Saturday, June 29, 2013

Called for Freedom

Called for Freedom

Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary time 2013 C

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

“You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah, as prophet to succeed you.”  1 Kings 19:16

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.  But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.  Galatians 5:13

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”  Luke 9:57-58


Piety has its strongest definition in how we follow the Lord. God has a plan for all of us.  Spirituality brings the discovery of what that plan is that God has for us.  Poverty, chastity and obedience are the makeup of a perfect surrender to the Lord as the meaning of life.  If you give away everything that you have, the poverty would seem to make the following of the Lord easier because there is nothing waiting for us to come back to.  We are freed from what would call us back.  Chastity means that you love the Lord your God more than any other human being.  For the Religious, it means you love the Lord directly.  For the married person, you love the Lord through the spouse.  In both cases, the love is to and for one person.  Obedience might well be the toughest because you are obedient to a plan of God.  That is difficult to be sure about without God appearing to you directly and telling you what he wants done.  Our piety draws us in to a closer following of the Lord in our life.  When we are guided by the spirit, we are not under the law.  The Spirit leads us to the mind and heart of Jesus.


We study how the Lord has invited the great Saints of History.  He did not invite them to wealth, comfort and pleasure as the world holds it dear.  Our Lord is inviting us into his life and to love his Father.  Jesus followed the example of his Father.  Even as the Father has loved Jesus, Jesus would love us.  He gives us a share of his cross.  In his invitation to follow he asks that we take up our crosses to follow him.  It rings loud and clear in our hearts that he is calling us to carry our own cross in his name.  Our difficulties of life when we face them honestly and nobly become his as we fill up by our suffering what is wanting to the sufferings of Christ’s mystical body, his church.


Christ’s road to Jerusalem invites all of us.  We too must go up to Jerusalem to die with Christ even as the Apostles eventually did.  The great temptations of our world are Individualism, Secularism and Materialism.  How we focus Christ in the hurting, infirm and the lonely of our lives is how we can best carry the cross of Christ.  How we set ourselves to do in the now of our lives what needs doing is how we do not put off the following of Christ for other things we might think need doing first.  The best actions of our lives are what we do immediately in the name of Christ.  Whatever we are going to do for Christ we need to do out of love.  Christ set us free for freedom.  Freedom is in our choices.  We too need to burn our bridges as Elijah did with his plows to free ourselves to act in freedom with nothing holding us back from following Christ to the hill of his Cross.  Christ set us free so we could be lovers.  Lovers are always free to give their gifts now.  We are always free in our now to follow Christ.  He is not the yesterdays or tomorrows of our life.  He is in the now of our lives.  Love is the now of what we are doing.  Christ sets us free from the slavery of "have to" for the love of "want to."

The Chains Fell From His Wrists

The Chains Fell From His Wrists

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles- Mass during the Day 

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.  Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell.  He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.”  The chains fell from his wrists.  Acts 12:6-7

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.  2 Tim 4:17

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.”  Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  Matthew 16:15-18 


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr


Accepting hardship and punishment was part of the price of leadership and Peter and Paul both experienced trials in the world in the course of following the Lord.  As the “rocks” upon which the Church is built, the lives of these two patrons is filled with the weakness of their humanity before they are blessed with the revelation of the Lord. 

They had to pass through these tests and accept their frailty before they were able to fulfill their ultimate mission in the Church on earth and unlock the gates of heaven.


What are you doing to build the Church?

Peter had to overcome himself and the world to be the first Pope.  Peter may have been as unlikely a choice for the first pope as Cardinal Bergoglio was to be the current Pope.  According to an article in America magazine, Pope Francis’ story would not have made a believable novel.  Yet as he passes the first hundred days of his Papacy, Francis has inspired many in the world with his life, his story and how he is working to change the Church and the Vatican by being a pastor who preaches in word and deed.

What are you doing to build the Church in word and deed during these challenging times? How are you going beyond your own personal limitations (the chains on your wrists) to lay another brick in the construction of the Kingdom today?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Walk in My Presence and Be Blameless

Walk in My Presence and BeBlameless

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

By Melanie Rigney

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said: “I am the God the Almighty. Walk in my presence and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1)
Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored.  (Psalms 128:1-2)
And then a leper approached, did (Jesus) homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. (Matthew 8:1-3)

Jesus, hold my hand and steady my steps as I move closer and closer.

It’s just a walk, after all. Or at least, it often starts that way.

God asks us to walk with him, to spend time with him. He asked Abraham to do that… and then explained that he was sending Sarah and Abraham a son, to be named Isaac. As he prostrated himself, Abraham laughed at the ridiculousness of the idea… but he got up and walked and believed.

Psalm 128 is among the Songs of Ascents, the fifteen psalms that were sung by those on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to attend a major Jewish festival (Pesach/Passover, Shavuot or Sukkot). It calls up blessings of a wonderful life, brimming with prosperity and a loving family. But it begins with a walk with the Lord.

Imagine the leper waking up that day and thinking, “This is the day I approach him.” It also proved to be the day that he was cured. But it began with the courage to take that first step of a walk.

It’s just a walk, after all, that God requests. But that walk can change the world—and the way we look at it, and ourselves.

We’re halfway through the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishop’s “Fortnight for Freedom,” two weeks of prayer and action to counter challenges to religious liberty. Check out the bishops’ Web site ( or Facebook page (!/events/112770708922317/?fref=ts) for ideas on how you can participate.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Everyone Who Listens and Acts

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

The LORD’s messenger found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur, and he asked, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”  She answered, “I am running away from my mistress, Sarai.”  But the LORD’s messenger told her: “Go back to your mistress and submit to her abusive treatment.  I will make your descendants so numerous,” added the LORD’s messenger, “that they will be too many to count.  Genesis 16:7-10 

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.”  Matthew 7:24-25

Give us the fortitude of Sarai to face whatever forces of abuse we encounter in the world.  Jesus, stand by our side as we endure, like you, the injuries inflicted on us physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.  Holy Spirit, set us free from the desire to retreat back into our cocoon of protection so we can stand up to listen to the Word and act on it.  

Listen AND act.  Both parts of the command make up what we are supposed to do as followers of Jesus.  The listening part can be confusing and sometimes even confounding.  Put yourself in the shoes of Sarai.  She was told to return to an abusive situation.  There was no safe house for her escape.    No shelter for battered and abused women.  No home for unwed, expectant mothers. 
Sarai has no husband to protect her.  And the messenger of the Lord instructs her to go back to the bad situation from which she came?!

Listening and acting may be just as difficult and confusing for us today with mixed messages coming from all directions.  Yet, if we are to build the foundation of our lives on the words of ONE, may we use the words of Jesus.
Where are YOU coming from today and where are YOU going?  What message might the angel of the Lord deliver to answer you today?