Thursday, May 26, 2016

Grow into salvation

1 Pt 2:2-5,9-12;  Ps 100 Come with joy into the presence of the Lord; Mark 10:46-52

"that you may grow into salvation…"

Think about these words from the first letter of Peter.  Salvation is not a once saved always saved event as is often expressed by our separated brethren.  At least, Peter doesn't think so as he invites us to  "grow into salvation."

Rather it seems like it is an organic experience in which we come to receive fully more and more the grace God offers so that we might be transformed and reach our full potential.  Salvation is more than just being saved.  It is about inward transformation.  It is about growth into more, becoming who we are created to be.

Each day affords an opportunity; each moment invites us to receive more and more and be stretched.

This why Jesus speaks of pruning in the gospel of John.  Every branch must be pruned so that new growth and more fruit can be realized in our life. We grow into salvation.  God patiently awaits this growth and this process to not only take effect in our lives but to effect the lives of those around us.


We encounter the blind man on the road to Jericho in today's gospel, Bartimaeus.
Jesus ask him a question and it is the very question he ask us, "What do you want me to do for you?"

What is our response to this question.  What do we want Jesus to do for us?  The answer to this question is rooted deeply into who we are and who God is calling us to be.

Here is the blind man on the side of the road.  Here he sits in the ditch.  Perhaps trying to hitchhike his way to place of wholeness and wellness and harmony.

This is the hitch hiker's guide to spirituality. We have to be willing to step out of the ditch, to leave the side of the road, to get off the shoulder and stand in to road it self, for we know that Jesus is the road for he has told us he is the way, the truth, and the life.

As long as we are on the side of the road, in the ditch we will be blind.  But the moment we step in to the road, we step into Christ and sight shall be given and vision restored.

We are told that "immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way."

No longer sitting in the ditch or standing on the shoulder but now he walks in the road, the way, in Christ.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

STORED UP TREASURE

James 5:1-6; Ps 49 Blessed are the poor in Spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs; Mark 9:41-50

"You have stored up treasure for the last days…"

We find these words in the middle of the first reading from James.

He is speaking about the tragedy of putting our focus on material wealth and material possessions.  In the midst of this he mentions, "storing up treasure for the last days.."

How often do we worry about living our earthly life to its full with all material comfort rather than focus on the truth of our existence and the destiny that awaits us as people of faith.

Should not our treasure we store up be for eternal life?

Should we not look beyond the last days of our earthly life and see how well we have prepared ourselves for that reality?

What will come of the earthly treasure we amass when our body lies in dust and our souls meet our maker?

Then we hear the words of Jesus, "anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to christ, amen, I say to you, you will surely not lose his reward."

Here is our treasure.  Here is the motivation.  Who belongs to christ so that we might extend our hand in generosity?  What if it is everyone we meet along the way that fifers us an opportunity to store of treasure where it matters most?


Enemy of the Good

James 4:13-17

What is the enemy of good?  What is the opposition, the force that resists the good that we can do, the good that we can be, the good that God wants to work through us daily in our life?

Where do find this nemesis hiding in shadows of our daily life of love, of give and take?

I think James in today's first reading certainly has pin pointed one of the enemies of Good.

Listent o what he has to say, "You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears."


The enemy to good is presumption.  That is we often presume that we will have another opportunity, another tomorrow, another moment to the the good we are invited to do in this moment, this day, right now.

But we know this is not true.

In an instant, in a blink, in a flash, life has we know it can change.  How we live today can be altered forever.  We have all seen this life.  We know how fragile these moments we have are.  Yet, we still delay.  We still presume on time to come when all we truly have is the time we live in this moment.

James reminds us that we have today to love the good in our life.  We are invited to cast off presumption; cast aside that false notion of tomorrow and embrace the moment we are in today.

Today we celebrate the feast of St John 1, pope and martyr.  His epitaph on his tomb in Rome simply reads, "victim of Christ."  It could read he refused to put off tomorrow the good he was invited to live today.  This is how Christ lived.  This is how his disciples live.  This is how we are invited to live.

Christ is our life.  He is our only good.  Living in him, Him living in us, daily provides the moment for goodness to reign supreme in our life.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Welcoming the Holy Spirit

Here are a few words from Pope Benedict in regards to the Holy Spirit

"The Holy Spirit continues today to act with power in the Church, and the fruits of the Spirit are abundant in the measure in which we are ready to open up to this power that makes all things new.

For this reason it is important that each one of us know the Spirit, and establish a relationship with Him, and allow ourselves to be guided by Him…

Yes, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love of the Father and of the Son, is the source of life that makes us holy, "because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."

Nevertheless, it is not enough to know the Spirit; we must welcome Him as the guide of our souls, as the "Teacher of the interior life" who introduces us to the Mystery of the Trinity, because he alone can open us up to faith and allow us to live it each day to the full.

The Spirit impels us forward toward others, enkindles in us the fire of love, makes us missionaries of God's charity.

It is precisely the presence of the Spirit within us that confirms, constitutes, and builds our person on the very Person of Jesus crucified and risen."

Friday, April 29, 2016

THE DOCTOR IS IN

Here are few excerpts from St Catherine of Siena

* Jesus to Catherine of Siena: "I give spiritual consolation in prayer, now in one way, now in another. But it is not my intention that the soul should receive this consolation foolishly, paying more attention to the gift than to me."  (when we receive the gift we should look more intently at the giver)



  • Love does not stay idle." Letter T82
  • "Reflect that God requires nothing else of us except that we show our neighbors the love we have for God." Letter T89
  • "Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things!"  Letter T127
  • "Out of darkness is born the light." Letter T211
  • "To the servant of God, every place is the right place, and every time is the right time." Letter T328
  • "God is more ready to pardon that we have been to sin."  Letter T343
  • "Consider God's charity. Where else have we ever seen someone who has been offended voluntarily paying out his life for those who have offended him?"  Letter T345
  • "Hope comes from love, because people always trust in those they love."  Letter T352
  • "You must believe in truth that whatever God gives or permits is for your salvation."  Letter T354
  • "There is nothing we can desire or want that we do not find in God." Letter T360
  • "If you are what you should be, you will set all of Italy ablaze!" Letter T368 
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  • "Holy Spirit, come into my heart, and in your power draw it to you." Prayer 6
  • "It is only through shadows that one comes to know the light." Prayer 24
You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation if you had it--so by not getting what you've asked, you really are getting what you want." 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

FROM THE POPE ON LOVE

Dear young friends, at this stage in your lives you have a growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection. The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful. He will guide your hearts to “love without being possessive”, to love others without trying to own them but letting them be free. Because love is free! There is no true love that is not free! The freedom that the Lord gives to us is his love for us. He is always close to each one of us. There is always a temptation to let our affections be tainted by an instinctive desire to “have to have” what we find pleasing; this is selfishness. Our consumerist culture reinforces this tendency. Yet when we hold on too tightly to something, it fades, it dies, and then we feel confused, empty inside. The Lord, if you listen to his voice, will reveal to you the secret of love. It is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them and waiting for them. This is putting tenderness and love into action. 

At this point in life you feel also a great longing for freedom. Many people will say to you that freedom means doing whatever you want. But here you have to be able to say no. If you do not know how to say “no”, you are not free. The person who is free is he or she who is able to say “yes” and who knows how to say “no”. Freedom is not the ability simply to do what I want. This makes us self-centred and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends; it is not true to say “it is good enough if it serves me”. No, this is not true. Instead, freedom is the gift ofbeing able to choose the good: this is true freedom. The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort, even if it is not easy. I believe that you young men and women are not afraid to make the effort, that you are indeed courageous! Only by courageous and firm decisions do we realize our greatest dreams, the dreams which it is worth spending our entire lives to pursue. Courageous and noble choices. Do not be content with mediocrity, with “simply going with the flow”, with being comfortable and laid back. Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions. Be sceptical about people who want to make you believe that you are only important if you act tough like the heroes in films or if you wear the latest fashions. Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love. True freedom is something else altogether. 

That is because love is a free gift which calls for an open heart; love is a responsibility, but a noble responsibility which is life-long; it is a daily task for those who can achieve great dreams! Woe to your people who do not know how to dream, who do not dare to dream! If a person of your age is not able to dream, if they have already gone into retirement… this is not good.Love is nurtured by trust, respect and forgiveness. Love does not happen because we talk about it, but when we live it: it is not a sweet poem to study and memorize, but is a life choice to put into practice! How can we grow in love? The secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession. There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world. And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don’t ever let go of his hand. He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall. Throughout life we will fall many times, because we are sinners, we are weak. But there is always the hand of God who picks us up, who raises us up. Jesus wants us to be up on our feet! Think of the beautiful word Jesus said to the paralytic: “Arise!”. God has created us to be on our feet. There is a lovely song that mountain climbers sing as they climb. It goes like this: “In climbing, the important thing is not to not fall, but to not remain fallen!. To have the courage to pick oneself up, to allow oneself to be raised up by Jesus. And his hand is often given through the hand of a friend, through the hand of one’s parents, through the hand of those who accompany us throughout life. Jesus himself is present in them. So arise! God wants us up on our feet, ever on our feet! 

I know that you are capable of acts of great friendship and goodness. With these you are called to build the future, togetherwith others and for others, but never against anyone! One never builds “against”; this is called “destruction”. You will do amazing things if you prepare well, starting now, by living your youth and all its gifts to the fullest and without fear of hard work. Be like sporting champions, who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice. Let your daily programme be the works of mercy. Enthusiastically practice them, so as to be champions in life, champions in love! In this way you will be recognized as disciples of Jesus. In this way, you will have the identification card of the Christian. And I promise you: your joy will be complete.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

UNDERGO TRIALS

Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145 I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-33,34-35


What we don't get in today's first reading is really worth exploring.

Paul's words in today's first reading, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" have a greater impact if we read what precedes this conversation he is having with the church of Lystra and Iconic.

Paul has been here before. On his previous visit some jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and they "stoned paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead."

When Paul speaks about trials and undergoing hardships he isn't just whistling Dixie.  He is speaking with first hand experience.  In fact, as Paul is speaking to the disciples the wounds of being stoned to death are probably still very visible.  The cuts and bruises on his face are there for every one to see.  He is standing before them some what mangled from the beating he received, bloodied and bandaged with scars testifying to his own perseverance.

Talk about clout.

Persecution became for them their daily bread as disciples in the early church.

What about us?  It isn't persecution but complacency  that has become our daily bread as disciples.

How do we reawaken that missionary zeal and spirit that moved the disciples beyond complacency into willingness to embrace the sufferings and undergo the trials?

The disciples in the early church understood Jesus command and took it to heart: As i have loved you should also love.

Jesus was willing to make his life a total self-gift for the good of the other and the disciples in the early church understood that the proclamation of the good news was worth all the good that suffering could not deter them.