Saturday, July 31, 2010
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ
For what profit comes to a man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest. This also is vanity. Ecclesiastes 2:22-23
“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions.” Luke 12:15
What does it mean to be rich in what matters to God? The thrill of being able to share with those you love what you have is impossible to measure. Storing up for yourself is the story of the rich man with the bountiful harvest who was called home after he had built a larger barn to store his bountiful harvest. You cannot take it with you when your life is over. Piety is what you take with you when you die. One’s life does not consist of possessions. What counts in life is our prayer, fasting and good works. It is what we have done for others that belong to us in heaven. We are told if we want to save our lives we have to give it away. We can only hold unto what we have done for others. Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! The exception is the charity of our lives. Love lives forever.
We study the life of Christ to discover the meaning of life in God. Christ is the perfect revelation of what really counts in life. Our participation in the heavenly kingdom is through our life in Jesus Christ. We accept the challenge of Christ to treat all the needy people of our life as we would treat Christ. In heaven at the last judgment, we will enter into the joy of Christ by what we have done for the least persons of our lives. Paul challenges us to treat everyone as better than ourselves. What we do for the little people of our lives Christ takes as done for himself. How easy it is to honor those who can reward us. How incredible it is to be able to appreciate that what we take with us when we die is what we have done for the least persons of our lives. What we do for the least persons of our lives is where the glory of our lives will have it origins in heaven. How wonderful is the life of the one who realizes the most important people of life as those that cannot repay us for what do for them.
The extra miles we go with those who do not ask for our help are the miles that really count in the glory of heaven. It is easy enough to do for those who ask our help. Reaching out to do for others before they have the chance to ask gives the people we help their dignity. Groveling is hard to take in anyone. Giving people a chance to grovel is the poverty of our charity. Sharing with those who are doing for others in their lives has t o be done with a smile if it is going to be cheerful giving. Telling others if they cannot get help, we will be glad to help is just another way of saying we do not want to help. The best actions of our lives stores up treasure in heaven because it matters to God that we do what we do out of love. He sent his Son to be one of us without our asking so that in the fullness of a God love we would have the chance to just like Christ. Love is our willingness to give without counting the cost because God is found in our love. Thus we store up our treasures in Heaven.
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, priest
Now, therefore, reform your ways and your deeds; listen to the voice of the LORD your God, so that the LORD will repent of the evil with which he threatens you. As for me, I am in your hands; do with me what you think good and right. Jeremiah 26:13-14
Now Herod had arrested John, bound (him), and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. Matthew 14:3-5
Suscipe by St. Ignatius of Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Jeremiah was spared. John the Baptist was not. Their fates seem to have to do with their message than with the ears upon which those messages fell.
The message from both prophets was not unlike what we read, hear and listen to throughout the Bible. Reform your ways. Turn back, O man. Change the direction in which you are looking for happiness. How did their audience hear and heed those words? Did they change or not?
Herod may have been conflicted about what he should do with John. We meet him in the beginning and he had not decided to kill John, just silence him. That inner conflict did not stop him from putting John in prison. It did not stop him from marrying his half-brother’s wife, a marriage that was prohibited by law. And in his effort to curry favor with his wife, it did not stop him from offering to grant his step-daughter any wish she wanted after performing a dance for his birthday.
Herod was preserving his comfortable life and acting out of a spirit of selfishness. He did not want the people to rebel against his temporal kingdom so he put John in prison. He did not want the priests to condemn his lifestyle so he reveled with friends and family. He did not want his wife to upset his household so he acquiesced to her wishes and the wishes expressed through her daughter. Plus, Herodias did not want to lose out on living a life in the seat of power as the king’s wife.
Where were the other priests and judges who should have joined John in speaking out against the lifestyle of the King? They probably feared for their life and compromised with silence. John did not. Like Jeremiah before him and Jesus after him, and the crowd-cloud of witnesses throughout the ages, John knew that he had to separate out the behavior demanded by the Lord and the temptations of personal and social behavior.
John threatened all that so they removed him from society and then removed him from earth. But even that did not silence the message because Jesus was already beginning his public ministry with the sorrow and loss of John and that his prayers in the deserted place would be repeated in Gethsemane.
As the universal church marks the memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola today, we realize this saint embodies the man who as a soldier was pursuing a life dedicated to serving his nation in military service. However, an injury laid him up where he spent time reading the lives of the saints ultimately emerging from the experience to pursue a different path and a different society (of Jesus).
How do we hear and heed those words? Do we change our ways and stress self-LESS-ness? Or do we continue down the path to selfish pursuits?
We all have decisions to make when personal desire, what is allowed by law and what is expected of us if we are to live in friendship with Jesus collide. The message is as old as the Hebrew Bible, the apple in the tree, the rivalry of Cain and Abel, and the decisions of Joshua. What will we follow?
Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:14b-15
Decide today whom you will serve.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Melanie Rigney
(In the court of the Lord’s house, Jeremiah gave this message from God:) If you disobey me, not living according to the law I placed before you and not listening to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I send you constantly though you do not obey them, I will treat this house like Shiloh, and make this the city to which all the nations of the earth shall refer when cursing another. (Jeremiah 26:4-6)
God, in your great kindness answer me with your constant help. (Psalms 69:14)
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, "Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?" And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house." And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13:54-58)
Lord, help me to be open to Your wisdom, regardless of the form in which You present it.
“Where did this man get all this?” the people in Jesus’ native place ask. We know him. We know his parents. Who does he think he is? And that lack of faith kept Jesus from working good deeds.
It’s hard not to listen when people discount our abilities based on what they know about our back story:
“Nobody from that family ever amounted to anything.”
“Her father was a drunk.”
“Her mother was a drug addict.”
“He’s only got a bachelor’s degree from some podunk college.”
“Her family’s rich. What can she know about suffering?”
But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether your high school classmates, your neighbors in your hometown, or the people from your first job have faith in you and your walk today. It’s nice if they do, of course. But it doesn’t matter. Because the only One who matters does have faith in you… and asks only that you have faith in Him.
Tune out the noise of “you can’ts” in your life. Instead, ask the Lord to show you what you can.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Memorial of St. Martha
By Beth DeCristofaro
Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:6)
She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world." (John 11:27)
Praise the LORD, my soul; I shall praise the LORD all my life, sing praise to my God while I live.
I put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save.
Praise the LORD, my soul; I shall praise the LORD all my life, sing praise to my God while I live. (from Psalm 146)
“Martha, Martha.” We are so familiar with hearing Jesus say in Luke’s Gospel, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” I, for one, relate to Martha -- busy at work and at home being a mother, wife, and a daughter to an 80-year old mother. We go about our days doing the good works that make up our vocations, as care givers for our friends and family members and as active participants in our communities. Being active Christians! Not only do I relate to Martha but I think Martha has a lot to show us how to be disciples.
The first thing she shows us, in that very familiar reading from Luke, is to approach and, speak with honesty to Jesus. "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” Jesus hears her and takes her very seriously. Jesus wants us to approach and bring our truest selves to him in our prayer.
However, Jesus doesn’t tell her exactly what she wants to hear but instead tells her what she needs to hear: “There is need of only one thing.” And that one thing is to put ourselves at the feet of God and listen. Jesus points out that her sister Mary “chose the better part.” He doesn’t say the “best” part because, in fact, there are things that need to be done in our lives. The very the fact of living takes doing. But even doing good works by themselves is not the answer. Rather by taking time with and putting ourselves before God each and every day, our actions are formed in step with God’s Word, not our own desires.
And, Martha, the disciple, listened. She heard what Jesus was telling her because the next time we see her, in this Gospel from John, Martha has grown. She again pours out her pain and disappointment, her heart’s desire directly to Jesus: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Now when Jesus questions her, she models for us an answer out of a deep faith and hope in spite of her broken heart. She answers out of the sure belief that "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” Martha is a model of Christian witness to our own faith in God.
Martha’s model of discipleship shows us how to reach out to God for our deepest desires. She demonstrates listening and growing closer to God, becoming so enriched with God’s loving presence that she is confident to speak her faith even in a moment of disappointment and grief.
Martha’s model of discipleship is to say with hope “YES, LORD.”
Read the Gospel from Luke again. Put yourself into the story. Do you see yourself running to Jesus? What do you say to Jesus? Or, are you imprisoned like Lazarus, in a tomb from which you need freedom? What do you say to Jesus? Is there hope in your heart and a conviction that yes, Jesus is your Lord? Can you put yourself at Jesus’ feet and ask him for what you need?
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Thus the LORD answered me: If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand; If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece. Then it shall be they who turn to you, and you shall not turn to them; And I will make you toward this people a solid wall of brass. Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail, For I am with you, to deliver and rescue you, says the LORD. Jeremiah 15:19-20
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Matthew 13:44-46
Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.
Matthew describes the revelation, the epiphany that occurs when we realize that God is with us. It is like uncovering buried treasure or finding a pearl in a second hand thrift store. We do whatever we can to obtain it.
Finding the Lord may be the easiest part. Following the Lord may be the hardest part. We merely seek just a closer walk with Him. How easy it is to be disappointed when we place our judgment over the covenant of the Lord. If we want to continue measuring our happiness by human standards, we are bound to continue in disappointment.
Once we obtain the friendship of the Lord and walk with him, we have to follow the Lord’s path, no longer our own. This is where disappointment set in for the prophet Jeremiah. He thought the Lord was his magic bullet, the answer to all his problems. Yet he was upset to see that the people did not listen to him any more than they did before. So Jeremiah characterized the Lord as like a treacherous brook, one that dries up when you need its thirst quenching waters.
Jeremiah, Jeremiah! He is as anxious as Martha last Sunday. The Lord reminds him to change the direction in which he is looking for happiness. If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand; If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece. If Jeremiah changes his perspective from that of a man to the view of the Lord, he will succeed in the Lord’s eye and the disappointment that breeds from the lack of faith of the people around him will not prevail.
Jesus wants us to understand. We want to say we do. But in reality, we have to learn the hard way. We are not there to learn by watching His sacrifice for us by getting nailed to the cross. So the path to enlightenment only comes through the dark tunnel of disappointment. Yet when we see the light of the world, what a beautiful light it is!
Have you started thinking about ways you can be present to the candidates on the next Cursillo? It is not too early to start thinking about ways to support the Women’s 131st Cursillo at the San Damiano Spirituality Center taking place August 5-8 (and beyond).
Visit the web page where times remain open on the Palanca clock, cook crew, and for candidates. The weekend is only half booked. Mañanita will be at 7 a.m. on August 8 and closing will be at 4 that afternoon at the spirituality center.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Beth DeCristofaro
Among the nations' idols is there any that gives rain? Or can the mere heavens send showers?Is it not you alone, O LORD, our God, to whom we look? You alone have done all these things. (Jeremiah 14:22)
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. (Matthew 13:39-40)
Our Lady of Sorrows, hear our prayer for all those who will die today because of war and economic oppression, especially the children.
Prepare them for the agony, despair, and terror of the violence that is upon them. Comfort them and hold them close to the bosom of your most Immaculate Heart as they drink deeply of the bitter cup which is forced upon them. Wipe their tears, calm their fears, welcome them to peace and safety. Eternal rest grant to them, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May all rise in judgment against the wickedness that brings this violence upon the world.
Overturn the thrones of tyranny, scatter the unjust, cast down the bloody rulers who make the cry of the widow and orphan rise to heaven. Give us your grace and strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Grant that peace with justice will come to all the world. Amen. http://www.justpeace.org/various.htm#
Do you ever a day or a week that leads you to believe that life is a field of darnel? In the parable which Jesus makes clear to his disciples, he explains that the poisonous weed is secretly introduced into a healthy field of wheat by an enemy. In our lives, such issues as illness, poverty, divorce, abandonment, abuse, racism, war, and crushing economic situations are poisonous to our optimism and dreams. Sometimes it seems that no matter what we do, the weeds sprout up more abundantly than any solutions can overcome.
Jeremiah’s words and Jesus’ parable should fill us with hope. As we strive to build the kingdom by loving and serving our neighbor, the Spirit is and has been here with us through the loving action of Christ. God alone will insure that the weeds are properly disposed of at the harvest. We can afford to have what Henri Nouwen calls an attitude of abundance because God’s loving care of us through our lives from birth to the harvest at the end time is more than enough. In spite of the weeds we can be generous in our Christian love and action – the weeds will not choke out the people of God.
In the times when I find myself or others choking because of the evils of the world, may my prayers reflect that I cannot overcome these tribulations alone. And may I trust that my efforts will reflect the glory of God. May I turn over to Jesus, as best as I am able, any sense of despair or ill-treatment and act with the courage of the Holy Spirit to continue walking – and working - with God in all things.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
July 26, 2010Memorial of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This wicked people who refuse to obey my words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, and follow strange gods to serve and adore them, shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing. For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man's loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the LORD; to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen. Jeremiah 13:10-11
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'" He spoke to them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." Matthew 13:31-33
PietyA Prayer for Haiti
Most Holy Creator God, Lord of heaven and earth,
we bring before you today your people of Haiti.
It is You who set in motion the stars and seas,
You who raised up the mountains of the Massif de la Hotte
and Pic La Selle. It is You who made her people in your very image:
Their gregarious hearts and generous spirits,
their hunger and thirst for righteousness and liberty.
It is you, O Lord, who planted the rhythms of konpa, Twoubadou,
and zouk in the streets of Cite-Soleil; You who walk the paths
outside of Jacmel and Hinche. Your people, O Lord, cry out to you.
Haiti, O Haiti: The world’s oldest black republic,
the second-oldest republic in the Western world.
God, You are the One who answers the cries of the suffering.
You are a God who sees, frees, and redeems your people.
“I too have heard the moaning of my people,” you spoke to Moses.
Now, Lord, speak again to Chanté, Agwe, Nadege, and Jean Joseph.
Speak now, O Lord, and comfort Antoine, Jean-Baptiste,
Toto, and Djakout. Raise up your people from the ash heap
of destruction and give them strong hearts and hands,
shore up their minds and spirits. Help them to bear this new burden.
As for us, Lord, we who are far away from the rubble and the dust,
from the sobbing and moans, but who hold them close in our hearts,
imbue us with the strength of Simon the Cyrene.
Help us to carry the Haitian cross. Show us how to lighten
their yoke with our prayers, our aid, our resources. Teach
us to work harder for justice in our own country and dignity in Haiti,
so that we may stand with integrity when we hold our Haitian families
in our arms once again. We ask this in the name of Jezikri,
Jesus Christ. Amen.
(c) Rose Marie Berger (reprint freely)
Rose Marie Berger, an associate editor at Sojourners magazine, is a Catholic peace activist and poet.
StudyHow many ways does the Lord need to use to tell us that he just wants to be friends?
Last Sunday’s Good News reminded us about the Lord’s Prayer. The reading went on to address the need for and importance of persistence. Jesus said if your neighbor wants a loaf of bread for his family, even if you don’t want to help him, you will help because of his persistence. Such persistence also was the theme of the first reading about Abraham pleading with God to save Sodom and Gomorrah even if there is only 50, 45, all the way down to ten honorable men.
Today, the persistence shoe is on the other foot. The Lord tells us again and again that he wants to be as close to us as our very clothes. He wants to be as close to us as the birds nesting in a tree. He wants to be such a close part of us we will not be able to separate our yeast from his.
ActionAs we move further into the annual calendar, there is a risk that we can forget the people of Haiti and their daily struggle against poverty and the citizens of Port-au-Prince and their efforts to rebuild after the January earthquake.
Mediate today on the prayer from Rose Berger and use it to guide you to make a contribution to the ongoing rebuilding in Haiti. Please support the people of Haiti who have suffered a devastating earthquake with your prayers and donations.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ
Then the LORD said: "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out." Genesis 18:20-21
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10
Prayer is how we express our love affair with God. Adoration, contrition, thankfulness and petition are four attitudes of love. Love is a relationship wherein we are heard in our needs by each other. Piety is the expression of our love for God which takes the form of one of the above mentioned attitudes. I relate with another by the attitude of my soul in their presence. Closeness takes one of the forms above mentioned. When I am with another that I care about my behavior reflects how they look at life. The same can be said of us in our relationship with God. The disciples in our Gospel were aware of the prayer of Christ. They witnessed events in his life which reflected his relationship with the Father. He challenges them to love one another even as he has loved them. He tells his disciples that just as the Father has loved him, he has loved them. He went off at night to pray the night through. They knew the extent of his prayer life. They asked Christ to teach them how to pray.
The Our Father is the greatest teaching on prayer that one can find. It teaches that God is father to all of us. We go from the ‘I’ to the ‘We’. We have to share God. He does not belong to just me. The ‘our’ of the Our Father brings us out of ourselves. We are not alone in our search for God. We say lots of names easily. When we are praying to the Father we are challenged to hallow his name. It takes work to make the name of God holy. It cannot be just a word that slips out my mouth trippingly without the involvement of my heart. It challenges me to reach God from deep within. His name is spoken with reverence. That means that I need to be thinking of God with all my mind and heart involved with all of my strength and with the best focus on God that I can muster from my heart. It can be a boring prayer because it has been said so many times. It is a prayer of involvement in the work of the kingdom. I do not just ask God that it happen. I am reminding myself each time I say the prayer that I must do my share to make the world a better place. Working actively to accomplish the plan of the Father for me requires of me that I pay attention to my responsibilities of life which are revealed by constant study of the plan of God for us. Heaven and earth need to meet in my study of what I can do. We ask God to be involved by praying for our daily bread. We ask forgiveness of those that we have hurt so that God might be free to forgive us even as we are a forgiving people. We pray for an end to our temptations which would keep us from doing what we can to make a better world.
The acts that we are challenged to make in our prayer are expressed by Adoration, Contrition, Thankfulness and Supplication. The pneumonic to remember them is “acts.” The first reading from Genesis shares the bargaining of Moses with Abraham. The prayer of petition asks God to do something that breaks the chain of events that are the destruction of the world of Abraham. We need to bargain with the Lord. Praying for the end to the madness of our world should be accompanied by acts of penance to go along with our prayer. There are some things in life that need prayer, fasting and good works to capture the attention of God for the good we want for the world. Acts of gratitude are made for all the good things that the Lord has done for us. We show our thanks by prayers of gratitude furthered by the good things we do for the needy in our lives. How can we say we love the God we do not see if we do not love the neighbor we do see? Our prayer needs to be dominated by our acts of gratitude for all the Lord does for us. Action speaks louder than words. I need to offer to God sacrifices for the forgiveness of our injustices. It is hard to face the Lord when we have failed to meet the needs of our world by the good we can do. We need to give not from the extras of our lives, but from the essentials of our comfort. Time and energy in work for the needy are the best gifts we can give. If God gives us the best when we ask, how can we give less than our best?
Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Reform your ways and your deeds, so that I may remain with you in this place. Put not your trust in the deceitful words: "This is the temple of the LORD! The temple of the LORD! The temple of the LORD!" Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm, will I remain with you in this place, in the land which I gave your fathers long ago and forever. Jeremiah 7:3-7
“…if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”” Matthew 13:29-30
What We're Praying for This Week (From www.crs.org)
As Catholics, we recognize that prayer is of the utmost importance, an invaluable contribution to helping the poor overseas. We invite you to join us in bringing to Our Lord the following intentions and thanks.
Haiti: Let us pray that Our Father guides every minute of our five-year effort to help Haitians rebuild, recover, and regain independence and productivity.
Poverty: Let us pray that Our Father continues to move the hearts of His followers to confront and alleviate global poverty.
Peace: Let us pray that Our Lord gives us his peace, the peace we wish to bring to others in our lives and in the rest of the world.
Basic needs: Let us thank God for the gifts He gives us in such abundance that we are in danger of taking them for granted: food, water, shelter, schools and freedom to worship
There is something greater here. All week, we have been hearing, readings and studying variations on that theme. All of life is choices. Sometimes we choose between good and evil. Sometimes, though, the harder choices are between good and good.
It is probably pretty easy for the workers in the field to tell the difference between the wheat and the weeds. They can easily separate it into two piles and burn the weeds. It is probably easy for us to separate the good from the evil. Shall I go into Safeway and walk out without paying for a loaf of bread? Shall I steal my neighbor’s lawnmower when mine breaks? Morals teach us what not to do. However, the moral lessons can get blurred if we are not careful at discerning…a good Salesian word…the good from the good.
Jeremiah is trying to get the people to recognize that “apparent” goods being done in the temple are not consistent with the teachings of the Lord. Reform your ways. Thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds. He outlines a fairly good three-step prescription for living a life in friendship with the teachings of Jesus: deal justly with his neighbor; do not oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; do not shed innocent blood or follow strange gods to your own harm.
What do Jeremiah’s words matter to us? How do we separate out the wheat in our lives from the weeds that sometimes seem to overtake our garden party?
After all, we have Catholic Charities, CRS, the Campaign for Human Development, and many more institutions set up by the Church along with more than a million tax-exempt charities to help us help the poor, widows and orphans here and around the world.
But are we really doing all that we can do? Or are we wasting money at Best Buy, Micro Center, B&H Photo Video, and Target on unnecessary electronic gear while people remain homeless and hungry? How many televisions, IPods, IMacs, IPods and digital cameras does the world need?
This week Apple led the way in positive earnings news that helped the stock markets gain. Raise your hand (to yourself, of course) if you checked the balance in your investment account this week as the Dow went back above the 10,300 mark? Our portfolios may look better today than they did in 2008. But the world still looks bleak to amputees in Somalia, drought-stricken farmers in Latin America, fishermen on the Gulf Coast and children pressed into labor or military service when they should be playing soccer or going to school.
CRS continues to push a campaign to enlist more Catholic in real action to confront global poverty. Will you become one of the million voices that CRS is working to enlist to speak out and take action against global poverty? If so, then you can sign up right here: http://actioncenter.crs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ccgp_signup
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Melanie Rigney
Return, rebellious children, says the Lord, for I am your Master… (Jeremiah 3:14)
The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock. (Jeremiah 31:10)
Jesus said to his disciples:"Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." (Matthew 13:18-23)
Lord, as I strive to sow Your seed, help me to understand I may never see the results. I don’t have the power to see into others’ minds and souls. I only have the power to love You and share Your Word.
There’s a scene in William P. Young’s The Shack where Mack, the main character, is beating himself for making a mistake. One of the Trinity figures tells Mack, “Remember, I don't wonder what you will do or what choices you will make. I already know... Let's say... I know it will take you 47 situations before you will hear me, so when you don't hear me the first time I'm not frustrated or disappointed, I am thrilled. Only forty-six more to go!”
Now, whether you’re a Shack fan or foe, there’s something comforting in that thought that is reflected in today’s readings. Our Lord is all-knowing… and all-providing. He calls on the Israelites to return, offering them wise and prudent shepherds to guard them. And in the Gospel reading, Jesus talks about what happens to seed after it’s sown: if we don’t understand it, it’s stolen. If it doesn’t take root, it dies. If it gets choked out by other concerns, it bears no fruit. But when it’s heard and understood, ah, then the listener “indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
The joy thing is that we get more than one chance at the seed… and at the sowing. Have a challenge with one of your own children? Don’t give up. Keep sowing. Angry with a co-worker’s bad attitude and proclivity for gossip? Don’t give up. Keep sowing. Frustrated with your own ability to set aside worldly anxieties? Don’t give up. Put yourself into a situation where others can be Christlike to you and keep sowing.
Sometimes, it takes years and dozens of people before the seed is heard and understood. It might be yours. It might be someone who shares the Word five or ten or thirty years from now. Doesn’t matter. Keep sowing.
While you’re helping to sow the Word for others, examine your own field. Maybe it’s time to weed or remove some rocks.
Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene
Be amazed at this, O heavens, and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD. Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; they have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water. Jeremiah 2:12-13
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her. John 20:17-18
The Things We Leave Behind by Michael Card
There sits Simon, so foolishly wise proudly he’s tending his nets
Then Jesus calls, and the boats drift away all that he owns he forgets
More than the nets he abandoned that day, he found that his pride was soon drifting away
It’s hard to imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind
Matthew was mindful of taking the tax, pressing the people to pay
Hearing the call, he responded in faith followed the Light and the Way
Leaving the people so puzzled he found, the greed in his heart was no longer around and It’s hard to imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind
Every heart needs to be set free, from possessions that hold it so tight
`Cause freedom’s not found in the things that we own, It’s the power to do what is right
Jesus, our only possession, giving becomes our delight
We can’t imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind
We show a love for the world in our lives by worshipping goods we possess
Jesus has laid all our treasures aside “love God above all the rest”
'Cause when we say 'no' to the things of the world we open our hearts to the love of the Lord and its hard to imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind.
There are many ways to “let go” of those things which we are holding onto. We can release them and pick something else up in its place or we can release them and get on with other things in life. Today, we have a look at both reactions.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells Mary to stop holding onto him. When she let’s go, she then must get on with the next job Jesus asks her to do…spread the word of the resurrection to the people. Mary let go.
A different picture of letting go emerges in the first reading from Jeremiah. The people there, like Mary, were preoccupied with the question, “Where is the Lord?” However, rather than seeking an authentic encounter with God, they let go of their belief in God and turned to false idols. Does any other nation change its gods?-- yet they are not gods at all! But my people have changed their glory for useless things. (Jeremiah 2:11).
What a different picture we get of the Lord. Jesus never stops holding on to us. He never trades in His love for us for a newer model, a better looking model, or a super model. He is the dedicated shepherd who will search for us far and wide until we stop holding onto other things and reach back out to hold onto Him.
What have you traded in recently? Did you replace that old, slow computer for a newer, sleeker model? Did you trade in your old, gas-guzzling clunker for a little cash or a new hybrid? Did you get rid of your duty old digital camera for a newer model?
We have to be careful not to get too tied to useless “things.” Many people can use your old clothes, old computers, or other items. Make sure you look into ways of recycling old items by donating them to thrift stores, shelters for the homeless, or other nonprofit organizations and churches.
Sometimes, even if non-profits can not use these items, we can still properly dispose of them by recycling old televisions and computers. Many retail stores will take your old items so they do not clog landfills and pollute the environment.
The more old items you can clean out of your life, the more time you will have to concentrate on living your Fourth Day mission devoted to piety, study and action.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
“Ah, Lord GOD!” I said, “I know not how to speak; I am too young.” But the LORD answered me, Say not, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying, See, I place my words in your mouth! Jeremiah 1:6-9
“But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Matthew 13:8-9
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all.
Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach.
Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there too. If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light" --
Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.
How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them!
Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands; to finish, I would need eternity.
If only you would destroy the wicked, O God, and the bloodthirsty would depart from me!
Deceitfully they invoke your name; your foes swear faithless oaths.
Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you? Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?
With fierce hatred I hate them, enemies I count as my own.
Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my concerns.
See if my way is crooked, then lead me in the ancient paths.
Recently I saw a book titled Motivating the "What's In It For Me" Workforce: Manage Across the Generational Divide and Increase Profits. Last Sunday, Alfie Kohn wrote a column in The Washington Post headlined “Complaining about a generation of spoiled kids – again.” In fact, this American pastime that targets the Pepsi generation with criticism is, frankly, getting old.
What generation is the “What’s in it for me?” generation? The answer all depends upon where you sit and how old you are. First, the “WIIFM Generation” is not whatever age group your generation happens to represent. So that means we can eliminate the Mature/Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, the Baby Busters, Generation X, Generation Y and the Millennial generations. There, that’s settled. Or maybe not.
What generation is the “What’s in it for me?” generation? The answer all depends upon where you sit and how old you are. In fact every generation listed above at one time or another has probably been seen by the preceding generation as the WIIFM generation. Doesn’t society tell every member of every generation from a very young age to look out for number one?
The young grow up being socialized by an older generation that sets the example of “So what? Who cares? What’s in it for me?” Perhaps a reason elders blame things on youth is that there is only one other place to blame with our discontent. When you point your one finger out at others, three other fingers are pointing back at you.
The WIIFM attitudes are the signs that we are still seeds falling on rocky soil. Jeremiah reminds us that age is only a subject of mind over matter. No matter you’re your age, when the Lord calls, we are all sent forth to share His message, not ours.
In the American Catholic church, we have a practice of confirming our youth around the eighth grade. That sacrament is the final step in their initiation into the Church. It is not a graduation from religious education but a commissioning into the broader mission of the church in the modern world. The sacrament empowers those so blessed with carrying he message of faith out into the world.
Beth and I taught confirmation classes for a few cycles when Regina and Sarah were younger. Each time the director of religious education, a deacon or priest from our parish would interview the class before allowing them to approach the bishop, his blessed oil and the proverbial touch on the cheek. These parish leaders would agree that the average eighth grader in Northern Virginia is no more ready for confirmation than were the people addressed by Jeremiah or the disciples locked in the Upper Room.
Ready or not, we are all called to set aside our selfish WIIFM habits. In their place, we are called to imitate Christ. We can imitate Christ when we listen to his words. We can imitate Christ when we spread his message. We imitate Christ when we get to know Jesus as a friend. How can we imitate Christ, asked Fr. Ephraim last Sunday, if we do not know him?
Jesus’ call is very inclusive. There is no argument there. He doesn’t call the young or the old. He doesn’t call the citizen or the stranger. He doesn’t call the blonde-haired or the red-haired. He calls on everyone who has ears. Check the side of your head. When you find your ears, you will realize that Jesus is calling you and I. The ancient paths turn out to be pretty modern.
Let’s make today the day we hearing his message, not ours. Let’s make today the day that we speaking His words, not ours.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Beth DeCristofaro
Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; … You will show faithfulness to Jacob, and grace to Abraham, As you have sworn to our fathers from days of old. (Micah 7:18,20)
"Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:50)
O God, for your love for us, warm and brooding, which has brought us to birth and has opened our eyes,
We give you thanks.
For your love for us, wild and freeing, which has awakened us to the energy of creation: to the sap that flows, the blood that pulses, and the heart that sings:
We give you thanks.
For your love for us, compassionate and patient, which has carried us through our pain, wept beside us in our sin, and waited with us in our confusion:
We give you thanks.
For your love for us, strong and challenging, which has called us to risk for you, asked for the best in us, and shown us how to serve;
We give you thanks.
O God, we come to celebrate that your Holy Spirit is present deep within us, and at the heart of all life. Forgive us when we forget your gift of love. Awaken us to the love that Christ offers, and draw us into your presence.
—from Iona Abbey Worship Book, 141ff.
Time and again we are reminded that God’s love and fidelity are much wider, deeper, all encompassing than we imagine. When I was a toddler, my mom and dad set the boundaries for me: “No, don’t stick your finger in that light socket!” As a growing child, my boundaries were what mom, dad and grandparents wanted me to do because they said so. Later, I learned that there were right and wrong, yes and no, that teachers expected of me and I began to expect of myself. My world awareness of my wants and needs interacting with others’ wants and needs expanded and expanded. As an adult I try to be aware of how my actions impact others. I do not exist alone. Can I curb this “want” because it might negatively affect someone else? Or, is this need something that is worth fighting for myself and others? My “family” has expanded.
God’s family is even more limitless. Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Micah, who lived at the same time as Isaiah, marvels at the reality that God is so faithful to the people with whom God has made a covenant. Jesus wants such a covenant with us. He doesn’t limit his fidelity knowing that family obligations were particular and special in his day. Jesus wants us to be in relationship with him, as precious to him as is beloved mother, brothers and sisters.
As much as family is precious, sometimes families are a pain. Who do you see as a pain right now who should be family? Are you a brother, sister to Jesus?
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow before God most high? Shall I come before him with holocausts, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-8
“There is something greater.” Matthew 12:41c
Dear Lord, do I want to see a sign from you as the Pharisees did? I certainly do not desire miraculous cures or great solar phenomena, but I often find myself hoping that you will touch my own and my friends’ hearts in a very distinct way. I often desire an inner feeling of peace, tranquility, and sweetness in which your love and goodness can be tasted.
But you, O Lord, ask me to accept the sign of Jonas, the sign of your death and resurrection. You want me to recognize your presence not so much in unusual outer or inner events, but in the painful experience of living in the belly of the sea monster. You do not take your friends out of this world but want them to taste its bitterness with you so that by sharing in your death they can share also in your resurrection.
I pray that I can be faithful to you with no other sign to rely upon than the sign of Jonah. You yourself gave me that sign, and that should be enough.
In you, O Lord, I put my hope. Amen.
(“Monday, July 23,” from A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee by Henri J. M. Nouwen. New York: Doubleday, Image. 2002. Page 130.)
We have been told over and over and over again what the Lord requires of us. If this were just a phrase buried in a relatively small, obscure book of the Hebrew Bible, then we might be able to plead ignorance. But Micah is echoing the theme that is expressed throughout the Old Testament and the invitation that Jesus continues to issue to his followers. Psalm 50 reminds us that to the one who “goes the right way the Lord will show the salvation of God.”
There is something greater to do than offer sacrifices. God made all things. He does not need nor require us to give those back to him. He only wants our friendship.
How do you behave with your friends? You spend time with them. You call them on the phone. You send them text messages (well, we can skip that with God.) You share you life with your friends. You might even go for a walk with your friends. With whom have you taken a walk recently?
When we take a walk with someone, we share some special moments. Perhaps you watched the sun rise on the beach with your spouse. Perhaps you walked the dog with your grandchild. Perhaps you hiked a trail with your son’s Scout troop.
When we walk with someone, we say that nothing else in the world matters more than spending this time, these minutes, with you. It is a very intimate relationship. No words need pass between you and your companion like the stories share on the road to Emmaus. All that is required is spending time with them in the sample place doing the same thing. Together.
Jesus taught his lessons while walking about Galilee and Jerusalem. When Jesus invited the disciples to follow him, they accepted it as an invitation to walk with him. God is looking for people like you and I who will walk with Him. God wants us to spend some quality time with Him. God wants us to walk in the same direction that He walks. God wants us to care for the protection of all that he has made. God asks very little else of us.
“Walk with me.” Think back to Noah and Abraham and Micah. The price of the covenant was simple…to walk humbly with God. When Jesus cured the paralytic man, he commanded him to “Rise, pick up your mat, and walk.” When Jesus raised the twelve-year-old girl from the dead, his command was “Arise” and the Gospel commented that she walked around.
When Jesus sent the disciples out on their mission, he told them only to take a walking stick and sandals, the essential tools for someone commanded to walk humbly with God. When Jesus appeared after the resurrection, one of those first appearances was when he was teaching a pair on the walk to Emmaus.
Whether you are headed to Emmaus or Centerville, take a step in the right direction. We all turn to God in times of crisis. When we face illness. When we mourn the death of a friend. When a brother, sister, mother or father deploys to a war zone. God can count on the pews filling up when something bad happens. But God wants our presence during regular ordinary days. God’s presence in our life emerges from a daily walk. That may not sound too miraculous. In fact it is pretty mundane.
How do you approach your walk. Are you asking God to walk with you? Or are you realizing that God is asking YOU to walk with HIM? You have been told, my friends, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.
You have taken on the role of helper, volunteer, advocate. We don’t need daily reminders that many people in this life can perform good without faith. In fact last week, in an exchange on Facebook, I exchanged messages with someone who claims that faith is not needed in order to good for each other.
He may be right. But I am glad that I live in a country in which he is free to believe that and I am free to believe that my faith and action go hand in hand. Our job is to work for more than just putting band-aids on problems.
Just as Micah and Isaiah called for structural change in the distribution of wealth and property, we are also called to work for such structural change in our world. There is something greater here to do. We can’t stop feeding the poor. We can’t stop clothing the naked. We can’t stop visiting the sick. We can’t stop teaching the young. But we also must get on with the work that Dorothy Day characterized in her famous quote: “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”
Isaiah was not content with acceptance. Micah was not content with acceptance. Jesus certainly was not content with acceptance. Let us all join them in changing the direction in which we as individuals and society are looking for happiness.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ
“Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.” “Very well,” they replied, “do as you have said.” Genesis 18:3-5
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God's stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. Colossians 1:24-28
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Luke 10:40-42
Friendship is a many splendid gift offered or received. Abraham offers his gift of a meal to the three strangers passing by. Sharing a meal is an important opening on friendship. The Christ of another might pass us by before a meal is offered. We can never be sure if we do not offer to share what we have to a perceived need in another that we are not letting Christ pass us by. The invitation to a meal is a powerful opening of our heart to God’s gift that he has waiting for us in his desire to be our friend. Christ comes when we least expect him. It is Christ that we receive in every meal we invite a stranger to share with us. When we welcome a guest, we welcome Christ. When we do good for another, it is possible to live in the presence of the Lord. Wherever there is love, God is there.
It is the joy in doing good that makes sacrifice for the sake of others a gift to ourselves. That is what Paul is talking about in Colossians 1:24 when he says he rejoices in his suffering for the sake of another. The good we do by the sacrifices we make of our time and resources fills up what is wanting to the sufferings of Christ’s body, the Church. Doing good for others is not always comfortable or easy. In our gospel, Martha welcomes Christ by preparing a meal for him. She feels ripped off by her sister who is not doing what she Martha thinks is her fair share of the work. It does not take much recall of our own attitudes when we are getting ready for a party. We can run away from our share of the work by preferring not to have the party or claiming our work as the reason we cannot help. We need to do an honest examine of how we offer ourselves to the needs of the community.
Meaningful time spent with a guest is not just good listening. We have to study and plan how to make a visit of friends special to them. How graciously we accompany those guests we welcome is important. How to show pleasure at the chance to serve them is the special gift of women and sometimes even men. Glad to be with another is a wonderful attitude to show. We all need a good worrier in our lives. But we do not have to be the worrier about whether we can get it all done. It is the privilege of friendship to be the Mary when a friend comes. Many things can be prepared ahead of time. It might even be true that Mary had learned to always be ready for a friend by getting her work done early. Some friendships are ready-made by common interests in life. Friendship has many forms of intimacy. Spiritual intimacy is part of all the intimacies of life because it is not what we are doing that matters. It is how much love we do what we do for the sake of others that reveals the truth of friendship with Christ in every friendship. Do unto others what you would have them do for you. That is one type of an action. Do unto others what you would have Christ do for you is a Christ action and makes a friendship a Christ friendship. If we act that way every friend will be Christ to us and we will be Christ to them.
July 17, 2010
Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches; In the morning light they accomplish it when it lies within their power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and they take them; They cheat an owner of his house, a man of his inheritance. Therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, I am planning against this race an evil from which you shall not withdraw your necks; Nor shall you walk with head high, for it will be a time of evil. Micah 2:1-3
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory.” Matthew 12:18-20
“I pray incessantly for the conversion of the prodigal son’s brother. Ever in my ear rings the dread warning. The one has awoken from his life of sin. When will the other awaken from his life of virtue?” (A poem/meditation by Dom Helder Camara, August 29, 1962.)
Many of the prophets (up to and including Jesus and beyond) were crying out for justice and structural change in society. That point is driven home in today’s first reading which literally is a passage against the land monopoly held by the rich during the ancient years in the
Land monopoly denounced by Micah in today’s reading (and also denounced by Isaiah) was a chronic vice in
Micah warns that the Lord is planning evil against those who covet land, seize houses, or cheat an owner of his inheritance. Those who act unjustly will not have any advocate to defend them in heaven. Their punishment will be the irrevocable loss of their land to their enemies.
Matthew picks up on this theme of acting for justice and the poor. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophesies of Isaiah, sent to proclaim justice to the poor. However, no one will hear him and he will be rejected.
Today’s prophets for justice recognize this. Dom Helder Camara, the late archbishop from
Camara's short tract, Spiral of Violence (1971), was written at the time of the Vietnam War. It is distinctive not just for the manner in which it links structural injustice with escalating rebellion and repressive reaction, but also for the way in which Camara calls upon the youth of the world to take steps for breaking the spiral to which their elders are often addicted. You can read the text at http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/general/spiral-of-violence.htm.
What injustice will motivate you to action? My friend Tom works on behalf of those in prison and their families. My friends Catholic Worker friends Kathy, Art and Colleen, Gary and others dedicate their lives to the Christian ideal that if you want peace, you will work for justice. Even though we may not all be called to live in voluntary poverty or the cloister, how can you live this timeless Christian ideal in your life and career?
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Melanie Rigney
When Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: "Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover." (Isaiah 38:1)
You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die. (Isaiah 38:17b)
(When the Pharisees criticized the disciples for picking and eating heads of grain on the Sabbath, Jesus responded:) “I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath." (Matthew 12:6-8)
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. (Excerpted from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy)
Those crazy Pharisees. So concerned with the letter of the law, rather than the spirit. Notice they never even got to the issue of whether the disciples should have been foraging in a field owned by someone else. No, they were even more tightly wound than that: picking grain was the same as reaping, and the law simply didn’t allow that on the Sabbath. It didn’t matter to them that David’s men had broken the law when they were without food.
“Something greater than the temple is here,” Jesus tells them.
Building temples comes easily to us. Maybe it’s the temple of being on time or of driving the speed limit or of crossing the street only when the light’s on walk. Or maybe it’s about people who come to the United States without documentation or unwed mothers or gays and lesbians. We all have temples, places in which we are 100 percent sure we can judge, rather than leaving that to our merciful Lord.
Isaiah advises mortally ill Hezekiah that the Lord wants him to put his house in order. And sometimes, putting a house in order means tearing down a self-made temple.
Think about your own house. Is it in order? Where are you judging instead of loving, condemning rather than being merciful?
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, bishop and doctor of the Church
The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level. Yes, for your way and your judgments, O LORD, we look to you; Your name and your title are the desire of our souls. My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you; When your judgment dawns upon the earth, the world's inhabitants learn justice. Isaiah 26:7-9
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name.
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.
You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.
In college, some of my friends had a neat poster depicting a simple loaf of bread and a glass of wine. On a dark background, emerged the message: “Jesus of Nazareth cordially invites you to a dinner to be held in his honor.”
Our God and our faith is an inviting faith. Our God is a welcoming God. Our God is a promising God. The Old Testament fearsome Lord has passed away and in his place emerges our friend Jesus who invites us into his company. To entice and tantalize us into accepting this offer of peace and friendship, Jesus promises to provide to us what we lack.
All are invited. However, the Lord has a special invitation for all who “labor and are burdened.” This “target market” encompasses those who experience the harshness of life in the Biblical age. However, it also specifically addresses those who are burdened by external forces. In Jesus’ day, those burdens included the difficult interpretation of Mosaic law as expounded by the scribes and Pharisees. In our day such burdens can include many types of issues such as financial burdens just to pay our debts and bills; social burdens made on us by family members and friends, employment burdens imposed on us by employers or by the state of unemployment and physical burdens that come on us due to health concerns.
It is natural for these to cause us to worry and to be concerned. However, in place of the yoke of the law and these various hardships we face, Jesus invites all of us who are among the burdened to take up the yoke of obedience to his word, under which we will find the kind of rest promised in Psalm 23.
The notes to the NAB remind us that while this passage is unique to Matthew, the passage in today’s Good News also echoes the invitation and promise communicated by the prophet Ben Sirach. Come aside to me, you untutored, and take up lodging in the house of instruction; Submit your neck to her yoke, that your mind may accept her teaching. For she is close to those who seek her, and the one who is in earnest finds her. (Sirach 51:23, 26)
Our faith really can boil down to how we react to this invitation and promise. Are you ready to accept the teaching and the cross that Jesus invites you to carry daily? What is in your way of accepting and putting on this yoke of obedience to the Lord above all other things?
Did you know it's been a half a year since the earthquake in Haiti? It surprised me, too. The regular business of our day-to-day lives makes it too easy to forget that Haitians continue to suffer from the effects of the earthquake, and organizations like Partners in Health are still hard at work to alleviate that suffering.
We shouldn't allow ourselves to forget. Partners In Health just released a special report chronicling the work they have done there during the last six months. Take a moment to read it now: http://act.pih.org/sixmonth_tafem
You'll also find some moving images and videos from Haiti. Please have a look and share it with your friends and family.
Every day since January 12, 2010, Partners In Health (PIH) and its sister organization Zanmi Lasante (ZL) have been working to help Haiti's people build their lives and their country back better.
Although not yet fully funded, the Stand With Haiti Fund the organization established in March has provided PIH and ZL with the resources and the strategic vision to begin the process of building back better in Haiti through a combination of: strengthened clinical services at existing health centers and hospitals as well as in new facilities; expanded social and economic support programs for the most vulnerable patients and community members where they work; and investments in long-term, strategic revitalization of the public health and medical education systems.
You can learn more about how to help ease the burdens imposed by this unprecedented natural disaster at http://www.standwithhaiti.org/page/content/overview. Readers of Your Daily Tripod likely count themselves among those who supported the earthquake relief efforts right after it occurred. Please consider another gift today to help those who continue to struggle to build back their lives better than they were before the day the earth shook.