Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Your Reward Will Be Great in Heaven

November 1, 2007

Solemnity of All Saints

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb." Revelation 7:9-10

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Matthew 5:12


(From Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary)

Almighty God, you have gathered the saints of all times and places into your kingdom. Rejoicing in their fellowship, we pray:

Lord, we thank you for the whole creation, the beauty of this world and the wonder of life. With the saints we say:

We thank you for the blessing of common life, of family and friends, of life which surrounds us on every side. With the saints we say:

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, for sharing the burden and delight of creation with us. With the saints we say:

We thank you for the disappointment and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone. With the saints we say:

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ, for the truth of his Word, the example of His life, for His triumph over death. With the saints we say:

We thank you for the gift of your Spirit, in whose powers the oppressed find refuge, the poor are lifted up, and the dead gain eternal life. With the saints we say:

Let us praise our Father as Jesus taught us. Our Father…Amen.


St. Bernard (before he was actually canonized) asked, “Why do we praise and glorify the saints? Of what use are earthly honors when the heavenly Father honors them? What is the point of our praises? The saints certainly do not need our honors and devotion.”

St. Bernard answers himself by proclaiming that we praise the saints to help ourselves and our own purposes than any need they have. These holy women and men form a community – a group reunion or Ultreya – that they invite us to share. Just as our sister and brother Cursillistas pray for us, they pray and intercede for us. Why wouldn’t we want to be a part of this great community?

The saints also remind us that Christ should play as important a role in our lives as He does in theirs. “We need the prayers of the saints so that what our own powers cannot obtain for us, their intercession may win,” concludes St. Bernard.

Even though they walked on earth just as Jesus did, St. Anastasius of Sinai reminds us that “They have left behind the winds and waves of this world and have anchored in harbors of perfect calm.” He continues:

Yet even while they seemed to be with us, they were not so in reality, for their minds were turned to God. They lived on earth as citizens of heaven, having no lasting city, they sought a heavenly one; having no earthly riches, they sought the riches of heaven. They were strangers and sojourners as their ancestors were. Strangers to the world, to the things of the world, and to the ways of the world, their whole heart was absorbed in the things of heaven.”

Just last week, another person took one more step closer to the cloud of witnesses, to the community of saints. He was a man who truly did not live as a citizen of earth or Europe or Austria. The Blessed Martyr Franz Jägerstätter, was an Austrian farmer pacifist who was executed by the Nazi's for refusal to serve in the German military. (He died by beheading on the same day St. Edith Stein was executed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.) Blessed Franz despised the Nazi movement and was visibly demonstrative in his abhorrence of all things Nazi. His village priest and many clergy he encountered throughout his life admired Franz' stance. Yet they warned him that he was courting serious danger since the Nazis tolerated absolutely no opposition -- even the mildest forms. His pastor officially advised Franz to vote "yes" to the German annexation of Austria; but Franz responded "Father, I respect and love you as a priest of God, but my conscience will not let me vote Yes" (Hanley; 1983).[1]

When the Austrian people cast a near-unanimous vote in 1938 to accept Nazi occupation of their homeland, Franz wrote later "I believe that what took place in the spring of 1938 was not much different from what happened that Holy Thursday nineteen hundred years ago when the crowd was given a free choice between the innocent Savior & the criminal Barrabas."

Blessed Franz faced the momentous decision in 1943, when he was drafted into the Nazi army. He told his wife he would refuse to take the oath of loyalty to Hitler when he showed up for service. Everyone involved knew that this meant arrest and death. Jägerstätter was immediately sent to prison; and could be taken out for execution at any moment without warning. He lived his life "hour by hour", praying the Rosary and conversing deeply with God in his heart. At one point he wrote to his wife, "There is practically nothing to do here in the prison, but that does not mean that I have to let my days pass by without putting them to some use. AS LONG AS I CAN PRAY, and there is plenty of time for that, MY LIFE IS NOT IN VAIN." As a citizen of the kingdom of heaven he could in no way serve the powers of darkness.

In his last letter to his wife, he wrote: "...It was not possible for me to free you from the pain that you must now suffer on my account. How hard it must have been for our dear Savior when, through His sufferings and death, he had to prepare such a great sorrow for His Mother -- and together They bore all of this out of great love for us sinners..... And now your husband, son, father, son-in-law and brother-in-law greets you once more before his final journey. The heart of Jesus, the heart of Mary, and my heart are one in time and eternity...."

His 94-year-old widow Franziska and his surviving children were joined in the ceremony to beatify Blessed Franz last Friday in Linz by 5,000 faithful and three dozen bishops from Austria and abroad.

Bishop Dr. Ludwig Schwarz of Linz, Austria and Bishop Dr. Manfred Scheuer (Postulator of the beatification procedure) issued the following statement concerning the beatification: (Franz Jägerstätter – Martyr. A Shining Example in Dark Times).

“The Church is hereby expressly recognizing the courageous attitude of this faithful man, who still has so much to say to us today.

“The commemoration of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter stands within the context of many interrelated aspects: his wife, his children and his family, the Church, through his beatification, questions of saintliness and martyrdom, social and political issues in the examination of our own wartime past, the war generation, inhumanity and the terror of the Nazis, and the ethical and educational issues of war and conscientious objection, non-violence, peace education and disarmament, of authority, conscience and obedience.

“Blessed Franz Jägerstätter is a prophet with a global view and a penetrating insight which very few of his contemporaries had at that time; he is a shining example in his fidelity to the claims of his conscience, an advocate of non-violence and peace, a voice of warning against ideologies, a deep-believing person for whom God really was the core and centre of life. His prophetic witness to Christian truth is based o­n a clear, radical and far-sighted analysis of the barbarism of the inhuman and godless system of Nazism, its racial delusions, its ideology of war and deification of the state, as well as its declared program of annihilating Christianity and the Church. His educated, mature conscience led him to say a resolute ‘No’ to Nazism and he was executed due to his consistent refusal to take up arms as a soldier in Hitler’s war.”


Pick one of the saintly beatitudes in Matthew 5 that you will concentrate on living out for the next 30 days until it becomes a habitual part of your lifestyle.

[1] Sources for this discussion of the life of Blessed Franz include the web site, and two books: No Strangers To Violence; No Strangers to Love by Boniface Hanley O.F.M., Ave Maria Press, 1983 and In Solitary Witness: The Life & Death of Franz Jaegerstaetter by Gordon Zahn, 1982. In addition, to the above are notes from a reading of In Solitary Witness by Gordon Zahn at St. Columbkille’s Catholic Church, Brighton-Alston, Massachusetts in the winter of 1980.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

All Things Work For Good For Those Who Love God

October 31, 2007

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8: 28-30)

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’” (Luke 13:39-40)


Lord, show me Your purpose for me, and let me always keep that purpose in the front of my heart, soul, and mind. Help me be strong and continually vigilant in honoring you.


It’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities and specifics of today’s Gospel. Just how many will be allowed to enter through the narrow gate? Will they all be Christians? Does this mean doom for those who are Christians, who eat and drink in Jesus’s company? How can that be?

We discussed this warning against a sense of entitlement earlier this year in group reunion. Simply getting our Catholic cards punched—Sunday Mass, check; Holy Days of Obligation, check; reconciliation one a year, check—will not do it, any more than being rich or politically or socially connected will.

Conversely, we also can spend too much time here on earth wondering whether the Lord will open the door rather than doing His work. If we love God with all our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves, need we really worry? And would we even have time to worry? Should it really concern us today, in the here and now, whether the number is one, 1 million, 1 billion, or 1 trillion who will enter through the narrow gate when the time is at hand? Do we have control over anything but our own receptivity to the Word? Do we need control over anything but our own receptivity to the Word?

Take comfort and find strength in Paul’s words to the Romans: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”


Answer God’s call today. Show Him you love Him by living your faith today in actions, not just words. Take the child of a sick neighbor trick or treating. Arrange to drive a fellow parishioner to church for All Saints Day tomorrow. Do more than eat and drink in Christ’s presence.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wait With Endurance

October 30, 2007

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. Romans 8:24-25

Again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed (in) with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened." Luke 13:20-21


Let us get up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Romans 13:11). Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from heaven that every day calls out this charge: If you hear His voice today, do not harden your hearts (Psalm 95)

From the “Prologue” to the Rule of St. Benedict, Verses 8-10


How do you describe the indescribable?

Today, two parables, the mustard seed and the leavened wheat, attempt to describe the future impact of the kingdom of God. From “deceptively small beginning” in a manager in Bethlehem, from equally deceptive small beginnings of the preaching and healing ministry of Jesus two thousand years ago, a worldwide church has been born.

Yet this church has not been fulfilled…yet.

St. Paul reminds us that we are a “waiting” people. We are waiting for the mustard bush to grow. We are waiting for the bread dough in the oven to rise. We are waiting for Justice to walk on the face of the earth again.

St. Paul reminds us that we are an “enduring” people. We are enduring the pain of disease in our bodies and dis-ease in our minds. We are enduring the pain of temptation in our souls and the agony of neglect in our communities. We are enduring the sin of wars – the endless war on poverty, the endless war on terrorism, the endless war on each other.

St. Paul reminds us that we are a “hope-filled” people. “For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.” We wait in hope “that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” “We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. Romans 8:24-25


What are you waiting for? There is much work to do while waiting, while enduring, while hoping. It is high time we arise from the slumber of life and pay attention to what the Lord demands.

What work do you need to do in your community?

What work do you need to do in your church?

What work do you need to do on yourself?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

God is a Saving God for Us

October 29 2007

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

[We are] heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:17)

…[T]he just rejoice and exult before God; they are glad and rejoice…Blessed day by day be the Lord, who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation. God is a saving God for us. (Psalm 62:4, 20-21)

“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”…(to the leader of the synagogue): This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?” (Luke 13 12, 16)


Saving Lord, save me from infirmities which keep me from you. Save me from the poor choices I have made, and help me not repeat them. Save me from despair in the illnesses or injuries that come my way. Help me to know that my human suffering can bring me closer to you. Give me strength in my weaknesses and in my weakness may I give glory to you.


We are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13) We do not need to live bowed by sin. Even if we have a past or present full of sin and believe we require justice, as Jesus’ heirs we are offered the freedom of God’s love and mercy. We do not need to live as the leader of the synagogue: bound by rules, bound by fear, bound by anger, bound by power and wealth. We can choose spiritual freedom.

What about bondage of a frail body, by choices we did not make? Jesus does not chide the disabled woman. He “frees her of her infirmity.” Physical ailments, mental illness, disabilities and injuries are not always caused by our choices. The reality and randomness of physiological failure, weakness, trauma, disease is a bondage that all life shares. At one time or another all of us will be “bowed” by pain, sadness, ailments, death. It is in these times that Jesus suffers with us. The reality is that the random, undeserved bondage of being human might not have an answer in this life.

God’s mercy and Jesus’ love through his sufferings are with us no matter what we experience. Jesus stands with us, bowed as we are, just as he stood with the woman in the temple. If we know that he bears our burdens with us then we can experience spiritual freedom within human suffering. We can also choose to offer our spiritual freedom to others and stand with them in their infirmity, sorrow and pain. We also can graciously accept help from others who are Jesus’ eyes, hands and caring heart toward us.


In times of trouble, to whom do I turn? Take quiet time to cultivate an awareness of God’s mercy, of God who bears your burdens and God who saves you. Spend personal time with this God as you would a dear friend who has arrived to make coffee on a very bleak, sad day. Listen to the well of silence which is not emptiness but is rather full of the promise of God’s saving power. In the quiet, choose freedom and mercy.

Humbled Exalted, Exalted Humbled

October 28, 2007

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right. God indeed will not delay. Sirach 35:17-19

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' Luke 18:13


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding, and my entire will.
All I have and call my own.
Whatever I have or hold, you have given me.
I return it all to you and surrender it wholly
to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.

St. Ignatius, from the end of the Spiritual Exercises


We all have our moment of humility. What good can I possibly do against such widespread chaos? It is honest humility when we try to do the little we think we can do. Sometimes we are pushed beyond what is our self-perception. We find companions of our labor and with others it is possible to do more than what we could do if we only took the sum of the efforts of each individual. Where two or three together in the name of the Lord, the possibility of so much more is what birthed Religious Communities and secular communities too. The Lord promises his presence to those who gather in his name. For this it is important to discern what is to be done with others and to dream what otherwise might seem the impossible dream. We are called to go beyond ourselves.

How many times I have listened to people telling me that they do not deserve God’s love even when they realize that no one deserves God’s love. Justice gets confused with love. We deserve justice. No one can deserve love because it is always a gift beyond understanding or merits.

God is love and God forever loves. So the limit on God’s love is what we are willing to accept. And we can all too easily be scared by God’s love as if he was setting us up for something beyond our strength. To rely on God is to accept his love. The catch on God’s love is the Cross of Christ. John 3, 16 tells us that Christ’s cross is the greatest of all possible loves. It is something we could never have dreamt up. It is the inscrutable love of God that has its finest expression in our lives when we take up our crosses to follow Christ.

God’s love continues to be reflected in the Church by the unmerited sufferings of our lives that we accept in his name. We spend our lives discovering how what we put up with for the sake of those we love unites us to the suffering of Christ in a special way because we become more like Christ.


So we go up to pray like the tax collector of our gospel of today. We ask God to be merciful to us sinners. God is calling us to face honestly all that is wrong with our world. Like Christ we must fill up what is wanting to the sufferings of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church. We have the chance to live our lives with a world-wide meaning when we accept what is difficult in our lives for the sake of our world. Like Paul we must be poured out like a libation and finish the race we are in to share the love of God in all our environments. We are called to be updates of Christ by what we suffer for the sake of each other. That is the makeup of the great saints.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pierce the Clouds

October 28, 2007

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right. God indeed will not delay. Sirach 35:17-19

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' Luke 18:13


St. Ignatius' Prayer for Generosity

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.


Prayer is not like any other form of communication. Prayer communication is a living and breathing two-way message to Heaven. Ben Sirach tells us that prayer does not rest until “it reaches its goal” and the Most High responds.

Jesus not only told us about the “the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.” He lived it. He modeled this behavior for us. He prayed often and we see and hear His prayers in the Gospel.

Much of what Jesus remarks in the Gospels are stories directed to the disciples, the Pharisees and the crowds who gathered around. But we also see Jesus step out of these situations to directly address “God alone who is good.”

Jesus not only tells us to pray but also tells us how to pray. Just as he often withdrew to quiet places to talk with God, today, we see the tax collector who does not sit in the front pew but instead stays off at a distance praying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

In Luke 18, we encounter many other examples of people who seek mercy from a distance yet even from afar, we can sense their faith and commitment. Yet each of them reaches out to Jesus in their own personal fashion.

· The widow who persistently approaches the judge until he renders a decision in her favor;

· The children and those who freely accept the kingdom of God like the children;

· Those who give up everything and follow Jesus; and

· The blind man sitting on the side of the road seeking the mercy of Jesus.


Have you ever tried to check out of a grocery store with a young child? When they are waiting by the cashier, they notice the display filled with candy and begin asking, begging, to have their favorite treat. They will not stop until they get what they want.

Please Mom?

I’ll get my homework done as soon as we get home if you buy me these M&Ms.

I’ll do my chores all week if you buy me these M&Ms.

I’ll eat all my vegetables at dinner if you buy me these M&Ms.

I’ll wash the dishes tonight without complaining if you buy me these M&Ms.

What have you asked of God with such child-like persistence? What message from you has pierced the clouds until God responds?

Bear Fruit

October 27, 2007

Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us, who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. Romans 8:3-4

Who may go up the mountain of the LORD? Who can stand in his holy place? "The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely. Psalm 24:3-4

He said to him in reply, “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.” Luke 13:8-9


God of life and peace, we know we are in need of cultivation in order to get us ready to live a life centered on the concerns of the spirit. Bear with us in patience and grace as you did with your servants in Israel. Fertilize us with the spirit so that the weeds of evil will die out. Help us to put away the things in life that keep us from doing your will and showing the world your love. Help us to bear fruit to the world around us through the daily encounter with Jesus and each other. Amen.


What is the end that we are pursuing? How do we achieve it?

St. Paul calls on us to pursue the concerns of the spirit…life and peace. These are placed opposite the concerns of the flesh – death. While this is an interesting duality, it also points out that there is another possibility: life without peace. Yet it is only through the combination of life and peace do we pursue the spiritual aims.

Psalm 24 gives us a road map to this goal of life and peace. “The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely. They will receive blessings from the LORD, and justice from their saving God. Such are the people that love the LORD.” Psalm 24:4-6

We can not pursue any means to achieve a just end. The means must be congruent and justify the end we seek. The notes in the New American Bible (NAB) succinctly point out the deeper meaning of what has changed after Jesus died on the cross:

Through the redemptive work of Christ, Christians have been liberated from the terrible forces of sin and death. Holiness was impossible so long as the flesh (or our "old self"), that is, self-interested hostility toward God, frustrated the divine objectives expressed in the law. What is worse, sin used the law to break forth into all manner of lawlessness. All this is now changed. At the cross God broke the power of sin and pronounced sentence on it.

According to St. Paul, Christian life is the experience of a constant challenge to set aside the temptations of the body by replacing them with a life of the spirit. However, success can only come though the four key words in today’s readings: This God has done.

We are powerless to overcome the forces and temptations of evil alone. The parallel emphasis in both Romans 8 and Luke 13 is on the graceful character of God. Like the barren fig tree, we need the gardener to “cultivate” our lives and the environment around us and “fertilize it” with the concerns of the spirit. Only when we recognize that God has done this for us will we bear fruit in the future.

Fr. Tom Keating reminds us that the parable of the barren fig tree recalls the theme of the “barren made fruitful by the Lord's direct intervention.” Immediately after telling the disciples this parable, Jesus heals a woman in the temple on the Sabbath. However, Jesus then must defend himself after he is reprimanded by the leader of the synagogue. The image of the barren fig tree evokes the sense that the religion of the day was not producing the desired results of mercy and grace for individuals as well as the overall community.

The religion of that day – as represented by the leader -- was not producing what God intended. As represented by the woman who was crippled for 18 years, despite her attendance at temple, her faith had borne no fruit in her life and health.

For us, in context of the subsequent story, this new sign of the time of the resurrected fig tree becomes a metaphor of the sign of God’s grace and patience in our lives through the person of Jesus. God gives us – the proverbial the fig tree – one more chance by sending us a gardener in the person of His son. Through Jesus, God gives us the life-giving nutrients (bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ) that we need to produce results.

As Fr. Keating reminds us, “it does not matter if we do not succeed in our own estimation or in that of others.” God has done this. Thanks to the patient cultivation and fertilizing by God, we as individuals and the overall community can then witness the concerns of the Spirit – life and peace – rather than death.

What is special about us is God's incredible solidarity with our ordinary lives: with our sense of failure, futility, getting nowhere spiritually, and our lack of inner resources to cope with our particular difficulties. In the parables, daily life is so clearly the place where the kingdom is working that symbols of success are totally irrelevant. They are like icing on a cake. We cannot live on icing. We need more substantial food. Trust in God disregards the evidence of everyday life that God is absent or forgetful of us and brings us into direct contact with the God of everyday. The God of pure faith is so close: closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing, closer than consciousness itself.[1]


Today, we may not have a barren fig tree in the back yard but we do have rain knocking the brown leaves from our drought-stricken trees. We have fire engulfing people and property in Southern California. We have rivers and lakes withering in the heat of the southeast. Not to mention physical and spiritual hunger, diseases affecting our bodies and minds, homelessness, war, greed, and social needs that Jesus never encountered in his life 2,000 years ago.

Yet the daily readings force us to focus on cultivation and fertilizer. We know that the fallen leaves and even the barren fig trees that are pruned become the mulch for spring growth. Despite the cold dormant winter that lies ahead of us, new growth will emerge.

You can help new life emerge. Take for example the fires out west. Cultivate the concerns of the spirit with a gift to charities serving people affected by the wildfires out west. Check out the resource list on the Network for Good Internet site web site for options to give financially, volunteer or to learn more about the danger of wildfires.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Judge for Yourself

October 26, 2007

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Romans 7:24

You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Luke 12:56-57


Jesus, draw near to us and walk with us. Help us to overcome our sadness and depression like you helped Cleopas. Give us the sense of hospitality to invite you into our lives and to listen to what you have to say to us. Give us the sense of urgency to do whatever you ask. Amen.


Not only will the house be divided against itself, our own nature will divide us and pull us in competing directions.

St. Paul confronts this head on as he reflects on the desires of the body and the desires of the soul. However, he parts ways with Jesus here. Jesus reminds us that nothing we put into our bodies from outside can defile us. However, evil thoughts – greed, envy, wants – come from inside us and cause pain. Evil also may attack us as St. Paul acknowledges, but evil is an external force that weaves its way inside our being.

How do we deal with this evil? How do we get rid of it even when we alone are powerless to stop such a strong man? One way – not the only way – may be that we’ve got to put something else in its way to start crowding out the sinful nature that attacks us.

Open a window or a door and let Christ in. Remember the story about the encounter with Jesus that occurred on the road to Emmaus. Cleopas and a companion were walking to a nearby village when they encountered a man who they did not recognize as Jesus. After they related what happened to Jesus, they opened their ears to hear the word.

“O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:26-27)

After dinner, when Jesus had entered into their lives, they began to see things differently. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:31-32)

Jesus knows that once we experience Him, our hearts will “burn” and yearn for more. The proverbial devil won’t have a chance.

Today again, Jesus poses the rhetorical question. He knows that he has been teaching and preaching effectively. However, people just don’t seem to “get it.” They/We need constant reminders so we don’t fall back into our comfort zone and cozy up to our old ways.

Once we let Jesus in, we won’t need external guidance. We will have all the tools we need to judge for ourselves.


Think of one of your old habits that obscures your daily pursuit of piety, study and action. Can you smash one old habit to make way for Jesus? Which one?

Write it down and tie the message to a rock. Throw the rock in the river. Bye bye!

Slaves to Righteousness

October 25, 2007

Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawlessness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. Romans 6:19-20

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. Luke 12:51


Dear God,

You never said it would be easy. Please set us free from sin and division anyway. Enslave us to love and peace.

Thank you.

Tony D.


Jesus knows of what he spoke. Ask a group of Christians a probing question, and you’ll get different answers.

Ask about economic justice, and you may hear how the message to the rich young man does not apply to us.

Ask about settle your quarrel with your “brother” before standing before the altar, and you may hear how such bickering is justified.

Ask about liturgy, and you may hear how Vatican II got it all wrong or the Council of Trent.

Ask about music, and you will open a debate between the “Gather” book fans and the “Worship” book fans – Guitars versus Gregorian Chant.

Ask about consistent life issues, and you may be surprised that people don’t include euthanasia, the death penalty and war along with abortion.

That doesn’t even touch on the farm bill, immigration, assuring health care for poor children, international humanitarian aid, labor unions, and more. Yes…Jesus preached a challenging message…a message so challenging that 2007 years later, we still can not agree on what it really means.


Jesus teaches us that peacemaking is hard work. It takes seeing our “enemy” as a human being. It takes the will to negotiate when the easy thing to do is fight back. It takes retiring the “an eye for an eye” mentality that slides into war. I have recently read an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter. I offer it to add to your reading and reflection. Think about its message of peace in light of today’s comments by Jesus in the Gospel.

What can we do today to bring more peace to our environment? Our family? Our school? Our workplace?

How can we break the bounds of slavery to sin and free our selves to love each other?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

At An Hour You Do Not Expect, The Son Of Man Will Come

October 24, 2007

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

“...Do not present the parts of your body to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life, and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness.” (Romans 6:13)

“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Luke 12: 39-40)


Lord, help me to praise You and be ready for You, even in those times I might find Your presence “inconvenient.” Let me put aside my humanness in favor of Your guidance.


Today's Readings

The times that life is going well for us can be the easiest for evil to slip in. We’re just humming along with family responsibilities, prayer time, church, work, friends, and neighbors. In fact, things can be going so well that it can be easy to start cutting corners: “It really won’t matter if I skip Mass this week.” “No one will notice if I’m not at the parish or diocesan Ultreya.” We can lose some of our passion for Christ and our Christian lives when we are self-satisfied.

A beautiful article from The Word Among Us titled “From Glory to Glory, The Promise of Spiritual Transformation,” addresses the issue:

If we were to take an accounting of our lives, we might find a curious mixture. On one hand, we have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts. We have the Bread of Life to nourish us spiritually. We have Scripture to teach us and the saints to inspire us. We have a rich tradition of prayer and the promise of forgiveness whenever we confess our sins. With all of these gifts and blessings, we should be able to live holy lives; we should be able to reflect the glory of the Lord.
Yet, even with all of these gifts and blessings, our fallen nature—that part of us that rejects Jesus and wants to live by its own rules—still tries to convince us that we don’t need Jesus. It still tries to tell us that we are capable of doing the job on our own. But no matter how our fallen nature tries to persuade or manipulate us, it is always asking us the same question: “Do you really need the Holy Spirit?”

Of course, if that question were asked of us in those exact words, we would answer with a resounding “yes!” But it’s usually asked in far more subtle ways. “You’ve already prayed today; do you really need to pay close attention to your thoughts now?” “Religion is fine, as long as it’s put in its proper place. Do you really think God expects you to practice kindness all the time?” “You’re tired; don’t worry about examining your conscience tonight. You don’t think it makes a difference anyway… Do you?”

So the questions go, until we end up—often without even realizing it—relying solely on human logic and human strength instead of seeking the guidance of divine wisdom. It can be tempting to think that if our prayer life is going well, we don’t have to be vigilant in other aspects of our lives. But God wants to transform our whole lives. He wants every part of us to be filled with his life and love.

Let us be present and mindful every day, through the good times and the bad. Let us be ready when the Master comes.


Where have you become complacent in your relationship with Christ? Raise up that complacency in piety, action, or study, and turn it on its head. Develop a new action plan for your faith, or change up your prayer practice, or read an inspirational book by an author you don’t know. Be open to transformation.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Here I Am, Lord; I Come To Do Your Will

October 23, 2007

Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous.
Romans 5:19

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. Luke 12:37


(Based upon Psalm 40)

I waited, waited for the LORD; who bent down and heard my cry,

The Lord drew me out of the pit of self-destruction, out of the swamp of self-pity, out of the gridlock of a selfish society.

The Lord pried me out of my car and off my couch and set me off in the direction of His choosing shaking the dust from my feet,

Happy are those whose trust is the LORD, who turn not to idolatry of the television, the I-pod or the Internet or to those who stray after falsehoods spread by Madison Avenue, Wall Street or Hollywood through MSNBCBSABCFOXTV.

How numerous, O LORD, my God, you have made your wondrous deeds! The Blue Ridge of Virginia. The rushing waters of Great Falls. The crisp light of an October sky. The cool fresh dew on the morning grass. The quiet smile of a neighbor passing. The laugh of the children. The happiness of those whom you bless abundantly.

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but two ears open to obedience you gave to us just as you gave them to Abraham, the descendants of David, Mary, and the disciples. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I simply say, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. Your commands for me are written in the pages of the Hebrew Bible and the Good News. Please make doing Your will my delight and my only occupation; Place your Word in my mind, on my lips and in my heart!”

Help me not to be shy but instead to announce your great deeds to the community of believers and nonbelievers through my words and actions.

I make no secret of your enduring kindness to the community and your compassion for your awaiting servants.

All around are evils beyond count; hunger, homelessness, and poverty; unjust war and terrorism; rampant disease; greed; indulgence; ignorance; negligence and my sins of commission and omission. These so overwhelm me that I cannot see you. I cannot hear your Word. I am distracted from obeying your commands.

LORD, graciously rescue me right here and right now in this moment when I live! Come quickly to help me, LORD!

Put to shame and confound all who seek to take my life or to cheapen it. Turn back in disgrace those who desire my ruin or who want me to compromise my values for what is politically or economically or socially expedient.

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. May those who long for your help always say, "The LORD is glorified."

Though I am afflicted and a poor follower, keep my needs in your compassionate heart and mind. You are my help and deliverer; my God, do not delay! Amen.


Where am I? What will I be doing when the Master arrives?

As we read the stories in the Bible every day, we encounter the saints and sinners who ran across Jesus as he walked through Palestine 2,000 years ago. Jesus met people just like they were and accepted them. The lepers. The prostitutes. The tax collectors. The Romans. The Pharisees. He did not judge them. He saved them.

I dare say if Jesus walked across Fairfax County today, he would still accept us as we are. He might be shocked at our wealth and habits. Yet, He would teach and preach the same message he has been preaching all year in the Gospel of Luke: listen to the word and obey it.

He would arrive to have dinner with the used car dealers, drug pushers, advertisers, politicians, tax collectors, alcoholics, gamblers, couch potatoes and more among us. He would walk shoulder-to-shoulder with the soldiers and the peace protestors. I expect that He would visit our mosques, temples and churches -- not just the Catholic ones either.

In a society bent on self-improvement, Jesus would show us a way based on self-acceptance and service. “He will gird himself.” Literally he will tie his holy tunic between his legs for mobility, agility and protection. Fastening his garment in this fashion means he will not trip while serving us reclined at table. He will be in a position to serve us happily and readily and swiftly. Would He find us predisposed to serve Him happily, readily and swiftly?

We find throughout the Bible stories of people of piety like Abraham who turned to God in the moment of need and asked for assistance. Here I am Lord. Help me.

We find throughout the Bible stories of people in study like Nicodemus who sought out Jesus as the Pharisee he was in order to find out more about life in the Spirit. Here I am Lord. Teach me.

We find throughout the Bible stories of people of action like Mary who met God as she was and accepted whatever mission or request God placed in her hands. Here I am Lord. Use me.

None of them said, “Hold on Lord while I get to be more self-confident. Hold on Lord while I get a little thinner, happier, more financially secure, or whatever. They encountered Jesus as they were and were ready for whatever came there way.

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


Today, in the moments that you live, how will you encounter Jesus? What will He find? How will you respond?

Live in the moment today. Relish each interaction as a way that you can serve God by serving others.

Don’t wait for some future moment. Do it today.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Empowered by Faith

October 22, 2007

Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

Abraham did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God and was fully convinced that what God had promised he was also able to do (Romans 4:21-22)

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people (Luke 1:66)

But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” (Luke 12:21)


Good and loving God, empower me with the gift of faith to put you at the center of my self. May I recognize in you the treasure that I truly long for. May I act each day to give glory to you alone rather than to myself. Help me to live fully convinced that what you have promised you will give.


It is astounding how rich, abundant and overreaching God’s love is. Abraham overcame doubts about the promises he heard by giving over himself to God. God not only made good on all His promises but He extended them to Abraham’s descendents. In the responsorial psalm from Luke, Zechariah prophesies of the fulfillment of God’s promise in the person of the baby Jesus, a promise God extends to the world. Jesus puts the fulfillment into perspective. Do not be greedy, he tells the listeners, but rather be “rich in God”. Earthly fulfillment is transitory and uncertain. God’s promise is beyond – beyond what we can imagine or think we want here in life.

This is awfully hard to grasp. Everyday we see things decaying, dying, falling apart, blowing up or blowing down. Life goes by, changes, ends, transitions. It is difficult to imagine a love so permanent and solid that it will never change or stop. In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples how important it is to pray always without becoming weary. (Luke 18:1) In order to be empowered by faith and to believe in such immutable love we must have hearts open to God. Recognizing God as our ultimate treasure means spending time with God.


If God is our treasure, how do we share that treasure with others whom God loves equally? Sharing takes on a different meaning in this global economy. What do I do that has an impact upon someone else – negatively or positively – across the world? We don’t need to feel guilty because God put us where we are in order to be God’s hands and feet; but awareness and consequent choices are important.

Check out this interesting article on options for fair trade Halloween Candy:

Changing the Mind of God

October 21, 2007

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joseph McCloskey, S.J.

Moses' hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. Exodus 17:12

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1-2

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:6-8


Christ has no body now on earth but yours;

No Hands but yours;

No feet but yours:

Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out into the world;

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless now. St. Theresa of Avila


I believe that what I do does make a difference to God. Do you? Hard times make us call out to God for help. The God I need is more present to my mind and heart than a God I did not need would be. We are made for God. Christ is the model of who we should be. He is forever calling out to us in the goodness of our brothers and sister. There is no shortcut to God. We work out our salvation in fear and trembling. We go through the motions without appreciating what we are doing often enough. Moses in holding up his arms believed that God would hear his prayer. It is a graphic example of praying with the body. The battle turned bad when his arms dropped. He had help holding his arms up. We are not in the battle alone. The needs of our brothers and sisters make a difference to us.

How close we are to Christ is the measure of true happiness. God is always willing to listen to the Christ of each of us. When Christ invites us to keep asking in the parable of today he is revealing how he relates to his Father. We have the attention of God when we ask in the name of Christ. Wanting others to share our love of Christ is changing the lives of everyone around us whether we realize it or not.


Jesus told us about the necessity to pray always without becoming weary. If the unjust judge would grant the request of the widow because she asked so insistently, how much more readily will God grant our request if we call out to him day and night. Asking once for what we want does not do the trick. Our faith is shown in the demanding of our hearts that God give us what we need to serve him better. The great saints knew how to ask. God hears the very cry of our hearts because it is the spirit of the Lord that is crying out in the intensity of our needs. We need to be persistent in our prayer whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Our prayer will open our hearts to do what God is asking of us. God is waiting to be asked by us. He will not force his gifts upon us. He will give better than what we are asking. He will give to us at the right time what we really need if we want to be his. Our prayer opens the floodgates of God’s love for us in his Son.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Follow the Faith of Abraham

October 20, 2007

Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith. Romans 4:13

I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. Luke 12:8-9


O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be if I keep on my selfish and materialistic ways? Just as you fulfilled the wishes of Abraham, receive my petitions, offered to you with total confidence, humility and trust. Help me to follow the faith of Abraham. Change me for your purpose. Just as you grant to us all that is good, may we respond obediently to all that you ask of us, no matter how difficult the test, just as Abraham was willing to give up the finest gift you had given to him. Amen.


Everything starts with faith.

Righteousness and justice start with faith.

Salvation starts with faith.

Community starts with faith.

Relationships start with faith.

We are a nation of laws. Do this. Don’t do that. Read the sign. Do not pass “Go;” Do not collect $200. Yet long before the angel appeared to Mary, long before Jesus was born in a stable, long before the disciples were chosen, we had a model of faith. That model was Abraham. He is the first of the line of Judeo-Christian patriarchs found in the Hebrew Bible.

According to Shellie Warren, Abraham is the first person in the Bible to have a dialog with God. Although God spoke to others, Abraham was the first person to make a request of his Creator.

Even with all that God had done for him, there was something else that Abraham felt would make his life happier and more complete. Communicating this fact with God was not about not being grateful for what he did have, but about wanting to pursue what he did not, in hopes that the Father would make a way.

Abraham was bold enough to ask for an heir and God not only granted him that wish, but went above and beyond the request and made his heirs as numerous as the stars in the heavens. Abraham asked him. God did it.

“When we are living a life in consistent communication and submissive humility to God, He delights in our requests---no matter how personal or impossible they may seem to us or others,” adds Warren.

Based upon such a close personal relationship with God, Abraham now fulfilled his responsibilities toward his friend who granted him such a priceless gift. Abraham did not act the way he did because there was some law that told him what to do. He did not have an office lined with the West Law books. He did not search the Internet for commentary and options. God asked him. Abraham did it.

It’s one thing to do the right thing when everyone is watching. But what happens when we are alone? Abraham knew that “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” So he always acted as if the community was his witness and history relied upon his actions in order to fulfill the covenant for the Lord remembers his covenant forever.

The relationship is not the end. It is the beginning. Abraham believed, hoping against hope. In Genesis 15, the Lord heard his cries and promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars. Today, Luke extends that covenant beyond this world and into the Kingdom: I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.


Abraham was severely tested and he always relied upon faith. The near sacrifice of his son, Isaac, shows us that Abraham set out to obey God’s commandments without questioning.

Are we capable of such obedience? Are we not more likely to try to bargain with God in order to minimize the price that we have to pay? Do we act more like Abraham or like someone trying to buy a used car for the lowest cost?

What do you need to ask of your Lord today? Ask for it in trust.

What is one area where you can be more obedient to God? Do it with humility and confidence.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Heard in the Light

October 19, 2007

Memorial of Saint John de Brébeuf and Saint Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs, and their companions, martyrs

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not record. Romans 4:8

There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. Luke 12:2-3


The harvest has begun! May there be enough laborers for it to continue, blessing us with an abundance of life. Amen.


Sometimes, hope shines through all the obstacles that society attempts to erect. Not just the hope of your favorite team winning the impossible game although Notre Dame did break its streak against UCLA. Beyond the games, real hope for humanity may be breaking out. Granted, we can not ignore the many dangers and threats in the world from AIDS and hunger and homelessness to the wars raging everywhere. But, several events this week indicate that message in the Good News is starting to rattle around inside some people’s heads and is beginning to affect people’s actions.

Luke continues to remind us of the consequences of our actions (Don’t be afraid of those who might kill your body. Fear those who have the power to condemn your soul to hell).

This week, the streams of light emanating from the Kingdom have peaked through the clouds illuminating our souls. And they just may be chasing away the fear-mongers.

1) First, the Dali Lama was supported quite publicly in his call for cultural and religious autonomy in Tibet. His call was joined by the expected (Richard Gere) and the unexpected (President George Bush). It’s not just a few granola munching, Prius-driving liberals sporting “Free Tibet” bumper stickers any longer. I saw one parked on Constitution Avenue in front of the White House lawn!

2) The Supreme Court decided to stay another execution in Virginia in order to consider the legality of crucifixion (state-sponsored death by lethal injection) – effectively grinding the application of the death penalty to a halt for now. So while our Catholic, death-penalty-opposing governor may not act on his beliefs, these decisions are being taken from his hands and placed into others.

3) To all those rattling sabers toward Iran and other nations who want to get weapons of mass destruction, a Vatican diplomat cautioned that the way to control nuclear weapons is through diplomacy, not military action.

4) The former archbishop of the Military Diocese has publicly criticized aspects of the war in Iraq. Now head of the Baltimore Archdiocese, Edward O’Brien said, “Military chaplains must be voices of conscience and defenders of the human rights of their own soldiers, enemy combatants and civilians.”

Archbishop O’Brien went on to criticize the fact that “The vicious and utterly barbaric treatment of individuals” in the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq “leaves no doubt as to the barbaric extremes to which human beings can resort, especially in times of war.”

“It is significant, perhaps, that this prison did not have an assigned chaplain, though Army regulations required one,” he said. “Where there is an acceptance of direct killing of noncombatant civilians, for instance, there is no chaplaincy worth its name. Where torture is justified in eliciting prisoner information, chaplaincy is ineffective or nonexistent,” he said. You can read an account of his comments here:

Yes indeed! Our leaders are leading us toward application of a consistent ethic of life. They are recognizing who to fear is not those who may have the power to attack our bodies, but those who have the power to attack our very souls:

I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Luke 12:5


What signs of hope do you see in society this week? What role can you play in spreading that hope throughout your world?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Send Out Laborers

October 18, 2007

The Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist

But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. 2 Timothy 4:17

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Luke 10:2

(From the Benedictine Breviary)

Lord God, you inspired your servant St. Luke, a physician, to reveal through preaching and writing the mystery of your love for the poor and the love and healing power of your Son. Guide our feet along his path of peace. Grant that those who already confess your name may continue to be of one heart and mind with a preferential option for the poor so that people everywhere may come to see your salvation. This we ask of you through the intervention of St. Luke and your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Throughout this liturgical cycle, we have been studying the Gospel of Luke, whose feast day is marked today. As the nights get longer and the temperatures drop, we know that this year will wind to a close in about six more weeks…with the feast of Christ the King on November 25. So today’s readings appropriately remind us of the two themes that St. Luke attempts to make perfectly clear.

First, the Lord will do whatever He can to open our ears to the Word of God so that we might genuinely hear the message.

Second, we must do something about it. Too often the harvest is abundant – there is so much love that the world needs from Burma to Darfur, Kabul to Baghdad, from Boston to Durham, from Kansas to the District of Columbia, from Maryland to Virginia. Yet, we must pray to the Lord to send laborers to spread charity through the world.

These messages mirror the way St. Luke teaches and preaches. He depicts Jesus as a “prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19). Therefore, sometimes, Luke teaches by relating what Jesus said (mighty in words) so that we may absorb its true meaning. Other times, Luke tells us what Jesus did so we can model his behavior to the world (mighty in deed).

From the beginning, Luke decided, “after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you” so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. (Luke 1:3-4). From the outset, in the story of the pregnancy of Elizabeth, we see how her husband Zechariah was stricken speechless because he did not listen to the Word of God, delivered through Gabriel the archangel. Zechariah’s doubts – and eventual obedience – contrast with the obedience and actions of his wife’s cousin, Mary.

Given back his gift of speech and his son, St. Luke established the themes for this history in the canticle (Luke 1:68-75) and foreshadowed the death of Jesus:

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people. He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant, even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might worship him in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Despite the promise of “salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,” it appears that Jesus could not escape the hands of those who hated him.

Despite that, we will witness Jesus, hanging on the cross, facing imminent near death, do the one act that we find the hardest to do when we are filled with health, wealth and freedom. Forgive his neighbor. With nearly his last breath, in his words and deeds, Jesus models what he wants us to do at the moment. Unbelievers would see as his ultimate failure. Yet, in just a few syllables, he frees himself from the hand of those who want to kill him and shows mercy, holiness and righteousness to those before him.

In that nearly last scene, Luke reminds us of the encounter that Jesus had with the men crucified next to him:

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)


Through this feast day, let us celebrate how we have come closer to Jesus through the words given to us by St. Luke this year. The Gospel of John may be presented with more flowery and poetic language and stories and signs. The Gospel of Matthew may be more popular with the general “Godspell-generation” public. The Gospel of Mark may be more prophetic in its structure and meaning. Yet, as we have turned page after page in the Good News according to St. Luke, we have come to learn the prescription for being a good follower of Christ in a book by a poor physician that is at once both personally and spiritually enriching.

Listen to the word. Obey the commands with our deeds.

The American Catholic web site outlines the many ways we can celebrate the Gospel of Luke. These include:

The Gospel of Mercy: Luke emphasizes Jesus' compassion and patience with the sinners and the suffering. He has a broadminded openness to all, showing concern for Samaritans, lepers, publicans, soldiers, public sinners, unlettered shepherds, the poor. Luke alone records the stories of the sinful woman, the lost sheep and coin, the prodigal son, the good thief. How can you show mercy today?

The Gospel of Universal Salvation: Jesus died for all. He is the son of Adam, not just of David, and Gentiles are his friends too. How can you seek salvation today?

The Gospel of the Poor: "Little people" are prominent—Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, Simeon and the elderly widow, Anna. He is also concerned with what we now call "evangelical poverty." How can you help the “little people” today?

The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation: He stresses the need for total dedication to Christ. How can you renounce the world and be totally dedicated to God?

The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit: He shows Jesus at prayer before every important step of his ministry. The Spirit is bringing the Church to its final perfection. How do you plan to grow in your prayer life to honor St. Luke?

The Gospel of Joy: Luke succeeds in portraying the joy of salvation that permeated the primitive Church. How can you share in the joy of the early Church despite its hardships, persecutions and suffering?

May these words of St. Luke bring you peace today and always.