Monday, June 30, 2008

remember this, you who never think of God

Amos 2:6-16; psalm 50; Matthew 8:18-22

"Remember this, you who never think of God."

This is the response to the psalm of the mass today.  IT is repeated while psalm 50 is being proclaimed, "Remember this, you who never think of God."

There are many who never think of God in our world.  There are many who never have a cause to think of God.   So, what are they to remember? 

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church.  These were the faithful Christians killed along side of Sts. Peter and Paul during the persecution under Nero around 64 AD.

St. Clement, the 3rd bishop of Rome after Peter, writes about the martyrdom of these Holy men and women, "to these men, Peter and Paul, who lived such holy lives there was joined a great multitude of the elect who by reason of rivalry were the victims of many outrages and tortures and who became outstanding examples among us."

By their fidelity and willingness to cling to Christ, to follow Him wherever he went, they gave the world something to remember, they gave the world something to think about.

One not must think of God in order to experience him, one must simply think of those who think to follow Him to encounter the living presence of God.  This is the memory that enlightens the shrouded minds of those who refuse to think of God. 

Mother Teresa relates this story,  "A man, a follower of the Hindu religion, came to our Home for Dying in Kalighat at a time when I was busy curing the wounds of a sick person.  He watched me for a while in silence.  Then he said, "since it gives you strength to do what you do, I have no doubt that your religion has to be true."

By her faith lived she gave this man something to remember, a memory of light that drove away the darkness. 

"Remember this, you who never think of God."

May we make memories of light to help scatter the darkness of doubt to enlighten those who never think of God, and by our life they too might see.  Let those who never think of God at least think of us who do, and thus light is sent forth and darkness is scattered.

Friday, June 27, 2008


What a word 'theotokos' is .  It simply means God-bearer. 

A simple definition that means a whole lot in the life of a Christian.  It is so important that the 3rd general council in the Church , Council of Ephesus, was called by the emperor, to once and for all settle this divisive reality in the church. 

St. Cyril of Alexandria, the great patriarch of Alexandria, was at the helm. 

His role was to help the archbishop of Constantinople, Nestorius, understand why he was wrong.

Sometimes the most charitable thing we can do is help people understand why they are wrong in their beliefs.   St. Cyril was a master in this reality.  He understood that belief is not an opinion but rather that it has to do with what God reveals in its entirety. 

He certainly did not lack the courage to think a thought through. Heresy is a serious matter; to be in error of thinking and believing leads to an error in living correctly the standard of God. 

Right belief was in need to be upheld so that right living could flow forth.

St. Cyril tried to convince Nestorius that Mary was the mother of God, she was the God-bearer.  In her womb she carried Jesus, fully man and fully God.  This is essential.  If Jesus is to be the masterpiece and centerpiece of all of God's creation, that source of redemption, salvation, and glorification of humanity then Mary, must be the God-bearer, the one who gives birth to Jesus, one person, fully God and fully human.  

It is for this matter that we can hold firm to the reality that the womb of the blessed mother, was one in which there was no darkness, for it contained the source of light it self.  Through her womb was born the way, the truth, the life; her womb contained the light that came into the world to scatter darkness. 

Theotokos, God-bearer, belongs by God's plan as a title of the Blessed Virgin Mother, Mary. 

Today, may we also seek to be God-bearers, in a world that longs for light to scatter the darkness heretical opinion that have cast a shadow on true belief.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

humility: another look

2 Kings 24:8-17; Mt 7:21-29

St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians chapter 2 speaks to the humilty of Jesus.  He invites us to have the mind of Christ, 

"but in humility count others to be better than yourself...have the mind of Christ, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God,  thing to be grasped but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men."

The humility of Christ is by the mere fact of the incarnation, that is he chose to become one of us.  God in every way, chose to take on our flesh and bone and blood; he decided to bear the weight of our humanity, with all its frailty and drag it all the way to the cross.

This meditation is sufficient for a life time of pondering the depth of humility.

Yet, there is another aspect of the humility of christ that is often over looked.  

As we have been reading the 2nd book of kings this week in the mass.  We encounter another side of the humility of Christ.

The historical count of the kings is not very pleasant to read.  Most of the accounts begin with the name of the king, the name of their mother, and then a description of what kind of king they were.  

Most of the descriptions are summed up in one little phrase, "and he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord."    The kings  rebelled against the plan of God and time and time again, led the people astray. 

They did what was evil in the sight of the lord.  

What is most humiliating about this lineage of Kings is that this is the lineage that comes up in the ancestry genealogy of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew and Luke.  

Jesus, not only chose to be human, but he chose to enter into a ancestry line that time and time again did evil in the sight of the Lord. 

What humility for our Lord to embrace so that we might be exalted. 

From evil he chooses to bring good.  From the long line of those who did evil in the sight of the Lord, a long line of infidelity, we now have the Eucharist, the one good memory of fidelity.

This is what humility offers to each of us! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


2 kings 22:8-23:3; Mt 7:15-20

In today's readings we encounter the story of the Kings of Israel. 

The book of Kings is a fascinating read and fascinating to meditate on.  The book consist of little snippets of what and how each King ruled the kingdom.  Some were better than others.  Most of them were self-centered and neglected the covenant and led the kingdom astray.

In today's reading we encounter a king that was good.  King Josiah is considered the one king that was "pleasing to the Lord."  one can hardly think of a better compliment or statement of true character than this. 

King Josiah undertook the task of renovating the temple.  It had been desecrated by previous kings with pagan rite and pagan idols.  King Josiah was cleaning house literally.  In the midst of renovating the temple, the high priest, Hilkiah, discovered a book of the law and brought it to the King's attention.  

King Josiah was terrified upon reading the book because he discovered just how unfaithful the people had become.  They were no longer abiding by the standard of God but were doing their own thing. 

He took the book to the prophetess and she told him that the kingdom would suffer because of their sins.  Thus, the king had a choice.  He could hide the book and forget it was discovered and let the people live in their sin, and be punished.  Or, he could seek a renewal for the land and people, have them renew their loyalty to God in seeking to live out the covenant, and still be punished.

The king decides that regardless of the outcome, following God's will was more important; living out the covenant was the only way to truly encounter peace. 

The King reveals to us that following God, and doing the right thing, has little to do with whether or not we benefit but it always has to do with letting God be the standard in our life.

Pope Benedict reminds us that "to truly have a good conscience one must not simply ask 'what can we do', but must always ask 'what should we do'".  He points out that only in this line of questioning does a man truly embrace his dignity.  Seeking to do what one should do is what having a well formed conscience is all about.

"Conscience is not identical to personal wishes and taste.  It can not be reduced to social advantage, to a group consensus, or to demands of political and social power.  It is about opening what self up to the voice and demands of truth.  Truth is not a standard set by man himself but revealed by God to man".  

King Josiah lived out a well formed conscience because he lived out the standard of God for the sake of God.  He refused to be his own standard and humbled himself to the standard of another and thus reveals to us the great dignity of man.

john the baptist

Luke 1:57-80

"What then will this child be?"

This is the question posed by those who heard the rumblings of the events associated with the birth of John the Baptist. 

"What then will this child be?"

The answer to the question provides us a reason as to why we celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist. 

In the Church we celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Mother, the birthday of Jesus Christ, and John the Baptist.  

Why is John held with such esteem?

John reveals to us what a true prophet is in history.  Prophecy is often misunderstood.  We often equate prophecy with the future, what will come tomorrow and how to prepare appropriately.   This is not what prophecy is. 

Biblical prophecy concerns itself with tomorrow only in so far as it is concerns itself with today. That is, its sole purpose is to reveal God's standard and God's expectation for the way we are to live, and thus in living it today we move forward in tomorrow. 

John, does this.  His whole life is geared toward one moment.  As he stands on the banks of the Jordan river, and see Jesus, he proclaims, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

John recognizes the face of God in the face of Christ, thus, making known the standard of God in the present.  This is what true prophecy does.

"What then will this child be?"

He will be the one who points out the face of God to all. And if he points out the face of God in Christ, what then.

We like John the baptist, are baptized prophets.  If we are to live out our role as prophets, we too must be like John the baptist, and point out the face of God in the world, that the present generation might then have the opportunity to follow. 

We also  must allow the face of God to be seen in us.  The more we follow Christ, the more our face will have the complexion of godliness.  

Prophecy is still alive in us, for we follow in the footsteps of John the baptist in making known the face of God in the world.  

Monday, June 23, 2008

live with the other in mind

2 Kings 17:5-18; Mt 7:1-5

Today in the first reading, God is bit upset with the Israelites.  So much so that he allows them to be deported to a foreign land, Assyria.   The historian tells us that "this came about because the children of israel sinned against the Lord, their God, who had brought them up from Egypt." 

What was their sin?  They venerated other gods, that is, they failed to keep the commandments.  In fact, the Lord warned them by the prophets to "give up their evil ways and keep my commandments."

We forget sometimes what the commandments really are.  We often think that they are a bunch of thou shall not statements hindering us from doing what we want.  But truth be told, the commandments are actually guiding us to what we should really want. 

They are guidelines that are life lines. 

The commandments are an invitation for us to be as generous as God is to us.  They encourage us to live a life of generosity with always the other in mind.  The commandments helps us measure correctly and give boldly. 

In the gospel, Jesus tells us "stop judging, that yo may not be judged.  For as you judge so shall you be judged, and the measure you give will be measured back to you.  Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye but not perceive the wood beam in your own eye.  Remove the wooden beam in your own eye then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." 

Does Jesus really mean this?  

Just like the commandments are an invitation to a life of generosity.  So to the words of Christ are an invitation to a life of generosity, a deeper reality that always has its source of strength in His mercy.   

Jesus is not asking us to stop judging completely.  We must judge, we must make value statements all along the journey.  What He is asking is that we no longer judge according to our standard but we allow the measure of Christ to direct us and guide us.  It is his standard by which we judge. 

What is that standard, "while we were sinners He died for us."  

Jesus is the measureless giver, the one who sets the standard of generosity.  We must let his measure determine the measure by which we judge and measure back.  Only then do we truly begin to live godly lives of great generosity rooted in greater mercy.

We participate in that generosity every time we say 'amen' and receive the body and blood of Christ. 

Let christ measure you then you will begin to see clearly and live boldly a life of generous giving that will transform the world.  

Live with the other in mind, measure with the mercy of Christ.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

judgment value

Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33

St. Paul in the second reading about the Trespass of Adam.  Why is it called the trespass of Adam?

We all know the story of how in the garden with Adam and Eve, where Eve spied the fruit, took the fruit, ate the fruit, and gave the fruit.  

We all know it was eve's doing, but it turned out to be Adam's undoing.

Why is Adam to blame.  Because he knew better.  He heard God pass judgement about the fruit on the garden, how all should be eaten but the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil.  

So when Eve offered the fruit, Adam in that moment valued her judgment to greater than the judgment of God.  

Adam valued his judgment to be greater than the judgment of God. 

This is the heart of all sin.  We sin, when we value our judgment to be greater than the judgment of God.  

Jesus, as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world seeks to correct this anomaly in our life.  He comes to take away sin, an din doing so, he takes away our dependence on our own judgement.  

Jesus gives us a judgement that is reliable.  By his words and action he passes judgment on what is to be valued, in doing so he reveals to us what our true value is; we are truly worth more than these, as the gospel relates.

So, as the gospel poses, how do we acknowledge Jesus before others, so that he will acknowledge us before his father.

We simply have to trust His judgment and the judgment of His Church. 

We can value our judgement to be greater than Christ and his church and thus deny him or we can let Christ and His church reveal to us what is of true value, then follow where He leads, then all will know that we acknowledge him as Lord.

Friday, June 13, 2008

tear it out and throw it away

1 Kings 19:9-16; I long to see your face O Lord; Mt 5:27-32

Jesus tells us in the gospel that we can't take all luggage with us when we go.  Somethings need to be left behind for the better lest we be dragged down with the weight of such a burden. 

He tells us , "If your right eye cause you to sin, the tear it it out and throw it away.  If your right hand cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body  go into Gehenna."

There are two things that are necessary in life. 

One, we must be able to recognize sin in our life.  This is important.  For to neglect sin is to neglect true love.  One can not love purely without recognizing what is not love, this we call sin. Recognition is everything. 

Secondly, once we recognize sin we must simply remove it and forget about it.  Jesus tells us to throw it away.  It greek the sentence suggest we should not care about it, which simply means we should not give sin any undue attention or worry or attachment.  We should let it go and move forward reorienting ourself to proper and ordered love: love of God and love of neighbor.

It is when we attach ourselves to sinfulness that we grow distant, cold, unable to love properly. 

Recognize it and let it go and move forward in purity. 

St. Anthony's feast day is today.  He is often associated with finding lost things.  St. Anthony look around, something is lost that must be found. 

In today's society the one thing that is lost is purity of love.  We pray that St. Anthony will intercede on our behalf in finding the gift of purity and chastity that has been lost by so many and enable us to embrace it and thus embrace the fullness of life. 

St. Anthony pray for us.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

still on our knees

1 Kings 18:41-46; It is right to praise you in Zion; Mt 5: 20-26

In the story of Elijah, we learn an important lesson, especially as summer approaches and the heat index rises and the drought falls upon us.  

Elijah declares a three year drought to King Ahab.  The king is not pleased.  So, the King gathers his prophets to try to invoke the power of god, his god, against God himself.  After their external show, the prophets of Ahab fail in their attempt and the rain remains absent. 

Elijah, invites God to show his strength.  God obliges.  After the demonstration, Elijah climbs the mountain and waits in humble homage, with head between his knees bowed low. 

On his knees he waits, realizing that rain shall come only in God's time not ours.  It is for God to send it and us to receive it; we simply must learn to wait on our knees, wait for his love. 

The rains fall and God once again proves himself to know best. 

The weather and rain are like righteousness.  Ultimately, it is God's doing in us, we simply must learn to wait on our knees.

As Jesus tells us that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and pharisees lest we not enter the kingdom of heaven, our knees get weak.  We begin to tremble.  How can we do this? 

It is one thing not to kill but not to get angry is all together a different reality.  The deepening of the law beyond the mere externals causes us to tremble with fear, causes our knees to quake. 

This is what it is suppose to do.  The invitation of Jesus is meant to keep us on our knees, relying on his strength not our own, trusting in his power to transform us. 

"For it was not in my bow I trusted, nor yet was I saved by my sword: it was you who saved us from our foes, it was you who put our foes to shame.  All day long our boast is in God and we praised your name without ceasing...For we are brought down low to the dust; our body lies prostrate on the earth.   Stand up and come to our help!  Redeem us because of your Love!" (Psalm 44)

Righteousness is like rain, we must learn to wait on our knees and trust in the power of God.  For it is the power of God in Christ that makes us righteous, makes us as we were meant to be. 

For when we are weak then we are strong in Christ, says St. Paul.  When our knees get weak, simply fall, this is a good place for all.  


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

as you go

Acts 11:21-26; 13: 1-3; The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power; Mt 10:7-13

Jesus said to the twelve, "as you go, make this proclamation: "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.

'As you go'... forget not when you are on the move that you have a purpose.  The purpose you carry with you is greater than yourself, bigger than you can imagine, but at the same time can only be purposeful if you let it carry you.  The kingdom comes through us, with us, in us.  The kingdom of heaven can not be apart from us; we are the vehicle that makes it known as we go.

Cure the sick: bring strength to the weak.

 Raise the dead: resurrect goodness where ever you go bringing new life to all. 

Cleanse the lepers: welcome the outcast, make them part of the community; the kingdom boundaries are always inclusive, always stretching forth. 

Drive out demons: liberate those who are possessed by evil in their life.  Give them new hope by your presence.  Show them there is a way out in Christ. 

We can do these things; we are sent to bring this change.  

The apostles can bring the change of the kingdom with them along the journey because they have embraced the change of the kingdom within them.  In order to bring the change we must embrace the change.  

We must allow the strength of God to fortify our weakness; we must allow the grace of God to resurrect goodness and new life within us.  We must allow God to welcome us into his fold and embrace this new membership by welcoming others. We must never give up on the liberating power of Christ to break the chains that bind us, thus we can share that liberation with others. 

"You O Lord, are my lamp, my God who lightens my darkness.  With you I can break through any barrier, with my God i can scale any wall. " (Psalm 18)

We bring the change of the Kingdom with us by embracing the change of the kingdom within us.

Ultimately that change of the Kingdom is demonstrated by true holiness.  Holiness that, Pope Benedict reminds us, is not rooted in never having erred or sinned but in the continued willingness and capacity to be reconciled, to be forgiven, to start over anew; it is the continued willingness and capacity to let others be reconciled, let others be forgiven, let others start over anew.

May St. Barnabas the apostle of the change pray that the kingdom he preached change us in all the right ways.   

As you go, bring the change of the kingdom with you and may the change of the Kingdom carry you forth as you go.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

prophetic expectations

1 Kings 17:7-16; Lord, let your face shine on us; Mt 5:13-16

The prophets are often held up with high esteem.  They get all the applause for being the mouth piece of God, but sometimes we over romanticize or get overly sentimental when we encounter them in scripture and lose sight of the reality of prophetic lifestyle. 

Elijah from beginning of his call was on the run.  As soon as he spoke his first words against King Ahab, he was sent packing, in fact, he was sent hiding.  

Yesterday, God told Elijah to hide in the wadi and the ravens were going to bring him food.  Now, what I know about birds and food, usually it is raw and not very appetizing.  Yet, it was what God was offering, in regards to protection and food.  

Today, Elijah is on the run again.  This time he is paired up with the unlikeliest heroin, a widow and her son with just a handful of flour and a little oil.  Yet, this was God's offer of protection and food. 

Elijah, through it all, didn't bat an eye and didn't raise a noise, he just took it all in stride. He was faithful through it all. 

What the story of Elijah reminds us is that in life it is not God's responsibility to meet our expectations.  Rather, it is ours to live up to his.  

Often times our expectations interfere with the blessings God is preparing for us.  It the case of Elijah, the meager handful of flour and oil was exactly the gift of God needed to sustain him and teach him trust.  

Trusting is not about our expectations; it is about making due with what is laid before us; it is about making due with what you have and moving forward.  This is how we grow in trust. 

It is the fidelity of Elijah to God's word that brings him nourishment; so it is with us. 


Monday, June 9, 2008

a soul dissolved in tears

1 King 17:1-6;  Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth; Matthew 5:1-12

Today is the feast of St. Ephrem.  He is a doctor of the church, which means he is known for his wisdom and ability to teach the faith.  He is the only male member of the doctors of the church who is not a priest or bishop.  He is simply a deacon and became so late in his life. 

St. Ephrem was one known for his tears.  He wept often.  Many who knew him would say that his soul was dissolved in tears. 

What an image.  A soul that is dissolved in tears speaks to two realities. 

St. Ephrem often times would be in tears because of the misery he recognized in humanity. The depths of man's misery as he would turn so often from God was overwhelming.   These were bitter tears that fell as he saw men and women alike flee from God and spend their life refusing his love.

On the other side, he would weep for a much tender reason.  Apart from weeping bitterly for man's treason to God; he would also weep tears of great joy in recognizing God's continued goodness to man.  It was God's consistent and ever abiding goodness despite man's betrayal that caused his soul to weap more profusely, "not because we loved Him, but because He first loved us."

Many of us go through life crying about all the wrong things.  We shed tears over that which is petty and no matter of consequence.  When was the last time we wept over man's continued betrayal of God's mercy and love?  When was the last time we wept for joy out of God goodness poured forth upon us with each new dawn that breaks forth?

Tears are a beautiful testimony to deep affection and love.  The wisdom St. Ephrem possessed in his ability to spread the faith flowed from the tears he shed.   His ability to weep at the right times testified abundantly to his true and profound grasp of God in our life. 

May we all receive the wisdom to cry at all the right times; weeping for sins and transgressions and weeping for God's mercy and goodness through it all.


Saturday, June 7, 2008


Hosea 6:3-6; To the upright I will show the saving power of God; Romans 4:18-25; Mt 9:9-13

"Follow me," and Matthew arose and followed him.

We often think the invitation to follow Jesus is Romantic.  How the person called simply floats out of his chair and forever experiences the goodness and tenderness of God. 

The call itself, we must remember, is an invitation to be recreated anew.  God calls us not to keep us the same but to change us in all the right ways.  

How do we encounter that call, "follow me."

Well, the best image I can think of is the image of the Oyster and the pearl.  The pearl doesn't begin as a pearl but rather it begins as an irritation, a piece of sand or debris that gets stuck in the oyster. 

It is such an irritation that the Oyster secretes a calcium saliva that coats the irritation.  The oyster wants to get it out, yet man can't get enough.  Go figure.  The pearl is nothing more than the hardened spit of an oyster over a piece of sand.  

It begins as an irritation and it is transformed into that which is highly sought after and highly prized. 

This is the call of Jesus.  When Jesus calls us he speaks in those peak moments when we are irritated.  The call is an irritation that demands us to change ourselves rather than the other. 

Jesus rubs us in the all the right ways.

Think about the times we are most irritated: when we have grown impatient, or angered, or frustrated perhaps at a spouse or child or parent, or stingy refusing to be charitable, mean rather than kind, no longer merciful.  These moments of irritation is when Jesus asks us to be recreated anew; Jesus asks us to follow him and arise and be different. 

This is the way the irritation then gives way to the pearl of great price. 

As longs as we follow him then the pearl remains; when we stop we just become irritable and remains a grain of sand that irritates. 

Friday, June 6, 2008

closed and open doors

2 timothy 3:10-17; O Lord great peace have they that love your law; Mark 12:35-37

I came across a quote today as I was waiting in line to get an iced coffee to cool off from the heat.  As I glanced to my left standing at the counter there were some cards  to be purchased. 

Each card had a spiffy little quote.

One of the cards that caught my eye was one with a quote by Helen Keller, "when the door of happiness closes, another door opens.  But most of us stare too long at the closed door to see the other open in its place."

Interesting quote that speaks to all of us.  

How much time and energy have we spent staring at the closed door, with utter disbelief that it was no longer open, all the while missing the open opportunity that arrived in its place. 

Many of us will kick and scream and pull and push on that closed door, determined to will it open.  Yet, closed it remains and closed we remain to the wonders God seeks to do in our life. 

As it is with us, so it was with the Scribes that Jesus speaks to in the gospel.  

The scribes were not bad people; they were of good moral character, they sought to live accordingly God's will and favor in their life.  they were well learned in the law and prophets; this was the problem. 

They trusted more on their intellectual ability to understand God's will rather than on God's ability to unfold it. 

When the door closed on their understanding, they refused to look for the opening; they kept insisting that the door was not closed; they kept insisting on their way, their understanding, their wisdom of how it should be.

This is why they did not accept Jesus Christ, he was beyond their understanding, he was the door that opened to a new way, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" when the other closed and yet they missed it because they trusted in what they understood God to be rather than trusting in God.

When the door seems closed; Look up then look again; the opening is nearer than you imagined, because with Christ the way is always open.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

why did God let this happen?

Today at 7 pm I presided at a funeral service of a 42 year old mother who was killed in a car accident, leaving behind a daughter, husband, parents, sisters, and many many friends and the like. 

The sudden reality of her death has been shocking to say the least to most everyone who has heard or experienced the event. 

One question that has constantly been popping up over the past week has been, "why did God let this happen?"  Another version of the questions is, "why did God not stop it from happening."

This is an important question in the life of faith.  It is a question that many have asked throughout the history f mankind. Why?

St. Augustine asked the question when his mother died when he was a young man.  St. Theresa asked the question together with her father and her sisters when her mother died when she was just a young girl. Why did God let this happen.?

Most recently, Pope John Paul II raised the question when while a young boy, his mother died suddenly  leaving him with his father and brother and grandparents to grieve the loss of the love they had known and shared.  Why did God let this happen?

Why did God let this happen?

Lest we forget, Jesus may have posed the question himself.  Tradition tells us that Joseph, his step-father died when Jesus was still a young man.  There Mary and Jesus both grieved the loss of a protector, provider, lover, teacher, leader, guider and so on. 

One must also not forget that Jesus on the cross carried the question one step further, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me."

The reality is that this question has been around for a while.  It finds its way into our lives often, usually when we least expect it, even sometimes when we do expect it. 

The men and women I mentioned above, the one thing that stands out about them is they had courage to ask the question, but they were not foolish enough to answer it. 

The answer to the question comes in time, comes with continued fidelity and service, comes with continued prayer and love.  The answer comes with living, this is where courage is truly found.  Words could never do the question justice; words could never do the one being questioned justice either.

In fact, when you look at the cry of Jesus on the cross, "my God, My God, why have you forsaken me" you discover that Jesus did not answer the question immediately either.  There has been tons of wasted pages and wasted ink seeking to explain and discourse over such a cry.  But the reality of the answer finds its  source in what was to follow, lest we forget, the empty tomb speaks volumes.  But the answer itself was not revealed until 40 days later when Jesus ascended or 50 days later when the Spirit came.  Time will reveal the answer so many long for; we must pace ourself in faith to arrive for what we long. 

The answer to the question can only be addressed with another question.

"Why did God let this happen?" must be turned to "Now that this has happen, Will you not lead us through this, will you not be our strength?"  Only then do we truly enter into the faith experience of Christ, who understood the question, because he understood the one who is to be questioned. 

Now that this has happened, will you not lead us through?

The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want...though I walk in the valley of death I fear no evil for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage. 

It is important to remember, usually when God feels most distant, this is when he is closer than we can imagine. The fault isn't with God, it is with our imagination. 

Now that this has happened, will you not lead us through it?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

like angels

Timothy 1:1-12; To you, O Lord, I lift up my hands; Mark 12:18-27

Jesus questions the Sadducees, those who do not believe in the resurrection, "Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God?" 

Like the Sadducess we are often misled.  Like the Sadducees we underestimate the power of God.  Like the Sadducees we reduce the power of God to earthly realities, to temporary fixes, and mindless request.  

How often does our life reflect a lack of understanding when it comes to the power of God as we grow frustrated with our prayer requests not being met, or a sickness not being healed, or a financial problem not being solved, or a child not returning to the faith?

How often we let these earthly matters determine and direct our faith in the power of God, and we grow bitter and self centered and self consumed?

Jesus simply reminds us that the power of God is so much the greater that it can never be reduced to our simple request but rather it must direct our request to something greater, opening us up to the broader horizon of what is to come, of what remains to be seen and experienced. 

Jesus goes on to say, "When they arise from the dead, they neither will marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven."

Jesus is not saying that we will have wings and fly around, as many suppose.

Rather, he is telling us that the life to come will be more than we can imagine.  He is telling us that the life that awaits us can not be reduced to our biological mortal understanding of life as we know it now, but that it opens up to so much more; it will be new, different, definitive; it will be what it was always suppose to be, where we will have no obstacles, no hindrances, no hang ups, just pure and unadulterated vision of goodness and mercy and love that is stronger than death. 

Pope Benedict reminds us that 'the one who expects nothing can no longer live.'
Jesus gives us something to expect, we should expect everything, even life itself, like the angels  

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


2 Peter 3:12-18; In every age , O Lord, you have been our refuge; Mark 12: 13-17 

Today is the feast of Charles Lwanga and his companions; today we remember the Uganda Martyrs.  

As Pope  Paul VI mentioned at his homily in the canonization, "The African Martyrs add another page to the Church's roll of honor, they herald the dawn of a new age."

Yes, we have new members of the honor roll.  How did they get there? It wasn't because they died but rather how they died.

The King of Uganda was not a man of great virtue and moral standard.  He busied himself with trying to get the young men of Uganda to participate in perverse sexual acts.  Charles and his companions went around teaching the young men to resist and not to give in to such depravity. He invited the young men to embrace their catholic faith fully. 

The King wasn't to happy about this, so he had Charles and 21 of his companions arrested.  He then convicted them of crimes against the throne and punished them to death by burning.  Before they were to be executed by fire, the king invited Charles and his companions to save their life.  The King put it in their hands whether or not they were to be burned; all they had to do was to renounce their faith.

Charles and his companions refused to take matters in to their own hands.  Rather they trusted the Hands of God, from whom all things matter.  They chose to wait for God. 

This is what it means to wait as Christians, to be true martyrs, isn't to simply die but it means to refuse to take matters into our own hands. 

Sin is just this.  When we sin, we actually take matters into our own hands.  We retaliate against the patience of God, we retaliate against the the patience God demands of us.  This is what temptation is all about.

The art of waiting as a Christian means to always refuse to take matters into our own hands, trusting in the hands of God by living His will and seeking to follow his ways regardless of the pressure to do otherwise.     

This is how we enter onto the honor roll of Heaven. 

Monday, June 2, 2008

supplements for life

2 Peter 1:-7; In you my God, I place my trust. Mark 12:1-12

Jesus gives the parable of the man who planted a vineyard and then leased it to tenants to care for it.  The man leaves on a long journey then periodically sends servants back to obtain produce from the vineyard.  The tenants beat or kill these servants.

The man finally sends his beloved son, thinking the tenants would listen since the son would remind them of his generosity to them.   The tenants choose to kill the son in hopes to get the inheritance and keep it for themselves.  

The story of the vineyard is the story of the Israelites.  God, the Father, set the Israelites apart, as tenants of the vineyard of whose produce was to enrich the world by the covenant he made with them.  God then sent the prophets to remind the tenants of their task and each time the prophets were beaten, killed, or chased out of town. 

The Father finally sent his son.  The son was killed by the ones he was sent to save.

Jesus then poses a question followed by an answer. 

"What then will the owner of the vineyard do?  He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others." 

We are the others.  We have been given the vineyard set up by the Father through the Son.  We are sent forth to enrich and bring forth bountiful produce so that the world may taste and see the goodness of God. 

St. Peter in the first reading ask us to "make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, devotion, mutual affection, love"

In greek the word to supplement means to 'lavishly pour out everything that is necessary for a noble performance'.   This is how we tend the vineyard, by allowing our faith to be the noble performance God intended.  Thus, the rich produce will be brought forth and all will taste and see the goodness of the Father.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

simply by doing nothing

Dt 11:18-32; Lord, be my rock of safety; Rom 3:21-28; Mt 7:21-27

A recent book I read details one day in the life of a young couple.  This day happens to be the honeymoon day.  The couple gathers and shares supper as they reflect on their past and how they found themselves with each other.

As they converse and eat, they get in a heated argument.  The bride leaves the room and heads to the beach.  The groom, is filled with rage and anger and pride.  He decides to swallow his pride and go after his bride of one day.  

As he reaches beach, the sun slowly sets, and he peers into the face of his bride;  Rather than listening, his anger gets the best of him, and he accuses and blames her for ruining the day.  Rather, than inviting a conversation he criticizes, complains, and condemns.  The bride is so filled with discouragement that she walks away. 

As the groom watches his bride walk away, he fights within himself as to whether he should run after her.  He chooses to let her go.  She leaves and they get a divorce and never have the opportunity of experiencing the truth of what the honeymoon was all about.

The author concludes the book with this statement, "This is how the course of one's life can change, simply by choosing to do nothing."

In today's gospel, Jesus wraps up his closing remarks on the sermon of the mount.  He has said many things on the sermon of the mount: the beatitudes, we are the salt of the earth and light of the world, look at a women with lust in the heart you commit adultery, do not judge and you will not be judged, the golden rule, the Our Father, store up treasures in heaven,  enter by the narrow gate, etc (ch 5-7).

In this section, Jesus gives his closing remarks; As he stands on the mountain, he looks at his disciples gathered at his feet, he tells them, listen to my words and put them into action and you will stand firm no matter the challenges that come. 

If you live your faith, the firmer you will stand.  He gives them an option: you can follow me and be the wise man or you can be the fool, do nothing, and watch you foundation crumble beneath you. 

Then as Jesus looks out, He too might conclude with the words of the author above, "and this is how the course of your life can change,  by choosing to do nothing."

The choice is ours, we can do nothing or we can follow the one who does something.