Saturday, June 30, 2007

But You, Go and Proclaim the Kingdom Of God

July 1, 2007

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

http://www.usccb.org/nab/070107.shtml

Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant. 1 Kings 19:21

For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. Galatians 5:13

Piety

Prayer for Charity and a Preferential Option for the Poor
By Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB

Poor Ones,
Please take the bread. It is yours.
The house with running water belongs to you.
A plot of land, a dignified job – all yours.
Forgive me for offering it.
Charity is not substitute for justice but your children are hungry now.

Spirit of Justice, break open our hearts.
Break them wide open
Let anger pour through like strong winds cleaning us of complacency,
Let courage pour through like spring storms flooding out fear.
Let zeal pour through like blazing summer sun, filling us with passion.
Force of Justice, grant me anger at what is, courage to do what must be done, passion to break down the walls of injustice and build a land flowing with milk and honey for God’s beloved, God’s special love, God’s Poor Ones.
Spirit of Justice, break open our hearts.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/070107.shtml

Q: What are believers called to do?

A: Be freely obedient to God.

Sounds simple enough. Although God created us and calls us, he does not enslave us to his law or to any of the gifts that he has given to us. His gift to us is freedom…including the freedom to choose to be obedient or not.

Today we find the conflict between the gift of freedom and the call for obedience at its height.

First is the command, the very expectation for total and immediate obedience and its rewards. We might consider perfection of that in modern times reserved for the clergy and those espoused to religious life in faith communities of women and men. But, the call for obedience extends to the laity as well (like it or not).

The example of Elisha leaving his family, destroying his earthly possessions and distributing those goods among his people is just one more example of perfect obedience that we learn through sacred readings. Certainly Mary and Jesus were the prime examples. Abraham and Noah were others. Last Sunday, the Good News also shared the story of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Zechariah initially doubted the call of the angel announcing the pending birth of a son and his naming. For this doubt, Zechariah was stricken with a temporary blindness until he followed the commandment of God delivered by the angel.

According to the notes to the NAB translation, Elijah's act of throwing his mantle over the shoulders of Elisha expressed the divine call to share the prophetic mission. Elisha's prompt response through destruction of his plow and oxen is an example of total obedience and detachment from his former manner of living in order to promote the glory of God.

Paul elaborates on what believers are called to do and be: they fulfill the law by love of God and the love of neighbor. The gifts of the Son and the Spirit are further proof that God did not send us down here with total freedom and no help against the forces of sin, evil and temptation that seek to enslave us to something opposed to the unconditional love of God.

All this prepares us for the severity and unconditional nature of Christian discipleship. Just as God’s love for us has no bounds, our love for God also should not face any limits. Just as resolutely as Jesus sets out for Jerusalem in today’s reading, we should set out for a New Jerusalem.

The demand of Jesus overrides what both the Jewish and the Hellenistic world regarded as a filial obligation of the highest importance.[1]

“Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:60

Our journey to the New Jerusalem is a journey of hope. As Henri Nouwen reminds us: “Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move away from the safe place and enter unknown and fearful territory.”

Just as Elisha freed himself from the twelve oxen, from what comfort zone do you have to free yourself in order to enter the unknown and fearful territory of hope?

Action

Happy Half-New Year’s Day!

The joy of the new summer season, a new month and vacations and new experiences ahead hold out much promise for us. However, today, Jesus is addressing each one of us in his declaration in today’s Gospel and that message is stern and serious.

As he sets out for Jerusalem, Jesus knows very well what lies ahead on the journey. Maybe that is why Jesus sounds so strident today. Jesus wants us to look forward, not behind. He knows what will be expected of him in the coming weeks. Looking forward, he also has his sights set very clearly on what he wants each one of us to be and to do. He doesn’t care about the others who don’t take him seriously or who reject him. He is addressing those of us who call ourselves Christian.

“But you…”

But you, Christians…

But you, the living…

But you, the faithful…

But you, my sisters and brothers…

But you, my friends…

“Go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

That is what Jesus did and that is what he expects us to do if we are to truly madly and deeply love Him, honor Him and obey Him from this day forward.

Today is July 1. This is the first day of the second half of the year 2007. How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Maybe this is an ideal day, considering the calendar and the Good News to revisit those resolutions. You still have the rest of the year and the rest of your life to make this a reality.

What are your resolutions for this Half-New Year’s Day?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Such Faith

June 30, 2007

Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do? Genesis 8


“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. Matthew 8:6-7

Piety

Jesus, we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you. We can see that nothing is too marvelous or too difficult for you to accomplish. From the side of your crib to the foot of your cross, you sacrificed your divinity to save us. Help us to appraoch you with the faith and humility of the Roman centurion. Armed with this faith, grant us the prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice to carry your Word and Works to the world as we work to conquer hunger and loneliness, hatred and intolerance, greed and envy. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/063007.shtml

Ever notice how much we admire humility in others? The Roman centurion approaches Jesus with Christ-like humility and faith.

When I was a teenager, there was the premiere of the famous rock-opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice called “Jesus Christ Superstar.” The Roman treated Jesus as such a star. Many who followed Jesus did likewise. However, Jesus’ popularity threatened the “powers that be.” So the leades tried to extinguish the light from star that rose in the East.

Ever notice how the “modern media” likes to focus on the exact opposite and call that celebrity? The bold and the brash. The flashy and the fast. They THINK we care about these people. Terrell Owens riding a Lifecycle instead of practicing with his Dallas Cowboys teammates. Keyshawn Johnson, writing a book about his short football life instead of working hard at becoming a winning teammate. Now, we hear more about such “stars” as Tank Johnson (waived by the Chicago Bears) or Pacman Jones (in trouble with the Tennessee Titans.).

And let’s not forget Paris or Anna Nicole or Lindsay. But who cares about these hyper-inflated egos and their bouts with the law or drug or alcohol addition rehab? While I have compassion that they conquer their internal demons. I have little curiosity about what happens to such celebrities. Instead, I prefer to focus on people who work hard to make the world a better place.

Instead, let us admire the hard-working and more anonymous contributions people make to the betterment of our world – be it around their own household, their neighborhood, their city or the entire globe. Just consider the work of these peacemakers. The work they accomplish, marked by creativity, is among the marvels of the Lord’s service.

Paul Farmer

Jeffrey Sachs

Elizabeth McAlister

Art Laffin

Edith Widder

Victoria Hale

Colman McCarthy

John Rich

Kathy Boylan

Muhammed Yunus

Wangari Muta Maathai

Collen McCarthy

Action

Who do you hold in esteem? Who are your “Superstars?”

Upon this Rock

June 29, 2007

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Mass during the Day

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell from his wrists. The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.” Acts 12:7-8

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16

Piety

Let us pray: God, we thank you for sending us your servants Peter and Paul to lead your early Church. The built our house upon a rock. Help us to continue where they and our forbearers left off…adding rooms to the Kingdom of God on earth.

Make us worthy runners in the race against temptation and in the race of service to our sisters and brothers. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/062907b.shtml

How are you doing in the race? Have you completed the course or are you just getting started? Have you hit a “wall” or are you getting your second wind?

Today, we remember those who started the race for us…Peter and Paul, the first “followers” who led our growing Church and spread the Good News throughout the world. They were the first team captains. Peter is the rock against which Paul braced his foot to begin the race.

Before we had to battle modern temptation, Peter and Paul were battling its forbearers. Are your prepared to take the baton from them and continue to build up the Church?

Peter and Paul did not enter the race alone. Both heard the words, “Follow me” as an invitation to live out their faith and bring the faith to all nations.

Action

The world seemed so much smaller then. While there were fewer people, the space was still as vast. Now with modern communications and transportation, the world is more like a global village. How are you helping to evangelize on your street of the village?

Listen and Act

June 28, 2007
Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr


May the LORD decide between you and me!” Genesis 16

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. Matthew 7:24

Piety

Let us pray: It is for our glory that we persevere in service to you, God of heaven and earth. God, You granted to your bishop St. Iraneus the gift of strengthening your Church in true doctrine and peace. To the very point of death St. Iraneus was a peacemaker and strove to uphold Your will. The threats of the wicked he did not fear for upon solid rock he rested his position. Hear his prayer for us, effect our renewal in faith and love, and make us eager to foster harmonious unity. This we ask of you through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Study
http://www.usccb.org/nab/062807.shtml

“To follow the savior is to share in his salvation, just as to follow the light is to share in the light. Those who are in the light do not cause it to shine and make it radiant, but are themselves shone on and made radiant by the light. They add nothing to the it but receive the who benefit themselves through the illumination it gives them.”
St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies

God does not benefit if we build our house on sand or on rocks. We benefit from God. In the same way, God does not benefit from our piety, study or action. We benefit from carving time out of our day – be it work time, play time, vacation time or other time – to worship, know, and serve God. .

Today in the readings, we see and hear how Hagar listened and acted upon the message she got from God. Despite the abuse she received from Sarai and the adulterous relationship Abram committed in order to have a son, Hagar returned o her role as servant to Sarai after hearing the message from the Lord.

Following the message did not benefit God. One might even question whether it benefited Hagar or her son Ishmael. However, Hagar and her descendants received God’s blessing of “descendants too numerous to count,” all because she listened and acted upon that message.

Action

Sometimes God asks us to do something that may not make sense. While none of us may be asked to live the life of a martyr, what is God asking of you that may seem to run counter to the values of modern society? Are you prepared to listen and act?

Monday, June 25, 2007

By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

By Melanie Rigney

June 27, 2007

Wednesday of the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the peoples his deeds! Sing praise, play music; proclaim all his wondrous deeds! Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD! Rely on the mighty LORD; constantly seek his face. Recall the wondrous deeds he has done, his signs and his words of judgment…” (Psalm 105:1-5)

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:15-20)

Piety

Teach me discernment, dear Father. Give me the wisdom to distinguish the good fruit from the bad, even as I proclaim your love and Word to all.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/062707.shtml

Who are the false prophets in today’s world? Politicians on the right? Or on the left? Those who profess to see visions? Or those who rebuke them? Those who report entertainment news? Or those “celebrities” who act outrageously?

These verses from Matthew are hard to understand, harder still to digest, beyond the basic visual of picking “grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles.” A rotten tree that does not bear fruit at all is a concept far easier to accept than that any fruit from such a tree is automatically bad. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, as the saying goes.

A surf of the Internet finds condemnation through these verses of those who believe in apparitions at Medugorje in Bosnia-Herzgovina as well as those who disparage the believers; of the condemnation of all non-Catholics as well as of all Catholics.

It is amazing, the number of people who are so certain of their ability to interpret Matthew. As humans, we are fallible. Let us remember Jesus’ greatest teachings to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves, and pray to the Lord and to our Church leaders for guidance in what is truly “bad fruit” and what is unripened fruit, waiting for the nourishment of The Word.

Action

Just for today, keep track of broad generalizations you make: “Bush is the devil,” “the Democrats are enabling the terrorists,” “women can’t drive,” “men never share.” Review your list tonight when you say your prayers, and reflect on the “evidence” or lack thereof that prompted the statement. Ask for God’s help in discerning between bad and unripened fruit.

There He Built An Altar To The Lord

June 26, 2007

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

“I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth; if anyone could count the dust of the earth, your descendants too might be counted. Set forth and walk about in the land, through its length and breadth, for to you I will give it.” Genesis 13:16-17


“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14

Piety

If I was hungry, I would want people to give me food.

Why do I turn my back on people who are starving?

If I was dehydrated, I would want people to give me water.

Why do I divert my eyes from seeing people who are thirsty?

If I was cold, I would want people to give me a blanket.

Why do I turn a deaf ear to their pleas?

Holy Spirit, instill in me the generous of Abram to share your gifts with our sisters and brothers. May Abram lead us entering through the narrow gate. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/062607.shtml

Why was the Lord pleased with Abram? Why would he promise infinite descendants? Why would set before Abram the entire length and breadth of His creation? What did Abram do to deserve such generosity?

Because Abram entered through the narrow gate. Abram could have gone to war with Lot over who would graze their herd on which land. But he did not. In the exchange between Abram and Lot, they peacefully agree to share and divide the gifts they have received from God. Maybe he did it out of a sense of stewardship. Maybe it was to keep peace in the family among kinsmen. But whatever the reason, Abram pleased the Lord.

By living a life motivated by justice, stewardship and generosity, Abram gives Lot first choice over where to live and where his herd can graze. How different from the constant warfare, suicide bombers and “intifada’ that we know today in the Middle East!

Abram did not send in his strong herdsmen to beat up Lot’s crew and take over the land which they preferred. However, long before Jesus spoke of the golden rule and entering through the narrow gate, Abram lived it.

Do we always play fair? How do we share the gifts that the Lord has granted to us? Where have we built an altar to God?

Action

Think of a time when had a choice about properly utilizing resources.

  • Did you feel entitled to a larger share of resources than others? Perhaps more water, more money or more energy?
  • Were you fighting to win greater market share from your business rival so you could succeed and put the rival out of business?
  • Did you think you should get a lower price on that car, suit, bike, appliance or computer?
  • Did you feel entitled to use your bosses resources (time, computers, copiers) for personal work without reimbursing the cost?

Why do you think you felt that way?

Even though we no longer live in a society where we must fight for scarce food with our neighbors, we still live in a society where the “winner gets the spoils” or where the law is survival of the fittest, smartest, richest, most powerful. However, it is not that way everywhere in the world.

In many places, there is not enough food for all the people who live there. People in these regions rely, like the early disciples, on the goodness of others (governments, charities, churches, others) to provide their food. Some leave their homeland legally or illegally and seek a new life in economically prosperous places like the USA.

Last week, we heard readings that challenged us to sow as bountifully as we hoped to reap. In his recent book, The End of Poverty, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs explained that we have the knowledge and know the means to eliminate world poverty. What a beautiful picture that would make of building the Kingdom of God on earth. However, many comfortable people are contented to sit back while entire continents face death by starvation. Many farmers are paid subsidies NOT to grow crops while people in the world stare to death. Many governments and governmental organizations tell poor countries to scale back development plans – thus issuing the equivalent of a death sentence to large portions of their population.

What would Abram have done? Will you, too, take the path that leads to the entrance at the narrow gate – the entrance harder to pass through?

How can we change this? What can we plan to do about this?

1) Contact your elected lawmakers and urge them to action on your behalf.

2) Read Dr. Sachs’ book and think about your role in solving this global problem

3) Support one or more organizations like Catholic Relief Services, Doctors without Borders, Partners in Health or World Vision which are working in these regions.

4) Share everything.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Blessed is the People that God has Chosen

June 25, 2007

Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

by Beth DeCristofaro

The LORD said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. … I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. (Gen 12:1, 3)

Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he has chosen for his own inheritance. (Ps 33:12)

Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. (Mt 7: 1-2)

Piety

May I rejoice in the gift of faith you have given me, Lord God, and strengthen it by looking for you in every moment of the day. May I rejoice in the freedom you give me to seek your Will and not to judge others whom you have chosen in different ways than you have chosen me. May I seek you even from the desert for there I will find you. May I rejoice and be glad as you measure me with mercy and love.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/062507.shtml

God favored Abraham with incredible gifts including blessings or curses on those who interacted with Abraham. Abraham became a powerful man but God alone was, and is, creative power. It is God’s Word that creates not human words. It is through the generosity and Will of God that Abraham attained his status as Father of Faith.

The psalmist recognizes and rejoices in this truth. In the footnotes to the NAB: “The greatness of human beings consists in God's choosing them as a special people and their faithful response (Psalm 33:12-22).”

Jesus’ prohibition to the disciples is not to ignore actions which might be wrong or sinful. Rather Jesus warns that it is also sinful to indulge in arrogant conclusions and form opinions of others while ignoring ones own faults. Modern psychology today recognizes, in fact, that people are pretty capable of recognizing their own faults in others while remaining blind to themselves. Judgment comes from putting oneself first; mercy comes from what God has bestowed.

Jesus asks that we look at others and love. Jesus asks that we look at others and ask “what is God’s will for me?” If we measure with love we will be measured with love. If we measure with God’s will we will be measured with God’s will.

Action

It is so difficult to wear the lenses of love. Often it feels that the Will of God is counter to what I think I need and what I think others need. God asked Abram to leave home for a desert. What is God asking of me? Can I trust in God that I will find God even in the desert?

Christopher Scott Emmett has received a stay of execution by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. “Basic fairness demands that condemned inmates be allowed the opportunity to complete legal appeals prior to execution,” the governor's statement said. “The irreversibility of an execution and the fact that four justices of the court believe a stay is needed to consider the appeal warrant my intervention in this case.” How does this action bring Jesus’ words to life today?

De colores!

“What, then, will this child be?”

June 24, 2007

Solemnity of the Nativity of John theBaptist

But the LORD answered me, Say not, "I am too young." To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. Jeremiah 1:7-8


“What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke 1:80


It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6

Piety

God we are born with your spirit.

Help us to use that spirit:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart,
To proclaim good news to the poor.
Amen.

Study
http://www.usccb.org/nab/062407b.shtml

During Saturday night’s Vigil Mass and Sunday, we celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, cousin to Jesus. His is the only other birth besides Jesus’ that is documented in the four Gospels. Through these two babies, God’s plan for salvation was fulfilled.

Babies…BABIES! God had legions of angels at his beck and call. In fact, God dispatched one – Archangel Gabriel – to announce the pending birth of both of these boys to their respective parents. Yet instead of angels, he sent babies to grow up in the world. He sent babies who would know the temptations of the world and overcome them. He sent babies to be a “light” for the nations. He sent babies that He knew would both wind up on death row, victims of torture and execution by the ruling government.

The conceptions of both boys were somewhat of a surprise. Jesus was born to a virgin who had not had relations with a man. John, on the other hand, was born to an older woman who was reported to be barren. As such, both births are miraculous.

Yet are not all birth miraculous?

Central to Catholic Social Teaching is the dignity and worth of every human person. It doesn’t matter if you are born blond or brunette, rich or poor, tall or short, American or Azerbaijani, your inherent dignity is you inherent birthright. The ruling authorities tried to steal that dignity from John and Jesus through humiliating public torture and execution.

Despite the end he would face, John was brought into the world to proclaim the good news and to prepare the way for the Lord. And he did so lovingly and wholeheartedly.

Question for reflection: Why were you brought into the world? What is God’s plan for you?

Action

June is Torture Awareness Month and June 26 is the International Day for the Remembrance of Victims of Torture.

The Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC), founded by and for torture survivors, provides information on this issue at http://www.tassc.org/. They are working to repeal the Military Commissions Act which was passed last fall and seems to allow torture by the United States. For more info, go to http://tassc.org/?sn=112.

Created in 1986, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) is a "coalition of international non-governmental organizations (NGO) fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." Find out more info and info about their action campaigns at http://www.omct.org/.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Power is Made Perfect in Weakness

June 23, 2007

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30

Piety

Jesus, help us to live today through you and for you. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses. Deliver us from the anxieties and worries in the world so we can enter with you into your Kingdom through serving others not our self. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/062307.shtml

Jesus calls into question our priorities, our Ideal. In fact, he warns that pursuing financial gain or pride is not consistent with pursuing the Kingdom of God. You can’t do both yet we persist in this crazy balancing act.

Paul provides a better model. He gave in to his weakness and accepted the dichotomy. Paul was given a “thorn” in his side that reminded him of his weakness and Paul prayed for Jesus to take it away. However, his petition is denied; release from physical discomfort and healing are withheld for a higher spiritual purpose.

Paul knew that the power and glory belonged to God. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul recognizes a twofold pattern in the resolution of the tension that exists between two conflicting forces such as weakness-power or death-life. The first is personal, involving a reversal in oneself and the other is apostolic, involving an effect on others.

Jesus does not deny the reality of human needs. However, he encourages the disciples not to overly worry about these needs.

How often do we become obsessed about our hairstyle, our clothes, the car we drive or the neighborhood we live in? How much time is wasted worrying about going to the “right school” or landing the perfect job?

Instead, Jesus reverses human logic once again. He turns the popular Maslow’s hierarchy of needs upside down.

For background, according to Wikipedia, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology that Abraham Maslow proposed in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. His theory contended that as humans meet 'basic needs', they seek to satisfy successively 'higher needs' that occupy a set hierarchy.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the four lower levels are grouped together as deficiency needs associated with physiological needs, while the top level is termed growth needs associated with psychological needs. While deficiency needs must be met, growth needs are the need for personal growth. The basic concept is that the higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus once all the needs that are lower down in the pyramid are mainly or entirely satisfied. Once an individual has moved past a level, those needs will no longer be prioritized. However, if a lower set of needs is continually unmet for an extended period of time, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs - dropping down to that level until those lower needs are reasonably satisfied again. Innate growth forces constantly create upward movement in the hierarchy unless basic needs remain unmet indefinitely.[1]

Jesus turns this pyramid on it point. Instead of following our instincts and plans, Jesus instead wants us to follow God’s plans for the salvation of the human race and for our own personal growth and fulfillment.

But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. Matthew 6:33-34

Action

“Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

If we have enough for one day, we might forget to pray to God and ask for what we need or thank God for what God has provided. It also could make us lazy in our prayer life about what we need to do in looking to the future. It is not that tomorrow is unimportant but that it always threatens to capture us and take us away from today.

Perhaps you might be thinking, after a week of reading Matthew and 2 Corinthians, that this Christianity is a strange religion. How can it be so attractive to Americans who have so many nice creature comforts? Everyone reading this is probably sleeping in a comfortable bed tonight, not on a park bench or heating grate. Everyone is able to get around on Metro or in the family car instead of walking. Still others are planning or taking a summer vacation while many others are still looking for a job.

Set up a mini-challenge. Can you get through today with less than is sufficient – with fewer of your creature comforts? During Lent we often fast and abstain and give alms. What about extending that practice into “ordinary” time? Can you get through today with two meals, instead of three? Can you make a special charitable contribution? Can you add some extra prayers to your routine?

These might be some of the first steps along the way to seeking first the Kingdom of God rather than seeking to meet our own physical needs.




Thursday, June 21, 2007

Where Your Treasure Is, There Also Will Your Heart Be

June 22, 2007

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:28-30

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” Matthew 6:22-23


Piety

Let us pray: God, you sent your Son to teach us that earthly riches are worthless. Help us comprehend that the cost of something is not the only measure of its value. Jesus, you told us that where our treasure is, there too will be our heart. Help us to make your Word our treasure and keep it in our heart every day. Holy Spirit, inspire us with your priceless gifts to be steadfast in our piety, study and action. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/062207.shtml

Where is your treasure?

Sometimes, you have to hand it to the marketers and advertisers. Where is your treasure? Is it stored up at a company called “Fidelity?” Or are you on the “Vanguard,” my fellow Christian soldier? Do you watch over your statements with Wachovia? Or do you Bank with America at the Bank of America? Appealing to our patriotism, emotions and security while pursuing record profits has not been all that bad for business lately.

While it is true that none of us have riches stored up like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, however, when you consider the poverty of the world, any one of us living in Fairfax County, Virginia stands head and shoulders above most of the world in when you consider the size of our treasure chest. So, despite our wealth and poverty, who amongst us can afford not to be reminded of the transitory nature of earthly riches?

Riches do not buy peace of mind. They do not relieve the daily pressure upon us – our anxiety about life, raising our children, succeeding at our professions, caring for our homes, and – oh yes – living the challenge of Christianity.

Yet, if we are so anxious, where does our eye concentrate?

· On the pages of People magazine and newstands filled with the starlets and models, the most eligible bachelors and sexiest man alive?

· On the silver screen where Hollywodd will deliver “Oceans 13,” “Evan Almighty,” and Pirates of the Caribbean III”?

· On sports like Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, MLB, the College World Series, and that looming training camp for the Washington football franchise named after a slur on Native Americans? (Wouldn’t it be nice if we could know them by the content of their character instead of their preferred pharmaceutical indulgences or arrest records? Sadly, our pros sometimes act more like cons?)

Certainly one can argue that there is a force in the world – call it evil, call it temptation, call it sin, call it Satan – which seek to distract us from our pursuit of piety, study and action.

Some escape temptation by joining a convent or monastery where they can concentrate on nothing but work and prayer. But we don’t have to cloister ourselves away from the world. We just have to learn to recognize temptations for what they are and avoid them. The Ideal talk of a Cursillo weekend reminds us that we must have an Ideal and then seek it out. If you don’t know your Ideal, then just answer this question, “Where do you spend your free time and money?”

Action

Consider one temptation to which you usually give in. Give that up for one day. Then try adding a second day. Keep going until you have eliminated that temptation from your life for 30 days. Replace it with something that is consistent with your Ideal.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What You Need

June 21, 2007

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

And when I was with you and in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my needs. 2 Corinthians 11:9

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8


Piety

Let us pray: Father, you know what the world needs and you could provide it with a snap of your fingers. Yet you seek action on our parts. Help us to turn our minds, our lips, and our hearts to You. We ask St. Aloysius Gonzaga to intercede on behalf of our petitions on this his feast day. May we put our hands to work building your Kingdom on earth brick by brick. Help our efforts to grow and multiply. As you give us this day our daily bread, help us to provide nourishment to those most in need of assistance. We ask you to bless the members of the Jesuit community like Fr. Joe McCloskey and Fr. Eric Zimmer and Fr. Ed Bodnar who serve the Cursillo community and the Church. Amen.


Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/062107.shtml

Today is the feast day for St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a Jesuit priest who served in a hospital in Rome during an outbreak of the plague in 1591. While caring for patients, he, too, was stricken with the disease and died three months later. Jesuits have been serving the needs of Catholics through schools, hospitals, and parishes throughout their history.

In today’s first reading, once again we hear St. Paul rely upon the support he gets from the people of Macedonia while he is serving the needs of the missionary church in Corinth. Piety in action. In the Gospel, we hear Jesus teaching us once again to pray in a manner that recognizes that God will provide to us what we need (food, forgiveness, etc.) as much as we provide that to others. Piety in action.

Considering the life of piety in action that is characterized by the faith and good works of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, his name continues to inspire the work of the Church throughout the world. Take, for example, the work done at a Jesuit high school named in his honor. Not the one in Washington, D.C., but a school half a globe away in Kenya described in this article: http://www.sagnairobi.org/assets/tablet_article.pdf

Kenya’s AIDS crisis has left a generation of children not only without parents, but also without the basics needed to raise themselves from poverty: food, shelter and education. In the most deprived part of Nairobi, a new school, set up by a Jesuit priest together with a local Aids charity, is a lifeline. The school is nicknamed School of Dreams.

The greatest gift that St. Aloysius Gonzaga High School offers its students is hope. “I was helpless before because I had no place to learn so that I could be someone in the future,” says one student. Now she plans to become a botanical biologist and means to succeed despite the challenges ahead. This school is bringing a little bit of the Kingdom to earth in ministering to the children who are so poor.

Action

Schools like St. Aloysius need all the help it can get. There are plans to build a permanent school close to Kibera that will take 420 students. The $1 million project should start in April and will, it is hoped, be ready by January 2008. A significant sum of money still needs to be raised. Anyone interested in contributing to the new school should write to St Aloysius School Fund, Christian Life Community, PO Box 21399 Adam Arcade, 00505 Nairobi, Kenya. Email: charlton@clckenya.org.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Your Father Sees in Secret

June 20, 2007

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

By Diane Bayne

"Brothers and sister, consider this:
whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully,
Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.
God can multiply his favors among you
so that you may always have enough of everything
and even a surplus for good works, as it is written:
'He scattered abroad and gave to the poor,
his justice endures forever.'" 2 Corinthians 9: 6-10


Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. . . .
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." Matthew 6: 2-4

Piety

With these teachings Jesus describes the heart of piety-- the interior attitudes that are to animate our almsgiving and to be expressed in every detail of the way we conduct ourselves during acts of charity. These acts are to be done for the glory of God alone and not for any self-promotion or self-glorification. These acts are to express our love for God. Immersed in that love, as we share God's blessings to us, we will not entertain the slightest thought for human esteem--or for self-esteem. Our focus will be totally on the Lord. And we will be careful to not tell anyone anything about what we have done.

Study

Examine your recent charitable bequests--whether they be writing checks to worthy causes, spending time with a person in need, volunteering your serves or donating material goods to a local charity. Would these good works meet Christ's standards for charitable giving?

Action

Today, think of some good work you could do without telling anyone else about it--not even your spouse. Then do it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Love Your Enemy

June 19, 2007

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

For according to their means, I can testify, and beyond their means, spontaneously, they begged us insistently for the favor of taking part in the service to the holy ones, and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and to us through the will of God. 2 Corinthians 8:3-5

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9-10

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Matthew 5:445

Piety

Let us pray: God, help us to refrain from I putting our trust in those who hold civil and earthly powers. If we keep our faith in You forever, God, You will help us to secure justice for the oppressed, give food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free; the LORD gives sight to the blind. The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD protects the stranger, sustains the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked. Help us to carry on these works of love and justice in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (From Psalm 146:3-9)

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/061907.shtml

Jesus sets the standard for our Christian performance. He wants us to excel. He wants us to achieve the perfection of the Father.

Part of what Paul is relating in 2 Corinthians is how each Church shared with others. Despite the poverty of the church, they still sent relief to others in the region. Here we find the New Testament roots for Catholic Relief Services (www.crs.org), the official branch of the American Catholic church concerned with international relief and development.

St. Paul is hoping for an increase of such acts of generosity.

Now as you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also. I say this not by way of command, but to test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others. 2 Cor 8:7-8

Appropriately, the Psalm today also sings praises for those who work for justice based on a solid formation in faith.

Action

If Jesus gave up his wealth for us, the parallel for our giving – of our time, our talent and our treasure – is the focus of Christian outreach. Jesus wants us to turn around our own personal situation to help others.

He doesn’t want us to stop at just helping those who like us. He wants us to help those who despise us. It’s easy to help our friends and neighbors and we must do that. But we can not stop there if we are faithful to the Biblical call for justice. We must extend that assistance to those who hate us. Jesus doesn’t mince words on that score.

The latest front for sharing is in the middle of Palestine where fighting has erupted between factions. It is fitting that todays readings mirror a situation where the same area of the world where St. Paul was providing relief continues to need such assistance today. According to the CRS website:

As fighting between Palestinian political groups Hamas and Fatah continues in areas of the Gaza Strip, humanitarian agencies remain unable to make adequate assessments or deliver aid to residents who are without basic needs.

The conflict between Hamas and Fatah erupted on June 9 after Hamas forcibly took control of Fatah security posts in Gaza. So far, the violence, consisting of gunfire and use of heavy artillery, has claimed the lives of 70 people, including two United Nations aid workers, and injured more than 270 others.

"It's still not completely safe to do assessments as there is still some fighting going on," says Tom Garofalo, CRS' country representative for Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, also noting that there's limited communication and limited mobility. Last week, he described a situation so dangerous that CRS workers were confined to their homes, unable to look out of their windows for fear of being hit by stray bullets.

CRS has worked in the Holy Land for more than 40 years. With four offices within Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, CRS has provided a wide range of peacebuilding and aid outreach services to Palestinians, especially during troubled times.

Working with five partners in Gaza, CRS focuses on youth leadership initiatives in hopes of instilling the values of peace and democracy.

You can support the work of CRS in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank by making a gift to support CRS and show the same generosity that the early church in Macedonia showered upon Jerusalem.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Having nothing yet possessing all things

June 18, 2007

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

As your fellow workers, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. as having nothing and yet possessing all things. (2 Cor: 1, 10)

“Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” … (Jesus said) “But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” (Lk 7:41, 47)

Piety

Loving God, fill me that I might share with others what you have given to me, just as your son gave himself for me. Brother Jesus, give me the humility that allows me to bend my back and wash the feet of another, just as you did. Wise spirit, instill me with the courage and vision to respond to the world out of the love blowing from your wings. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/061807.shtml

Yesterday’s Gospel was a beautiful example of how self-righteousness (the pharisee)is an obstacle to God’s forgiveness and love while a humble search for forgiveness (the sinning woman) results in outpouring of love and closeness to God. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” (Lk 7:47)

Today, Jesus and Paul spell out even more clearly how we are to live according to His Way rather than by our own – or the world’s - definitions.

Paul’s recounts a catalog of trials and virtues by which he lives for the glory of God. He writes that freely choosing to live according to the righteousness of God brings internal reward and often external persecution. ... We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful … as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things. (2 Cor 8-10)

Jesus teaches to live gently, generously and kindly at all times even when unjustly harassed. Give to the one who asks of you. (Mtt 5:42) What we have and who we are come to us as gifts, in freedom, from God: possessions, national identity, food, forgiveness, humility, faith, charity. Jesus says to freely share them is to live in God.

“Jesus was free because he was rooted in the love of God and therefore, humble. Ultimately, Jesus was free enough to offer his life as a sacrifice for the sake of God’s truth. Humbly rooted in love, Jesus was free to die on a cross. And in that freedom, God’s freedom of love was revealed, the love that brings about a new future…To be free is to be able to live in truth, to live radically and to act justly by living the life of costly discipleship. Freedom in God is what makes Christ alive in our world. We are called to be humble and free in love, like Jesus, that we may help move the world toward unity in love.”[1]

Action

Consider in what way you are the Pharisee: evaluating and critiquing others even when you believe you sincerely love God.

Consider in what way you are the sorrowful woman: humility reaching out. Perhaps you reach for forgiveness of your own sins, perhaps you reach out to someone who needs you.

God gives me my daily bread…with God I possess all things. Can I share God’s things?



[1] The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective, Ilia Delio, OSB, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2005, pp. 63-64.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Much Given or Much Forgiven?

June 17, 2007

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight? 2 Samuel 12:9

So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little. Luke 7:47


Piety

Help us to choose rightly the path that leads to a close relationship with Jesus and the Church. Bless us with only the gifts that we need. Help us to give to others out of the resources that we are showered with from the goodness of God. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/061707.shtml

Let’s say you had a choice: Would you like to be granted either a rich, comfortable life with many worldly possessions or would you prefer to be a poor sinner who has had many sins forgiven by the Lord? Hint: the answer is not at the end.

If we are going to live for God and not for Madison Avenue or Wall Street or Wal*Mart, then we must examine our life and our action in light of our encounter with self, Jesus and the Church (others).

· What gifts has the Lord given to you?

· Despite these gifts, have you “spurned the Lord” and “done evil in his sight?”

· Have you sought reconciliation? How much has the Lord forgiven your sins?

· If you have reconciled your relationship with Jesus, then how are you living in relationship to your sisters and brothers? Are you living in conflict or in forgiveness thanks to the Lord’s reconciliation?

Those who have experienced forgiveness are the ones who have the greatest love to offer back. If much is given, then sometimes little love is passed on. Do you recall any time when you might have acted like the rich man in 2 Samuel 12 who killed the poor man’s ewe despite having a flock of his own to offer in hospitality? Instead, if much is forgiven, then much love is passed on.

Action

Today, Sunday, is Father’s Day. With what actions do you plan to mark this holiday?

Friday, June 15, 2007

In Her Heart

June 16, 2007

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary


The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51


Piety


May the heart of Mary be in each one of us to proclaim the greatness of the Lord in our piety, study and action. May her spirit be in everyone to exult in God and live out that faith, hope and love in service to each other. (based upon a prayer by St. Ambrose)

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
(Recite the Hail Mary)

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
(Recite the Hail Mary)

V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
(Recite the Hail Mary)

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

LET US PRAY

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.


Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/061607.shtml


What do we live for? Every Cursillo weekend begins by asking us to contemplate that question in the “Ideal” talk. Where do we spend our time and our treasure?


Today, one day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we now celebrate the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The special day “celebrates the loving kindness of God, who, after giving to the Church the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ as a proof of his love, gave it also the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be contemplated as the model of the new heart of one who lives by the new Covenant.”[1] The Church could not celebrate one heart without the other. The hearts of Mary and Jesus are linked not only through birth, but also through the mystical power of the Church and what Mary lived for then and now.


In Marialus Cultus (http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Paul06/p6marial.htm), Pope Paul VI teaches us that “The ultimate purpose of devotion to the Blessed Virgin is to glorify God and to lead Christians to commit themselves to a life which is in absolute conformity with His will.” Just as the growing child and teenager Jesus was obedient to his parents, our meditation on the obedient and loving heart of Mary today and every Saturday is not an end in itself. It must lead us toward greater obedience to the heart of Jesus, the will of God and service to each other.


We can’t for a minute think we can escape a taste of the “great anxiety” that Mary experienced. She is a model for our times as well as her own. Think of all that was contained in her heart. Pregnant and unwed, she faced the journey to Bethlehem with her fiancĂ© to participate in the census. What mother and father today can not recall in detail the trip to the hospital before their child was born and all the accompanying worries about the baby’s health and other concerns? Then, when the child is born, counting the ten fingers and ten toes! Then the real challenge begins…providing the right care and nurturing so that child might grow and eventually mature into adulthood. Contemplate the anxiety Mary must have felt knowing that once she gave birth, her “mothering” would help the Son of God become man.


From the outset, Mary knew that her heart, like His, would be pierced. As Simeon prophesied, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35


With the trust God placed in her, imagine for a minute what it would be like to lose such a precious gift in the story related by St. Luke. This is not like losing a ring or your favorite jacket or a material possession. God entrusted Mary with His very child. For three days Jesus was lost. Mary and Joseph looked all over the caravan and then back in the city to find Him. After three days, on the third day (ironic? not hardly!), she found him in the temple and had an important encounter with Jesus. Who could blame Mary and Joseph for experiencing such “great anxiety?”


After the troubling event, the Holy Couple were astonished at what they heard Jesus say in the temple just as the people listening to Jesus were amazed at his questions. How quickly they moved from despair to amazement.


In the end, we know that Mary was rewarded on earth and in heaven for a job done well. At the foot of the cross, Jesus blessed his mother. She had not only raised him in the fullness of time, she gave birth and rebirth to each member of the church at that moment as her maternal role was converted and extended in the darkening hours on Calvary.


In fulfilling her role, the love of Christ impelled Mary as an active witness to her son dying for all of us. Her heart was with him from conception right through her praying with the early Church. Jesus indeed died for all, and Mary, despite her own heart being pierced by the ingratitude of humanity, showed us how “those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Living for Christ’s sake was what Mary did. It is where she leads us today.



Action

God has never lost us. He is the good shepherd and will always come after us. However, we often wander away from God like the lambs in search of the sweet grass in another field. While Mary and Jesus may have been physically separated, their hearts were always united.

Think about a time when you were living a life that was more distant from the friendship of Jesus. What did you do to get and remain closer to Him?