Sunday, September 28, 2014

RESPONIBILITY

Ezekiel 18:25-28; Ps 25 Remember your mercies, O Lord. Phil 2:1-11; Matt 21:28-32

The other evening I was coming back from Houston.  I had went with a few priest to drop off some sacred vessels that needed to be replaced.  Then we swung by to visit a bother priest who was recovering from surgery in MD ANderson.

Needless to say, though I am saying, it was late when I was returning to Cuero.

On the way back, along Highway 59/I69 I saw a billboard on the side of the road that was intriguing.

So I picked up my cell phone and decided to call just to see what was going on with these billboards.

At first I got a recording about truth and how truth is knowable.  Then a live voice came on the phone and asked me the following questions:

1:which billboard did you see and what did it say?

So I told him.  Then he asked 2) have you made arrangements for heaven?  SO I told him yes I was making arrangements for heaven.

3)then he asked if I read the bible?  I told him yes.  But do you read it daily he inquired?  Again, with the affirmative I responded.   4) then he asked if I knew Jesus.  I responded I know Jesus and I know him better each day.

After I answered the questions, the gentlemen on the phone seemed a bit disappointed.  He was disappointed that I answered yes to his questions.  Then he hung up the phone.

The billboard is a lot like today's gospel and our first reading.  They are reminding us that we have some say in the important things in life.  Personal responsibility has been laid at our feet.  God has given us the ability to choose this over that and it is what sets us apart from all other creatures.

God has already chosen us.  We see that in the second reading where St paul reminds us that Jesus empties himself to become man and takes upon himself the cross.  God has reached in to our life and chosen to be part of it.

Now he waits for our response: yes or no.

The beauty is that God is infinitely patient.  God will wait for us.  He will not retaliate against our refusal.  He will wait for us as we see illustrated in today's gospel.

The unfortunate thing is this:  though God's patience is infinite, our time to respond is not.  Our time is limited.  Time is precious.  Rejoice in God's patience but don't wait too long.

As we read in the opening prayer at funerals. "Lord you have set a limit on this present life that it may open an entry unto eternity."

May God's infinite patience spur you on toward him.  MAKE HASTE AS GOD WAITS.

Friday, September 26, 2014

GO FOR BROKE

ECCLES 3:1-11; PS 144 Blessed be the Lord my God; Luke 9:18-22

"There is an appointed time for everything" according to our first reading.  There is a time for everything under the sun, a time to be born, time to die, a time to plant, a time to uproot, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to tear down, a time to build, a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to dance…so on and so on.

What about being generous?  Is there time when generosity is out of favor?

In gratitude we are human; in generosity we are divine.  Generosity is the one virtue that can mirror itself to the end of time.

Because we are made in the image and likeness of God then we are made to be givers like unto God who gives everything.  To be a human person implies generosity.

Men impress us when they are generous.  Saints stands out among men because they too live generous lives, they hold nothing back.  They do not hoard nor are they stingy.

They go for broke every day.

Jesus is the one that said it is far more blessed to give than to receive.  That includes taking as well.

In the end the only thing we leave behind is what we have given away.

Cosmas and Damian, whose feast day is today understood this principle very well.

They were brothers.  They were twins.  Early on they learned to share.  They shared the womb with one another.  When they were introduced to Jesus, they quickly learned to share everything with everyone.

They were medical doctors and they performed their duties to bring health to the body, mind, and soul free of charge.  They were called the "penniless ones."

They made a point to share freely for they were given freely.  The words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew was lived to its fulfillment, "freely you received, freely you give."

Generosity isn't a choice but rather a reality.  If we are to be truly authentic then we live generous lives for it is in living generously then we truly understand the foundation of life: all is gift and thus all is grace.


Eventually they were invited to give the lives they enjoyed completely.  They gave their flesh and blood in imitation of Jesus himself, laying down their life becoming what they already were, witnesses to the magnamous reality of Faith in the living God.

Cosmas and Damian pray of us.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

HUMAN DUST DIVINE GLORY

PS 90 In every age O Lord, you have been our refuge

This is the psalm for today.  I invite you to go and find it in the bible and meditate on.  It is a beautiful depiction of reality.

Our first reading invites us to lift the veil of illusion.  The psalm invites us to grab hold of reality.
The first reading reminds us that all is vanity.  The psalm exhorts us to the ultimate Truth: prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands.

Any profit from our labor must be touched by God's grace.  He alone makes things last, makes things meaningful.

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart"  Thus we may love what needs to be loved and let everything else go.

"It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end result but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.  We are workers not master builders, ministers not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own." Bishop of Saginaw Michigan.

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.  This is what happens when human dust encounters divine glory!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

DONT WORRY ABOUT WHAT TO PACK

Proverbs 30:5-9; PS 19 your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet; Luke 9:1-6

You ever go on trip and fret about what to take and what to leave behind.  A majority of us what to be prepared for anything and everything so we wind up taking way more than we need.

I do this with books.  I never know what I'm going to want to read so I usually take way more reading material than I need. Thankfully the ebooks readers have certainly assisted drastically in lighting the load when i go on a journey.  I can take a whole library of books in my kindle and that is that.

But shouldn't we pack light when we go on a trip.  This summer going to the Holy Land of ten days I was determined to put everything i needed in one back pack and be done with it.  It was nice not having to haul all that extra luggage around.  It was so easy to just zip up the back pack and go.


So what I wore the same pants several days in a row.  There was a certain freedom to packing light and made the trip mrs about the trip and less about me.

Maybe that is part of the reality we should be geared for: trip centered reality.

Jesus tells the disciples today in the gospel to "take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor none, and let no one take a second tunic."

Trip centered not self centered.

What did they take with them?  They took their mission, the authority and power over demons and disease.   They carried their love for Jesus and his command and they went forth.

This gospel reminds me of the George Strait Song, "Carrying your love with me."

He sings about not worrying about the way I pack. I carry your love with me.  It is everything I need.
Wouldn't it be great if the love Jesus was all we put i our back pack when we headed out the door each day, going out proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

This is the presence the Christian is meant to bring to the front.

Think about the dis-ease we encounter in the world.  How can we as Christians let the authority and power of Christ be the healing answer the world needs?

How are we invited daily to bring a sense of normalcy back to reality.




Thursday, September 18, 2014

GOD IS GOOD

1 corinthians 15:1-11; Ps 118 Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; Luke 7:36-50

God is Good!  All the time!  All the time! God is Good!

This is a very familiar refrain at many youth events or activities.  God is Good.  We shout it from the roof times, well, not really that would be an infringement on safe environment rules and regulations, that is having children on roofs.

But you get my gist.  This refrain is pretty common.  It is the refrain for our psalm this morning, "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, the psalmist invites us to once again give it our gusto.

God is Good.

What is good?  Dessert is good.  A child that behaves well is considered good.  A master chef who is skilled is a good cook .  Good indicates a certain level of skillfulness, effectiveness, admiration.  God is all these things: skilled, effective, admirable.

God's goodness has little to do with us getting what we want, or having our way.  It has everything to do with who God is from all eternity.

How often do we reduce God's goodness to to our own personal gain, personal wants, personal needs.  We exclaim God's goodness out of self-centeredness.

God's goodness in the psalm today is intimately wrapped up in the hebrew word "hesed".

God's goodness is a result of his promise and covenant he made with creation, with humanity.  God is good because he keeps his promise, his end of the bargain.  He, God, owes it to himself to be Good.

His goodness has everything to do with his integrity.  God is Good and we rejoice in the light of that goodness, no matter what circumstances we are in at the present moment.

Give thanks to the lord of the is good.  He is goodness itself.  Thanks is a no brainer.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MARTYRDOM

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; We are his people: the sheep of his flock Ps 100; Luke 7:11-17

Martyrs.

I remember when I was at the height or peak of my conversion experience, I would read the lives of the saints.  Many of these stories depicted the saints giving their life for the faith, for Christ.

It was easy to romanticize this reality.  How I would often think about staring the so called "bad guy" in the face and telling him, "go head make my day" or "do your worst" I am not going to turn my back of God.

It was romantic to think about shedding my blood for the faith as we celebrate with the martyrs of Cornelius and Cyprian today in the life of the church.

However, romance fades and reality sets in.  Though many may be asked to shed their blood for the faith most will not.  Most of us are asked to live the daily grind in what we call "white" martyrdom.  This simply means we don't shed our blood on the ground for Christ but rather we let the living blood within us fill the world around us with faith, hope, charity, truth and the like day in and day out.

This is what St paul is getting at when he states today in the reading, "Now you are Christ's Body, and individual parts of it."

We are Christ's body, Christ's presence into the world.  As in the gospel the people respond to Jesus with the following, "God has visited his people."

So the people around us should exclaim the same.  We are Christ's Body.  W make his presence known by how we live the daily grind.  Most importantly how we seek to be reconciled with others risking the mercy of God.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

SINGLE VERSE

Luke 6:27-38

Single verse spirituality

There is a tendency in our current culture that all one needs is a single verse of scripture to build a spiritual foundation.

I see this quite often.  I Meet guys in the prison or folks come into my office and I express spiritual world view and usually in revolves around one single verse of scripture.
Maybe its John 3:16, "God so loved the world he gave his only son that whoever believes in him might have eternal life."

This is just one example.  That verse whatever may be becomes the foundation they build on.

They neglect the rest of scripture, the rest of what Jesus has to say, what Paul teaches and so on.

This single verse spirituality is dangerous because often times scripture itself creates nuances that require the whole picture, the whole teaching.

True spirituality looks at the entirety of scripture and tradition and holds the tension that is created by the nuance of what is encountered.

For instance Jesus tells us to love our enemies but he also states that it be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around our neck then to cause one of these little ones to sin.  Love takes on a whole different reality when you put these together.

JEsus tells us to honor our mother and Father but at the same time he says unless you hate your mother, Father, brother, sister you cannot be my disciple.

Jesus commands us to turn the other cheek but he also unbraids the the scribes and pharisees of their stubbornness and misreading of scripture.

We are told that God so loved the world that he sent his only son so that whoever believes in him my not perish but have eternal life and yet Jesus also mentions the real possibility of eternal fire and gnashing and grinding of teeth.

Building a spiritual foundation on one verse is very inviting because it means we get to pick and choose what we believe and how we understand it to be put in practice.  This is not healthy or holy.

We are invited to open ourselves wide to receive all that Jesus and his church teaches.

Which brings me to today's readings in particular today's gospel.  We find in it a verse that many cling to as the single verse of foundation: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

The so called golden rule.  If there is one verse that holds the tension of all of Jesus teachings and the teachings of the church this may be it.  The golden rule is vague enough to get us in trouble but also precise enough to lead us down the right path.

IT includes both a healthy critique as well as generous giving of respect.  It  is all inclusive.  But it only works when the whole of Christ's teachings and the church is understood.  IT is single verse that contains a thousands lessons.  We must study them all and then build a foundation rooted in Christ not just to our liking.