Tuesday, August 4, 2015

ST John VIanney

"This is what purifies the eye of the heart, and enables it to raise itself to true light: contempt of worldly cares, mortification of the body, contrition of heart, abundance of tears...meditation on the admirable essence of God and on his chaste truth, fervent and pure prayer, joy in God, ardent desire for Heaven.  Embrace all this and continue in it.  advance toward the light which offers itself to you as to its sons, and descends of itself into your hearts.  Take your hearts out of your chests, and give them to Him who speaks to you, and He will fill them with deific splendor, and you  will be sons and daughters of light and angels of God."
St. John Vianney

what we put into our hearts and minds and lives will show itself in the manner of our life.  What we choose to devote our life to, will be written all over our face, illustrated by our lives, seen in the works of our hands and words of our lips.  We are, as St. Paul says, a letter written in recommendation.   By our life choices, people read in our life either the noise of the world or the solemnity and joy of eternity.  John Vianney simply seeks to edit our life with his words so that in the end the edition that stands before God is that which most perfectly reads as a love story between the human soul and God Himself.  What remains in every page written in our blood and flesh and desire and will is a simple "yes" to God.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Has not God in fact won for himself a claim on all our love? 

This a question posed by St Alphonsus whose feast is today.  I thought it a good question to ponder.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

REVELATION AND RELATIONSHIP

Exodus 40:16-21,34-38; Ps 84 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, Mighty God; Matt 13:47-53


We look at the building of God's dwelling amongst the people of Israel.

A few things stand out.  First, several times this phrase is repeated, "as the LORD had commanded."

This phrase which is at the beginning and end of the part of the dwelling being built reminds us that it is God alone who determines how he will be present in our world and where he will dwell.

Everything is gift or grace.  It is up to us to respond to the invitation.  We cannot force God's hand but we can be attentive and obedient to his call and command.

We hear about this dwelling several times in the passage.  The "dwelling" in Hebrew is indicative of "where one settles down" or "builds a home" or "rest regularly."  God is choosing on his own to find rest among humanity.  This is encouraging.  This is refreshing.  This brings us hope.

Secondly, as we read the development of Moses putting together the dwelling it seems like one of those projects that require assembly.  We have all bought things in which the packaging will say "assembly required."  I get that sense when i read these words of Moses' action, "He placed its pedestals, set up its boards, put in its bars, and set up its columns…hung the curtain veil..."

Assembly required suggest that though God alone chooses how he will be present in our world, this revelation also invokes and requires a relationship.   God does not dwell in our midst on his own without involving us in the process.  Revelation and relationship always seem to be connected.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

RADIANT

Ex 34:29-35; Ps 99 Holy is the Lord our God;  Luke 10:38-42

Today is the feast of St Martha.

We see in the first reading that Moses' encounter with God, being in his presence alters his appearance, "the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the Lord. "

This is an important reality check for us as we try to diagnose whether to not our prayer life is real.

Does the conversation we have with God change us, alter us?  Does it have an effect on our life and the way we are perceived?

This does not mean that our physical countenance should be changed like that of Moses, but it does suggest a real possibility of our life being changed, whether it be our temperament or our personality or the way we deal with life as it unfolds.  Something in us changes when we have a real encounter with the living Lord.

Are we changed?  Do people see something in us that we probably don't see in ourselves?  Can they perceive that we talk to God?

Something to ponder!

Pope Francis in one of his daily homilies mentioned these words, "Amazement is a great grace, it is the grace that God gives us in the encounter with Jesus Christ.  It is something that makes us lose our heads a bit out of joy."


What is the difference between Martha and Mary as we read and discover them in the gospel of Luke 10:38-42.  Martha is terribly busy.  She is caught up in her work, in the task at hand.  She only thinks about what needs to be done next.  Mary, her sister, is amazed at the presence of Jesus.  She has completed lost her head, at least that is what Martha thinks, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?" She has lost her head.

If only Martha would be willing to lose her head in amazement then maybe she would enjoy the work rather than be overwhelmed by it.

How quickly her anxiety and worry could be transformed into Joy.

These words of Jesus are always an invitation to all of us, "There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

What about us?  How often do we settle for less rather than the better part of life and love?  How often do get so blinded by the task at hand that we forget about the presence of Christ in our midst, He who journeys with us?

I find myself even now thankful for this gospel and this feast day of St Martha.  We are gearing up for a new school year and there is so much that needs to be done.  We have to hire these people and order those things and get that done.  We are two weeks out and it is just overwhelming.  Then this passage hits me like a ton of bricks.

I ask myself if I am amazed by the presence of God who journeys with me.  I breathe.  I take a deep breath.  I set aside the anxiety and worry and trust.  The better part is here for the taking in the task at hand.

I am amazed at all that god will do over the next two weeks.  I am amazed that he has asked me to be part of it.  I am amazed I get to sit at his feet in few moments at Mass.  Amazement is a grace.

This is the difference between Martha and Mary.

God looks for us, god waits for us, God finds us before we look for him.  He finds us in our anxiety and in our worry and he comes to bring amazement back into out life. And this is what the gaze of Jesus does to Martha.  It puts everything back into perspective.

Monday, July 27, 2015

KEEP US GUESSING

2 kings 4:42-44; Ps 145 The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15

God has a  way of keeping us guessing.  We can never truly figure him out. God often stretches our minds in order to ensure that we we embrace reality as it unfolds in our midst we do so with Him as the interpretive key not our own devices.

Secondly, St Paul says these words, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God."  Why?  I think in large part because God can never be hemmed in or limited.  The only limit we can say about God is that God is love.  Here in lies the true interpretive key of reality.  God only sees what is possible.  No matter what comes it is always possibilities that lie ahead.

Imagine living in a manner in which we were see only possibilities rather than limits, fear, reluctance.

This is what the gospel brings to mind.

Jesus sees a crowd and poses a question, "where can we get enough to feed all of these people?"

Instantly there are several reactions.

Philip begins to calculate.  "200 days wages would not be enough to give them a little.  In his calculations he gets discouraged.

How often is this our reaction to life as it unfolds.  We calculate or miscalculate to our demise and begin to grow weary with discouragement, frustration, and doubt.

Of course this is the way of the world.  The world tells us to calculate, plan ahead, predict the outcome in order to better control reality.  This is not the way of God and we are not of the world, we are of God.

The human mind can never fully calculate what God's providence has in store.  There must always be room for something more, a surprise so to speak, or room for that which we say, "we had not planned for."  With God there must always be an opening for something still to come.

Then Andrew, one of the other Apostles, almost gets it.  For a brief moment he sets a side his calculations and begins to trust the one who brought him.  You can hear in his tone as he recognizes the boy with 5 loaves and two fish.  He sounds excited and hopeful and assured that all will be well.

Then something happens.  His tone of hopefulness, "here is a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish" begins to turn sour into despair.  "But what good are these for so many."

It is a tragic moment.  Not sure why he gives up on hope.  Perhaps it is the naysayers around him,  perhaps it is the crowd, or perhaps she begins to trust his own inner security or insecurity rathe than the bigness of christ.  Whatever it is he shrivels and shrinks.  He grows small rather than large.

Then there is the boy, the muchacho.  He does only one thing, he gives.  He offers his meager lunch to JEsus.  HE watches JEsus take the little that he offers and turns it into real possibilities.

I love to imagine the boy in mind as he watches all of this unfold.  I imagine him grinning from ear to ear as he tells the story of how the little that he has becomes so much more in the hands of the living God.

PErhaps this is what St Paul means when he tells us it is fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.  It is fearful because we have to let go of ourselves, our doubt, our fears, our reluctance, our own security and begin to see as God sees and Trust that God only sees possibilities.

So this week, the meditation for us is to see which of the three are wee.  Are we like philip still calculating everything wanting to predict, plan, control?

Are we like Andrew and we let hopefulness get crushed by the crowd, the naysayers or our own inner insecurity?

Or are we like the boy who simple states, You want it, here it is, take it, it is yours and lets the largeness of God transform the little we have to offer?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

JUST ENOUGH

Ex 16:1-5,9-15; Ps 78 The Lord gave them bread from heaven; Matthew 13:1-9

Every time I read the story of Exodus I think to myself how so like us.   God delivers the people of Israel from slavery, shows his power and might, and yet how ungrateful are that, are we as human persons.  We are never satisfied with what God gives to us or how God reveals himself.  We always want more.  We are always looking to God as an ATM machine, we want to see how much we get out of him and from him.  How much do we seek God for our sakes, rather than love God for His sake.


"Here in the desert the whole assembly of the children of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron."

This is you and I on a regular basis.  We grumble.  We complain.  We direct our disappointment and frustration to God through his chosen leaders.

But God shows himself patient.  Pope Francis directed us to meditate on this patience of God during Lent, "When we think about the patience of God: that is a mystery! How patient he is with us! We do so many things, but he is patient."  He follows up  the invitation, "to think about what the patience of God has meant in our life."  God is relentlessly and tirelessly patient on our behalf.


Then what is God's response to the Israelites hunger as they grumble for lack of food.  He sends them manna from heaven.  This "bread" he gives them for nourishment is meant to supply their needs one day at a time.  It is just enough for just a day.  They could not take more than what they would use of the day lest it rot in their midst.

What is God's patience in giving us our daily bread suggest to us?  Perhaps, God invites us to live each day fully and whole heartily.  Perhaps he is telling us to remove our selves from self reliance.  Perhaps he is inviting us to no longer stock up for tomorrow but rather embrace the gift of each day, to live in the present with no worries or concerns for what tomorrow will bring.

Just enough for just a day!

Is what God provides today sufficient for us that we might respond in love to him and those around us?

Today we also celebrate the feast day of Mary Magdalene.
We drove through Magdala  while in the Holy Land last summer.  We didn't stop, but driving through it was enough to get me to be thankful for the life Mary Magdala lived and the treasure of faith she witnessed to in the gospel.

She wrestled with her own demons.  She struggled with darkness.  She had a past.  She was "damaged" goods.  Yet, she was the first witness of the resurrection.  She stood at the cross when all others fled.  She remained at the tomb eagerly seeking her savior.  Her encounter with Christ transformed her desire and gave it a new direction.


She stood weeping outside the tomb longing to see Jesus.  It was this sadness that ultimately prepared her for the joy of the encounter with the risen Lord.  Sadness too can be a gift.  It too can be that vehicle by which we are awakened to a deeper presence of God in our midst.

There is a danger involved in avoiding sadness.  When we seek emotional happiness at all cost in an inordinate way, we lose ourselves.  Sadness can open us to a richer and deeper experience with authentic life and a more profound experience with lasting joy.   Embracing our sadness and sorrow can lead to greater clarity of vision and deepen our relationships, especially our relationship with God in Christ as we witness in Mary Magdala.


It was the sound of her name echoing off the lips of the resurrected Jesus that remains etched in our hearts and minds as we reread the gospel account, ""Mary!"  Thus in and through her sadness and sorrow she comes to a profound experience of joy as she is awaken to the presence of Jesus in her midst, in her state of sadness and sorrow.

She was never asked to overcome her sadness and sorrow in order to experience God but rather through her experience she encounters the living and risen Lord.

Mary Magdala can be a patron for all of us in our society.  We so try to avoid pain and suffering.  We all want to be exhausted with joy.  Yet, in her sorrow she experiences a penetrating encounter with Jesus.  Mary Mandala is a reality check for all of us.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

STRETCHED OUT HIS HAND

Exodus 14:21-15:1; Matthew 12:46-50

We have some similarities in the readings for this Tuesday.

In our First reading, Moses stretches out his hand in faith and the wind sweeps over the sea and the Nation of Israel, God's holy family, is rescued from destruction.  They find safe passage and thus begin their journey to the promised land.


In the gospel, Jesus the perfecter of our Faith, stretches out his hand and introduces us to a new and deeper understand of family.  Family is no longer a fruit of blood kinship but rather is dependent on obedience and doing the will of the Father.  A new intimate closeness is realized in those simple words, "And stretching our his hands toward his disciples, he said, "here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Obedience not blood not draws us close together as the family of God.

In two instances, hands are stretched out and transformation is effected, change is made real.

What happens when we stretch out our hands?  What kind of new changes are introduced in to our world by the hands we have been given and the faith we profess?

Think about your hands today.  Think about them being instruments.  When you stretch them forth what are you hoping to achieve?  Is it the will  of the Father?