Tuesday, July 31, 2012
August 1, 2012
Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church
By Colleen O'Sullivan
Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew13:44)
O my strength! your praise will I sing;
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
my merciful God!
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus is speaking in parables describing the Kingdom of heaven. He tells the disciples that God’s Kingdom is like a hidden treasure so precious and so enticing that we would sell or give up everything we have to make it our own. When we commit ourselves to following Jesus, that’s precisely what we say we’re going to do; we’re going to give up everything for him. We’re going to clear away anything that might distract us from the journey.
But when I look around, I see many people, including myself, doing just the opposite. One of my friends at work, a committed Catholic, once got upset with me because I objected to contributing to a particular baby shower gift. I thought a designer diaper bag that cost more than $250 was a little over the top. She thought it was just the right thing. Closer to home, one of my former roommates told me in all seriousness that her car was her status symbol. I myself cleaned out my closets a couple of years ago when I realized they were so full I literally couldn’t squeeze my clothes in at the end of the day and I could barely pull something out to wear in the morning. We may think we’re giving our all for the Kingdom, but our belongings, attitudes toward material possessions, and closets often tell another story.
No matter that God’s Kingdom is the greatest treasure of all, we seldom find ourselves willing to give everything we have for it. Too many other things divert us, and in spite of our best intentions, our loyalties are divided.
Always before us is the truth that Jesus gave everything, including his life, for us. He willingly died on the Cross that our sins might be forgiven and that we might have eternal life with him. He showers us with love, mercy and forgiveness. In response, what one thing or attitude that keeps you from giving everything for God’s Kingdom could you relinquish today?
July 31 2012
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
By Beth DeCristofaro
Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, Over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound. (Jeremiah 14:17)
"He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. (Matthew 13:37-39)
…we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise. (Psalm 79:13)
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise. (Psalm 79:13)
The other day I was visiting friends and got to spend some time with their grandkids. The toddler is blissfully active. The baby watches everything calmly. I am personally pretty optimistic and hopeful but can’t help having some qualms that innocence, such as these two sweet children, will face pretty difficult hurdles in life.
Not in the least is the fact that the reason for my visit to their home was the unexpected death of their uncle. Numb sadness was ironically juxtaposed with the bright laughter and potentiality of these babies. They made us smile even while we cried together for the loss which the family has incurred. Faith that God abides holds this family up in the gale winds of grief.
God sows good seed. And God seems to be grieved, also, over evil faced by we whom God has created and whom God loves. Weeds of sin, accident, natural disasters, personal and societal choices to turn from goodness and truth grieve us personally and as Christians. And they grieve God. As Catholic Christians we have been promised that weeds will not overcome the harvest. As a community we can grow thick and strong despite weeds, holding each other up in the light of God’s love which holds us all up.
Our interior weeds are ripe for us to whack – or pull from the roots. God’s love is fertilizer to transform weeds into fruitful crops. Dig out a few weeds and give God’s love room to grow deeper within so that you can offer that love to others.
Monday, July 30, 2012
July 30, 2012
Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Thus says the LORD: So also I will allow the pride of Judah to rot, the great pride of Jerusalem. This wicked people who refuse to obey my words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, and follow strange gods to serve and adore them, shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing. For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man's loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the LORD; to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen. Jeremiah 3:9 -11
"The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." Matthew 13:33
Father, help us make your Kingdom rise up and grow. Lord, bless me and break me and serve me as a warm morsel to ease the pains of hunger in the world. Holy Spirit, gather up my fragments and pass those on to those who continue to want what we have in abundance.
The Kingdom of God is already here. However, our stubbornness of heart, our strange gods of the Internet and the brewery and the shopping mall and the easy chair crowd out the Lord from his rightful place in our lives. But that does not stop Him. The Lord will continue to work on us like the woman baking bread.
There is a little of the Kingdom inside all of us that -- given the right conditions -- will grow. The small package of yeast (as little as three teaspoons) needs some water, salt, and oil, the right temperature and some darkness and some flour and, last but not least, a little time before it comes dough. The Lord has a lot of tools at His disposal. He uses the beauty of nature, the love of others, the sacraments, the scripture, and his own friendship to convince us to do the work he has for us.
Once the dough is made, the job is not over. There is the kneading, the rolling, oiling the pan, flouring the pan, preheating the oven. Baking bread is not an easy task. Nor is it a short task that we can accomplish in this microwave age.
Even when the spirit of the Lord is within us and growing, we still need some kneading in the hands of the Lord. The Lord still must continue to form us in the gifts of piety, study and action. We must cling to the Lord like dough clings to the fingers of the baker.
Even after we are fully baked into tasty loaves, the Lord then has to decide how to use us. Will we be among the few loaves that the little boy will share with the Lord to feed the 10,000 people? Will we be the bread for the world shared with those who do not have the blessing of abundance? Or will we be the break broken and shared with the cup of wine to the eleven remaining disciples at the Last Supper? Will we open their eyes as they feast on breakfast at the beach? Will we open their ears as they share a meal after the long walk to Emmaus?
Where are you in the Lord's bakery? Are you still yeast raising under cheesecloth? Are you ready to be tested in the heat of the ovens of life? Are you ready to be put out on a shelf as a tasty treat for the people who hunger to find the presence of the Lord in this world?
Saturday, July 28, 2012
July 29, 2012
Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2012 B
By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ
A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God, twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, "Give it to the people to eat." But his servant objected, "How can I set this before a hundred people?" Elisha insisted, "Give it to the people to eat." "For thus says the LORD, 'They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'" And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the LORD had said. 2 Kings 4:42-44
I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call. Ephesians 4:1-4
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. John 6:8-11
Piety is a process. It is being fed, feeding and searching out Christ in all that we do. Christ gave us his love before we were born. He came to us by our baptism to dwell with us as long as we live. He grows in his presence in us by our sharing Eucharist. He comes to us even as we come to him by Eucharist. We give away Christ to be fed by Christ. He comes to our emptiness. He gives himself to our family and friends by our good actions. Piety is Christ alive in us by what we are saying and doing. Only our emptiness is big enough for Christ. He comes to us by our need of others and identifies with us so that what others do for us they can do for Christ. The miracle of Eucharist is love expressed by what we do for others. Christ is as big as our love of one another. He would become us so that we would know how to be one with God in our oneness with Christ.
The multiplication of the loaves and fishes sets us up for believing in the possibility of Eucharist. When Christ challenges his apostles to believe in his being able to give of his body and blood to eat and to drink he loses some of his disciples because they are repelled by the thought of having Christ as the food of life. That God could love us so much that he would want to be one of us challenges us to love God so much that we would be willing to be all Jesus to our world. It is not too hard to say that when you see me you see Christ. It is how we see Christ in ourselves that makes it possible to give Christ by being ourselves in his name. We thus live in a manner worthy of the call of Christ. Humility and gentleness is the ticket to heaven. We bear with one another by love. We learn through love to preserve the unity of the spirit. Our call is to one Lord, one faith and one baptism. Christ brings us to his Father. We learn by studying how to stay with the Father.
We go out of our way to put the best possible interpretation on what others say and do. We open up our hearts to be generous in our giving to their needs. The miracle of the loaves and the fishes teaches us to give beyond our means. It is thus we discover how God can fill up the difference between what we do and what is needed. God inspires others to step into our task when we invite him to make up the difference between what we do and what needs doing. Impossible tasks become our specialty because we enjoy seeing what God accomplishes when we invite him to use our weaknesses. The multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is our template and we embark on tasks that are impossible without the help of God. When our task is accomplished, it behooves us like Christ to go apart and to thank God for making the impossible possible to us by our dependence on the Lord.