Monday, October 31, 2011

Delivered All to Disobedience

October 31, 2011

Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! Romans 11:32-33

"Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:13-14


"Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels." (Hebrews 31:1-2)


Sometimes, the readings are a little more difficult to interpret in the chill of the early morning hours. Today, in the epistle from St. Paul to the Romans, the line that struck me was, " For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all." What? I thought God gave us free will in order to choose the right path? His path! Yet, if we did not act selfishly, out of disobedience to the commandments to be humble, to defer to the poor, the orphans and the widows, how else would we receive redemption? One the one hand, why would God want us to be disobedient? But in the next breath, the very next sentence, we learn the answer. Indeed, How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!


If you hold an All Hallows Eve Party tonight, who will be your guest? Ghoulishly dressed friends? Devilish neighbors? Bewitching classmates? You can change the occasion, but the question remains, "Who will be your guest?" Who will be worthy to enter under your roof?

We do not have to take Luke Gospel of Jesus Christ too literally. The message is not only about parties (although as Abbot Oscar taught us, Christ did some of his best work at parties).

Who will get your smile while walking down the street? Who will get your gift of charity? Who will get those used clothes hanging in your closet, that you never wear anymore? The words from Hebrews 13:2 come to mind again today -- words that Beth reminded me of last weekend. These are among the words that inspired Dorothy Day to start the Catholic Worker movement and open houses of hospitality for the poor. She did not entertain bishops and mayors and governors.

Tomorrow, we cross the threshold of the eleventh month of the 2011th year. Let us make this month a month of Entertaining Angels. We could be delivered to the gifts of indulgence, Thanksgiving gluttony or shopping mall materialism. Let us overcome these and walk on the right path.

You Have But One

October 30, 2011

Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us? Why then do we break faith with one another, violating the covenant of our fathers? Malachi 2:10

"Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:10-12


Humility flows out of Piety. Piety is the willingness to be a Christ for all who come our way. Humility is our willingness to see Christ in each other. The wonder of the person that is able to treat everyone as better than themselves is the same wonder at Christ who washed the feet of his disciples. We do not need humility to treat those who have great responsibility as leaders in the name of Christ. When we make an honest effort to treat a nobody as greater than ourselves, we are truly humble. Common sense knows when we are doing something better than others do it. Our humility in treating all others as better than ourselves needs to flow out of the realization that if another had the gifts and the graces we have, they would do twice as much as ourselves. Conversely our humility allows us to think if we had the graces and talents they did, even if they appear inferior by education or talents, they would do twice as much as we would do. The spirit of humility gives Christ ascendancy in our hearts in the way we see others as better than ourselves. Humility as a virtue allows us to see the world through the eyes of Christ who was willing to give up the being God to live his life as a slave of all. Humility as a virtue reveals to our world the truth of how we see ourselves in relationship to Christ. Humility allows us to look at our world through the eyes of Christ from his cross.


We learn to preach Christ by studying how he lived out his destiny as the Word made flesh. God had a plan for Christ even as he has a plan for us. Our opportunities in life and even the good we do by our lives is part of the gift of life God has given us. Humility gives us the chance to discern what the plan God has for us. We are open to the truth of our lives in the realization that all is gift of God to us. The measure of how well we love reflects the presence of God in our lives. It is perhaps easier to love our family more than the strangers of our lives. We are called to appreciate that we love Christ by what we do for the least person in our lives. There is no shortcut on loving God that permits us to bypass the hurting of our world. What we do for the least person in our lives is the measure of what we do for Christ.


The Corporal Works of Mercy cover the grounds of what we are called to do for Christ in sharing our lives with others. We try to cover each of the works of Mercy that we might be sure that we will not be left out of the call of God to salvation. Christ identifies with the needs of any one of us. We need to need each other and humility makes that possible for us. Strong rugged individualism might have a place in our world. But community is made up by our oneness with others. Humility excludes no one from our lives. We better belong to Christ in the openness to all that humility makes possible. Our greatness in heaven will belong to our having humbled ourselves before our world. How we share our lives with the least person in our lives reveals how much we love Christ. When we give until it hurts we are the Christ of our day and age.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Be Humbled

October 29, 2011

Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

[I]n respect to election, they are beloved because of the patriarch. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Romans 12:28b-29

"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:11


For the LORD will not cast off his people, nor abandon his inheritance; But judgment shall again be with justice, and all the upright of heart shall follow it. Psalm 94


Jesus is the One who humbled himself and now we exalt him every day in every way. Throughout these recent cycle of readings from St. Paul's letter to the Romans, we have been reflecting on how this single overwhelming act of humility helps us to overcome whatever trials, tribulations and obstacles are in our path. We are refreshed for the journey by our friends who strengthen us to stay vigilant with our piety, study and action.

The loving humility of Jesus even overcomes the adversity between Jews and Gentiles. Our mortal squabbles can be wiped away by the love of Jesus -- a love the breeds respect because we focus on what we share not what makes us different. The talk show/news cycle mentality that we must destroy our opponent melts away under this standard. We may disagree on ideas or means, but each person is worthy in the eyes of the Lord and that love can never be taken away.

God's love will never fade. As we learned in Isaiah, "Though the mountains fall away and the hills be shaken, My love shall never fall away from you nor my covenant of peace* be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you." (Isaiah 54:10). Likewise, his call to us to live lives filled with humility and love is as ever-present as the gift of forgiveness that lights the path ahead.


Who are the foes in your life? What mountains must you climb this week? What disturbs your peace?

Sometimes our brothers and sisters face obstacles based on natural disasters. This week, amidst the news of the economic up-tick, World Series victory of the Cardinals, and the various political news cycles, two natural disasters affected people -- a major earthquake in Turkey and floods in Thailand.

Consider helping the people cope with these disasters and overcome the mountain of despair they face by channeling some charity to Catholic Relief Services ( or through projects in the affected areas supported by GlobalGiving (

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From Them He Chose Twelve

Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

October 28, 2011

By Melanie Rigney

Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Their message goes out through all the earth. (Psalms 19:5)

When day came, (Jesus) called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve,whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter,and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot,and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who became a traitor. (Luke 6:13-16)


Lord, thank you for the guides you place in my life.


And so he selected twelve.

Why twelve? Who knows? For the twelve tribes of Israel? For the twelve patriarchs? Because he was twelve when we first know of his presence at the temple? Or because of all the disciples, he saw something special in them?

Thanks to the wonders of today’s telecommunications systems, we all have far more people in our lives than Jesus did. We talk on the phone to them. We text them. We e-mail them. We follow them on Twitter. We like them and “poke” them on Facebook. We fly hundreds or thousands of miles to see them. We sit in meetings with them. We go out to dinner with them. We pray with them and laugh with them and cry with them.

But we go to different friends—and they come to us—for different reasons and different seasons. I recently had dinner for the first time in a few months with someone I’ve known about five years. I came home feeling empty and, to be honest, a little frustrated. It was all about her, even though she has no immediate crises in her life. The times I tried to interject something related that was going on with me, she brushed it off—and went back to talking about her job and her family. The more I thought about past dinners, the more I realized this is a pattern of behavior, not an isolated incident. She’s not a bad person, just inconsiderate.

Other friends, it doesn’t matter. We pick up where we left off, whether it’s been a week or a month or a year or sometimes even decades. I remember their victories and their hurts, and they remember mine. Or if we forget the specifics, we ask. We offer whatever the other needs—a listening ear, an honest opinion, a light moment, thoughtful discussion, prayer. These are the friends we’d go to war with and for, and they’d do the same for us. Sometimes, they already have.

I’d like to think that Jesus selected each of the Twelve for a specific reason, not just because they happened along at the right time or because he had a quota to fill. I’d like to think that while he loved all the disciples, the Twelve were people he felt he could go to war with. And if you take the long view, only one of them wasn’t there for him once the battle was on.


Who are the “apostles” in your life? Do something today to let them know how much you appreciate them.

Conquer Overwhelmingly

October 27, 2011

Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Romans 8:31b-33

"Go and tell that fox, "Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem." Luke 13:32-33


Father, there are so many distractions in our life. You gave us all that leads to you but also gave us all that might lead us astray if we use them improperly. Jesus, help us to adopt your attitude to push forward despite all odds. Holy Spirit, watch over us and guide us as we must continue on God's way today. Amen.


John 3:16 might be a more popularly quoted line than today's passage from Romans 8. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. However, reading Romans 8:31, just might point us to the natural conclusion to the act of sending His Son to save us. If God is for us, who can be against us?

The notes to the New American Bible explain, "Through the redemptive work of Christ, Christians have been liberated from the terrible forces of sin and death. Holiness was impossible so long as the flesh (or our “old self”), that is, self-interested hostility toward God), frustrated the divine objectives expressed in the law."

What changed? The cross.

At the cross God broke the power of sin. His enemies tried to break Jesus. Yet they found out that not even the cruelest capital punishment of his mortal enemies could overcome the power of God’s love. Can the act on the cross not then help us to overcome every obstacle we face, every obstacle, trial or tribulation that tries to separate us from the love of our God?

Not even Herod's plot against Jesus could keep Jesus from fulfilling his destiny and ours in Jerusalem. Are we about to let something as puny as that car on the Beltway or the person who "steels" a parking space who hoped to use steer us off the path of salvation?


Who are our enemies? In today's world, where we have so much, those material goods may be the biggest obstacle we face to the love of God -- not some other people in the world.

Just because someone has different political or economic views, they are not some Herod-like enemy trying to kill us. Yet in this super-charged geo-political, macroeconomic arena, sometimes we mistake different viewpoints for an almost cult-like attempt to demonize those who hold differing views. This behavior can then get translated down to the micro-personal level on Facebook, Twitter or the front seat of our car.

Sometimes we portray those who make us angry as the enemy? Who makes us angry? Why do they do that to us? The first culprit here is the person who hogs the road from us. Yet the selfish behavior of others is not an attack on us but rather their failure to acknowledge anyone else around them. They need to read a diver's manual, not the Sun-Tzu's Art of War or Machiavelli's The Prince.

People may get in our way -- but no matter what they do or say, people really are the way we have to overcome our emotional self and find the path to God.

We also get in other's people's way? Are you hindering anyone's path to God? Can you step aside today and let the other make way?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Facebook Friends Not Wanted

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

October 26, 2011

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28)

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, “Lord, open the door for us.” He will say to you in reply, “I do not know where you are from.” And you will say, “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.” Then he will say to you. “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!” (Luke 13:22-26)


Though I trusted in your mercy,

Let my heart rejoice in your salvation:

Let me sing of the Lord, “He has been good to me.”

(Psalm 13:6)


I wonder what Jesus would have thought about Facebook. Don’t get me wrong; Facebook has some very positive points. I enjoy looking at photos of my friends’ kids and grandkids, for example. But I don’t understand people who would rather spend hours online sharing their thoughts with hundreds of Facebook “friends” when they could be spending time with a close friend in real life. It seems to me that the Facebook concept of friendship distorts the very meaning of the word friend.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is asked if only a few people will be saved. He doesn’t give a direct answer, but what he says has to do with the true meaning of friendship and love. He says we should attempt to enter through the narrow gate. At some point it will be closed. Then, we just might find ourselves banging on the door and begging the Master to let us in. But the Master will reply that he doesn’t know us. Jesus says we’ll probably give a Facebook friends kind of response – but we know who you are! We partied with you; we heard that you walked through the streets of our town teaching; we’ve even seen your Facebook page. Really, let us in; we know who you are.

It turns out that there’s a huge difference between knowing who the Lord is and really knowing him intimately as our friend and Savior. Jesus doesn’t need a bunch of Facebook friends. He’s looking for people who are willing to make him their closest friend, people who will genuinely love him and everything he loves, people who will open their hearts to him and allow him to love them and transform their lives.


If you’re feeling too much like a casual acquaintance of the Lord, take to heart Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans. Maybe we don’t know where to start in growing closer to God. Maybe we just don’t know what to say in prayer. But Paul says if we simply entrust our desires to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will intercede for us.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Waiting Eagerly

October 25 2011

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; … We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19, 22-23)

Jesus said, "What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches." (Luke 13:18-19)


I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear

without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,

but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,

these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing to you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels

into the open sea.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~ (Rilke’s Book of Hours:Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)


These readings just fill me with awe as I read them. The saying goes “sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees.” Well, in these days sometimes it’s almost impossible to hope for -- much less see -- a heavenly bush at all or hear the birds living in it. But it is God’s promise as Creator, God’s dying and rising as Redeemer and God’s presence as Spirit which is more real and everlasting than earthquakes, political venom, murders and armed conflicts, dementia, addiction, hurricanes, cancer, or any horror or tragedy we can face. In the face of no hope, God’s love is there for us in the branches to hold on to and be sheltered within.


In this beautiful season of Autumn, let the colors, the amber light of the sun, the chill in the morning air, or any other favorite image of the season bring you to thanksgiving for God’s movement in your life and the hope of the Kingdom springing into being around us. In your prayer, ask God to breathe life into the sadness, hurts, hates, stumbling sins that are keeping you from sitting in the branches of the Kingdom singing as Rilke longs to do.

Suffer With Him

October 24. 2011

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17

"Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?" Luke 13:15-16


Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me. (Ignatius Loyola)


Slavery. Bondage. Not the kinds of imagery of a life devoted to exercising our free will. However, St. Paul is teaching us that life depends upon HOW and to what END we exercise that freedom. Take the Gospel example. The woman in this story was a slave to her infirmity. She bore its yolk for 18 years until Christ freed her from its bondage. However, the leader of the synagogue remained in bondage to his closed mind. He wanted to control when the Lord could provide the gift of salvation. He did not want people to be freed on the Sabbath.

Isn't the Sabbath the day that we are supposed to be freed from the preoccupations of the world in order to devote time to the Lord? Maybe that is my modern viewpoint but it was not shared with the temple elders in ancient Palestine.

The salvation that the Lord delivers -- be it from sin, from illness, from social conditions, or whatever afflicts us -- is delivered unconditionally yet upon one condition. We share in salvation freely when we also share in the Passion of the Lord. St. Paul reminds us that we are children of God "if only we suffer with Christ."


Do we think compassion is a one-way street? Compassion is what we feel when we share in the emotional, physical, or spiritual suffering of another. Christ looked at us with compassion. He gave and gave and gave until he had nothing left to give us. Then, as Christ hung on the cross by three nails, he looked down at us with even more compassion and gave us His own mother.

Now it is our time to live with the same kind of passion to help others.

It might be easy for us to dismiss the references to slavery and bondage to metaphorical realms. However, there remains in the world a serious problem with enslavement of women and children -- including in the United States. According to the US Department of Justice, there are as many as 17,000 persons who are victims of human trafficking in the US each year. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. The victims are transported to be exploited -- perhaps through prostitution or forced labor. There are many ideas about how people like you and I can assist in this effort. Learn more about modern slavery/human trafficking and some of the suggestions for action here:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Model For All The Believers

October 23, 2011

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Thus says the LORD: "You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. Exodus 22:20-23

You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers. 1 Thessalonians 1:5b-7a

"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. Matthew 22: 37-39


Everything we have God has given us. He has even given us himself in his Son Jesus Christ who is God’s perfect love for us in all that he did and said. There is no moment more precious in our life than the moment when we are giving ourselves back to God by being so much more than mere companions of the journey by offering ourselves to Christ by our dying with him so that we can rise with him. When we can say, “When you see me, you see Christ,” we have arrived at the fullness of what our piety is all about. Our life in Christ is revealed by returning to the Lord all that he has given us and becoming Christ in the uniqueness of who we are. Our piety is how we say Christ to the world by our lives. We live the great commandment of the Lord when we love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. We return everything the Lord has given us to God when we love our neighbor as our self. God has given us all that we are and our piety is the graciousness in the ways we return ourselves to God with all that he has given us. The only way we can save our lives is by giving our lives away. When we do this, we can say with Paul that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us.


When we were young, all too often we were more interested in doing than studying. But we cannot give to others what we do not have ourselves. The law and the prophets gave Christ insight into the plan his Father had for him. In our Study of the Scripture, we walk with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to listen to Christ explain how the law and the prophets pertained to him. We study the good people of our lives so that we can be imitators of them and of the Lord.


What we learn by our study of Scripture and how scripture is lived in our brothers and sisters, teaches us how to be models of Christ in all we say and do. We need to be able to say with our lives that when we are seen, Christ is seen. Our actions must flow out of our knowledge of the Lord. The only way we can give Christ to others is to give ourselves. We love Christ when we love the others of our lives. Wherever there is love God is there. It is love that makes our world go round. Our love gives the world its meaning. Christ has loved us with the same love his Father had for him. Christ invites us to love one another as he has loved us. Christ gave his life for us and we have a fullness of Christ’s love when we give our lives for each other.

If You Do Not Repent, You Will All Perish

October 22, 2011

Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:6-9

'"For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?" He said to him in reply, "Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'" Luke 13:7-9


"O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me" (Ps. 70:2)


In one breath of today's Gospel, Jesus is telling us that we will be destroyed. In the very next breath, he is telling us the story of the kind gardener who will nurse the fig tree back to life and productivity. How do we reconcile these messages?

Jesus as the Gardener is there to save the fig tree from being destroyed. Clearly Jesus is living the life of the Spirit and is concerned with life and with peace, not with destruction.

The connecting tissue for me is the line about repentance. Jesus the gardener is telling us -- his branches -- that if we do not change the direction in which we seek happiness, then we shall shrivel up like this fig tree. He is willing to nurse us back to life in the spirit, if we are willing to submit our lives (lives now dedicated to the flesh) to Him. Jesus is willing to make us His own if we are willing to make us His.

Such a transformation requires both of us -- our humble surrendering our will and Jesus' generous act of saving our spirits. What shall it be? Surrender and change or grow under your own control and die?

This choice reminds me of Phil Russell's favorite passage from the Bible during our preparation for the Men's 108th Cursillo. "I am the vine. You are the branches." What does it mean to be a branch of Jesus' vine? One might see that a vine grows when the branch nourishes it. A vine does not have life separate from the branch. If it is cut off, it will surely wither and die. That is just a biological fact.

What does it matter? If we are cut off from Jesus and a life in which He dwells in us, then we might as well not go on. If on the other hand, we dedicate our life to growing in the direction the branch determines, then we will live according to the rules of the branch (the two great commandments?), and will bear much fruit.

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 15:5)


We will make little impact on the world if we live for ourselves.

Make A Difference Day 2012 is on October 23. That is tomorrow. According to its web site, "Make A Difference Day is celebrated each year on the 4th Saturday in October. Created by USA WEEKEND Magazine, it is the nation’s largest day of volunteering, thanks to the passion of millions of people like you. Together with long-standing partner HandsOn Network, the generosity of Newman’s Own and hundreds of carrier newspapers, USA WEEKEND rallies millions in a single day to help change the world."

That is a great way to get people out of the "man cave" watching football and into the streets helping people. It is a great way to introduce children and teens to the American tradition of neighbor helping neighbor. However, for Christians, every day is "Make a Difference" Day. God stands ready to come to our assistance if we only let Him enter into our lives. One way to open that door is in helping our neighbors whether or not we get an award from Gannet Foundation or not.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Do You Not Judge for Yourselves What Is Right?

October 21, 2011

Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 4:4-5)

I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts. (Psalms 119:94)

(Jesus) said to the crowds, “When you see [a] cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain—and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot—and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” (Luke 12:54-59)


Lord, I pray that You eradicate the sin that dwells in me… and help me to do good, not just talk about it and say I’m willing.


One of the most heartbreaking scenes in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women comes in a chapter titled “Little Faithful,” just after Mrs. March has left for Washington to nurse her husband. Back at home, her four daughters initially remember their pledges to help each other and the neighbors, in particular the poverty-stricken Hummels, but the initial vigor passes for all but Beth. Alcott writes:

All were unconscious that this experience was a test of character; and, when the first excitement was over, felt that they had done well, and deserved praise. So they did; but their mistake was in ceasing to do well, and they learned this lesson through much anxiety and regret.

The anxiety and regret occur in the next two pages, when Beth goes to care for the Hummels because none of her sisters will. Later in the day, older sister Jo comes home to find a tear-stained Beth with a bottle of camphor. The Hummels’ baby has died of scarlet fever, and the doctor suspects Beth is stricken as well. Her sisters, especially the two who have already had scarlet fever, castigate themselves for forgetting their pledges to help, leaving Beth with the burden.

Now, Little Women fans will remember that Beth after a close brush with death rallies to live several more years. But the point here is how difficult it can be for all of us to be “Little Faithful.” Talking about doing what we know is right is easy. Actually doing it, especially on a day-in, day-out basis, is not. As Paul says in today’s first reading, “The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls on us to stay in the moment to do God’s will and settle our earthly differences, rather than to focus on what might happen or how resolution might come tomorrow. The March sisters also show us what happens when we figure our past good deeds will be enough to get us to tomorrow. In short, we can’t change yesterday or forecast tomorrow. All we have is the present. How will you spend it?


In the coming week, seek God’s assistance in focusing what you need to be doing now to help bring souls to the Kingdom… not tomorrow, or next month, or next year. Then do what He asks.

Freed from Sin

October 20, 2011

Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23

"I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. Luke 12:49-51


Everything is beautiful in its own way

Like a starry summer night

Or a snow-covered winter's day

And everybody's beautiful, in their own way

Under God's Heaven

The world's gonna find a way

There is none so blind

As he who will not see

We must not close our minds

We must let our thoughts be free

For every hour that passes by

You know the world gets a little bit older

It's time to realize that beauty lies

In the eyes of the beholder

We shouldn't care 'bout the length of his hair

Or the color of his skin

Don't worry about what shows from without

But the love that lives within


When we focus on only the friendship part of Cursillo, messages like the one today might fall on deaf ears. Jesus is warning his followers that he is here to breed division. This is not the love, peace and happiness message. This is the other part of what he told us and showed us in his life-example.

Warnings against sin abound in our reading of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. These go beyond just our personal transformation. We also must warn others to change their ways. As we learn from the prophet Ezekiel, "I have appointed you a sentinel for the house of Israel.When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me. If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood."

St. Paul told the Galatians, "Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.(Galatians 6:7-9)

Personal choice and personal responsibility are at the heart of this path. We have to choose to deny ourselves and focus externally. Jesus recognizes that everyone won't behave that way. There will be those who hear his message and act upon it and those who do not. That is the ultimate division. There also will be many permutations. There will be some who misinterpret what he is saying and continue their current behavior. There will be those who do not change the direction in which they are looking for happiness.


The time is here to be rich in what matters to God. God does not care if you wear Salvatore Ferragamo shoes or carry a Gucci purse. God does not care if you wear a Rolex. Janis Joplin was looking in the wrong place. The Lord will not buy you a Mercedes-Benz.

We have to deny what is peddled by Madison Avenue, Wall Street, K Street and Hollywood. We have to accept what is peddled on the path to Calvary, the temples of Nazareth and the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

So how do we take the first step, or the next step? There was never such division as on Good Friday when the followers ran and hid and left the fate of Jesus up to the Romans and the Pharisees.

Our first step means we have to come out of hiding as Christians and steps into the open world and proclaim what we believe in our words and in our actions. We must show upon which side of the divide we stand.