Saturday, September 30, 2006

All the People are Prophets October 1

“Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!” Number 11:29

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. James 5:1

For whoever is not against us is for us. Mark 9:40


God, source of all knowledge and true riches, help us to focus on our goodness for your sake. Take from us all that keeps us from you. Help us to be your best showcase on Earth. Amen.

by Rev. Joseph McCloskey, SJ

The study of extremes can make a forceful point. Mark 9, 38 and following speaks powerfully to the question of bad influence over others and its punishment. My sinfulness makes it easier for another to sin. Conversely, my goodness helps another to be good. What I do in little things, all too soon I might do in big things. The point the Lord makes with the cutting off of a hand or a foot or the plucking out of a wandering eye seems extreme until he asks the question of what is staying out of Gehenna or hell worth to me. What good I am willing to do for the sake of Christ seems a question that is not as forceful as what I would be willing to do to save a part of my body. Once upon a time I spent a couple of months in the hospital because I was not willing to have my leg amputated. The question the gospel is asking me is; "What am I willing to do to save my soul." What I am willing to do for the sake of Christ is the answer.

If I do my best for Christ, there is no way I will speak ill of him. Our lives and how we live them is the best sermon we will ever give. "Speak always and occasionally use a word" says it all in the style of St. James. If I show you my good deeds, you see my faith. If I showcase Christ by my life, I will be giving the best sermon I ever will give. Even a cup of water to drink because we belong to Christ will not go unrewarded. Christ is the best reason we have to be a good person.


All the people are prophets and I met one on Saturday morning. “If we truly want to obey Jesus’ commands,” said Fr. Stefan Starzynski, “then we have to do more than preach good homilies about Respect Life.” Fr. Stefan, under the inspiration of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Andrew, is working with people in his area and beyond to open several homes for unwed mothers in Orange County, Virginia. They need help. What can you do?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Follow the Ways of Your Heart September 30

Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes; Yet understand that as regards all this God will bring you to judgment. Ecclesiastes 11:9

While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples,“Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” Luke 9:43-44


Jesus, Lord of all ages, help us to be alert to your presence in our lives. Help us to sit up and pay attention when you are speaking to us. Never hide from us the meaning of your message so that we can act upon it through our piety, study, and action. Amen.


Our exploration of discipleship continues in today’s readings.

1) Disciples are moved by every deed and action of the Teacher. They do not try to explain them away. They accept the actions for the miracles that they hold.

Recently there was a story in the news saying that Jesus did not walk on water. The theory advanced by some professor in Florida was that He walked on ice. Come on. If you have never been there, the Sea of Galilee is at about the latitude geographically of San Diego. If they were on the top of a mountain, maybe there might be some ice. Come on, professor! The Sea of Galilee is 600 feet below sea level. Disciples don’t try to explain the miracles, they praise them with amazement.

2) The Teacher speaks to his disciples. Through Sacred Scripture, neighbors, prayer and contemplation, Jesus speaks to us today.

3) Jesus encourages us, prods us to “Pay attention.” When he says something that is really important, he will even flag it for us.

4) Just as the Lord is our refuge in every age of history and in every age of each person’s life, He will go through His own ages from birth to death. Here, he predicts His own death. Yet, no one understands. They not only don’t “get it,” but they don’t ask him what he means.

Sometimes, it takes the fullness of time to reveal its true meaning.


Please allow me to share with you a letter (and the hot links) that I got today from David Rubenstein of the Save Darfur Coalition. Please send a message to our political leaders about this modern day Auschwitz. Jesus is telling us today to pay attention. This is really important. People’s lives are at stake.

If you are reading this, you have a computer. It will take you less than ONE MINUTE to click on the links and send this message to President Bush and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Please do it and consider taking one action every week until the international community stops the genocide in the Sudan.

Dear Anthony,

Murder. Rape. Starvation. Displacement. These are everyday occurrences in Darfur where already 400,000 men, women, and children have been killed and over 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes.

A UN peacekeeping force remains the only hope to bring peace to the region.

But the peacekeeping force - already authorized by the UN Security Council - might never make it to Darfur if the Sudanese government doesn't agree to let it in. That's why it's so important that our world leaders ramp up the pressure and demand that the peacekeepers are admitted.

Click here to send a message to President Bush and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Remind them that the international community is watching, and that we refuse to let the atrocities in Darfur continue.

Join us in demanding that President Bush and Secretary-General Annan:

Push for immediate deployment of the already authorized UN peacekeeping force.

Strengthen the understaffed African Union force already in Darfur until the UN force is deployed.

Negotiate a fair and lasting Peace Agreement.

Increase humanitarian aid and ensure access for its delivery.

Never before has the U.N. authorized a peacekeeping force that wasn't eventually deployed.

Click here to tell our leaders not to let Darfur become the exception.

Saving Darfur may not be easy, but how will history judge us if we do not?

Thank you for your continued commitment.

David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

You Will See September 29

As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. Daniel 7:13-14

“Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” John 1:51


Let us pray: On this celebration of the archangels Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, God, we ask that all those on the cloud of witnesses with you intercede for us to lead us to you. We ask them to open our eyes to see the beauty of the world and open our ears to hear your call so we can answer it, “Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will.” Deliver us from evil and grant us peace today. Amen.


Just as people seek Jesus, Jesus looks for us. He wants to show us all that is glorious and beautiful. He knows the way because God gave Him dominion over all the nations and people. He goes the way first up to Calvary. Then He shows us the way He walked and the glory of heaven.

As the characteristics of discipleship are continued to be unveiled, today, we see that true disciples (like Daniel and Nathaniel in today’s readings) truly see that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. Based upon these visions, they have a stronger faith so that we may have a stronger faith.


See the resurrection everyday at sunrise when we can begin again – praising God’s creations that are revealed to us out of darkness and move into the light. Set your clock to see the sunrise this weekend.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Seeking Out Jesus September 28

The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear satisfied with hearing. Ecclesiastes 1:8

Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him. Luke 9:9


Jesus, you advised us to knock, see and ask. We join a long line of people throughout history who have sought you. Our modern life gives us so many other pursuits. Our sports figures. Our movie stars. Our politicians. Our hobbies. Our televisions. Our books. Yet, vanity of vanities, all is vanity we learn. Everything we do will pass but when your perfect self is revealed, what is imperfect will pass away. Show us your perfect son, your perfect self. Amen.


Remember how small pieces of metal behave around a magnet. You can move the magnet and the metal follows until it gets close enough and then the metal sticks to the magnet. The needle of the compass acts the same way…seeking out its magnetic pole to set us in the right direction.

Throughout time, people have been drawn to follow Jesus of Nazareth. From the shepherds and workers that first Christmas evening to the Magi from the East and the prince of the region.

Throughout Luke’s Gospel, people have been seeking out Jesus…

¬ The shepherds went in haste after they learned about Jesus from the angels.

¬ Mary and Joseph looked for Jesus when he was 12 years old and got separated from their caravan. They sought Jesus in the temple where he was teaching.

¬ The devil followed Jesus to the desert to tempt him with riches and power.

¬ After Jesus began healing Simon’s mother, all people who had sick relatives sought him out.

¬ Simon, James and John left all they had and followed Jesus.

¬ The man with leprosy sought out Jesus.

¬ The centurion with a sick slave sought out Jesus.

As these and more stories spread by word-of-mouth, so did Jesus’ reputation as one who challenged the authority of the Pharisees and high priests. So is it any wonder that the political ruler of the region would want to see who might be a threat to his power and authority?

Herod was ruler over Galilee. He had executed John the Baptist but remained intrigued by the stories he was hearing about Jesus of Nazareth. “He (Herod) kept trying to see him (Jesus).” But Jesus avoided Herod until his hour had come.

Jesus did not have any wealth to speak of, no property, no house, no fancy clothes. Yet he struck a chord of curiosity in people whom he met. People sought him out. He met them, was present to the moment when the encounter took place.

The first reading from Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. Everything is old and all men will be forgotten. How wrong it is in the case of Jesus, the itinerant preacher from Nazareth.


Spend some time at the end of your daily prayers to meditate on how you can seek out Jesus today in the people around you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Who is the Lord? September 27

Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, priest

“Add nothing to his words.” Proverbs 30:6

“Take nothing for the journey.” Luke 9:3


With the Lord as my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. God, your servant Vincent showed us how to care for the poor and those in prisons and those ill in hospitals. His “zeal and charity knew no limits.” He recognized the Lord in the faces and lives of the poor. Give us that zeal and commitment so that we can rely on nothing else but your words and turn these words into action. Amen.


Close your eyes and sit in your quiet place. Listen to the sounds of the room. Inside and outside. Inside. Perhaps the heat or air conditioner is blowing on you. Maybe a ceiling fan circles overhead. The chair creaks as you move and breathe. A solitary light illuminates the page of your Bible or a book you have chosen for study. Outside. The light autumn breeze pushes against the window. The sun sets or rises depending on the time of day for your prayers. The falling leaves and seeds scattered across the roof, rolling down from the branches of the oak tree or the paws of the grey squirrel. Pets roam across the yard with an occasional bark or purr.

Inside. Outside.

Notice all the possessions around you. The comfortable chair. The lamp. Is there an end table or coffee table? Probably some bookshelves line one wall or more.

Outside. The patio or deck furniture. The barbeque grill. Tools. Lawn mowers. Things we have deemed necessary for suburban life.

Think…Contemplate…Answer. Today, the author or Proverbs asks us, “Who is the Lord?”

Who…is…the Lord?

Just as the author in Proverbs asks, so does Herod ask in just a few sentences after today’s readings in St. Luke’s Good News. “Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”

Jesus himself asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”

What answer is revealed to us today? The Lord is the One who delivers the perfect message. The Lord’s words and prayers and deeds need no amplification. (A warning to this blogger?) “Add nothing to His words.” We can not do any better than his words lest we deceive ourselves.

Who is the Lord? The Lord is the provider of all that you need. What he provides is all you need. His Words. His deeds. He is the Model. Nothing else.

You don’t need an extra pair of Gap jeans or a fancy suit or dress. You don’t need those Berkenstocks. You don’t need a walking stick nor a 401-K account. You don’t need an I-Pod nor a CD collection. You don’t need a gas-guzzling SUV or even that fuel-saving Prius. And you certainly don’t need the patio furniture.

What we do is insignificant when compared to God what God does and what God commands us to do.

Yesterday, we learned the disciple has to listen. Today, we learn that the disciple also has to have absolute detachment from earthly possession. Without such encumbrances, we will be led to complete and full reliance on God.

Not only should you separate from earthly possessions but also separate yourself from those who do not believe by “shaking the dust off your feet” when you leave their village.
"Take nothing for the journey…"


What does it mean to be fully reliant on God?

It means the sins of Darfur would not be happening. It means that 37 million Americans would not live below the poverty line today, including many children. It means we would be making progress to end hunger. The personal sins we commit would not be happening because we would be too busy speaking out on behalf of those who are truly poor and can not speak for themselves. There is still time to change the future. It is in our hands.

Who is the Lord? Our sisters and brothers in need.

Speak up for the people of Darfur.
Bring hope to 37 million Americans living below the poverty line.
Take action to End World Poverty.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Act on It September 26

He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard. Proverbs 21:13

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” Luke 8:21


God, source of all life, love and lessons, open our ears so that we may truly hear your word and act upon it. Open our mouths to praise you and call on you for help. Open our eyes so we can see who needs help. Open our hands to help the poor in spirit. Help us to act on your word today and everyday when we stop being so consumed with our self-centered universe. Deliver us from evil and grant us peace today. Amen.


Today’s readings are a call to get and DO SOMETHING.

Who is a member of Jesus’ family? Today we get the answer – anyone who hears the Word of God and acts on it. Faith and Action. What happens if you are not inside listening to Jesus? Then listen to the poor on the streets.

As Bishop Thomas Gumbleton reminds us in his recent homily posted to the National Catholic Reporter (September 17, 2006), the word disciple means a learner, a listener. “We learn to be the disciples of Jesus by listening deeply to God and letting that word of God form us, change us, guide us, lead us.”[1] Then we get other lessons by listening to our neighbors.

There are no family ties but God and doing God's will (Proverbs 21:35). Action is the differentiating factor in the kingdom. Action without a basis in the Word amounts to just Good Works. Unless the action is informed by the Good News, then it might not wrestle open the Gates of Heaven for the rest of us.

In the reading from Proverbs, the writer takes on “empty piety” – external rites or sacrifices. These alone do not please God unless they are accompanied by internal worship (study) and behavior (action). There you have the roots of Cursillo written in Proverbs before the Fall of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible.

This theme is echoed in the Good News. Luke explains that sitting around listening to Jesus is not enough. You have to get up and DO SOMETHING. You get the idea that if sisters Mary and Martha confronted Jesus while Luke was around, that Mary might have been reproached for listening to the Word without Action.


Walk outside and listen to what you hear. Maybe it is just the crickets at night or the birds in the morning. These sounds are God’s gift to you.

Go into the city and do the same thing. Walk outside your office. Or get out of your car. Leave the Metro station. Take out your I-Pod ear buds and listen to what is happening around you.
Working one block from The White House and Pennsylvania Avenue brings me in contact with a whole different variety of sounds. The sounds of power as the police and Secret Service escort some dignitary in an unmarked van with smoked windows that outsiders can not see through. The sounds of impatient drivers stuck in cross town traffic. The truckers yelling back at drivers upset that they have double-parked blocking the travel lanes. The poor begging for a few quarters to get a hamburger at McDonald’s. The young government workers on line for an afternoon latte at Starbucks.

Maybe you will hear an invitation to perform the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy…


Monday, September 25, 2006

Light the Lamp September 25

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but the dwelling of the just he blesses. (Proverbs 3:33)

To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away. (Luke 8:18)


In the words of the hymn, O Lord, take me: “beyond my hopes beyond my dreams, from death into life." Let me be a small lamp showing your light today, O Lord. May I keep your lamp burning bright in my own heart and on those around me. Thank you for the bright blessing that is my life. May I share the blessing with your world. Amen.


Jesus charges his followers to heed and share God’s Word. It is a continuation of the commands from the Old Testament. Today, it feels a bit like a mixed message: we are taught not to bring attention to ourselves when we act generously or kindly. But this is a bit different.

Take the image of the lamp which one places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. (Luke 8:16) God’s star, which we call the Sun, was placed to give life-sustaining light and warmth indiscriminately to the entire earth. Only when it reaches an obstacle is its light obscured – there is shadow. As a kid, I was told that if you shine a flashlight up, it will go out into space perhaps forever (at least in our human understanding) until it hits an object. Even light years away, although the light particles and waves will be scattered too completely for eyes to perceive, that light continues. And then, of course, light fights back the frightening corners of darkness in a child’s bedroom or on a deserted, nighttime street.

Jesus asks us to listen carefully, heed, follow God’s word and share it like illumination. We must be aware and eliminate barriers to God’s word within our own hearts which might also impede others. It is God’s light and love in abundance and we are invited to be abundant in partaking of it and generous in sharing it without discrimination.

The footnote from the New American Bible re: Luke 16-17 says that “a generous and persevering response to the word of God leads to a still more perfect response to the word.” And we have been taught: practice makes perfect (or nearly so in golf). Our three-legged tripod of Piety, Study and Action gives us practice tools. They are tools helping us shine the light which is, in reality, Christ’s light, God’s word, onto the world.

If we listen with ears of faith, the Spirit will reside in us. If we are being a light to the world, the Spirit will do for us. To those who have been given much faith and love and freely impart them, more will be given. To those who choose to hold back, faith and love will become blocked, withered, removed.


Take a good look at the Group Reunion format. Which of the areas is weak for you? Pay special attention to it and make a special effort to “exercise” that area this week. Stoke up that lantern oil and shine.

Beth DeCristofaro

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Receive Me September 24

With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Wisdom 2:19

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” Mark 9:37


Let us pray: God, you sent the rich and poor into the world. Give us the fortitude and prudence to meet the poor in spirit and thereby meet You. Grant us the fortitude to do what is just in order to walk in your light sharing all that we have – our time, our talents and our treasures – with those most in need of our help. Deliver us from evil and grant us peace today. We ask this through the inspiration and intersession of Jesus Christ, your son and our Lord and friend. Amen.


We live in a society that likes to surround itself with winners. We put the Olympic champs on the Wheaties box. We commemorate the lives of our heroes on coins and postage stamps. We buy the championship hat when our team wins (fill in the blank) a. The World Cup; b. The World Series; c. The Super Bowl; d. All of the above and more.

Even in the disciples’ time, if you were blessed with good health, abundant children or a good crop, your family offered proper praise to God.

The people in Palestine were subjected to the whims of a conquering army from Rome. So they knew what winning and power were all about. Because the words of Jesus were so counter-intuitive, is it any wonder that the disciples' did not understand Christ’s message?

Children were the symbol Jesus used for the anawim – the widows, orphans and the poor in spirit, the lowly in the Christian community. He did not use the soldiers from Rome’s occupying army. He did not use the Pharisees. He did not use the High Priests. Jesus used children, the anawin to show the path to the love of God.

The secret of the “anawim” is that God lives in all people. Jesus’ blessing in the beatitudes confirms this joyful news, turning the old expectations upside down, like the moneychangers’ tables in the Holy Temple. Jesus extends blessings on even the lowliest outcasts of society.

As Lee Ellis observes: Knowing that we are already blessed allows us to turn the other cheek with grace and dignity. We stop being victims and claim our place at the table as the prophets of the Kingdom. As you do to me, so you do to The Christ. It is a joyful mission indeed to bring such good news to the world. The choice to return good actions for evil is truly the mark of those whose very lives bears witness to that ancient truth: Love One Another, for we are all, indeed, Blessed![1]


How can we help the poor in our midst? The Saturday Washington Post had another stark reminder for us with an article: “Loudoun's Other Half -- In the Richest County in America, a Food Pantry Nourishes the Hidden Poor.”[2] Reporter Darragh Johnson wrote:

The clients of Loudoun Interfaith Relief, which gave away food to 3,300 county residents in August, are in economic freefall. As they wait in line, some talk about the latest census statistics -- recent news stories about how Loudoun County's 255,500 residents are living in the single wealthiest jurisdiction in America. Its median family income is more than $98,000 a year. Half of the county's households make even more.

Everyone here is part of the half that makes less. Way less.

It could be Fairfax County. Or Arlington County. Or Prince William County. Or Washington, DC or where ewver you live. The anawim are among us and Jesus asks us all to embrace them as a way of serving Him.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fall on good soil September 23

Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. 1 Corinthians 15:49

And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Luke 8:8


Let us pray: God, source of all seeds and fruit and being, help us to settle on fertile soil so that our action can help ourselves and those around us to grow into children that you can truly be proud of…children who are the apple of your eye…children who hear your word and act on it. Amen.


I remember a demonstration from Kindergarten. We were sent on a treasure hunt to find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside. Of course, at five years old, we were clueless with the assignment. So, our teacher, Mrs. Schaad in my case, took an apple and sliced it across the middle. The core revealed a star-shaped vessel holding the seeds. It happens with a Red Delicious Apple. A Macintosh. Even a Granny Smith (although that’s a green house). Any variety, the seeds travel around inside a special suitcase waiting to star in their own unfolding drama over generations.

Through the miracle of creation, the apple exists. I have no idea what God created first – the seeds or the fruit but both are in God’s cosmic design so let’s start with the seeds. The apple seeds you find in that star are the beginning…but they don’t look anything like what they will become.

Picture a bowl full of apple seeds.

But once planted, by you, or Johnny Appleseed or someone else, the seed will germinate and grow into a great big tree that is perfect for climbing, especially if you are an eight-year-old boy and your subdivision was built on an old orchard.

Recall an apple tree from your back yard or an orchard you have visited.

Depending on the time of year, that tree can take on remarkably different countenances. From budding in the spring until the blossoms appear. Then, the soft, pink and white flowers drop off as the fruit pushes its way to the service in the fullness of its own time. After the harvest, we see a coat of beautiful red, yellow and orange leaves that paint the autumn afternoon. As these leaves drop off, the tree becomes a skeleton of bark that sometimes wears tuffs of puffy white snow that cling to every crevice and cranny of the twisting limbs.

After generations of this cycle, the tree might become a pile of firewood ready to heat your house or it might decay and become a fertilizer for more growth or the wood can become the material for a project by an artist or woodworker. But let’s concentrate on one year.

Remember the beauty of the blossoms on an apple tree in the spring.

The buds give way to bright green leaves in the springtime. Then the tasty sweet (or sour) apples appear like small green Christmas ornaments, growing in size until the late summer and early autumn when they are harvested to be eaten or made into pies, sauce, cider, and other treats.

See and taste the goodness of your favorite apple.

Inside, each one you’ll find another star-shaped sack and the next generation of seeds. When you eat the fruit (about 80 calories for one apple), the final stage of its life cycle is to turns into energy that stored until we need to call on it to fuel some activity in life – maybe even our piety, study or action.

The fullness of being. The fullness of time. The energy that fuels our live and love looks nothing like the seed that existed at the beginning of this journey.

I have often thought in error about resurrection in earthly terms. Thinking that the “resurrection of the body” meant that everybody from throughout all time would be walking around. But that can’t be.

St. Paul teaches us that “What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind.” As our resurrection follows that of Jesus, even his closest friends did not recognize him on the walk to Emmaus or while fishing on the Sea of Tiberas. But in reading these stories, we can’t expect Jesus to be a resurrected human body but a living spirit. “The first man, Adam, became a living being, the last Adam a life-giving spirit.”

When we fall on fertile soil, we begin to star in our own Christian journey until we reach the fullness of our being as a living spirit.


Eat an apple and think about creation and resurrection. Cut it across the middle and show the star to a young child.

How will you use the energy from that apple to serve God and your neighbor today?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Accompanying Him September 22

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:19-20

Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources. (Luke 8:2-3)


Let us pray: Jesus, teach us to be open to your call and to invite all people to join us on the journey you have set forth. Thank you for sending to us nurturing, loving and challenging women – our mothers and wives, our sisters and daughters – who plant the seeds and cultivate our piety, study and action. Help us to respond to that special care as we respond to the life-giving light that you provide so that we can offer to you the firstfruits of our labor in your vineyard. Amen.


One faith. One baptism. One holy Church.

Perhaps we sometimes forget this critical passage from Luke’s Gospel. There were many more than just the Twelve Apostles following Jesus. Some of the followers who answered Jesus call were women who provided for Jesus and his work “out of their resources.”

The notes to the NAB explains: Luke presents Jesus as an itinerant preacher traveling in the company of the Twelve and of the Galilean women who are sustaining them out of their means. These Galilean women will later accompany Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem and become witnesses to his death (Luke 23:49) and resurrection (Luke 24:9-11, where Mary Magdalene and Joanna are specifically mentioned; cf also Acts 1:14). The association of women with the ministry of Jesus is most unusual in the light of the attitude of first-century Palestinian Judaism toward women.

In fact the very first witnesses to the resurrection that St. Paul explains in the first reading were the women from town who went to anoint the body of Jesus in the tomb

In John’s Gospel, during the mid-day encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, the disciples challenge Jesus being seen with a woman in public. The unnamed woman herself wonders why Jesus is addressing her.

So this becomes another area in which Jesus acts in a manner that departs from customary norms of society. We see elsewhere Jesus challenging the religious and political leaders. Here, too, Jesus turned the tables. He preached a faith that was for all people irregardless of gender, nationality, status in society, wealth or health.

Talking with a woman in public was both a religious and social stricture of His time that Jesus treats as unimportant and ignores. Although in John’s Gospel, the disciples question his association, in today’s reading from St. Luke, these women are integral to Jesus’ ministry and help sustain it. What women have helped to sustain your faith?

Your mother most obviously planted the first seeds of that faith. Those seeds are cultivated by our wives, our sisters and our daughters and yes, even our mothers-in-law. From there, our Blessed Mother continues to intercede on our behalf.

Through school, parish work and more, women in the Sisters of Mercy (Sr. Pauline), the Missionary Servants of the Blessed Trinity (Sr. Frances), the Benedictines, the Carmelites, Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette, Sisters of Notre Dame and many other dedicated religious orders help sustain ministries and provide out of their resources. Many Cursillistas are from these and other religious orders. Other women are in study and formation to consider this special service to God and the Church.


Pray for a special woman who has sustained your ministry. Why not contact her today?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I desire mercy, not sacrifice September 21

I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received. Ephesians 4:1

Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. Matthew 9:13


Let us pray: God, source of our faith and baptism, look down on us, your servants. See how we are tied to the temporal gifts we have been given. They are the rock that blocks our path to your grace and friendship. Unbind us from these things that weigh us down and block you out of our lives. Help us so that we may come out and see you face to face in order to fulfill the ministry that you have for us in the Church.

Pray for us, St. Matthew, and help us to recognize and accept God’s mercy that comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. Be with us as we pass on that mercy to our sisters and brothers. Deliver us from evil and grant us peace today. Amen.


Suppose that the Pharisees of Fairfax or Arlington were watching Jesus at his house this week. Would Jesus invite you over to his place to dine with the rest of the sinners? Would you accept the invitation like St. Matthew did?

In fact, Jesus would invite you and does indeed invite you every day to the banquet He has prepared.

Our challenge is to accept the Great Invitation like St, Matthew whose feast day we celebrate today. Jesus invited Matthew with the simple words, “Follow me.” Matthew was so moved that he left his tax collecting and followed Jesus.

Jesus does not just want us to follow him on Sunday. Piety alone is a wobbly stool. Jesus seeks out our full commitment, our mature commitment in love to all three facets of Christian life. Dr. Jesus wants to heal us. After our examination, the prescription is difficult to take: piety AND study AND action. Study and action support our piety and gives it permanence and lasting impact on our lives, the lives around us and the world just as it was called for in the Hebrew Bible:

Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away. For this reason I smote them through the prophets, I slew them by the words of my mouth; For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts. (Hosea 6:4-6)


There are many actions and ministries we can follow in the Church and the world. Jesus does not ask us to do everything. He just wants us to live in the manner worthy of our calling.

Look around. What work will you take up for His sake? For His sake, we even call these actions works of mercy. Perhaps your parish is seeking volunteers for various ministries. (St. Mary of Sorrows holds a Parish Awareness Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.) Consider all the needs of your parish and parishioners. Pray how you will answer the call this weekend to “Follow me” when you are – once again – invited to dinner at the Lord’s House with the rest of the sinners and tax collectors.

PS: God works in wondrous ways. I will spend part of the day giving a speech at the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service. What a perfect way to celebrate the Feast of St. Matthew, the former tax collector! Is it any surprise how God arranges this worldly calendar? St. Matthew, pray for me…especially at 10 a.m.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Greatest of These is Love September 20

“Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31

“At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

“Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Luke 7: 35


Let us pray. Dear Lord Jesus, you spent every last ounce of strength climbing Calvary. Wearing the crown of thorns. With the whips tearing your back. The weight of the cross only lightened by Simon. But Simon could not lessen the weight of our sins – the sins of all eternity that you carried with you to your death. But Simon could not ease the pain of the nails you chose to endure. Simon could not stop the sword from piercing your side.

Jesus, reveal the truth of your love to us as God revealed his love for us by sending you to save the world. Help us to spread your love throughout the world…not by condemning the world or by judging the world, but by serving the world through out piety, study and action. Amen.

In the ultimate close moment with you, Jesus, when we see you face to face, what Jesus shall we see?

Shall we gaze on the innocent baby in the manager with his poor, homeless refugee parents?
Shall we gaze at the young boy teaching in the temple?
Shall we gaze on the face of Jesus preaching on the mountain or on the plain?
Shall we gaze on the face of Jesus walking across the rough seas to the scared disciples in a boat tossed upon the waves of a stormy sea?
Shall we gaze on the pain in your eyes from Gethsemane to Calvary?
Shall we gaze on the resurrected Jesus walking to Emmaus or grilling fish on the beach?
When shall we see You face to face?

How will we react? How will you, Jesus, react to seeing us?

Sometimes, when I sit down at night or in the morning to meditate on the daily readings, I just have to wait for the Holy Spirit to act because I am struck by how little I know and how beautiful the scripture is. The reading doesn’t need me or Beth or even Fr. Joe. It is a pearl of great price without need of explanation.

Today’s first reading from Corinthians is one such scripture. Perhaps 1 Corinthians 13 is the greatest statement on the greatest virtue that has ever been written.

It teaches us that ours is definitely not a passive faith. St. Paul advises that we must, “Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.” Our Christian journey, our Fourth Day, takes effort, a lot of effort. Everyday. We can’t just pray for it. We can’t just study for it. We have to work at our mission with active love in the world.

It will be a struggle. We must go all-out, like an Olympic speed skater racing and balancing on blades one-quarter inch thick to win a race on slippery ice by less than one hundredth of a second.

We must make every effort – not just try one thing but try every “thing.” So we are called upon to do our utmost to the greatest possible amount, degree, or extent; the maximum.

Look at the cross…Jesus’ human body hangs there. He had nothing more to give physically. The greatest gift He gave to us is His love. Now, it is up to us – inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit he sent -- to follow his example and go share that with each other and the world.


The greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

As one weekend ends with the men of the 113th Cursillo returning to the world, another is in formation. The women of the 123rd Cursillo have adopted this phrase from Corinthians as the theme for their weekend. Do you know someone who is ready to encounter Jesus face to face from November 2-5, 2006 at the Josephite Pastoral Center?

Please pray for the team and potential candidates. Also, use this as a time to strengthen your Fourth Day journey.

We have to give this faith to others to make it grow in the world.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The body is not a single part September 19

“Now the body is not a single part, but many…Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.” I Corinthians 12

“A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people.” Luke 7:10


Let us pray: God, you gave your Son power of sin and death. Please give us the faith of the widow in Luke’s Gospel and the widow who aided Elijah. Give us the gifts of justice, temperance, prudence and fortitude to serve you even before we see such a sign.


Yesterday, Jesus' power was displayed for a Roman centurion whose slave was dying. In today’s reading, Jesus’ power over death is displayed toward a widowed mother whose only son has already died.

This resuscitation alludes to the Hebrew Bible and the prophet Elijah's resurrection of another “only son” – that time it was the son of a widow of Zarephath.

The widow of Zaraphath provided water and food for Elijah when he had none. She welcomed and cared for the stranger without question. But she wept at the prospect of her only son being taken from her and appealed to Elijah. When the only son was brought back to life by Elijah, she recognized him as a prophet from God. "Now indeed I know that you are a man of God" (1 Kings 17:24).

Luke’s story also presents a powerful case to the crowd. Jesus’ power leads the crowd to the same conclusion the widow of Zarephath reached. "A great prophet has arisen in our midst" (Luke 7:16).

The catechism teaches us that God revealed the resurrection of the dead to His people gradually just like in this incident from the Hebrew Bible. These incidents help Jesus to separate the faithful witnesses from the Pharisees and others who reject the scriptures and the power of the “God of the living.”

Jesus goes one step further. He links faith in the resurrection to faith in His mission. The people who see the sign react ("A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people.").

And he said to them in reply, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me." (Luke 7:22-23)

This beatitude is pronounced on the person who recognizes Jesus' true identity in spite of previous expectations of what "the one who is to come" would be like.


How in the world do we witness resurrection in life? Those who work in health care can see it happen every day through medicines, through procedures and through faith. We need all three.

Today, many people lie ill but one special son amongst our Cursillo family especially needs our prayers – Peter Tompkins.

Peter has been hospitalized for weeks due to complications from various ailments that affect his life and health. His journey with God has not been an easy one. In a recent message from Peter’s brother Mike, we learned that Peter can have visitors and take phone calls in his room at Fairfax Hospital. Please reach out to Peter and support him and his family in this battle with a card, a letter, a visit or a call.

If you are reading this and do not know our loving brother Peter, you may know of a hospital or nursing home where others live. Please visit them and pray for them.

Ears Open to Obedience September 18

To do your will, O my God, is my delight. (1 Cor)

Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. (Psalm 40)

O Lord, O Brother Jesus. Give me the faith of the Centurion who stepped forward to request from you something completely outrageous. Help me to take delight in your will and from it derive delight in my day. All I have I give thanks to you Lord for all is handed down from you and is yours now and forever. Amen.


Isn’t it grand what Jesus handed down to each of us? One of the earliest written accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper is here in 1 Corinthians. This marvelous feast of Jesus’ self-giving is handed down in a repeated command: Do this in remembrance of me.

In accepting to partake in this feast, we must actively engage our whole being, not just “do” God things. In a lovely image the psalmist speaks of ears open to obedience you gave me. The singer can hear and understand, not just hold rituals. We will and we act. It is a commitment not just a life style. Paul reminds us that our commitment and our actions must be informed with the Word and in the Spirit which Jesus requested. Having a dinner as Jesus’ community that leaves out some people is in direct opposition to the spirit of Jesus’ twice repeated command.

The psalmist also says: To do your will, O my God, is my delight. God wants more than simple minded obedience. God wants us to be joyful and find the delight that naturally follows in when we, creatures of God, put our Creator’s will first. Our whole being is called into play. Jesus gave His whole being on the Cross.

The Centurion asked several outrageous things: cure a slave! And come to my house! It was considered unclean for Jews to enter a Roman’s house. This officer is asking for help for a slave who in his society has no standings as a person. Also he is a ranking member of an occupying force requesting aid from a person he is oppressing and he. But after this audacity, he comes back with more. He says, “I know authority, no need to come to my unworthy home.” His ears are open to Jesus’ authority and he announces his trust in that authority. Jesus rewards this “outsider” because of the faith he displays. How can the Corinthians divide their own community? How can we? We were handed down the greatest of feasts to share in spirit as well as form. It takes an act of commitment of our entire being, a total trust in the authority of God.

Consider renewing your commitment to God by continuing palanca for our newest Cursillistas as they begin their fourth day. Christ is counting on you to keep the Babe Chicks in your prayers. And to the Men of the 113th Cursillo, please pray for us. We look forward to sharing your journey and many a feast with you.

Also consider what will your support be for the Women’s 123rd Cursillo November 2-5? We are counting on you!


Beth DeCristofaro

Friday, September 15, 2006

Who do you say that I am? September 17

The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear. Isaiah 50:5

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,if someone says he has faith but does not have works? James 2:14

“But who do you say that I am?” Mark 8:29


Let us pray: God, open our ears in prayer that we may hear your word and act upon it. Brother Jesus, open our minds that we may study your word and works and craft our life accordingly. Holy Spirit, open our arms and strengthen our back that we may pick up our cross and go where ever you lead us. Amen.

By Rev. Joe Mc Closkey, S.J.

Jesus puts to each of us the big question of the Christian life. "Who do people say that I am?" Peter gave the right answer to the question in the gospel of today. Christ was impressed by the answer and went on to share with Peter that he had to suffer and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and rise after three days. Peter rebuked Christ for talking this way. Christ reacted strongly and called Peter a Satan. Peter meant well. He wanted to save Christ from his suffering.. It seems to me that we are guilty of the same offense when we try to save those we love from doing the good that they are called to do that brings with it risk and all too often suffering. We always have the right to encourage. We never have the right to discourage the good another would do.

It is easy to encourage someone to do something that brings with it praise, honor, glory and reward. It is a lot harder to face up to the demands of love that imply losing our life for the sake of another. God makes us free souls and love is by definition a free gift. When what I would do would cost me the giving of my life for another, I am living out the invitation of Christ to love as he loved. He calls the giving of life for another the perfection of love.

The great paradox of Christianity is found in our taking up our cross to follow Christ. If we wish to save our lives, we must lose them for his sake. The tree of glory is the cross and our cross carried well, will be our claim to fame in heaven. We are called to love as Christ loved. He is one with us when we love as he did. Created to the image and likeness of Christ we find ourselves in losing our lives for his sake. The answer to the big question of the Christian life is; "Christ is our real life."


As Jesus ascended Calvary step by step, the Roman guards pressed Simon of Cyrene into service. Christ did indeed count on him to help redeem the world. Here was a man, who indeed carried the cross...and made an impact for Christ in eternity.

Christ counted on Mary and Joseph and the innkeeper who made room for them in the stable.

Christ counted on Simon Peter and the Twelve as well as all the disciples who followed Him when he was on earth in human form.

Now Christ is counting on you. Who do you say that He is? What commitment are you willing to make to Him now?

One Body September 16

Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one Body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 1 Corinthians 10:17

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command? Luke 6:46


Here I am Lord. I come to do Your will. Amen.


Paul reminds us that the Church is one body even though we have many parts. These days it is an easy lesson to forget. We have a lot of people who want to divide us into groups:

¬ There are the traditionalists and progressives.
¬ Then there are the liberals and conservatives.
¬ Then there are the republicans and democrats.

Then there are…oh you get the picture. You’ve probably been painted into one corner or another.

But that’s just the point…there are no corners. Every Sunday in the creed, we pray for “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.” Today, St. Paul reminds us of the “one” part.

Jesus comes along and exhorts us to action. Yesterday the men of the 113th Cursillo were introduced to the Tripod. Piety. Study. Action. With only two legs, the tripod will not stand. With only one leg, the tripod will not stand. We need all three dimensions in order to have stability and impact in the world.


Please continue to pray for the men of the 113th Cursillo. However, take a broader view as well. There are needs throughout the world that we can not forget.

On the other side of our ONE globe, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan continues unabated.

On Sunday in The Washington Post, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Dole once again tried to raise that crisis to our attention…but amidst the hundreds of deaths in Bahgdad, the DC mayoral election, the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the first game of the Redskins NFL season, the pennant races in baseball, and other American diversion, did we even notice? They wrote:

“Make no mistake: At some point we will step in to help victims in Darfur and police an eventual settlement. The question is whether the United States and other nations will act now to prevent a tragedy, or merely express sorrow and act later to deal with its aftermath. Urgent action is required in the coming hours and days.”

Jesus wants us to listen to His words and ACT on them – around the family, in our community, throughout the nation and around the world. We can not be like the person who “listens and does not act.”

An article in Sojourners reminds us as well:

On September 9, the same day an American journalist was freed from a Sudanese prison, dozens of activists went to jail in Washington, D.C., to call attention to the plight of the people of Darfur. This protest marked the two-year anniversary of the Bush administration's declaration that genocide was under way in the region.

The protestors, organized by D.C.-based Africa Action, were arrested for obstructing the sidewalk outside the White House while holding signs. This planned act followed a rally in Lafayette Square, where speakers and scores of activists gathered to call attention to the ongoing atrocities in Darfur and demand intervention by U.N. peacekeepers. [1]

What can you do? See the Crisis Group website for action ideas.

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows September 15

All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, so that I too may have a share in it. 1 Corinthians 9:23

“Woman, behold, your son.” John 19:26


Let us pray: Here I am Lord, at the foot of your cross. I come to do you your will. You have done so much for me, forgiving my sins and opening wide the gates of heaven. If you but give to me a thimble full of the strength you drew upon hanging on the cross, then I will have the reserves needed to run for you so as to win for you. Deliver us from evil and grant us peace today. Amen.


What mother would not grieve endless tears to see her innocent son, born of her own flesh and blood, executed like the Romans did to Jesus?

Mary provides us with the role model for commitment to the mission God lays out for us. Through her piety and action, she draws us closer to her son. She intercedes on our behalf.

On this first day of the Cursillo Weekend, we start off with talks on Ideal and Layperson in the Church. Mary sets for us the highest Ideal possible for how we should pray, study and act? Her eternal “Yes” sets us on a path to say, “Here I am Lord. I come to do your will.”

Now, her work with Jesus at her side is done. Jesus commissions her to a new task. Her eternal “Yes” does not even need to be uttered aloud. At the foot of the cross, Mary adopts us all. She becomes mother of all of God’s children.

In one unspoken “yes,” Mary takes on not just the sorrows of the cross but the sorrows of all of our lives. The deaths. The illnesses. The wars. The famines. The storms. The anger. The fighting. The killing.

Jesus also binds us to Mary as our mother. A mother who shares all she has with us. She picks us up when we fall. She wipes away our tears when we cry. She sets us off in life to school, to work so that we have all she can offer to support our race. So we can run so as to win with her intercessions.


The next time you approach the altar to receive communion, as you bow down, try reciting this little prayer inspired by Our Lady of Sorrows.

“Here I am Lord. I come to do your will.”

Stand and take communion. With Christ dwelling within you, now is the time to act – to run – to love so as to win.

Note: Today the men of the 113th Cursillo will receive the Palanca from the community supporting them. Keep supporting them in your prayers. In a fitting parallel, today also marks the 200th consecutive installment of "Your Daily Tripod" which began as palanca for the team in formation for this weekend. De colores!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Have Eternal Life September 14

“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.” Numbers 21:8

He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:7-8

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John3:14-15


Dear Jesus,

We count on your love and forgiveness. Thank you for dying on the cross to atone for our sins. By your sacrifice, you secured eternal life for us.

I confess that I am a sinner before God. I acknowledge that by your death and sacrifice that you have paid the penalty of my sins for me. Please come into my heart and become the Lord of my life. I will follow you and you can count on me.

As you gave your life for us, we will give our lives over to you, take up our cross and follow you. Not according to our own will, but to follow Your perfect will for our life. In your name we give honor, praise and glory. Amen.


Saraph (שרף) , is the name of the biblical snake (also called a “fiery serpent”) in popular English translations: "And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole". Numbers Chapter 21

As you can see in the picture, the image of the snake on a staff reminds us of the image of the cross. Thus the story from the Hebrew Bible today is not only a recollection of humanity’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden at the wily ends of a serpent but it also is prophetically predicting Christ on the Cross – fitting for the reading on the day a new Cursillo Weekend will begin.

The saraph serpents are none other than the obstacles to God’s grace that distract us and “bite” us every day at every opportunity. However, in the story from Numbers, whoever looks at the raised saraph on Moses staff recovers and is saved.

Through the cross, Jesus conquered not only sin but also death. Despite his execution, he lives! So the heart of our faith is that we believe that whoever follows the raised Christ, is healed and has everlasting life. This is promised in the Good News according to St. John when Jesus explains to Nicodemus during his late night lesson in theology of resurrection: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” John 3:14-15


The raised staff with intertwined snakes has become the symbol for doctors and dentists. They have adopted its healing symbolism without the accompanying religious meaning. Jesus is here to heal whatever afflicts us. We just need to ask Him.

To mark the Exaltation of the Cross and the start of the 113th Men’s Cursillo, take out your cross from your weekend and wear it today.

Are you ready to meet Jesus with the same zeal you had when you completed your weekend experience? What have you done with the gifts that He has given to you?

Today, He encourages us to consider the cost of the cross and to apply it to our own lives. Christ is counting on you! Are you still counting on Christ?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Time Is Running Out September 13

I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Luke 6:20-21


Let us pray: God, source of all that is good in the world, take from us all the obstacles that block your grace from working in our lives. Jesus, give to us the prudence to let go of these material possessions. Holy Spirit, grant us the temperance to moderate our desire for riches in this world so as to enjoy eternal happiness in union with you in the next life. Deliver us from evil and grant us peace today. Amen.


Did you hear that knock on your door? Imagine it is Jesus, God incarnate. He is visiting you. How will Jesus find you?

Are you, like our neighbors in the richest county in the nation, living comfortably? Too comfortably? Are you surrounded by nice possessions? What gifts has God given you? Are you using them to build the kingdom – His Kingdom, not your own? Are you answering the call and using the gifts God has given to you?

Today, St. Paul advises Christians to go about the ordinary activities of life in a manner different from those who are totally immersed in the world. Being immersed in the world also makes some people unaware of the temporary nature of “temporal” possessions.

It’s mildly interesting that temporal is a synonym for “worldly, secular, earthly.” It has as its root word the same etymology (word history) as the word temporary. The root word is the Latin temporarius which means “of seasonal character, lasting a short time.” This comes from the Latin tempus that means “time or season.”

So are you a temp for Jesus or are you a FTE – full-time employee?

If you are full-time employee, then you should know how Jesus doles out reward. There is an inverse relationship between spiritual rewards and earthly rewards as enumerated in the beatitudes of Luke in the Sermon on the Plain and Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount.

In the sermon, blessed extols the fortunate condition of persons who are favored with the blessings of God; the woes, addressed as they are to the disciples of Jesus, threaten God’s profound displeasure on those so blinded by their present fortunate situation that they do not recognize and appreciate the real values of God’s kingdom. In all the blessings and woes, the present condition of the persons addressed will be reversed in the future.


How you are vs. how you will be: What can you do to reverse your fortunes in this world? What can you do to shed things that you don’t need, live more simply and share your resources with others?

Dr. Michael Sleeth points out in Serve God Save the Planet that the one time Jesus displays anger and indignation concerns shopping (John 2:14-16). This is when Jesus drives the merchants from the porch of his Father’s “house.”

He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there.

He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace.”

Sleeth advises to look around at your stuff and ask, “Will this _________ (fill in the blank) bring me closer to God?” If not, then why do you need it? The more you ask the question, the more you will change your state from how you are to how you will be.

Faith in Motion September 12

Why not rather put up with injustice?Why not rather let yourselves be cheated? 1 Corinthians 6:7

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray,and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself,and from them he chose Twelve. Luke 6:12-13


Let us pray: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, help us to put our faith into motion. Jesus, in every action you take, you model for us the kind of behavior that you want us to show the world. You pray. You cry. You love. You endure suffering. You support your friends. Help us put this faith into practice. Help us to turn to fully rely on God to keep us connected to the community and to your Grace. Amen.


Luke and the evangelists regularly present Jesus at prayer at important points in his ministry – like right before Jesus has to engage in performing miracles, teaching, healing, suffering or dying. In Sunday’s Gospel, right before Jesus opened the ears of the man who was deaf and mute, Jesus looked up to heaven. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he prayed to God. “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42) The examples are endless.

Paul appeals to the Christian community to work out their differences together, rather than by turning to the pagan courts of Rome. He does this because of the doctrines about death and the human soul that are promised to Christians: we are to share with Christ the judgment of the world.

“Then the kingship and dominion and majesty of all the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High, Whose kingdom shall be everlasting: all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Daniel 7:27). Hence, we ought to be able to settle minor disputes within the community or by turning to God.


Where do you turn? When something, big or small is happening in your life, to whom do you turn? Whose advice do you seek?

If prayer was that important for Jesus – and he had divine nature – how much more so is it required of us who are merely human?

Taken together, these readings reinforce many aspects of the Cursillo experience – life lived in Christian community. We see the spiritual side of Jesus in prayer modeling for us piety – directing one’s whole life toward God, fully relying on God. Getting support through prayer brings us into closer contact with Christ and the community.
Then, St. Paul urges us to work among ourselves to solve problems. Remember, an isolated Christian is a paralyzed Christian.

Think of the actions and decisions that you will make today. Who is in your decision- making model? What key stakeholders will you consult? Is the Holy Spirit on that list?

We don’t have to put up with injustice if we act as St. Paul implores us…to be imitators of Christ. Then, they’ll know we are Christian by our love, not our lawsuits.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Do Good on the Sabbath September 11

Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. (1 Cor 5:7)

I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil? (Luke 6:9)


Lord Jesus, I seek refuge in you and exult in you. On this anniversary of deceit, death and chaos, may I bring your joy and your justice to the world today in everyone I meet whether face to face, electronically or telephonically. Help me delight in your presence within me and seek you in others.


What does it mean to love as Jesus loves? What does it mean to love as God loves? We live among platitudes, good sayings, proverbs all hoping that they will provide us the answer – the complete secret. Jesus gives us numerous small, pertinent examples. He tells the assembly that is it good, it is Love, to help someone on the Sabbath, rules and laws not withstanding. Why is this so hard?

One of Paul’s most quoted verses is from 1 Corinthians 13: “and the greatest of these is Love”. Seems awfully simple. Yet Paul has to remind the Corinthians that it is not simple and that we must always be on guard against complacency. He reminds them that a little yeast leavens all the dough. This old Jewish proverb means that a little evil corrupts the whole – somewhat like our present day saying “one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel”. In another incident, Jesus actually calls the scribes and Pharisees rotten because they prefer legislation to love. And in our day, five years ago, a small number of men bent on destruction threw an entire nation into grief and turmoil.

Paul then uses the image of the leaven to remind the Corinthians that Jesus, the new Lamb of God, has set a new feast for us. Now we can, and should, be fresh, unspoiled and vital leavening to bring the Word to the world. The old saying is turned on its head: a little yeast can leaven, can bring to holiness, to all the dough. In Cursillo we speak about being a friend, making a friend and bringing a friend to Christ.

Jesus heals a man. The law said to do no work.

Love. Healing. Do good. Save Life. Be a friend. Be fresh leaven: evangelization and action. Love.


I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil?

Pray these words to yourself. Perhaps write them on paper or in your blackberry. Read them throughout your day. Let your focus be on the good Jesus is leading you to all day long. Rejoice that He walks hand in hand with you today even as He did on Sept 11, 2001. Choose the blessing rather than the curse.

De Colores

Beth DeCristofaro

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Be Opened! September 10

“My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” James 2:1

“Be opened!” Mark 7: 34


Let us pray: Lord, when our hearts are frightened, we can not be strong for you. We fear the worst. Open our blind eyes. Clear our deaf ears. Help us to walk the earth for your aims despite the obstacles to your friendship that we put in the way to cripple our efforts. Help us to sing your praises from the mountaintops. When we do, your love will grant life where there is death and darkness, fear and weakness, like streams bursting forth in the desert. Amen.

23 rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Sunday, September 10, 2006

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

As my hearing fails, I realize how wonderful it has been to hear what others say. My hearing aids are wonderful gifts of God that have come through the smarts God has given the human race. I say my thanks to God that I can hear the sounds that others make. We all have deafness and need the help of God that we can understand what he is asking of us in the here and now of our lives.

God is always speaking to us through each other. Every time we reach out to a need of the human race, we are touching the God who accepts whatever we would do to answer a need as done to him. God comes in many disguises. But we all know God choose those who are in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised. The design of God is counterintuitive. What is hard to realize is that what we do for the needy reaches God. What we do for the rich all too often already has its reward in the acclaim or the pay one receives for work done for hire. So Paul challenges us to show no partiality as we adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

We know our God is near when the eyes of the blind are opened, and the ears of the deaf are cleared. The beauty of the Lord will shine trough creation and we will hear the divine melody of God's love for us sung through the glory of creation.


Through whom is God speaking to you? Who is God speaking to through you?

Lord of the Sabbath September 9

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment. 1 Corinthians 4:11-13

“The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.” Luke 6:5

Let us pray: God, source of the sunrise and the sunset, open our eyes to your new laws. Help us to see beyond just a legalistic framework to true justice for all people. Enable our minds to truly learn about the social impact of the teachings and preachings of your, Son, our Lord, Jesus of Nazareth. Then, empower our hands to do the work required, whenever required. Amen.


If the Lord is just in all His ways, as the Psalm says, why does he upend the people who follow the law so strictly? Why not just follow the laws and bring along all the law abiding citizens to the new vision for the Kingdom of God? Certainly it would seem like that course of action would be less antagonistic.

Is it, perhaps, because Jesus’ concept of justice goes well beyond the reach of temporal law and church law?

Today in Luke, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees who devoutly quote the law. And instead of compromise, Jesus introduces a new perspective on the law.

Jesus was not a Pharisee or High Priest. He was not a politician or Roman. If Jesus intended to teach a new law, and if Jesus intended to bring God’s kingdom to heaven on earth, then he picked a very unusual way to go about it.

Jesus did this first by recruiting his own inner circle from among the powerless and then by challenging those who had power through his words and deeds.

Taking on the Pharisees was an interesting fight. Hans Kung, in On Being a Christian, Kung points out that historically, the Pharisees were a uniquely devout group which paid special attention to the provisions of the law on cleanliness.[1] They were the sole party which had survived the great revolution against the Romans. The name implies not hypocrites but rather “separated.” Kung and other sources portray them as a devout, righteous, God-fearing sect.

Yet, Jesus’ reaction to their interrogation shows that He is a New Moses, bringing a new law to the people. Jesus is an outsider bringing a new perspective. Jesus reveals his new law to the Pharisees, pointing out that God’s work – satisfying human needs such as hunger and performing works of mercy like caring for the sick and healing (protecting God’s very creation) -- takes precedence even over the sacred Sabbath rest.[2]

Being a devout, God-fearing person must equate with the higher order of caring for your neighbor. These two intersecting planes come together in the humanity and the divinity of Jesus.

St. Paul asks the Corinthians and the Virginias and all peoples to be imitators of Christ, not imitators of the world. The disciple experience then, to imitate Christ, contrasts and departs from our standard definitions of success in the world – whether according to political, social or religious norms. Being true to the apostolic experience can not be judged in terms of human success. Jesus sets the New Standard.


Where does Jesus challenge you to go beyond devotion?

[1] Kung, Hans. On Being A Christian (translated by Edward Quinn). Garden City, NY:Image Books. Page 202
[2] Notes to the New American Bible (NAB).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  1. “…all things work for good for those who love God.” Romans 8:28

    “…do not be afraid.” Matthew 1:20


    Let us pray: God, you are peace. Grant us today that peace that comes to those who love you. Make us ready to reflect your love to the world through our piety, study and action. And then grant us the courage and heart of a love supreme that we can share with those who truly feel left out. He us to share that love through Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter. Amen.

    The week of readings has led us to a feast day in the Church for the celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout this week, we have seen Simon Peter’s mother and others in the people of Nazareth and Capernaum, walk the six steps in this faith journey. All week, we have seen examples of how people have reacted to Jesus coming into their life.

    First, we have a close, personal encounter with Jesus.
    Then, Jesus acts in our life somehow.
    We first react based upon truly hearing His word.
    Such deep hearing leads to acceptance (even if not based on conventional wisdom) and faith.
    Acceptance leads to enduring the personal cost and suffering that comes from such acceptance
    Suffering makes us share in Christ’s journey and reflect His image.

    According to the notes to the NAB, St. Paul, in the alternate first reading from Romans, tells us of the Christian vocation as it was designed by God. Such a vision leads us to be conformed to the image of Jesus.[1] Like Mary, those whom God chooses are those he foreknew (Romans 8:29) or elected. Those who are called are predestined or predetermined.

    But even though God gave Mary and the saints the capacity for great love, they still had to choose to move in the world through that love. They still had to, like Mary, say, “Here I am Lord. I come to do your will.”

    Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

    This name does NOT mean “God will be with us.” This is not a future promise. It also does not mean “God used to be with us.” This is not something done yesterday. This is the on-going reality of the church today.


    God is with us. Who can possibly be against that?

    Today, we can meditate on the ideal as exemplified by Jesus’ mother Mary. “We know that God makes everything work for good for those who love God.” So even though Mary was pregnant before her marriage, the angel said to Joseph to not be afraid and to take Mary into his home, which he did. And then the couple embarked for the census-counting trip to Bethlehem where they found rudimentary housing despite the inns being filled to capacity.

    God has made this church work for the past 2006 years and is still with us today.

    Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

    This name does NOT mean “God will be with us.” Nor does it mean “God was with us in New Orleans. This is not a future promise. It also does not mean “God used to be with us.” This is not something done yesterday. This is the on-going reality of the church today.

    God is with us. Who can possibly be against that? If God is with us, who can possible argue against the Roman Church.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Put Out into Deep Water September 7

If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise. 1 Corinthians 3:18

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4


Let us pray: God, creator of the seas and all the fish in them, help us to know that our human ways are limited and “foolish.” Help us to break away from conventional wisdom and think freely on our own about your word, your commandments, and your mission for us. Help us to leave our “toys” behind so nothing gets in the way of following you. Deliver us from the evil of crass commercialism and grant us peace today. Amen.


Accepting instruction from Christ and then serving him – the theme established in Capernaum during yesterday’s Gospel – is continued today in the story of the disciples’ seemingly unsuccessful fishing trip.

Anyone who has spent any time in a boat on a fishing expedition knows futility well. In fact, when I was growing up, after a day spent fishing or crabbing, the one stop we made on the way home was…at the fish stand in order to make our “catch” appear worth the money and time spent hugging the shore all day in a little rented dingy. We said, “You should have seen the ones that got away!” so much that we actually believed it for a while.

A little purchase at the fishery would enhance our meager catch with an extra dozen (or two) of blue crabs. We weren’t “fooling” anyone. When we got home, everyone there knew we were padding the results. We were, after all, only doing it for sport, not survival.

But Simon and his colleagues had no fishery to stop in on the way home. A night of futility meant no money, no livelihood. So when the carpenter comes along and tells him to “put out into deeper water and lower your nets for a catch,” can’t you just see the eyes of every man in that boat roll back in his head.

Nonetheless, the acceptance and trust in the Lord is there when we hear, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” These “wise” fishermen think they know better until their nets are filled until breaking.

It is difficult not to compare today’s story from Luke with John 21 and the post-resurrection fishing experience. Again there is futility of human efforts, instruction from the Lord, trust, action and RESULTS!


Jesus is in deeper waters today…lowering His net for a catch. Will you be in His haul? Or will you be in His service on that boat, trusting in His divine instructions and ready to act as He asks you?

Do your material possessions weigh you down like an anchor on that boat? What can you give up that was an obstacle to God’s friendship while making your journey in this world? Can you leave everything behind and follow Jesus? Why not?

Try listening to the Michael Card song, “The Things We Leave Behind” as you meditate on today’s reading.

'Cause when we say no to the things of the world
We open our hearts to the love of the Lord
And it's hard to imagine the freedom we find
From the things we leave behind.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

You are God’s Field September 6

“For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9

“They came to him.” Luke 4: 42

Let us pray: Today God, like every day, you give us a divine choice. First, help us to recognize that you are present and dwelling among us. Then, you show us the path that leads to you. Let us be your building where you dwell to the depths of our soul. Come to us and come also to the men who will attend the 113th Cursillo at St. Joseph’s Seminary later this month. Show us all how you are the way, the truth and the life. Use us for your good works and strengthen our faith in you. Amen.


Shall we be like the people of Nazareth or of Capernaum? Just days ago our scriptures recounted the story of Jesus being rejected by the people in his own home town. They who had known Jesus throughout his lifetime saw him only as the son of the carpenter.

Today, we see a totally different reaction to Jesus. First in Simon’s mother, we see Jesus go to her, cure her and she serves him. Second, the crowd reacts to this in faith by brining even more people to Jesus for cures.

In Nazareth, the people drove him from the town. We read on Monday:

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

In Capernaum, they didn’t want him to leave. We read today:

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.

Jesus approaches us not matter how we will react. And then he waits for our reaction. Will we recognize the prophet in his home town or only when he travels miles away? Psalm 33 tells us that when Jesus looks down, he sees all people as His own. Yet, in our hearts, Jesus waits for our reaction. He made us, fashioned our hearts and knows what we will do. But we must choose. Jesus won’t choose for us.

If we choose Him, then we will become, according to St. Paul, God’s co-workers. God will dwell in us and we will become the field on which he works wonders.

No matter what our reaction, Jesus can not stay in us alone forever. He will keep walking over all the earth until he preaches the Word to all people.


Where can we look for Jesus today?

Is there a deserted place where he has retreated and where he waits to see our reaction? Or he is teaching in the public square waiting for our help?

When Jesus learns our reaction, he will have to depart. Where will He go next? Will he find willing servants (like Simon’s mother) there or will our dedication be a source of joy for him to carry onward?

As we go forward from our Cursillo experience, the community provides Ultreya for our continued support. Think of Ultreya as a modern day Capernaum Experience. Through it, we rejoice while the bridegroom is among us.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The One Who is Spiritual September 5

Now the natural man does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The one who is spiritual, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

“What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” Luke 4:36


Let us pray: Jesus, you are the one who is spiritual. You recognize that we are in a constant tug of war with forces that pull us away from you. Please pick up our rope and pull us firmly into your camp. Teach us, as you taught on that memorable Sabbath in Capernaum. Exorcize the forces of evil from us so we can pursue the path to piety, study and action that you require. Help us to not confuse working in the world and living in your world. Deliver us from whatever evil is in our lives and grant us peace today. Amen.


A tug of war is happening in today’s readings between the spirit of God and the world corrupted by evil spirits. Without the intervention by Jesus or the Holy Spirit, the evil might prevail.

Today, we are heading back to school and back to work after the Labor Day Weekend pulled the curtain down on the “official” summer season of 2006. The time targeted for vacations, rest and rejuvenation is over. Noses make better acquaintance with your grindstone. As we head back to our work roles in the world, new roles for Jesus open before us in today’s reading – roles as a teacher, exorcist and super hero.

The people of Capernaum went “back to school” in the reading from the Good News according to St. Luke. Jesus taught them in the synagogue and they were amazed. Even though we do not know exactly what Jesus taught, today’s lessons were memorable because it included a direct confrontation with the forces of evil in the world. When faced with this battle for our attention, our love and our soul, Jesus establishes His dominion over the world by fighting off unclean spirits which seek to contaminate our lives and our world.

The spirit of God is granted to us so we can come to know God better, according to St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. He juxtaposes the spirit of God with the spirit of the world. “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God.”

Despite that, unclean spirits do try to enter into our lives and control our conscience. Jesus comes to our rescue.

Sometimes we need to be rescued because we fail to understand the spiritual side of a message. Sometimes we need to be rescued because we fail to hear a message that we do understand. Sometimes, we need to be rescued because we fail to act on the message we do understand. Even though we have been confirmed, we have not developed the language with which God speaks to us. God is speaking, we just don’t understand the teaching.

Coming off of Labor Day, we also have had a chance to contemplate work and workers over this weekend. As Dr. Michael Sleeth observed in his book Serve God, Save the Planet, “There are forces that would keep us so busy that we never have time to live.” He points out that God designed a day of rest to keep those forces at bay and our lives in perspective.


Jesus’ teaching takes place on the Sabbath, the day designed by God for rest – a rest is intended to block out those outside “commercial” forces demanding our attention. Can you slow down today enough to hear and to understand what Jesus is teaching you today?