Sunday, January 31, 2010

Announce To Them All

February 1, 2010

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district. Mark 5:15-17


How many are my foes, LORD! How many rise against me!

How many say of me, "God will not save that one."

But you, LORD, are a shield around me; my glory, you keep my head high.

Whenever I cried out to the LORD, I was answered from the holy mountain.

Whenever I lay down and slept, the LORD preserved me to rise again. (Psalm 3:2-6)


Jesus is not having a very easy time being an itinerant preacher. No one seems to want to listen to him or follow his instructions except those possessed of evil.

In our recent Sunday readings from the Gospel of Luke, we have heard how Jesus was not doing a very convincing job preaching to his family, neighbors and friends in his hometown. Today, Mark relates a story about Jesus and his work in the pagan area of Gerasenes.

This is the first incident to be told after Jesus calmed the seas. Upon that action, the disciples closest to Jesus in the boat still were questioning the identity of their teacher. However, no sooner do they get off the boat, then do they encounter a man driven insane and locked away in the tombs away from the people. However, for this man – locked away with no external knowledge beforehand of Jesus, his work or his identity – knows exactly who has approached him.

The notes in the New American Bible explain that the “man was an outcast from society, dominated by unclean spirits, living among the tombs. The prostration before Jesus indicates Jesus' power over evil spirits.”

This man, however, knows immediately that Jesus the Messiah is there as do the evil spirits possessing his body. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!" (He had been saying to him, "Unclean spirit, come out of the man!") Mark 5:6-8

Again, Jesus with simple verbal commands, rids the man of the mental illness and disposes of the evil spirits by moving them into a heard of pigs who plunge off a cliff into the sea and drown.

How do you suppose the rest of the people react? Are they happy that there is no longer a madman in their midst whom they could not even restrain with chains? Hardly. They act no different than the family and friends who tried to stone him in the Sunday Gospel.

They do not understand what Jesus has done and would rather he get out of that region rather than remain and repeat his good works. So Jesus and the disciples shake the dust off of their feet and depart.


How often do we reject or ignore that which we do not understand? Sometimes science may be able to explain why something happens like a solar eclipse but there are some mysteries that science can not even prove (the creation of the universe, for example.) When a new theory goes against prevailing conventional wisdom, it also may be rejected before it is proven and accepted. The institutional church may even have a part in such rejection. Remember what happened when Galileo offered a theory that the earth revolved around the sun rather than vice versa.

Today, stories (and subsequent settlements) continue to come to light about how the church treated priests who committed sexual abuse in the past. The treatment methods and management practices in the past were ineffective and resulted in still more harm to children as abusers were moved from place to place. New methods have had to be used under greater transparency and with greater accountability.

What challenges you today? Is it something intellectual, theological, medical, economic or other? What can you do to better understand it, cope with it and deal with it? Jesus will not leave us alone to face these issues any more than he could turn his back on the man with the withered hand who wanted to be cured on the Sabbath or the man possessed of evil demons. As we learn in Psalm 3, “Safety comes from the LORD!”

Once we understand the issue with the help of the Lord, we than must accept the same challenge that Jesus laid out for the man formerly possessed. He was sent home to proclaim the Good News to those he knew. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But he would not permit him but told him instead, "Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you." Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed. Mark 5:18-20

A Still More Excellent Way

January 31, 2010

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

The word of the LORD came to me thus: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. Jeremiah 1:4-5

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Luke 4:24


What God says about Jeremiah is true of all of us. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” God has a purpose for all of us. He picked our families for us. He gave us all a destiny. He gave us an absolute freedom. He would never take back our freedom. We cannot deserve God’s love. Everything about life is God’s gift to us He picked the world where we would make our free choices. He does not force us to love him. He gives us his love which we are free to respond to. Our gift of life fills us with the attractions that make life possible. The energy of choices flows out of our pride, anger, lust, envy, gluttony, avarice and sloth. I can make gods out of my desires and selfishness can rule my life. I can surrender my desires to what is the good of others; then selflessness replaces selfishness. Love is the giving up of what I have a right to for the good of others. Our piety is expressed in living our lives for others.


We learn how to live our lives with the greatest spiritual gifts. All the great gifts of prophecy, understanding the great mysteries of life, even enough faith to move mountains, Paul tells us are nothing if I do not have love. We can make a lot of noise by what we know and how we show ourselves off, but we are nothing without love. I learn patience by how I suffer to make things easier for others. Love is patient. I learn how to be kind by rejoicing in the good of others. Love is not jealous. I learn to be humble by not being pompous because I know love is not inflated or rude or seeks its own interest. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. We have to grow up if we want to be lovers of the people of our lives. We must put aside the childish things of our life to live our lives as adult lovers of each other.


The greatest of all the gifts is love. Christ returns to his native place and shares with his people what love is all about. When they think about his being the son of Joseph, as amazed as they were with his wisdom and knowledge, they reject him because they do not understand how it is possible for him to have changed so greatly. They seek to punish him because he is claiming for himself the role of prophet. They seek to cast him down from the brow of the hill on which their town was built, but Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away. We have to share the truth of ourselves not just with the strangers of our lives, but even with those who knew us when we were children. The challenge to grow up is lived out in the way we allow each other to grow in the love of the Lord. We must hear the call of the Lord to love the Lord, our God, with all our hearts. But we must also love our neighbor with all that we are. John puts the question to us. How can we say we love the God we do not see, if we do not love the neighbor that we do see. Our action has to be the glad tidings to the poor and the proclaiming of liberty to captives. Our love is played out in what we do for the least ones in our lives. The best action is picking out someone who needs us and reaching out beyond the limits of our pocketbooks to share what we have with the least one of our lives.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Who Then Is This

January 30, 2010

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Nathan answered David: "The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the LORD by this deed, the child born to you must surely die." 2 Samuel 12:13-14

“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” Mark 4:41


These I Wish

To live a life of cheer
To laugh when all seems dark
To shed a tender tear when beauty calls
To hark – to speak a work of hope, to love, to work, to pray – to bring a touch of joy to all I meet each day.
I would be glad and live with all my heart that when I come to heaven, I have left my part.

(By Monica Miller in the book Bedside Prayers.)


Last week, when Jesus encountered demons while healing and exorcising his followers, these demons recognized the Lord in their struggle. Then, in the last few days, we have had readings where his family did not recognize Jesus. Today, those closest to Jesus once again do not seem to recognize who is walking among them.

Jesus can conquer demons. Jesus can conquer disease. Jesus can even conquer the natural forces of the earth like wind and storms and tides. As we saw earlier in the month when Jesus controlled the demons, he did so with just a few words (“Quiet! Come out of him!”) Today’s reading has Jesus rebuke the wind and subdue the sea the same way with just a few words (“Quiet! Be still!”). Yet those closest to Jesus can not put two and two together to conclude what the demons seem to know…that this special person is the Messiah.

Jesus calls on them to have a little faith. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" Mark 4:40

Even great faith is not enough unless proper action springs from that faith. We see in David a man of great faith who knows how to mete out justice among his people when he is faced with the dishonest shepherd. However, despite that faith, David continues to act selfishly and fulfill his own desires. He asks for forgiveness, however, he still has to pay a price for his misdeeds.


(From the testimony of Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations January 29, 2010.)

“Sitting before you, I am at my core optimistic about the possibilities before us and the potential of our support to help rescue and transform our poorest neighbor. The response from citizens of the United States to the recent events in Haiti has been overwhelming and encouraging. There is the promise of solidarity by our leadership to make long-term commitments to the kinds of investments needed in Haiti—and to fulfilling them.

“For two centuries, the Haitian people have struggled for basic human and economic rights, the right to health care, the right to education, the right to work, the right to dignity and independence. These goals, which Haitians share with people all over the world, should direct our policies of aid and rebuilding.

“As I wrote with colleagues in a recent op-ed—which is available in my written testimony—as physicians working in Haiti, we know first-hand that Haiti itself will soon be the casualty if we do not help build back better in the way envisioned by Haitians themselves.”

Please research the groups working in Haiti on rescue and reconstruction and support those you conclude are doing the most effective work.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Have Mercy on Me

January 29, 2010

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab which he sent by Uriah. In it he directed: “Place Uriah up front, where the fighting is fierce. Then pull back and leave him to be struck down dead.” So while Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew the defenders were strong. When the men of the city made a sortie against Joab, some officers of David’s army fell, and among them Uriah the Hittite died. (2 Samuel 11:14-17)

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. (Psalms 51:3-6)

“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)


Lord, too often, I’m all about me and getting what I want in the way and time that I want it in my life. Then, when it backfires, I’m too embarrassed to come to you for help. I humbly ask You for the insight to plant that tiny mustard seed of faith in You… and the wisdom to let it take root and grow.


What an arrogant jerk David was.

He gets Uriah’s wife pregnant. Then David orders Uriah home from the military campaign and tries to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba to cover up their adultery. When Uriah resists, David sends his friend to his death.

And then, caught flatfooted in this treachery by the prophet Nathan, David writes the most famous, and many believe the most beautiful, of the penitential psalms.

Outrageous! How in the world did David have the nerve to ask—and not only to ask, but to ask confidently—for forgiveness?

Two words: Outrageous faith.

David lived life big. He ruled big. He fought big. He loved big. He sinned big. He celebrated big. He sinned big. And he believed big. Big as all outdoors. Maybe as big as any human ever has.

Many of us live small. We don’t take chances for ourselves or God. We give treasure, but not so much as it’d pinch us. We give time, but not to a cause that would inconvenience us too much. We give talent, but stay away from ministries that might stretch us a bit. We try to keep ourselves and our relationship with God inside the box we’ve built for ourselves. We don’t color outside the lines. We play it safe.

And then we sin. Sometimes, it’s a whopper like David’s, so large that we’re afraid to go to God. Sometimes, it’s a smaller one, like gossiping or being judgmental, but we stop taking it to God because after all, we’ve been asking for help with this problem for years and don’t seem to be making any progress.

Be outrageous. Dare to ask—confidently, even—for forgiveness. Plant that mustard seed.


Ask God to forgive the unforgiveable sin that’s been weighing on your soul. Or, dare to take another big chance God has been nudging you to take.

Your Words are Truth

January 28, 2010

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church

It is you, LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who said in a revelation to your servant, 'I will build a house for you.' Therefore your servant now finds the courage to make this prayer to you. And now, Lord GOD, you are God and your words are truth; you have made this generous promise to your servant. Do, then, bless the house of your servant that it may be before you forever; for you, Lord GOD, have promised, and by your blessing the house of your servant shall be blessed forever. 2 Samuel 7:27-29

He also told them, "Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." Mark 4:24-25


I am full of wishes, full of desires, full of expectations.
Some may be realized, many may not but in the midst of my satisfactions and disappointments, I hope in you.
I know that you will never leave me alone and will fulfill your divine promises.
Even when it seems that things are not going my way, I know that they are going your way and that, in the end, your way is the best way for me.
O Lord, strengthen my hope, especially when my wishes are not fulfilled.
Let me never forget that your name is love.
By Henri Nouwen.


Samuel reminds us of the covenant we have with the Lord. The Lord will provide blessings on our house because He has chosen us as his servants. However, this covenant has another side which comes out in the reading from Mark. While the Lord offers unconditional love to us, in return, he asks us to spread the Good News in our words and deeds.

“To the one who has, more will be given.” Careful reading will avoid seeing this in an economic or political sense. This has nothing to do with material possessions or political power or social position. This statement comes right after Jesus comments on making his words and works visible and sharing them in the world. So I read this as, “To the one who listens and hears, more will be shared. To the one who understands, more will be revealed.” Passing on the word of the Lord is our commitment for the blessings that we have received in life.


In today’s world, there are many tools and resources available to help us understand and spread the Gospel. Coming up in the Arlington Diocese is a conference being sponsored by the Justice and Peace Commission. You are invited to the 4th annual Peace Symposium Saturday, February 6, 2010 at Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 3304 North Washington Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia 22201.

Dr. Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love is the keynote speaker and her topic is “Seeking a Just Peace Religion: A Source of Peace or Conflict?” She is an award winning international educator, New York Times Best-Selling Author and Associate Professor of International Politics at Catholic University
For more information call 703-321-7960. Details also are posted on the web at

The symposium will begin with 9:00 a.m. Mass the program will take place from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Build a House

January 27, 2010

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. It is he who shall build a house for my name. And I will make his royal throne firm forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. 2 Samuel 7:12-14

"The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that 'they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.'" Mark 4:11-12


The following prayer was composed by John Veltri, S.J., a Canadian spiritual director and expert guide for those presenting the Spiritual Exercises. He died in 2008. May he rest in peace.

Teach Me To Listen

Teach me to listen, O God, to those nearest me, my family, my friends, my co-workers.

Help me to be aware that the words – no matter what I hear the message is – Accept the person I am. Listen to me.

Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me – the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished.

Teach me to listen, O God my Mother, to myself. Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside – in the deepest part of me.

Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice in the busyness and in boredom, and in doubt and in noise and in silence.

Teach me to listen, Lord, to listen.


The mystery of the Kingdom of God was revealed to Nathan and was shared with David. The Lord told them that an heir from the lineage of David would build the house of God on earth.

When the Lord spoke with his disciples, he explained that the mystery of the Kingdom of God also was revealed to them. The mystery sat right in their midst. They had the unequalled opportunity to listen to the words of Jesus and make sure that they knew exactly what was meant in the parables and allegorical stories told to the crowds.

Today, Mark gives us an example of Jesus preaching and interpreting what is mean. He tells the disciples a story. Then he explains what it means. Then, he concludes by telling them why it matters.

The notes provided in the New American Bible also give some interpretation of the story of the sower. “Since in Palestine sowing often preceded ploughing, much of the seed is scattered on ground that is unsuitable. Yet while much is wasted, the seed that falls on good ground bears fruit in extraordinarily large measure. The point of the parable is that, in spite of some failure because of opposition and indifference, the message of Jesus about the coming of the kingdom will have enormous success.”


Today, we interpret these Christian truths not with the examples of live in Palestine two thousand years ago. We relate by considering examples of communications from today. We know that mystery in the lesson of the sower to be true as we attend Mass on Sunday thousands of miles from Judea. A quick check of the local diocese web site reveals some basic facts: There you will find that there are:

  • 642,064 Catholics registered in Virginia

· 428,417 Registered Catholics in the Arlington Diocese where there are:

o 8,020 annual Baptisms and Professions of Faith

o 1,407 Marriages

o 251priests

o 68 Parishes

o 6 Missions

o 41 diocesan schools

I guess you could say that some of the seed fell on fertile soil.

What are you going to do this week to cultivate that fertile ground?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Selfless Love

January 26, 2010

Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus, Bishops

By Beth DeCristofaro

I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you. (2 Timothy 1:4-5)

(Jesus) said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)


O Lord, I pray for the grace and the strength to remain faithful to your teachings and to the sacramental life of the Church. Help me to persevere in the commitments and promises I have made to you. Give me the fortitude to live up to the vocation I received in my baptism, to the duties derived from my confirmation in the Spirit, and to the graces received in the other sacraments. Help me to place love of God and service to Him before all else and help me to bring selfless love to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.


Whether Paul ever heard the story of Jesus’ response to the crowd in Mark’s gospel or not, he certainly knows the same truth which Jesus speaks: “[W]hoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Paul’s letter to Timothy starts with poignant words from one dear friend to another but also recognition of Timothy’s family: “[A]s I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice.”

Over the years I have run into people who were taught by my father, a teacher in Arlington schools and have relished hearing how much my dad meant to them. I’ve met friends of my mother who have told me what a difference in their lives she made. These stories warm my heart that someone else shares such feelings about my parents and I am happy to be of their family. I am sure that Timothy appreciated reading Paul’s opening words and that he knew that Lois and Eunice would be proud of him for his willingness to witness and “bear (his) share of hardship for the Gospel” as Paul stated. Indeed, Timothy was martyred for his witness to the Gospel.

These readings point to the communal nature of our call to follow and witness to Christ. We do not follow Jesus in isolation. Jesus encouraged all to follow God through him as part of God’s family. And Jesus not only did not limit that family but asked his followers to bring “to the ends of the earth” the Word of the Father. He asked his followers to not only throw open the doors that all people learn of and believe in God, but to accept hardship and persecution in doing so. The family of God must be of hardy stock. But then the root stock, being both human and divine, passes on an enduring resiliency to those who are his brothers and sisters. It is in community that we seek the fullness of God’s revelation in the world. We are invited in and tasked to speak our witness to the community of the world.


Would Jesus say I was his brother or sister? Do I exclude people from God’s family because I disagree with their politics, actions or religious beliefs? Can I let God determine who is of God’s family while I hold open doors for them to join by modeling the extravagant love which is an essential dynamic of God’s family and the community of Church? Do I practice and look for selfless love?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Chosen Instrument of Mine

January 25, 2010

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

But the Lord said to him, "Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name." So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit." Acts 9:15-17

He said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15-16


Awareness of God’s Presence

From heaven to Earth:

I watch you interact.

I see you dance.

I watch your breakdowns.

I see you love.

I suffer through your struggles.

I revel in your accomplishments.

I cry when someone taunts you

I laugh when someone laughs with you.

I am the peace you feel amidst the confusion.

I am the grass that cushions your fall.

I am the comfort of your hug to another.

I am the food for those who have none.

I long for you to notice. Thank you for the times you have.

If you could, do you think, when you wake up in the morning, you could whisper in the depths of your heart, “I know you’re here”? Because I am. Amen.

(Now and Forever: The CUA Student Prayer Book)


The Lord said to Ananias that Paul is a chosen instrument much like David was in our readings last week. However, they both needed the intervention of another person in order to fulfill that role.

On your Cursillo weekend, you might remember being introduced to the phrase: “Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Christ.” Ananias and Jonathan have showed us in their example how they helped prepare the way for a friend to bring others to Christ. Their example also flows from that of John the Baptist and the whole history of prophets through the Hebrew Bible.

Paul’s conversion might not have been possible without Ananias helping him regain his sight. David’s kingship might not have been possible if he had not been saved by Jonathan from the jealousy and murder plot being hatched by the Old Testament Saul.


Our work is important but as the Sunday scripture reminded us, we are part of one body and we do not stand alone. If we are to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel, who is the person helping to pave your path and make that possible?

Take some time today to thank someone who has been the Ananias or the Jonathan in your life. They have been a chosen instrument of the Lord in order to help lead you to fulfill your mission in this life.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Eyes of All

January 24, 2010

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Then (Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and) Ezra the priest-scribe (and the Levites who were instructing the people) said to all the people: "Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep"- for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further: "Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!" Nehemiah 8:9-10

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:18-21


How the word of the Lord is heard and lived by us is the measure of our piety. When Ezra read the law to the men and women of his time they prostrated themselves before the Lord who was the source of this word. The words of the Lord are Spirit and life. They refresh our souls and give us the wisdom of God. We are called to love the Lord our God with all of our minds and hearts and souls. Everything we do we need to do for the Lord. It is the growing involvement of all that we are that makes our piety all inclusive. Even as the body is not a single part, but many, each of our actions is part of our piety. So there is no part of our body that does not influence the whole body. And the gifts of the soul are the same. There are many different gifts of the Spirit in all of us, but there is one giver of the gifts. Our piety is not individualistic. It reflects on all our family, friends and coworkers. Our gifts exist for the sake of the Community. If one part of the community suffers, the whole community suffers. The terrible earthquake in Haiti affects all of us. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body works to better the suffering part. Our piety makes us part of each other’s needs and has its fullness in the good of the Community.


We learn a lot about Jesus when we read about his visit to the Synagogue of Nazareth where he had grown up. He opened the scroll of Isaiah to what might have been one of his favorite passages he studied as a child. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” What an incredible thing he says about himself after he had finished reading this scroll. “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus has discovered his Father’s plan for himself. We all need to study what God is asking of us in his son Jesus if we want to be able to recognize who we are meant to be in Christ.


We are called to put on the mind and the heart of Christ in our spirituality. We are called to be other Christs. We do this by living out in ourselves the very discovery Christ made about himself in his studies of Scripture. Each of us have to apply these very words of Isaiah 61 to ourselves if we are to discover what God is asking of us that we might find ourselves in Christ. How I reach the poor has direction in the calamities of Haiti. How we free the captives of poverty by making work for them is just one of the actions we can do by challenging each other to be generous to those who are no longer able to help themselves. How we free The Haitians in this country to stay and work for the sake of their families is just one of the many ways we can reach beyond the limits of our selfishness. We must be our brothers’ keepers if we are want to be Christ to each other.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Again the Crowds Gathered

January 23, 2010

Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

"I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother! Most dear have you been to me; More precious have I held love for you than love for women. "How can the warriors have fallen, the weapons of war have perished!" 2 Samuel 1:26-27

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

Holy Spirit Prayer

Come Holy Spirit.
Replace the tension within us with a holy relaxation.
Replace the turbulence within us with a sacred calm.
Replace the anxiety within me with a quiet confidence.
Replace the fear within me with a strong faith.
Replace the darkness within me with a gentle light.
Replace the coldness within me with a loving warmth.
Replace the night within us with your day.
Replace the winter within us with your spring.
Straighten out our crookedness.
Fill our emptiness.
Dull the edge of our pride.
Sharpen the edge of our humility.
Light the fires of our love.
Quench the flame of our lust.
Let us see ourselves as you see us that we may see you as you have promised and be fortunate according to your word” “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.”
(From Prayers for Today)


In Mark chapter 2, Jesus started out in the confines of a house in Capernaum. So many people wanted to be touched by Him, that they even cut a hole in the roof to lower in the paralyzed man. No house could hold him.

Then, he went out along the sea and the crowds still pressed upon him. Calling Levi, he had dinner in his house. Finally, Jesus and his disciples were out in the fields. Throughout these journeys, everywhere he turned, the Pharisees questioned him. They questioned why he forgave the sins of the paralyzed man, why he ate with sinners and tax collectors and why they picked the grain and ate it on the Sabbath.

Next, they entered the temple and continued to cure people and exorcise demons. Still they accused him of violating the Sabbath. So Jesus and his disciples headed back to the shores of the sea again with a crush of people who wanted to have a close moment with Jesus so much that the theological and legal arguments did not matter to the people coming from all corners of the land.

After a commissioning trip up the mountain, Jesus comes full circle and returns home. Again the crowds gathered making it impossible to eat. Rather than make another miracle to feed everyone, he preaches some key lessons at the end of Mark 3.

Despite the throngs of people who have begun to follow Jesus, as he returns home, he still must deal with a skeptical family. Even though hundreds and maybe even thousands have flocked to him, those closest to Jesus – his family and his church leaders – remain skeptical about what he is doing and why he is doing it. They think he is out of his mind. They may be right because Jesus really is of the Father’s mind.


Overcoming skepticism may be the hardest part of our faith. What are the teachings of the church which give you the hardest time understanding?

Balancing obedience and free will can sometimes be a challenging cause. Look no further than the headlines in today’s newspaper about the intersection of faith and culture. Sometimes it is easy to see the right path. Yet other times, we may be led to do something for good which others do not understand as we try to have a consistent ethic of life for all. We greive and are as perplexed as David mourning the loss of Saul and Jonathan.

Thousands march in D.C. demonstration against abortion

Female priests defy Catholic Church, hope to change it

Firm will remove Bible references from gun sights

After 'mistakes,' Wyclef Jean group gets new accountants

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And Summoned Those Whom He Wanted

Your Daily Tripod for Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Saul then said to David: “You are in the right rather than I; you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm. Great is the generosity you showed me today, when the LORD delivered me into your grasp and you did not kill me. For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed? May the LORD reward you generously for what you have done this day." (1 Samuel 24:18-20)

Have mercy on me, God, have mercy on me. In you I seek shelter. In the shadow of your wings I seek shelter till harm pass by. (Psalms 57:2)

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Mark 3:13-19)


Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same? Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known, will you let my life be grown in you and you in me? (“The Summons” by John Bell)


Some of them, we think we know well: Simon, named Peter. Thomas. Judas. Those sons of Zebedee, James and John. Others, like James the son of Alphaeus, we know less about. We know they sometimes squabbled over who was closer to Christ. We know one of them, devoid of hope, committed suicide. We know there were dozens if not hundreds of other people around Jesus who became disciples. But these twelve he summoned… because he wanted them, Mark tells us. And they all came. Whether we understand why doesn’t matter.

Apostle means one sent forth as a messenger. These twelve messengers in particular were called to establish the early Church and given the authority to drive out demons. Just what those demons were varied. Illness. Disbelief. Distrust. Fear. Ignorance. Skepticism. You name it. They are many of the same demons we are empowered to drive out today, with Christ’s help.

We’ve got something else in common with the Twelve. Sometimes, we don’t understand or particularly care for our fellow disciples. We squabble about who’s doing a better job of service. We wonder if Jesus doesn’t value us just a little bit more… or maybe just a little bit less… than that person next to us who works at the homeless shelter or serves as sacristan or sings the responsorial psalm. And here’s the thing—it doesn’t matter, anymore than it mattered 2,000 years ago.

John Bell, who wrote the lyrics to “The Summons” and other beautiful hymns, talked about this a little in an interview with Read the Spirit:

Jesus’ disciples were not people of money or influence or any proven intellectual acumen. Sometimes Jesus consorts with people who are of great wealth and wisdom—but he also interacts with people who are poor and who are persecuted. All of these people are called together. For the church to be the essential, important community God is calling—then the church must be a place that calls people with a variety of opinions and many backgrounds. (

Sometimes we aren’t exactly sure why we’ve been summoned or why we’ve been summoned at the same time as people whom we find difficult to love. The important thing to remember is that we have been summoned because Christ wants us, as sure as he wanted the Twelve. If we listen, he’ll share the reason.


What has Christ summoned you to do? Spend some time in prayer on this question. The message you are called to carry now may not be the same message you were called to carry last year… or ten years ago.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

He Warned Them Sternly

January 21, 2010

Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Jonathan then spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him: "Let not your majesty sin against his servant David, for he has committed no offense against you, but has helped you very much by his deeds. When he took his life in his hands and slew the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great victory for all Israel through him, you were glad to see it. Why, then, should you become guilty of shedding innocent blood by killing David without cause?" Saul heeded Jonathan's plea and swore, "As the LORD lives, he shall not be killed." 1 Samuel 19:4-6

He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God." He warned them sternly not to make him known. Mark 3:10-12


I choose to breathe the breath of Christ that makes all life Holy. I choose to live the flesh of Christ that outlasts sin’s corrosion and decay. I choose the blood of Christ along my veins and in my hearts that dizzies me with joy. I choose the living waters flowing from his side to wash clean my own self and the world. I choose the awful agony of Christ to change my senseless sorrows into meaning and to make my pain pregnant with power. I choose you, good Jesus, count me among the victories that you have won in bitter woundedness. Never number me among those alien to you. Make me safe from all that seeks to destroy me. Summon me to come to you. Stand me solid among angels and saints chanting yes to all you have done, in all you mean to do forever and ever. Then, for this time, Father of all, keep me from the core of myself choosing Christ in the world. Amen. (Joseph Tetlow, SJ. From Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits)


Saul faces an internal conflict. His jealousy is tempting him to eliminate a rival for the adoration of the people by killing David. However, Jonathan intervenes first by warning David to hide out in private and then by becoming David’s advocate before Saul. Jonathan successfully mediates reconciliation between the current and future king.

Jesus, too, is dealing with the by-products of conflict. After the confrontation in the temple over curing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, Jesus withdraws from the temple but can not escape the conflicts that his Way causes with others around him. Jesus takes refuge from the perils that await him back in Jerusalem yet, his ministry continues, as noted by Ched Myers in Binding the Strong Man.

Jesus could have cured the man with the withered hand in private and avoided planting the seeds of further conflict with the Pharisees and scribes. But instead, he did that in the midst of the temple on a crowded Sabbath. Now, he works among crowds of new followers.

The mission has grown with people coming to Jesus from all parts of the land. Jesus draws people to himself through his teaching and deeds of power. Despite his admonitions to those he cures not to make him known, Jesus acts out his ministry in public where he can not really be in a position to manage the news.

Today, conflict shifts to those with the demonic spirits. Myers notes that Mark portrays Jesus in a struggle with unclean spirits over the power to “name” him and control his identity. The disciples are confused about who he is. ("Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?" Mark 4:41)

Yet, the demonic forces know exactly, and they believe they can bring him under their control by announcing to the public who he is. Thus Jesus routinely forbids unclean spirits to “make him known.” Jesus tries to silence demons and humans this way.

In Jesus’ confrontation with the unclean spirits and later with church and political authorities, the real issue is “who has the power to frame reality.” As we watch this conflict unfold in subsequent chapters, there is no one who steps forward like Jonathan to advocate for Jesus as the forces gather against him.


Are you called to be like Jonathan and advocate for some one or some issue? A recent e-mail from Anne Murphy reminded me that we are all called to be Jonathans. Anne wrote:

Today, more than 200 faith-filled Virginians advocated with legislators on behalf of those more needy than they. And legislators and their staff listened and hearts were moved. Person-to-person advocacy is always effective.

This year (biennial budget), more than ever, we CANNOT be silent. Our sisters and brothers whose voice is muted by hunger, mental illness, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, sickness are depending on us to speak with them and for them with the government officials who we elected. The very life blood of these people in need is threatened by draconian budget cuts being proposed. The budget is being balanced on the backs of those most helpless. Let us remind our Virginia lawmakers, "All economic life should be shaped by moral principles. Economic choices and institutions must be judged by how they protect or undermine the life and dignity of the human person, support the family, and serve the common good."

Consider joining other Catholics in Richmond next Thursday, January 28 to participate in the planned events of Catholic Advocacy Day at the Virginia General Assembly. For registration information, go to

There is bus transportation available: The first departure point is the parking lot of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More on Glebe Road in Arlington. There is a second pick-up point at exit 133b on I-95 south.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

At Your Service

January 20, 2010

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

“All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves. For the battle is the LORD'S, and he shall deliver you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:47

Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. Mark 3:1-2


“I know that God will not give me something I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Albanian born Indian Missionary and Founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity. Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979. 1910-1997)


Life is a series of tests. The question for us is, “How will we respond to the conflicts and challenges that we will face?”

These tests don’t just mean a math quiz on last night’s assignment or a pop quiz on the reading for Modern European History. Sure, school is a series of tests. But life continues throughout school and beyond. The tests continue long after we get out of school.

Today, our readings have for us one of the most famous conflicts in the Hebrew Bible – David and Goliath. Every school child knows how this turned out. (Spoiler alert: David wins.) But the story is not about the victory but about why David won and what it means for salvation history.

David approached his conflict with confidence and faith that the Lord would be at his side during his time of stress. When David felled Goliath with the stone, it gives new meaning to the term “upon this rock I will build my church.” Jesus was born in David’s family tree. Had he lost the battle, who knows what would have become of our salvation? There might be no Joseph. No Mary. Would that also mean no Jesus? Or would God have intervened in another way to bring the reality of the Incarnation to life? But David won and set in motion the history that we know today.

Jesus approached conflict with the Pharisees in much the same fashion as David. He strode into the temple, in the middle of the day, and set out to heal the man with the withered hand. He did not weight the odds of what consequences such action would bear on his life. Jesus knew, the events that this action would set in motion would culminate in the plot against him. But that inevitable conflict did not stop him.

The notes from the New American Bible put this conflict onto context. “His opponents were already ill disposed toward him because they regarded Jesus as a violator of the sabbath. Jesus' question ‘Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil?’ places the matter in the broader theological context outside the casuistry (reasoning) of the scribes. The answer is obvious. Jesus heals the man with the withered hand in the sight of all and reduces his opponents to silence.”

In the note to John 5:17, the NAB reminds us that “Sabbath observance was based on God's resting on the seventh day. Philo and some rabbis insisted that God's providence remains active on the sabbath, keeping all things in existence, giving life in birth and taking it away in death. Other rabbis taught that God rested from creating, but not from judging (=ruling, governing). Jesus here claims the same authority to work as the Father, and, in the discourse that follows, the same divine prerogatives: power over life and death and judgment.”


What conflict or challenge are you facing this year? Physical? Financial? Social? Spiritual? Can you approach that conflict with the same confidence as David and the intention and same end results as Jesus?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Lord Looks into our Hearts

January 19, 2010

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

But the LORD said to Samuel… Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)


God of history, we thank you for all who have shared their story of faith with us and so have given witness to your presence in their lives. We praise you for the variety of our stories both as individuals and churches. In these stories we see the unfolding of the one story of Jesus Christ. We pray for the courage and the conviction to share our faith with those with whom we come into contact, and so allow the message of your Word to spread to all. Amen. ( )


Ungainly and provincial Susan Boyle. Scrawny Mohandas Ghandi. Cheerful, peasant Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. Sheepherder David. Notorious Samarian widow at the well. Haitians who, in their sorrow and hurt, sing in the ruined streets of Port O Prince and share what little they have with their neighbors. The Lord looks into the hearts of his people and finds that despite their social and cultural appearances, in their innermost being they “shine like the sun” (Thomas Merton).

Samuel was instructed to look beyond and rely on God for true sight. Jesus challenged the Pharisees to see beyond the rules and regulations which they had designed. To set aside time and place for worship is, of course a good purpose – one which we should all strive to do in order to meet God more fully and deliberately. But God is present above, surrounding and permeating humans and the world no matter the rules and regulations. Seek God not human order or right placement. Look at the stories of those whom God loves rather than stop at evaluating the right or wrongness of their activities.

“You are witnesses of these things” is January 18-22, 2010’s theme during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Scripture offers awesome witness through the words of the evangelists who recorded stories of Jesus and those whose lives he entered. And throughout human history we can find stories of people who society shuns but they find a way to shine by using their God-given gifts. Can their stories bring us closer to a loving, gracious God? Can you hear and see such stories in the people in your life today?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a link to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity web site which has a wealth of information, and resources such as today’s prayer.


Who has been an influence in your life from an unexpected direction? Are you able and willing to witness to the influence they had? Can you witness to the movement of God in your life at their hands? What influence might you offer to another?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Wine

January 18, 2010

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

"Does the LORD so delight in holocausts and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the LORD? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams. For a sin like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry. Because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he, too, has rejected you as ruler." 1 Samuel 15:22-23

"Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins." Mark 2:19-22


(Tevia’s opening lines in the script to “Fiddler on the Roof”)

A fiddler on the roof...

Sounds crazy, no?

But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof. Trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home.

And how do we keep our balance?

That I can tell you in one word!



Remember watching the musical “Fiddler on the Roof?” The Jews in the village of Anatevka had to adjust to the changing political forces that were sweeping Russia at that time. Their story is metaphorically like the story of Jesus and how the people in the villages around the Sea of Galilee were adjusting to his preaching.

Even today, as we reflect on what Jesus says to us, what it means and why it matters, one thing is certain. Jesus changes everything. He attempts to draw us out of our comfort zone and to reestablish a relationship with us based upon friendship. Traditions fly out the window.

Jesus began his ministry by picking up and advancing the message originally preached by John the Baptist. “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand.” Change not only affects our relationship to God but also God’s relationship to us.

New relationships are being forged. The ways of the past are a foundation upon which Jesus will rebuild but he is not wedded to the traditions alone. Fasting, sacrifices, and burnt offerings are not what Jesus seeks. Instead, he seeks a new relationship.

According to the notes for this passage from the New American Bible: “[T]he bridal metaphor expresses a new relationship of love between God and his people in the person and mission of Jesus to his disciples. It is the inauguration of the new and joyful messianic time of fulfillment and the passing of the old. Any attempt at assimilating the Pharisaic practice of fasting, or of extending the preparatory discipline of John's disciples beyond the arrival of the bridegroom, would be as futile as sewing a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak or pouring new wine into old wineskins with the resulting destruction of both cloth and wine.”


Traditions help people maintain a certain balance or equilibrium in their lives. However, in times of great change, clinging to traditions may keep us from growing in the ways needed.

What is a tradition that you have discarded in order to grow and change? Are there others which also must be put aside?