Saturday, July 4, 2015

TRUTH SAYER

Ezekiel 2:2-5; Ps 123 Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy;  2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6


When i was assigned to Cuero as a seminarian many years ago, 2003-2004, I was introduced to Fr Kirby, the then pastor of Cuero.  He was and is a man of many talents.  Gifted in a variety of ways. It was good to see him in action.  Though we didn't always see eye to eye.  Nonetheless, i have learned to value his input.  Even today I seek his guidance when i find myself a bit uncertain in the endeavor of being a pastor to the people of God.

When i was a seminarian he would often ask me if I had a truth sayer in my life.  Did i have someone in my life that no matter the circumstance or the consequence would always be honest and truthful about me and my decisions.

They wouldn't tell me what i wanted to hear but they would help reveal the truth of things regardless of what i may feel about seeing it unveiled and revealed in all its ugliness and beauty at the same time.

Do each of us have a truth sayer in our life?  Do we have that someone that can be beautifully honest regardless of the consequences?  Notice i didn't say brutally honest.  There is no room for brutality in regards to honesty and truth.  Truth has its own force and sway.

This is what God ask of Ezekiel in today's first reading.  Hear the words of commission again, "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestor have revolted against me to this very day.  Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they whom I am sending you.  But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD, God! And whether they heed or resist-for they are a rebellious house-they shall know that prophet has been among them."



What a beautiful description of a truth sayer commissioned by God.

This commission that rightly belongs to Ezekiel  now by baptism belongs to all of us.  We too must be the voice of truth for a society that has rebelled against God.  Whether they are 'hard of face" or 'obstinate of heart"; whether they 'heed' or 'resist' they should know a prophet has been among them.

This is the role of Christians in a society.  We profess the name of Christ not to be "nice" but to be voices of truth in love.  Unfortunately, in our society, we have divorced truth from love.  We think love is all about acceptance and tolerance.  What we forget is that love is about truth and the willingness to sacrifice our own comfort so that the truth of God's love can be made manifest.  Too often we cling to our comfort and truth in love suffers greatly.

We can not be a voice that simply says what people want to hear.  We can not be a voice that avoids the hot button topics because it may ruffle feathers and get under people's skin.  We can not be a voice that speaks only when no body is listening.  Truth, like God's word, is a two edge sword; it cuts in order to heal and strengthen.

We receive the same spirit of Ezekiel at baptism and confirmation.  We receive the same commission as well.  Do people know that their is a prophet in our midst when our presence and word are among them?

Like in the gospel, folks took offense to Jesus because he taught them with authority.  We must be ready to embrace the same resistance and reality in our own life.

Interesting that the gospel tells us that because the people resisted Jesus he was unable to perform any mighty deed there...he was amazed at their lack of faith."

But this amazement did not keep Jesus from living the call he had received from his father.  So it is with us.

Truth Sayers unite.  Truth sayers stand tall.  Truth sayers speak up and speak out. We can not be silenced by the crowd.

Here is what the church teaches:

Participation in Christ's prophetic office
904 "Christ . . . fulfills this prophetic office, not only by the hierarchy . . . but also by the laity. He accordingly both establishes them as witnesses and provides them with the sense of the faith [sensus fidei] and the grace of the word"438

To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer.439
905 Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, "that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life." For lay people, "this evangelization . . . acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world."440

This witness of life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful.441
906 Lay people who are capable and trained may also collaborate in catechetical formation, in teaching the sacred sciences, and in use of the communications media.442
907 "In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons."443


This week let the truth in love ring loud and clear in your life.

FOUNDING FATHER QUOTES

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right…and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers.
John Adams (1735–1826)



I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.
John Adams (1735–1826)
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."
George Washington

Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. ... Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us."
John Hancok




Friday, July 3, 2015

DOUBTING THOMAS

Ephesians 2:19-22; Ps 117 Go out to all the world and tell the Good News; John 20:24-29

Today we celebrate the Feast of Thomas the Apostle.  For today's meditation, I want to focus on the words of Thomas in the gospel and pair them with the words of Pope Benedict in his reflection on St Thomas the Apostle and how they impact us a disciples on the journey.

First we encounter these words in the gospel of John chapter 11.
As Jesus is going to raise Lazarus in Bethany, drawing dangerously close to Jerusalem and thus risk attracting the hatred of the religious leaders of his day which might lead to persecution and even death Thomas has these words to offer:

"Let us also go that we may die with him." (John 11:16)  Thomas shows a determination to follow the master at all cost; he illustrates a total readiness to stand by Jesus.  A disciple must be ready to spend his life together with Jesus.

St Paul says a similar reality when he speaks to the Christians at Corinthian, "You are in our hearts, to die together and to live together" (2 Cor 7:3).  What takes place in a Christian community between its members must first be shared with Christ himself: living together, dying together, being in his heart as he is in ours.

Then on the night of the Last Supper, after Jesus tells the apostles to not let their heart be troubled that they should have faith for he was going to prepare a place for them and would come back and take them to himself (Jn 14), again Thomas speaks up:

"Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way." (John 14:5) Thomas places himself at a low level of understanding.  This recognition of Thomas provides Jesus with the opportunity to declare and pronounce his famous definition, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."   Jesus is not afraid for us to ask for explanations.  It is necessary to share with him our lack of understanding. It is necessary to recognize that we do not know it all.

Lastly, when Thomas misses out on the first appearance of Jesus in the upper room after the resurrection, he expresses the following sentiment:

"Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe." (John 20:25)  From these words emerge the conviction that Jesus can now be recognized by his wounds rather than by his face.  In his wounds are revealed how much he loved us.  Jesus reappears and offers Thomas the invitation to touch and see (John 20:27).  Thomas handed down to us a beautiful profession of faith, "My Lord and My God."(John 20:28)

Jesus follows up Thomas' profession with these simple words, "Blessed are those who do not see yet believe." (John 20:29)  Here Jesus spells out a fundamental principle for all Christians.

Thomas' encounter with Jesus in the locked room holds out for us three things of consideration.
1)It comforts us in our insecurity; 2)it shows us that any doubt can lead to outcome brighter than any uncertainty; 3)Jesus' words remind us of the meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere despite the difficulty.

These are simple reflections from Thomas's life in the gospel and Pope Benedict's reflection with a few of my words thrown in to boot.  Happy reflection.  Pax et Bonum.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

TRUST ME

Genesis 22:1-19; Ps 115 I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living; Matthew 9:1-8

Trust Me!

How often have we spoke these words to others in our life?   How often have we been on the receiving end of this call?

Trust Me!

There are moments because of the relationship we have developed with certain people in our life that trust becomes effortless.  There are moments where it is a struggle.  It challenges us.  Especially so when our understanding fails to grasp the full impact of the circumstance or the event.

When we are asked to "blindly" go forth or proceed that is when we are asked to trust the vision of the other even when we don't see what they see.

Trust Me!

We encounter this later reality in today's first reading.  Abraham has just heard those words from God, "Trust Me!" as he has been asked to take his only begotten son, the one you love, and go to the land of Moriah.  There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering on the height that i will point out to you."

Let that settle in your heart for a change.  Think about the heart racing and pounding in the chest of Abraham as he discerns this course of action.  Perhaps sweat beads form on his brow.  Maybe his head begins to spin as he tries to grasp the full impact of what God has asked.

Many of us have experienced similar moments.  When we have been asked to let go of someone whom we love.
Different but also the same in many ways.

Staring over a death bed of a loved one.  Looking out on a crash sight or upon the wreckage of loved one who has been injured or killed.  Losing a job and unsure of where tomorrow will lead.

There are terrible moments in life when nothing makes sense and we have not a clue as to how to proceed-and yet we trust.  Perhaps real trust in God can only happen when we are bereft of understanding.

Trust me!

Isaac also must trust as well.  He is probably a teenager at this point.  He is complicit in the event.  He has carried the wood.  He has set up the altar.  He who could easily out muscle his aging father, lays quietly and still upon the altar of sacrifice.  Trust Me!

Trust in God is never in isolation.  It is never an individual experience. Trust in God involves the whole family.  When one makes an act of Trust it filters down and impacts the lives of all.

This is important to remember.  Trust is a family virtue.  The way we trust prepares our sons and daughters to learn to trust as well.  Isaac learns trust from his Father.

All of us, as we read the story of Abraham and Isaac, we too must hear the call, "Trust me."  We too are now complicit in the event, in the course of action as it unfolds.  We too learn something of Trust as we watch.

Trust me!

Yahweh-Yireh: God will see it through becomes the name of the place on the mountain where Abraham, Isaac and all of us learn trust.  It remains the sacred place where trust is engendered in all of our lives daily.

Trust me!  I will see it through.  These are the words of a loving Father.




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

GOD WAS WITH THE BOY

Genesis 21:5,8-20; Ps 34 The Lord hears the cry of the Poor; Matthew 8:28-34

God was with the boy.  With these words our first reading draws to a close.  The story of Hagar and her child Ishmael come to a resounding head.  The drama and the worry and the anxiety over life and love; despair and distress and the uncertainty of tomorrow; all of it finds it fulfillment in the last words of the Genesis account referring to Ishmael: God was with the boy.  This is how the story comes to a resolution.

This could be said of every child or every situation of distress and discomfort and uncertainty.  When it is all said and done this always becomes our place of rest: God is with the boy or God is with us.

When it is all said and done this is the truth that holds us all together.

This is the truth that held Blessed Junipero Serra as he journeyed from Spain to what is modern day California.  He logged about 24,000 miles in his life time trying to bring the good news of Christ to the new world.  Having arrived in the new world he was asthmatic and had a terrible foot sore that would be with him until his death and yet relying on the will of God an this promise to be with him he continued forth.

As the psalm reminds us, "for nought is lacking to those who fear him; those who seek the Lord want for no good thing."

Blessed Junipero Serra lived this reality daily as he founded mission after mission to tend to the native americas and fight for their rights and dignity.

St John Paul II in comments regarding Junipero Serra has this to offer, "difficulties and sorrows, accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness that opens to a horizon for th greater good of others, only known to God."

Juniper just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

We do this each time we put one foot in front of the other in our daily life with the mind attentive to God's continued care and concern.

God is with the boy.  God is with us all.  Let us bring his presence to those we encounter.
Unleash the missionary with in .

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

LAUDATO SI

Genesis 19:15-29; Ps 26 O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes; Matthew 8:23-27

In our first reading we encounter the destruction of the twin cities Sodom and Gomorrah.  The destruction of the cities and the environment around the cities was due to the sins of their inhabitants.


This was no natural disaster.  We never presume that natural disasters  are the result of human sins and i think to classify the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as a natural disaster is to misread the entirety of the text.

This destruction was a supernatural disaster.

God ordained it and it happen.  But on another note, it is important to be attentive to the fact that all of material creation is somehow bound together with human goodness and human sin.  We are punished by our sins not for them.  Sin in itself brings its own consequences.

But how often does our environment, not unlike that of the terrain and land of Sodom and Gomorrah, suffer destruction because of our own folly and own sinful choices.

Look around.  How often has greed and thirst for profit led to the destruction of our natural habitat, our sister Earth.

Pope Francis has made this clear in his new encyclical: LAUDATO SI,On Care of our Common.  Check it out.  Be Blessed

Pax et Bonum

Sunday, June 28, 2015

REJOICE IN THE GOODNESS OF THE OTHER

Wisdom 1:13-15,2:23-24; psalm 30 I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me; 2 Corinthians  8:7,9,13-15; mark 5:21-43

Just a few thoughts for this Sunday.

The first reading has this to offer for us in our meditation on the Christian life, and its living it as well: God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.  For he fashioned all things that they might have being...but by envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it...the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch them..."


It is good to meditate on death.  In fact, st Francis often called death his sister. It wasn't something to fend off or be frighten of but rather embrace.  Death without Christ was insurmountable; it would be depressing which would lead to despair but with Christ it changes.  It becomes an avenue by which something more awaits, a fulfillment of this earthly existence is finally embraced.

Pope Benedict would say that preparing for death is a Christian art, because preparing for one's death means preparing to meet God.

I have a dear friend who I respect greatly.  He has just reached his 80th birthday, a true milestone.  He tells me when I see him that his window is closing, it is getting smaller.  He is referring to his earthly existence.

I remind him that the window isn't getting smaller but rather bigger, in fact it is opening up so wide that before it's immense size and stature, he is getting smaller.  But isn't that what Jesus refers to when he says unless we camels can pass though the eye of the needle.

In the Holy Land there is a church dedicated to the dormition of the blessed mother. The teaching of the dormition of Mary is simply that when the course of her earthly life ended she simply went to sleep, so that she might be awakened to glory by the grace of God.  This is the change that occurs in death for us who believe.

Death is not an end.  Rather it opens wide to the fullness of life.

We need to rethink how we see death and relate to it otherwise Jesus came for nothing.

Secondly, we are told that by the envy of the devil, death entered the world.  Envy is that reality that seeks to destroy the goodness of the other.  The devil wanted to destroy the friendship humanity had with God.  We see that in our own lives.  How often we find envy becoming our motivation when we talk about others or refuse to accept their state in life or their success or whatever.

What is the remedy for envy?  It is simply this: to rejoice in the goodness of the other.  When we recognize the goodness of the other habitually we then prepare our hearts and minds to rejoice in the goodness God has put in our life.  As the wisdom tells us clearly, nor does God rejoice in the destruction of the living.  Rejoice in the goodness of the other is a good way to prepare to meet God who rejoices in our goodness so much so that he offers his son for us.

Lastly, as we see Jesus cure the the woman with sickness and then raise the little girl we are reminded that physical healthy as good as it is, remains only a relative good, not the ultimate good.

For all of us, who die in faith, will awake to find our hand in his and we shall hear his voice, "arise."

Now for the second reading, St. Paul says these words, " but as a matter of equality your abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written: whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less."

Life is a pilgrimage!!  It is not just about getting somewhere quickly, though it is that.  But as a pilgrimage it is also about who stops along the way to help us and who needs our help as well on every turn and every stretch of the mile.

salvation is in some sense our response to those who God has put in our lives on this road back to him.
We must accept that we do not control who is on the journey with us; God's providence has some say.  Thus, the people we meet are God's gift to us and they are there to mold us and to mold our response to life.

Thus, as we respond to the gift of each person as we encounter them, as we learn to rejoice in their goodness and in our own, we truly prepare to enter fully into life.