Friday, February 27, 2009

friday after ashes

Isaiah 58:1-9; Psalm 51 A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn; 

Isaiah speaks to the people this reality check, "Lo on your fast days you carry out your own pursuits and drive all your laborers."

For many of us the constant onslaught of errands and duties may pile up until they become a wall that separates us from God.   We do not consciously turn away from God, but instead we slowly drift way like ships without rudders, with no particular aim in mind. 

We just let the business of the day, the business as usually, slowly tear us away.  Our own pursuits become that which drives the wedge.

In Lent we are called to make a deliberate turn.  

The invitation to fasting, to hunger, acts as the rudder that directs bak to God.  It sharpens our instinct, sharpens our awareness; the hunger pains that follow give us that reality check that is so necessary.  The hunger awakens us from our slumber and brings to light the meaning of it all. 

Fasting is essential.  It helps us identify the deepest longing in our life and allow that longing to sharpen our ability to live with meaning and purpose. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

day after ashes

Dt 30:15-20; Psalm 1 Blessed are they who hope in the Lord; Lk 9:22-25

We are converted not only once in our lives but many many times.  And conversion is little by little.  Lent gives us an opportunity to move the process along.  Intentionally.  By small surrenders.  One day at a time. 

This is why Jesus in the gospel reminds us the cross is to be carried daily. 

Holiness grows by small surrenders, daily surrenders, without which we cannot finally be free to give ourselves completely. 

A cross to carry for forty days seems unbearable.  A cross for a day is just a day.

A cross to carry is seldom romantic but more often it is part of the everydayness of life.  This is where we live, this is where we choose to lose our life. 

Lent is a lifetime of letting go and letting ourselves come closer to Jesus, but we do this one day at a time.

"If any one wishes to come after me, he must deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me."

excerpt by St Leo the Great
"dear friends, what the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by renunciation of sin... the works of mercy are innumerable.  Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians,  that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor  are able to play their part.  Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51 Be merciful O Lord for we have sinned; 2nd Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Lent is upon us.  A season of spiritual training, exercising so that our hearts might be given fully to God. 

 We use the tools of prayer, fasting, almsgiving to detach ourselves from the world and to restore friendship to Christ and truly live the gospel, "to love God above all and to love our neighbor as ourself."

As the ashes mark our forehead and we hear the words, "turn from you sin and be faithful to the gospel, remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return" may we take the opportunity to evaluate our relationship with God, within ourself, and with others and truly seek to give our whole heart to the faith we have received.

The word Lent means springtime, and lente means slowly.  Thus, we are called to slow down and yet spring forward into new life. 

May our life take the shape of the cross we bear upon our foreheads, and truly live crucified love.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

they remained silent

Sirach 2:1-11; Psalm 37 Commit your life to the Lord, and he will help you; Mark 9:30-37

In today's gospel Jesus is questioning the twelve as to what they were arguing about along the way.  They were all reduced to silence at the question.

They were caught in a compromising position.  They were ashamed of their arguments, they were ashamed of their own speculation.  They had not bothered with the reality of him being killed but all they could focus on was their position, their place, their honor, their reward.  

So when Jesus calls them out, they are reduced to silence. 

It is strange how things acquire their true character and find their proper place when placed before the eyes of Jesus.  As long as they thought Jesus was not listening or not seeing the argument about who was the greatest, argument about honor and reward, seemed fair enough. 

But when it was put before the eyes and ears of Jesus everything changed as it should.

This is why my mother, when she would watch my nephews and nieces, would always have them look at the cross and tell them, "Jesus is watching."

It was not an attempt at shame and guilt but rather a reality check. 
Living in reality has a way of making us all better people who choose better things. 

Living beneath the graceful and merciful gaze of our Lord is not meant to frighten us or scare us but to give us confidence in doing good and wonderful things.  It is meant to reduce us to silence so that we might serve more and speak less.

As my Father would say, "If my hands moved as fast as my lips, everything would be different and everything would get done."  

May we too be reduced to silence and allow our service do all the talking!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Isaiah 43:18-25; Psalm 41 Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you; 

St. Paul tells us today in his letter that the Son of God, Jesus Christ was not "yes" and "no" but "yes" was in him.  
Jesus did not waver.  He did not hedge his bets.  He did not hire a risk assessor to determine if the benefits outweighed the risk.  He said "yes" and allowed his "yes" to be a source of strength.

One of the most powerful images of "yes" to God is the IV station: Jesus meets his mother.  

What a gaze, when their eyes met!  What a moment in history!  What an explosion of interior strength and determination!  

Jesus saying "yes" to the cross peering at his mother whose "yes" started it all. 
Both were completely open.  They did not live with their doors half closed. 

Lent is opportunity to evaluate our "yes" to God.  It is a season by which we open wide the doors of our heart and allow that "yes" of faith, our "amen" truly be our foundation and our life.

May the tools of Lent: prayer, fasting, almsgiving be those instruments necessary to open wide the door, even take the hinges off the door of our heart to God so that we might live for him alone serve his Church in all that we do.

May we live boldly the "yes" we are invited to make each and everyday.   
May the Blessed Mother show us the way and may Christ be our strength.  

Saturday, February 21, 2009

No Nimrod Here

Genesis 11:1-9; Psalm 33 Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own; Mark 8:34-9:1

The tower of Bable makes its appearance in the readings.  We have been journeying along with the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis, which is considered to be part of the pre-history. 

We encountered creation in 7 days, we encountered the making of man and women in God's image, we have encountered the Garden of Eden and the fall, we have encountered Cain slaying Abel, we have encountered Noah and the Ark and the flood, we have encountered the Rainbow as a sign of covenant, and today we see the tower of Babel rise high into the sky. 

It is important to note that the King in charge of organizing the construction of the tower was named Nimrod.  Hence, the association of the meaning with the name.  Probably not a good idea to go along with anyone named Nimrod.  

His name actually means, "the one who rebels."

Nimrod convinces the people to make a name for themselves.  This is the great sin: men seeking a name for themselves rather than invoking the name of God. 

It was the sin of Adam and Eve.  They were tempted to eat so that they could be like gods.  It was the sin of Cain over Abel.  It was present with the destruction of the flood.  It was present with the shame of Noah and his sons.  It pops up again in the tower of Babel. 

As you go through the biblical record, somewhere in every downfall we discover men seeking to make a name for themselves and no longer invoking the name of God. 

If we look into our present economic woes, we discover the same reality.  Why are we in a recession?  In a large part because men have been seeking to make a name for themselves and for their constituents and have ceased invoking the name of God.  

As a result, like in the tower of Babel, people no longer are able to communicate.  They no longer are speaking the same language because they are to busy caught up in themselves.

What is the answer to this Babel?

The answer is found in Acts ch. 2.  The Pentecost experience is the answer to Babel.  The power of the Spirit unites where pride scatters.  At the pentecost experience, the birth of the Church, Peter stands and proclaims the gospel message, the truth of things.  All are able to hear him in their own tongue. 

What is the central message of this experience: Jesus Christ was hung on tree, put to death, and rose again.  The paschal mystery is the bridge that unites.  The verdict of true love overwhelms and unites and draws all together as one. 

When we invoke his name, as St. Paul tells us, the name by which every knee shall bend and every tongue profess, then truly we begin to realize the beauty of our name, one that is not made but received, "Christian."

Here we begin to build a civilization that can truly be united.  This is why the Church is one, holy, catholic, apostolic: universal sign of the oneness God invites all to participate in fully through Jesus the one who refuses to rebel, the one who refuses to take matters into his own hands.

There is no Nimrod here!  Jesus does not make a name for himself, rather he surrenders so that God's name might be known, "I have made known to them your name, and I will make it known."(Jn 17:26)  

May we invoke His name and then live what we invoke and build our lives on that bridge that unites.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Who do you say that I am

Genesis 9:1-13; Psalm 102 From heaven the Lord looks down on the Earth; Mark 8:27-33

It is that time again.  Lent is right around the corner.  We should not wait until ash Wed to start preparing for our Lenten experience, our lenten retreat. 

Lent is a time of Spiritual training, a time to get "cut" in our spiritual muscle. 

How do we chisel our lives so that we might be shaped into christ more perfectly. 
The tools the church lays before us as the means by which we truly begin to answer the question Jesus poses in todays gospel, "who do you say that I am," with greater precision and accuracy and love are the following:

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.

The three tools enables us to detach ourselves from the world, empty ourselves so God alone can fill, grow more dependent on God's saving word, and enter more deeply into a true compassionate relationship with our neighbors. 

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving restore friendship to Christ. 

As we prepare for lent may we ask the Lord what is the means by which he wants us to really train.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Genesis 8:6-13, 20-22; Psalm 16 To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise; Mark 8:22-26

Pope Benedict in his Wed audience last week spoke of confession:

"In the sacrament of penance, Christ crucified and risen, through his ministers, purifies us with his infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and our brothers, and makes a gift of his love, peace, and joy to us."

The sacrament of Penance is an opportunity to be recreated a new, to start over, to embrace a new beginning. 

In the Story of Noah and the ark, God gives man an opportunity to start over, to begin anew.  The flood is a new creation account.  Though Noah and his companions are give an opportunity to start over, they still have to deal with creation; they still have to deal with their frail heart. So it is with confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  It is a new beginning but we still have to keep an eye on our heart.  

In the gospel,  Jesus takes the blind man outside and he lays his hands upon him to heal him. 
At first the man sees fuzzily, "I see people looking like trees and walking."  Then a second time and the man saw clearly.

The reality of confession is also seen in the story of the blind man.  The man his given the opportunity to see clearly, to read reality correctly but it takes time.  So it is in our life, the need for constant confession and new beginnings is real.  We grow in stages.  There is no quick fix to our situation.  The process of examining our conscience and seeking forgiveness is a deep yearning to see clearly.

Each time we examine ourselves we see something new that had been bogging us down; every confession is an opportunity to enter more deeply into ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to root out our blindness.  Sin is that which blinds us.  Gradually, over a life journey we finally begin to see clearly what love and life are about.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Noah and the Ark

Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10; Psalm 29 The Lord will bless his people with peace; Mark 8:14-21

I received this picture several years ago via the email.  A friend decided I needed to have it because she thought it was funny.  The caption beneath the picture read the following, 

"The woodpeckers will have to go..."

I laugh every time I look at the picture and read the caption. 

Part of the email was a list of things one can learn from the story of Noah and the ark:
1) Don't miss the boat
2)Remember we are all in the same boat
3)plan ahead, don't wait until it starts raining
4)Remember the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic was built by professionals
5)Don't listen to critics; get on with the job that needs to be done

Remember Noah changed the world by listening, trusting, and acting on the Word of God.  No matter the evil that surrounded him,he chose to take a stand for what was good.  Thus, a safe place was provided where life could be kept secure.  May we do the same in our life.

Today we celebrate the memorial of The Seven Founders of the Servite Order.  They were visited by Cardinal Castiglione while they were living the life of hermits.  The cardinal was edified by their life and sanctity but he also gave them a simple critique:  "You treat yourselves in a manner bordering on barbarity: as you seem more desirous of dying to time rather than living for eternity.  Take heed: the enemy of souls often hides himself under the appearance of an angel of light...Hearken to the counsel of you superiors."  They chose to no longer isolate themselves as hermits but to serve the Church as friars. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

walk away

Genesis 4:1-15, 25; Psalm 50 Offer to God a sacrifice of praise; Mark 8:11-13

Today in the gospel Jesus shows us something that is essential.  The pharisees came forward seeking a sign from heaven to test him. 

Once again the pharisees were unsatisfied with the many deeds that Jesus had done time and time again.  Their heart was so hardened that they could no longer see reality correctly.   

Jesus had enough.  The gospel tells us that , "Jesus signed from the depths of his spirit."

What a sigh!  From the depths of his spirit Jesus sighs.  What a description of Jesus frustration with these people.  

Jesus did not bad mouth them.  Jesus did not insult them.  Jesus did not attack them.  

No!  Jesus simply walked away.  Actually, he got in his boat and went to the other side of the lake.  He put distant between him and them.  Sometimes this is necessary.  Sometimes this is the best way to act charitable, to simply walk away.  Distance can be a friend in time of need. 

If only Cain would have done the same!

Jesus reveals to us one way how to handle temptation in our life.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Leprosy: guilty by association

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; Psalm 32 I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45

In the Old Testament, we encounter leprosy.  It was a disease that was quite common.  It began as a skin discoloration and could quickly progress to affect the limbs, eyes, skin, etc. 

It was not a pretty disease as it often disfigured the one who carried it.  

Those who had leprosy were forced to live on the outskirts of the community separated from family and friends.  They also had to separate themselves.  They needed to be recognizable.  Thus, they were told to wear clothes that were torn, hair that was disheveled, and a beard that was unkept.  They were also ordered to warn people when they came near. Thus, they would cry out, "unclean, unclean!"

They were outcast, homeless, ostracized, and dying.  They were the true untouchables.
Their state in life was one of complete and absolute humiliation. 

Anyone who came near a leper was acting in deviance.  Anyone who touched a leper, was considered to be unclean themselves until proven otherwise.  They were guilty by association. They were forced to live outside the community until they were not a threat. 

Jesus in the gospel, chooses to be guilty by association.  Not only does he come near a  leper, but he touches him.  In doing so he chooses to make himself unclean.  This is why he is forced to live on the outskirts of the camp.  He identifies with the outcast by becoming one himself.
He is guilty by association.  In doing so, he enables the leper to experience his true dignity and humanity. 

Jesus risked everything so that love might win.

As we ponder the gospel today and hear St. Paul's words, "be imitators of me as I am Christ," we must ask the following:

Who are the untouchables today?  Who do we keep at arms length?  Who are the outcast in our society and in our lives?  Who do we refuse to associate with?  Who do we avoid?

These are the people God invites us to interact with.  Here the opportunity to live faith filled lives beckon at us.  Here we shall learn how to imitate Christ.

Will we be guilty by association and truly live a faith filled existence allowing love and human dignity to conquer our prejudice and fear?

In the end God will ask whether we have been guilty by association, "What you have done to the least of my brothers you have done unto me." (Mt 25)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

looking for love

Genesis 3:9-24; Psalm 90 In every age O Lord you have been our refuge; Mark 8:1-10

Be my Valentine!  Tis the day for exchange.  Today countless gifts are purchased and given to show one's love and affection.  Candy, Chocolate, flowers, cards.  Tis the day for Love.  Be my Valentine!

We pray today that love does not sell it self short and simply settle for flowers that will fade, cards that will be discarded, chocolate that will cause weight gain, and candy that may go stale. 

May today be  a true exposition of love: May you love one another as I have loved you! (Jesus)

It is both a sad tragedy and and a comedy of errors that as we enter into this day of love, we read in the book of genesis love gone sour. 

The happy couple of Adam and Eve, who were filled with awe and wonder at the gift of each other find themselves in a all to familiar "blame" game: whose fault is it, anyway?

Adam blames his wife, the wife blames the snake, and all get expelled from paradise. 

Yet, the story doesn't end in failure of love.  God continues to guide them and work with them and lead them along the path.  Adam and Eve do not call it quits.  They continue forth, re-learning, time and time again, what love is all about. 

There is hope in the story of the fall.  As the narrative tells us, "the man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all living. For the man and his wife the Lord God made leather garments, with which he clothed them."  A sign of God's continued grace. 

But there were consequences to the fall, from the garden they were sent and a Cherubim with a fiery revolving sword was stationed to guard the way to the tree of life.

We shall see the sword again!

The sword will appear on calvary and shall pierce the side of the one who will come to allow access once again to the tree of life.  Only this tree is not in the garden of Eden but on Calvary.  The cross of Christ is the tree of life, and from there we all shall eat and live: Lest you eat my body and drink my blood you shall not have life with in you. 

The cross is the wedding bed of Christ and the church.  It was spousal love that led to the fall it is spousal love that redeems.  Truly, this is why we celebrate Valentine. 

On the Cross Jesus looks out to the world and behold he says, "Be mine..." What an exchange! Here Jesus gives his life that we might have life.   So much for chocolate, candy, cards, and flowers.  There is something greater and more lasting here.  

This is the strength of St. Valentine.  May it be ours as well.  

"Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and offered his life up for her." Ephesians 5

Friday, February 13, 2009

potential rebel

Genesis 3:1-8; Psalm 32 Blessed are those who sins are forgiven; Mark 7:31-37

Poverty of Spirit is a short little reflection book written by Johannes Baptist Metz.  I have found it to be very insightful and meaningful on by journey of embracing the gift being human and becoming human. 

In light of the genesis narrative, I believe the author has pertinent words for us all:

"Becoming a human being involves more than conception and birth.  It is a mandate and a mission, a command and a decision.  We each have an open-ended relationship with ourselves.  We do not possess our being unchallenged; we can not take our being for granted as God does...We are challenged and questioned from the depths of our boundless spirit.  Being is entrusted to us as a summons...From the very start we are something that can Be, a being who must win selfhood and decide what it is to be.  We must fully become what we are-a human being.  To become human through the exercise of our freedom-that is the law of our Being.

The truth of our "being" is such that it makes our freedom possible rather than threatening it.  Thus, the free process of becoming a human being unfolds as a process of service.  In biblical terms it is "obedience" and faithfulness to the humanity entrusted to us. 

However, this process of freely becoming human has its own inherent temptation.  By its very nature this process is a trial; imbedded in it is the danger of going awry.  Entrusted with the task of becoming human, we face danger at every side.  We are always a potential rebel.  We can secretly betray the humanity entrusted to us, and we have done this precisely from the very beginning... 

On the other hand, we may withstand this temptation and lovingly accept the truth of our being."

What is that truth: it is a gift given and entrusted to each of us by the hand of God.  To honor the giver, we must allow Him to guide us on the path of truly becoming human.

We must allow Jesus to put his fingers into our ears and touch our tongue  and say the words we long to hear, "ephphatha!" that is "be opened!"  Thent we might truly hear the words of God and live in obedience to them and thus truly become who we were made to be, sons in the Son, children of the Most High.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

touched by true intimacy

Genesis 2:18-25; Psalm 128 Blessed are those who fear the Lord; Mark 7:24-30

We have been pondering the creation account these past few days; we have been walking in the garden as creation unfolds. 

Today we encounter Adam searching for a partner, a help mate.  He busies himself with naming all the animals.  He is exhausted from searching.  

But in all the work, he is unable to find what he longs for.

Only with God's help does he finally have that moment of awakening; aroused from his slumber he sees across the garden the one he had hoped for, dreamed of, longed to be with, "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called 'woman,' for our of 'her man' this one has been taken."

Adam is awaken to the true meaning of gift.  He realizes that on his own he could not find what he longed for  but with God's help he is able to receives such a gift.  The two then become one.

The Genesis account helps us understand that we are created for love, we are created for communion.  In communion with one another, do we begin to fulfill what we are made for.

We are told that they remain in the garden, the man and his wife, and they were "both naked and without shame."

John Paul II, comments on this last passage by saying that in this experience of original nakedness man and woman not only look at each another but they see each other, they experience true and whole intimacy.    They are able to see and know each other with all the peace of the interior gaze, which creates precisely the fullness of intimacy of persons.

John Paul II continues and says that original nakedness demonstrates that "holiness has entered the visible world," thus in holiness man is able to express himself deeply in his own body by sincere gift of himself.    

The fact there was no shame means that the women nor the man was an 'object' for the other but rather each perceived the other as a sacred gift.

The grace of redemption is meant to help us see and experience again true intimacy.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Lady of Lourdes

Feb 11, 1858, Our Lady appeared to Bernadette.  In a series of apparitions she continued to insist that the people convert and believe in the gospel, to pray and do penance. 

On March 25, 1858, she spoke to Bernadette under the title of "Immaculate conception."

The pope reminds us that Mary, as the immaculate conception, reveals to the church her true vocation that is "to receive Christ and to offer him to the world."

Only then can we have a true transformation from the inside out. 

John Paul II on his visit to the grotto in 2004 reminded us, "we must desire to learn from the lowly handmaid of the Lord an attitude of docility and openness to the word of God and a generous commitment to welcoming Christ's teaching into out lives."

Then he implored the Blessed Mother to "be our guide along the paths of the world and teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ, to stand with you before the innumerable crosses on which your Son is still crucified... and thus build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

earth is crammed with heaven

Genesis 1:20-2:4a; Psalm 8 O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth; 

Our creation account continues today.  There are two things that stand out. 

When God speaks he speaks in a tone that is quite casual yet deliberate.  Over and over again He says, "let there be."

I am struck by the deliberateness of creation as if it is willed and wanted for its own sake.  God compelled by love creates.  Creation is not only willed but it is wanted.  And because it is wanted it is necessary. 

At the end of each day, God is pleased, for it is good.  

At the very center of creation is this deep penetrating goodness that radiates outward and captivates the creator.  

Not only are wanted, willed, necessary but we are captivating. 

Secondly, the 7th day stands out. 
After each day of creation, we read, "evening came and morning followed-the second day, or third day or fourth day or so on.

But when we get to the 7th day there is no end.  The 7th day of rest never ceases. There is no 'evening came and morning followed." The 'rest' of God lingers and fills all of time.   

Even now that glorious rest seeks us and fills our longing.  We forever spend our days and nights in that appreciation of God for his creation.  It is the ultimate affirmation. 

May live our lives in response to such a gift.

Earth is crammed with heaven 
and every common bush set a fire with God; 
those who see take their shoes off, 
the rest sit around picking blackberries!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Genesis 1:1-19; Psalm 104 May the Lord be glad in his work; Mark 6:53-56
In the recent synod on the Word of God, the Bishops presented this reality:

From the  beginning the Lord presented himself not as image or an effigy or a statue similar to the golden calf but with "a voice of words."  It is a voice that entered the scene at the very beginning of creation, when it tore through the silence of nothingness:

"In the beginning...God said, 'Let there be light,'and there was light."

Creation is not born of a battle of divinities as thought by early civilizations, ancient myths, but of a word that defeats nothingness and creates being.  A word that is spoken not out of defense of something but because of love of something, because of love for us.

This is reality.  The created world that surrounds us and sustains us is the first miracle, first product of divine intervention.  Because we all come from the same father, the earth can never be our mother, but more accurately she can be our sister; thus, fraternal love is demanded as we seek to be stewards of creation.  Like a brother protecting her sister, we are called forth to protect the created realm from which we experience anew the voice that defeats nothingness. 

As we ponder Jesus in the gospel, we encounter the reality that the word from the beginning now has a face we can encounter.  As Jesus interacts with people, the light continues to shine forth scattering the darkness of despair and doubt and bringing the warmth that soothes and invites all to a new relationship with freedom.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

custody of the eyes

The picture says it all!


Hebrews 12:18-19, 21-24; Psalm 48 O God we ponder your mercy within your temple; 

Jesus instructed his disciples to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick-no food, no sack, no money in their belts.  They were to wear sandals but not a second tunic.

What did they have?

They were armed with knowledge of Jesus, this alone was sufficient for them.  Having been with Jesus, they were now empowered to bring Jesus to others.  Their minds were inflamed with that experience, an experience of Jesus' every word, and action, and this is what gave them confidence and strength.  Nothing more was needed.

What of the oil?  The gospel tells us they used oil to anoint the sick in order to cure them.  The oil is a prefigurement of the Sacrament of the Sick.  Perhaps, one can speculate the oil was blessed by Jesus himself.  Having the oil with them, gave the disciples confidence and strengthen to go out, for they did not go alone.  The sacrament of the sick when celebrated is an experience of Jesus being present and his healing power being effective.

excerpt: Prayer of St. Agatha
Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

seek and find

Hebrews 12:4-7,11-15; Psalm 103 The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him; 

The gospel tells of Jesus' encounter with those in his native place.  
All who knew him also heard him and were astonished.  They began to question whether or not Jesus was authentic. 

"Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?  Are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him."

Pope Benedict reminds us that the argument against faith and truth suggest that we can never have the truth but we must always be in a state of searching for it.  But we must ask the question "what kind of search  is this that can never reach a conclusion?  Is it really searching, or is it just an  unwillingness to find..."

The men and women in Jesus' home have been told to be on the look out for the messiah yet they remain unwilling to find because God doesn't work according to their expectations.  

We should all expect God to do great things  even if it means that He does it in a manner we do not expect! As Pope Benedict reminds us, "the dissimilarity between what we know and the true reality in itself is always infinitely greater than the similarity."

We should all keep searching but we pray for the willingness to humbly accept the truth when it is found

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

cloud of witnesses

Hebrews 12:1-4; Psalm 22 They will praise you Lord, who long for you; Mark 5:21-43

"We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith."

"For the sake of the joy that lay before him Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.  Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.  In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding blood."

From the gospel of mark, "And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out.  He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.  He took the child by the hand and said to her, 'Talitha koum' which means, "little girl, I say to you arise.  The girl arose immediately."

Faith is not a feeling it is action, a way of life, a determination to refuse to surrender even in the face of opposition.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Candlemas day

Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 24 Who is this King of Glory; it is the Lord; Hebrews 2:14-18; 

Today we celebrate the presentation of the Lord.  40 days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph bring their child to the temple for the ritual of purification.  Mary is purified by presenting her son to the Lord.  

The Mosaic law called for the redemption of the first male to open the womb.  The one born to be the redeemer of all man is to be redeemed by pair of turtledoves. 

What beautiful imagery!
Simeon says Jesus shall be a sign of contradiction.  Already at the presentation it begins. 
The one who comes to redeem and purify must first undergo the ritual of redemption.

In the Greek speaking world this feast is called Hypapanti, the encounter.  The focus is on Jesus encountering Simeon.  In that encounter hope burst forth, a hope not just for the individual but hope for the world, "my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the people, a light for revelation to the gentiles, and glory for your people Israel."   

Thus the light for revelation dawns!  This is why we celebrate candlemas day.  The light comes to purify the world.  The warm candlelight is meant to be a tangible reminder of that greater light that radiate from the figure of Jesus.
The chaos of the world encounters the purifying power and brightness of the Christian message, the person of Christ, the one who is to purify all of us.