Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Action of the Spirit

Acts 8:5-8,14-17; Psalm 66 Let all the earth cry out to god with Joy; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21

We have been reading over the season of Easter from the Acts of the Apostles.  The acts of the Apostles details not os much what the Apostles are doing but rather what the action of the Spirit looks like in the Apostles as they journey forth.

It isn't so much what the Spirit is doing to the apostles and the Early Church but rather what the Holy Spirit is doing with them.  The Acts of the Apostles or the action of the Spirit is about how Jesus becomes king, his kingdom begins to reign and be established on earth.

Jesus influence touches the corners of the world by and through the lives of men and women of faith.

The Holy Spirit is called the paraclete or the prosecutor: the Spirit through men and women of faith engage the powers of the word and pass judgment on them through the power of speech, word.  This is why St Peter says in today's second reading we should give a explanation for our hope.  Just as a prosecutor tries to persuade the jury so we by our life and words seek to persuade the world of God's invitation to life and love.


The Action of the Spirit is to sanctify Christ as Lord in our heats.  That is to make in our hearts a place for Jesus to reign, to give direction, to give guidance so that His spirit triumphs over the spirit of the world in our personal lives.   Peter ask us to dedicate our heart to the Lord.  In the first century our heart was the center of life which included our emotions, desires, intelligence and reason, will, and sensibilities.

All of this is meant to be ruled by Jesus and his Spirit.  How often do we let the Spirit of the world rule our emotions and will and desires.


St Peter ges on to say that we should be always ready to give explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for our hope."  The word hope is used for expectations.

How often I have met with couples struggling in marriage and leaning toward divorce and many of them will tell me, "This is not what I expected."  What marriage life had become is not what they expected.  I ask them, "what did you expect?"  Then i remind them of their vows.  The vows are beautiful.  The vows made are about true expectations, the expectations we have should always be expansive and all encompassing and never narrow and restrictive,: "good times and bad, sickness and health, love and honor all the days of my life."  The problem is that most couples don't expect enough.  The expectations they have are set by themselves and not by the Spirit of God at work in and through them.    We are told that all things work for Good for those who love God.  Out side of abuse and harm, we should expect more and more to unfold with the Sprit's guidance.

The Spirit is describes at the Advocate in today's gospel.  The word advocate means prosecutor, the one who plead another's cause.  The Spirit is pleading Jesus's cause in and through our life to the world.  Our life of love passes judgment on the spirit of the world.   We can to be of the world if we are called to transform it by life in the Spirit.

Lastly Jesus tells us that, "And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."  In loving him, we come to meet him.   Think about that.  We don't wait to love until we encounter Jesus.  Rather in loving as he commanded we open ourselves up to encountering him deeply and truly in our life.  In loving him he reveals himself to us.  What a gift and blessing for us as we allow the Spirit of God, the action of the Spirit to influence our heart, our emotions, our desires, our intelligence, reason and will.  

 Todays gospel ends on verse  21 of chapter 14 of John's gospel.  But if you read the next verse Judas of Iscariot ask Jesus, "how is it you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world."  Jesus' answer is simple.  Through us, the world we will come to know him.  As we love him and he reveals himself to us then he also reveals himself to the world.  This is the action of the Spirit at work in our lives.

What does Jesus want?  He wants  the world to encounter him.  How does that happen?  It happens though us who believe and love as he commands.  And this is our expectation, our hope, our life and joy inner daily journey.





Mother's

Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33 Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you; 1 Peter 2:4-9;  John 14:1-12

"So that you may announce the praise of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

"Whoever believes in me will do the works I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father."


Today in Mexico, Mother's day is celebrated.  This weekend we shall gather to celebrate Mother's day in the US. Many countries throughout the world have set aside a day to honor and give thanks for Mother's.

Poems and songs and reflections and homilies and catchy phrases all abound in an attempt to show gratitude and honor to the mother in our life, our families, our society, an din the world around.

Mother's provide for us our first home.  The womb welcomes us in the the most vulnerable of times, the most essential of times in growth and development, in our need for security and comfort, in our desire for life and love in the womb we find that place offered to us as we begin to become ourselves.

What can there be said about Mother's that has not already been said?  What can be written that has already not been written?

When it comes to mother's originality is not important for each mother is original.  The mother is sent as the original ambassador of life and love.  Some seek it out.  Some long for it.  Some refuse it.  Some welcome it.  Some cherish it.  Some hide it.  Some embrace it.  Some scorn it.

Motherhood and mothers like Christ have received praise and rejoicing and back lash and cursing.  It is a strange reality we find ourselves in at this time in history.

But we pause to take notice on this mother's day of the office of love motherhood fulfills and we are grateful.

Blessings to all mothers.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

NEVER ALONE NEVER AT NOON

John ch 4

Today we experience the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

Things to note

Never alone and never at noon.  This was the protocol for women in the time of Jesus going to a well to get water.

They would go in groups,  Safety in numbers.  They would go when it was cool, less of a risk to faint or pass out.  They would go at dawn or dusk.  Never lone and never at noon.

But this woman is alone and it is noon.  This in itself suggest according to biblical scholars that the woman was dealing with shame in her life and perhaps wanted to hide from ridicule.  She was ether shunned by the community or she was shunning her self because of guilt and shame.  Her lifestyle wasn't the norm and thus open to judgment.

She wanted to get o the well, get the water, and get home with out any interruptions. She was looking to avoid confrontation and avoid notice and go on her merry way.

Then there is this interruption.  There is a man at the well.  Not only is there a man but he wants to talk and he wants water.  She has a choice to make.  She can enter int o the interruption and receive it as a gift or she can let frustration boil over into anger and demand her time and her plan to be kept unscathed by such interruptions.


How many unexpected interruptions come our way.  How many interruptions do we have in our daily routine or our plans for the day.  How many annoying realities interrupt us.  Maybe not just in our daily routine but perhaps in our life.  Perhaps, sickness or failures or surprises.

Like the women we can get defensive, we get angry, we can try to blame or manipulate or we can receive and enter into the conversation God is wanting to have with us.

This is what Jesus wants when he ask for a drink, he is asking for communion, he asking for a deeper relationship.  He wants to get to the dirt and he wants things to get personal.  In is in the dirt that seeds are planted and able to germinate.  How quickly Jesus moves form the surface to someplace more meaningful, way more personal.

Maybe This is exactly what every interruption in our life is about; it is about getting more personal; maybe it is about moving beyond the surface; maybe its about getting to the dirt so that God can till the soil of our lives and prepare for a more meaningful encounter with freedom.

In it all, Jesus never points the finger or condemns but he elevates and invites the woman to more personal reality, getting to the dirt so that she might find true freedom.  We see this when she bodly goes to the community and invites then to come and see.

What Jesus does for this woman and giving her freedom from shame and guilt and from her own self perhaps he wants to do for us.  He wants us to do this for one another. We can't live on the surface of our lives, we have to get to the dirt, get personal only then can true freedom be discovered and God ultimately be encountered.

She invites us to get deeper and more personal.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

NOAH

Genesis 6-9

Over the past few days in the Liturgy we have been introduced to Noah.  It is in and through Noah that God's extends an opportunity of life and love through all of humanity.

On Tuesday we encounter the reality in which God is grieved by humanity and chooses to wipe out from the face of the earth all that He had created.

God was disappointed in the one's he loved.  We have all been in that place, that place of disappointment and frustration with the decisions our loved ones had made.

Like God our hearts have been grieved.

Love is broken but not beaten, however, for in Noah humanity gets a reprieve, a second chance.

We are told that Noah stood out from his generation, from his society.  He was upright and pleasing to the Lord.  Thus, in Noah God sees a seed bed of goodness, hope, mercy and forgiveness.

Thus, to Noah and his household creation gets a second chance.
God extends an opportunity of newness rather than let the disappointment determine his course of actions.  Love is broken but not beaten.

Yesterday in the Liturgy we encounter the water subsiding and Noah stepping forth from the Ark after a seriously long time being pent up as they say.  The first act is to erect an altar and make a sacrifice of praise and thanks to God.

Now it is a good and desirable thing to give thanks to God when things go our way.  It is good to give thanks and praise when things are pleasing to us and what we expect out of life.  But this is just one part of life.

We also must endeavor to give praise and thanks to God when things are not necessarily going our way, when the circumstances are difficult and displeasing.  Here too in this environment praise and thanks must be a pleasing aroma to God.

When we thanks God for goos things the happen to us we are loving God for our sakes.  But when we thanks God when things are displeasing then we learn to love god for his own sake and this id the path way of maturity in the life of Faith.

Each day in all circumstances, like Noah, we must erect an altar of praise and thanks to God in our hearts and allow it to truly become the source of strength for our life and love as we journey forth.

In today's liturgy, creation begins anew.  Noah's sons are told to 'be fertile and multiply and fill the earth."  These were the same words give to our first parents.  Except this time something is different.  There is a consequence to the fall that continues to effect humanity.  We are told that "dread and fear of you shall come upon all the animals of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon all creatures that move about the ground and all fishes of the sea; into your power they are delivered.  Every creature shall be yours to eat..."

In the beginning , there was no fear between man and animals but rathe harmony.  There was also no eating of flesh only plants.  Now things have been turned upside down.  The flood can not undo the fall.  The external waters on the earth still do not effect the internal reality of man.  We need something more.

The bow in the sky though reminds Noah and his family of God's promise to never destroy the world by flood it also reminds them that something  more is need, something more shall come, on the horizon of tomorrow as the future unfolds an answer to the internal struggle of man from the fall shall be given.  Until then, the not yet of redemption lingers.

Which brings us to the gospel.  Jesus ask the question, "who do you say that I am?"

And the answer harkens all the way back to the time of Noah, "you are the Christ the son of the living God."  You are the one who will come to bring redemption internally where the external waters of the flood failed.  Jesus says he will give us life giving waters.  He comes to empower us and restore us.

The rainbow in a way points to Christ.

Hope has arrived in him.  He is bringer of the new covenant and establishes his church which is the the new ark by which redemption becomes fully accessible not only to man but to all of creation as we are told by St Paul, "all creation yearns for the children of God."  once we have been was he din Jesus, something int he world is changed for the better, for ever.




Saturday, February 4, 2017

SALT AND LIGHT

Isaiah 58:7-10; Ps 112 The just man is alight in the darkness to the upright; 1 Corin 2:1-5; Matt 5:13-16

We continue to fool along in the Sermon of the mount through our Sunday readings as we anticipate the coming of the season of Lent.

Last week we were invited to heed the Beatitudes the ingredient so holiness for those who seek to follow Christ.  Today we encounter these words, "You are the salt of the earth...you are the light of the world...a city on the mountain..."


But i believe in order to full grasp these words we have to fast forward to the end of the sermon of the mount where we are told, "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock...But it did not collapse...And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand... And it collapsed.  (Matt 7 24-27 two foundations)


The foundations we build must be founded on a purpose and a plan.  We have to now what the foundation is going to be used for.  I believe these lines we encounter in today's gospel are telling us the plan and purpose of Jesus words in the sermon.  They are meant to get us to be salt and light for the world.

Our focus isn't abut getting as much as it is about giving so that the world might come to know the beauty and goodness of Christ himself.

Salt and light are not created for themselves.  They are useful in so far as they are used for other realities.  Salt does not flavor itself.  Light does not illumine itself.

What does salt do: it preserves and brings out flavor but it also kills.  We say someone is salt of the earth that means that are exhibits and examples of fundamental goodness.  We also say that when we salt the earth then we poison the ground and destroy.

The same goes with light.  Light illumine.  It illumines both the beauty to be celebrated and the ugly to be exposed and eliminated.

This is what we are called to do in the cultures we live in; we are called to illumine the beauty and invite it to be held in high esteem and imitated; we are invited to preserve the goodness and season life so that goodness can be experienced all the while destroying that which is hideous.






Discipline the disciple

Hebrews 12:4-7,11-15

The Lord disciplines those  he loves.

These are the words spoken to us from the letter of Hebrews as we begin this month of February.

The Lord disciplines those he loves.

It is no accident that the word 'discipline' and the word 'disciple' have a very similar root.


The word disciple means to be a follower and a learner.  Discipline means to train someone to follow rules and to prepare someone interiorly as well as exteriorly.

The link is obvious and not easily overlooked.

It simply means that everything we experience in life has built in it by th grace of God a learning opportunity.

Every joy, every struggle, every bit of tension and anxiety, worry or fear, love and celebration all of it is a learning opportunity for us to become more clear in discipleship.


In particularly, the hardships.  They too are, in the hands of God, a tool that is meant to chisel and shape us more perfectly into the image of Christ himself.

God wants to perfect his love in us.

At the end of each day as we look back on the day that was we should invite the Holy Spirit to show us what we were meant to learn that in the discipline experienced we might stand more perfect a disciple of Christ.

Pax et Bonum

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inaugural address

Isaiah 8:23-9:3; Ps 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; 1 corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23

Inaugurations are always fantastic.  What is most fascinating is not so much the one being inaugurated but the reactions of everyone else to the one and his words.

I have been particularly amused by the left and right and their critique of President Trumps Inauguration.  His balls have been smaller compared to Obama's they say.  His speech was the worst ever others have pined.  Many are appalled and others are excited.  Who is to say what will unfold as this administration moves forward but there will be plenty of critiques for sure that lie hidden waiting to leap forth.

As the buzz of the inauguration lingers and the news print and internet blogs pronounce their own sentences, this weekend in the Liturgy we encounter another inauguration address.  On this second weekend of Ordinary time, Jesus commences his public ministry,  He steps out of the hidden life of Nazareth and moves into the crossroad of Capernaum, its no Trump tower, but it certainly is a change of pace from little boring Nazareth.

Jesus picks his place so that the majority of people might encounter his message and mission. This is what his public life is about: a showcase of his message and mission and reach into the lives of all.

Surely, a busy crossroads and cosmopolitan like Carpenaum is more suitable than the quite hidden place of Nazareth.

The place is prime.  Not unlike the capital of DC, it draws a crowd regularly and it is is ideal for the inauguration and inaugural address.

What of his inaugural address that begins his public ministry.  It isn't a lengthy discourse.  Unlike most inaugural addresses that last anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, some even longer.  Jesus' words are short, sweet and to the point.

"Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

That's it.  No fancy rhymes.  No subtle images or metaphors.  No lengthy descriptions.  Just a few short words sets the tone of Jesus' mission and message.  The address has been spoken.  Let the critics take heed.

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

Repent means to change.  It is not just an idea but an invitation.  In fact it isn't just an invitation it is a command.  Change.  It is time.  The waiting is over.  There is hope.  Our past no longer determines our future.  Our follies and foibles do not constitute our substance.  Christ now stands on the threshold of possibilities and transformation and invites us, commands us to come and let the kingdom break through into our hearts, minds, and lives.

The unchanging God has given us a command to welcome change in to our life by sending his son to begin the process of restoration. Things do not have to keep going as they are.  There is in the air a movement, a force, a light that beckons.  Repent!

This repentance isn't proclaimed with a sour note of guilt or shame.  Rather it is promised with an air of certainty and finality.  It issues forth with a resonating force of joy and hope.  The gloom is lifted and light shines forth.

St Augustin says that "God has made himself our debtor not because he has accepted anything from us but by promising us such great blessings."  The great blessings is rooted deeply in the invitation and command to change.  We do not do it on our own but rather we receive that change as simply as we receive the one God has sent.

The kingdom has come in Jesus himself. Heaven has come to earth.  Change is a real possibility not because of our doing but because God has bridged the gap and has stepped into our time and space.

Not only has Jesus proclaimed his inaugural address he also comes to choose his cabinet, so to speak.  He begins by calling Peter and Andrew, James and John.  The first four to make up the twelve.

Jesus doesn't want to bring about change on his own; he wants co workers.  He involves us in the process of transformation.   The contours of the kingdom of heaven no longer are to be found geographically in the terrain on which he stands but rather the contours take shape in the interior of man whose heart now is shaped by the word of God himself.

In the Judaism, it was permissible to cease one's livelihood and to break family ties for the sake of the study of God's word, torah, the law.  When Jesus says "follow me" he is inserting himself as the word of God, the torah, the law.  The first disciples  understand this at a deep and profound way.  In following Christ, in imitating him, they study the Word, the law and allow themselves to be shaped a new.

This is the beauty of the calling of the disciples.   They cut ties with all that they know so that the word of God and the new law that is Jesus can shape them and transform them and thus through them the world around can also benefit.

They show case their freedom as they move forth.

Are we free?  Are we free to follow His command?  What holds us back?  What keeps us from experiencing the change God wants for us as a blessing on a grand scale?

Just as Jesus' decision is decisive and the disciples decision is decisive so we too if we are to let the kingdom come and break through into our lives must also be decisive.