reform? Life issues? Peace? International development? Debt Relief? Fair trade? We can not live without breathing. We can not live without water and food. We can not live without proclaiming the Good News. What is the issue which ignites your passions to serve the Body of Christ? Post your comment at http://www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com/.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Jesus, please seek us out in the business of our daily lives. Whether we are fishing or building, teaching or preaching, we need your support to survive. We long to have breakfast with you.
Please bless our work with whatever fruitfulness and just rewards you deem fit to reveal to us. Transform our hearts and minds so that we recognize you and your uplifting spirit in our lives.
Despite our attempts to recede into our “comfort zone,” help us to be fishers of women and men both in the places familiar in our lives as well in the new Kingdom where you want us to work out of your boat, Lord.
Through the close moments we have with you, please keep our hearts open so we can always enjoy an intimate breakfast with you and, like Peter, jump feet first into whatever task you ask us to complete. Amen.
How will you respond when Jesus invites you to breakfast? Are ready to jump in feet first like Peter?
The scene of today’s Gospel is always one of my favorites…it shows why I love Simon Peter and his conversion so much. He was just so human!
After years of walking and talking, preaching and teaching, after listening to Jesus tell about the future and how scriptures were to be fulfilled, when all this came to pass, the disciples feared the present and future without Jesus. They did as we would do…reverted back into their comfort zone. Peter was a fisherman so he tried to go back to being fishermen. If the disciples were around today, they would be heading to the docks on Sunday fishing pole in hand while their wives were pulling them to Church.
But, Jesus called them and they could no longer avoid the critical questions and challenges. This time, no one denied Jesus…but, like Mary Magdalene who also had close encounters with Christ we studied this week, the disciples did not realize immediately that the man on shore was the Lord.
When Simon Peter realized (thanks to John’s help) that it was Jesus back on shore, he could not sit in his seat until the boat docked. He dove into the river in a kind of post-Resurrection full immersion baptism and reconciliation, to follow Jesus and his commands.
This episode also teaches us a lot about how Jesus will work through our lives. Despite our faiings and the times we have denied or ignored Jesus, after blessing our work with abundant fish, Jesus calls us to shore to spend some time with him. Think just of what Jesus says in today’s readings and imagine he is talking to you…
“Esther, have you caught anything to eat?” First, Christ will seek you out before you ever seek Him. He will find out your needs and he will fulfill them. His unconditional love is free for all, no asking is required. Then he will engage you in a conversation as he seeks your prayer in dialog.
“Vince, cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” Once you open yourself up to this encounter, Jesus will tell you what he wants you to do. He will command you to go out into the world and seek – for Him – those who are lost.
“Mimi, bring some of the fish you just caught.” Whatever your efforts in the world, bring some of that back to Jesus as an offering. Jesus and the Church need our reciprocal love and support. Even when the Church is faced with challenges, the Church needs us to bring to it the fruit of our labors. This includes you time, your talents and your treasure. How can you support the Church and the people? What can you offer back to Jesus in exchange for His unconditional love?
“Mark, come, have breakfast.” When you enter into the Lord’s presence, Jesus will nourish and sustain you no matter how long you have been fasting from Him. Be it one day or twenty years. The invitation is open. It’s pot luck. Jesus already has the bread and wine, the Body and Blood. What will you bring when you come to the Feast?
Jesus wants our response when he seeks us out. Don’t be afraid to answer. And don’t be afraid to seek him out. Jump in! The Water of Life is great!
What fruits of your labor can you offer to Jesus today or this weekend? Post your responses as comments following this reflection at www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Jesus, help us to get to know you and recognize you in our midst whether you are guiding us directly or guiding us through others who are our companions on this journey.
Through those others, our Cursillo teams, group reunions, Ultreya gatherings and more, help us to have a close encounter with you. Let us see and smell, hear and feel, taste and touch the evidence of your work in our humble lives.
Whether you perform big signs like getting the crippled to walk or small signs like getting the flowers to bloom, Jesus, keep us awake and alert to your presence so we may enjoy the peace and refreshment that you give to us. Through this awareness, make us keenly knowledgeable about the actions you challenge us to undertake – turning from our evil ways and doing good for those around us. Amen.
Study “You shall listen.”
Evidence -- Sight. Hearing. Touch. Taste. Smell.
The God of Mark, the God of Mike, the God of Tom, the God of Randy, the God of Bill, the God of Jim, the God of Jim J., the God of Regis, wants you to be refreshed through all of your senses.
The God of Socky, the God of Cecelia, the God of Caryl, the God of Mimi, the God of Tuck, the God of Christy, the God of Marilyn, the God of Evelyn, the God of Mary Lou, the God of Janine, the God of Hilda and the God of Kat wants you to be close to Him through these direct experiences.
Our God, the God guiding the teams preparing for spring and fall Cursillo weekends, makes His divine presence known to us in many ways and through all of our senses. By faith in His name, we are all witnesses as we learn in today’s Daily Scriptures. The focus today is on walking and listening…curing and touching...seeing and believing.
In addition, we hear once again of Jesus as servant leader – a far different role than the predominant model of elected (political) leaders, appointed (business) leaders, or military leaders.
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. He or she is sharply different from the person who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such it will be a later choice to serve – after leadership is established. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.
The difference manifest itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived?” 
Today, we see Jesus work through the disciples in Acts to perform another sign for the people and we see Jesus work directly with the disciples in the Gospel according to Luke.
Jesus worked to make sure our highest need was met…our need for love of the Father, our need for redemption from sin…our need for cures from afflictions…and our need for the evidence that would help us to believe and have faith. Our world is increasingly “glutted with information but starved for meaning.” However, think of how much richer all our institutions would be if there were more servant-leaders amongst us.
Sometimes, Jesus takes both approaches with us. Sometimes he works directly. At other times he works through others. But always he works as a servant-leader assuring our needs are always placed above His needs.
It is ironic that in a week focused on Jesus and his servant-leader model, we also are witnessing such shifts in the national political leadership. If only our leaders (from either party) would truly strive to model Jesus in their words and works, then some of the divisions that we experience in society, culture and politics might be minimized.
In this Easter week, think of when you act as a leader. Is it at work or at school? Is it in your household or in your broader extended family? When you do, are you a servant-leader or do you model your leadership style on someone else?
Consider the characteristics of a servant leader and work to incorporate these in your servant-leadership style:
Commitment to the growth of people
 Taken from the Servant As Leader published by Robert Greenleaf in 1970.
 from "Servant-Leadership and Philanthropic Institutions" Voices of Servant-Leadership Series, Essay No. 4, 2000 (co-authored by Larry C. Spears with John C. Burkhardt)
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Jesus, have patience with us. We are foolish and slow of heart and mind. Our hearts are set on getting that latest gadget. Our minds are pre-occupied with something trivial.
Jesus, teach us so we can learn our lessons as well as we remember the Top 40, the best seller list or the TV Guide. These later materials things do not challenge us to change from within. We easily forget the lessons from you and the prophets because you want us to go outside our comfort zone.
Jesus, change our hearts and minds with every close moment that we have with you through the Eucharist and with you in the person of our neighbors, our enemies, our sisters and our brothers.
Make us companions with you on our own Road to Emmaus – the road that leads us to intersect with you. Make us faithful to the mission you command us to fulfill when we cross your faith-filled, love-filled, and hope-filled path. Amen.
Study -- Burning Within Us
“Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24: 25-26)
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
The Risen Lord changes hearts. Hearts of stone burn within.
Today, once again, we witness through the Good News, disciples who knew Jesus encounter him but not recognize him after the Resurrection. As with
Mary Magdalene yesterday, after the close moments with Christ, the eyes of Cleopas and Simon are opened to recognize Jesus when He breaks bread with them.
A consistent feature of the resurrection stories is that the risen Jesus was different and initially unrecognizable. The reading from Acts sheds some new light on why the disciples did not immediately recognize Christ after the Resurrection. First, Christian prophetic insight into the Old Testament saw the crucifixion and death of Jesus as the main import of messianic prophecy. However, according to the NAB, the Jews themselves did not anticipate a suffering Messiah; they usually understood the Servant Song in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 to signify their own suffering as a people.  Second, when he did share information about his suffering, Jesus was very secretive.
Often Jesus told his disciples not to say anything about what he taught them because people would not believe the vision until they see it for themselves. For example, after the Transfiguration, as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, "Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." Even when speaking with Jesus privately and directly with the disciples, they misunderstood. They thought Jesus was talking about the suffering of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:13).
Sometimes, we also see today, Jesus comes to those who do not seek him. With Mary and John and Peter, they sought out Jesus. But here, two disciples are traveling on that same Resurrection Day. So much has happened; we initially do not know why they are on the road except they were talking about the recent events. Jesus also can come to us when we least expect Him to arrive.
Look for Jesus today. Where do you see Jesus? Post you comments after this entry on http://www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com/.
God, we praise you and thank you for the gifts of your creation that give us life and food and protection.
Bless us for whenever we have failed to care for the land as wise stewards which you entrusted it to our care.
Help us see you in this gift of creation and life around us and in the eyes of our sisters and brothers of all genders, religions, races and ancestry. By our witness, may we emulate Paul and the disciples and bring more and more people into the Church and into close moments with you by the examples of our piety, study and action. Amen.
Study “I have seen the Lord”
Read, reflect and study the Easter Tuesday scriptures: http://www.usccb.org/nab/041806.shtml
Today we see the close encounters with Christ continue. We hear another evangelist -- John today -- recount the experience of Mary at the tomb. Mary is rewarded for her persistence. She was the first to see the empty tomb. SHe ran to spread teh good news and returned with Peter and John. After their inspection, they left but she stayed there in prayer privately experiencing her grief. This time, she sees the Risen Lord but at first does not recognize Him. This is a common experience that we will see repeated again and again throughout this Easter season -- the close moment that people at first do not realize is an encounter with the Risen Lord. But Mary realizes the gift and give Jesus praise. He speaks to her and propels her to action.
Psalm 33 holds the clue: “The Earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Let’s come to recognize Jesus in the gifts He has given to us – His word, His works, those with hope and those who work to make that hope a reality by serving the least among us. Then, let us do the work that He has commanded us to accomplish.
It is so easy to see the beauty of the works of the Lord in the spring life sprouting up around us and in the smiling eyes of our sisters and brothers. Then, like Mary, let's get to work.
How was your Lent? Care to share that experience? Let me know if you would like to offer a reflection on the daily scriptures as we continue Your Daily Tripod beyond its Lenten origin and support the teams in formation and the Fourth Day of Cursillistas throughout the Arlington Diocese and beyond.
What do the daily scriptures (posted here http://www.usccb.org/nab/ for the upcoming month or two) say to you? How do they move you to prayer? What do you learn when you read and study them? What action or actions are you propelled to consider?
Send me your reflection and I will post it to http://www.yourdailytripod.blogspot.com/ giving you full attribution. You can pick any day you would like and let me know. We will add a sign-up list to the Arlington Cursillo web site in the coming days.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Jesus, help us in our understanding. In mortal terms, we can not fathom your unrequited love that poured out to us without ceasing. We can not explain how you accepted the will of the Father and in love allowed you to accept death by crucifixion. We can not find the right words to explain that the tomb is empty after witnessing your death for our sins.
Jesus, you know our thoughts and feelings before we express them to you. Grant to us the peace of the Resurrection that we might have a close moment with you along the way today. Give us the fortitude to fulfill your commandments with our actions in the world. Amen.
“Dwell in hope” http://www.usccb.org/nab/041706.shtml
The enormity of the act that Jesus completed is hard to comprehend. In fact, Jesus’ Resurrection is so filled with love and so central to our faith that what happens on that First Day of the week will take us an entire liturgical season of Mass celebrations to contemplate it and every day of our life to celebrate it.
Today, we witness in the Good News the first direct encounter with Christ when Mary Magadalene and the other Mary were “fearful yet overjoyed” upon seeing the tomb empty. When they encounter Jesus, he knows exactly how they feel. They don’t have to tell him. As they study his risen body, the “Marys” pay him homage (piety). He gives them words of comfort and consolation to help them cope with what they are experiencing. And then he sends them forth on a mission of action to evangelize the disciples about what they have seen.
Yesterday, before this close moment with Christ, Mary’s only explanation was to tell the disciples that the guards stole the body of Jesus. Today, we see the chief priests accusing the Jews of that very act. Human explanations of the Resurrection are inadequate. With faith, all things are possible to allow us to dwell in hope.
Ironically, Jesus said on the cross that “It is finished.” Through these encounters with the risen Lord that begin today, we come to realize that our Fourth Day mission of piety, study and action is just beginning.
Now that Lent is over, what’s next? Today, Jesus commanded Mary to spread the news of his resurrection. We see Peter in the first reading fulfilling the command to “preach to the people.” Where can you spread that Good News? Within your family? Beyond? What is your plan to “dwell in hope” by pursuit of piety, study and action in the next seven days?
Saturday, April 15, 2006
May the hope and peace of the Resurrection be with you and all whom you love this Easter season so that we may live according to the challenge placed before us in the life and model of Christ, our suffering servant leader who conquered sin and death.
God, give us the initiative of Mary of Magdala to wake up early and seek you. Give to us the enthusiasm of Peter to fight through the crowd to find you. Give us abundant obedience in faith like John to see the empty tomb and believe. Give us the will of Jesus to tell the world that you are with us through our actions. Amen.
God is with us: http://www.usccb.org/nab/041606.shtml
Think of how news travels today. Something happens and a reporter finds out through a tip, news release or other source. Maybe a radio or internet report carries the first word. As other media outlets hear, they dispatch their reporters to get the story until sometimes the news-telling becomes a feeding frenzy. The new shows hire experts to help explain events. Then the talk shows take on the story not to mention Leno and Letterman and SNL.
Probably it was a good thing that there wasn’t the equivalent of the modern media in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.
The last few days have been very hectic. If it happened today, who knows how the media cover could trivialize our salvation story. Maybe CSPAN would have had live coverage of the glorious dinner to honor Jesus when Mary of Magdala anointed him with precious oils. The argument between Judas and Jesus would have been caught on tape and carried live to set off new coverage of the growing conflict.
After this conflict, the reporters would have been watching for further developments and getting background details from Caiaphas and the other high priests. They would be fighting to land that big interview with Mary, Martha or Lazarus or the people who heard Jesus preach in the temple.
Then, on the back of a donkey, as Jesus paraded into Jerusalem victoriously we would get background commentary on Good Morning Jerusalem.
After celebrating Passover and sharing the Seder with the disciples, Jesus’ betrayal was set in final motion. Someone, probably Judas, might tipped off Fox News to be in the Garden of Gethsemane to be ready for live pictures of the arrest of Jesus while his close friends slept. After a hasty trial, Jesus was convicted and sentenced to death. No witnesses. No DNA. No crime scene investigators. No arguments about cameras in the courtroom. No endless appeals to the state and federal courts. No court appointed lawyer. No debate about whether the governor would grant clemency. Just the death penalty carried out swiftly on an innocent man. Geraldo would be disappointed that he could not squeeze the story for higher ratings with endless commentary about the conflicts between the church and this Nazorean.
Jesus was assumed guilty unless proven innocent -- compared to common thief who was released. The eleven remaining disciples scattered and denied knowing him. After being flogged and crowned with thorns by the mocking Roman guards, he marched again, this time to Calvary carrying his cross as the burden for the sins of all mankind – individually and collectively through all time. There Jesus suffered a humiliating death for our sins. End of story. Cameras get put away. All the expert “talking heads” and public officials go home for the weekend.
The mortal body for which Jesus had no more use was removed, not by those closest friends, but by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, secret disciples who had come to believe in Jesus. The body was laid in the tomb and locked away behind a great stone with a few more duties still to perform – to provide the final evidence that Jesus was risen God, to fulfill the scriptures and to be seen by witnesses to the Resurrection.
After the public spectacle, those who knew and love Jesus had hardly had any time to privately grieve over the loss of their friend. It was still dark early the next morning. Again, the disciples slept while Mary Magdalene and some other women, the first witness of the resurrection, approached the tomb and found the stone disturbed and the body missing. Mary ran to awaken the disciples and report the “Good News” – although she did not yet know it was good news that the tomb was empty.
John arrived first and peered inside and hesitated trying to comprehend this private moment – alone at the empty tomb in the first close moment with Christ since the execution. When Simon Peter, the man of action and the swift sword, huffed up behind his swifter friend, he charged through and inspected the empty burial shrouds.
But it was that private moment when John paused – we can almost imagine him kneeling outside the tomb as we genuflect upon entering the sanctuary and passing the Tabernacle. When he saw the tomb was empty, he believed. John had the first post-Resurrection close moment with Christ on seeing the empty tomb. He knew that God alive.
John and the others were our reporters on the scene. They were there and spread the word that has been handed down all the way through time to us. God is with us. Still! Spread the word!
Wake up early tomorrow. Look outside and see the signs of new spring life. Is there any doubt that Christ lives with the beauty around us? Christ lives. Pass it on.
God, you gave us everything that is good, help us to appreciate your gifts of this world.
When you put us to our tests, help us to respond consistently to your will. When you fulfill our prayers, let us sing gloriously to you in praise and thanksgiving.
Though the mountains leave their place, and the hills be shaken, your love never leaves us. Give us the faith to seek you where you are found and the fortitude to call you when you are near, which is always.
God, you challenge us because your thoughts are not of our world nor are your ways easy to follow. Send your Mother and a cloud of witnesses to help us walk in your ways and answer your challenge with a confident, “Here I am!”
Help me to understand what to do with the new heart and new spirit that you have placed within me. Help me to live by your rules and fulfill my part of the covenant with you.
Today, new Christians come into your Church. Help me realize that we are all baptized into Christ Jesus and his death. Help us be dead to sin and live for God in Christ Jesus.
When we truly live for God faithfully, we will no longer worry about “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” We know you will do that for us. However, now we are your body on earth, show us the stones that you want us to roll back for others.
Give to us an encounter with your Risen Son. Amen.
The Salvation Story is laid out before us in tonight’s Vigil Mass. Help us to understand and respond as true seekers: http://www.usccb.org/nab/041506.shtml
The angel promises that, “You will see him.” After hearing the salvation story from Genesis to the Good News, how will you respond? Where do you see Jesus?
Will you respond like Mary Magdalene and the women of the community who sought to anoint the body of Jesus Christ? As they sought him out, he came to them. They worried about earthly concerns. Who will roll away the stone? Instead, they found the stone moved for them. They sought to serve God. And God answered their prayers and concerns.
Today, when we get to the tomb and the tomb is empty. How will you react to this news? Do you think they have stolen the body of the Lord? Are you ready to “seek the Lord where he may be found?” If so, stop looking in the empty tomb…start looking in your heart and in the people around you.
God’s ways are not our ways but are above our ways. Are you really ready to follow his God’s laws? Do you understand that God goes before you always? If you are driving to work on the Beltway, those cars ahead of you are filled with God.
If you are in line in the Church parking lot trying to get home, God is ahead of you.
If you are waiting for that promotion that never comes, God gets it before you.
If you are waiting to get the highest grade on a test, God gets one even better.
But, when you face illness, God has the bed next to you.
When you fear for the future, God has experienced that first.
God truly has been our prayer partner this Lenten season. It was God, through his son Jesus who helped us carry our cross.
Now in the Resurrection, as we go forth from the empty tomb, let us make Jesus and Mary our “acompañante” our companion on this journey for we can not face the tests alone. They don’t want us to. They want to be with us when we seek their help.
As God’s gifts and covenant are established for us, how will we fulfill our end of the bargain?
Again we are confronted by the possible use of the death penalty in just over 10 days. Will you help to stop the execution of Dexter Lee Vinson? The Virginia Catholic Conference provides a way to contact Governor Tim Kaine, a Catholic, to remind him of his response-ability.
What other stones do you need to roll away with God? What other empty tombs do you encounter?
Friday, April 14, 2006
Jesus, you walked today burdened with your cross and my sins. Forgive me for ever having forgotten your ordeal.
Jesus, I am in the crowd, choose me to help you with your cross as you help me with mine.
Jesus, I am in the crowd, choose me to wipe your face of the blood and sweat as you wipe away my sins today and everyday I seek your reconciliation.
Jesus, I am in the crowd, help me to understand the ordeal of crucifixion so I will understand the trials you put me through and accept the will of the Father as you have modeled for me throughout Lent and Life.
Forgive me for I know not what I do every day when I abandon you. Grant me the promise of paradise for stealing you love without serving others through the obedience of faith. Ask your Mother to be my prayer partner, my “acompañante,” my companion and guide. Let me thirst for you always so that when your mission is finished, I will assume it. Into God’s hands and your hands may I commend my life so his will might be done through me. Amen.
You are invited to encounter Jesus today in his agony, his arrest, his trial and as he walks with his cross to bear our sins -- the verdict he accepted with grace and love and faith.
“[I]t was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6
The enormity of today’s act of sacrifice for me, for you, for those we see in Church everyday, is impossible to comprehend. It would be easier if I could say Jesus died for those other sinners. Yet he died for me, the sinner. You, the sinner.
It was MY infirmities that he bore, my suffering that he endured. He was pierced for my offenses. Crushed for my sins. Upon him was the chastisement that makes me whole. By his stripes, I was healed. I had gone astray as late as yesterday. I denied him three times thirty. I betrayed him. I fell asleep on him. I followed my own way and the way of our society. But the LORD laid upon himself the guilt of me.
As Max Lucado wrote, “He chose the nails so we do not have to.”
Meditate on the last seven words Jesus spoke. What is He asking you to do now that He was crucified for our sins?
"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
"Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."
"Woman, behold your son. Behold your Mother."
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me."
"It is finished."
"Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit."
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Jesus, today we are holding on to the Alpha, the greatest gift humanity ever enjoyed…your mortal life that was the model for us to follow.
Our faith tells us you must die tomorrow in order to wash our feet and cleanse us from our sins...since committed when we were not patterning our life after your model. But before you died, you gave us a new sacrament by which to always remember you and your commission to us. Your Supper replaced the Passover Seder for us. Today, be with us as we celebrate that Omega supper.
Lord, we know that you did not come just so we can believe in you. You told to that our faith must lead us to the service you exemplified. In our belief, point us in the direction of service and love for each other -- our familyand friends, people we know and people we don't know yet, those we love and those we don't love yet.
Help us to pattern our lives in faith, hope and service after you so that we may wash the feet that you put before us. Amen.
Today, we can encounter Jesus twice in the daily scripture giving us a model to follow.
First is in the Chrism Mass at the “beginning” of his priestly ministry in his hometown of Nazareth Then, we see him in Jerusalem at the end. The Alpha and the Omega.
Luke places this scene at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry although Mark has it near the end of his narrative. Jesus returns home in a scene symbolic of the sacrifice he will make for us on Good Friday because he will be rejected in his hometown.
Before celebrating the central mysteries of salvation, every diocesan community is gathered this morning around its Bishop for the blessing of the holy oils, which are the instrument of salvation in various sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick. These signs of divine grace draw their effectiveness from the paschal mystery, from the Death and Resurrection of Christ. This is why the Church celebrates this rite on the threshold of the Sacred Triduum, on the day when, by a supreme priestly act, the Son of God made man offered himself to the Father to redeem all humanity.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)
As the NAB points out, “To bring glad tidings to the poor” is a special concern in Luke’s Gospel. It explains that more than any other gospel writer Luke is concerned with Jesus' attitude toward the economically and socially poor. At times, the poor in Luke's gospel are associated with the downtrodden, the oppressed and afflicted, the forgotten and the neglected, and it is they who accept Jesus' message of salvation.
Unlike the oppressed, when the people in the temple back in Nazareth heard Jesus preaching that he was the fulfillment of the scripture, they wanted to attack him. They knew him only as the son of the carpenter. Instead, Jesus passed through their midst just as he did the angry crowds he encountered in John’s Gospel earlier in Lent. The Omega had not yet come.
The message of action that will “let the oppressed go free” at the Chrism Mass is matched with another message of active service and love at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Here we recall the ultimate act of humble service that marks Jesus’ priestly mission.
Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:15)
The Alpha and the Omega…the Alpha of the Omega. This is the beginning of the end of the story. This episode in our Holy Week walk with Jesus is presented as a "model" ("pattern") of the crucifixion. It symbolizes cleansing from sin by sacrificial death. As Luke 22:27 reminds us: “For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves.”
In explanatory footnotes in the NAB, we learn that the act of washing the feet could not be required of the lowliest Jewish slave. Yet, symbolic of the humiliation of the crucifixion, this is exactly what Jesus does. How different our reaction is to this self-imposed humbling than it is when the Roman guard will put a purple robe on Jesus and mock him.
Our Lenten Season "begins to end" today. Three final days. Reflect back on your actions over this Holy Season. Whose cross did you help to carry? The poorest of the poor?
Consider ending the season with a call to your public elected officials. The Virginia Catholic Conference is urging us to take action for Haiti. I just took action on this issue and thought you might find it interesting too. There is a link at the VCC to generate letters.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Jesus, we have a simple choice. Follow you or not. Woe to us when we betray you with our misplaced priorities and plans.
We ask you to be our companion on this journey and guide us so that we may never stray from the prescription our Father has for us.
We know we are tempted to stray. With you on our side, with you as our guide, we can not fail. Amen.
Today’s challenge is presented in these scripture readings:
“The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered”
Earlier this week, we examined the question “WWID?” What would I do? Today, we have the simple answer – Do as Jesus commands. The dichotomy is presented squarely as we see the action of the disciples compared with the actions of Judas, who did not do as Jesus commands.
Judas took matters in his own hands and made his deal with the church authorities to betray Jesus.
Jesus never took matters into his own hands. From the time he was 12, he was explaining to Mary and Joseph that he had to be about his Father’s work. His whole life, from birth in a Bethlehem stable to death on a Jerusalem hill, was all about fulfilling his Father’s will and plan.
What happens when we follow God’s plan? Look no further than Isaiah for answers:
You will know how to speak to the weary and rouse them
Your ears will be opened
When you face the enemy, the Lord God is on your side
Isaiah doesn’t tell us that God promises everything will be a rose garden. You will endure physical suffering and humiliation but through it all, the Lord GOD is your help. He is our prayer partner. He is in the chapel offering Palanca for us.
Reminds me of a concept that Dr. Paul Farmer explained for use in treating AIDS and tuberculosis in Haiti and Africa. One of the problems is that patients must take their pills one time and never miss a dose. In the hospital, there are nurses, doctors and others to deliver medication. At home, people forget. So, Farmer’s program enlist the help of a neighbor in these remote villages to be the “Accompagnateurs” for the patient. Translated this can be interpreted as “guides” or “companions.” They are partners on a journey, someone who accompanies you where you need to go. Every day – or sometimes twice a day – the neighbor brings over the required medicine to assure that it is taken. The success rate for treatments have skyrocketed with this concept.
If God has a plan or prescription for you, who would you like to be your guide and your companion on the journey – your “Accompagnateur?” Judas? Or Jesus?
What happens when we betray Jesus and follow our plan? “[W]oe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Our choice is simple as depicted in today’s readings: emulate Jesus or emulate Judas. Discern and follow God’s plan or make a plan of our own.
* Being this is Cursillo, we should probably use the Spanish translation: Acompañante.
Can you be an “acompañante” to someone in crisis? Seems like that’s what the corporal works of mercy are all about. That’s what the spiritual works of mercy are all about. That’s what the Good News is all about.
Lent started on Ash Wednesday when Fr. Bill Quigley posed the question, “Whose cross can you help carry during this season?” How have you answered that challenge?
And we thought Cursillo invented prayer partners. Indeed! In deeds!
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
God, the Way of the Cross is hard. Even though we were not there with Jesus, you give us losses so that we will know what your son experienced that first Holy Week.
Give us the fortitude not to deny you with our lifestyles and our words.
Give us the peace to calm our anger so we can constructively tackle the problems around us.
Give us a rational mind if we try to bargain with you so we can seek and find solutions to the problems of the world.
Give us uplifting that depression may not weigh us down.
Give us acceptance as Joseph, Mary and Jesus accepted your call. Show us where we fit into this plan of yours. Then, let us be at peace with being present to you and doing your will. Amen.
Our Holy Week Walk continues…
“You will follow later.”
Christ tells Peter that he can’t go with him now. So in one sense, Christ is speaking metaphorically about passing through death to forgive our sins. However, literally, we also know that Peter will be crucified later. Jesus’ statement also predicts that we will follow Jesus -- as a teacher and through all the stages of grief and sadness that Jesus passes through this week. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined the stages of grief that we pass through after experiencing a loss…the death of a loved on, divorce, property destruction, unemployment or others. During the Holy Week Walk with Jesus, we share in each of these stages.
Denial. At the first stage, the loss is not acknowledged so realities (and pain) sink in slowly. Peter is told of his pending denial and denies that he will deny Christ. Even Judas says, “Surely it is not I who will betray you.” Christ prays in the Garden to let this cup pass if it is the Father’s will. So, as the salvation story is about to come to a climax, we see denial on the faces and in the actions of all the leading characters.
Anger. Next, our fears are replaced by sadness and anger. Christ gets angry in the garden to repeatedly find the disciples asleep when he asks them to stay awake. Then, we see anger in Simon Peter turns to violence despite all that Jesus has taught about peace. After Simon Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus, Jesus heals the wound to help us pass through violence and into peace.
Bargaining. Like the traders that we are, we then try to rationalize the situation and bargain our way out – As if life is the return counter at Target the day after Christmas. Peter and Christ get into a little debate over washing of the feet or washing the whole body. Jesus tries to bargain with God about taking the cup. Pilate tries to bargain with Christ just as Satan challenged Christ at the beginning of Lent in the desert. Pilate than bargains with the crowd to identify a prison to be released on the Passover. The good thief bargains for his soul. Judas gets his pieces of silver from the bargain with the Jewish and Roman authorities. The soldiers bargain for Jesus’ clothes by casting lots. The only one who seeks no bargain is God.
Depression. Kubler-Ross says that we next pass through the stage of depression. The Johns Hopkins website explains that “There is acute awareness of the reality of the loss and its meaning, the disruption in everyday life, the loss of feelings that the world is safe and fair. This stage is temporary but very painful.” During depression, the risk of suicide is greatest. Perhaps such a depression came over Judas when he hung himself for his final act. The disciples scatter and go into hiding just as someone with depression might isolate themselves or lock themselves away in their room. We see the sadness on the faces of those Jesus meets along the Way of the Cross -- in the face of Veronica and the women from town. Also, Jesus has this experience on the cross when he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
Acceptance. Finally, our Holy Week grief passes through the acceptance stage as we see Jesus accept the fate when he says, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” Jesus’ acceptance of God’s will also is evident in the debates with Pilate. Finally on the cross when Jesus says, “It is finished.”
Jesus separated us from our past lives of sin. He replaced it with a new covenant, new relationship and new laws. He changed everything from his Incarnation to his Resurrection and beyond.
Can you reach out to someone who has experienced a loss in the last year and see if you can walk with them through whatever stage of grief they are experiencing? Remember, when you do this to the least, you do it for Jesus.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Note: California Day 2: Fr. Sean, a young Irish Jesuit, led the celebration of Palm Sunday Mass this morning at the Delores Mission in East Los Angeles. (Why did I keep wanting to call it the "De Colores Mission?" Maybe it was because everything from the gathering to the offering of the sign of peace reminded me of a Closing!) In this parish of immigrants, the welcoming this stranger experienced was powerful. It is hard for me to blend into the background when I stroll into a church full of Hispanic brothers and sisters. Everyone greeted me warmly even the Pastor walked over to me in the pew to welcome me to the Church.
Fr. Sean stressed the need not to skip from Palm Sunday to Easter without experiencing Holy Week and walking with Jesus. So, while Palm Sunday gave us the full story of the Passion, each day this week, we will walk with Jesus through each episode in that final journey to Calvary.
Jesus, your last week of mortal life on earth is the flame to which we are now drawn. You are the Light of the world so you can clearly see and know the forces that worked to kill you and cut short your work to bring forth justice to the nations. Those same forces are at work on us today. They call us to Paradise --- but a false Paradise of timeshares and condos, vacations and leisure, golf and tennis. How ironic that Your Holy Week has become such a civil holiday of vacationing wholly devoid of piety, study, action and close moments with you for so many who say they believe.
Jesus, you know that it does not have to be that way. You also know that we need help. We need living stones like your friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus to be our path so we can walk with you to the victory of justice: economic justice, racial equality, religious tolerance, debt forgiveness, the end of the death penalty, housing for all, welfare reform and more.
Help us to adopt the best that Mary, Martha and Lazarus show to us so we can uphold our part of the New Covenant you call us to live. Then, we can become living stones for today's world to others who need light to see. Amen.
After his Palm Sunday epic journey, Jesus and the Church present us with the challenge of looking more deeply into the first episode in Holy Week.
Today, we see Jesus back with his friends Martha and Mary and Lazarus. As Jesus' public ministry in John's Gospel got started at a public celebration (the wedding at Cana), here we see another party being held and this time, Jesus is the honored guest -- the bridegroom is still with us.
The three friends support and witness Jesus' friendship in each part of the Cursillo "tripod." Mary is still the contemplative servant (piety). Lazarus has come out of the darkness of death and is with Jesus still listening to Jesus' teachings (study) as they recline at dinner. Martha is still the busy active servant (action). Mary seems to be performing what might be considered a symbolic anointing of Jesus before Jesus dies on the cross. This is a ritual that evokes images of last rites. Just as the wine at Cana evoked images of the precious cup of the New Covenant, this oil points toward another sacrament.
Judas, by stark contrast to all of these models, has put a rock in the way of his relationship with Christ. Maybe that rock is pride. Maybe it is ego. He is the anti-disciple now to the model exhibited by Mary-Martha-Lazarus. Lazarus enjoys a close moment with Jesus because the stones of death which separated them was rolled away. He has loosed the binds that tied him to his first life. He has come out to be with God.
The disciple who will betray Jesus has rolled a stone between Jesus and himself. Despite all that Judas has seen -- the miracles, signs and teachings -- Judas refuses to believe or accept Jesus. After all we have heard about keeping the faith throughout Lent, Judas lets it all go. He is too tied to his purse full of money -- so much that John identified him as a thief. He has stolen a place among the apostles. When we see the last of Judas, he is hanging by a tree. He died for his own sins. His final breaths do not lead him to heaven like the repentant thief. Instead, Judas sneaks around in the dungeon of darkness consorting with enemies to betray Jesus and condemns himself to remain there.
The Hebrew Bible reading from Isaiah gives us a fine example of the covenant God wants with his people. Not a relationship stolen and misrepresented but a true and loving exchange.
This is what God does for us:
1) God created the heavens and stretched them overhead to protect us, to give us light and air.
2) God spread out the earth with its crops as another gift so all people, nwealthy the rich or welathy, have food to eat
3) God forms us all with life and inspiration and creativity
4) God sent his spirit to those who walk in his creation
5) As we walk, God will hold our hand as we walk
For these gifts, God asks us to fit into his plan for justice:
1) Be a living symbol of the covenant of God people
2) Be a light for the nations
3) To open the eyes of the blind
4) To bring out prisoners from confinement
5) To bring freedom to those who live in the darkness of sin and isolation from God.
Judas has failed to uphold his end of this covenant while Mary, Martha and Lazarus fulfill this covenant and show us how to find a way to fit into God's plan.
Take some time to review the Lenten message for 2006 from Pope Benedict XVI. He has an interesting perspective on the New Covenant and how it related to equality for all through development that does not leave behind the poor.
Even now, the compassionate "gaze" of Christ continues to fall upon individuals and peoples. He watches them, knowing that the divine "plan" includes their call to salvation. Jesus knows the perils that put this plan at risk, and He is moved with pity for the crowds. He chooses to defend them from the wolves even at the cost of His own life. The gaze of Jesus embraces individuals and multitudes, and he brings them all before the Father, offering Himself as a sacrifice of expiation.
Pope Benedict goes on to say that, "In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the "gaze" of Christ...[T]he Church today considers it her duty to ask political leaders and those with economic and financial power to promote development based on respect for the dignity of every man and woman." (Emphasis added.)
See how this message affects you. Please post your reactions and comments to it on yourdailytripod.blogspot.com after the April 10 reflection. How will you react to the "gaze" that searches us profoundly and gives new life to the crowds and to each one of us? What will you do to help the multitudes who suffer poverty and cry out for help, support, and understanding? Do you truly care for the poor or do you give them lip service like Judas?
(Pick up that Rice Bowl collection box sitting on your kitchen table and shake it. What do you hear inside? If you do not hear much, I hope it is because your Rice Bowl is filled with paper currency. The poor will be with us always and we always have a choice to help them. Choose to help them today.)
Jesus, thank you for enduring the pain and humiliation of the cross for my sins. Give me the fortitude to remain awake in the world. When I am awake, my eyes, ears and heart are open to your needs -- the needs of the least among us.
Show me where I fit into this plan of yours.
Today, Jesus invited us to spend time with him in the daily scriptures:
Yesterday, the Good News gave us all a big question from the high priest: “What are we going to do? What will we do? WWWD…
WWWD easily morphs into WWID – What will I do? Will my faith allow me the strength to stand up for Jesus in the public square or will I go along with the crowd? What will I do?
If you don’t believe, then today is the end of the movie. If you believe, see you next week…
Today, Jesus asks us to “remain here and keep watch.” But his closest friends fall asleep and then scatter when the heat gets turned up by the local authorities. Jesus, however, knows that God can not take this cup away from him.
He is arrested, tried, convicted, and loses his bid for clemency to the thief. The soldiers scourge him at the pillar, crown him with thorns, mock him, spit on him and hand him a cross to carry. They strip him, nail him to the cross and hang him up to die. They mock him until death by holding a lottery for his clothes. Jesus cries out, My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?" Then, his mortal life is over.
What if I was there when they crucified our Lord? What would Jesus say to me?
Jesus, when did I fail to keep watch? I just waved palms at your triumphant entrance into the New Jerusalem. You are my Lord and my God! I am here at church today to worship you.
Tony, you went to the Paul Farmer lecture yesterday right?
Yes, Jesus, you know that I went there.
Did you see the slide of Joseph Jeune, the 26-year-old Haitian man dying of both AIDS and tuberculosis? He was skin on bones. Didn’t his eyes sear at your soul?
That is when you have forsaken me. You have forsaken me in Haiti…in Bangladesh…in the South Bronx…in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan…in the killing fields of Cambodia, Viet Nam or Rwanda…in the welfare reform laws…in the global economy that leaves fair trade behind…you have forsaken me when you have forsaken the least among us who need food, clothing and shelter just for starters.
But Jesus…I give to charity and even volunteer sometimes. I have commitments…a job. A family. You know Beth and Regina and Sarah. We are trying to help our children pay those college bills. And then there’s the mortgage. And the property taxes that keep going up. And the income taxes that are due this week. And the car payment and insurance.
Tony, when I said remain here and keep watch, I didn’t mean to keep watch on the latest rerun of “Law and Order” or “CSI” I didn’t mean to hang out at the movie theatre or video store watching all the Oscar winners and also rans. I did not mean to watch for the Rolling Stone list of the top 100 albums and rush out to buy the CDs you are missing. I did not mean to hold your breath between sports seasons: MLB. NASCAR. NCAA. NFL. NBA. NHL. I mean “Remain here and keep watch over the least among us.” There are no “buts in the Good News, Tony. There is no “Get out of Jail Free” card. This year, millions of people will die from treatable diseases. None of these deaths really have to happen.
Jesus, show me I fit into this plan of yours. Here I am. I come to do your will.
Spend some time reading the Partners in Health web site (www.pih.org). If you have not read Mountains Beyond Mountains, the biography of Paul Farmer written by Tracy Kidder, then get one today at your public library. Read it for the success that Partners in Heath is having treating the least among us. But also, read it for the spirituality of caring and healing that Dr. Paul Farmer, a Catholic raised in the south, puts into action.
Think about where to spend any tax refund that you might get. If Jesus were a minister in the U.S., where would Jesus spend his tax refund? I think that PIH might get some of mine.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Jesus, you gave us the ultimate sign yet we still resisted your message. In this last week of Lent before your Passion, Death and Resurrection, help us to know you and grow with your in this life. Help us to discern what you want us to do and act accordingly. Amen.
“What are we going to do?”
Today, it is very “popular” faddish even, to ask “WWJD?” “What would Jesus do?” Here, in an historical irony, the real question is posed by the chief priests and the Pharisees. “WAWGD?”
Are we going to have faith and trust in the Lord as the readings have been proclaiming for the past five weeks? If we can’t answer you in a positive “YES’”, then the Pharisees win.
“They will continue to defile themselves with American idols, abominations, and all their automatic transgressions. Jesus will deliver us from all our sins of renunciation of the faith by shopping on Sunday and eating meat on Friday and in all manners where we renounced our faith. Cleanse us so we may be your people and you may be our God.”
“What are we going to do?” John 11:47. As the pop-psychology book title reads, “If You Meet The Buddah On The Side Of The Road, Kill Him.” Will we do that to Jesus? Will we pass by his battered body and go hide away or will we join Joseph and Nicodemus in giving Jesus a proper burial? Good Samaritans or Sad Americans?
Tomorrow, Jesus enters into Jerusalem. Will we be there with him, waving palms and believing like those who witnessed the final sign when Lazarus was raised from the dead?
Will we be there with Judas when he goes to the chief priests?
Will we be deniers like Peter or seekers like Nicodemus?
Despite the everlasting covenant of Peace with the House of David, the leaders easily turn on Jesus and plan to sacrifice his life to appease the Roman conquerors.
I can’t help but think how easy this path might have been for some of the leaders of the Jewish people. Appease the conquerors. Then, maybe, they will retreat and go home. Or stand up for the faith that you believe in.
Recently, a man in Afghanistan was put on trial for being a Christian and turning his back on Islam.
If you were put on trial for being a Christian, what would be the evidence against you? Is there enough to convict you? Or do you need to be more convicted?
As Holy Week begins tomorrow (Sunday), once you examine your conscience on this issue, why not make this the week that you participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?