Wednesday, December 31, 2008

last hour

1 john 2:18-21; Psalm 96 Let the heaven be glad and the earth rejoice; john 1:1-18

Today as we read the readings we encounter a paradox.  John in his first letter speaks of the "last hour" and in the gospel he speaks of the "beginning."

Which is it?

Is it the "last hour" or the "beginning?"


Jesus entering into time and becoming flesh and dwelling among us is the beginning of the end, he marks the last hour of our old existence and the beginning of something new. 

Every end has a beginning and every beginning has an end.  This is the cycle of life. 

As we stand on the precipice of the last day of the year, we also look into the great beyond of the new year that we eagerly anticipate.  As the old draws to an end, the new beckons with delight and surprise and with much in store for the great adventurer of time. 

This day offers us a time to reflect.  As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that only with time to reflect, in reflecting on the journey of the days we have lived, can we truly gain inner freedom and the patient readiness to move again.

Gaining inner freedom is essential.  Gaining inner freedom is the reason Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us.  He comes to set us free.  He comes, as John reminds us, to offer a gift, "to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God,"

To be given power means to have the freedom and liberty to finally become who we were meant to be.  This is what the LAST HOUR is about.  It is about accepting the offer laid bare at our feet at the foot of the manger at the foot of the cross. 

Quia amaste me Domine, feciste me amabilem: Because you have loved me, O Lord, you have made me lovable.

Excerpt from St. Leo the Great:
In the very act in which we are reverencing the birth of our Savior, we are also celebrating our own new birth.  For the birth of Christ is the origin of the christian people; and the birthday of the head is also the birthday of the body. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sacramental experience

1 John 1:1-4; Psalm 97 Rejoice in the Lord, you just; John 20: 1a, 2-8;

Today we celebrate the feast of John the Evangelist.  He was the one who wrote the gospel of John, considered to be the writer of the letters of John and is known best as the one standing at the foot of the cross with Mary and the one who rushes to the tomb early Easter Morning. 

What was John's formation as a disciple and future apostle? 

He, like the rest of the apostles, was formed by watching one they knew and loved, one they dined with and walked with, one they encountered in a variety of settings, suffer and die.  The formation of the apostles was deeply rooted in experiencing the depth of love of Jesus through his willingness to embrace the cross, to carry the cross, and to be crucified upon the cross. 

John, unlike the rest of the apostles, refused to abandon Jesus.  He refused to live a life of denial; he did not run from the love of Jesus but embraced it head on and stood at the cross and stared it in the face.   John allowed the love of Jesus to penetrate every part of his soul.  It was a truly sacramental experience, an outward sign of inward reality that bestowed grace upon grace.

Thus, at the beginning of the first letter John can write:

"This is what we proclaim to you:
 what was from the beginning,
 what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have looked upon
and our hands have touched-
we speak of the word of life.  
This life became visible; 
we have seen and bear witness to it,
and we proclaim to you the eternal life 
that was present to the Father
and became visible to us.

what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you
so that you may share life with us.
This fellowship of ours is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."

This is what the Sacraments of the Church are; they give the grace to bestow and deepen that fellowship with the Most Holy Trinity and deepen our fellowship with one another, in Jesus Christ, the one who became sensible to all. 

True fellowship is both with God and with one another; only in Jesus Christ, who is both God and man, can this fellowship be realized fully.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas continues

Readings for Dec 26

Looking back over yesterday's celebration, we might have the tendency to be done with Christmas.  We must realize that Christmas continues. We celebrate Christmas up until the Epiphany. 

For eight days, we celebrate the octave of Christmas, the same pomp and reverence as Christmas day.  We must fight the urge to put every thing away but rather keep the festivity alive in our hearts and minds and lives.

Once we celebrate Christmas, we can never go back to the way things were.  We can't get back to our normal routine of living.  Christmas changes things, the normal life has given way to a life filled with wonder and awe. 

This is why today we celebrate the Feast of the St. Stephen, the first Martyr.  He let the Christmas reality be a true encounter and event that changed everything.  He recognized the cost of being awaken to a new life, a new way of doing things and He embraced the gift and received abundant life and courageously lived differently. The above image is the painting of Pietro de Cortona in 17th century of the the stoning of St. Stephen.  He was stoned to death because he chose to make Jesus the corner stone of his life.

May we keep the manger scene always before our eyes and begin to experience Christmas anew, living a life of wonder and awe before all.

Prayer from Christmas Mass at dawn:

Almighty God and Father of light, a child is born for us and a son is given to us.  
Your eternal Word leaped down from heaven 
in the silent watches of the night, and 
now your Church is filled with wonder 
at the nearness of her God. 

Open our hearts to receive his life 
and increase our vision with the rising of dawn, 
that our lives may be filled with his glory and peace.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Tree

Readings for Wed Dec 24 and Christmas Vigil

Message from John Paul II Dec 19, 2004 

"Next to the crib, as in St. Peter's Square, we find the traditional "Christmas tree".  This too is an ancient tradition that exalts the value of life, for in the winter season the evergreen fir becomes a sign of undying life.

Christmas gifts are usually placed on the tree or arranged at its base.  The symbol thus also becomes eloquent in a typically Christians sense: it calls to mind the tree of life, a figure of Christ, God' supreme gif to humanity.

The message of the Christmas tree is consequently that life stays "evergreen" if we make a gift of it: not so much of material things, but of life itself: in friendship and sincere affection, in fraternal help and forgiveness, in time shared and reciprocal listening."

As we ponder the christmas tree arrayed in the splendor of light and filled with gifts; as we ponder the manger scene, with Mary and Joseph and the child laying on the hay; may we remember, lest we forget, that the Child born comes to make us friends of God and friends of each other, "I no longer call you servants but friends."

Christmas is about being awaken to our universal call of deep friendship with all in Christ.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What then will this child be?

Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24; Ps 25 Lift up your head and see your redemption is at hand; Luke 1:57-66

The gospel writer gazes toward the coming of Christ but first recognizes the birth of John the Baptizer. 

"When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son."

It is interesting to note that the gospel speaks of the time arriving when John is born.  A natural progression unfolds, first she conceived then she gives birth. 

Yet, when St. Paul speaks of the birth of Jesus his terminology is a little different. In Galatians 4:4 St. Paul writes, "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his son." 

John comes but Jesus is sent.  John arrives on time but Jesus comes in the fullness of time.  Time, when the history of salvation is concerned, is filled with many events, but its center and summit is the mystery of Christ. 

It is the mystery of Christ, the one who is to come in the fullness of time, that gives meaning to all the rest. 

John arrives on time but Jesus comes to fill time with a new dimension, a new dawn "from on high that will shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and guide our feet to the way of peace" as the Canticle of Zechariah reminds us each morning, a canticle proclaimed when the the time had arrived and John the Baptist was born, the child who was to prepare the way for the fullness of time.  

Monday, December 22, 2008


1 samuel 1:24-28; 1 Sm 2 My heart exults in the Lord, my savior; Luke 1:46-56

Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."

Excerpt from G.K. Chesterton:

"Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief is superficial.  Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame  of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul"

"The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them."

May Mary's praise become our praise and may our hearts magnify the Lord!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Psalm 89 For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

"Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you."

The greeting of the angel to Mary has echoed through the ages.  On the wings of the wind, in the depths of heart of every believer, on the lips of those who proclaim, the greeting summarizes the principle message of Christianity.  "Rejoice!"  The very first word that inaugurates Jesus into history is that of Joy.

Joy descends from the heavens and rises from the earth as God's plan for all is set in motion with Mary's "yes".  Joy is not a feeling but a gift given and a gift received.

In Mary's  "Yes" God is given a dwelling place.  In her "yes" something changes, for the better, for the good, for all, for eternity, for his "Kingdom will have no end".  

God waits on Mary.  He desires her humanity so that he can fill the earth with his divinity.   This kingdom is not built on control or manipulation but on simple freedom to say "yes."

The power of a "yes" should never be taken lightly. 

In Mary we discover  our purpose; we are born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, but in all of us.

When we say "yes" something changes for the better, for the good, for all, for eternity, for his kingdom will have no end.  
Let us not delay, let us not keep God waiting.  Let us hasten to greet him, not with a bow or kiss but with a "yes", be it done unto me according to thy word.

Excerpt from St. Bernard:
"Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive.  Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident.  There is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence.  In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous.  Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary.  Open your heart to faith, O Blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator.  See, the desired of all nations  is at your door, knocking to enter...Arise, hasten, open.  Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving.  Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word."

Friday, December 19, 2008

O antiphons

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a; Psalm 71 My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory;  Luke 1: 5-25

This week as we enter into the octave before Christmas, the church directs and fixes our attention on the Messianic promises through the ancient texts proclaimed by the prophets of old, known as the O Antiphons. 

The antiphons echo through the liturgy from ages past in which Israel's attention was fixed on the one who was to come.  They are echoes of voices from days gone by filled with hope for tomorrow for the coming Messiah.

There is a tone of expectancy in the antiphons as the Church ask us to unite ourselves with the Virgin heavy with Child, but also the Church herself, the bride of Christ, stand heavy with expectancy, as she yearns for Jesus' final birth not just at the end of time but in the hearts of all. 

O Wisdom (Sapientia) from the Most High, O Ruler(Adonai) of the House of Israel, O Root(Radix) of Jesse, O key (Clavis) of David, O Rising Dawn (Oriens) and Day Spring, O King (Rex) of the Gentiles, O Emmanuel, God-with-us, fill the remaining days with hope. 

In the Latin, the initials of the antiphons, Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex,Emmanuel  backwards  spell ERO CRAS, in Latin translates, "tomorrow I will be there." 

In the liturgy of Advent we begin with the prayer, "Come Lord Jesus."  As we approach the Christmas event and encounter, we hear Christ respond to our prayer, "Tomorrow, I will be there."

The "tomorrow" the heart longs for finds its fulfillment in the Christ encounter in the manger. Praying the liturgy we enter into the answer to the deepest longing of the human heart. 

Come Lord Jesus, do not delay we await your arrival this day.

Picture is a print of Jeane Kun entitled "root of Jesse"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Joseph's view

Jeremiah 23:5-8; Psalm 72 Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever; Matthew 1:18-25

Often times as we approach the Christmas story and the birth of Jesus we spend a lot of time focusing on Mary and her 'yes'.  We all know the story of the angel Gabriel and the visit, the question, the discussion, and finally Mary's answer. 

We forget that Joseph had a part to play as well.  The gospel of Matthew gives us Joseph's view, his perspective and reality. 

An angel came to Joseph as well and asked if he would partake and participate in God's plan for all so that His glory could fill the earth, as the psalmist tells us today.  

In the gospel, we encounter the depth of Joseph's love. He deeply loved Mary , so much that he refused to expose her to shame.  He also deeply loved God, so much that he was willing to be shamed by taking Mary into his home, though she was pregnant with a child not his own.

In Joseph, we see the extent love will go, the cost it will endure so that it will never be betrayed. 

Joseph's view is a godly view of love.  May we embrace it and allow it to take deep root in us. 

Excerpt from G. K. Chesterton 
"Christ commanded us to have love for all men, but even if we have equal love for all men, to speak of having the same love for all men is merely bewildering nonsense.  If we love a man at all, the impression he produces on us must be vitally different to the impression produced by another man whom we love.  To speak of having the same kind of regard for both is about as sensible as asking a man whether he prefers chrysanthemums or billiards.  Christ did not love humanity; He never said He loved humanity; He loved men."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Genesis 49:2, 8-10; Psalm 72 Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever; Matthew 1:1-17

On Sunday Pope Benedict during the Angelus, blessed the Bambinelli, the statues of the baby Jesus that were to be placed in the manger on Christmas. 

He told the crowd gathered that the nearness of God is not a question of space and time; rather it is a question of love: Love is near.  Before the Creche, we taste Christian Joy, contemplating in the face of the newborn Jesus God who drew near to us for Love. 

In today's gospel, we read the genealogy of Jesus.  We trace the roots of Jesus in History, in space and time.  We discover that Love not only has drawn near but it has been drawing near for some time.  The tribe of Judah boast boldly of its humility for God makes himself known through it.  The lion of the tribe of Judah, from whom the scepter shall never depart, draws near in a manger as a "Bambinelli". 

May we let love draw nearer today as we contemplate the face of Jesus in the many we encounter today in space and time.

Excerpt of Pope Benedict's prayer:
God, Our Father, you so loved men to send us your only Son, Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, to save us and to bring us back to you.

We pray to you, that with your blessing these images of Jesus, who is about to come  among us, be, in our houses, a sign of your presence and your love. 

Good Father, grant us also, our parents, our families and our friends, your blessings. 

Open our hearts, so that we know how to receive Jesus with Joy, do always what he asks and see him in all those who need our love. 

We ask this in the name of Jesus, your beloved Son, who came to bring peace to the world.  He who lives and reigns forever and ever.  AMEN 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Zephaniah  3:1-2, 9-13; Psalm 34 The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor; Matthew 21:28-32

Zephaniah speaks today of a remnant: 

"For then I will remove from your midst the proud braggarts, and you shall no longer exalt yourself on my holy mountain,  But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord: the remnant of Israel." 

What is a remnant?

A remnant is a surviving trace; a small minority that remains steadfast. 

In this year of economic upheavals and down falls, layoffs and bankruptcy, foreclosures and the like, many people find themselves searching once again.  They are searching for truth, searching for stability, searching for home, searching for something to hold on to.  

The remnant are those who do not give in to the despair of the times and trust in the sure footing of God as he continues to guide us through. 

We are called to take refuge in his Name and allow his strength to be ours. The upheavals and the downfalls keeps us humble and lowly and thus we remain open to God's every present and guiding hand. 

Excerpt from the Imitation of Christ
"God protects and frees a humble man; he loves and consoles a humble man; he favors a humble man; he showers him with graces; then, after his suffering, God raises him up to glory.  He reveals his secrets to a humble man and in his kindness invitingly draws that man to himself."


Monday, December 15, 2008

we don't know

Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17; Psalm 25 Teach me your ways, O Lord; Matthew 21:23-27

Today's readings are filled with irony. 

The first reading taken from the book of Numbers, reaches into the memory of the Israelites wandering in the desert and seeking entrance into the promised land.  

Upon the scene arrives the Pagan Prophet, Balaam.  The King of Moab, Balak, tries to coerce the prophet Balaam to speak a curse against the Israelites on four different occasions.  The prophet, though pagan, is humble enough to seek guidance from the Lord.  Each time the prophet speaks, to the chagrin of Balak the king, he speaks a blessing not only on Israel but on all the land as he peers into the future and sees a "star that shall advance from Jacob, and a staff that shall arise from Israel."  With the blessing comes a curse to the proud of heart.  

In the gospel, the blessing spoke long ago by Balaam, makes himself known in the temple area. The star of Jacob shines brightly and the staff of Israel wields authority as a He speaks.  Unlike Balaam, the chief priests and the elders, bound by their pride, are unable to recognize the blessing of God in their midst.  Like Balak, they seek to coerce Jesus into a trap.  

The humble heart seeks guidance and finds a blessings; the proud of heart deny the guidance and find themselves accursed. 

In the end, the elders and chief priests are baffled and afraid and are left with no answer for "we do not know" is all they can muster in response.  Their pride inhibits them from recognizing the blessing of the ages, the authority sent from on high to enlighten those in darkness. 

"We do not know" is the battle cry of the proud, the battle cry of those who seek to coerce rather than follow.  "We do not know" is insufficient, it is a copout. 

Jesus demands that we choose a side.  He demands that we humbly recognize his authority and allow ourselves to be guided into a life filled with blessings abundant. Advent is a season of humility by which we prepare to receive the one who is to guide us.

Excerpt from William of St, Thiery, from On the Contemplation of God:

"Truly you alone are the Lord.  Your dominion is our salvation, for to serve you is to be nothing more than to be saved by you.   O Lord, salvation is your gift and your blessing is upon your people; what else is your salvation but receiving from you the gift of loving you or being loved by you?"   

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Habits of the heart

Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

St. Paul in todays reading 1 Thessalonians instructs of the habits of the heart.  He invites us to habituate our minds and hearts so that we might truly live the christian message. 

Habits of the heart: 
1)Rejoice always
2)pray without ceasing
3) in all circumstances give thanks this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus

Focus on the words Paul uses: always, without ceasing, in all circumstances.  IF the message of Christ is to be effective in our life, if our relationship with Christ is to be effective in our life, then it must be one that is always, without ceasing, and in all circumstances.

This habits of the heart invites us to learn how to fully receive.  
The first thing, above all things in life that we must learn is how to receive.  We receive life before we give it; we receive instruction before we teach; we receive  guidance before we lead; we receive before we give. 

Our whole life is one act of receiving.   This is why St. Paul invites us to rejoice, pray, give thanks, always, without ceasing, in all circumstance.

Thus our life never is centered on getting what we want but rather receiving what God gives.  Only then can we truly experience lasting joy and have a life that is filled with rejoicing.

Is this not what the season of Christmas is about: God gives, will we receive?  

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Lady

Revelation 11:19, 12:1-10; You are the highest honor of our race; Luke 1:26-38

The pregnant Lady is Lady Advent herself, as she awaits our savior her son, so we join her in waiting and hoping and longing so that peace might rein in our world.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

least in the kingdom

"Among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

The least of the Kingdom....

The word "least" signifies smallness in stature or height.  Jesus praises the little people; he wants to keep us small so that we might grow very large in deed, grow large in appreciation and wonderment of it all.

"How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in sunny selfishness and their virile indifference!  You would begin to be interested in them, because they  were not interested in you.  YOU would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky [for it would be bigger] in a street full of strangers."  G.K. Chesterton 

Recently we had the dedication of a Chapel at our renewal center.  Before the rededication of the chapel and dedication of the altar, we got to look around a bit.  Initially, there was some discussion about the newly added stain glass windows.  They appeared to be done at a 3rd grade level.  Some one made the comment that they looked like a elementary school art project.  They were very very simple, one might even say small.  In deed one needs to become small to appreciate their simplicity. 

In hind sight, maybe they are not so bad after all.  Maybe the windows invite us to truly become the "least in the kingdom" growing small so that we might embrace the largeness of life.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

word from the Pope

Isaiah 40:25-31; Psalm 103 O Bless the Lord my soul; Mt 11:28-30

"The Purpose of the Church's year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart's memory so it can discern the star of hope.  It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us, memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."

As the Prophet Isaiah speaks in 40:25-31, "those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle's wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint." 

As Jesus reminds us in the gospel, in him we shall find rest for ourselves.  Every time we enter into the memories of God's past victories, we are reminded of how grace works through the human heart.  In this memory our restlessness finds rest, for in every memory of grace there we encounter Christ face to face.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Our First lady

Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12;  Luke 1:26-38

Today on this Feast of the Immaculate conception, Our Pope will journey to the Piazza Spagna in Rome to give honor to the Image of the Immaculate Mary, as she towers over the city imploring on our behalf to respond to grace and reject sin; 

The Pope reminds us that in Mary we see the reflection of beauty that saves.

Today in the United States we all bow in honor to give reverence to the Patroness of our Country, Our First Lady in Faith, the Immaculate Mary.  

As we read in the gospel, The angel came to Mary and saluted her with singular reverence, "Hail full of grace the Lord is with You."  Indeed, we unite our voices and our beating hearts with the words of the angel Gabriel, "Mary you are highly favored and in you we are now favored as well."  

May we never forget that at Mary's conception a  new age has dawn, sin gives way to grace and a new way of being human makes its presence felt in the world. 

Mary from the beginning is set apart for this singular role in the mystery of God's plan to bestow upon all grace upon grace.  From the beginning, through Mary, the world now experiences love that never knew sin.  Thus, from her intercession, Jesus the savior is born.  

We continue to call upon her intercession that we may allow Jesus to be born in us more and more as we journey forth day to day, as morning gives way to night and night gives way to dawning light. 

In the words of Moses we find our hearts echoing our own gratitude and petition, "Now, if I have found favor with you, do let me know your ways so that in knowing you, I may continue to find favor with you." Exodus 33:13

Mary, Our first lady in the faith, teach us how to find favor with God, and pray that we may have the courage risking to love without sin, and thus grace will abound more and more.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

God's patient plan

Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11; Psalm 85 Lord let us see your kindness and grant us your salvation; 
2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8

This past week I took a trip up to Dallas for an ordination;  a friend of mine after 10 1/2 years decided to surrender to God's plan for him, for the church, ultimately for the world.   Before going to Dallas, I swung by to visit a classmate of mine in Gand Saline, Texas. 

If you do not know where Grand Saline is, I will tell you; it is north of Italy, south of Paris and just east of athens.  I always knew traveling in Texas was like going around the world and this trip confirmed for me. 

As I was driving, I had a lot of time to think. One of the things I was thinking about was sin.   It is important to think about sin;  Jesus came to take away sin; We should at least ponder what that reality is.  

What is a sin? 

Most of us when we hear the word 'sin' we make a laundry of list of things that belong under the subheading of sin: lying, stealing, killing, adultery, not going to mass, not honoring our father and mother.  In some sense the Ten commandments is slowly formed, hopefully. 

My next question was, what makes a sin a sin?
What makes lying sinful, stealing sinful, killing sinful?

We could rack our brains for a few moments or longing but eventually all of our answers could be and should be reduced to one answer.  We could all respond with the answer, "because God said so..."

Now this may see simplistic but it is the reality.  God has spoken.  God keeps silence no longer. 
From the beginning, God reveals himself not as an image or effigy but as a voice, a living word that speaks. 

In the beginning God said, "let there be light" and he defeated darkness and nothingness and created being and formed the world.  Not only is god a voice, a living word, it is a word with a purpose, a plan. 

God throughout time has invited us to participate in his plan.  His plan as unfold patiently and he has patiently waited for us to participate in it.

In todays' gospel, Mark tells us, "the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, son of God. as it is written in the prophet Isaiah..."

The word "gospel" means good news.  Mark is reminding us as he draws from the prophet Isaiah, as he reaches deep into history, deep into the memory of Israel, this good news is not new.  It is part of God's plan that has been slowly unfolding, a plan that the prophet Isaiah had reminded us of long ago. 

God who reveals himself as a voice, a living word, ha snow become living flesh.  No longer does God speak to us in the hidden recesses of time but now he speaks to us face to face. 

In Jesus, God continues to invite us to participate in his plan for us, for the world. 

Now, sin, has a more nuanced meaning. Sin, at its heart, is the reality in which we refuse to participate in God's plan.  we retaliate against God's patience for us and the patience he demands from us.  Sin is when we choose our own plan, we choose to take matters into our own hands.

This is the reality of sin; we choose to not cooperate with God' s plan for us and the world. 

Love then must be when we refuse to take matters into our own hands.  This is seen most perfectly in the agony, where Jesus on his Knees surrenders, "let it be your will not mine."  Jesus refuses to take matters into his own hands and thus he hastens the day of the Lord, when love conquers sin. 

How do we hasten the day of the Lord, as St. Peter tells us, we simply refuse to take matters into our own hands.  Then truly a new heaven and new earth will be unveiled, because God's plan for us all will be made manifest through us all. 

Let us wait on the Lord and not keep him waiting.

God's plan is not our fault but it is our responsibility.  We can choose to ignore his word or we can be active participants in his plan for all.



Thursday, December 4, 2008


Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 118 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Matthew 7:21, 24-27

The short while that I have been a priest, a time span that adds up to be about 2 1/2 years I have discovered an important truth in ministry. 

I have had many people call, gather in my office, seek my time, people of many cultures and many ages, and not one of them wanted my advice.

Every person, young and old, who entered my office has been seeking one thing, they wanted me to fix it, they wanted a solution to life's problems, a solution to life's mystery that was unfolding before them, a solution for the fix they were in at the time. 

People do not generally want advice, they want solutions. 

If you page through the Bible, you discover that God never offers advice but rather he offers a solution.  From the beginning when he spoke his first words, "let there be light" he brings forth a solution to the problem of nothingness. 

God is one who does not bother with mere advice, rather he brings with him solutions. 

Jesus is the same way in the gospel.  He is one who has the solution to life's mystery, to life's problem.  

Into today's gospel he reminds us what the solution entails. 

"Not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." 

The solution involves not just speaking but ultimately listening. 
The solution has always been listening.  God has always invited us to listen, to heed, and then be set free.  

Advent is the time for listening.  Advent is the time to recognize again the one who speaks the solution for life's mystery. 

The word of God is spoken, in the quiet and silence, we hear it again a new and fresh; in the quiet and in the silence, the word of God is born in the manger in sleepy Bethlehem.  

God's solution to life's mystery is not just to speak his word but allow that word to become flesh so that it can speak to us.  Jesus is the solution, this is why his words are so efficacious.

Listen and encounter the personal solution in the person of Christ who speaks, he who has the words of everlasting life. 

"Only say the word, and I shall be healed."


Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23 I shall live in the house of the Lord all my days; Matthew 15:29-37

The gospel begins today with the words, "at that time." 

At that time, Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there.

At that time...

St. Bernard states there are three comings of Christ: In the first coming he was sent on earth, dwelling among men; the Lord came in our flesh  and in our weakness.  The last coming is when he comes in the end for final judgment, he shall come in all glory and power and strength; all shall look upon the one they have pierced.  

In the first, Christ comes as our redemption; in the last he will appear as our life. 

In between the first and the last, the Lord comes as well but in spirit and truth. In the middle coming he is to be our rest and consolation. As the gospel reminds us Jesus says, "If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him."  

We must let Christ's word enter into our very being, letting it take possession of our desires and whole way of life.

We must feed on his goodness and our soul will delight in richness.  Here in this middle coming, we must eat the bread lest our heart whither away.  In Spirit and truth, the middle coming presents himself, as food for the journey, a hidden presence that is veiled only to be seen with eyes of faith.  

Now is the time for such a presence.  Now is the time for living in the Spirit and Truth of things.  Now is the time for Faith to bring sight to blind, quicken the steps of those who are sluggish, open our mouths that we might proclaim the good news, to undo the deformity of our hearts and minds.  

Now is the time for the victory of Faith.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Petting zoo

Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72 justice shall flourish in his time, fullness of peace for ever; Luke 10:21-24

As we embark on our journey of Advent, anticipating the coming of the Lord, we shall encounter many prophetic utterances depicting a time when the Messiah shall come. 

Isaiah paints a prophetic picture in today's first reading. 

"The wolf shall be guest to the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together with a little child to guide them."

This prophetic image  reminds me of a petting zoo where children run freely and animals stand bravely as the interaction unfolds.  Spirits are lifted high and the heart is filled with joy as the amazement of God's creation is imprinted upon the mind of the child. 

Advent is time when we reach back into our memories and we rediscover the beauty of being a child; we unlearn all the false pretense that has gathered on us like dust.  We shake ourselves free from the solemnity of being all grown up and discover the child that can be amazed and in awe of God's beauty and creation.  Advent is where we unlearn our sense of self-importance, unlearn our sense of having to run the world and even run our own lives and we surrender.

We become "childlike" as Jesus invites us in the gospel; we become small and stand in awe of the wonder of it all; we stop trying to solve life's mystery but rather we just embrace the mystery that brings us life. 

We become small so that we can fully receive the small gift of salvation wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.  Today we stand before the empty manger in wonder and we grow small filled with giddy laughter as we anticipate the token of God's wonder and awe for us.