Monday, October 30, 2017

“The Sufferings of This Present Time” by Melanie Rigney

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. (Romans 8:18)

The Lord has done marvels for us. (Psalm 126:3a)

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)

Lord, may I not despair about the wickedness in the world and in myself. May I remember the mustard seeds you have planted have the power to grow and grow and grow.

They are small, mustard seeds, not even a tenth of an inch. They grow into bushes of six to twenty feet, as wide as they are high. It takes them a while to reach maturity.

Mustard bushes like sun and a clay soil, but overall, they’re not fussy, as long as they aren’t in a cold climate and don’t get overwatered. They’re a useful thing, providing seeds for cooking and the like, and they provide some low shade and a place for bird nests. But they’re not majestic like an oak or showy like a magnolia or a maple.

Faith often starts out small, like that mustard seed. For most people, there’s no big ah-ha, come-to-Jesus moment that changes our life. Sure, Paul had that moment of conversion on the road to Damascus, and some can point to the very moment, born of sacrament or desperation when we surrendered our will to the Lord. But those are the exceptions, and even for those who have had them, including Paul, faith lived day to day can become a slog. Colleagues are puzzled about why anyone would go to Mass during the week. Those away from faith are quick to judge Christians who, being human, don’t live as the Lord desires 24/7. We struggle ourselves to pick up our crosses daily, to decrease our self-absorption so He can increase.

But the Lord’s not fussy about where He sows. He doesn’t need perfect, dark loam. He can make do with whatever we have, offered willingly or grudgingly. He doesn’t specifically seek out people who are smart, beautiful, or congenial, although they’re welcome too. He just desires us, useful things willing to be at His service. He desires people who remember, like Paul, that although this life may bring suffering, there’s a big, sheltering bush of love waiting, a bush that maybe grows a little bit bigger every time we open our hearts and souls to Him, regardless of how small and seemingly inconsequential that seed of faith was when it was planted.

Consider what is getting in the way of your mustard bush spreading its canopy even more broadly.

Abba, Father

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 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.
  Roman 8:14-17

The Lord said to him in reply, "Hypocrites! 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.  You have given all of me.  To you, O Lord, and I return it.  All is Yours.  Dispose of it wholly according to Your will.  Give me Your Love and Your grace, for this is sufficient for me.” (Suscipe, St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Jesus has fairly contentious relationships inside the Temple.  Simeon proclaimed this troubling prediction when Mary and Joseph presented the young Jesus in the Temple:  Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted.”  (Luke 3:34)

After that, things pretty much went south in almost everything that concerned the Pharisees.  Upon emerging from the desert to proclaim the Nazareth Manifesto, it was only a few more passages later in the story before – at the very outset of his public ministry – the people in the Temple tried to kill Jesus.  Whenever he went back to the Temple to pray, Jesus seems intent upon doing something which would upset the existing power structure. Today’s healing of the woman was no exception.

However, Jesus (most of the time unsuccessfully) tries to cultivate exactly the opposite kind of relationship. Rather than sticking his thumb in their eye, Jesus wanted to people to connect with God as a family figure, a Father figure.  In the first reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans, we learn that we are encouraged to address God in the familiar term of the father of the family or “Abba, father.” Daddy.  

The notes in the NABRE explain how and why we can use such familial intimacy to address God: “Christians, by reason of the Spirit’s presence within us, enjoy not only new life but also a new relationship with God, that of adopted children and heirs through Christ, whose sufferings and glory we share.” 

Where is your relationship with someone lacking?  How can you repair that relationship with better communications and understanding?  Be the first person to take action that will mend the fences of division and obstacles. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

With All Your Heart by Mary Beth Harney

Your Daily Tripod

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate. (Exodus 22:26)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to them, “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 22:36-40)

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. 

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, 
Through Christ Our Lord, 

Those Pharisees are at it again, testing Jesus to see if they can goad him into saying something contrary to the law.  Jesus, however, turns the encounter with the Pharisees into a teaching moment.  Jesus never failed to educate those who would listen.  Here, Jesus recites for the Pharisees the two greatest commandments, and shows the real meaning behind those commandments:  Love God and Love Others.

Love is a tricky word.  For some, it is equated with emotion or sentiment.  Certainly, these attributes are important.  But Jesus challenges us to look at love through a different lens:  to love selflessly.  

Jesus invites us to enter into a loving relationship with God, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.  And, Jesus challenges us to love others, and to give of ourselves freely to another for that person’s good.  Put succinctly, to love God also means loving others.  

Jesus never said that this would be easy.  But we should reassured that Jesus is with us in our faith journey of learning to love God and others each day.  In fact, the theme of the ongoing Men’s 135th Cursillo is “I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).”  Jesus is walking this journey with us, and will help us love selflessly when doing so is hard and when it is joyful!

Reflect on the ways you love God and others in your life. What are the challenges?  What are the joys?  Reflect on how you can better love God and others, knowing that Jesus is with you always!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Fellow Citizens with the Holy Ones

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

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.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles.  Luke 6:12-13


Let us arise, then, at last,
for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
"Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 13:11).
Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
let us hear with attentive ears
the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
"Today if you hear His voice,
harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94[95]:8).

What amazing readings to occur in the middle of a Cursillo weekend! By today, Saturday, the team and the candidates are no longer strangers but have been together long enough for friendships to begin.  Also, with an even dozen number of candidates on the weekend, how appropriate on this day focused on the relationship of Jesus to his original disciples, that the weekend focuses on the relationship we each have to Jesus.

Jesus is the cornerstone or capstone to this second full day of the weekend experience.  In your prayers, think about the men doing talks and reflections and the candidates who are listening to the message of the weekend.  May they open the ear of their hearts to the friendship that Cursillo brings.
Study – Antonio Curet
Sacraments – Fr. Paul and Deacon Jim
Action – Joe Russell
Obstacles – Fr. Paul
Leaders – Todd Hastings
If you can, join the 6:45a.m. Morning Prayer service and Mass at San Damiano or the Closing which begins at 3:45 p.m.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Be Aware by Colleen O'Sullivan

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.  Miserable one that I am!  Who will deliver me from this mortal body?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.   (Romans 7:18b-19, 24-25a)
Jesus said to the crowds: “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?”   (Luke 12:56)
I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
(Psalm 119:94)
One of my very favorite prayers is the Anima Christi prayer.  The first two phrases came to mind as I was thinking about Paul’s words in today’s first reading: “Soul of Christ, sanctify me.  Body of Christ, save me.”   Interesting that in one breath we ask to be made holy and in the very next, we pray to be saved from ourselves and our sinfulness.  
The apostle found it utterly frustrating that even when he had the best of intentions and wanted nothing more than to do good, he often discovered himself doing the very thing he didn’t want to do.  Sin has a firm grip on us and will not let us go.  If you have any objectivity about yourself, you know there are no truer words than those Paul writes to the Christians in Rome.  
If you read the writings of the saints, people who led exemplary lives, there is a common theme.  The holier the person, the greater the awareness sin’s hold on us.
So, why doesn’t Paul just throw in the towel?  He ends today’s passage by saying that God, through his Son, can deliver him, and for that he is very grateful.  As long as we are in this world, though, this tug of war between the good we want to do and what we actually end up doing will be part and parcel of our human situation.  
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is talking rather angrily to the crowds.  They are so good at forecasting the weather, he says.  All they have to do is look at the color of the sky or the type of clouds as well as the direction of the breeze, and they can fairly accurately predict the next day’s weather.
So why can’t the people look around and interpret the signs of the times?  Here before them is the Son of God walking, talking, healing and forgiving right in their midst, yet they are clueless.
If I had to pick a common theme for today’s Scripture readings, it would be awareness.  Be cognizant of the spiritual tug of war going on inside you.  The evil spirit delights in thwarting your good intentions by separating you from God and luring you toward thoughts or actions that are anything but holy.  
Be aware as well that God is still in our midst.  Yes, there are many problems in our country and throughout the world, and they tend to be what makes the news.  But God is most definitely still with us.  Prayers are answered.  Healing takes place.  Sins are forgiven.  Good people volunteer their services at DC Central Kitchen and other similar organizations to feed the hungry.   My parish is still building homes in Haiti.  Your parishes are involved in other outreach projects.  
Cursillistas are still busy making friends, being friends, and bringing these friends to Christ.   You could support the 135th Men’s Weekend, underway as you are reading this, with your prayers and/or your presence (at Mañanita or the Closing, see for details and directions).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

“Gladly Yoked by God” by Beth DeCristofaro

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 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.  (Romans 6:20-22)

Jesus said to his disciples: … Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; (Luke 12:51-52)

Lord Jesus, may I strive to live within your will. When in conflict with others show me the path of love.  When tempted by sin, call me back.  When I walk in your ways may your light shine to the world. 

In advance of the Holidays, we are excited that family – daughters, cousin, siblings – will be coming to visit.  And perhaps even more exciting, they want to spend time with us, catching up on activities and how we are doing at heart.  Family can be wearisome but also enriching, grounding, fun.  We used the term “family” to refer to groups that are meaningful:  Men’s 135th Cursillo family, parish family, alum family, etc.  And, of course, Jesus, again and again, spoke of the community as Family, as His Body, as the building Kingdom.

This Gospel, therefore, is disquieting.  I don’t want to be in conflict with my family.  Even disagreements cause discomfort.  There are many clues, however, to help me understand that Jesus tells us just how difficult it is to follow His message of total trust in God, and living a life of love, justice and peace.  From the Book of Wisdom: “It was the wicked who with hands and words invited death…And they did not know the hidden counsels of God…”  Humans are free to choose and how we choose, the way of the Cross or the way of human idols causes the conflict.  Our response: Action.  Extend love, justice, peace and stay the course, slaves of righteousness which is grace extended by God’s great generosity. 

The saying “You can’t pick your family” is upended by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  You can pick the family of God and stand in the doorway, holding the entrance open for others whom God has already invited in but who are struggling with a “yes”.

Look within first, are you divided against yourself, refusing to turn away from some sin which has its hooks in you?  What steps can you take?  Pray for Jesus’ power and love to draw you closer.

Where is there conflict with others and what hand of love is implicit in your actions?

Illustration:   Gospels, Opening of Luke's Gospel, Walters Manuscript W.538, fol. 154r , dated approximately 1193 CE.

Monday, October 23, 2017

“Ready to Open Immediately” by Melanie Rigney

For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. (Psalm 40:8a,9a)

"Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.(Luke 12:35-37)

Lord, may You find me ready, today and always.

Back in my teens, I was precisely the kind of babysitter parents wanted to hire. I played with the kids, changed the diapers, prepared and doled out the snacks, and got everyone to bed on time. My friends, male or female, didn’t come over, and I didn’t chat on the phone. Small wonder, then, that my weekends were booked weeks in advance. Oh, and I didn’t fall asleep, even when the parents said they’d be out late and to feel free to nap on the couch after the kids were zonked out. I was too concerned about my charges’ nightmares and the slight potential for fire, lightning, tornadoes, intruders, you name it.

Would that I had been as concerned about being ready for the Lord.

I pretty much ignored Him for decades, consciously and unconsciously. Fortunately, once a series of whirlwinds awoke me, I’ve tried hard not to fall back asleep.

But it’s hard, isn’t it? Constant vigilance takes a lot of mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical energy. Would just a little gossip or negativity really hurt anything? Would letting just one day of not saying hello to the man playing the horn at the metro stop really hurt anything? Would holding fast on Commitment Sunday despite a bit of a raise or other financial gain really hurt anything?

Only, I guess, if you lack inside knowledge about when your earthly death or the Second Coming is coming… and if you’d be a bit uncomfortable explaining to the Lord that it was more important to you to sleep than to keep that lamp lit while you were waiting for Him.


Make a list of behaviors that make you spiritually sleepy and unready. Pray for the Lord’s guidance in avoiding them.

Life Does Not Consist of Possessions

But it was not for [Abraham] alone that it was written that it was credited to him; it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification. Romans 4:23-25

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?" Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions." Luke 12:13:15

Lord, take me where You want me to go; Let me meet who You want me to meet; Tell me what You want me to say, and keep me out of Your way. (Father Mychal F. Judge, OFM)

What is meant by “righteousness” in our first reading? Abraham is credited with righteousness because he put his faith in the Lord.  Despite being told at a very old age that they would have children, Abraham and Sarah put their faith in God for this miracle to happen.  Regular biology would not work on its own without transcendent faith. That is the challenge with the metaphor in the Gospel.  Do we put our faith in the same place as Abraham?

The Good News is pretty challenging for modern society.  Today we are brought face-to-face with the contrasting test: Who wins between those whose focus and trust in life are on material possessions (symbolized today by the rich fool) compared with those who recognize their complete dependence on God?  Jesus prods us toward radical detachment from material possessions so that we can fully be “rich in God” and what matters to God. 

Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. (Luke 12:33–34).

Sunday’s Gospel was the challenge of what do we give to Caesar and what do we give to God.  Caesar is out of the picture today.  Now, we focus on how to be rich in God.

Maybe you are like me…not quite ready for radical detachment from material possessions, voluntary poverty or living below the tax threshold.  However, we can gradually wean ourselves from bookshelves overflowing with volumes never to be re-read and music that never gets replayed except in digital formats.
Maybe we cannot go “cold turkey” and run away to join a monastery, Catholic Worker community or the Bruderhof.  However, what can we “do without” this week so that we can begin converting our earthly treasures into something more permanent?
  • Maybe some of those dust-collecting books, CDs and DVDs can go to a library or school located in the inner city.  I am sure that Sacred Heart School in Camden, NJ or others like it would be very grateful for your support.
  • Maybe some clothes can go to a local thrift shop run by Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army or Catholic Charities.
  • Maybe some furniture can go to a family in need through a charity like A Wider Circle. 

As one brilliant advertising writer put it, “You’ll never miss what they will never forget.”

Sunday, October 22, 2017

What Belongs to God

By the late Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

(Originally posted on October 18, 2014)

I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me. It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none besides me. Isaiah 45:5-6B

At that, he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."  Matthew 22:21

“Render to God the things of God and to Caesar, the things of Caesar” is a wonderful saying of Christ that gives clarity to the destination of piety. Piety is the road less traveled to heaven. A straight and narrow path is what we are looking at in our piety. Some roads take us around the mulberry bush and others take us right to where we are going. Piety is our road to heaven. The Contemplative in Action has a wide road because such a one has all of the nitty-gritty of life as part of the road. The road to heaven is paved with good intentions that were worked at with heart and soul. Success is not as important as intention and effort. The spiritual giants of life are always telling us that the ordinary is extraordinary in the road to heaven. What we are doing is never more significant than why we are doing it. It is how much of ourselves we put into what we do in love that determines the quality of what we have accomplished.

We look closely at what is behind the questions of life that are put to us. Trick questions come from the evil spirit. The evil spirit can use the form of the angel of life. There are times we fall short of what God would do with us and through us. It is study that allows us to go beyond our comfort zone in what we would do for the Lord. The Examen is a spiritual tool that allows us to study what we are doing with all the whys looked into and covered with the mantle of good intentions. Our study allows us to see where the Lord is leading us. What more we can do to give the Lord greater visibility in our lives comes from our study.

Our piety and our study drive us down the road of sanctity. Our good habits of life are always the gentle voice of the Spirit pushing us to reach out to the needs of those around us. If we only do what we have to do we are offering justice perhaps. However, if we give of our substance in time and effort we can help the Lord to change the world. When we give our life for the sake of our neighbors, we love even as Christ has loved us. Thus, we render to God what belongs to God.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Righteousness Through Faith

Brothers and sisters: It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith. Romans 4:13

"Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say." Luke 12:9-12

The Lord remembers his covenant forever. Psalm 105:8

The Lord remembers his covenant forever. The Lord re-members his covenant forever.

The covenant promise has been enduring throughout Sacred Scripture and traditions. It is nothing new but we tend to treat it as new when we re-open our eyes.  It is never new to the Lord.

(Genesis 12:7) The LORD appeared to Abram and said: To your descendants, I will give this land. So, Abram built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.

(Sirach 44:21) For this reason, God promised him with an oath to bless the nations through his descendants, to make him numerous as grains of dust, and to exalt his posterity like the stars, Giving them an inheritance from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

(Galatians 3:16) Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his descendant. It does not say, “And to descendants,” as referring to many, but as referring to one, “And to your descendant,” who is Christ.

Certainly, we have come to expect an all-powerful, gracious and merciful God to remember us.  God is able to keep us always at the forefront of his mindful awareness.  However, we do not always respond with equal awareness.  It’s easy to get distracted by life, by stuff, by problem relationships, by addictions, and more. We must place God to the forefront of our “mindfulness” when we face such distractions…when other “stuff” fills up the time and space in our hearts that we should set aside for the Lord to abide. 

When we do so in return, we remain “members” in good standing. 
When we are distracted or stray, our membership in the covenant community is severed.  The Lord puts it back together through his love and mercy. He welcomes us back into that community when we change the direction in which we seek happiness. When we change our distracted ways and return like Prodigals, we are re-membered into the community.

The Lord remembers his covenant forever. The Lord re-members his covenant forever.

How solid is your relationship in the community of the faithful?  Are you remembering to fully rely on God? Or do you need to call on reinforcements to bring you back?

Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life. (From Come Back to Me, Gregory Norbet

Thursday, October 19, 2017

“Forget About Winning Brownie Points” by Colleen O’Sullivan

Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works, he has reason to boast; but this was not so in the sight of God.  For what does the Scripture say?  Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.   (Romans 4:2-3)
So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot.  Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven – that is, the hypocrisy – of the Pharisees.  There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.”   (Luke 12:1-3)
May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us, who have put our hope in you.  (Psalm 33:22, Gospel acclamation for today)
Winning Brownie points is a strategy many of us employ in our attempt to get God to notice us or to win God’s approval.  We volunteer in multiple ministries.  We behave as though more is better.  But what would ever constitute enough?  How can we be sure what number of good works would be required to earn an A+ in the Kingdom?  And how often do we fail to notice along the way how exhausted we are or how neglected our families feel? 
All that effort, and then Paul turns around and tells us we can’t earn our way into heaven.  The Brownie points plan doesn’t work when it comes to salvation.  God asks for only one thing from us.  “One thing?” we say with astonishment.  That sounds more doable than the many activities we pursue every week.  What is this one thing? 
Paul uses Abraham as an example when answering.  Abraham did many good things, the apostle says.  But what made him righteous in the Lord’s eyes were not these good deeds but his trust in God.  That’s what God is looking for – trust.
So why is that one tiny thing, that little five-letter word, so difficult for us?  In part, I think the answer lies in the fact that it’s absolutely the last thing the evil spirit wants us to do.  The overall plan the evil spirit works is to separate us from God at every opportunity.  The evil spirit is so clever we may not even recognize his attempts to prevent us from trusting in God’s goodness.
Perhaps the evil one uses our human experiences of broken trust in relationships to keep us from putting our trust in the Lord.
Maybe the evil spirit uses our feelings of unworthiness and our awareness of our sinfulness to put doubts in our mind when it comes to trusting God.  It is difficult to believe that God loves us -- sins and all -- but God’s love for us is precisely what causes God to reach out to us with forgiveness and mercy. 
Jesus tells us not to be hypocrites like the Pharisees.  There is no hiding our sins.  There’s no point in pretending to be better than we are because God knows everything about us.  And God is the one who, knowing every nook and cranny of our beings, loves us enough to offer us forgiveness for our sins and the chance to be every bit as clean on the inside as any shining image we project to the world on the outside.
Good works alone may not save us, but they certainly have their place as signs of our gratitude for God’s charitable disposition toward us. 
When you have time, sit with Jesus and share with him anyway in which the image you present to the world is incongruent with what you find in your heart and soul.  Trust in God’s love, mercy and forgiveness and God’s power to make you as clean on the inside as you are on the outside.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“God Belongs to All” by Beth DeCristofaro

Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also
North American Martyrs
to Gentiles, for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
(Romans 3:29-30)

Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter." (Luke 11:52)

May we never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the word of the Cross is the power of God to us who have been saved.
(Entrance Antiphon, Mass of the Day)

In these ending days of the Liturgical Year, the messages of the Gospel begin to seem harsh.  Jesus does not mince words to the leaders: “Woe to you” who not only reject him, God’s very Word, but to those who obstruct others relationship-building with God.  Paul’s letter to the Romans, in the meantime, speaks of a God who is moving to put right what is wrong in the world.  God offers grace and salvation to all.  In Jesus, who accepts the Cross, God ushers in the ripening Kingdom of God.  Jesus’ severe words to the leaders indict them not only for their own hardened hearts but also for the damage they inflict upon the community with whom God’s covenant still holds.

The Canadian Martyrs remembered today were caught in the cross-fire between warring peoples.  However, they were martyred because they did not shy away from proclaiming their Christianity and ultimately the power of the Cross.     

Do we live our days in hospitality, modeling with the keys of our faith what Christ asks of us as his followers?  Or are we at times closed doors, insisting on blindly performed tasks, adherence to our own chosen issue or perfection of minutia rather than being blown by the will of the Spirit into the welcoming arms of Jesus the Lord.  All lives have crosses as part of the human condition, shall we impose crosses onto others?

Read the third chapter of Romans again.  In what ways do you experience and share the righteousness of God?