Thursday, February 16, 2017

NOAH

Genesis 6-9

Over the past few days in the Liturgy we have been introduced to Noah.  It is in and through Noah that God's extends an opportunity of life and love through all of humanity.

On Tuesday we encounter the reality in which God is grieved by humanity and chooses to wipe out from the face of the earth all that He had created.

God was disappointed in the one's he loved.  We have all been in that place, that place of disappointment and frustration with the decisions our loved ones had made.

Like God our hearts have been grieved.

Love is broken but not beaten, however, for in Noah humanity gets a reprieve, a second chance.

We are told that Noah stood out from his generation, from his society.  He was upright and pleasing to the Lord.  Thus, in Noah God sees a seed bed of goodness, hope, mercy and forgiveness.

Thus, to Noah and his household creation gets a second chance.
God extends an opportunity of newness rather than let the disappointment determine his course of actions.  Love is broken but not beaten.

Yesterday in the Liturgy we encounter the water subsiding and Noah stepping forth from the Ark after a seriously long time being pent up as they say.  The first act is to erect an altar and make a sacrifice of praise and thanks to God.

Now it is a good and desirable thing to give thanks to God when things go our way.  It is good to give thanks and praise when things are pleasing to us and what we expect out of life.  But this is just one part of life.

We also must endeavor to give praise and thanks to God when things are not necessarily going our way, when the circumstances are difficult and displeasing.  Here too in this environment praise and thanks must be a pleasing aroma to God.

When we thanks God for goos things the happen to us we are loving God for our sakes.  But when we thanks God when things are displeasing then we learn to love god for his own sake and this id the path way of maturity in the life of Faith.

Each day in all circumstances, like Noah, we must erect an altar of praise and thanks to God in our hearts and allow it to truly become the source of strength for our life and love as we journey forth.

In today's liturgy, creation begins anew.  Noah's sons are told to 'be fertile and multiply and fill the earth."  These were the same words give to our first parents.  Except this time something is different.  There is a consequence to the fall that continues to effect humanity.  We are told that "dread and fear of you shall come upon all the animals of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon all creatures that move about the ground and all fishes of the sea; into your power they are delivered.  Every creature shall be yours to eat..."

In the beginning , there was no fear between man and animals but rathe harmony.  There was also no eating of flesh only plants.  Now things have been turned upside down.  The flood can not undo the fall.  The external waters on the earth still do not effect the internal reality of man.  We need something more.

The bow in the sky though reminds Noah and his family of God's promise to never destroy the world by flood it also reminds them that something  more is need, something more shall come, on the horizon of tomorrow as the future unfolds an answer to the internal struggle of man from the fall shall be given.  Until then, the not yet of redemption lingers.

Which brings us to the gospel.  Jesus ask the question, "who do you say that I am?"

And the answer harkens all the way back to the time of Noah, "you are the Christ the son of the living God."  You are the one who will come to bring redemption internally where the external waters of the flood failed.  Jesus says he will give us life giving waters.  He comes to empower us and restore us.

The rainbow in a way points to Christ.

Hope has arrived in him.  He is bringer of the new covenant and establishes his church which is the the new ark by which redemption becomes fully accessible not only to man but to all of creation as we are told by St Paul, "all creation yearns for the children of God."  once we have been was he din Jesus, something int he world is changed for the better, for ever.




Saturday, February 4, 2017

SALT AND LIGHT

Isaiah 58:7-10; Ps 112 The just man is alight in the darkness to the upright; 1 Corin 2:1-5; Matt 5:13-16

We continue to fool along in the Sermon of the mount through our Sunday readings as we anticipate the coming of the season of Lent.

Last week we were invited to heed the Beatitudes the ingredient so holiness for those who seek to follow Christ.  Today we encounter these words, "You are the salt of the earth...you are the light of the world...a city on the mountain..."


But i believe in order to full grasp these words we have to fast forward to the end of the sermon of the mount where we are told, "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock...But it did not collapse...And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand... And it collapsed.  (Matt 7 24-27 two foundations)


The foundations we build must be founded on a purpose and a plan.  We have to now what the foundation is going to be used for.  I believe these lines we encounter in today's gospel are telling us the plan and purpose of Jesus words in the sermon.  They are meant to get us to be salt and light for the world.

Our focus isn't abut getting as much as it is about giving so that the world might come to know the beauty and goodness of Christ himself.

Salt and light are not created for themselves.  They are useful in so far as they are used for other realities.  Salt does not flavor itself.  Light does not illumine itself.

What does salt do: it preserves and brings out flavor but it also kills.  We say someone is salt of the earth that means that are exhibits and examples of fundamental goodness.  We also say that when we salt the earth then we poison the ground and destroy.

The same goes with light.  Light illumine.  It illumines both the beauty to be celebrated and the ugly to be exposed and eliminated.

This is what we are called to do in the cultures we live in; we are called to illumine the beauty and invite it to be held in high esteem and imitated; we are invited to preserve the goodness and season life so that goodness can be experienced all the while destroying that which is hideous.






Discipline the disciple

Hebrews 12:4-7,11-15

The Lord disciplines those  he loves.

These are the words spoken to us from the letter of Hebrews as we begin this month of February.

The Lord disciplines those he loves.

It is no accident that the word 'discipline' and the word 'disciple' have a very similar root.


The word disciple means to be a follower and a learner.  Discipline means to train someone to follow rules and to prepare someone interiorly as well as exteriorly.

The link is obvious and not easily overlooked.

It simply means that everything we experience in life has built in it by th grace of God a learning opportunity.

Every joy, every struggle, every bit of tension and anxiety, worry or fear, love and celebration all of it is a learning opportunity for us to become more clear in discipleship.


In particularly, the hardships.  They too are, in the hands of God, a tool that is meant to chisel and shape us more perfectly into the image of Christ himself.

God wants to perfect his love in us.

At the end of each day as we look back on the day that was we should invite the Holy Spirit to show us what we were meant to learn that in the discipline experienced we might stand more perfect a disciple of Christ.

Pax et Bonum

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inaugural address

Isaiah 8:23-9:3; Ps 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; 1 corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23

Inaugurations are always fantastic.  What is most fascinating is not so much the one being inaugurated but the reactions of everyone else to the one and his words.

I have been particularly amused by the left and right and their critique of President Trumps Inauguration.  His balls have been smaller compared to Obama's they say.  His speech was the worst ever others have pined.  Many are appalled and others are excited.  Who is to say what will unfold as this administration moves forward but there will be plenty of critiques for sure that lie hidden waiting to leap forth.

As the buzz of the inauguration lingers and the news print and internet blogs pronounce their own sentences, this weekend in the Liturgy we encounter another inauguration address.  On this second weekend of Ordinary time, Jesus commences his public ministry,  He steps out of the hidden life of Nazareth and moves into the crossroad of Capernaum, its no Trump tower, but it certainly is a change of pace from little boring Nazareth.

Jesus picks his place so that the majority of people might encounter his message and mission. This is what his public life is about: a showcase of his message and mission and reach into the lives of all.

Surely, a busy crossroads and cosmopolitan like Carpenaum is more suitable than the quite hidden place of Nazareth.

The place is prime.  Not unlike the capital of DC, it draws a crowd regularly and it is is ideal for the inauguration and inaugural address.

What of his inaugural address that begins his public ministry.  It isn't a lengthy discourse.  Unlike most inaugural addresses that last anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, some even longer.  Jesus' words are short, sweet and to the point.

"Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

That's it.  No fancy rhymes.  No subtle images or metaphors.  No lengthy descriptions.  Just a few short words sets the tone of Jesus' mission and message.  The address has been spoken.  Let the critics take heed.

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

Repent means to change.  It is not just an idea but an invitation.  In fact it isn't just an invitation it is a command.  Change.  It is time.  The waiting is over.  There is hope.  Our past no longer determines our future.  Our follies and foibles do not constitute our substance.  Christ now stands on the threshold of possibilities and transformation and invites us, commands us to come and let the kingdom break through into our hearts, minds, and lives.

The unchanging God has given us a command to welcome change in to our life by sending his son to begin the process of restoration. Things do not have to keep going as they are.  There is in the air a movement, a force, a light that beckons.  Repent!

This repentance isn't proclaimed with a sour note of guilt or shame.  Rather it is promised with an air of certainty and finality.  It issues forth with a resonating force of joy and hope.  The gloom is lifted and light shines forth.

St Augustin says that "God has made himself our debtor not because he has accepted anything from us but by promising us such great blessings."  The great blessings is rooted deeply in the invitation and command to change.  We do not do it on our own but rather we receive that change as simply as we receive the one God has sent.

The kingdom has come in Jesus himself. Heaven has come to earth.  Change is a real possibility not because of our doing but because God has bridged the gap and has stepped into our time and space.

Not only has Jesus proclaimed his inaugural address he also comes to choose his cabinet, so to speak.  He begins by calling Peter and Andrew, James and John.  The first four to make up the twelve.

Jesus doesn't want to bring about change on his own; he wants co workers.  He involves us in the process of transformation.   The contours of the kingdom of heaven no longer are to be found geographically in the terrain on which he stands but rather the contours take shape in the interior of man whose heart now is shaped by the word of God himself.

In the Judaism, it was permissible to cease one's livelihood and to break family ties for the sake of the study of God's word, torah, the law.  When Jesus says "follow me" he is inserting himself as the word of God, the torah, the law.  The first disciples  understand this at a deep and profound way.  In following Christ, in imitating him, they study the Word, the law and allow themselves to be shaped a new.

This is the beauty of the calling of the disciples.   They cut ties with all that they know so that the word of God and the new law that is Jesus can shape them and transform them and thus through them the world around can also benefit.

They show case their freedom as they move forth.

Are we free?  Are we free to follow His command?  What holds us back?  What keeps us from experiencing the change God wants for us as a blessing on a grand scale?

Just as Jesus' decision is decisive and the disciples decision is decisive so we too if we are to let the kingdom come and break through into our lives must also be decisive.




Thursday, December 15, 2016

OPEN

Isaiah 54:1-10

"Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes; you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left."

"My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you."

Listen to these words again spoken by the prophet.

Enlarge the space for your tent.  Make room for more not less.  Open wide and let others in.  Do not let you small minded judgments keep people out of your life.

If God is our husband as Isaiah says, then we taken his name, we take on his lifestyle.  God's name is generous and magnanimous.  We too must become what we celebrate in God.

He has open eternity to us.  The passage is made wide by the opening of his son's side.

How do we open up to others?  How do we welcome then with a love and peace that harkens back to the God above?

Raise a glad cry…break forth in jubilant song…

Risk opening up to others, to all, to whomever comes your way.  See in it the mannerisms of the Father toward us.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

JESSE TREE

There once was a tradition that instead of decorating trees with balls and lights and just random things, Christians would take the opportunity to each day reflect on salvation history, trace the streps of god becoming man and create an ornament that represented that reality then hang it on the tree.  Each day a new ornament would be created a the journey of Advent brought ever closer to the unfolding of salvation history in the Christ Child, God become flesh.

why not rediscover the beauty of this tradition.

I invite you to go to loyola press.com and type in Jesse tree or click on the link

JESSE TREE

And begin to decorate your tree an your life with the unfolding beauty of God's plan of salvation.  Se if it doesn't spark a new wonder in this season of Advent for you and your family.  Family trees are important they tells us much about ourselves and where we come from.  The family Tree of Jesse is important for it tells us the most important things about us and our family in regards to sin and grace and fall and redemption.

Don't delay.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THANKS

Revelation 15:1-4; Ps 98 Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God! Luke 21:12-19

Here are a few words from St Paul: For although they knew God they did not accord Him glory as God or give Him thanks.  Instead they became vain in their reasoning.  Their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools..." Romans 1:21ff

What was the result of this thanklessness?

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever...." Romans 1:25ff


If we pay attention to St Paul, Thanksgiving to God empowers the intellect to truly grow in wisdom where as thanklessness undermines the process and leads us in the path of foolishness.

We are told in the psalm for this evening, "to sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds."  The song may be new in so far as we now recognize the wondrous deeds of God but in reality it is a very very old melody.  For this new song we sing is the old song of thanks that as echoed forth from the dawn of creation.  Since the first moment of light that scattered the darkness and the first sound of wind rushing upon the waters, thanksgiving as resounded as the only response creation has to the one who gives so freely.

Is there any other more fitting song than "Thanks be to God."

As we are told by the psalmist, "Let the sea and what fills it resound, the world and the who dwell in it; let the rivers clap their hands, the mountains shout for joy."

This is the old song that becomes new for us daily in our journey.


Jesus tells us in todays gospel, "They will seize you and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.  Remember you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute..."

What will be this testimony?  What will be this wisdom of tongue that will leave all powerless to refute or resist?

What if it is simply put the word of thanks to God pressed upon our lips regardless of circumstances.  What if the song of thanks is the only defense worthy of the gift we have received from Him, God almighty.

Pax et Bonum