Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Take Nothing for the Journey February 1

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick --no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. Mark 6:8-9


Jesus, we are like Moses. We tremble at the complex simplicity of your calling. Help us to leave behind our possessions like Peter left his fishing boats and Matthew left his tax collection business. Instill in our hearts the sympathy to be kind to strangers, whether they are from across town, across the border, or across the ocean. Help us to live a little better with a little less. Amen.


Take a quick inventory before you leave the house today. Where are you going?

To work? Do you have your briefcase with the work you brought home last night? Do you have your car keys and the key or electronic swipe card that will grant you access to your office? Do you have your lunch or your wallet so you can buy lunch and the money for a coffee break at Starbucks, or Caribou or your favorite coffee shop? It will get cold tonight on the way home so bring your coat, hat and gloves, too.

To school? What text books, papers, and other materials do you need for class? Is you laptop computer packed and the battery charged? If not, you better carry that two pound brick AC adapter, too. Have you synchronized your I-Pod with the latest tunes you downloaded last night? Got the earbuds?

To a store? Where is the shopping list? Did you clip some coupons from the Sunday Post plastic pack so you can save 75 cents on that gum or microwave dinner? Will you be returning those plastic grocery bags or do you carry your own sacks back and forth to protect the environment? Dropping off anything at the dry cleaner’s while you are out? And how about mailing those bills at the Post Office when you drive by, too?

See, no matter where we go, we have a whole routine of little items we pack and carry around every day. We are even subjected to advertising slogans which remind us, mantra-like, “Don’t leave home without it.”

Jesus sent his Twelve disciples out on a mission. He did not want them distracted by excess baggage. He did not want them to worry about their basic needs. He didn’t even want them to worry about taking a change of clothes. Jesus asked them to fully rely upon God to provide people who will welcome them, give them food and shelter, and who will, most importantly, listen to them. Their ministry is marked by poverty and service, compassion and healing.

This episode follows Jesus’ second rejection – first in the Capernaum synagogue and second in the Nazareth synagogue. As we see Jesus learning to be a stranger in his own home town, he sends his disciples out with a dress code and a packing slip that requires them to rely, like an historic model for Tennessee Williams’ Blanche Dubois “upon the kindness of strangers.” Just like the Son of Man, these disciples will have no place of their own to lay their head.

If we can’t image leaving home for part of a day without a veritable suitcase full of baggage, how ready are we to respond to Jesus call and fully rely on God and the kindness of strangers to provide for us no matter where we are called to preach and heal?


Leave it home. Try it.

Before you close the door, leave something home. See if you can get by the day without it?

Try living without it for a week.

Try living without it for a month.

Free yourself to follow Jesus.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Prophet is Not Without Honor Except in His Native Place January 31

Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Diane Bayne

Endure your trials as “discipline;” God treats you as his children. For what “child” is there whom the father does not discipline? Strive for peace with everyone. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.
Hebrews 12: 11-12, 14-15

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there. So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there. . . He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mark 6: 2-6

Today’s Gospel (Mark 6: 2-6) tells of an event similar to that recounted by Luke in last Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 4:21-30). In both accounts, Jesus has just come from what must have been an exhilarating spiritual experience. In Luke, Jesus is publicly validated by His father during His baptism; in Mark’s Gospel the validation comes when He raises a little girl from the dead. Then, in both Gospels, after such exalted affirmation, Jesus is abruptly and decisively rebuffed by the people who knew Him best. These rejections must have been particularly stinging, coming as they did, from the very people He most loved. Later in His life, an even more soul-shattering rejection came as Jesus was put to death by the officials of His own church.


In the introduction to Francis deSales, Jane deChantal; Letters of Spiritual Direction, (Wendy M. Wright and Joseph F. Power, eds.) the point is made that, “Undergirding all Christian spiritual traditions is the insistence that human beings, to be true to their deepest insights, must follow the way to God opened for them by Jesus of Nazareth, in some way taking on the reality of the life he lived (p.9).” It would seem that, in the light of this Gospel, “taking on the reality of the Life Jesus lived” may at times subject us to ridicule and rejection from even our own family, friends, and church. A fruitful meditation may be made on how Christ responded to this painful trial both in what he did and in what He did not do.


What enabled Christ to respond to criticism as He did? In his book Life of the Beloved, Henri J.M. Nouwen talks about the empowerment that can come from knowing that we are God’s Beloved. Christ knew He was the “beloved” of the Father. How can we access that assurance? How can it help us to respond in the same way as Christ?

How can we discern whether or not we are following Christ in a difficult situation? It may help to consider what Francis deSales had to say on this knotty problem: “Existing situations, the trials that overtake one, can be received merely with patience and tolerance, what he [de Sales] deemed ‘resignation.’ Or they might be embraced with a more responsive and flexible love, with what he [deSales] termed ‘holy indifference’ or better, ‘holy disinteredness.’ This grace-filled attitude of acceptance of what is beyond one’s control was for the Savoyard a mark of Christian character. For God’s will he felt was known not only in the promptings and dreams of one’s own heart but also in the present, often painful, reality in which one lives; not only in the ‘how it should be’ but in ‘the way it is.’ It is somewhere between those two facts that moral choice, loving surrender and authentic human life are discerned” (p. 43, Wright and Power, eds.).


The debilitating spirit of negativity and criticism may not destroy the body but it can crush the spirit. Today refrain from uttering even one negative word. Instead, seize every opportunity you can to encourage and affirm the people with whom you live and work. Remember, even Christ could not perform His mission in an environment of hostility.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I say to you, “Arise!” January 30

Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. (Hebrews 12:3-4)

He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. (Mark 5: 41-42)

Tuesday of the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Let us pray: Prayer is more than words. Prayer is the brush of your cloak on my outstretched fingers. Prayer is your cloak healing my affliction. Prayer is my request to come. Prayer is your visit. Prayer is the touch of your hand to mine. Prayer is the sound of a few simple words of Your voice in my ears. Prayer is my response to those words.

The faith in my heart draws you to me. The love in your heart draws me to you. Cure me of my affliction, O Jesus. Let nothing stop you from working your miracles in my life. Amen.


How odd it must have been for Jesus. Complete strangers trusted in Him and sought Him out, and desired nothing less than His healing touch. Yet those closest to him sometimes did not have the same depth of faith in the mere touch of Jesus’ divine hand and the gentle calm of his voice. Today, the Gospel gives us two miracles in one reading. Both Jairus and the afflicted woman knew to seek direct physical encounters with Jesus for healing. Yet, in the midst of these encounters, many others jeered at Jesus and doubted his divinity.

Once again we see Jesus performing his miracles and signs in places with discord and a lot of activity. In such settings He has witnesses with faith and others without. Mark’s Gospel is filled with such active scenes. The boat in the midst of a stormy lake. The synagogue filled with the dubious officials. On the crowded road where the woman just touches Jesus’ cloak in the crowd. In the midst of the commotion at Jairus’ house. Nothing stops Jesus from working His miracles.

Faith and physical contact with Jesus is what connects Jesus to those who seek His help in today’s reading. “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction,” Jesus says to the woman. “Do not be afraid; just have faith,” Jesus says to Jairus.

The disciples doubted that Jesus could feel the touch of the woman in such a large crowd. They did not understand Jesus’ power and divinity. Yet, Jesus was aware at once that power had gone out from him.” Then, at Jairus’s house, after the apparent death of the girl, the crowd tells him not to bother “the teacher.” These were people who also did not understand Jesus was more than just a teacher. They ridiculed him for saying the girl was just asleep. Jesus responded not with just healing but his first triumph over death…by making the girl arise with just the touch of his hand and the sound of his voice.

The word of Jesus’ miracles and signs had traveled far and wide. People from far away distances and who were not particularly close friends of Jesus equally put their hope and faith in Jesus. Our Christian life, like theirs, is to be inspired not only by the Old Testament men and women of faith but above all by Jesus and how we encounter Him every day.


Rev. Robert Drinan died this week at age 86 after a sudden illness. The Washington Post wrote that “When he sought elective office, he was considered a symbol of a New Politics that melded thoughtful advocacy with organizational efficiency.” He worked throughout his adult life at the intersection of religion and public policy on everything from civil rights to the immigration of Soviet Jews, from nuclear disarmament to the impeachment of former President Nixon.

Fr. Drinan left Congress in 1981 when the Vatican ruled that a priest should not hold legislative office. He is remembered as “a man without rancor” whose deeply held beliefs never prevented him from viewing every person as “deserving respect and possessing dignity.”

Fr. Drinan joins the Cloud of Witnesses who now will inspire us to follow in the work they performed for those most in need of God’s help.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Who By Faith? January 29

What more shall I say? …(of those) who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises… (Heb 11: 32-33)

The LORD keeps those who are constant, but more than requites those who act proudly. (Ps 31:24-25)

“Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” (Mk 5:19)

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth De Cristofaro


Bring me, Lord Jesus, out of my possession by all that is not you. Breathe life, Holy Spirit, into my most intimate desires and nudge me toward all that is good. Keep me, God of Life, faithful and constant to Your will. (prayer inspired in part by


Paul continues to offer as example the works of our spiritual ancestors who by faith (Heb 11: 33) was loyal to God’s promise without the evidence of their eyes as proof of that promise.

In fact, their loyalty was unique: The world was not worthy of them (Heb 11:38) It took, however, the sacrifice of Christ to complete and sanctify their efforts. They too, like the Christians Paul addresses and like ourselves, are saved through Christ. God keeps those who are constant. (Ps 31:24)

It is frightful, but perhaps we can see ourselves and our culture in the man who was possessed by Legion. He was out of touch with reality. He hurt himself and those around him. He recognized the divinity of Jesus, and tried to gain power over him in the ancient, accepted belief that by calling a person’s precise name one could master the other. Jesus not only withstood this assault but turned it around: He asked him, “What is your name?” (Mk 5:9) Evil has no sway and cannot remain in the face of God.

The man was Gentile yet Jesus did not hesitate to cure him. And, although Jesus did not accept him as a disciple, Jesus commissioned him to tell about the cure to his family and friends. This is in direct contrast to the many cures Jesus performed among the Jews when He cautioned the cured one “tell no one.” A Gentile, one who had lived with evil, is trusted with the Word. And the man was heard! He …went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed (Mk 5:20)

Is the world, created by God and given in stewardship to humans, not worthy of us? Do we remain constant in our faith? (Ps 11:24) or do we succumb to evil, hiding from the face of God (what do you want of us?). God remains constant to us.


In what way am I possessed – by material things, addictions, empty rituals? Am I wandering among tombs, receptacles filled with death-delivering desires, ambitions, and judgments. Can I let them go, let Jesus send them into the sea?

Keep Jesus’ face before you and let your actions today proclaim God in the Decapolis of your world. Be open to Him rather than your own, internal audio file which seeks to claim your attention.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Isn’t this the Son of Joseph January 28

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. Jeremiah 1:5

Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4

And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn't this the son of Joseph?” Luke 4:22

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time Jan 28

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.


(From 1 Corinthians 13)

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. 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. Amen.


How we let others grow is important. We do not live in the present moment if we are locked into who we were in the past. We are all capable of changing and change is the truth of being alive. We are growing each day of our lives into whom we are meant to be in the plan of God. We do not notice the changes. Our friends can tell us more about ourselves than we would ever give ourselves credit for realizing by ourselves. We need the good opinion of others. Jesus was admired for a moment on his visit to home. But when he had something to say which challenged the status quo, the people were upset. Christ is the realization of so many moments of God’s love of our world that the people of Nazareth were not able to keep up with all the changes that had taken place in him. The question, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” puts their quandary into focus. How could he know all the wonderful things we have heard him say?


What is Jesus saying to you today that might upset the way you look at the world? Just like the people of Nazareth, Jesus challenges us to love unceasingly. How will you do that?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Inherit the Promises January 27

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 1:1-2

Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” Mark 4:40-41


Jesus, every day we can witness the miracle of you in the Eucharist. We see you work in the lives of blessed people around us who serve the body of the Church without hesitation. Help us to be like Abraham and the cloud of witnesses in the Hebrew Bible who have faith and who actively seek to inherit the promises. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Amen.


What would the “ancients” in the Letter to the Hebrews have thought of the disciples in the boat and others in Mark’s Gospels who challenge Jesus and his authority despite being direct witnesses to miracles? What would they think of us?

From Abel through Samuel, we read example after example of how they had faith despite not seeing evidence of God’s promises fulfilled. They already enjoyed what Christians today who are still struggling do not yet possess in its fullness.

Now, however, if these ancestors could transport forward from Noah’s ark into the small fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee that storm tossed night, how might the faith exhibited in the Hebrew Bible have been tested? We’ll never know how Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and Moses would have reacted if they had a chance to live and walk and talk with Jesus. But the faith of these ancestors stands in stark contrast to the lack of faith observed in those who did witness miracles and evidence.

From the first miracle in the synagogue at Capernaum to the healing of Simon’s mother, the disciples have already witnessed countless miracles. “[Jesus] cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.” (Mark 1:34) Mark teaches about many of the specific acts that Jesus performed. Curing the leper. Healing the multitude of the crowd that had gathered in his home (which upset the neighbors). Healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath (which upset the Pharisees).

Rather than universal acceptance and praise for his work, we see how the crowds which did actually see the miracles did not believe. The doubting disciples in the battered boat are no exception. They are just the latest who challenge Jesus. None of these who encounter Christ directly, have the faith of those ancients who were never able to witness God’s promises fulfilled, people whose faith overflowed despite not seeing.

The letter to the Hebrews reminds us of these faith-filled people and events of the Old Testament to paint an inspiring portrait of religious faith, firm and unyielding in the face of any obstacles that confront it. “We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. Hebrews 6:12

How many more reasons do the disciples in the boat have to show Jesus a little faith in the face of the storm they faced? Unlike the litany of saints from the Hebrew Bible who are men and women of faith without having direct witness of Jesus, the men in the boat have seen the beginning of God's fulfillment of his promises.


We witness so much good and evil in the world today. From the response to the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, people of good will from all faith traditions reach out to those in greatest need. But we don’t need an extraordinary disaster to move us to generosity. Every day, people give to charity in order to extend God’s reach and their own.

How can you, through acting out the spiritual or corporal works of mercy, make a difference in today’s world?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Able to Understand January 26

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops

I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade. Mark 4:32


Jesus, with you and the gifts you bestow, we are able to understand the mystery of the Kingdom of God. Help us to spread your love to the people of all races as your servants Timothy and Titus did. Give us the fortitude to accept the challenge to be your body on earth and do this Gospel mission. Amen.


Jesus wants us to understand the mystery and so He gives us the gift of parables. Today, he explains the power and universality of God’s kingdom by using stories which the crowds will understand.

The emphasis in this story is on the power of the seed to grow of itself without human intervention. Mysteriously, the seed produces blade and ear and full grain. Thus the kingdom of God initiated by Jesus in proclaiming the word develops quietly yet powerfully until it is fully established by him at the final judgment.

Such an image has strong connections to the Hebrew Bible, specifically references directly back to similar images used in Ezekiel and Daniel that would have been readily remembered by Jesus’ audience. What are you like in your greatness? The audience would have made the connection between the greatness of the Kingdom of God to references to the majestic cedars of Lebanon in these older teachings.

Thus says the Lord GOD: I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar, from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot, And plant it on a high and lofty mountain; on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it. It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar. Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs. Ezekiel 17: 22-23

Behold, a cypress (cedar) in Lebanon, beautiful of branch, lofty of stature, amid the very clouds lifted its crest. Waters made it grow, the abyss made it flourish, sending its rivers round where it was planted, turning its streams to all the trees of the field. Thus it grew taller than every other tree of the field, and longer of branch because of the abundant water. In its boughs nested all the birds of the air, under its branches all beasts of the field gave birth, in its shade dwelt numerous peoples of every race. Ezekiel 31:3-6

The large, strong tree that you saw, with its top touching the heavens, that could be seen by the whole earth, which had beautiful foliage and abundant fruit, providing food for all, under which the wild beasts lived, and in whose branches the birds of the air dwelt – you are that tree, O king, large and strong! Your majesty has become so great as to touch the heavens, and your rule extends over the whole earth. Daniel 4:17-19

These “kingdom” is not just for the Jews. It casts a protecting shade over all people. It provides refuge to all the people of every race, not just the select or few. They provide food for all to live. This, then is the greatness of the Kingdom which Jesus is planting on earth which will survive long after He is gone without any need for our intervention.

However, with the help of the members of the body, great saints like Timothy and Titus whom we celebrate today and lesser saints to be like you and I, the word will spread even further and even faster when we take up the mission Christ has on earth for us. That mission is to be his body on earth.


Carrying forth the message of the Gospel is not as easy as it sounds. The mantle carried by early bishops like Timothy and Titus has now passed to a new generation. Recently, one of them, Bishop William Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a new statement about the war in Iraq as the nation begins to debate new proposals being put forth by political leaders. Bishop Skylstad urges Catholics to focus on the moral questions:

“Each course of action, including current policies, ought to be evaluated in light of our nation’s moral responsibility to help Iraqis to live with security and dignity in the aftermath of U.S. military action. Our nation’s military forces should remain in Iraq only as long as their presence actually contributes to a responsible transition. Our nation should seek effective ways to end their deployment at the earliest opportunity consistent with this goal.”

He went on to outline the role we should play in this debate:

As pastors and bishops we are deeply concerned for the lives and dignity of the people of Iraq who suffer so much and for the men and women in the U.S. military who serve bravely, generously and at great risk. As religious leaders and defenders of human rights, we have expressed particular alarm at the deteriorating situation of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq. Their great vulnerability demonstrates the growing dangers facing the entire population of Iraq, including Sunnis and Shiites.

At this critical juncture as our nation seeks a new way forward in Iraq, our leaders have a moral obligation to examine where things genuinely stand in pursuing justice and peace in Iraq, to assess what is actually achievable there, and to evaluate the moral and human consequences of alternative courses of action and whether they truly contribute to a responsible transition. At this difficult moment, let us pray for our nation, for the people of Iraq and for all those who bear the responsibility and burden of these difficult choices. We ask God for courage, humility and wisdom as we seek a path to a responsible transition in Iraq.

On this date, which is the 77th birthday of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, former president of Pax Christi, we can recall the many times that Bishop Gumbleton and other church leaders reminded us that Jesus says “put away your swords.” Isaiah advises us to beat our swords in to plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks.

Encourage those around you and our political leaders to keep this moral perspective and the teachings of the Church foremost in mind when considering next steps in Iraq so peace can be a reality. Blessed are the peacemakers.

“Get Up and Go” January 25

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” Acts 9:15-16

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:15-16


Jesus, forgive us for persecuting you and not listening to your Word. Help us to hear and accept the mission you have for us. Give us the strength to run the race and complete the tasks you assign with humble obedience. Make us good and faithful servants who will accept the suffering that you reserve for us. Amen.


Jesus’ job is pretty much done. Today, we get the literal picture of one of the most important conversion stories in the history of the world.

What does it say?

St. Paul was rendered temporarily physically blind just like he was spiritually blind to the importance of the early Church as evidenced by his persecutions. Many times we, too, are blind to the needs in the world. It’s easy to pay attention to a situation when the media is shining a glaring spotlight on the South Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina or the Pakistan earthquake. However, it is much more difficult to be aware of needs that do not fall in our line of sight.

What does it mean?

Once Paul was cured of his “blindness,” he did not just end the persecutions and go on with life as it was before. After he had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, St. Paul was sent out to work for the Lord. Just like Ananais was reluctant when sent, he still obeyed the Lord and went to preach to Paul. Just like Paul resisted the message of the early church, he still obeyed the Lord and went to preach to the rest of the world.

What does it matter?

Jesus’ work is done. He has taken his seat at the right hand of God. So it’s up to us to Get up and go out to continue His work. Ananais overcame his reluctance. Paul overcame his violent past and the persecutions he wrought. What stumbling blocks do we need to overcome in order to “Get Up and Go” into the world to proclaim the Good News?


Jesus has taken his seat at the right hand of God. But much work remains right here on earth.

Has Jesus told you the mission he needs you to accomplish?

Has He shown you the suffering He has reserved for us in His name?

You, too, are a chosen instrument of the Lord. Before you “get up,” you must “get over” your hang-ups, insecurities and humanity to follow in His footsteps. Then, we need to revel in the dismissal at each Mass – “Go, in peace, to love and serve the world.” How will you love and serve the world this week?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

His Laws in Our Hearts January 24

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor of the Church <>

The holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying: "This is the covenant I will establish with them after those days," says the Lord: “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them upon their minds," he also says: "Their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more." (Hebrews 10:15-18)

The Lord has sworn and will not waver: “Like Melchizedek you are a priest forever.” (Psalm 110:4)

<>“The sower sows the word.” (Mark 4:14)


Lord, help me find the words to sow among my friends and those I encounter throughout the day. Let me remember Your laws in all I say and do and think and be mindful that to others, I am your minister.


<>Today, we reflect on St. Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva and doctor of the Church. Born in France in 1567 and became a priest during the time of the Protestant reformation. Francis had his shortcomings; he dearly valued his curly gold hair that was cut off at his ordination, and some complained he was conceited and controlling. Yet, he did not let this whispering get in the way of his work. He began an expedition to neighboring Switzerland with a goal of bringing the 60,000 Calvinists back to Catholicism, according to He received no money from his diocese or his wealthy father. He went with only his cousin, who left after three years when they had failed to make a single convert. But Francis plodded along. He became the first known author of religious tracts, copying his sermons by hand and putting them under people’s doors. By the time he came home, he had brought 40,000 people back to Catholicism.

For Francis, prayer was a key to God’s love. He advised: “Retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart, even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others, and talk to God. But just as today’s Psalm reminds us that we are “priests forever,” Francis counseled us to be mindful in our interactions with others: “To be an angel in prayer and a beast in one’s relations with people is to go lame in both legs.”


Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring that friend to Christ. We pledged to do it in the Fourth Day. Make a special effort today in honor of St. Francis de Sales to use the Lord’s laws in our hearts and minds to reach out to someone who can use that love. Sow the word in your speech and your behavior. There will be a change…maybe not today or tomorrow or even this year, but there will be a change, in the other person and in you. Remember, “Like Melchizedek you are a priest forever.”

Monday, January 22, 2007

Here Am I Lord; I Come to Do Your Will January 23

Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God. Hebrews 10:5-7

Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. Mark 3:35


Jesus, no matter where am I and what am I doing, You accept me and love me for what I am – a flawed creature who wants to please you but is sidetracked by distractions. Because you have everything, there is nothing of mine that I can offer to you and nothing you require except my obedience. Instead, use me as your sibling, here to get to know you, praise you, and extend your love to those who have need for it the most.


Ever go to a really big family reunion? The kind where you meet up with people who are in your extended family but whom you have rarely or never met?

What makes them a part of the family? Why are they welcome even though everyone doesn’t know them? Today, we might define those limits as blood lines. Great Aunt Mary might tell you, “Her parents were the siblings of your cousins’ parents so she is now your family.”
Today, Jesus tells us that the Christian family is not limited or marked by ancestral ties alone. Instead, what unites us as one body, one family and one church is our humility and submission of our actions to what God expects of us.

Christian faith now realizes that the sacrifices offered throughout the Hebrew Bible did not affect the spiritual benefits to come but only prefigured them. For if the sacrifices had actually affected the forgiveness of sin, there would have been no reason for their constant repetition. They were rather a continual reminder of the people's sins.

According to the Letter to the Hebrews, it is not reasonable to suppose that human sins could be removed by the blood of animal sacrifices. Christ, therefore, understands his mission in terms of Psalm 40:5-7. Jesus acknowledged that the Old Testament sacrifices did not remit the sins of the people and so, perceiving the will of God, offered his own body for this purpose.


Did you ever notice that when you visit a new Church, that the churches which have less in terms of financial resources, have a greater abundance of love to pass around? They welcome the stranger with open arms.

In my travels, I have sometimes been at Cathedrals for holy days where thousands have worshipped in front of altars adorned in gold. But also, I have visited inner city parishes from St. Aloysius in Washington, D.C., to the Delores Mission in East Los Angeles. In those settings, the welcome to visitors by the congregation and clergy is some much more personal than what I have encountered in large churches and cathedrals.

This weekend, Beth and I had the privilege to worship with the family at St. Peter Claver parish in New Orleans – a church in a poor neighborhood just north of the I-10 freeway that is still rebuilding 17 months after the storm (like many of the poor sections of this city). From the opening of the service to the invitation at the closing, it was one of the most open Christian families which will ever touch you. (Thank you Fred Burgess for the recommendation!)

In return and recognition of His sacrifice, Jesus asks us to do the same. He offered His body to the will of God. He asks us to do the same. But that’s not all. Beyond offering ourselves, he wants us to recognize and welcome as brothers and sisters and mother everyone who offers themselves and shares the desire to do God’s will.

How can you be more welcoming to the strangers you encounter?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Salvation to Those Who Eagerly Await Him January 22

Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory… (Psalm 98:1)

…now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his bring salvation to those who eagerly await him. (Heb 9:26, 28)

And if house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. (Mark 3:25-26)


My Lord, my Brother, My Saviour. Thank you for the wondrous deeds you have accomplished for me. Let me repeatedly return to you with a song in my heart for without You I remain divided. My nature, like that of your chosen high priests, must repeatedly enter into the sanctuary having been distracted by both the wonderful and sinful in our lives. Today, I ask you, let your unique, solitary and universal sacrifice bring me to you. Help me turn away and disengage from anything distracting. Help me face always to You.


The ancient rites of sacrifice required blood to close – the importance, the sacredness of the oath was reflected in the use of the symbol of life. It became effective upon the death of the testator (much like our last will and testaments today). Humans, whether in secular business or in religious rite sign the documents for each sole instance or perform the ritual again and again to bind, praise, teach, remind ourselves of meaning. As Paul so beautifully tells us, the perfect blood of the Son sealed and transformed the ancient covenant once and for all. His return will be to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him (Heb 9:28).

Our need to turn again and again to Him is a privilege a joy rather than a mandatory and tedious chore. Jesus has already offered us a place in the covenant; our salvation promised if we eagerly await. Because we are often governed by our very human nature – awesome and troublesome – He alone can unite us within Himself. With our reliance on His effort we are safeguarded: no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. (Mark 3:27) We can place Jesus, the strong man, into our hearts to protect our (God’s) property from any assault. Needing to turn again and again to Him, we can do so with jubilant song in our hearts rather than as if we must perform a mournful duty or feel depressed at our continued shortcoming.

Early in his role as civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King was considering withdrawing from the cause because of death threats against him. In fear and despair he prayed, deciding to turn over the problem to God. In his book Stride Toward Freedom he described the experience of a quiet, strong, Divine voice telling him to stand up for freedom and not fear. He had renewed unity with Jesus.

God gives us all we need. Our God …has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice (Ps 98: 2). God is on our side though thick and thin. Our God revels in relationship with us. Revel in God’s help and promise to you.


What distractions keep us from unity with Jesus, unity within ourselves? Is the career ladder, our good name, an enlarging stock portfolio, a teenager’s attitude, ill health, fear, zealous patriotism distracting us? Step back into the tabernacle and renew unity with Jesus. Share resources and love with someone who needs it: a struggling parish in New Orleans (such at St. Peter Claver, St. Philip St.) or your sister parish in another country. Pray that in reducing your distractions and renewing your unity with Jesus, those with whom you share might also be renewed and reunited.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Lord Must Be Your Strength January 21

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10

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


Let us pray: Lord, if you will but be our strength, then we will be your body. No matter what hardship the world sends in our path, we will trust in you to be our spirit and life. We offer all we do to you. Strengthen our minds so we can comprehend your Word. Strengthen our lips so we can spread your Good News. Strengthen our hearts so we can love as you loved – loving our enemies as ourselves. Strengthen our hands and feet so we can do your work. Amen.


Jesus’ work on earth takes on an added dimension today. Up until now (in the readings from ordinary time during this relatively new liturgical year), Jesus has been a wonder-worker, but he has not identified himself as the Messiah or Son of God. Today, the miracles and signs he has been performing throughout Galilee take on a higher meaning and a new significance.

The turning point comes when he connects his work to the prophetic message of Isaiah. No longer can the people see and hear Jesus as just an itinerant preacher, son of a carpenter, friend of the fishermen who cavorts with the tax collectors and sinners. He now goes beyond being a healer and preacher.

Now that the prophets are gone; Jesus needs to carry the message. Now that John has been executed by Herod, Jesus needs to carry the message that the Kingdom of God is at hand. For people who were not witness to his Baptism, Jesus now starts to connect to the message delivered by the voice of God that this man is God’s son.

The new dimension of today’s Good News is the self-identification of Jesus’ ministry with 1) his divine nature and 2) his attitude toward the economically and socially poor. The very first sermon he delivers to fulfill the hopes and expectations of the Hebrew Bible raises up the concerns of the social action Gospel into God’s hands. People who are “poor” in Luke's gospel include the downtrodden, the oppressed and afflicted, the forgotten and the neglected. It is this group of people who first accept Jesus’ message of salvation.

Finally, the degree and extent of Jesus’ ministry and actions are apparent when He takes the signs of the prophets to a higher level. The prophets usually healed one leper or cured one cripple or helped one widow. Jesus takes on all who come to him.

The demons Jesus strikes down and chases away recognize Him. Now, he starts to reveal his divine nature to those around him so these followers can become the “body” of the Church -- literally and symbolically Christ’s hands, feet, senses. They become the mind, heart and voice of the Good News. How else will it spread after Jesus is gone?


You might be able to tell from the e-mail that I am on the road again and sending daily messages on Your Daily Tripod through my office e-mail. Once again, business and family matters have brought me to New Orleans – ironically on a day that the local football club plays the most significant game in its history.

If the game at Soldier Field were not enough of a reminder about the plight of this city, the potholes, piles of bricks, and abandoned homes that litter the landscape here will bring you back
to reality. As will Spenser Hsu’s report in today’s Washington Post that:

The U.S. government will extend housing aid through August for hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents still displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, officials said yesterday, acknowledging that wide swaths of New Orleans and parts of coastal Mississippi remain uninhabitable nearly 17 months after the 2005 storms.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would continue for six more months to pay for 130,000 households' trailers, mobile homes and apartments, aid that under federal law would have expired at the end of next month.[1]

So, take heed to the message in Nehemiah today -- “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared.” Why not set aside a portion of whatever money you spend on dining out to help the poor in New Orleans who can still use private charity as much as they can use the helping hand of FEMA and the federal government.


Again the Crowd Gathered January 20

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God,cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. Hebrews 9:13-14

He came home. Again (the) crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:20-21


God reigns over every nation. Jesus, help us to hear and comprehend the magnitude of your call and your desire to have us surround you. Keep us from erecting a veil to separate ourselves from you. Unlike those around you who did not believe, protect us from thinking that you are out of your mind in your words and deeds. Help us to respond, instead, with a blare of trumpets and shouts of joy. Amen.


Who can approach God and be with God?

In the temple of Moses, there was a veil to separate the altar for the priests from the people assembled. Further, there was an inner sanctuary where only the high priest could go, neither the other priests nor the people in worship. The Jewish temple described in the letter of Hebrews is essentially built upon the model used by Moses.

Jesus throws out the Mosaic model of church. He replaces it with a model where the people enter directly the House of God and do. So many enter that Jesus and the disciples can not “even to eat.”

The notes in the NAB shed light on both the historical context of the readings as well as the deeper meaning. In the old model, the blood of animals, especially lambs, was used to sacrifice to God. If the sacrifice of animals could bestow legal purification (Hebrews 9:13), how much more effective is the blood of the sinless, divine Christ who spontaneously offered himself to purge the human race of sin and render it fit for the service of God (Hebrews 9:14).[1]

Some people, who were used to the historic model of worshipping, could not adapt to seeing Jesus preach right in his own home to whoever assembled there. Some of Jesus’ own family members thought something was not right. In addition, after several episodes of conflict, the scribes thought Jesus was possessed by demons.

Against this background, Jesus is informed of the arrival of his mother and brothers [and sisters] (Mark 3:32). He responds by showing that not family ties but doing God's will (35) is decisive in the kingdom.[2] Natural kinship with Jesus counts for nothing; only one who does the will of his heavenly Father belongs to his true family.[3]


Sometimes, we dismiss that which we do not understand or actions which seem extreme. Think of someone or some situation in which you encountered someone so committed to following the will of God that you thought they were crazy.

Have you ever had a friend who turned his back on marriage and the prospects of having children to enter the seminary or a monastery or a Catholic Worker community or the Bruderhof? The media sometimes likes to focus on men who had a successful and lucrative career and turned away from that career, left everything behind, and responded to God’s call. Here’s two differ takes on that story.

The Catholic media treats this topic with respect but sometimes the secular media treats this story with amazement because it runs counter to everything our capitalistic society teaches us to want.

Perhaps God is calling us all to a deeper commitment that we feel we can logically submit to in our prevailing society. If something defies logic and contradicts culture, that doesn’t make it crazy, it just makes it hard to understand and accept unless you have strong faith.

Maybe what we are doing in society are “dead works.” Yet God is calling us to pursue his living works.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Summoned January 19

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:10

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. Mark 3:13-15


Prayer/Poem By Edward Hayes

Implant within my heart, O God,

the fiery zeal of a Jeremiah,

the conviction of a Ruth or Rebecca

and the zest of a Francis of Assisi.

Stir my slumbering soul,

that it might sing a song of passion and devotion,

drunk with dancing joy and desire for you,

my divine and loving Friend.

May my heart be as hot as the heart of Moses,

for all your children burdened by slavery,

for all who feel oppression's steely heel,

or suffer rejection in an alien land.

May I, like your son Jesus,

be consumed with zeal for you, Divine Beloved,

for life, for justice and for peace;

for all that I know in faith.

Fill me with zeal, O God.



Nothing small happens on a mountain. Just the altitude makes you naturally feel closer to God. Today, Jesus returns to the mountain where he serves in the role of “mediator of a better covenant, enact[ing] on better promises.”

Mark skips the first time a mountain loomed large in the New Testament narrative. During the forty days in the desert, Jesus was alone with his temptations. On that first mountain, the Devil tempted Jesus with temporal power over the world. This time, he calls his closest followers to be the Chosen Twelve. Other times the Good News narrative rises up include 1) after feeding the 5,000, Jesus went up on a mountain to pray alone while the disciples went ahead of him to cross the Sea of Galilee; 2) the transfiguration; and 3) Jesus teaches about his death while on the Mount of Olives with Peter, James, John and Andrew.

Today, Jesus initiates the Christian mission life from the mountain. There are at least three parts of that mission revealed to us. First, a disciple must “be with” Jesus.” Second, the disciple must “go forth” into the world to preach the Good News. Third, the disciple must “drive out” sin. “But the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” Mark 13:10.

In addition to going up to the mountains closer to God for important events in His ministry, Jesus (through Mark) uses the image of a mountain in his preaching. In Chapter 11:23 you will find the message, “Have faith in God.”

Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.

The natural image of a mountain as a challenge to climb, as an obstacle to overcome, serves as a fitting image for Jesus when describing the challenge of life in His day or when we read it about our current and future days.


If Jesus were going to call his disciples, would your name be among those He called out? What can you do today to make sure Jesus has you on that list?

What mountains stand in your way before you can respond to the call of the Lord?

Are you prepared to accept all the commitments required if you accept your mission with Jesus – 1) be with him, 2) go forth to preach and 3) drive out demons?

Always Able to Save January 18

Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known. Mark 3:11-12


(Note: If you don’t have a favorite Psalm yet, Psalm 40 is a good one to consider. It echoes the great “Here I Am” theme that we encounter time and again in 1 Samuel 3, Isaiah 58, from Ananias in Acts 9 and elsewhere.)

Let us pray: Jesus, draw me out of the pit of self-destruction, out of the mud of the swamp that draws me away from you and tries to maintain its transient hold on my with physical pleasures in the modern world. I am surrounded by evils beyond count – violence, racism, hatred, laziness, jealousy, affluence, indifference. My personal and social sins are so overwhelming that I cannot see you without help.

I waited, waited for the LORD; who bent down and heard my cry. Jesus, you lifted me up and set my feet upon rock, the rock of Peter. The rock of ages. You steadied my steps. You revealed your plan to me through scripture and prayer. In your plan, there is none to equal you. Then I took the first steps into your awaiting arms.

Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will. Not my will but yours. Not my will but yours. Not my will. But Yours. Here I am. Lord! Amen.


If Jesus does not want people to know about what he is doing, the path his ministry has taken in these early chapters of Mark’s Gospel are, to say the least, a funny way to show it. As he heals those with diseases, his ministry attracts larger and larger crowds. The numbers swell so much that Jesus is afraid of being crushed by the crowd and has to have a boat ready for a fast escape.

Jesus, who has been calling people to follow him, has been remarkably successful. People are now following him “from Galilee and from Judea.” “Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.” Mark 3:8

Refresh your biblical geography here. See Galilee in the northern part of Israel/Palestine in the New Testament era. This was where Jesus grew up (Nazareth was in this region). Judea was the southern part. Word has not only spread to the countryside, but it also has already spread to Jerusalem, the religious center of Judea during the Roman occupation. The birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem is slightly south and east of Jerusalem.

Idumea (Edom) lies even father south from Judea. This is the area we know today as the Hebron Valley. The Jordan River was the western border and Tyre and Sidon were much farther north. These were Phoenician seaport cities located in what we would call Syria.

So here, just two and a half chapters into this Gospel, word about Jesus’ healing ministry has spread all over the Jewish world and into surrounding areas. The crowds are so large they are hard to manage.

Imagine the largest crowd in which you have ever been a part. Imagine the National Mall on July Fourth. The concert is over. The fireworks finished and you and 200,000 of your closest new friends all want to get on Metro and head home at L’Enfant Plaza Station. Everyone wants the same thing and will push and shove to get to the front of the line.

Consider that the crowd is not just fighting for a place on a train but for health. Ever spend a holiday weekend in the Emergency Department at your local hospital? Just think what would happen if there were no hospitals (New Orleans after the hurricane or Indonesia after the tsunami). No hospitals, few doctors and one itinerant preacher walking around the countryside healing people for free. No Blue Cross card needed. You won’t need an award-winning commercial to attract crowds. It goes without saying that word-of-mouth will spread the Good News quickly. Or as the letter to the Hebrews describes, “Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.”

How does Jesus react to all of this? He chastises the unclean spirits not to make him known even though Jesus is known far and wide already. Puzzling? Yes. Well maybe.

Jesus has not yet revealed his messianic mission described in the letter to the Hebrews – to offer Himself as a sacrifice once and for all so that our sins may be forgiven. Maybe the purpose of these early battles driving out demons and unclean spirits and healing the sick is intended just to get our attention for the main act which will unfold soon.


Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will. These early crowds do not turn to God to do His will. Instead, they want God to do their will – drive out this demon, cure this illness, make the lame walk, mend the cripple. Perhaps Jesus wants to control how the more important message – about his mission – is revealed to his followers and will spread. He has our attention now. He has something special in mind for each of us. He wants us to come to him not for our own selfish purposes, but to fulfill His purpose for us on earth.

There will be mountains to climb. And more mountains beyond those mountains. Are you ready?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Priest Forever January 17

By Diane Bayne

Feast of St. Anthony, abbot


His name (Melchizedek) first means righteous King, and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace. Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. Hebrews 7: 1-3


Then He said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death. Mark 3: 3-6

Today's readings give us a clear picture of what it is to be a true priest and a worthy intercessor between humankind and God. We are not given much information about what made Melchizedek such a man and a worthy forerunner of Christ. On the other hand, concerning Christ's behavior we are given story upon story and example upon example on what priesthood is all about.

In yesterday's Gospel the point is made that (“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2: 28). Today's Gospel reading describes the Pharisees' stubborn adherence to the law even in those situations when such adherence goes against compassion and common sense. As Jesus enters the synagogue, the Pharisees “watched Jesus closely” to see if he would cure the man with a withered hand on the sabbath. They have no answer to his question: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it.” So, “Looking around him with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart,” Jesus cures the man.


The Pharisees are alive and well today. They believe in the letter of the law and want everyone to believe as they do. To withstand their influence, you must decide if your piety is based on love of God or on love of the law. The two are not always the same.

After earnest prayer and research on moral issues, to what extent do you trust yourself to make serious moral decisions? Remember, Christ came to take away your sins, not your mind.


Meditate on the action and interior dispositions of Christ as related in the Gospel account today. Note not only Jesus' action in curing the man, but his anger and grief over the Pharisees “hardness of heart.” His attitude and behavior is not governed by the fact they hold positions of authority in his church. He judges them by their behavior only. What implications are there for us + today?


When faced with serious moral decisions, focus on the question “What would Jesus do?”

When faced with events in which the law is being used to hurt rather than help people, refuse to be silent. Follow Jesus' example and make your voice heard–even it if means that in so doing you alienate today's Pharisees.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Inheriting the Promises January 16

We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. Hebrews 6:11-12

“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” Mark 2:24


Jesus, you teach us to be obedient and then you show us the path to civil disobedience. Give us the fortitude to surge ahead with the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope that you instilled in your apostles. Give us the faith and patience to be worthy to inherit the promises you made to your brothers and sisters. Amen.


The pattern of confrontation with the Pharisees continues. Jesus asserts to them that the Sabbath was made for man. The notes to the NAB explain that this statement is a “reaffirmation of the divine intent of the Sabbath to benefit Israel as contrasted with the restrictive Pharisaic tradition added to the law.”

Jesus started a practice which has been followed by others in his footsteps. His work has inspired other people who have challenged unjust conditions in society.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old African American woman who worked as a seamstress, boarded this Montgomery City bus to go home from work. On this bus on that day, Rosa Parks initiated a new era in the American quest for freedom and equality.

One of the most significant protests of the civil rights movement took place at a lunch counter now preserved in the Smithsonian Museum. On February 1, 1960, four African American students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College sat at this "whites only" lunch counter, asked to be served, and, when they were not, refused to leave. The sit-in and boycott of the store lasted six months and was the focus of national publicity. On July 25 the lunch counter was desegregated, a victory for the civil rights movement.

Just as Jesus challenged the Pharisees in today’s reading on the Sabbath laws, I think Jesus would have been sitting with Mrs. Parks and with the college students in Greensboro.


Have you ever disobeyed a law you did not consider just?


Why not?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Wine is Poured into Fresh Wineskins January 15

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
by Beth De Cristofaro

No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God. Hebrews 5:4

No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins. Mark 2:22


Thank you, God, for inviting the human family to share in your divinity. Thank you, also, for the life of Dr. Martin Luther King who strove for and reminded us all of our human dignity. Thank you for the talents you give to me with which to serve you. Help me share those talents according to your will. Help me share those talents despite my own fears, prejudices, incomplete knowledge or skills. Help me learn from my sufferings and offer you my joys. I trust in your mercy and your love for me.

May the soul of Dr. Martin Luther King eternally rest in your loving peace. Amen.


Recent readings, and today, illustrate “callings.” God calls to Creation through:

John, “the voice of one crying out in the desert” (Jn1:23) who identified the man…coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.” (Jn 1:30)

Jesus’s special companions: Andrew who brought Simon to Jesus (Jn 1:42). Phillip and Nathaniel (Jn 1:43, 45); Levi the tax collector (Mk 2).

Paul, who was himself called (Acts: 9) lists gifts given to every person and by which every person is called to serve God through sharing their talents. (1 Cor 12)

Today’s first reading talks about the call to service as priest. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God.” (Heb 5: 4)

Who are these people? God called a fanatic who ate locusts, illiterate fishermen, a tax collector who in those days was an assumed thief and collaborator, a bigot (Nathaniel said “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” {Jn 1:46}). Of the high priest Paul points out: He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.” (Heb5:2)

All of these people – all of us - are called. The incomplete and often unproductive service of humans is uplifted, purified and fruitful because God chose humanness through the life and death, the obedience and acceptance of His Son.

What are we called to do? Can we accept that our limitations cause us to be like other humans, also called in their unique ways? Are we willing to look beyond the limitations of others, as God looks beyond ours, and see the Other as God’s beloved child? Can we see ourselves and others invited to and partying at the wedding feast because the bridegroom invited us? (Mk 2) We must work to be new wineskins in order to bring the Word to the world as He calls us.

Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” (Mk 2:22)


Today, on the memorial of Dr. Martin Luther King, take stock of your own prejudices and biases. Be very aware; look at each person as someone beloved of and called by God rather than as someone who you have already defined because of your upbringing, life situation or current events. This is the kernel of unconditional love. That is the call.