Wednesday, April 30, 2008

to an unknown god

Acts 17:15, 22-18:1

We encounter Paul trying to culturally adapt Christianity to the greek religiosity.  He tries to get fancy and creative by incorporating something they know and relating it to Christ.  

The unknown god rises to the front in hopes that the people might come out of the darkness and into the light, to stop worshiping the unknown and embrace what is most known. 

The greek word for unknown used in the reading entails two realities; it envisions an unknown reality because it has been forgotten.  

It is interesting to note that Paul uses this analogy to tie in with Christ.  For it is only in Christ that God is truly known.  In fact God goes to a great extent just be known; he embraces the cross, stretched upon the wooden beam, in hopes that people might at last come to know just what love will do to offer life to the other. 

The word, "unknown" and "forgotten" is the greek word form which we get the term "agnostic." 

People who claim to be agnostic do so though they stare Christ in the face.  We pray that they may be awaken from their forgetful slumber and come to know and thus come to love and no longer grope in the darkness and truly reach forth and touch the god who bears our flesh all the way to the Father.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

feast of St. Catherine

Mt 11:25-30

Today we recall with jubilation what grace can do to a soul that is receptive.  How God can transform one into a beautiful instrument of his love on earth. 

Catherine of Sienna was this bit of divine beauty on earth, because of God's gift to her and her gift to God.

Saints are saints because they let God win the battle for their soul; they die again and again to self love and rise again and again in true love. 

Catherine exhorts us to remember, "there is no condition of the soul in which it ceases to be necessary for a man to put his own self-love to death."

For St. Catherine the foundation of  her whole life was in opposition to self-love, which she called the stone of self knowledge.  To paraphrase there are three stones that lead to purity of love:
1)consideration that she was created; her existence was a gift dependent on the magnanimity of God, his mercy and grace.

2)consideration of redemption, how through the generous bestowal of his blood for the life of the world, the world could taste redemption which was unmerited on man's part and rooted in fervent love.

3)consideration of her own sins, the many times she rejected the invitation of God in her life; though deserving damnation yet out of eternal goodness of God she remained with the opportunity to repent and begin anew.

From these three considerations there a rose a desire to seek the will of God fervently.  All that she encountered was seen as a gift to be given back, whether it was tribulation, trial, or joy.


Monday, April 28, 2008


Jn 15:26-16:4

"I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you."

That you may remember.

We are a forgetful people.  We forget many things, often.  Not only are we forgetful, we have a tendency to remember all the wrong things. 

Our memory is certainly in need of renewal, restoration, renovation and so on.

When we speak of the Holy Spirit, we often think about the 7 gifts or the 9 fruits and we busy ourself with trying to figure them out or recognize their manifestations and what happens in the process is we get distracted and lose sight of what the primary gift of the Spirit is all about. 

The Gift of the Holy Spirit is about reminding us of what Jesus says and does (Jn 14).  The gifts and fruits are valid in so far as they conform us to Christ and move us to be as he is in life. 

May the gift of the Spirit strengthen and fortify our memory that it will not be short term or self-centered but reach all the way back to Christ and make present again and again the beauty of God in the face of Christ in the way we live.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

commit to comfort, lose love

1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21 

I recently was asked a question that is perplexing.  Someone in passing posed this question, "Father, what if we are wrong?" 

What if we are wrong?  What if all this about God is false, made up, make believe, counterfeit? 
Then what? 

It is a good question.  It is a question that each us probably ask ourselves, often if not daily. What if we are wrong?

So what is the answer?

Simply put.  The answer is that the question has no merit.  We as followers, as disciples, as Christians, do not have to be right or wrong.  The burden of proof is not on us; the burden of proof is on God.  

Our Faith is not centered on us. Our Faith is not about what we created or imagined.  

As St. Peter reminds us, "the reason for our hope" is rooted in the reality that Faith and Religion is not man made, it is not about speculation, it is only about revelation. 

The reason of our hope finds merit in what God has revealed.  And for two thousands years this deposit of faith has been guarded, and passed down.  It has been preserved because it has been lived.

Our problem today is not one of faith; our problem is one of comfort and commitment. 
We want it to be comfortable or we rather not commit.  We are afraid to commit, to trust what God has revealed.  And the less we commit the more doubt we will have. 

We want to experience the power of faith with out the commitment of life. And we are left feeling empty.  we commit our life to comfort and we suffer the loss of love.

This is why Jesus says in the gospel, "whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me."

He is seeking commitment so that we might experience the true power of love.  The spirit, the comforter, is sent to help us look beyond our self to seek the comfort of eternity, thus be empowered, that our life might become an engine of divine love.

Friday, April 25, 2008


1 Pt 5:5-14; Mk 16:15-20

Feast of St. Mark

Today in the life of the church we celebrate the feasts of  Mark the evangelist, the writer of the Gospel of Mark.  

We know just a little about the evangelist.  We know that his home growing up was a central meeting place for Christian worship (Acts 12:12).  

Thus, we know that Mark grew up in a home that was filled with Christian worship and this reality gave him ample opportunity to hear the story of Christ from the mouths of Peter and Paul and the other Apostles.  

Having heard, he was then inspired; so much so he was sent on the missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13).  

However, Mark abandoned the journey and returned home.  Paul (Acts 15:37-40) initially was upset with Mark for leaving the missionary expedition, considered Mark to be a quitter on the faith, and refused to take him along on the next journey.  

Yet, being not discouraged, Mark persevered, and overcame his fear and is believed to be the founder of the Church in Alexandria; Paul, toward the end of his life (I Timothy) no longer looked upon Mark as a quitter but rather someone who was transformed and became a very useful servant. 

It is amazing what grace can do, when we do not give up.   Not only was Mark instrumental in spreading the faith in the early church, but he continues to be instrumental in spreading the faith today, through his heroic proclamation of the good news of Christ in the Gospel, we read still today.

Even quitters can be a lasting instrument of God's grace, given the opportunity.

St. Mark pray for us that though we desire to quit often on our Faith and and on Christ, we too may be inspired to pick up the slack and carry on the torch and banner of god's love for us in Christ.  

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Acts 15:7-21; Jn 15: 9-11

In todays opening prayer of the Mass, we are reminded what the gift of grace is about, "Father, in your love you have brought us from evil to good and from misery to happiness."

The gift of grace sets us free to embrace goodness and to let go of misery by delving deeply into the promise of Joy we encounter in Christ. 

St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles reminds us, as he reminded the early church, that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are saved through grace. 

Many Christians proclaim to be saved by faith and even faith alone.  But, the reality is, simply put, that faith and love and hope are fruits of grace.  It is the grace of God that saves us, faith, love, and hope are our response to that saving invitation. 

Grace is a word that encapsulates what God does for us, to us, in us, with us by means of Jesus. This includes everything that was a precursor to Christ as well, such as, circumcision and the ten commandments.  

Grace is God coming down to us and showing us how to live ad to love according to his standard; the ten commandments are grace for us.  Circumcision was grace for the Jewish people, it was an external sign that reminded them that God chose them.  

Jesus is the perfect manifestation of God's invitation, of God communicating himself and his goodness to us.     

We simply have to respond.  Grace is the invitation; our response in faith and love and hope is the RSVP with our life.  We cooperate with God's favor and choose to live differently.

We have all received grace upon grace in Christ, according to the Gospel of John.  The question for us is do we respond, do we actively embrace the favor of God and live differently, embracing all as a gift that enables us to share in the divine life.

Here we must set aside our expectations for we must always remember that the primary gift of grace to us and for us was Jesus suffering, dying, and rising. 

 Grace is always beyond our comprehension but yet it also always remains within our reach.  Reach forth and grab hold of Christ, especially in the sacraments, and live differently in grace, setting aside evil for good, misery for joy. 

This is grace, this is life, this is joy, this is the invitation placed before us in Christ.     

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Jn 15:1-8

In today's gospel we encounter the metaphor of choice of Jesus, "I am the vine you are the branches."

Jesus speaks of the necessity of being pruned, where the dead nonproductive branches are removed so that the vibrant young sprouts can mature and bear fruit.

Jesus reminds us that he removes and prunes so that the vine can bear MORE fruit.  Jesus wants more.

What is this more.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus does not settle for less, only we do.  The more that he constantly is in search of must find its reflection in the words we say each day when we pray the words that Jesus taught us, "thy kingdom come."

These words must not be merely spoken from our lips but they must shape our lives; this is the more that Jesus seeks to prune forth from us.  Anything less is unworthy of us, unworthy of the one who gives us new life. 

We must be about more.  this is what it means to have zeal, to be zealous for God is certainly about being zealous for his kingdom. This zeal bears more.

It is time to let go of the dead branches and stop dragging them through our days and nights; it is time to stop using those dead branches as weapons that keep genuine love at arms length; it is time to surrender the less in our life and embrace the more of the kingdom and truly become part of that heavenly orchard producing more of what God wants and less of what we do. 

Simply put, be pruned by God's word and sacraments and allow yourself to be more.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

love known

Jn 14:27-31

"The world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father commanded"

How do you know you are loved?
What speaks volumes when love is the conversation?

We know love through our senses.  We see it; we taste it; we touch it; we hear it.

Love is not known by words,  it is known most properly by actions, by the way life is lived out.   Words spoken are meant to be secondary, mere description of what has already been revealed in action. 

Jesus reveal his love for the Father by honoring him with his life of fidelity, "let this be your will."

He stretches his arms across the beam of the cross for the world to see just what love can do.

You say you love the Father, show me your hands and then I shall see the true love in progress.

Monday, April 21, 2008

obedience and love reveals

Acts 14:5-18; John 14:21-26

"Master, what happened that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world. "  These are the words spoken by Judas, one of the disciples.  

Jesus speaks the following. "whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.  Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

The revelation of christ to the world is conditional; there are conditions for this revelation, and it is rooted in sincere and genuine love that finds its authenticity in obedience.  

It is a condition founded on great simplicity.  The simplicity of obedience leads to the authenticity of love which manifests itself in Jesus being revealed to the world.

Many search for Christ and do not find him, because they do not seek in the right place that of obedience.


Monday, April 14, 2008

raise what is fallen

Acts 11:1-18; John 10:1-10

'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane."

In the opening prayer of the Mass for today we pray these words, "Father, through the obedience of Jesus, your servant and your son, you have raised a fallen world."

The world is changed, it is no longer the same.  Jesus comes as the Good Shepherd that we might have life and have it abundantly.  

The fallen world is raised; Jesus makes all things new. 

We love to ponder that reality; we like new things; we like abundance of life; we too want to be raised and no longer fallen; we pray each day, 'Lord, raise the fallen world around me."

We must remember we participate in raising what was fallen.  As Christians we no longer can stand idle, we must reach forth and allow ourselves to be instruments of that grace that raises and brings newness of life.  

We do this through obedience, obedience to Christ, obedience to his Church, the primary sacrament of the life-giving grace of restoration.  

Strength rises from obedience and the fallen world is raised with it.  This is what we pray, now we must live it. 

St. Paul tells us that 'Faith in the heart leads to justification, confession on the lips leads to salvation.'  

Confession is an act that moves us, not just the lips, but our arms, feet, mind, and body.  Confession moves us to live obediently and then truly know abundant life and see the world transformed.

St. Gregory reminds us, "I assure you it is not by Faith that you will get to know him, but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action."

Love is best shown in obedience and only then can we truly raise what is fallen.  

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not Die

John 6:44-51

Many people will come to me and want me to prove the existence of God; they ask me to defend God to them.  This is the case of a large portion of society, young and old.  

I simply tell them that God is not in need of defense; he certainly does not need my poor words and poorer thoughts to express his majesty, his truth.  

God can defend himself.  In fact He already has.  His great defense comes when the Risen One, Jesus Christ, reveals his wounds in the upper room; as Jesus stood before those gathered and exposed his wounds, he issues his defense statement. 

God doesn't ask us to defend him.  He simply ask us to stand by him and to believe what his wounds tell us, we will not die.

We will not die because He does not die.  

As Christians the more we ponder this truth, the more we ponder the great defense of God in the wounds of Christ, the more we will have life.  

We will not die,  we eat the bread of life, we now have a reason to take a stand for life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Christ our hope

Acts 8:1-8; John 6:35-40

In the Acts of the Apostles, we encounter the persecution of the early church; thus, all were scattered throughout Judea and the countryside.

Chaos and controversy and scandal spreads like wild fire as the Christians seek to protect themselves and their families from this outlandish attack.

Yet the Apostles remained steadfast, they held their ground. 

The image of the early church is also an image of today.  The church is still under persecution; families are threatened at every bend; families are ripped asunder; the only difference is the families are not protecting themselves; they are not seeking to move themselves from the attack; rather, Christian families are allowing themselves to be inundated with materialism, with watered down spirituality, with false notions of love and giving of one self including contraception, pre-marital sex, divorce, drugs, out of wedlock pregnancies and the fabric of fidelity and true love has been shredded time and time again. 

The one thing that remains the same; the Apostles remain steadfast; the bishops are not scattered; they insist on truth as the only means of salvation; they insist on truth as the perfecter of love and the restorer of harmony to a chaotic situation. 

They, like Philip, proclaim Christ, and joy comes to those who hear and receive the message.

Next week, Pope Benedict comes to proclaim, "Christ our hope, Christ is the face of God among us."  Fidelity to Christ renews us and brings us hope.  As the Pope greets us, "through him, our lives reach fullness, and together, both as individuals and peoples, we can become a family united by fraternal love, according to the eternal plan of God." 

May the Apostles remains steadfast to this message, and may this message purify the hearts of American Catholics so that they may protect themselves from the persecution and experience the joy of fidelity to Christ.

Christ our hope.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

what can you do

Acts 7:51-8:1; John 6:30-35

What can you do?

The question posed by the crowd in today's Gospel to Jesus, 
"What can you do?"  
It is the same question posed by the crowds today.  
Every one wants concrete visual proof that Jesus is Lord. 
Every one wants a reason to believe, however, most will settle for a reason not to believe. 

"What can you do?"

The answer to the question has echoed through the centuries for 2000 years, the joy of such an answer continually overwhelms.  The answer is in two parts: He is risen and he gives the Eucharist. 

Every time we celebrate mass, we encounter the answer to the question: "what can you do?" Jesus simply responds, "Eucharist."

What else is there.  
The problem with our current society is they look for the uncertain and lose sight of what is most certain.  

The question, "what can you do?" reaches its climax as the priest prays the words, "this is my body, this is my blood."  

Look again, see what is most certain, and your life will never be the same; go head and be wowed by the answer.

Monday, April 7, 2008

face of an angel

Acts 6:8-15, John 6:22-29

The 'face of angel' is quite a perplexing statement; today we use it as a adjective to describe someone whose beauty is fair and pleasant to behold; usually it is a statement regarding the physical complexion of someone. 

But this understanding is quite shallow; it makes a mockery out of the true beauty of why an angel is created.  An angel is nothing more and nothing less than a messenger of God.    The essence of angel is to be before God worshiping, and always ready to do his will, act on his command.  Thus, true beauty has little to with complexion and physical attributes; it has everything to do with interior readiness and willingness to heed the word of God and make that message known. 

Stephen in today's reading demonstrates what a 'face of an angel' is truly about.  He is ready and willing to make known the message of God, the message that was proclaimed in the body and blood of Christ.  

Thus, his face is completely radiant with the complexion of eternity as he refuses to back down and insists, in the face of terrible pressure and opposition, to make known the message of God, and proclaim Christ to the critics of his time. 

His face was like the face of an angel. Do we have the face of angel?

We do if we follow Jesus' commands, "do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life, which the son of man will give you."

As we eat the food of angels, the command of God in Christ, so to will our face become radiant like that of an angel.

Friday, April 4, 2008


John 6:1-15

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Isidore of Seville, a doctor of the church.  Isidore early in his childhood despised school and learning; so much so that he ran away from his brother who was in charge of tutoring him.

In his effort to flee, he found himself before a hollowed out stone; perplexed by the stone before him, a passerby, who came to draw water from a well, informed him that the stone was hollowed over time by the small drops of water falling from the well.  

The young Isidore was inspired, realizing that it was only through patience that true wisdom and knowledge could be obtained.  Thus, he was encouraged to pick up the tablet and begin his studies anew. 

Isidore later on in life wrote this simple reflection: "if a man wants to be always in God's company, he must pray regularly and read regularly.  When we pray, we talk to God, when we read God talks to us."

When he speaks of reading he necessarily means reading Sacred Scripture, for only then is our mind trained to be more like Christ.  But, he also means other reading, especially in light of studies, for ultimately God seeks to speak to us in all forms of knowledge.  

With God, nothing is ever wasted; all becomes an instrument of shedding light on the mystery of God's created world, God's grace in history, God's love through it all.  

Nothing is wasted with God.  Just like into today's gospel, the fragments that remained behind were gathered and collected, nothing was wasted.  so too with us, the fragments of our attempts to grow in knowledge will not be wasted, but a spiritual bouquet will blossom.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pope John Paul II: a living gospel

Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-46

Yesterday was the three year anniversary of the death of John Paul II.  He is missed, but also he is remembered for the his courage to teach the world about the beauty of true life and true love and how it is transforming.  

He taught us how to live and he taught us how to die.  

In the gospel today, Jesus testifies that "whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.  For the one that God sends speaks the words of God."

John Paul II certified that God was trustworthy time and time again.  Below is an excerpt of wisdom from him:

"Every Christian  experiences that Christ is the risen one and that he is the eternal living one.  It is a deep life changing experience.  No true Christian can keep it hidden as a personal matter.  For such an encounter cries out to be shared...the true Christian is a living gospel, written in flesh and blood, proclaimed with every heart beat.  He must assert the relevance of Christ and unceasing newness of the gospel. "

John Paul II was a living gospel certifying the trustworthiness of the Father who sent his son for us, who enlivens us with courage by the Spirit.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008


John 3:16-21

"that the light came into the world."

Last week during the Easter Vigil, a great moment in the history of time was re presented; as darkness filled the Church, a blanket of darkness shrouded everyone's eyes, in an instant light began to penetrate the thick web of disguise.  The Easter proclamation was sounded: Christ our Light, Christ is Risen; as the light moved forward, it spread and the darkness was scattered as the Easter bells were rung.  

As the Easter proclamation became audible over the dispersing darkness all that were gathered re discovered the joy that was once so consoling that the astonishment has lasted for two thousand years.   The light came into the world. 

This reality is  what gives us the courage to live; we know that something in the darkness has changed.

As the psalmist reminds us in psalm 139 , "I will say let the darkness cover me and the night wrap itself around me, even darkness to you is not dark, and night is as clear as day." 

This is what gives us the courage to live.  God gave away his only son and in the exchange something in the darkness has been changed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Acts  4:32-37

Driving down the highway heading home, I noticed a sign upon which was written, "observe warning signs."  I thought this was odd.  Though the sign suggested the warning signs are meant to be observed, watched yet they truly indicated that they should be obeyed, followed.  

Experience has taught that being a mere observer doesn't get the job done when it comes to traffic signs and traffic laws.   Observing them must mean putting them into practice if safety is to be had and fines are to be avoided. 

Such is the case in the life of faith. We can never be a mere observer when it comes to faith.  Faith must be a action verb in our life.  It must be practiced in the petty scale of the everything human, the every day affair.    

Only then, in this constant barrage of every day living do we begin to taste eternity.  

In the early Church, faith was practiced in the daily living, as all things were shared in common; faith penetrated the entire being of every individual and truly brought to life community.  Only when faith was allowed to penetrate the mundane and ordinary, was the power of the resurrection truly experienced and witnessed.  

Faith cannot be just a Sunday affair, otherwise, there will remain no community, no real power, no witness at all.   There is atheism because Christians lack the courage to truly be Christians.

The early church was hungry for eternal life; modernity has grown full on the flesh pots of materialism.  The early church was a thriving communal reality of fraternal love and respect; modernity is filled with isolation and alienation.  

The more we practice our faith, the deeper our faith becomes, the more joy we have, then the fullness of life can be obtained.  We can no longer just observe from the side lines on sunday, we must raise the banner of Christ and meet the battle head on in every aspect of our life: work, home, leisure. 

We must learn to be re awaken and keep ourselves awake by an infinite expectation of the dawn which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep, this dawn we call eternal life.