Friday, October 31, 2008


Philippians 1:1-11; Psalm 111 How great are the works of the Lord; Luke 14:1-6

For Israel the observance of the Sabbath with scrupulous care was the central expression of life in the covenant with God.

The dispute about what did and did not belong to the Sabbath was at the heart of Jesus' difference with the people of Israel, especially the Pharisees.  

The Sabbath was about imitating God who rested.  It was the one day of the week in which all things ceased and rest was embraced so that the circle of the family could be reformed.  It was a vital part of living the faith and a vital aspect to society.

In the gospel today Jesus is dining with one of the leading Pharisees.  A leading Pharisee was one who lived with a strict interpretation of the law and who was a model of behavior for all other Pharisees. 

Jesus encounters a man suffering from dropsy.  Dropsy was a illness in which the body was retaining fluid which usually led to swelling of the legs and feet.  Congestive heart failure was probably the reason behind the swelling.  It is a very common ailment that accompanies old age.

The man with dropsy was probably a family member of the Pharisee.  On observing the Sabbath, the Israelites were forbidden to travel long distances and had to remain at home. 

The clearest way of reforming the inner circle of the family was to spend time together and this was a positive result of observing the Sabbath. 

Jesus in performing the miracle seeks to clarify the importance of tending to the people who need assistance as an integral part of observing the Sabbath, as imitating God. 

The question he posed is still very salient to us today. "Who among you , if your son or ox falls into Cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?"

Jesus reminds us that it is good to care for animals but never to the neglect of persons. 
Secondly, that what we would do for a child we should also be willing to do for all.  Jesus stretches our concern for all and includes all in the inner circle of our family.

In the Sabbath is meant to reform the inner circle of our family and reform society, then our family must never be a closed circle but must always make room for all at the table.

In Christ we are strangers no longer; in Christ the table is meant to be room for all. 
As we move forward in our life, we must always keep a space at our table for all, including the outcast, the sick, the immigrants, and those who are different than us.  This way we truly learn to be godly in our life and the Sabbath rest penetrates our very lives. 

We must not just keep the Sabbath but we must let the Sabbath keep us.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-20; Psalm 144 Blessed be the Lord, my Rock; Luke 13:31-35

"Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war." Psalm 144

St. Paul tells us, "Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactic of the Devil.  For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of the present darkness, with the evil spirits.."
C.S. Lewis states this, "there is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan."

Archbishop Chaput of Denver continues, "And this war goes on without rest in every age, in every nation, in every human life, in every choice, in every decision, in every action, in every public issue.  We can choose our side.  We can't choose not to choose.  Not choosing is a choice."

Put on the armor of God and be not afraid to enter the battle for goodness is worth fighting for, this is what Jesus shows us on the cross. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

strong enough

Ephesians 6:1-9; Psalm 145 The Lord is faithful in all his words; Luke 13:22-30;

Jesus in the gospel gives us a reality check, 

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.  After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.'  He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.'"

"...but will not be strong enough."

St. Teresa of Avila in the introduction to her work "Interior Castle" on the spiritual life states that she is writing this work because her superiors have asked her to and in contemplating this reality she states that "true strength rises in obedience."

To be strong enough to enter is a pathway of choosing to do it not your own way.  The path to the Kingdom, the narrow path, is paved with obedience to the Father's will.  In obedience we stand strong, strong enough to enter not because the strength is in us but because we are dependent upon the strength of the one who walks the narrow path first and carries the cross to mark the way. 

Secondly, Jesus exclaims the master will say, "I do not know where you are from."

Pope Benedict reminds us that to name God as 'Our Father who are in Heaven' is a summon for us to both act like children and to recognize where we are from.  Every time we pray the Our Father we are directed to remember to where we are called and from where we come.

To live the Our Father is truly to embark on the narrow path and to never have to fear of hearing the words, "I do not know where you are from."

The gravitational pull of our selfishness is over come by the lofty heights invoked in the prayer taught to us by Jesus from whom we are sons in the son.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not Iscariot

In the gospels we get to meet the apostles, some better than others.  We get glimpses of the apostles through the lens of the gospel writers themselves.  We meet Peter who is a bit rash and Thomas who doubts and Nathanael for whom there is no guile.  We get Andrew who is willing to believe the young boy with two fish and five loaves can be effective for a multitude in the hands of Christ.  We meet James and John whose mothers insists they sit one at the right and the other on the left of Jesus when he comes into his kingdom.  

Some of the apostles we only get to know by name.  Some actually get speaking parts.  

St. Jude, whose feast we celebrate along with Simon the Zealot, two of the lesser known apostles, has speaking parts in the gospel. 

At the last supper, while Jesus is giving his last teaching, St. Jude poses a question: 

"Lord, how is it that you manifest yourself to us but not to the world." (Jn 14)

This is certainly a question for the ages; this is certainly a question that still rings true today.   How often do we as believers look out into the world and wonder the very same question as we ponder the reality that looks back at us, a reality filled with many who do not believe. 

We with Jude ask, "Lord, how is it that you manifest yourself to us but not to the world."

What was Jesus' response?

"If a man loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him, we will come to him and make our home with him." (Jn 14:22-23)

St. Jude certainly was a man of courage who was not afraid to dialogue with Jesus his teacher, his Lord, his friend.  The question  he asks led to a beautiful answer, an answer that is essential to every Christian.  This answer would not have been heard lest the question was first asked. 

Jesus in the answer helps clarify and bring to light the mystery of the divine in dwelling, where the Trinity, The Father, Son, and Spirit, seek to make a home in the heart of one who professes faith and lives the faith they profess, "We will come to him and make our home with him."

It is important to note that questions are necessary to deepening one's faith understanding. 

Finally on the note of St. Jude.  In the gospels when St. Jude's name is mentioned Jn 14:22 he is described as Judas, not Iscariot. 

What a beautiful testimony to the great loyalty that St. Jude held in his heart for Christ.  He may have the same name of the betrayer but he certainly wasn't the same man, "not Iscariot."

May we seek to be known also as "not Iscariot"


Friday, October 24, 2008


Ephesians 4:1-6; Psalm 24 Lord, this is the people who longs to see your face; Luke 12:54-59

St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, "I , a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

St. Paul tells us to be driven.  

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Ephesians 3:14-21; Psalm 33 The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; Luke 12:49-53

"that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ  may dwell in your hearts through faith" 

These are part of the words St. Paul speaks today. 

Faith does many things for us.  In faith we have access to God; we have an insight to the mystery of God's paln for us in Christ; we peak into the unknown and we are enlightened. 

Faith not only gives us access to God and who he is in himself and what he desires from us, but just as important, Faith gives God access to us.  This is what St. Paul is speaking about, "that Christ dwell in your hearts."

Every time we make an act of Faith not only do we stand firm on what God has revealed but we open ourselves up a little more and we let God in to transform us.

Immeasurably generous is God's favor to us "who can accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine, by the power at work within us." 

Let God have access today and be amazed by the power from within. Let the Holy Spirit renovate your life from inside out and "be filled with the fullness of God."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Ephesians 2:12-22; Psalm 85 The Lord speaks of peace to his people; Luke12:35-38;

St. Paul tells the Ephesians that without Christ they were without hope and without God in the world.

Imagine a life without hope!

To have faith Christ, means that you never have to say "there is no hope."

The phrase "there is no hope" is no longer viable in the life of Christian.  In Christ the dark door of time has been thrown open, the future now radiates with light and we have been granted the gift of new life.

The good news of the gospel is not just about having access to new knowledge of God; it is about living differently; it is about making things happen; it is about a power that transforms the ordinary and fills it abundantly with the light of life. 

In the words of the psalmist, :"n your light I shall see light and walk in your presence in the land of the living."

Psalm 33 reminds us: 
"The Lord looks on those who revere him, on those who hope in his love, to rescue their souls from death, to keep them alive in famine.  Our soul is waiting for the Lord.  The Lord is our help and our shield.  In him do our hearts find joy.  We trust in his holy name.  May your love be upon us. O Lord, as we place all our hope in you."

This the power of the new life gained in Christ.  

Monday, October 20, 2008

voice within and without

Ephesians 2:1-10; Psalm 100 The Lord made us we belong to him; Luke 12:13-21;

"Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."  He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?

The answer to the question posed by Jesus is the deepest longing on the human heart. The question is meant to get the person in the crowd to tune in to the reason he asked.  The question is meant to get him to recognize what has drawn him to be in the crowd, gathered around this man of Nazareth. 

Perhaps Jesus is appealing to the voice of conscience.  Perhaps he is trying to get the person in the crowd to realize that he did not come because of the crowd, he did not ask because he was curious, he asked because a voice from within demanded him to do so.

"Who appointed me as your judge...?"  

This is the question that speaks to the spark of divine love which has been hidden in us by the hand of God.  This spark of divine love recognizes the flame from which it comes in the person of Jesus.  The person in the crowd gathers at the feet of Jesus because he is moved to return to his source, to be reunited with the flame of love that set him in motion to begin with. 

The parable that follows the gospel is the judgment Jesus makes to the person in the crowd and this person's brother and to all who gather.  He speaks as the one who is source of the voice of conscience ringing from within and without.

Our conscience finds its fulfillment in the person of Christ who speaks from within and without.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just beginning

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

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch.  He was a bishop in the early church, 1st century.  He was martyred for his faith.  While he was on his way to being executed, he wrote several letters to christian communities. 

In one of these letters he is exhorting the faithful with these words.  He tells them that he is now just only beginning to be a true disciple.  In fact, he reminds the faithful that all disciples must always consider themselves to be just beginning.  When we think we have arrived, then that is the moment we are most likely to fall. 

We must start over each day in beginning to follow Jesus.

St. Paul tells us in the letter to Ephesians that "in Christ we are chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his God' s possession."

When were we chosen? 

First of all it is important to notice that it wasn't we who chose but we who were chosen.  We do not choose to follow Christ, he chooses us.  We do not find Christ, he finds us. 

He accepts us, then we can accept him.  Baptism doesn't represent our accepting Jesus, baptism is about Jesus' willingness to accept us.  We receive faith just as we receive son ship.

When did he do this?

We often think about the crucifixion of Jesus in a painful reality.  It hurt! Yet, the crucifixion, Jesus being nailed to the cross, wasn't primarily about punishment, or our guilt, but rather the nails, as they are driven into the flesh of Jesus and into the wood of the cross ,is the moment we are chosen.

Behold the wood of the cross upon which hung the savior of the world.  When Jesus chose to embrace the cross, that is the moment he chose each of us to belong to God as His possession. 

Not only is the crucifixion the hour we are chosen, but it is also at the cross we understand Jesus' words in the gospel, "Do not be afraid, You are worth more than many sparrows."

There at the foot of the cross we are chosen; there at the foot of the cross we understand just how valuable we are in the eyes of God.  As Jesus' blood runs down the wood of the cross we are awaken to the reality that we are "worth more than..."

This is where we go, at the foot of the cross, to begin a new our journey to become a disciple of Jesus, embracing our calling to be one of the chosen.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

men without chest

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

C.S. Lewis a Christian writer sought in his life to use his skills as a writer to promote the Christian principles of life.

He also used his writing skills to critique society at his time.

In his work, "The Abolition of Man," C.S. Lewis describes the people of his age as "men without chest that have plenty of comfort but no greatness of soul."

He said we were building a society of men who were small and hollow lacking courage, purpose, nobility and conviction.  These are men without chest. 

Over the past week we have encountered Jesus in the gospel standing his ground and refusing to back down from the scribes and pharisees and scholars of the law. 

He is definitely a man with greatness of soul, who has courage, purpose, nobility, and deep conviction of truth.  He sets the example of who we are all called to be, he helps us find our chest that have been lost over time. 

Jesus stands tall with head up high and chest out as he judges the scribes and pharisees.  Jesus doesn't tolerate their nonsense and misuse of authority but he holds them accountable and demands them to change for the better.  

This is how a Christian ought to act.  We are called to hold people accountable, to call them to task, and to refuse to back down.  We must stand tall with our head held high and our chest out being a voice of truth in a world that has lost its way.

To be a Christian demands a greatness of soul filled with zeal, courage, purpose, nobility, and deep conviction.  Stand your ground and be not afraid to say "woe" to the world and allow Christ to speak through you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Galatians 5:18-25; Psalm 1 Those who follow you will have the light of life; Luke 11:42-46.

What is the Church?

Pope Benedict writes this:

"We ourselves are the church; she is more than an organization, she is an organism of the Holy Spirit, a living thing that encompasses all of us from within...we all carry on her life together in faith, just as she carries us.  She is an organic growth and development through the centuries that is ongoing even today.  Through her the mystery of the incarnation continues to be present: Christ walks through the ages."

If the church is alive then it must awaken in people's souls. 

St. Paul in the letter to Galatians expresses what that awakening looks like, how that awakening manifest itself in existence. 

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passion and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit."

This is the living organism of the Church; this is the vital spirit that animates us all; this is the spirit that makes us a member of the Body of Christ; this is the fruit that must be awaken in our souls. 

Then they will know we are christian and Jesus Christ is Lord.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

evening prayer

As I sat down to recite the evening office I was moved by the closing prayer.  I have been  pondering the beauty of life but also the frailty of life. 

Tomorrow I will preside at the funeral of twins born into this world on Friday past to parents who wanted nothing more than to have the opportunity to love their children and watch them grow.  For little more than an hour, they held these tiny persons in their arms and loved them with all their might, cherishing every drop of time they had.  Tomorrow we give them back to God, our Father, who gave them.

The mystery of life and death is a stark reality.  

Why are there parents who love their children and want their children and do everything to keep and guard the lives of the children they have been given and yet they must let go long before they are ready; and there are other parents who neither want nor love the children they are given and do everything to get rid of them.  

I do not understand the mystery of life but I remember the words of Jesus, "do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in me."  I believe and there hope remains.

We pray today around the world in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic voice:

"Lord, may our evening prayer come before you and let the faith our lips profess live in the prayerful thoughts of our hearts.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god forever and ever. Amen."

Let the faith we profess live in our hearts and animate our life that you have given and keep the flame of hope burning bright.  For the light shines on in darkness and the darkness has not over come it.

Riley and Reese pray for us.

Protect us Lord as we stay awake, watch over us as we sleep; that awake  we may keep watch with Christ and asleep rest in His peace.


Galatians 5:1-6; Psalm 119 Let your mercy come to me, O Lord. Luke 11:37-41

"For freedom Christ set us free. So stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."

Catechism of the Church 1730-1742 tells us that:

 God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions.  By free will one shape's one' s own life.  

Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.  

The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes.  

The exercise of freedom does not imply the right to say or do everything; it is false to maintain that man  is an individual who is fully self-sufficient and whose finality is the satisfaction of his own interest in the enjoyment of earthly goods.

Christ by his glorious cross has won salvation for all men; he redeemed them from the sin that held them bondage.

The more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the church and in the world.

Freedom is not just having options and making choices; freedom is about direction, it is about where we are meant to be headed and choosing those things that will get us there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

just another face in the crowd

Galatians 4:22-31, 5:1; Psalm 113 Blessed be the name of the Lord.  Luke 11:29-32

We have Jesus interpreting scripture in the gospel.  He is asking the people of his day and ourselves of today to understand the sign of Jonah. 

Scholars have agreed to disagree on what is the sign of Jonah.  Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, identifies the sign of Jonah in relation to spending three days and nights in the belly of the whale to his own three days and nights in the belly of death.  Once Jonah was freed from the belly he preached destruction and the Ninevites  repented and found forgiveness and the city was saved; once Jesus destroyed death by his own dying and rising he offered the power of being forgiven in the gift of the Holy Spirit and the world was saved from destruction brought on by sin. 

The sign is obvious, yet I believe there is another aspect of the sign that is often overlooked. 

At the beginning of the gospel we read the following, "while still more people gathered in the crowd..."

Think about the crowd for a moment. 

Jesus came to gather people together to begin a new community to live differently in society.  But, he did not come to gather a crowd.  A crowd consist of a disorganized group filled with anonymous faces.  They all blend together. 

It is easy to get lost in the crowd.  It is also very convenient to be just another face in the crowd. There is little responsibility and accountability living in the crowd.  No one stands out in the crowd and all get lost; it is a safe bet for a while and all do what the crowd does.  

Jonah, when he was called by God to preach, initially refused.  He wanted to be just another face in the crowd.  He did not want to stand out.  

Yet, the call itself demanded that he no longer be anonymous, that he no longer be just another face, but rather that his face make known the face of God and to do this he needed to stand out from the crowd and give it direction.

A sign has meaning and value because it stands out and is recognizable.  One cannot be a sign unless one stands out and is recognized as different and distinct from all the rest.  

Jesus stood out.  He was easily identifiable and this is why the crowd gathered.  But, also, the disciples stood out.  They too are easily identifiable.  We know their names and we know their faces.  Just as Jesus refused to be just another face in the crowd, so to his disciples refused to be just another face in the crowd because of the choice to follow the one who stood out.   In the gospel, whenever someone ventures away from the crowd, they become known to us; they are no longer anonymous.  

Think of all those who seek healing or aid.  Because they step out of the crowd and come forward, they experience a profound transformation and they no longer remain anonymous.  This is why we know the woman with the hemorrhage who touched the hem of Jesus' garment, the blind man named Bartimeus, Nicodemus, Joseph or Arimathea, Mary and Martha who fed Jesus on his journey, Susanna and Johanna who took care of Jesus from their own means, the woman who was caught in adultery, the woman who anoints Jesus with oil, Zaccheus who climbed the tree, Jarius who sought a cure for his child, Lazarus who was raised from the dead, and the list goes on.

It is impossible to remain anonymous in the crowd once you have an experience of Christ.  And to seek to go back and be just another face in the crowd is to deny Christ and what he has done.  

The disciples and all others who contact Jesus were distinguishable because of their relation to the sign himself.  They experienced the sign and was transformed.

We must refuse to be just another face in the crowd.  As disciples, we must live differently, we must stand out above the rest.  When we take a stand, like Jonah and become a sign of Christ then the face of Christ is seen through us.  We truly begin to live our baptismal reality and become the alter Christus, another Christ and the face of God is made known in the world.

We must step out of the crowd and move forward; we must give direction to the crowd; we must make the face of Christ known in the world.  This is how we stem the crowd from trampling and stampeding over the world.  

The responsibility falls on us to stand out and let our face be known, refusing to be anonymous and thus reveal the face of Christ to all... 

Or we remain just another face in the crowd and are condemned by the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the south and everyone else who recognized the sign and choice to follow suit and no longer remain anonymous.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Galatians 3:1-5;  Luke 11:5-13;  

St. Paul holds back no punches as he addresses the Christian community in the Roman province of Galatia.  Most of these Christians were converts from pagan religion and practices.  

Apparently, after Paul had left this area to continue his own missionary activity, other missionaries had  swung through the region and they were enticing the Galatians to believe that which Paul did not preach and teach. 

St. Paul is trying to undo what these unauthorized missionaries were doing; he is trying to get them to understand the fullness of the truth while writing in defense of his apostolic authority.  

How many times in our life do we encounter the same situation.  Many people stop listening to the apostolic approved leaders and find themselves swept away by some fly by the pants preacher. 

The necessity of checking the value and origin of the preacher is so very important.  Though the message may be pleasing to the ears, it does not mean it is sound.
Paul directs the community to understand that the source and summit of faith rest on the message heard that proclaims the crucified Christ as testified by the apostles and those they sent forth.

He begins with, "O stupid Galatians!"and again he states, "Are you so stupid?"

The choice of words is harsh but fitting.  The word stupid means senseless and unable to think clearly.  The problem with the Galatians is in fact they stopped thinking and they allow their emotions and feelings to carry them away. 

 It is not the mark of intelligent people to be easily swayed by emotions and feelings but rather to trust in the reasoning and intelligence that is the hallmark of faith. 

Look around today.  How many people are so easily swayed by charisma and eloquence, easily "bewithced" as Paul tells us and yet fail to engage their reason and intellect.  How many Christians have fallen to preachers who entice with words of affect rather than holding to the fullness of truth revealed in Christ and taught by those apostolic leaders approved by the Church. 

There is a need to check our feelings at the door of truth that is unlocked by the keys of kingdom given to Peter and his successors.  

Thus, we can avoid sound stupidity by holding on to sound doctrine revealed by God taught by the Church carried forth by those who engage the battle with the ring of the fishermen on one hand and the staff of the true shepherd in the other. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

His prayer is our prayer

Today in the gospel Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray.  The "Our Father" appears in different contexts in the gospels. 

In Matthew Jesus gives  a short instruction on prayer before teaching the disciples the prayer. 
In Luke the context is different.  In Luke the disciples see Jesus praying and they are moved to want to learn from his example, as Luke recounts, "Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples  said to him, Lord, teach us to pray..."

Pope Benedict points at this passage and tells us that it is in seeing Jesus pray that awakens in them  the wish to learn from him.  It certainly reminds us of the necessity of setting the example to inspire others.  Praying when others are around is so very valuable.

This is how our children learn to pray by watching us.

Secondly the Holy Father points out that the "Our Father" comes from Jesus' own way of praying, his own interior dialogue with the Father in the Spirit.  Jesus draws our human hardships and human reality deep into the heart of God.

The "Our Father",  as Pope Benedict says, aims to configure us to the image of the Son, training us in the inner attitude of Jesus. 

When we enter the "we" of the "Our Father" we are conformed to the image of the son who teaches us how to pray like children of God. 

His prayer becomes Our prayer so that Our life may become like His life and thus as the words of the "Our Father" press upon our lips "we" allow our life to take shape in the Father's hands and we enter into the interior dialogue between the Father and the Son. 

Enter in often and be transformed to have the mind of Christ.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Victory in the rosary

Galatians 1:13-24; Psalm 139 Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way; Luke 10:38-42

The feast of Our Lady of Victory, Our lady of the rosary. 

Today we celebrate the victory of the Christian fleet over the turkish tribes at the battle of Lepanto.  This victory was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed mother via the rosary. 

Every time we meditate on the mysteries of the rosary, we meditate on victory, the victory of God's action in human history.  We meditate on the life spring of hope in which the the seeds of hope begin to grow in us as we see the face of God in the face of Christ through the gentle and dynamic presence of Mary's yes to the Father.

The rosary, as Pope John Paul II exhorts us, "marks the rhythm of human life bringing it into harmony with the rhythm of God's own life, in joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our life's destiny and deepest longing."

Through the rosary we reenter the inauguration of Jesus into history, and experience again the joy of victory of Life over death. 

The more we meditate on the mysteries of the rosary the more the life of Christ takes shape in us and this is the victory of grace in our life, to have the mind of Christ.

John Paul II spoke these words to the youth, may they also spur us on in our pilgrim journey on earth, "May Mary, Mother of Wisdom, support you along the way, enlighten your decision and teach you to love what is true, good, and beautiful.  May she lead you all to her Son, who alone can satisfy the innermost yearnings of the human mind and heart."

Our Lady of Victory, Our Lady of the Rosary pray for us. 

Monday, October 6, 2008


Galatians 1:6-12; Psalm 111 The Lord will remember his covenant forever;   Luke 10:25-37

One thing that is constant in our society is the insistent demand that we all enough insurance.  There is an insurance agency that will handle every kind of insurance need from driver insurance to fire insurance to hurricane insurance, which is separate from flood insurance, to burglary insurance to medical insurance and the list goes on and on.

Every insurance agent always seeks to evaluate you so as to set a proper premium a yearly amount to pay in order to insure the coverage.  Every one who seeks to get insurance always looks for the best bargain, the good deal, the lowest premium for the best coverage. 

The scholar in the gospel today approaches Jesus and ask for eternal life insurance, "what must I do to inherit eternal life."

Yes in deed, what must I do?

Jesus agrees that he simply needs to do has he is already knows, to love God with all is strength, mind, heart, and being and his neighbor as himself.

The gospel tells us that the scholar seeking to "justify himself" ask again who exactly was his neighbor. 

Seems to me the Scholar was trying to hedge his bets or at least wanted to make sure he got the bargain, in which  he got more while paying less. 

Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan in order to clarify once again what exactly the insurance premium for the eternal life policy was. 

"Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"  The scholar answered , "The one who treated him with mercy." 

Jesus responded to him, "Go and do likewise."

The premium is settled. 

Just a note, Jesus never pointed out which one was the neighbor, he simply pointed to how we ourselves were to be the neighbor.  The premium is not so much focused on who but how, thus we must go and do likewise. 

Mercy is the premium that guarantees the eternal life policy.  

Mercy is loving God with all your heart, mind, strength and being and loving your neighbor as yourself. 

Mercy is what Jesus himself exemplifies on the cross.  He was neighbor to us; in his life he sets and the fulfills the premium.  We must simply imitate him.  This is the good news.

"Always speak and act as men destined for judgment under the law of freedom.  Merciless is the judgment on the man who has not shown mercy; but mercy triumphs over judgment." James 2:12-13

Sunday, October 5, 2008

life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

How many of you have recently read the Declaration of Independence?  It is the foundational document that began the foundation of our country.  It is that by which many chose to take a stand against evil and start a new beginning seeking to establish a country that might be a place of refuge. 

In the declaration we read: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Recently I was given the opportunity to watch a dvd of a sonogram.  some friends who are expecting their first child put the dvd in and there on the screen was this tiny human person.  I could see the head and nose and body.  I could see its tiny little feet and even count its tiny little toes, there were ten in all.  I could see its heart thumping away.  there was a moment when it looked as if the baby waved.  It reminded me of all those people when given the opportunity will wave in front of the camera.  Then to top it all off, as the sonogram moved across mom's belly, there you could see the baby sucking its thumb.  

In my mind I thought of three things. 

I thought about psalm 139.  The psalmist is speaking to the Lord and he says, "you knit me in my mothers womb...I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

Then I thought about the declaration of independence, "we hold these truths to be self-evident that ll men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."  This baby was being given the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Unalienable rights are those that can neither be given away or taken away and mong these are life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.

But I could not help but also think of the words of the prophet Isaiah in today's first reading.  Isaiah is speaking a harsh judgment on Israel because they have failed to live up to God's standard.  He was disappointed and spoke to them of destruction.

At the very end he says these words, "I looked for judgment, but see bloodshed; for justice, but hark the outcry!"

The Church today ask us to turn our attention to respect life.  It recalls today the silent screams of 45 million babies who were never given the opportunity to experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We pray for end to such violence and evil, an end to abortion; we pray for deeper respect for life from conception to natural death and everything in between.  

The church asks us to evaluate how we respect our life and the life of others by the words we speak, and the thoughts we think, by the life we choose to live, by the clothes we wear etc.

All of this shows respect and reverence or it does not. 

But the church also understands that praying is not sufficient. 

Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement was approached by a man who told him this, "you people need to stop protesting and start praying."

Martin Luther King respond in this manner, "The idea that man expects God to do everything is a callous misuse of prayer. For God to do everything would then lead to men asking for anything.  God then becomes nothing more than a "cosmic bellhop."

"I am certain we must pray for God's help and guidance. But if we think this struggle will be won by prayer then we are gravely misled.  God who gave us minds for thinking and bodies for working would defeat his own purpose  if he permitted us to obtain through prayer what may come through work and intelligence."

"Prayer is marvelous and necessary supplement of our feeble efforts but it is a dangerous substitute." (King 1963, p. 131-132)

Martin Luther King was first and foremost a disciple of Christ.  He understood that Christianity was not a private affair but a public reality and that it is a society grounded in both prayer and action.  A society that draws its strength and direction from Christ who prayed fervently but also stood in the midst of society and sought to change it. 

We, as Christians, can not stand idle bye for then we are as guilty as those who push for such evil legislation.  We must take a stand.  

We must get involved.  We must participate in the Gabriel project, praying at clinics that kill babies, holding signs, letting people know there is a better way.

This is how we activate the power of our faith.  Otherwise, our faith is dead and we shall die with it. 

St. Paul reminds us if the Peace of God is going to dwell with in us the we must "in everything, by prayer and petition, make our request to God...keep on doing what we have learned and received and heard in [Paul]." Philippians 4:6-9  

The peace of God will dwell in us when we both learn to pray and act in the life we have been given.

In the end we are either the tenants in the vineyard who destroy the produce or we are the servants sent to produce the good fruit.  This is what is offered to us in Christ. 

May we choose life and pave the way for change in our society by living our faith and becoming a voice for the voiceless so that those who are silent in their mother's womb may one they rejoice in having the ability to experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

lady poverty

Today in the church we commemorate the life of St. Francis. 

He dedicated his life to Jesus not as an extraordinary thing to do but as a natural thing to do. His dedication to Jesus was out of a profound understanding that we belong to Him.  As St. Paul reminds us in the Letter to Philippians 3:8-15

"I have come to rate all as loss in light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.  For his sake I foreited everything; I have accounted all as rubbish so that Christ may be my wealth and I may be in him, not having any justice on my own based on observance of the law.  The justice I possess is that which comes through faith in Christ.   It has it origin in God and it is based on faith.  I wish to know Christ and his power flowing from his resurrection; likewise to know how to share in his sufferings by being formed into the pattern of his death.  Thus do I hope that I may arrive at resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have reached it yet, or have already finished my course; but I am racing to grasp the prize if possible since I have been grasped by Christ Jesus.  Brothers, I do not think of myself as having reached the finish line.  I give no thought to what lies behind but push on to what lies ahead.  My entire attention is on the finish line as I run toward the prize to which God calls me-life on high in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are spiritually mature must have this attitude."

The radical poverty embraced by St. Francis was a testimony to his profound understanding of Christ Jesus as the only wealth necessary.  Francis certainly understood that he grasped for Christ because Christ first grasped him as he grasp all of us in the cross.  

Francis received the stigmata, bearing the wounds of the crucified Christ on his flesh, formed in the pattern of Jesus' death so that he might be formed in the pattern of Jesus' life, complete fidelity and dependence which is truly life on high in Christ Jesus.

As we pray at the Mass everywhere in the world today, "Father, you helped St. Francis to reflect the image of Christ through a life of poverty and humility.  May we follow your Son by walking in the footsteps of St. Francis and by imitating his joyful love.  Grant this through  our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever."  Amen.

Friday, October 3, 2008

voir dire

Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5; Psalm 139 Guide me Lord along the everlasting way ; Luke 10:13-16

Job makes his arrival in the liturgical cycle.  We have been reading from the book of Job this past week.  It is a fascinating story on innocence and suffering, Divine justice, retribution and the like. 

In the story, Job is described as a "blameless and upright man who feared God and avoided evil."  He is a man of wealth and means who always offered sacrifice for any sin his children may have incurred due to excessive partying.  

As the story unfolds, Job is stricken with calamity: his wealth is stripped, his children are taken from him, and his own health gives way to boils.  He is afflicted with much pain and suffering.  

In some sense the book then unfolds like trial.  Initially it seems that Job is on trial as he maintains his innocence and the three friends become his prosecutors.  As Job maintains his innocence  his wife accuses him of lying and tells him "to curse God an die," and his friends accuse him of falsifying the truth of his innocence.  

But as you read Jobs dialogue you quickly discover that God is the one on trial.  The three friends are the defense attorneys for God and Job is the prosecutor. 

The incomprehensible reality of God's presence in the world is overwhelming.  The belief that good accompanies the faithful and evil accompany the wicked is challenged.

The trial basically seeks to understand why does bad things happen to good people?

How many times have we put God on trial?
How many times in our limited understanding have we found God guilty?

In the last part of the book, God, who had been silent for a majority of the work finally speaks. 
What we discover is that the trial is about humanity.  God speaks as the judge, the one who determines the fittingness of the jurors. 

Chapter 38 is the  "voir dire" of the trial.  The "voir dire" is the part of a trial where the jurors are summoned to the court house and then questioned on their suitability and ability to weigh the evidence fairly and objectively. 

The book reveals to us that we are not suitable to pass judgment on God for "have we in our lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place." 
God's verdict on Job  is what keeps us sane in the midst of life's mystery.  Job finally comes to the realization of truth, a truth  we all can hang our hat on, "Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you?  I put my hand over my mouth."

Job realized he put his foot in his mouth has he accused God of wrong doing. 
It is amazing what humility comes to our life when we hear the word of God for what it is.
We must remember the "voir dire", the moment when we must "speak truth" in the midstof our judgments on God, only then do we truly embrace humility and drive arrogance far from us.   

In order to deepen our faith life we must always recognize the knowledge we do not have claim over.  We begin to understand God when we first begin to understand what we do not understand.  

Thus, arrogance flees and our humility keeps us grounded in the reality that we are creatures standing in awe of the creator. 

"behold I am of little account; what can I answer you?  I put my hand over my mouth."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The guardians

Exodus 23:20-23; Psalm 91 The Lord has put angels in charge of you and to guard you in all your ways; Matthew 18:1-5,10

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love entrust me here, ever this day be at my side to lead and guard, rule and guide. Amen.

This is what the church teaches about angels, "from its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.  Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.  Already here on earth the Christian life  shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God." Catechism #336

Think about Luke 2:8-14; here the angels are sent to evangelize proclaiming the good news on the birth of Christ, "Do not be afraid, for i proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people."

Think about Luke 1:26-38 when the angel Gabriel comes to Mary to announce that she will conceive a child whose kingdom will have no end, "In those days the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth...

Think about Luke 22:43 when an angel is sent to strengthen Jesus in the garden as he prepares to embrace the way of the cross to give himself for all. 

These are just a few references of the importance angels in our life. 

When we pray asking the assistance of our angels, we are not commanding them to do anything they are not already given charge to do by our Heavenly Father, but rather we are praying to be open to their guidance and counsel.  

As Jesus reminds us in today's gospel, the angel always beholds the face of our heavenly father.  The primary way the angel guards and protects us is by adoration.  Through their adoration we are strengthen and guided by goodness.

When we imitate the angels by bowing in adoration before our heavenly father we too grow in goodness and in our own ability to recognize God's plan and to assist others in growing in strength and goodness as well. 

Be mindful of your guardian angels and the guardian angels of others.  Just as God seeks to give us divine assistance along the way so too he desires to give that same assistance to every one we meet along this way.  This alone should give us a pause when dealing with others.

Just as our angel beholds the face of our Heavenly father so to the angels of others behold the same face.  

May this reality spur us on to greater depth of gentleness and goodness in our life. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The little flower

Job 9:1-2,14-16; Psalm 88 let my prayer come before you, Lord.; Luke 9:57-62

Whenever we commemorate the lives of the saints we embrace the gift of hope. We embrace the reality that ordinary human life with all of its foibles and weakness and personality traits has gained access to grace and been transformed.  

With each commemoration, we live out the words of the psalm, "because of  your love, Lord, we have gained access to your house."  In deed we have approached the throne of mercy and have received grace upon grace.

Every life of every saint reminds us of the words of St. John in the beginning of the gospel, "the light has shown in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."

What does St. Theresa offer us today?

She understood the vocation of the saint to be one of love.  The reality of being able to look upon the other and realizing that Just as God thirst for us so He thirst for all with the same longing.  Thus we are encourage to look upon the face of the other with the gaze that Christ looks upon it from the cross.  thus, we are invited to give ourselves and discover the true meaning of life and love. 

We discover that in all that we do in every place and time there is an opportunity to keep firm grasp of the plow tilling the soil and planting seeds of charity so that upon this little way the gospel of life might be sown and the world will reap grace upon grace in Jesus the Christ.

We celebrate the victory of light over darkness, the triumph of grace over sin, the power of God's strength in the midst of our weakness, the reality that we hold this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing power might be of God and not ourselves.

We have been given the gift of hope and are encouraged.