Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jesus Can’t Be Hoarded

August 31, 2011

Wednesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

I will thank you always for what you have done, and proclaim the goodness of your name before your faithful ones. (Psalm 52:11)

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them… At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Luke 4:38-40, 42-44)


Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

(from a prayer by St. Teresa of Avila)


A couple of years ago, a co-worker was online trying to decide which cell phone to purchase. She got me to look at the Internet ads with her. I laughed, because one company was trying to entice would-be buyers by advertising “It’s all about you.” I said, “It’s a good thing the teenage girls in our families aren’t looking at this. They’d be hooked!” We live in a me-centered culture, where we are fed messages 24/7 that “it’s all about us” and that everything centers around us and our desires.

Sometimes we even carry that attitude over into our faith lives. One of my friends told me recently that she stopped going to church. She said she doesn’t need to worship with others, because, after all, it’s really just about Jesus and her. She said he’s her personal Savior and that’s all she needs. No concept of what it means to be part of the Body of Christ in the world. No recollection that the two greatest commandments are about showing love to our neighbors as well as loving God above all else.

The main problem with my friend’s stance is it doesn’t jive with the Scriptures. Nowhere in the Gospels does it say it’s all about us or that we get to hoard Jesus all to ourselves. In fact, when the villagers in today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel try to keep Jesus from leaving and going on to other towns, he tells them that he was expressly sent to proclaim the Kingdom of God and he has to keep on going and preach the Good News to as many people as possible.

When Jesus touches your life, you don’t get to hold the experience to yourself and just bask in the glow. In the beginning of today’s Gospel passage, Jesus goes to Simon’s house, where his mother-in-law is very sick with a high fever. He heals her, but she doesn’t then lie in bed savoring the experience. Jesus has touched her and, in so doing, has empowered her to serve in his name. She gets up from her sickbed and has the well-being and vitality to serve the Lord and her other guests.

The psalmist shows us the paradigm for life: I will thank you always for what you have done, and proclaim the goodness of your name before your faithful ones.” God touches our lives in many wonderful ways and we, in turn, are to proclaim the goodness of his name to our our brothers and sisters.


How has God touched your life recently? Have you proclaimed the goodness of the Lord and shared that blessing in some way with others?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Encourage One Another

August 30 2011

Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day (of sudden disaster) to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. ... Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. ... Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do. (1 Thessalonians 5: 5-6,11)

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. (Luke 4:31)


One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple. (Psalm 27:4)


This past week has been so distracting between vacation, earthquakes and hurricane (which precipitated cutting short the vacation) that the message of alertness and building one another up is fresh and relevant. For me, a change in schedule can disrupt my practice of piety and action. Usually the beach is a place of renewal and prayer with the ocean as choir. And although I did my usual morning walk and prayer, I also found myself uncharacteristically glued to the TV tracking the approach of the storm and then discussing who felt the ground move and from how far away. I did very little of my “study”.

Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was encouraging and affirming of their faith and their faith in action. If he had been writing to me he might have reminded me that preparedness is important in life but obsessing over things isn’t, and spending time in the presence of God cannot take a back seat. He might have challenged me to consider that I often spend more time in worrying, inventing scenarios, planning for tomorrow...or whatever, and going about the motions of habit which also include my spiritual practices than I do staying alert and sober with the Lord and building up my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul might have reminded me that to dwell in the house of the Lord takes discipline and love and that distractions are only that – distracting. They are not God’s ultimate desire for me which is salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (v. 9)


Are there distractions in your life that are pulling you away from really being aware, being present to the Lord and to the people that are in your life? Pray for focus and practice paying attention with a new light to your piety, study and action. Perhaps talk with someone about attending one of the weekends upcoming or attend a School of Leaders where you will be encouraged and built up.

Meet the Lord

August 29, 2011

The Memorial of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:27-29


Father, help us to stop political leaders from having the power of death in their hands. Give us the will to oppose the use of the death penalty when other alternatives such as life in prison exist so that those who may be found to be innocent never face this cruel and unusual punishment. Amen.


John was the last prophet who did not have Jesus as a model to imitate.

The parallels between the life and death of John the Baptist and Jesus continue to strike us as we hear anew the reading about the imprisonment, execution and burial of John. John came before Jesus in life, in prison, and in execution. John, the voice crying out in the wilderness, preceded Jesus in the desert and in death.

Despite his execution, John was always with Jesus and will always be with Jesus just as St. Paul told the Thessalonians. If we imitate the model that Jesus provides to us, then we too shall meet the Lord and be with Him forever.


The Commonwealth of Virginia has the nation's second most active execution chamber. Each time a prisoner on Death Row faces execution, the bishops of the two Catholic dioceses in the state write to the governor and ask for another form of punishment to be used.

Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty ( is an advocacy group seeking the same ends. As we meditate on the execution of John the Baptist today, check out this web site and learn about ways you can advocate for states to use other means of punishment such as life in prison by becoming a member, writing to political leaders or attending a vigil.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come After Me

August 28, 2011

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
the word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Jeremiah 20:8-9

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 16:24-25


How we carry the crosses of our lives is the best statement of our love for Christ. Piety is our relationship with Christ. The comings of God into our lives we call consolation. When our hearts come alive to the joy of serving Christ, we are encouraged beyond human doing. God touches our lives with an excitement that makes the burdens of our life light. Crosses that we make for ourselves that weigh us down are not the cross of Christ. My experience of God in my life pleasures me even as I am aware that I am being set up for work of Christ that will cost me. The work of the Lord is never very far from the Cross of Christ in our lives. Paul in Romans 12 challenges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. It is by the sweat of our brow that we draw closer to our Lord. Even as God’s love for us is shown in the coming of Christ with his cross, our love for God has the counter part of carrying our crosses in his name. Love takes us to union with Christ which is the logic of our piety. If we want the ultimate union that love brings us, there is no bypass of the cross of Christ.


Jeremiah claims his is duped by the Lord. He is mocked by everyone. People laugh at him. Jeremiah does not have the example of the Cross of Christ to make sense out of the way he is treated like a fool. Because we love Christ we study how we can be more like him. Our love for Christ takes us to a profound union with his life. He chose the short life, the poverty and the disgrace of the cross for our redemption. Our love makes it the God logic of our lives that we would choose to be like him so that we can be one with him. Love takes us to the union of all that we are with all that we see Christ would be in our lives. The logic of the cross influences the choices of our lives. The God happiness of our lives flows out of our perceived closeness to Christ and our desire to be one with him. The great saints of the ages that make Christ real to their times lived the crosses of their lives with a gusto that can shock our souls into being like Christ in our day and age.


Our love for God is shown by our deeds. Love is never the mere words of the cross. Christ taught his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer. Peter reacts strongly in our gospel to Christ’s prediction of his passion. Prayer, fasting and good works are what nourishes discernment. If we are to follow Christ up to Jerusalem and discern what we must do, we need to bring the weapons of the spiritual life to bear on our spiritual laziness. We go up to Jerusalem to die with Christ as Thomas says. We do not stop at the hill of Calvary outside Jerusalem. We must climb the hill with Christ. Our falls on the way up will not keep us down if we keep our eyes focused on Christ and what he has done for us. The challenge is to love one another as Christ has loved us. We go to the cross of Christ not to stare at what he has done for us. We go to the cross of Christ to take his place. Our work in the name of Christ is no punishment. Our happiness flows from the heart that is pierced on the Cross. We become the love of Christ from his cross by the nobility of the way we carry our crosses for the sake of each other. Christ is our way, truth and life as we dedicate ourselves to the hope of our call to be the presence of Christ.

Progress Even More

August 27, 2011

Saturday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

On the subject of fraternal charity
you have no need for anyone to write you,
for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.
Indeed, you do this for all the brothers throughout Macedonia.
Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more,
and to aspire to live a tranquil life,
to mind your own affairs,
and to work with your own hands,
as we instructed you.
Thessalonians 4:9-11

Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.
Matthew 25:23


Father, you give us all the good gifts possible. Help us to use these as you intended with proper stewardship of creation and charity toward each other so that the peace of Christ will come as promised. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, help us to progress even more to live a life filled with piety, study and action as we become you’re your hands at work in this world to build the Kingdom. Amen.


Let's not read today's Gospel too literally. This is not what Jesus wants us to know about investing for retirement. This is symbolic of what we are to do with the gifts the Lord provides to us. In fact other parables tell us not to store up treasures in this world in some 401K account but to share what we have with each other and those who have less.

We know the basics -- Love God. Love one another as God loves us. We need no more reminder about this than St. Paul needed to remind the people of Thessalonika about these lessons. However, we do need to always aspire to progress even more. Isn't that what Cursillo is all about? Isn't that what Christianity is all about? The more we perfect his life, then the more gifts we will be granted to continue to fulfill our responsibilities as Christians.


As the Prayer of St. Theresa and today's first reading remind us, we are the only hands God has left in this world to do the Kingdom-building work required. How will you build the Kingdom today while many of us are hunkered down awaiting the onset of Hurricane Irene?

Forgetting our own personal confrontation with the storm, let us remind ourselves of the financial forces that continue to swell.

In his blog, Fr. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA, reminds us of the few voices who are trying to get us to focus on those who are truly suffering. He seeks the coming of new prophets who will take the focus off "inward political wrangling" and shift it to helping our fellow citizens.

Consider subscribing to Fr. Larry's Blog ( or pick up his book Think and Act Anew from Orbis Books. These can become additional sources to strengthen us for our journey and help us to progress even more.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Conduct Yourselves to Please God

August 26, 2011

Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God—and as you are conducting yourselves—you do so even more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart. (Psalms 97:11)

“(The foolish virgins finally arrived at the wedding) and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’” (Matthew 25:11-12)


Lord, help me to remember which is the greater of the two greatest commandments—and to focus my life accordingly.


What’s on your calendar—PDA, Web, pocket or otherwise—between today and Labor Day? Vacation with your family? Dinner with friends? Home improvement projects? Long hours at work in preparation for the end of the fiscal year? Volunteering to help the homeless, the unemployed, the working poor, the sick, and other people who live on society’s margins?

What’s on your calendar—PDA, Web, pocket or otherwise—between today and Labor Day for time with God?

Making time for weekend Mass is a given. But did you ever think about writing down “dates” with God for prayer time in the morning or evening, or for Adoration? Do you block off time for individual Bible study, the rosary, or reading of a recommended resource?

Many of us live our days going from one appointment or event or obligation to the next, trying to sandwich in more than any human can do or accomplish. Something’s got to give—and often, it’s the time we need to keep our wicks trimmed and our lamps filled, that private time in contemplation and discussion with God.

We delude ourselves when we think that as long as we’re busy with God’s work, we needn’t give much thought to our own relationship with Him—or what He will say when we arrive late, frazzled and out of breath, at the wedding.


Write down your plans for daily appointments with God for the next week or so. Then keep them.

Be Prepared

August 25, 2011

Thursday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Matthew 24:43-44


Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus
direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase
and abound in love for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen. 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13


The Unknown Hour. Some things are known. When will the sun rise? What time is Mass at St. Mary’s on Sunday? When will we have our next election?

But when will we be called home to the Lord? No one knows that hour. Therefore, we must take steps now to prepare to strengthen our heart in the love of the Lord and the love of each other. This can seem like an ominous lesson. However, look at the Psalm in today’s readings.

Fill us with your love, oh Lord, and we will sing for joy! When we prepare by filling our hearts with love, it is a joyful occasion. We must set aside the other things we are tempted to fill up our hearts and lives with – jealousy, greed, lust, gluttony – and turn to the Lord for the right things with which to stock up.


As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast of the United States, we are hearing messages about being prepared from every corner. The Weather Channel. CNN. Local News. It is easy to find the list of what to do and what supplies to have on hand. This morning, we even heard that classes in Norfolk’s Old Dominion University have already been cancelled for Monday.

The Tropical Storm Watch is nothing compared with the fear and queasiness experienced with the Mineral, Va., earthquake. There is no forecast model for such events. So today’s message about being prepared rings especially true for such events.

Think during this time of the people who cannot afford to evacuate or stock up on bread, milk, and batteries. Consider how you can volunteer or send supplies to wide areas of the nation that will be affected.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bring a Friend to Christ

August 24, 2011

Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:45-51)


Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom. (Psalm 145:12)


When I was little, my favorite person in the whole world was my grandmother. She loved us dearly and always had funny stories to tell. She had a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh. Whenever she came to visit, my brother and sister and I fought over whose turn it was to sit next to her in the car, who would get to sit beside her at the table, and whose turn it was to sleep with her that night. I loved snuggling with her in the big double bed, listening to her talk. Every few minutes my mom would shout from her bedroom, “Go to sleep in there!” So then we would hold it down to a whisper for a bit. I don’t know what my brother or sister talked about with Gram, but on those nights when it was my turn, she introduced me to Jesus. She told me stories about his life. She told me about his death and resurrection. She told me how much he loves us, and I fell in love with him in return. Gram also showed me how to talk with our Savior, how to pray. There’s no more precious or lasting gift she could have given me than that gift of faith.

Philip, in today’s Gospel reading, also knew he had something special to share after he became a follower of Jesus. He ran looking for his friend Nathaniel. Nathaniel, guess what? We’ve found him – the one Moses wrote about, the one the prophets talked about! His name is Jesus. He’s the son of Joseph from Nazareth. Come on, I want you to meet him! You can practically feel the excitement in his voice. Once Nathaniel met the Lord and realized that Jesus already knew everything about him, he, confessed his belief that Jesus is the Son of God and he, too, became a disciple.


When was the last time you were so excited about your faith in Christ that you just wanted to run out and share it with a friend?

Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Christ.

Be Entrusted With the Gospel

August 23, 2011

By Beth DeCristofaro

But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, that is how we speak, not as trying to please men, but rather God, who judges our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it. Behind me and before, you hem me in and rest your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too lofty for me to attain. (Psalm 139:4-6)

(Jesus said) “… cleanse first the inside of the cup so that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:26)


Hem me in, Lord, with your saving presence. Rest your hand upon me in times of sorrow to console me, in moments of fear to strengthen me, when I doubt or am lost to guide me and to help me find peace and see you in joy. May I bring the world your Gospel in piety, study and action. (from Psalm 139)


Today, on the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary, we are reminded by Paul and by Jesus that God knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus knew the hypocrisy of the synagogue leaders. God knew Mary even in her mother’s womb and knew that she was a clean vessel within and without, strong in faith and open to the grace of God’s invitation to be entrusted with the Word. As the psalmist sings so beautifully, You have searched me and you know me, Lord, … even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it. Mary knew also, because of her willingness to be overcome with the grace of God that, also from the psalm Behind me and before, (God) hems me in and rests your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too lofty for me to attain.” Mary did not aspire to knowledge, power, prestige or to please anyone but her God. Her Fiat, welcoming the overwhelming grace and presence of God won her the Queenship. She delivered the Gospel to the world through body, soul and every day action.

I find it hard not to be swayed with the pursuit of knowledge, prestige in the form of acknowledgement by colleagues and the freedom to do my own thing in my own way and time. This borders on what Jesus harshly designates as plunder and self-indulgence. It is what my culture and upbringing call good citizenship and self-fulfillment. Bringing myself back through piety, study and action to being hemmed in with God’s presence, of rejoicing in God’s hand upon me I can find fulfillment in being a daughter of God, created and called by God. It is from here that I can in a small way respond as Mary responded with a “yes” created for me.


God entrusts us with the Gospel through our Baptism. Are we being trustworthy or are we distracted by “gospels” of our own making?

Using the Gospel readings each day grounds us in the Gospel. The Catholic Bishops also have helpful documents to help ground us in how the Gospel can be activated in our every day actions.

With Much Conviction

August 22, 2011

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.” Matthew 23:14-15


We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction. You know what sort of people we were [among] you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5


How different is the authenticity of the faith and life of the scribes and Pharisees when compared with Mary who we celebrate today. Throughout the Gospels, Mary is depicted as quietly accepting the will of God and enduring the pain of watching her son grow up and suffer his Passion. All these things she kept in her heart, praying quietly. Her conviction is borne out privately.

The scribes and Pharisees put on public displays and erected barriers to the salvation of the people of their congregations. Their conviction is borne out publicly but in a shallow manner. Therefore, we are encouraged to pray to our mother Mary that we may be made worthy of the promises that she held in her heart and those promises that her Son lived out daily.


God knows what sort of people we are. Those are the secrets of our privacy that we hold in our minds as well…secrets that the outside world may never know unless we care to share them overtly through telling our story or in our deeds.

What part of your private thoughts and feelings make you like the Pharisees? What part of your private thoughts and feelings make you like Mary? Consider the steps you can take to allow the aspects of your Mary-side to prevail.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How Unsearchable His Ways

August 21, 2011

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim's shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut
when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot,
to be a place of honor for his family." Isaiah 22:22-23

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! Romans 11:33

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:15-16


Piety is a personal answer to the question Christ puts to Peter. The question “Who do people say that I am?” Christ puts to all of us. Peter’s answer “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” is almost easy for Peter to say because he has the personal experience of what walking with Christ has meant for him. He sees the differences being a friend of Christ has brought in himself. Piety allows us to walk with Christ. There are many ways to discover Christ in our lives. Some of the words we read in the scripture are actual words of Christ. Scripture Scholars argue about the words that Christ actually said. We know that what the early Church has in the gospels is based on the memories of the apostles and their disciples. When the early disciples began to die off, it became important to have the memories written down so as not to be forgotten. We come to appreciate who someone is by what they say about themselves. Actual words of Christ, what the Church remembers that captures the spirit of what Christ said or what our hearts tell us are the words of Christ revealing himself to us are important in so far as the words we are reading help us to see ourselves in relationship to Christ. Surrendering to Christ makes us into the Christs of today. Piety is what makes it possible for us to say; “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”


The word of God is spoken for us in persons, places and events. The love of Christ calls forth a response from our hearts. There is no way to the Resurrection with a bypass of the cross of Christ. Our salvation is and x plus y equation that finds its fulfillment in the actions of our lives. Paul reflects the difficulty of our study when he says; “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” The heart has reasons the mind will never understand. If God did not reveal himself to us in the humanness of Christ, we would not know anything about God. Christ is the human expression of the wisdom of God. It is in Christ that we find the way to God.


Christ builds the Church on Peter. Christ’s choice of Peter makes him important to us. How I open my heart to the judgments of the Church is how the Mystical Body of Christ that is the Church gets its life in me. The Church feeds us with the word of Christ. The Church calls us to be the Disciples of Christ in our ministry. Christ’s love has its ongoing form in the decisions and the actions of the Church. There are many gifts of the Spirit that are divided among the people of God. We live our gifts as the action of the one Spirit on the Church. We become the voice of Christ by our good actions. The words of St. Francis are on target. Preach always and occasionally use words. Our lives are the greatest action we can do in the name of Christ. In our love for one another Christians give life to the Church. Our love for one another brings new life to the Church.

Favored With Attention

August 20, 2011
Memorial of Saint Bernard,abbot and doctor of the Church

Casting herself prostrate upon the ground, she said to him, “Why should I, a foreigner, be favored with your attention?” Boaz answered her: “I have had a complete account of what you have done for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death; you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom previously you did not know. Ruth 2:10-11

Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:9-12

Gracious and Loving God, as witnesses to the drought in East Africa, continue to provide your people with hearts of service, compassion and solidarity. Console our sisters and brothers living with uncertainty and the scarcity of food. Guide our leaders that they might work together to offer solutions to the needs of the people in East Africa. May your grace remind us that you are the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. Continue to gather us in your name so as your children we embrace our sisters and brothers as we respond to your call. You call us your people. You taught us to be just and you gave us good ground for hope. Lord, help us to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters in the coming weeks. Mold us in your will so that our brothers and sisters will see you reflected in our response. We ask this through your son, Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. (From

Actions speak louder than words. Jesus counsels us to watch out whom we might follow because many of our leaders do not authentically follow what they say or practice what they preach.

Ruth gives us a great example of the lesson being taught in today’s Gospel. She gave up everything in her own life to follow her husband. After he died, she did not return to her homeland but stayed there to care for her moth-in-law.

Jesus is an heir to this school of servant leadership…literally. Ruth gave birth to the latest in the family line which would give the world Jesse, David and ultimately Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus also is the ultimate example of one who does practice what he preaches even though his disciples may not like what they and we hear.

How can we be more like Ruth? Do we deliver on all we promise? Do we go above and beyond to serve others? Or are we too concerned about the next public award, promotion, or trophy?

Fixing our eyes on the news of the day, we easily can be distracted by following the declining value of our retirement portfolio. Yet these values may be declining but they are still filled with more monetary worth than many people in the world will earn in a lifetime. Clearly we remain favored with attention. However, can we better focus on the famine elsewhere in the world?

The image of Ruth gleaning corn in the fields thousands of years ago brings to mind the pictures we see today of the famine in East Africa. Catholic agencies are at the center of this response and Pope Benedict has called for us to help. Consider supporting the charities like CRS that are trying to provide humanitarian aid in this time of crisis.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do Not Ask Me to Abandon or Forsake You!

August 19, 2011

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Ruth said (to Naomi), “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

The Lord keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free. (Psalm 146:6-7)

(Jesus told the scholar who asked which commandment was the greatest:) "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

Lord, help me to love as You love me.

Friendships come and go in this world, and sometimes for good reasons. People we loved and trusted turn out to be physically or mentally abusive to us, or to be unethical. Sometimes, the reasons are lesser. She’s got so much drama in her life that there’s never time to listen to what’s happening with us. He’s so judgmental. She’s so negative. His politics are 180 degrees from ours. And so we pull away… sometimes all at once, and sometimes by letting the friendship drift away.

Imagine if God judged us in the same way, revoked our baptism and walked away, because we persisted in gossip, didn’t find time to pray, were quick to anger, spent money we didn’t have, or envied a neighbor or coworker his or her successes. There are reasons in our lives every day that God could justify losing faith in each and every one of us. And yet, He doesn’t. He loves despite our flaws.

We’re not called to stay in situations that endanger us. But we are called to love all, even if it needs to be at a safe distance. How safe and at what distance are informed by God. In the moment, Ruth’s life would have been easier had she stayed in the plateau of Moab as Orpah did. Her love for and loyalty to Naomi took her to the strange land of Bethlehem… and to Boaz, and hence to part of the lineage of Jesus.

For many of us, the second greatest commandment can be more difficult than the first on most days. Today, pray for those who threaten or annoy you most. Focus on people you interact with daily, not politicians or criminals or entertainers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You, Yes You, O Lord

August 18, 2011

Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

When Jephthah returned to his house in Mizpah, it was his daughter who came out to meet him, with tambourine-playing and dancing. She was his only child: he had neither son nor daughter besides her. When he saw her, he tore his garments and said, “Ah, my daughter! You have struck me down and brought calamity upon me. For I have made a vow to the LORD and I cannot take it back.” “Father,” she replied, “you have made a vow to the LORD. Do with me as you have vowed, because the LORD has taken vengeance for you against your enemies the Ammonites.” Judges 11:34-36

But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:11-14


Blessed the man who sets

his security in the LORD,

who turns not to the arrogant

or to those who stray after falsehood.

You, yes you, O LORD, my God,

have done many wondrous deeds!

And in your plans for us

there is none to equal you.

Should I wish to declare or tell them,

too many are they to recount.

Sacrifice and offering you do not want;

you opened my ears.

Holocaust and sin-offering you do not request;

so I said, “See; I come

with an inscribed scroll written upon me.

I delight to do your will, my God;

your law is in my inner being!” Psalm 40:5-9


Ever throw a party and nobody shows up? The loving and hospitable king in today's parable must feel pretty dejected trying to get his people to attend the wedding feast. People were invited but put other things ahead of attending the party. They had their agenda and it was not the same as the King's. Finally, King throws the gates of the party open to whomever would come. Open seating. While people did attend, many showed up with little or no preparation. Dressed too casually. They probably did not even bring a gift for the bride and groom.


What does this have to do with us today? It's summer vacation season. Have you already headed off to the beach or the mountains? Do you have a getaway planned before Labor Day arrives? You are probably packing and planning what to bring and what to do. On that list, while away, where will you attend Mass? Take a minute and look up the nearest Church. Take some time out to be thankful for your rest and get to know some of the local people where you will spend some time.

It’s Not Fair

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

August 17, 2011

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Jesus told the disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:1-16)


I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:6)


I wonder how long it took human beings to come up with the phrase “it’s not fair.” It must have been early in our history, because jealousy and resentment date back to Cain and Abel’s day. Cain thought God preferred his brother’s sacrifice of a sheep to his own offering of grain. Envy simmered for a while and then suddenly boiled over into hatred, resulting in Cain murdering his brother.

We don’t seem to have changed much over the centuries. We’re still taking our eyes off the Lord and his goodness toward us, checking out everyone else’s grass, often judging it greener than our own and then complaining that “it’s not fair.” Certainly that’s true of the workers in today’s parable. The ones hired in the morning couldn’t believe that those hired toward the end of the day received the same pay they did after they had toiled all day long. Wait a minute, they protested. It’s not fair! If they had stayed focused on their reward from the vineyard owner, they would have been perfectly happy. They were paid what was promised. They had what they needed. But that little jealous streak within them caused them to look around and compare. They couldn’t find it within themselves to rejoice at the good fortune of the others. They couldn’t stop thinking how unfair it was.

Jealousy and resentment are so ugly and so unnecessary. God has love enough for all of us. God gives each of us all the love he has. God is the ultimate parent and those of you who have children know that no matter how many you are blessed with, you never run short on love for any of them. Your heart expands as each one comes along. That’s how God’s love is for us – abundant, overflowing and sufficient.

Personally, I’m glad God isn’t fair, by our definition of the word. I’d rather be showered with God’s love, mercy and forgiveness than treated fairly, or according to what I deserve. I know myself, my sins and faults too well to ever wish God would be “fair.”


Do you ever find yourself jealous of or resentful toward someone else? Spend a little time in prayer reflecting on God’s love for you. Why wish for what you don’t have when you have what really matters?

For God All Things Are Possible

August 16, 2011

Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-16)


My Jesus, remind me each day to put my face toward our Father and walk beside you rather than walk toward what entices me falsely. May “Thy will be done” begin with me and even when in doubt may I always hope and act that “for God all things are possible.”


The disciples were astonished at Jesus’ teaching but not in the same way we are today. In Jesus’ day, it was believed that good works and piety were rewarded by God with worldly success, wealth and hopefully, long life. Today we are more astonished by the implications that we – who in the vast majority of the Western world – are very rich, should give away what we have or risk not making it to heaven.

We reassure ourselves, somewhat uneasily, that Jesus does not mean this but means instead that we do our duty by God and by Him in our conduct, religious practices and by offering charitable donations, volunteer or in other ways using our riches to help others in a Christian sense of caring. This is indeed part of His message while worldly success is clearly not.

Jesus is more interested in our hearts and where our faith, our hope, our desires, our attention and time are. The world and our lives are rich with opportunities to see God, know God, love God and speak God to one another. Worldly riches distract us with fantasies of fulfillment when the realty – the truth – is that God is our only fulfillment. He means that by putting all aside and God first, the reward is such fulfillment in God’s daily presence that we become rich with God’s love which is then naturally fills and overflows into our everyday. We not only do not need fantasies but we come to participate more fully in the building of God’s Kingdom.


Take stock of where your desires most often draw you. Is it to things or people that make you feel important? Is it to what “fills” a hollow within you? Is it what makes you forget or tolerate that which is hurtful, crushing, or defeating ? Or is it that which just feels too good to be denied? Ask in prayer for the grace to recognize and put aside that which stands between you and the Kingdom. Remember: for God all things are possible.