Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Jeremiah 18:1-6; Psalm 146; Matthew 13:47-53

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Ignatius was a military man; he had great passion for victory and triumphs on the battle field.  On one occasion, he was wounded when a canon ball shattered his leg.  He spent the next months in a hospital recovering. 

While he was waiting to be healed, he read profusely.  At first he read all the military and romance adventure stories.  But, they ran out.  All that was left to read was the life of Christ, and the lives of the Saints.   

It is amazing how reading good things can lead to a better life.  His conversion slowly took place, as he devoured the life of Christ and the stories about the lives of the saints. 

What do we read?  What do we watch? This could explain our staleness in goodness.

Ignatius began the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits.  His whole focus was "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" that is "all for the greater glory of God".  

To do this the prominent virtue was obedience.  It was in obedience to the Church and to God that Ignatius found true strength. 

Strength rises in obedience. 

All activity for him and the new society was to be guided by true love for the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father. 

I wonder what the world would be like, how it might be different, if more people let all activity be guided by these two tenants: true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to God via the Holy Father.

Goodness would abound in all places, and the glory of God would rise to the Heavens.

St. Ignatius pray for us 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

kingdom of heaven

Jeremiah 15:10-21; Matthew 13:44-46

Jeremiah said, "when  I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart, because I bore your name, O Lord, God of host."

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys the field.  Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."

The Kingdom of Heaven is nothing more and nothing less the word of God who became flesh.  Jeremiah devoured the word of God and found joy.  The Word of God, Jesus Christ, was devoured by the world upon the Cross, that we might find joy and abundant life. 

"And only where God is seen does life truly begin.  Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.  We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.  Each of us is the result of a thought of God.  Each of us is willed, each of us is wanted, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.  there is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the gospel, by the encounter with Christ, {the pearl of great price}.  there is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him." Pope Benedict

The Kingdom of Heaven awaits us all with open His face eternity gazes with a love that sets our hearts afire.  Go, sell everything, let nothing stand in the way, let no obstacle hinder the vision of such a face. 

Monday, July 28, 2008

lest we forget, lest we be forgotten

Jeremiah 13:1-11; You have forgotten God who gave you birth; Matthew 13:31-35

We are a forgetful people.  Often times forgetfulness is matter of just not being thoughtful.  We get so busy and caught up that we let everything of importance pass us by. 

The necessity of being recollected, having time to think of Holy things, to reflect on God, helps us to remember and thus live our lives bearing this memory in mind, heart, soul, and action.

Pope Benedict in the Mass consecrating the Altar at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, reminded the people gathered that at Baptism we are consecrated living altars upon which the sacrificial love of Christ is made present. 

It is in our lives that the memory of Jesus' death and resurrection finds a place to resonate.  The memory that has echoed forth for 2000 years, that is retold every time we celebrate the mass, finds a permanent place of resonance within our very lives.  

How can we be forgetful?  For our very lives finds its purpose in the memory that we retell. 

If we were to forget Christ, then we ourselves would be forgotten.  Lest we forget, let we be forgotten.

Do this in memory of me is not just a command to remember or a command not to forget but it is the very essence of meaning, it is the choice to live fully, for only then do we have life abundant and joy that is full.

May the memory of Christ be written all over our face and proclaimed with our life.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


1 Kings 3:5-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

As we read scripture, we must be mindful of the fact that all of scripture is meant to instruct and inspire not just the words on the page.  The words move us, but also the setting by which the story is told also instructs us. 

For instance, in the book of Genesis ch 15, we find Abraham growing frustrated with God's plan.  It isn't fast enough for him.  He is approaching 100 years old, and still he has no child.  He began to question how God's plan could be fulfilled, a plan that guaranteed Abraham to be a father of many nations, yet he was still not even a father of one. 

So, he complained to God.  

God told him to go outside and to number the stars so shall be the number of his descendants.  Abraham went out and came back in and the scripture says that Abraham believed the Lord. 

What is interesting about this passage is that it is day time when Abraham goes out to count the stars.  We all know that stars come out only at night, thus, God was simply reminding Abraham that even though you can't see the stars, it doesn't mean they are not there. 

The setting instructs as much as the words themselves. 

Even in the New Testament, the setting and events can be just as powerful as the words spoken.  Jesus never claims to be all powerful, yet the mere fact that he can cure the sick, raise the dead, multiply the loaves and fish, walk on water suggest that in deed he is supreme.  

It is important to pay attention to the settings in order to truly get the full impact of scripture.

Take again, our first reading of Solomon.  Here God appears to Solomon while he is asleep, in a dream.  While Solomon is sleeping, he is able to ask for the right thing, for wisdom to discern, right from wrong.  In his sleep he seeks wisdom. 

The presumption on the part of the author, is that we who read this passage, are awake.  The author is instructing us.  He is tellings us that if Solomon, while he is asleep, can ask for the proper thing, how much more should we, who are awake, seek to ask for the noble gift of right judgment. 

Most of us, pray as if we are asleep; we fail to seek the highest good in our prayer and thus we live that reality out. 

The invitation for the reader in this passage is to make sure that we pray for the greatest gifts not the least, that we pray not for selfish things but for those that will benefit all around. 

If we pray for noble things, we shall live noble lives. 

Prayer begets desire, desire affects the will, the will moves us to act.  If we want to live the fullest and noblest lives we have to pray for the noblest gifts.
We often think that desire should determine what and how we pray. this is not so. Prayer must determine our desire otherwise, we direct our life and not God.

We should begin to pray for wisdom, purity, reverence, faith, hope, love.  Thus, we shall see a drastic change  in the way we live.

We can't pray for these things once, we must pray for them always.  When we stop praying for them, we stop living the honorable life. 

May we pray awake as Solomon does asleep: an understanding heart to know right from wrong so that we may live what we pray for and thus give God glory and be conformed to the image of his son. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

copy cat

2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 126: those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing; Matthew 20:20-28

Feast of St. James

Growing up in a large household, 6 sisters and 3 brothers, there was plenty of opportunity to have, as they say, fist-a-cups.  Usually, arguments would ensue over the fact that one of the younger ones was imitating the older ones.  And for whatever reason, this imitation was always annoying. 

Usually, the older one would seek solace in name calling: copy cat, was the choice of words.  To be called a copy cat was considered to be the greatest of insult.  Originality was the aim, copy catting was to be refrained.  

The world also in some sense is this way.  Imitation is always seen as lesser in value, a cheap imitation.  Originality always gets the label of champions.  Every body wants to be known as th original.

Yet as we celebrate the Feast of St. James, originality wasn't the aim at all.  In fact, James was anything but original.  He was a copy cat. 

In the book of Acts 12:1-2, we read that King Herod "laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church.  He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword."

James made the supreme sacrifice, he imitated the generosity of Jesus, by giving his life away. He is the first Apostle to be killed.  Thus, it could be said, James is the original copy cat.  This is what makes him so great.  He did not seek to be original, he simply sought to imitate Jesus. 

He took the treasure in this earthen vessel and he emptied it.  He drank the chalice of Christ and was not a glutton, but chose to be poured out like Christ. St. James reveals to us the truth.  Because we are capable of dying we are capable of glory, all we have to do is seek to imitate the generosity of Jesus, and we too shall join a heaven filled with copy cats. 

Jesus not only saves us from death, but He saves us from the dreaded prison of needing to be original to find meaning and purpose.  

Originality is seen in the face of Christ our goal is to simply copy what we see and then this earthen vessel shall reveal the surpassing power of God.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

time and eternity

Matthew 13:10-17

Jesus said to his disciples, "because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven has been granted to you.  to anyone who has more will be given and he will grow rich."

Jesus speaks to his disciples and thus Jesus speaks to us, for we are his disciples. 

I just returned from my trip to australia.  It was a good trip, and i learned something about time.  

Time isn't what it seems. 

On my journey to Australia, I departed on July 8th, 2008 at 11 am from Dallas.  I arrived in Sydney, Australia at 11 am July 10, 2008.  July 9th completed disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.  I never saw it or experienced it. 

On the journey home, I departed at 9:10 am on July 22, 2008, tuesday morning, and I arrived at Vancouver, Canada at  7am July 22, 2008, tuesday morning.  I was given the opportunity to relive july 22nd, 2008.  I experienced July 22, 2008 twice.  

Time is a fascinating thing.

But what is most fascinating about time isn't the fact that it slips away with every tick of the clock.  Time is always moving, regardless of whether you lose a day or gain a day, you keep moving through time.  

Yet, when it comes to the mystery of the kingdom of God, something happens.  Time meets eternity.  When we look at Christ, walk with Christ, talk with Christ, we experience the face of eternity breaking through our time table. 

In Jesus time and eternity collide.  This is the knowledge of the mystery of the Kingdom of God. The disciples struggled with this reality.  Yet it remained part of them.  As disciples, they no longer kept time but rather eternity kept them. 

As people of faith, we must remember it isn't  so important to be worried about time slipping away, but rather we must remember we take eternity with us every where we go.

Because of our faith, eternity must be seen all over our face by the way we choose to live.  As we walk with Christ, we are guided by eternity and the light of eternity shines forth scattering the darkness of limited time.

Time and eternity collide in the one who has faith.  Remember this as you move through the day.  Eternity not only awaits us, eternity accompanies us on this journey.  

Friday, July 4, 2008

independence from independence

Amos 8:4-12; one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God; Matthew 9:9-13

Today we celebrate Independence day.  

John Adams in a letter to his wife Abigail writes this: 

"the second day of July, 1776, will be most memorable epoch in the history of America.  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as great anniversary and festival.   It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to almighty God.  It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

John Adams presumed the 2nd of July, 1776, was going to be the day of celebration for this was the day the Second Continental Congress passed the resolution of independence; it was on July 4th, the declaration of independence took place.  However, most of those who signed the Declaration of Independence, did not do so until August 2, 1776. 

Nonetheless there are two important points. 

One is that the resolution of Independence was prior to the actual Declaration.  A resolve was necessary but it wasn't enough.  We do not celebrated the resolve of Independence but we celebrated the act of declaration.  

Secondly, John Adams in his letter points out that this day should be commemorated as a day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God.  In actuality, the day of independence is recognized primarily as a day of dependence on God, who delivers, acknowledging His presence and His action that enabled the resolve to be carried forth.

The display of lights, fireworks, pomp and parade, and all the rest comes after one acknowledges the true source of deliverance, with a solemn act of devotion, a simple 'thank you' will do. 

Notice, John Adams doesn't say that it is a day of Independence, but a day of deliverance.  

We are never truly independent. In our present society the greatest lie is to believe that independence is to be had.  

It is Ironic that in today's gospel Jesus calls forth Matthew to 'follow' him.  Jesus ask us to be independent from independence if we are truly to be disciples that are set free. God does not want us to be free from influence or guidance, but rather He wants to free us so that he might influence and guide us.

"Come, follow me." These are the truest words of deliverance, a deliverance from the false notion of independence, a deliverance that keeps us dependent in all the right ways. 

Today as the fireworks shoot off, as the pomp and parade continue forth, celebrate your dependence on God, be independent from independence and let the truth set you free. 

Follow Jesus and let the illumination begin and the darkness of independence scattered forever more.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

doubting Thomas

John 20:24-29

We celebrate the feast of St. Thomas this day on July 3. 

In the gospel we encounter Thomas doubting the appearance of Jesus to the other disciples in the upper room and he proclaims that unless he "sees the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, i will not believe."

This is important.  Thomas expresses the conviction that the New Testament will hold to in that Jesus is only to be recognized not by his face but by the wounds of love.  You know the authentic Jesus by the wounds of love. 

The burden of fidelity is to bear the marks of love.

According to Pope Benedict Thomas also can assist on this life of faith in three ways:

* comforts us in our own insecurity of faith
* every doubt can lead beyond our uncertainty to deeper faith
* the true meaning of mature faith is revealed with the words of Jesus to Thomas, "blessed are they who have not seen and believe."

Doubt will accompany us on this narrow path back to God; doubt in itself can be an invitation to search for the true identity of Christ, thus encounter the real presence, and grow deeper in faith and conviction. 

Thomas after this encounter became  a great missionary to Syria and Persia and the western and southern India, where eventually he himself was to bear the wounds of love in fidelity, giving his life for Jesus.

St. Thomas pray that we may search to know the true Jesus and then faithfully spread the faith through our lives, bearing the wounds of love that He first bore for us.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

burden of faith

Matthew 8:28-24

Another short gospel today during the liturgy.  Short gospels are sometimes like a small stick of dynamite, they pack a punch.  

Before we get to the gospel here is a little snippet of Pope Benedict's homily on the inauguration of the Pauline year.

Benedict speaks about the burden of faith as being the freedom to love.  He states, "Faith is not a theory, it is not an option about God or just another way of seeing the world; Faith is the impact of the love of God on our hearts." 

Faith is the love of Jesus impacting us on a daily basis.  This love that makes demands, that keeps us from turning in on ourself, pushing us outward.  It is this love that trains us how to love.  This is the faith that drove St. Paul to the ends of the nations proclaiming Christ. 
Now back to the gospel. 
Jesus in today's gospel makes his way through the Gadarenes district.  A district located int he Jordan river valley.  

There he encounters two persons possessed by demons.  The demons recognize him as the son of God and ask Him to cast them out in the herd of Swine. 

The people of the town, all of them, come out to meet Jesus after the incident, and in meeting Christ the ask him to leave. 

The demons recognize Jesus but the people reject him.  They reject the burden of faith; they refuse the freedom of love that Jesus demands. 

In the eyes of Matthew, the question for us is to ask, 'who is the possessed one in the gospel?'

Is it the ones possessed by the demons or is it the whole town who rejects the offer of love of Christ?

Are we not possessed at times?  Do we not reject the burden of faith and the freedom to love that impacts our lives daily?  Think about the times we grow impatient, or gossip, or act out aggressively, refuse charity to others, we hate our enemies, curse others, these are the moments we are possessed in need of Jesus to cast out of us that which hinders us from being trained in love. 

Let the love of Christ impact you today.  This is the burden of faith, the freedom to let Jesus love through you. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Matthew 8:23-27

Today's gospel is a short little thing. 

 Jesus gets in a boat and the disciples follow him.  A violent storm crashes upon the sea and the disciples get really really scared.  Jesus, meanwhile, is sleeping restfully.  The disciples run to Christ for help because they are completely terrified.  Jesus calms the storm.  The disciples are left with one question, "what sort of man is this?"

First thing. 
The disciples were with Jesus when the storm arose.  Being with Jesus doesn't mean there will not be storms. 

It was because they stayed near him in the storm they were able to experience the calm.

Only after the storm did they begin to discover 'what sort of man Jesus was.'

Storms are great moments for us to draw close to Jesus and discover who he is.

Second thing.
Jesus taught the disciples twice. He taught then by calming the storm.  This was the second lesson.  What was the first lesson?

The first lesson was while he was sleeping. 
Those who can sleep through anything have a clear conscience.  In this case, conscience has little to do with not having guilt; rather it has everything to do with knowing who you are in your father's eyes.  Jesus knew his father was in control.  Jesus knew, as he tells the disciples in chapter 10, "you are worth more than these."

Understanding our true value and worth in the eyes of the Father and living that daily, will help us sleep sound, resting in the peaceful embrace of the Father's gaze.