Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Led by the Spirit

June 1, 2011

Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)


Day by day

Day by day

Oh dear Lord

Three things I pray

To see thee more clearly

Love thee more dearly

Follow thee more nearly

Day by day

(from “Day by Day,” Godspell)


Three years traveling the countryside with Jesus, and what do his disciples truly understand about his mission and ministry? Not nearly enough. Jesus has told them more than once how his life on earth will end, but now that it’s actually time to say goodbye, he sees that they are frightened and a bit overwhelmed. There is so much more he would like to tell them, but they are not in a frame of mind that would allow them to take in more. Once again, he reminds them that when he is gone, he will send the Spirit of Truth to guide them in continuing the work he has begun.

Just as it was for Jesus’ first followers, discipleship is a process for us as well. We have the Scriptures, we have the tradition and teachings of the Church, but we, too, need to be guided by the Holy Spirit to discover anew each day what shape discipleship will take for us individually. Where is our journey with the Lord taking us today? Open to the working of the Spirit in us, we continually gain new insights into our faith, we deepen our relationship with the Lord, and we are empowered to go forth in Jesus’ name to proclaim the Word and show Christ’s love to our brothers and sisters.

Discipleship is seldom ever a straight line process. When I look back over my life, there have been times of intense spiritual growth and there have been periods of “maintaining the spiritual status quo,” so to speak. Throughout the Easter season, “America” magazine has offered a video series on the symbols of the season. In the most recent one, “In the Wind,” Francis Hezel, S.J., talks about the working of the Spirit. He says that the Spirit is like the wind in our lives – sometimes nothing more than a gentle breeze, other times coming out of nowhere in sharp gusts, and even once in a while hitting us with the force of a hurricane. (You can view the video at http://www.americamagazine.org/content/video/video-index.cfm?series_id=1253. Scroll down to the last video.)

When you have a few quiet moments, reflect on your spiritual journey. Can you see where the Holy Spirit has been at work? Very definitely the Spirit transformed the lives of those frightened, troubled followers Jesus was facing in today’s Gospel. They were able to go out and build the Church in Jesus’ name. The Spirit can do great things in our lives as well. Where might the Holy Spirit be leading you today?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Let Love Be Sincere

May 31, 2011

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

By Beth DeCristofaro

Brothers and sisters: Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:9-13)

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb (Luke 1 39-41)


And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” (Luke 1:46-56)


Let love be sincere. God gives us so many ways to love. Paul lists some here. Earlier in Paul’s epistle he tells the Roman community: I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. (Acts 12:1) We see Mary offering her body in her “yes” to God. And then, in an act of love, she goes to visit Elizabeth. Mary’s prayer speaks of the ways the Israelites experienced God’s love. Jesus Beatitudes completes that experience by showing us, as the Body of Christ, how to love

Paul tells us not to lose our zeal. God gives us the opportunity to see God in this wounded world. God offers us a chance to experience, like Elizabeth, the leaping joy in recognizing God. In the everyday, in our sorrows, fears and anxiety, it is our piety, our trust and our being open to the surprises, the presence, the outreaching of God in which we can experience this joy.


Visit the sacred art of Bro. Mickey McGrath and see his exuberant take on the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. http://www.shop.beestill.org/product.sc?productId=78&categoryId=3 . Go through today looking for the unexpected presence of God. If this is a particularly difficult time for you, keep Mary’s prayer in your heart to remember the ways in which our God cared for the Chosen People.

How Does This Happen

May 31, 2011

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute (you), bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:12-15

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Luke 1:41-44


“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”


How does this happen? How does a young girl living in ancient and impoverished Palestine carry the Lord in her womb? How does her cousin and her cousin's growing yet embryonic Son recognize what will happen in just a few weeks?

Elizabeth and John had no Gospels to study. They did not have two thousand years of sacred tradition passed on to them. They did not have the teachings of the Magisterium. But they knew in their hearts who was in their presence when a very pregnant Mary walked into their house.

Mary knew that the Lord "has looked with favor on the lowly." Her words and deeds are passed on to as a model for us to imitate in our life through faith. Because we may never know how Mary Elizabeth and John recognized who was in their midst. That's why we call it a Joyful Mystery.


How do we imitate Mary? Our first reading from Romans gives us some pointers. Maybe we can rename Romans 12 "All I Ever Need to Know About How to Live I Learned from Romans 12." Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.

Calendar coincidences no longer surprise me. Today our civil-religion marks Memorial Day while the Church celebrates the Visitation by Mary. How can you combined the ideals of these two celebrations in your actions today?

Rolling Thunder comes to mind. Every year on this weekend, these vets and their motorcycles visit the Vietnam War "Wall" as a way to honor their fallen and missing comrades.

Some will use this holiday to visit the cemetery where a loved one is buried. Others may just pick up the phone and call a relative.

As we do this, keep in mind the humility of Mary as you carry out your actions on this Memorial Day/Feast of the Visitation.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Better to Suffer for Doing Good

May 29, 2011

Sixth Sunday of Easter A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Acts 8: 6-8

[S]anctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:15-17

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. John 14:18-19


Piety proclaims Christ to the world. It is not wishy-washy. It is the power of the word that claims the hearts of the listener. The Word of God lives in our goodness. The sweetness of the word is in the good taste it leaves in the person who chews on what was said. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholders. The word is spoken louder and clearer through the prayer put into what is said. Prayer converts our actions into the work of the Lord. The spirit is given by the prayer we put into our actions done in the name of Christ. We need to expect the earth to cry out to God with joy when we invoke the Spirit of the Lord on what we do. Piety expresses the worship and the praise we sing to the name of the Lord.


Study allows us to sanctify our encounter with others with the turning over of our hearts to the Lord. We received the Lord in Baptism. The needs of the Church we try to meet by our prayer and actions convert what we do into the work of the Spirit. By opening our hearts to what is called for by the need of the Lord tremendous deeds are possible. The ordinary becomes the extraordinary of our lives. We take the Lord who is a prisoner of our heats in our inactions and open the door of our heats to the needs of those around us, thus allowing the Lord to come out in what we say and do in his name. Our hope is in the name of the Lord. Our study sanctifies Christ as Lord of our hearts. What we realize about Christ in our study makes it possible to share the love of Christ.


Our love challenges us to keep the commandments. We love even as Christ loved in giving our lives for the sake of each other. There is never too much asked of us when we are sharing Christ. Christ is the impossible made possible by the love of our hearts for each other. Even as Christ suffered for the sake of the unrighteous, we lead other to God by putting to death in the flesh, what was brought to life in the Spirit. What we suffer in doing good makes us one with the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous. Christ does not leave us orphans. He promises to come to us and tells us that on the day we acknowledge that Christ in the Father and we are in Christ, he affirms that we will be loved by the Father. Christ promises to love us and to reveal himself to us. The Spirit of Truth will be ours because the Advocate will be with us always.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Out of the World

May 28, 2011

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

During (the) night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. Acts 16:9-10

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” John 15:18-19


Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices. (St. Theresa of Avila)


I think it was the famous Dale Carnegie, author of How to win Friends and Influence People who said that to change people, one thing you must do is make the other person happy about doing what you suggest. In fact, Carnegie says that he did not originate any of his ideas. One website quotes the motivational speaker and writer as saying, “The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?”

If that is the case, Carnegie skipped chapter 15 of John’s Gospel that we contemplate from today’s readings as well as entire sections of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, too. He certainly skipped over where Jesus says “Pick up your cross daily and follow me.” Jesus is nothing but brutally honest with his followers. He does not tell them everything will be fine. Jesus does not tell them life is a box of cherries. Jesus does not tell them what they want to hear.

In fact, today’s Gospel not only reminds me how different “getting ahead” in Christianity is from getting ahead in society, it also reminds me of the exasperated expression attributed to St. Theresa of Avila.

According to the story as recounted by the website Catholic Online:

Sometimes…[St.] Theresa couldn't avoid complaining to her closest Friend about the hostility and gossip that surrounded her. When Jesus told her, "Teresa, that's how I treat my friends" Teresa responded, "No wonder you have so few friends." But since Christ has so few friends, she felt they should be good ones.

In fact, this same great doctor of the church helps us to better understand today’s Gospel and the mission of the disciples into unfriendly territory with this insight: “Suffering is a great favor. Remember that everything soon comes to an end . . . and take courage. Think of how our gain is eternal.”


How are you going to be a good friend of Jesus this weekend? What suffering will you endure for his sake?

Friday, May 27, 2011

To Lay Down One’s Life for One’s Friends

May 27, 2011

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

By Melanie Rigney

The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them: “The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’” (Acts 15:22-29)

I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord. (Psalms 57:10)

Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (John 15:12-17)


Lord, help me to lay it down—my petty grudges, my insecurities, my fears—and love people the way You love me.


“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” Jesus tells the disciples in what amounts to his final homily before he’s taken into custody. He was about to lay down his life in the most graphic, literal sense possible, to suffer scourging and crucifixion that we might all have eternal life.

We see dramatic examples of others doing the same in times of senseless violence: Parents bartering their lives for their children’s in hostage situations. Friends offering to take a bullet for friends. Christians in hostile nations continuing to share the Good News at risk of prison and even execution.

There are other ways to lay down your life for Jesus and his friends.

· You can make time for quiet conversation with Christ.

· You can make room in your budget to increase your donation to your parish, your ongoing contribution to the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal, or to a favorite charity.

· You can go to coffee or dinner with a friend who needs to talk about the uncertainty, stress, or despair in his life.

· You can write a letter of thanks to someone who influenced you greatly during a time of personal struggle.

· You can stop wasting energy on holding grudges.

And if you offer up even one of these small deaths, you may find the new life that rises out of laying it down is pretty amazing.


What are you holding tight that keeps you from laying down your life for a friend? Journal about ways you might let it go. You might enjoy listening to Melanie Safka’s “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” as you meditate. The song is posted here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkeqhqU69gw

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Without Me You Can Do Nothing

May 26, 2011

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved." Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question. Acts 15:1-2

Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5


Father, take from me all that divides me from you and creates dissension in your mission. Jesus, give to me those close moments that propel me to go beyond the human questions of debate. Holy Spirit, give me the fuel of life to carry on the mission and bear much fruit.


The vineyard is a very popular symbol throughout the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Isaiah, Sirach, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and the Book of Psalms all use the metaphor of the vineyard for our world and the work we must do in it. Matthew, John and Mark all relate parables from Jesus that all utilize the vineyard as the symbolic image of our faith.

Ultimately, Jesus provided to us fruit of the vine as the Blood of Christ that will provide eternal life along with his Body. The point of today’s it seems to me is that we must remain in union with Jesus. It’s not easy. Even branches on the vine sometimes need to be pruned. However, if we cut ourselves off from Jesus, then we cannot thrive.

All this talk about pruning along with the story in the first reading about dissension in the early Church over the question of circumcision and baptizing the Gentiles makes me wonder why the Psalm was chosen for today. “Let us go rejoicing.” I do not imagine there was much rejoicing as the disciples heard the parable of the vineyard in the time leading up to Good Friday execution of their friend Jesus. Nor can I imagine there was much rejoicing as the early church debated some of the most critical theological questions of its day. As Luke tells us in Acts, “[T]here arose no little dissension and debate.” In fact, you can imagine the grumbling that took place.

The rejoicing may not come when we are imposing our human debates upon the Church. Rather, rejoicing comes in when we remain open to encountering our friend Jesus experiencing the gifts of the close moments with Jesus that come to us through others around us.


The church today has no few opportunities where there can arise no little dissension and debate. I don’t have to list them. Fill in the blank with the questions over which you debate issues related to the Church in the modern world. Whether from traditional or progressive perspectives, these debates have continued from the time Acts of the Apostles were written down by Luke until today. Yet it is through the common friendship of those encounters with our mutual friend – Jesus – that we come together in union as his followers to prosper and bear fruit.

Pick one of your issues and set it aside. Pray for unity in Christ that the Church can resolve these issues in order for us to each prosper and bear fruit for Jesus – not to win the debate ourselves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rooted in Christ

May 25, 2011

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you… I am the vine, you are the branches. (John 15:1-4a, 5)


And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

(from “The Holy Longing” by Johann W. Von Goethe, translated by Robert Bly, http://www.poetseers.org/the_great_poets/eu/johann_wolfgang_von_goethe/the_holy_longing/)


In Isaiah 5, there is a story of God planting a vineyard. He selects fertile soil. He clears the ground. He builds a watchtower. He selects only the highest quality vines to plant. After all this loving care, God eagerly awaits the harvest. But what comes of all this work? To his sorrow, all he has to show for his efforts are wild grapes. These vines, the people of Israel, turn out to be a disappointment.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus, who would certainly have been familiar with Isaiah’s words, asserts that he is the true vine. His Father has planted him in our midst and gives him everything he needs to flourish. God invites us to be the branches, able to grow and produce good fruit because we are sustained by our connection to Jesus. Branches that aren’t firmly connected to the vine don’t last very long. They dry up and fall off. Branches that yield no fruit are removed. Unless we are firmly rooted in Christ, we will amount to nothing.

The second thing Jesus tells us in the Gospel reading is that even branches which are firmly attached to the vine sometimes have to be pruned. In front of my parking space at my office, there are three rose bushes. Sometimes they grow almost as tall as I am (which isn’t gigantic, as I’m short). They produce beautiful, fragrant blooms. One of my co-workers endowed with a green thumb planted them and takes care of them. It always amazes me how they rebound after being pruned almost to the ground. The thorny stubs projecting from the ground are an ugly sight to behold. But, before you know it, they are back bearing even more gorgeous roses.

Find a quiet spot and imagine yourself as a branch attached to a life-giving vine. How firmly connected are you to the source? Would a strong wind blow you away? Are you barren and in danger of being thrown into the yard waste waiting to be burned? As we read through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, we see he receives direction and sustenance from his Father through prayer. No matter how busy he is, no matter how large the crowd clamoring for his attention, he makes time to go off alone and commune with God. That’s the way to stay connected to the vine – through prayer and meditation. Do you need to carve out time to go to a quiet spot and commune with your Source?

Pruning may be painful while it is going on, but we often become stronger and more productive than ever before. Reflect on some time(s) in your life when God has used his pruning shears on you. How have you grown from the experience?

God Opens the Door of Faith

May 24 2011
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
By Beth DeCristofaro

They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. …And when they arrived, they called the Church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:19-20, 27)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you,‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:27-28)

May all that is unforgiven in you be released. May your fears yield their deepest tranquilities. May all that is unlived in you blossom into a future graced with love.
(“To Come Home to Yourself” John O’Donohue)

(Paul) got up and entered the city after being left for dead…not sure I could do that. He never heard Jesus’ living, human voice but he models Jesus’ comfort: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” At times I have felt “stoned” by the death of someone close, a lay-off in the family, a sibling struggling to keep a business afloat, a relative brought low with mental health issues, or my own difficulties with a demanding job. And then there is the news which “stones” anyone with a heart that cares: homes and lives destroyed in storms and floods, noncombatants killed in conflicts, children hurt by pitiless adults. I could go on and on and Jesus knows this. He even knew that at one time, like his disciples did, we would have counted Paul among those to fear.

Fear not, Jesus says, because I am going to the Father who is greater than I and together we will keep you from harm. Get back up from your hurts for we go with you and together, with you, we can bring hope and light to those who are also in pain, in hurt, imprisoned, unable to feel the joy which is yours and theirs through our great love. God is holding the door open for me and you.

Wine is not wine until the grapes are pressed. Bread, broken and offered around the table, is love. Life is not a box of yummy chocolates for most of us. But Jesus is in the wine and the bread of our lives.

A group of us gather to read, reflect and pray with Engaging Spirituality. Although I still feel (as a friend has described) that with our puny fingers in the dike we attempt to hold back more than a tsunami of injustice , I am coming to appreciate just how much influence one puny finger can have. Look at Paul! Look at Ghandi! Look at tiny but fierce Mother Theresa! Look at the volunteers of the hyperthermia shelter in Fairfax County!

In what place in your life is it difficult to “get back up”; perhaps because it hurts or you are exhausted? Trust that Jesus will help you even if you can’t sense him as you stumble out of a pit. He is there with his peace and his joy. And He is there to lift you to His shoulders, the Good Shepherd, if you but hope.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Make Our Dwelling

May 23, 2011

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, 'who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.' In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts." Acts 14:15-17

"Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him." John 14:23

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. Psalm 23

According to the notes in the NAB, “in an effort to convince his hearers that the divine power works through his word, Paul cures the cripple. However, the pagan tradition of the occasional appearance of gods among human beings leads the people astray in interpreting the miracle. The incident reveals the cultural difficulties with which the church had to cope.”

The cultural contradictions of Christianity continue to appear in our time. We hear one thing in Church and then head home and read another thing in the newspapers, in the political debates and in the media. These are as fleeting as the pagan worship of the Gentiles and Greeks in Paul’s time.

The enduring message is the Gospel of a consistent ethic supporting life as revealed in the life of Jesus, sacred scriptures and the traditions of the church. If Jesus were to come back today – he missed his appointment on Saturday night that some were expecting, chances are good that he would echo the words spoken by Paul at Lystra: Men, why are you doing this?

Why are you neglecting your children around the world – where thousands die from preventable diseases every day when simple medication and clean water can help them live?

Why are you turning to violence – against each other, against your neighbor and against those from foreign lands – rather than work out your differences?

Why are you spoiling the land which I gifted to you with your pollution, clear cutting the forests, killing the animals, and degrading that over which I appointed you stewards?

Why do you fill your hours and days with these movies, music and television programs when instead you turn from these idols and going out among the people to do good works based upon your faith?

Instead, as we continue on in the last two weeks of our Easter season, Jesus reminds us that there is nothing that we will lack when we just keep his word in our piety, study and action.

Men, why are you doing this?

If not part of your daily practice, consider using the Ignatian Examen today to think about your thoughts, words and actions. Here is a simple six step process that discusses who to do this: http://www.manresa-canada.ca/various.htm#EXAMEN

When we have visitors, we usually straighten up the house and prepare a room in which they can stay. In today’s Gospel, Jesus announces that he will be coming to dwell with us. What is one part of the room of your life that you can straighten up in order to make room for God when he comes to dwell with you?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Into His Wonderful Light

May 22, 2011
Fifth Sunday of Easter
By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them. The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith. Acts 6:6-7

Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,"and "A stone that will make people stumble, and a rock that will make them fall." They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. But you are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises" of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:7-9

Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Our piety brings us to Jesus as the living stone of our spiritual life. Spirituality is built around the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. He makes us into the "chosen race, the royal priesthood and the holy nation, a people of his own" so that we can announce the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Christ is the cornerstone of our spiritual life. We follow in his footsteps. He shows us the way that brings us to his Father. Our spiritual life, based on Christ, will bring us to the dwelling place he has prepared for us in heaven.

Our study brings us to the Father’s house. We realize that we could never know the way without Christ. No one comes to the Father except through Christ. If we know Christ, we know the Father. Christ has loved us even as the Father has loved him. Christ invites us to live our lives with each other loving one another as Christ has loved us. He tells us that if we love him, we will keep the commandments. Even people who have never heard of Christ have the victory of Christ written on their hearts in the truth that wherever there is love, God is there. The Commandments are the secret of happiness. They are the perfect statements of interpersonal relationships. There is no genuine happiness without the perfection of the commandments coloring how we relate to one another. Love is the goodness of our way of being with each other. Altruistic love is doing all we do for the good of each other without expecting a return.. We study Christ because Christ is the perfect human expression of what the Father is asking of us. When we see Christ in our study, we see the Father. Christ is in the Father and the Father is in Christ. The very works of Christ reveal the Father.

Our love for Christ and our belief in him carry the promise that we will be able to do the works of Christ. Because Christ is now with the Father, it is possible for us to do greater works than the works of Christ. Because Christ lives in us and we live in him, our works are the works of Christ. Because we are priestly people, our actions carry the weight of the work of Christ. When we are seen in the goodness of our lives as the Mystical Body of Christ, Christ is seen. We work so that when people see us they will see Christ at work in us. The actions that grow out of our spiritual journey build us into the spiritual house of a holy priesthood able to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Stephen is the most notable to the deacons because he is the first martyr. The Apostles laid hands on the first deacons so that they would be free to do the prayer and study that would make their ministry of the word more fruitful. We live in the age of the laity who today can easily be seen as a priestly people because of how many are involved in the work of the Church. Our faith in Christ calls us out of darkness into the wonderful light of the love of God in the Christ of our hearts. Our actions build us into a spiritual house. We are called into the House of God by making ourselves into the house of God.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Salvation to the Ends of the Earth

May 21, 2011

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

“For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.'" Acts 13: 47

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. John 14:12-14


Sing a new song to the LORD, who has done marvelous deeds, Whose right hand and holy arm have won the victory. The LORD has made his victory known; has revealed his triumph for the nations to see, Has remembered faithful love toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth; break into song; sing praise. Sing praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song. Psalm 98


The thought did not occur to me to skip writing, editing and sending Your Daily Tripod today because of the predicted Apocalypse. Admittedly, we have had some recent challenges getting this out on time due to the crash of your humble editor’s computer and e-mail system. Please accept my apologies for those interruptions. Some temporary solutions seem to be holding up until UPS delivers what I need to conquer my logistical problems.

The Jews, however, have not been so fortunate to conquer their problems. Jesus came to them and walked among them. He commissioned their neighbors and friends to carry on after he was gone. And he even warned the disciples to “shake the dust off their shoes” if they were not welcome in a place.

If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Matthew 10:13-14

Today, Paul and Barnabas follow that instruction. When the Jews reject the message, they shake the dust from their feet and bring the Good News to the Gentiles. Thus, they bring the message of Jesus and His saving love to the ends of the earth.


Ends in this case means locations – NOT time. While some may get pre-occupied with the Kingdom come, Paul and Barnabas inspire us to make the Kingdom come right here and right now. They do not want us to wait for some end time but to get to work today asking for what we need and sharing what we have with others.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where I Am Going You Know the Way

May 20, 2011

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

By Melanie Rigney

“These are now his witnesses before the people. We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our fathers he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.(Acts 13:31-33)

“I myself have set up my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” (Psalms 2:6)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6)


Lord, help me to stay on Your course.


Lost is not something I do well. How about you? I hate being disoriented, not knowing for sure where I’m headed or how long to the next turn.

Northern Virginia is difficult, even after more than seven years, for someone like me who learned to drive in the flat-as-a-pancake plains and who spent most of her adult life in Chicago, where there are only a few angle streets and you can count on major thoroughfares east and west, north and south, every half mile. I don’t have any type of GPS in my vehicle, and I’m not sure I could get one if I tried; my car’s twenty years old. I’m a power user of the online direction sites and of maps, even to places I’ve been before. But sometimes those maps are wrong. They don’t tell you the best route and on occasion, they can’t find the place you’re going.

I have friends who seem gifted in this regard, who don’t approach the Seven Corners intersection or the Tysons Corner area or a drive on the Beltway with fear and trepidation. They know the short cuts, and they’re confident of their ability to get to the destination even if the map’s wrong or they run into construction. A detour along the way doesn’t throw them for a loop (or into one, for that matter).

More often than not, these friends also are confident of where Jesus is taking them. They don’t claim to know all the answers; it’s just that they know where they’re going—to the place that Jesus prepares. And for those of us like Thomas who ask, “How can we know the way?” their faith in action is better than any map God could devise. I like to think of them as Jesus’s version of GPS for the rest of us.


How do you know the way? Spend some time in prayer today listening for God’s direction.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blessed Are You if You Do It

May 19, 2011
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

“From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'” Acts 13:23-24

Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. John 13:16-17

You, My child shall be called
The prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our Lord
The dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness
And the shadow of death,
And to guide our feet into the way of peace.

(From the Canticle of Zechariah)

Today, the Gospel finds another way to ask us to make sure our deeds follow our faith and our words – indeed. “Blessed are you if you do it.” Our actions must flow from our understanding.

The example of this is the humility of poor John the Baptist. Even though he was singing God’s praises, he knew that he was just the messenger, not the Savior.

John’s clarity and certainty in considering his place in life is something that is lacking in modern society. With all of our money and power and influence, sometimes, we start to believe our own headlines…yet we must not mistake the outward appearance of fame and fortune for greatness.

Through the Canticle of Mary, we are reminded that the Lord lifts up the ordinary and has a preferential option to help the poor.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, My Spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, And has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.

What is a symbol of your fame and fortune? Your car? Your 401K with a balance larger than what 2 billion people rely upon for all their annual expenses?

Consider living a day without that symbol of your personal wealth. Donate what you would spend maintaining that lifestyle for one day to your favorite charity.

I Come Not to Condemn but to Save You

May 18, 2011
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.” (John 12:44-50)

The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God’s life
to flow into us without limit.
(from “The First Principle and Foundation,” St. Ignatius of Loyola, as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, S.J., “Hearts on Fire,” p. 7)

StudySeveral years ago my Cursillo group read “The Shack” and were discussing it when someone commented that she hadn’t learned anything new from it. I said that, among other things, for me it reinforced how much God truly loves each of us. True, this is not new information, but there are too many people in the world who don’t feel or live as though they are loved by God, and it can’t hurt to be reminded. I thought back to that discussion when I was reading today’s Gospel lesson.

Our Gospel reading comes at the end of what is known as the Book of Signs (chapters 1-12 of John’s Gospel). Although the word “love” itself isn’t found anywhere in this passage, it seems to me to be a wonderful summary of Jesus’ and his Father’s love for us. At the end of his public ministry, Jesus lays it out for us: Here you have it. I have shown you everything. My love for you knows no bounds. Don’t be afraid of me. I didn’t come to condemn you; I came to save you. I’ve revealed myself to you through many signs (seven as recorded in this Gospel – the changing of water into wine at Cana, the healing of the royal official’s son, the healing of the paralyzed man at the public pool, the multiplication of the loaves and feeding of the crowd, Jesus’ walking on water, the healing of the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus from the dead). I have shown myself to be the life-giving Word to you, the Bread of Life to feed and sustain you, the Light to illuminate your darkness, and the Resurrection and the Life that you may have everlasting life. None of this comes from me alone; “the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.”

What a contrast to the childhood image of God I had. In catechism class, souls were drawn on the blackboard as circles filled in with white. Every time you committed a sin, a spot was wiped black. If you were guilty of a mortal sin, the entire thing was erased from the blackboard. God was always checking out the state of your soul. I imagined my soul as an invisible (to me) white plate in my body that God would periodically pull out and look at. God was always on the lookout for wrongdoing. Somehow I missed out on the “God loves you” part of the gospel.

But, the good news is that God does love us. As his Son tells us, God isn’t hounding us, trying to trip us up. On the contrary, he sent his Son to save us. All you and I are asked to do is accept his love, believe in him and live as people who are cherished by the Lord – and that is often far more difficult to do than it sounds.

“Behold God beholding you…and smiling,” is a short saying by Anthony de Mello, S.J. Take a few moments today to do just that. Does your image of God allow you to picture God looking at you, loving you with an overwhelming love and smiling at you, one of his beloved creatures?