Friday, October 17, 2014

GAME BALL

Ephesians 1:11-14; PS 33 Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own; Luke 12:1-7

Often times after a big weekend of football, whether it be highschool or college or even Pro, some body will get the game ball or will be nominated offensive or defensive player of the week.

This player impressed the coaches and did something to help the team experience victory at least one more week.

I wonder if God handed out game  balls, would any of us have impressed him?  Did any of us help others experience victory this week?

The saints are those who receive game balls from the church.  They are recognized as players of faith who impressed the world and society around them with victory and who continue to impress us as we journey in faith.

This week a couple of game balls went to St Teresa of Avila and St Ignatius of Antioch.

St Teresa was a woman of great resolve and clout.  She wanted to dedicate herself completely to the service of God.  She has several quotes that I think will be helpful for us as we journey in the life of faith.

She said w emus always remember the body wants more than it needs.  What we desire isn't always helpful in the spiritual life.  We have to discipline our desires just like we discipline our bodies in order to be spiritually fit.

Secondly, she said, true strength rises in obedience.  The yardstick for love is shown in obedience to God and to his church.  Rebelling against church teaching, doing our own thing is a sign of weakness not of strength.  We have told by our society just the opposite.  We have been acting as if rebellion is the true strength of soul and look what it has done to our society.  The yardstick of love is obedience.

St Ignatius was a big gun in the early church.  He was a pupil of St John, the writer of the gospel of John.  He was bishop of Antioch from 70 AD- 107AD.

He was arrested for his faith and was sentenced to be thrown into the coliseum to the wild animals.
In his life he tried to "imitate the passion of God."  Think about God's passion!  How do we imitate that passion in our daily lives?

He also said that together, we believers are like a choir  that in harmonious love we sing a song to the Father.  However, many of us sing a little off key and are not on the right pitch.  Our song to the Father has been drown out by those who are Christian in name only.

Lastly on his way to be fed to the lions he stated the following, "It is not that I merely want to be called Christian, but Ito actually be one.  YEs, if I prove to be one then I can have the name. Come what may:fire, cross, wild animals, mangling of limbs, crushing of my body, cruel torture-0ne thing, let me get to Jesus Christ.


He only wanted to be near Jesus.  Give me Jesus was his battle cry.  Click here for a song!
May you get your own game ball and experience victory for  the team.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

MEMORIALS AND MONUMENTS

Ephesians 1:1-10; PS 98 The Lord has made known his salvation; Luke 11:47-54

What's the point of monuments and memorials?  Who or what are we honoring?  what are we trying to remember?  And do they in fact make an impact on the lives of others?

Jesus calls into the question the memorials and monuments  of the prophets of his day.  What was the motivation of erecting these things and what did they it actually recall?

In Jesus estimation, the memorials were not erected out of honor for the prophets but rather to recall their murder because they spoke the truth.

The same reality happens in our day in age.  I think about the Holocaust Museum.  It helps us recall the tragedy of inaction.  The museum and monuments of the Holocaust remind us what happens when we move too slowly; it reminds us what happens when we delay our response or refuse to see what is right before our nose. It is a glaring indictment on humanity that refuses to seek the good of the other.

It is this inaction, the inability to stand for truth and justice that is meant to pierce our stubborn minds and hard hearts.


It is one thing to build a monument it is another to roll up our sleeves and get busy with elbow grease and sweat equity.

Stones are easier to deal with then flesh and blood and it is flesh and blood Jesus wants to stay close to and wants us to stay close to as well.

What monuments or memorials keep us from rolling up our sleeves in our own lives?  What monuments represent our own inactivity?

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FAITH WORKING THROUGH LOVE

Galatians 5:1-6; Luke 11:37-41

Here are two phrases to ponder over the next week

"For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor circumcision counts for anything, but only Faith working through love."

Jesus tells us in the gospel as he speaks to the scribes and pharisees, "But as to what is within, give alms, and behold everything will be clean for you."


Faith working through love.

This phrase can be taken many ways.  One way is the following that faith is working out the kinks in love as we experience it daily in the ebb and flow of life.  Love sometimes gets bottlenecked in life do to our reactions to various circumstances outside of us and our temperaments inside of us.

Faith is trying to iron out the kinks in love as we mature in the Spirit.

Think about the kinks you experience when you try to love another or even respond in love to God.  What keeps holding us back?  What runs interference on daily basis: pride, arrogance, greed, anger, gossip, running at the mouth, hurtful thoughts, lust and the list could include much more.

Faith in practice seeks to iron those realities out of our life as we journey forth.  In Christ Jesus what counts is Faith working through love.  Sometimes we just got to be patient and work it out.

Friday, October 10, 2014

TEAM WORK

Gal 3:7-14, PS 11 The Lord will remember his covenant for ever, Luke 11:15-26

Every body knows that team work is necessary. A unified front makes life more meaningful, easier, less stressful.

Team work.  Team work.  Team work.

There is no I in Team.

No man is an Island.

The cliches are through the roof on this one.  Team work is a must in life, in family, in school, in church in everything.

Jesus drives home the point once again.  "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste..."

Then he concludes with this little nugget, "whoever is not me is against me, and whoever doe snot gather with me scatters."

The analogy I use this morning with the school kids is the following.

I asked if any of them like football.  What would happen if every time the quarterback stepped back to throw a pass and his own lineman turned on him and sacked him?

The kids response was, "why would they do that?"

But then again why do we do that?  How often do we refuse to work as a team in love or in life?  How often do we refuse God the right to call the plays in our life?  How often have we turned to sack him by our actions?

Why do we bring more division and less unity?

The beauty is God keeps getting under center and keeps calling plays!
One day maybe we will get it!

Team work.  That they may all be one!

In the words of St Therese, "Your face is my only homeland, It is my kingdom of love."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WORDS FROM FRANCIS

ON this wednesday I would like to begin with a few words from Pope Francis.  Normally the Pope gathers with people on the square at St Peter's and has an audience with them giving them a bit of encouragement or catechesis on a particular subject.  With the Synod of the Family under way in Rome, where bishops from all over have gathered to discuss hot button topics such as Annulments, divorce, homosexuality and the like I thought i would share a bit of Pope's words at the opening mass for the Synod.

The Pope mentions that God has a dream and his dream is his people.  God desires a holy people.  God plants and nurtures them in the analogy of a vineyard.  Pope points out that it is the farmers that ruined the produce, ruin the Lord's pan: they fail to do their jobs and only think of their own interest.

"The work of the leaders is to nurture the vineyard with freedom, creativity and hard work. The work of a synod is not to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent...They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord's vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people.  In this case, the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity."


Just a taste of things to come from the synod on the family.

I'm not sure what will come out of the synod.  I do know we should pray that the Bishops have a listening heart an that they may respond generously and magnanimously to the prompting of the Spirit of God.

In today's gospel Jesus teaches us to pray.  He teaches us to pray in response to the request of the disciples, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."

Prayer is that which is a hallmark and central binding reality to any group at least it seems that way for the disciples.  They do not ask for a mission statement or a motto or a catchy phrase to show that they are united together.  They do not ask for a clever symbol or flag that will acts as a unifier.

They ask for prayer.  They want to let the Spirit of God in prayer be that which binds them together as a united front, as followers of Jesus himself.

Prayer is not an option.  It is an essential ingredient to the life of discipleship.


The prayer Jesus entrust to the disciples is the Lord's prayer.
It is a prayer of adoration and surrender.  We seek what we need and put ourselves in the hands of almighty God.  At the heart of it is forgiveness.  Imagine that.  Adoration, surrender, forgiveness is that which ultimately binds the group together.

It is also the way of discipleship.  It is how we are to live as we follow after Christ who shows it most profoundly at the Last Supper, in instituting the Eucharist and on the cross.






LOST SIGHT

Luke 10:38-42

Today we have the famous story of Martha and Mary.  Martha is busy doing all kinds of things in preparation for her guests.  Mary her sister is just simply resting on her laurels, literally sitting at the feet of Jesus.

What ar ewe too make of this, in particular Jesus' response to Martha's request to get Mary up off hr backside and get her working, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me!"

Jesus simply responds, "Martha, Martha you are anxious and worried about many things,  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

Two things.  Martha was doing what she knew how to do.  She was busy in a manner she was comfortable but she never bothered to asked Jesus what he needed from her.  She assumed he waned to be fed.  How often do we react to things in way we are comfortable with out ever really checking in with Jesus?  We do what we are comfortable but that isn't always what Jesus wants from us.

Secondly, Martha sees what needs to be done bit she loses sight of who it should be done for.  She was at the center not Jesus and thus she became over burdened and anxious.  She made it about herself rather than about her guest.

Again, when have we lost sight of who we are called to serve and simply focused on the serving.  When we do that we get burned out and overworked and anxious to a fault.

See what needs to be done but make sure not to lose sight of who we are working for in and through our labor.

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.