Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Least Shall Be Greatest

October 1, 2007

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

By Beth DeCristofaro

I am intensely jealous for Zion, stirred to jealous wrath for her…The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also, says the LORD of hosts? (Zechariah 8: 2, 5-6)

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest…For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” (Luke 9: 46, 48)


May I serve you, Lord God, rather than myself. May I feed those you love so that in my hunger you alone feed me. May I open myself so that your jealous love abides in my heart to nourish and animate all I do, think and feel. Thank you for your faithful and just love of me. Amen.


How fitting that these readings coincide with the feast of St. Therese. Her life was a deliberate path to God and her “Little Way” shows how she chose to be “least” in every action, no matter how small. "Jesus does not ask great deeds from us, but only surrender and gratitude." she said.

Zechariah speaks to the Jews through prophetic visions of God who is both incredibly possessive and immeasurably generous; God asks the People to follow. They have been in exile, incapable of amazing deeds or “greatness”. God fiercely continues to love them. In Luke, Jesus chooses a child, incapable of what we would call great deeds and asks His followers to be only as children.

Greatness is found by surrender and gratitude in the words of Therese.

To what do we surrender? In the Gospel today, two incidents focus on attitudes that are opposed to Christian discipleship: rivalry and intolerance of outsiders. It is so easy to surrender to blame, covetousness, fear, narrow-mindedness.

Are we grateful? Does gratitude manifest itself in our actions through generosity of time, talent, money? Do we see those in need as children – the least among us – or as inferior? Grasping? Duplicitous?


Do we put ourselves into exile from God’s fierce, loving spirit through putting ourselves first? Old habits die hard. Today, focus on God’s jealous love for the Jews who kept turning away. God also loves me that much. Today, focus on Jesus’ gentle but unyielding love of his disciples who continue to wrangle among themselves. Jesus loves me even though I continue to put myself first. Can I yield to God’s love and offer it to others in small, insignificant ways today?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Law of Charity

September 30, 2007

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

Woe to the complacent in Zion…Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, They eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Amos 6:1,4

But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.' Luke 16:29-31


Psalm 146

Praise the LORD, my soul; I shall praise the LORD all my life, sing praise to my God while I live. I put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth; that day all their planning comes to nothing. Happy those whose help is Jacob's God, whose hope is in the LORD, their God, the maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, Who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives 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. The LORD shall reign forever, your God, Zion, through all generations! Hallelujah!


We get to keep what we give away. The only way we can hold unto our lives is by losing them. The counter-intuitive of Christianity is discovered in the Second Commandment of God. "Love your neighbor as yourself." The rock bottom of charity is found in Christ emptying himself out of what belonged to him as God to become one of us. The Second Person of the Trinity becomes 100 percent man by his birth by Mary even as he remains 100 percent God by his being one person with two natures. Christ gives us his life in Baptism and Eucharist. We, too, are born into eternal life by the way we live out his love. The miracle of Christianity finds its fulfillment in how we become Christ to one another. Even as Christ identifies himself with our needs in Matthew 25:40 ('Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'), we serve the Christ in each other when we take care of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick and prisoners.

The story of Dives and Lazarus bring this home to us. The rich man received good things in life and ate from a table filled with the choicest of foods. Lazarus who lay outside the gates of the rich man on his bed of pain was not even offered the scraps that fell from the table of the rich man. The story takes up with the roles reversed. Lazarus is in heaven where his fondest dreams have been met with riches beyond his desiring and the poor rich man has only the terrible fires of the hell of his own making. There is nothing that he gave away in life that he could claim for relief from his terrible suffering. Yet there is one redeeming feature in the rich man. He wants his brothers to have a chance for something better. He wants someone to come back from the dead. He is told they have Moses and the prophets. If they will not listen to them, why would they listen to someone returning from the dead.


"Men for others" is the story of the faith that does justice. It is the gift of faith that allows us to see beyond appearances. The intimacy of Cursillo shared is the claim on each other's heart that is celebrated by the coming together of Cursillistas. Each of us by our education becomes part of the word of God by how we share our lives. In our own hearts and minds we might feel that we are nothing. Yet we are everything in the love for one another that the coming back for the group reunion shares. God has gifted us all with the riches of friendships that were born in our Cursillo. Some of us might feel like prodigal sons coming home. Each of us has something to share because our lives would not be the same if we were not part of each other. We dip our hands into the wondrous cooling waters that flows from the heart of Christ pierced on the Cross when we share our stories with each other.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Serve Him

September 29, 2007

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

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

Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; 34 you are the King of Israel." John 1:48-49


Father, help us to recognize the vision of the son of man in the face of everyone we meet.

Jesus, guide us as we serve you in your fight against the evils that plague our lands and our lives.

Holy Spirit, open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to the message and mission that we must proclaim with our words and deeds. Amen.


Who is Jesus? How does he know us?

Daniel and John present to us great visions of Jesus of Nazareth – the Son of Man. This vision of goodness and beauty stands in stark contrast to the way the world is depicted (as beasts and demons).

Jesus saves the world from the demons but he cannot do it alone. In an alternate reading for today from Revelation 12:11, we learn that evil in the world is destroyed by "the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." We need to have our voices join in the battle. We cannot remain silent and passive.

I cannot help but think of the Buddhist monks in Burma. After years of life under a military dictatorship, this week they took to the streets in peaceful protest to support human rights. We know not what motivated them – after decades of repression – to walk in protest. They did not do news interviews or appear on the O'Reilly Factor. Rush Limbaugh and the "dittoheads" did not trumpet their cause. Yet their silent, peaceful witness was eventually met with bullets and bloodshed. News reports tell us that ten men of faith died…speculation runs that the actual death toll is much higher.

These monks spoke with every public step to protest and conquer evil in their lives and in their country – where entire villages are burned and people are beaten, tortured or imprisoned without cause or trial. There is a battle as fierce as that depicted in Daniel or Revelation.


How do we confront evil in the world? Maybe we do not march in front of the troops trying to kill us. But can we speak out in solidarity with the people of Burma? Can we join in boycotting the products of a repressive regime and all those who do business with it? Can we walk in solidarity in front of the embassies and consulates of that nation? Can we write letters to the editor of our local newspapers. Our faith is built upon the principle that all people are created in the image and likeness of God. "People of every nation serve Him." So it does not matter if you are from Bethesda or Burma, Fairfax or Frankfurt, Jena or Joffa, God knows each and every one of us before we are even born.

The Lord's "kingdom" exists apart from the temporal rulers of the world. As we get to know Him, we realize what He wants us to do in life. And that is to serve him and help him to conquer evil – around the corner, around the country and around the world.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

In Your Midst

September 28, 2007

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Take courage, all you people of the land, says the LORD, and work! For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts. This is the pact that I made with you when you came out of Egypt, And my spirit continues in your midst; do not fear! Haggai 2:4-5

Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said in reply, "The Messiah of God." Luke 9:20


Jesus, open your spirit and help me renew the face of the earth. You exhort me to work and I will respond to your request. Come to me and reveal yourself to me. Amen.


Identity. How do we get our identity?

Sometimes our first identity comes from our relationships. Ruth’s son. Salvatore’s daughter. Joe’s brother. Tony’s sister. Hunter’s father. Stephanie’s mother. My friend.

People begin to get to know us by starting with someone else that they know.

Then a relationship might begin to sprout. When that happens, people’s knowledge of us grows deeper. People get to know our character and the spirit with which we live our lives. Jeff likes baseball. Katie plays the piano. Every facet of our being that is revealed helps people to establish a more meaningful relationship with us and find common ground.

This is not a mere academic exercise. Jesus is asking Peter and you, “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter can answer in confidence because he has walked the planet with Jesus for three years. He has witnessed miracles and ritual stonings. He has seen amazing cures and destroyed many demons. He has seen sins forgiven and virtues atoned for. Jesus has seen it all and now he will experience the worst of Roman law. Can we answer with confidence who Jesus is in our lives?

Nothing is easy.


How can our relationship with Jesus grow and approach the depth of the relationship Jesus has with Peter? We learn about Peter through his talks and his interactions with others. We can learn about Jesus by what we read. We can learn about Jesus through the pictures that have survived after his time.

How are you getting to know Jesus?

· From his speeches and what he said…

· From what he asked us to do…

· From the things he did…and the things he failed to do…

· From the words other people spoke about him…

· From the words written down by the apostles and the writers of the Epistles…

· From what is revealed to us during prayer…

· From the lessons we learn when we take action based upon the gospel…

Imagine Jesus posing that same question to us that he posed to Peter. Are you prepared to answer him? to get to know him? Jesus knows us…but do we really know Jesus? Now is the best time to start.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who then is this?

September 27, 2007
Memorial of Saint Vincent DePaul, priest

Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; And whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it. Haggai 1:5-6

"Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" Luke 9:9


Jesus, help us to recognize your face in the face of the poor beggar yearning for security. Help us to recognize your face behind the bars of jails and prisons, people exiled from a free society where they break the rules to a society with nothing but rules and no freedom. Reach us with your message so we never have to ask who You are. Amen.


Who is Jesus? Who are we? Are we worthy to be His followers?

Consider your ways.

28,000 children die every day from hunger, malnutrition and disease…children who can be saved for want of two drops of Vitamin A, some simple electrolytes to prevent diarrhea, and other medications common in Virginia but not in the under-developed world.

Sometimes it takes a Tsunami or Hurricane to get our attention. Yet everyday, we ignore the plight of our sisters and brothers in the Lord while going about our business. If you read the paper today, the introduction of the latest video game (Halo3 – I missed Halo 1 and Halo 2!) garners more attention than the sight of these 28,000 graves which will soon be filled with the bodies of these unfortunate infants who were not as lucky as we were. They were not born in a developed nation with an advanced healthcare system. Consider your ways, indeed! If we are followers of Jesus, can we continue to let that happen?

Yet even here, where the Secretary of Defense asks for $190 billion to fight wars, we have trouble finding $2 billion to fund health insurance for children.

Watch any sporting event on television and we will be inundated with messages about drugs and alcohol…from Viagra to Miller High Life. From Meridia Budweiser. From Becks to Cialis. From Johnny Walker Red to Jack Daniels Old No. 7. Yet people in the world lack clean, drinking water. Their water is filled with bacteria, causing illness and blindness that we can not even fathom. Consider your ways, indeed! If we are followers of Jesus, can we continue to let that happen?

The luxury of the sprouting “McMansions” of the wealthy in Fairfax, Mclean and Arlington contrasts sadly with the ruined state of the Lord's house in Louisiana, Chicago and elsewhere where churches are being shuttered and sold for the assets they can bring. We lament about our real estate prices dropping 5 percent while 2 billion people live on less than $2 per day!

Churches are being closed because there just are not enough people in the pews or coins in the basket. Yet, on any given Sunday in the fall, 80,000 people fill the seats in Fed Ex Field and the other NFL stadiums as their warriors fight out meaningless contests while on the streets of Washington, homeless veterans beg for a hot meal and warm blanket as the nights get longer. Consider your ways, indeed! If we are followers of Jesus, can we continue to let that happen?

If we can let these things continue to go on, who then is this Jesus Christ that we attest to follow? Perhaps he really is no more than the “philosopher” exploited by hypocrites and politicians because we are certainly not hearing His word and acting upon it the way St. Vincent DePaul did. Ellen Pochocki tells us:

“Vincent’s idea of charity was that people should take care of each other, person to person, as they saw the need. He did not believe in leaving it to a government or a charity far away. He did believe that every parish should be the center of our lives, not just on Sunday but every moment; that way we would remember that we are all members of a single family and children of the same heavenly Father.”

Consider how our lives would be different if we adopted Vincent’s idea of charity. Indeed. Consider how much better we would know Jesus…how much closer we would be to the Ideal he wants us to pursue.


Notice people today. How can you get to know them?

Think about how St. Vincent would react to them. How is your reaction different from St. Vincent’s viewpoint?

Do you seek out more learning about Jesus as did Herod, an enemy who would condemn our heroine before she even started?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Stake in His Holy Place

September 26, 2007

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

“…a short time ago, mercy came to us from the Lord, our God, who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place; thus our God has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our servitude.” (Ezra 9:8)

“Then they (the Apostles) set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.” (Luke 9:6)


Lord, thank you for the opportunity to praise you throughout the liturgical year. Help me to carry forth your good news and cure suffering through my words, thoughts, and actions today and every day.


“I dread ordinary time,” a Cursillista said to me earlier this year. “It’s such a letdown after the joy of the Resurrection or of Advent. Even the vestments are a letdown, that dreary green.” And here we are, at the beginning of the fall season with weeks and weeks of ordinary time to go before the end of the liturgical year.

Me, I like ordinary time. Love it, actually. (And yes, I know that ordinary time draws its name from the word ordinal, or numbered.) The pageantry of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter can be too much, can be almost beyond my comprehension level. The concept of trying to live life day to day with God, who “has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our servitude,” resonates deeply. We, like the Apostles, can go out today, tomorrow, and the next day “proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere,” diseases from indifference to fear to hunger to intolerance. All it takes is a little ordinary time, talent, and treasure. God loves us for our small miracles too, the smile we might put on a homeless child’s face with the gift of school supplies or the hug a seriously ill friend provides when we stop by for a visit.

Jeffrey Mirus, founder of Trinity Communications, writes of this time at

The renewed stretch of Ordinary Time which marks the last portion of the Liturgical year is no longer misperceived as ordinary in the sense of uninteresting, but ordinary in the sense of a regular motion of the weeks and months by which we measure our progress toward the goal and the Gift we have received. … As with the natural seasons, so with the supernatural: instead of greeting them with joy and living them through, we so often awaken only just in time to regret their passing. The arrival of Fall once again reminds us of a prodigious responsibility to love all of our seasons and use them well—one of the clearest lessons nature has to give.


Do something small and “ordinary” today. Drop the price of a cup of coffee into a street musician’s cup. Treat a neighbor or coworker to lunch. Sit down and listen to what your daughter is saying about her day at school instead of half-listening as you prepare dinner or fold laundry. Make a loan of as little as $25 to change lives through The outcome will be far more than ordinary.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Act On It

September 25, 2007

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

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


Jesus, we think we want to make you happy. You tell us exactly how to do that. You give us examples like Mary to show the way. You even model that exact behavior for us. Yet, we continue to go off in another direction. Give us ears that we may hear your Word. Give us a heart that will give your Word someplace to dwell. Give us the resolve to act on that which comes into our life. When we complete your work, may we celebrate with you always. Amen.


The family of Jesus is not constituted by physical relationship with him but by obedience to the word of God. Last week, we read about the two important acts Jesus commanded repeatedly and here again we read and meditate on that dualism: first, listen to the word of God and second, act on it.

Today’s pronouncement echoes that same theme but on the surface it sounds harsh. Jesus’ own mother Mary is cast as an outsider, coming to see Jesus – or trying to see him. Just like she could not get a room at the inn during his birth, here she could not even get a direct meeting with her own Son. Yet, even that did not shake her faith.

Hear. Act.

Why was Mary outside? As Jesus stressed these two commands – Hear and Act – he was also turning his back on the old way of telling who a family member was…through genealogy or blood lines. Matthew’s Gospel opens by tracing the ancestors of Jesus back to the line of David. However, in Luke’s account, blood relationships are trumped by relationships based upon obedience and action.

Hear. Act.

Why was Mary outside? She had very little to do or say during Jesus public ministry. After he was born, presented in the temple, lost during the caravan, and blessed the wine at Cana, we never hear about Mary in His ministry until she re-emerges at the foot of the cross.

Hear. Act.

Why was Mary outside? Maybe Mary was becoming concerned about how Jesus was starting to sound in his public teaching. We have already heard how Jesus challenged the Pharisees with his confrontation about working on the Sabbath and Jesus’ lecture to the Pharisee about the authentic faith of the woman who was anointing his feet. So maybe she was coming to plead with Jesus to tone down the confrontational aspects of his ministry.

Hear. Act.

Why was Mary outside? Maybe because Mary already modeled the behavior Jesus wanted the rest of us to follow. She did not need the lecture. Mary has already set that gold standard with her acceptance of God’s wish for her. (“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38) Yet, here she was, the single person who least needed to hear Jesus’ message, yet she continued to seek Him out to hear what he had to say.

Hear. Act.

Why was Mary outside? We have already heard Jesus lament, “"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' but not do what I command?” (Luke 6:46) Maybe this story places Mary outside because Jesus wanted to reach others and become a part of our lives in the same way he was a part of Mary’s life.

The elders of the Jews were physically rebuilding the Kingdom of God in today’s reading from Ezra. We can spiritually rebuild that Kingdom with our obedience to these two commandments.


Hear. Act.

It does not matter what material goods we possess.

It does not matter how much money we have.

It does not matter in what nation we were born.

All that matters is praying so we can put our selves in a place to hear what the Lord has to say to us. And then, once we hear the message, we must ask ourselves, “What are we going to do about that?”

Jesus doe not just want us to help our family and people like us but also to help those who are not like us. In Ezra, we read how King Dairus helped the Jews in exile. Who is in exile in today’s world? How do we reach out to those exiled from the Kingdom of God by greed, sin, and the worship of false gods? How will we rebuild that Kingdom?

Maybe we are called to support those in exile from our health care system – people and especially 4 million children who do not have money to access our system because they lack insurance. As our representatives in Washington prepare to vote on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, please consider calling your representative and asking them to support the 4 million children who will be helped by extending this program.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Light a Lamp

September 24, 2007

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him! (Ezekiel 1:2-3)

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light. (Luke 8:16)


Great and good God, you have given me so much. May I follow through on all your charges to me today: to be generous, persevering, joyful and a beacon of your presence. Trusting in you, may your light shine within me so that this day all I am or do reflect to your glory. Amen


Jeremiah acted like a lamp on the lamp stand and King Cyrus heard. His response furthered God’s word: he set free the Israelites who had been in exile. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, (Luke 8:18). The prophet Ezrah responded. He is known as one of the great post-exile leaders, a new Moses, bringing the small, scattered Jewish groups into a full community true to its Jewish roots and traditions in spite of being surrounded and influenced by other, stronger cultures.

In responding to the Word, we don’t know how far God will act. All their neighbors gave them help in every way, with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, and with many precious gifts besides all their free-will offerings. (Ezekiel1:6) We are to be lamps to all whether to a sinning woman, a debtor entreating for mercy, or even a Centurion who is not one of us. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible (Luke 8:17).

To the woman who anointed his feet, Jesus gave a brand new life! What hope and joy there is for me! But the reality is also present. Perhaps next week I will find myself being Simon-like, stingy in my hospitality and judging others. Or I could find myself calling in a debt, abusing someone else for their transgressions against me or society. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” (Luke 8:18) I am free to choose. Which will I choose?


“A generous and persevering response to the word of God leads to a still more perfect response to the word.” Footnote, (Luke 8:16) NAB

What is my response to the word of God? Be alert. Am I the sinner, reaching out in generosity to someone in need? Am I a concealing vessel instead of a lamp which perseveres in spite of the dark?

Friday, September 21, 2007


September 23, 2007

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done! Amos 8:7

For this I was appointed preacher and apostle — I am speaking the truth, I am not lying —, teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 1 Timothy 2:7

If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? Luke 16:11-12


Let us pray: Lord, help us to give you an honest and full account of our stewardship. Guide us to live lives that will take our responsibility for stewardship of the world seriously. Show us how to live out your commandments to be better than we are. Amen.


“What you see is what you get.” Pretense is trying to appear to be what you are not.

“Fake it until you make it.” That is a 12-step saying that tells us you become what you are doing. Our choices in life make us who we are.

How to be a clone of Christ is what piety is all about. What you intend is what God sees about us. We are created in the image and the likeness of Christ. Baptism brought our birth as brothers and sisters of Christ. Love activates the presence of God to us. Our journey into Christ requires of us that we live the fullness of Christ in all we say and do. Christian says for most people that we are like Christ. Piety makes us a real Christ. Piety brings a lifetime of study of the meaning of honesty. We are called to be better than we are.

Partial offerings of self are first steps in the following of Christ.

Trying to be heart and soul in all we do is the task of a lifetime. It requires study of each day as it happens to see how we made Christ real in our choices.

Appearances drive the children of this world. The approval addiction makes youngsters give into peer pressure. The saint has an attraction of Christ’s life. Living up to what our heart is teaching us about love brings an end to selfishness. The call to love our neighbor as ourselves brings wonderful changes in how we approach life. To push the interests of our neighbor ahead of our own is where we find the nitty-gritty of love. It takes genuine study of life and of what we are doing to bring to the fore what Christ would do in our shoes. He gave more than we could humanly ask of another. He gave all of himself to us in so many ways. The needy person of each day brings us Christ. What we do for the least one of our brothers and sisters is what we do for Christ and what makes us into true Christs of today. We are able by how we measure out our time and energy and resources to make Christ real in what we are doing. When I only give what is asked of me I am hardly ever giving an updated version of the Christ of the Gospel. We are able to give Christ and to live Christ when we give more than what is asked of us.


Our actions need to be from the heart. Giving all we have to give in the least actions of our day makes the ordinary into the extraordinary of the kingdom of God. The Hidden Life grace is what gives all of us a chance to be like Christ in our lives. To fill up the moment we are living with all we have to offer that fits the job at hand is what makes saints. We are called to be as perfect as our heavenly Father who created the least things of our world with the same perfection he gave to his son. The death of Christ on the cross makes God’s love possible in all we do as we take up the crosses of discipleship to follow Christ.

We serve God and not mammon when we give all of ourselves to the task before us. If we are faithful to what we can do for the least one of our brothers and sisters, we shall be faithful to God in all we do. Give in good measure and running over. When we have given more than another can take, we will know we have given Christ in who we are.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bear Fruit Through Perseverance

September 22, 2007

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Keep the commandment without stain or reproach. 1 Timothy 6:14

“…As for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.” Luke 8:8


Jesus, help me to slow down and stop so I can be with you in this moment…listening with my whole being, my heart, my head, my mind and my soul, to your joyous message.

Take from me, Father, my Peter-like tendency to be an object in motion always busy but never contented.

Give to me, Jesus, that characteristic of sister Mary who is strong and confident enough to choose the better part.

Set me free, Holy Spirit, from all that imprisons me in a world of meaningless action and temptation. Amen.


Sometimes Jesus has a straightforward message that is easy to understand. Sometimes, the story needs more explanation. Today, Jesus interprets the Parable of the Seed.

Why interpret this one for us while so many others go unexplained? Obviously Jesus is making an important point to his followers…so he tells them the message twice, once in preamble and once in a straightforward interpretation. But the message about listening goes far beyond just this parable.

Listening is an important command in the Good News. Even in the Hebrew Bible, the Jews are instructed to listen to the prophets like Moses.

Jesus is trying to shake us out of our daydreams and distractions. “Listen to me!” he cries. “If you have hears to hear, then use them.” The followers must not just listen to what he has to say, they also must ‘hear’ the deeper meaning in his teaching and act upon it.

In Luke 2, we read the story of Jesus in the temple. His is poised and paying attention while Mary and Joseph are frantically trying to find him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. Luke 2:46-47

Jesus models the behavior that he wants us to follow.

Right before Jesus called his disciples, he was standing at the Sea of Galilee (Lake Gennesaret) teaching the crowd and they were paying attention to what he had to say. (Luke 5:1). While there, Simon was distracted. He was out tending his boats and his nets – not listening. So Jesus called to him and asked him to put his nets in deeper water. After initially being argumentative, Simon finally relented and came away with the catch of the day.

Here Jesus shows us the benefits that we will reap when we behave as he requests – by listening to him and actually hearing what he has to say and making that part of our life and actions. The messages of “hearing” and “doing” are repeated over and over again.

After stressing this pair of linked behaviors, Jesus commissions his Apostles to go out into the world and teach and spread the Good News. As he does this, he gives them a stern warning about what to do when people do not listen – and what will happen to those who do not listen to the words of the Apostles (Matthew 10:14-16

Finally, in the ultimate message about the importance of paying attention, Luke relates the incident we have come to know as the Transfiguration.

Moses and Elijah were conversing with Jesus – they were not talking, they were conversing which conveys the meaning that the Prophets were both speaking as well as listening to the Lord – again, being models of the behavior sought in us.

Jesus modeled the behavior. He showed us the benefits. He warned of what happens when we don’t listen. And then he showed us that even the Prophets listen. Yet Peter goes about his busy work. You just have to love Peter! Just like at Lake Gennesaret when he was fishing instead of listening like the rest of the crowd, here he wants to perform some busy work. He wanted to be about erecting tents for Moses, Jesus and Elijah.

OK, if you won’t get the message yet, let’s try it straight from the top! “This is my chosen Son. Listen to him!”

Sit at his feet like Mary does…and listen. Choose the better part. The tax collectors and sinners drew near to Jesus…and listened. But where are we in that picture? Don’t wait until you are dead and in hell like the rich man in the story of Lazarus pleading with Abraham that he needed to send a message to his brothers…to listen.

The Lord’s message is not some unapproachable light. It is a light revealed to us. And we will see that light only when we stop what we are pre-occupied with and do as Jesus asks. Hear and do. Listen and Act. That is when Jesus reveals the truth about his passion, death and resurrection.

Jesus never let up trying to overcome the doubt and distractions that plagued the original Apostles. Ultimately, when he succeeded in getting this message across, people started getting up in the morning to listen to him in the temple. That is what finally got the Pharisees nervous and Jesus in hot water with the church and the government. He was no longer the itinerant preacher from Nazareth, but Jesus was a legitimate threat to their teaching authority when people actually started…listening to Him!

Right up to the very end of Matthew’s Gospel, he followed through with the same message working to get the Apostles and us to listen and act:

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20


Where do you go in order to hear God’s voice speaking to you?

And He Got Up and Followed

September 21, 2007

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist

[L]ive in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. Matthew 9:12-13


And he got up and followed. Father, help us not to follow the eye-for-an-eye temptation set before us by the world. Help us to seek and to find the deeper meaning of unity and peace so we can be more like Christ.

And he got up and followed. Lord, St. Matthew makes it seem so easy to come to you and bring along all these other sinners. Give us the strength of Matthew to leave our possession and follow you seeking mercy, not offering sacrifice.

And he got up and followed. Holy Spirit, lift us from the easy chair of our sleepy existence and awaken us to the injustices of the word from Jena, Louisiana to Fairfax, Virginia. Get us out of our easy chairs. Push us away from the dinner table. Extract us from the confines of our cars.

And we got up and followed. Amen.


After a particularly rough day, don’t you just want to let loose at all the selfish, petty, insolent, power-hungry fools who impose their puny will on the rest of us? I know I certainly do and sat down tonight to write about all those selfish fools. Bless me Father for I have sinned.

The Holy Spirit had other plans for today’s installment of “Your Daily Tripod.” There is an old expression that goes something like, “When you point one finger at someone else, you are then pointing three fingers back at yourself.

So instead of a divisive, screaming rant about the selfishness of others, the Lord is sending us word through St. Matthew and St. Paul to follow in unity, not in division, no matter what others do or how others behave.

Maybe Jesus’ human side will still understand my frustration with always having to be on the “giving” side. Giving ground. Giving up. Compromising. But Christian unity is more than adherence to a common belief. It is manifested in the gifts and talents that Christ bestows upon each of us as individuals – gifts to allow us to serve, to make our self and the community more like Christ, more “Christ-like.”

The last thing that Christ wanted from us was to be divisive and petty. He even gave up his life to others who were acting that way. So it is in Christ’s example that we must look for answers, not the cunning, deceits, and schemes of others.

Christ is not the source of the church's spiritual gifts, he is the veritable glue that holds us together. The flesh on our bones, the blood in our veins. The food on our tongues, the life-giving water quenching our thirst.

So no matter what different roles we play, we are here to pursue one end…Be Christ like.

Certainly it is frustrating to be an “infants tossed on the waves” like an abandoned Moses in a basket floating own the river. However, we are called to set ourselves free from the tyranny of petty emotions in the moment in order to live the truth in love. That is exactly when we need the physician…when we are tempted to sin.

There is always the reminder from Frank McCloskey’s talk at the 108th Men’s Cursillo in Arlington. He explained that his daughter has a prayer card on her mirror. It says, “He never said it would be easy. He only promised that it would be worth it.”

So when you are tempted to let your old self rear its head, put on your new self to preserve the unity that Christ wants in His “followers.”


How can you follow Christ today?

Who can you thank for a job well done?

Who can you assist in their hour of need?

Who can you bring to the table of sinners?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Great Love

September 20, 2007

Memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, priest and martyr, and Saint Paul Chong Hasang, martyr, and their companions, martyrs

Do not neglect the gift you have. 1 Timothy 4:14

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


Every morning when you wake up, you are given another day of life. This gift of life is precious. To say that it’s precious is really a colossal understatement. Being alive is more valuable than anything else that one can own and possess. The greater your appreciation for being alive, the more enthusiastic you will be when wake up each morning. Your Creator gives you life this moment for a reason. Your life is purposeful. Just imagine the enthusiasm you are going to experience when you realize that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe is saying to you, "I am giving you life this very moment. Appreciate it."

Enthusiasm: Formulas, Stories, and Insights (2002) pp.34-5


What gifts do you have?

Do you have talent in the creative arts: painting, sculpture, photography, drawing? How can you use those to honor the Lord?

Do you have a talent for teaching others?

Do you have musical talent?

Are you more of an intellectual or an athletic talent?

Do you imagine new possibilities that others can not envision?

Are you a champion for new ideas which are not yet popular in society or culture?

Can you help to get people to support and commit to a new project?

Are you a task leader who can assure that an important project gets completed?

Your talents are a gift left in you by the Lord. Not using them keeps the Lord bottled up.

No matter what your specific gift or talent, Scripture encourages us not to leave such talents under a bushel basket. Instead, we are to let them shine like a lamp from the hilltop. Using your talents will not only help you sharpen them but also through use, the talents will affect those around you making them happier and more satisfied in life and love.


It’s all about reciprocity…

Like the laws of physics say, every object in motion remains in motion until it is affected by something outside of itself. But when that outside force strikes, the initial object must react/respond.

It’s not about the size of your diamond ring or the horsepower of your car. It’s not about fancy linens and furniture. It’s about what we do with the love that the Lord has bestowed upon us. That love is made manifest in the variety of talents that we have. How will you express those talents and use them for the benefit of others?

Bring your talents to whatever team you are on. “Sharpen your saw” so you will offer the best that you can offer. You don’t have to be Alex Rodriguez hitting home runs in six straight games or a member of some Hall of Fame. Just be yourself and do what you are moved to do just like the woman in today’s Gospel was moved to anoint the Lord with her tears.

Respond to love and kindness by spreading more love and kindness.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wisdom Is Vindicated by All Her Children

September 19, 2007

Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

“Beloved, I am writing you, although I hope to visit you soon. But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth. (1 Timothy 14-15)

“Jesus said to the crowds: ‘To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.” For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, “He is possessed by a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, “Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.’” (Luke 7:31-35)


Lord, let me accept You in all the forms in which You appear in my life. Be my guide as I learn how to behave in Your household and kingdom.


Today's Readings

Carmen Leal

I have this friend. I’ll call her Carmen, because that’s her name—Carmen Leal. Carmen lives in Hawaii, and we had a lovely evening together last week while she was in the DC area.

Carmen is big in voice, big in energy, big in faith, big in passion for her ministries. That kind of “bigness” and difference is sometimes difficult to understand and accept, just as Jesus shows us in today’s Gospel, using himself and John the Baptist as examples. We say we want people to be passionate and open about their faith, but sometimes feel uncomfortable when they are.

A few years before I returned to Catholicism, Carmen was the first and only person to ask if I had accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. (She had the wisdom not to call me on my lie when I said I was good with God.) She’s prayed for me, made publishing world connections for me that have proven life changing, and openly lives a life that is devoted to Christ. She had to make hard decisions as a caregiver to a husband who suffered from Huntington’s disease. Rather than bury or deny that pain, she and her current husband are devoting their lives to putting together conferences and other resources for caregivers at They are shining examples of people who know how to behave in the household of God.

Her ebullient nature and passion for work in the Lord’s name can be a little overwhelming if you’re not engaged with God yourself. But that’s all right with Carmen. She seldom takes offense. Like John the Baptist and Jesus, she just keeps doing God’s work wherever it leads her. And that’s all that’s asked of any of us.


If you’re a caregiver, refresh your spirit by checking out the lovely (free) movies at Or, share them with a friend who is a caregiver. Who in your life exhibits every day that he or she knows how to behave in the household of the Lord, and what can you learn from them?

Monday, September 17, 2007


September 18, 2007

Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Thus those who serve well as deacons gain good standing and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus. I Timothy

He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Luke 7:14-15


Father, we know you hear all of our prayers. Help us move you to compassion for our petitions, no matter whether we are praying for people in Dumfries or Darfur. Please listen to our petitions and touch those we ask you to touch. Help us to wake up from our numbness and work with your same compassion to help those who are most in need in the world around us. Amen.


Today, the plan was to meditate upon and study the First Letter of Timothy. Wouldn’t that passage about the bishop having only one wife be a great launching pad to think about the tradition/gift of celibacy? However, along the way, I encountered the same widow whose situation touched Jesus.

Luke’s story today is another example where Jesus was moved to tears in his compassion for a person he met along his journey. In one way, this recalls the scene outside the tomb where Lazarus laid dead for four days. There, we witnessed Jesus weeping as well. According to Luke, Jesus seems especially affected by the situation of this widow now also losing her son even though we have no indication that there was any particular relationship between them before Jesus encountered the funeral procession.

In addition, the scene strengthens the connection between Jesus and Elijah and Elisha who raised a widow’s son as well. The Old Testament background for the story of Jesus raising the widow's son is miracles wrought by Elijah (1 Kings 17:10-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:18-37). Most Jews (and possibly Gentile Christians) of Jesus' day would know the stories of Elijah and Elisha in detail and would quickly understand how they relate to the story of Jesus raising the widow's son.[1]

Throughout ancient culture, providing aid for the “anawin” (the poor, widows and orphans) took a special part in the social contract of kings and their subjects. So, on that account, Jesus’ reaction is not surprising.

Furthermore, we know that we worship a God who wants life, not death.

As for you, son of man, speak to the house of Israel: You people say, "Our crimes and our sins weigh us down; we are rotting away because of them. How can we survive?" Answer them: As I live, says the Lord GOD, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man's conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! Why should you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:10-11)

We have the “perfect storm” for compassion that capitalizes on the means, motives and opportunity to help. First, Jesus has the motive: compassion. Jesus has the motivation: social contract to protect the most vulnerable as restated by Luke in the Sermon on the Mount. Finally, Jesus had the means: By virtue of his divine nature, he knew that he could make a real difference here with the touch of his finger.

Jesus not only weeps…he acts. The result is just like Zechariah at the beginning of Luke’s narrative, when he was faced with the awesome power of God, his mouth was opened and he spoke of God’s mission. He sang of what is witnessed today: “the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death's shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:78-79

Here, the young man sat up and began proclaiming the Good News.

Which brings us back to the qualities of the bishop and deacon in Timothy. However, now, in reading that letter, I focus less upon the celibacy and more upon the qualities and characteristics of the people in these roles and less upon their marital status. The more important qualities are being “temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach” along with a good reputation among the outsiders.


What do we do when we encounter people who are suffering or who are in anguish? What will wake us out of our sub-consciousness? What do we do when our life is touched by Jesus? How do we “gain good standing and much confidence” in our faith in Jesus?

Are we like Zechariah and the boy raised from the dead? Do we feel the healing touch that awakens us from our slumber? Do our eyes open to see the suffering of the world around us? When we see it, do we carry forth the Gospel message in word and deed? Do we hear the word of God and act upon it?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

God Wills Everyone to be Saved

September 17, 2007

Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved. (1 Tim 2: 1-4)

“Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.” … (Jesus said) “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health (Luke 7: 6-7, 9-10)


As I go sinful and worn to your house, please accept me, Lord. As I return from the fields exhausted and see the sounds of congratulations for the undeserving and sinful, open my heart that I might accept your joyful mercy Lord. As I watch the road, Lord, may I see those who need me and may I welcome them in your name. Amen


Love, here in the form of including and respecting, just keeps coming up again and again in Scripture. Paul has heard and completely comprehended Jesus’ teachings. The notes to the NAB tell us of 1 Timothy that the liturgical prayer in the community for Christians and non-Christians alike “aids the community to achieve peaceful relationships with non-Christians (1 Tim 2:2) and contributes to salvation, since it derives its value from the presence within the community of Christ…(1 Tim 2:3-6).”

Jesus shows such a gentle respect for anyone he teaches or anyone, Jew or not, who approaches him with sincere longing to learn or believe. He stands in the road watching for those who “return” and wishes us to do the same. He offers freedom from guilt, intolerance, persecution, imprisonment, poverty and the confinement of ill-health through His gentle welcome to return to God. Human life is so precious to him that he grieves when people refuse him.


What do we do with our freedom to choose life or death?

There was a story in the Wall Street Journal last week about a woman who was refused Medicare coverage for cancer treatments because she was diagnosed at a clinic that does not get funding from a federal cancer-detection program. There was a federally-funded clinic right down the road where, if she had been seeing a doctor at that clinic, she would have been given Medicare help. (“Legal Loophole Ensnares Breast-Cancer Patients” Tues., Sept. 23, p. 1) Do we accept institutional injustice with a serious shake of our heads or do we move to change it?

There is a remarkable video on “Youtube.” What do we do with seemingly insurmountable problems in our lives or of those we love? Watch what this young, one-legged man, does with his disability. Can we pray with joy and longing that, no matter what, the best will happen because God loves us? Do we know that Jesus “steps in” even when we aren’t able to be hopeful? “Footloose! Dancing on One Foot”

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Filled with Compassion

September 16, 2007

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand?” Exodus 32:11

So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20


Psalm 51:3-6

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense. Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me. For I know my offense; my sin is always before me. Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sight that you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn.


Piety is found in prayers of intercession for the people. Moses prayed for the people and God relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people. Piety shows in our praying for each other. Paul admits his sinfulness and tells how mercifully treated by God he has been. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Our piety meets with our action when we reach beyond ourselves to those who need Jesus and his forgiveness. The grace of God is abundant in our love and faith in Christ Jesus.

Because Jesus was working with the tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees and the Scribes complained that he welcomed sinners and ate with them. Christ gave a real challenge with the parable of the lost sheep. The joy in heaven over one sinner who repents is a challenge to all of us to study our environment. To see how we can find and help even only one on the road back to the Lord so that we can be responsible for the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.

The parable of the ten coins and the one that was lost tells the story of the joy of even the angels of God over one sinner who repents. But it is the parable of the prodigal son that brings the Father into the joy over a sinner repenting. It is the prodigal love of the Father who gives so much more than can be expected that captures our imagination. The Father is seen with one eye on the road waiting for his son to come home. Forgiveness is painted with vivid colors. There is a feast for the retuning son that upsets the older brother who is perhaps too much like us in how unforgiving he is. We will be forgiven for the wrongs we do in the same proportion as we forgive those who hurt us.


Who do I need to forgive? What are the resentments in my heart? The Lord is calling us to be loving people. Peace will not reach our world unless we can live the forgiveness that Christ preaches. Forgive even as we have been forgiven in the embrace from the Cross. Celebrate the feast of forgiveness with the Father.