Tuesday, March 31, 2009


  Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 102 O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you; Jn 8:21-30

As we move along our journey in Lent, heading toward its culmination with the Easter Triduum, we pause at the desert wanderings of the people of Israel. 

We are asked to remember that experience of the people being led out of slavery into the desert toward the promise land.  This image is what lent is about, out of slavery of sin toward the promise land, with our battle cry, "on earth as it is in heaven."

Today our stop in the desert finds the Israelites complaining.  The people's patience were worn out by the journey and they began to grumble against God and against Moses. 

They were complaining about God's gift, gift of food and water, "we are disgusted with this wretched food!"

 They had grown miserable beneath the weight of the Belly-ache.  

How soon they forgot what God' s mighty hand had done.  They had stopped being grateful and thus they had lost sight of grace.  The strength for their journey was gratitude.  Here they were to encounter true strength, and yet they stopped giving thanks and thus became careless with the gifts God gave. 

They had lost focus.  They were all nearsighted, they could not see past their own noses.  All they saw was what was wrong and they failed to recognize what was right and good.  They were free, they were no longer slaves.  They were being cared for by God.  They had witnessed great things and yet they were lost in themselves.

There is an old proverb that comes to mind in light of the Israelite's complaints, "Instead of complaining about the rosebush having thorns, be thankful the thorn bush has roses."

The essence of gratitude is to always keep one's eyes peeled for the gift to behold in all circumstances that abound.  

As we move toward the Easter Triduum, the heart of our Christian identity, we discover one very essential truth.  In those three days, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, God gives abundantly forever.

In the passion of Jesus, God's gift remains steadfast in all of life's circumstances:  he gives the priesthood, the Eucharist, love that is stronger than death.

No matter what lies ahead in our own desert wanderings, gratitude is always at our finger tips for we have received grace upon grace.  As the prophet Zechariah states so well, "they shall look upon him whom they have pierced," and remember the gift that was given and the price it was paid.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Daniel the detective

Daniel 13; Psalm 23 Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side; Jn 8:1-11

We read today from the book of Daniel.  The last two chapters of Daniel 13 and 14 are written like detective stories. 

We have the story of Susanna and then we have the story of Bel and the Dragon.  In all three cases, Daniel, like Sherlock Holmes, Matlock, or Perry Mason, which ever you prefer, steps into the case and uncovers the mystery.

They are beautiful stories to read.  They reveal to us that to be a prophet, to be moved by the Spirit of God, doesn't take away from what we would do naturally but enhances it.  In these cases Daniel's reason and logic become tools for victory and triumph.

The story of Susanna is about many things.  It is about purity, false accusations, the corruption of conscience, lust and perversion, prayer and prayers that are answered. 

As the story unfolds, it is noted that the old men, the judges who attack Susanna, "began to lust for her. They suppressed their consciences.  They would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments."

This is an important truth.  Our conscience is organic.  It needs to be trained, exercised, formed.  Just like all muscles of the body it too can go into atrophy with out use. It can be stunted, stamped out, it can be falsified.  Conscience is a organ not an oracle.  It requires growth, training, and practice.   It can be formed in a negative way away from God just as it can be formed in a positive way toward God.

At each every moment, we have to choose to grow our conscience or suppress it, and ever little thing, thought, word or action becomes that by which our conscience is exercised.  As we read today, it was the smallest thought of lust left unchecked led to the dismantling of the conscience. 


Friday, March 27, 2009


Wisdom 2:1,12-22; Psalm 34 The Lord is close to the broken hearted; Jn 7: 1-2,10,25-30;

We read from one part of Chapter 7 from the gospel of John.  Jesus is delaying his trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 

There are three obligatory feast: Passover, pentecost, Tabernacles.
Jesus, though his life is threatened, does not excuse himself from celebrating this important feast. 
The feast of tabernacles is a feast of remembrance.  For seven days the people are invited to dwell in booths made of leafy branches in commemoration of the desert Sojourn. 

Here the people were to bring a basket of harvest fruit up to the temple and then recite the saving acts of God who delivered his people from Egypt and gave them the promised land. 

This feast also marks the anniversary of the dedication of Solomon's temple.  Included in the feast was a procession in which the ark was introduced into the Temple.  It may also be associated with celebration of God as King.

On the first night of the feast the temple was illuminated by lamps and torches.  The whole temple area from a distance would look like a flaming torch, brilliant with light.  It would have been reminiscent of the pillar of fire that led the israelites through the desert at night. 

Here Jesus is celebrating this feast to recite the saving acts of God. 

At the end of the gospel, it is noted that the Jews did not kill Jesus for his hour had not come.
At that hour that was too come, Jesus will enter in to the song of remembrance. He will take his place as the God's ultimate saving act.  

Every Friday we enter into that memory.  We recite God's saving act as we recall the passion and death of our Lord.  This is why we do not eat meat.  It is an opportunity for us to remember and recite so that we might live with our true identity, as people redeemed. 


Thursday, March 26, 2009

day after the annunciation

Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 106 Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people; 5:31-47 

In psalm this morning we read, "Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image; they exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock."

What was the glory they exchanged?

Their glory was the presence of God who made himself known, who journeyed with them, who led them from slavery into freedom.  Their glory was the pillar of fire at night and pillar of cloud during the day.  Their glory was the wonders God had worked for them, with them, through them. 

Yet, they threw it all away.  They had every reason to believe and yet they were too busy building and alibi not to believe. 

Jesus tells us in Jn 17:22 in his prayer for all believers, "I have given them the glory you gave me."

We, like the Israelites have every reason to believe.  But like the Jews in the gospel today we have a choice to make.  Will we search for evidence against God, building our alibi not to believe or will we allow His glory to convince us and lead us deeper into belief?

the mindset that seeks reason to doubt will disbelieve.

The mindset that sees reasons to believe on a daily basis is the mindset that has truly embraced the glory given!  Everything becomes a reason to belief and leads to deeper faith.

Today is the day after the celebration of the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary, to the World.  I wonder what is was like for Mary the day after.  Did she dismiss the experience as a dream?  Did she hide? Did she convince herself it was all a lie?  No!  She picked up her things and took the message to Elizabeth.  Only in carrying the message forth do we truly activate the faith we have received.  Only in bearing the good news in us, do we truly begin to believe ourselves. 

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven."

Let us a build a case for belief by living as believers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10; Psalm 40 Here I am Lord, I come to do your will; Hebrews 10:4-10; Lk 1:26-28

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.  

Annunciation simply means to announce.  As we read the gospel story there are two announcements.

First, the angel Gabriel announces to the Mary,the virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, that she was to conceive and bear a child.

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you."

The word "hail" in greek means to rejoice.  Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.

As Pope Benedict reminds us, the announcement by the Angel Gabriel to Mary, sets the tone for the entire history of salvation. Jesus is inaugurated into history with "rejoicing." 

It is a solemn joy that echoes from eternity and enters into time and leads us all on our journey home. 


The second announcement is that of the Virgin Mary.  She embraced the greeting of Joy and responded to that joy in a manner that is worthy of such a greeting, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done unto me according to your word." 

She said "yes!"  It is most appropriate to respond with affirmation to a word of Joy from God the most high.  Yes, be it done unto me.  Let the joy reign down and may I be an instrument of such grace and favor i so undeservedly received.  What a noble response to such a noble request. 

Mary opens up and allows eternity to enter into time and the child is conceived.  The conception of Jesus marks the beginning of a new era where grace will abound and sin will be destroyed, life will be full and death will be conquered, sadness will give way to joy that is full.

"Then the angel departed from her."

The angel departed but the joy remained.  

May we enter fully into the announcement from on high and the announcement from below and find meaning  between the both, for just as Mary found favor with God, so we find favor through her "yes."

The picture is taken from the altar dedicated to the Annunciation in the Basilica of the Annunciation.  This is believed to be the place where the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary.  The inscription on the altar reads, "Verbum Caro Hic Factum Est," (Here the Word became flesh.)

The place of the Annunciation is a simple abode filled with the daily routine of life.  It can be found in any place and in every place across the globe.  The Angel comes to the ordinary world to invite us to participate in an extraordinary way.  If it can happen in such a humble place, it can happen in us.

May the word become flesh in each of us this day and always.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

wellness center

Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; Psalm 46 The Lord of Host is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold; John 5:1-16

The power of God never dispenses with the effort of man.  

Jesus encounters the man, the invalid who had been waiting for 38 years to be set in the pool in hopes of being healed. 

Jesus asks him a question, the man realizes his helplessness, then Jesus tells him what to do. 

"Do you want to be made well?"

"Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me." 

Jesus responded, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk!"

The three stages who wellness are illustrated in this passage: encounter with Jesus, recognition of helplessness, responding to what Jesus demands with much effort and desire.

Jesus commanded the man to do what seemed impossible, to get up and walk.  The man, rather than react with resentment and wallowing in self-pity set his might on doing the will of God along with Christ. 

Here is the road to achievement: intensity of desire, determination to make an effort, trust in the power of Christ and thus we can conquer what for the longest time had conquered us.

Jesus reveals himself as the true wellness center. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

forgive us our debt

Just read a recent article about the U.S. debt and how it is rising.  It is truly amazing. 

Just a note on how to picture what our debt looks like:

If you stack a $1,000 bill one on top of another , a million dollars would be 4 inches high, a billion dollars would be 358 feet high, to reach a trillion dollars that same stack would be 67.9 miles high. 

This certainly puts the national debt in proper perspective. 

Forgive us our debt is quite a mountain to move..."If you say to this mountain be up rooted and be planted in the ocean with faith it shall be done."

Surely this is not why on our currency we read, "In God we Trust."
But certainly, it doesn't hurt.

I'm not sure if Jesus was speaking about a mountain of debt but with God all things are possible.  May our congressmen and women and president seek the proper wisdom and judgment necessary to move us in the right direction. 


Isaiah 65:17-21; Psalm 30 I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. Jn 4:43-53

Today we read from Isaiah chapter 65. Isaiah consist of three parts.
The first part of the book deals warnings about future exile if the Israelites don't turn back to God.  The second part relates to the actual exile itself where the Israelites were uprooted and taken to a foreign land.  The third part is a homecoming of sorts.  The Israelites are returning from exile.

It is the third part of Isaiah we read this morning. 

Isaiah's voice is very positive and encouraging.  The people are given a sense of hope, a cause to rebuild and trust that things will be different.  

The fact that they will be able to "live in  the homes they build and eat from the vineyards they  plant" is a a covenant blessing that goes all the way back to Moses.  Before Moses departed this world, he left the people with the covenant promises and curse as they were about t enter into the promised land.

In Dt 28 we get a list of those.  One of the curses was that if the people strayed from God's ways they would not live in their homes and they would  not eat and drink from their vineyards. 

Isaiah speaks of a renewal of the covenant, God has not forgotten or given up on the people. Though they strayed he offers them another opportunity to undo what was done and to move forward in being recreated as his chosen people.

This is encouraging for all of us.  Despite our short comings and weakness, God doe snot give up on us because He is faithful to his promises, "I will be your God and you shall be my people," even if it takes a while to get it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

blind man see

Today we read the scrutiny for those entering the church at Easter.  We take a long gaze at the story of the man born blind in the gospel of John 9:1-41.

In the story we encounter many characters and many different realities. 

We have a miracle that is given but not asked for.  Unsolicited does the man receive his sight. 

In fact the man born blind seems content with his blindness; he seems content with the way things have always been.  He just moves along business as usual.

But the unexpected interruption of his life by Jesus leaves a lasting mark of purpose and joy.

Yet things don't go as planned initially.  His life gets turned upside down.  His life goes from bad to worse, oddly enough the miracle becomes a curse, a burden he must suffer and bear.  As soon as he sees he becomes an object of ridicule by those around him. 

His neighbors interrogate him. 

The pharisees accuse him.

His parents denounce him.

His community excommunicates him.

Yet when the world turns against him, he refuses to turn against God.

In the end, he stands his ground, embraces the gift, recommits himself to his faith and falls in adoration, "I do believe Lord, and he worshipped him."

Helen Keller reminds us, "Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light."   

The blind mans brings his shattered world into the light and refuses to go backwards.  The sight he receives is greater than the circumstance that surround him.

His faith becomes a suffering, a suffering in joy.  Pope Benedict reminds us that our faith will become that which we must suffer for in our life.

This Suffering will do one of two things, it will either shape us the way a burden shapes the back of a mule or we will shape it into a prayer for others and something beautiful for God.

May we embrace the suffering of our faith, take the risk and risk the adventure.  May we be willing to be "thrown out" like the blind man and embrace the sight we have received, lest we enter into darkness and remain blind for all eternity.

"I can see that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which for me is golden.  I can see a God-made world not a man made world."  Helen Keller

We see and like the blind man our response to the world that hounds us is to simply endure and take a stand and fall on our knees in adoration, "yes We do believe, Lord" and we worship him.

Not as the world sees but as the blind man sees, we embrace the gift of sight, "in what you call the dark, which for me is golden.  I see a God-made world not a man-made one." 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

seven last words of Christ

There is much said about the seven last words of Christ, especially during Lent as we approach Good Friday. 

What are the seven last words: 

1 Father, forgive them for they know not what they do, Pater dimitte illis, quia nesciunt quid faciunt Lk 23:24

2 This day thou shall be with me in paradise, Hodie meum eris in paradiso Lk 23:43

3 Women behold thy son, Mulier ecce filius tuus Jn 19:26-27

 4 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, Deus meus, utquid dereliquisti me mk 15:34, Mt 27:46 (beginning of psalm 22)

5 I thirst, sitio Jn 19:28

6 It is finished, consummatum est Jn 19:30

7 Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, In manus tuus, Domine coomendo spirtum meum  Lk 23:46

It is worthy meditating on them throughout lent!

Friday, March 20, 2009

meat on fridays

Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 81 I am the Lord your God: hear my voice; Mark 12:28-34

I was asked yesterday by a family member whether or not abstaining from  meat on friday was mandatory during Lent.  They also asked that if meat was eaten on friday during lent was it considered to be sinful.

Abstinence from meat on friday during lent and all fridays through out the year has been a long standing tradition in the Church.  The church teaches that what fridays in Lent are to Easter so every friday should be to every Sunday celebration through out the year.  There should be some penitential practice that helps us focus and renew our longing for the celebration of the Lord's supper on Sundays that celebration which finds it origin in the Easter reality of the resurrection.

Abstinence from meat on fridays during lent was at one time bound under the penalty of sin.  In 1966, the church in her wisdom and pastoral concern for the faithful and in her desire to move the faithful by exercise of their freedom lifted the penalty of sin from eating meat on friday.  

The church invites us to continue the practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays, especially on Ash Wed., fridays during lent, and on Good Friday.   The Church holds abstinence in the first place as a practice of penance on those days.  However, the church does not wish to limit the faithfuls' practice of penance  and invites the faithful to perform some act of penance worthy of the meaning behind the friday as the day the Lord died for our sins. 

As Hosea reminds us, we must always seek to return to the Lord our God and we shall blossom like the lily.  Practice of penance is that which enables us to free ourselves from self and attachment to worldly things and draw us closer to our dependence on God.  Penance and abstinence acts  like a fertilizer with weed killer, freeing us to blossom before the Lord and thus becoming that which shines with radiance for all loving the Lord with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our strength.

Fasting and abstinence doesn't weaken us but strengthens our resolve to love and thus live to give our self as Christ gives us himself daily to us, "take and eat this is my body give for you." 

Thursday, March 19, 2009


2 Samuel 7:4-16; Psalm 89 The son of David will live forever; Romans 4:13-22; Mt 1:16-24

Today we celebrate the solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of Mary. 

In Joseph's custody God entrusted his most precious treasures.  Joseph is the guardian of the mystery of redemption, he is the guardian of perfect love.  

Just as he stood watch over the Holy Family with his quiet resolve so he continues to watch over all of us.   Just has he watched over God's son and took care of him with great affection and devotion, so to he stands guard over all of God's children, adopted sons and daughters in Jesus.

Joseph displayed a great readiness of will in regard to what God ask; he responded positively to the word of God when communicated to him in that decisive moments, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife into your home..."

"And at that moment Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife into his home."  Joseph displays a great obedience of faith, and obedience of faith that is necessary and thus he freely commits entirely to God and makes his life a oblation of self, a total gift at the service of the mystery of redemption. 

Joseph the quiet humble guardian with such magnanimous resolve displays great generosity of soul.  He who at first sought a way out, "deciding to divorce her quietly," in the end becomes a man of great faith.  His unreserved readiness to respond to God's call changed the history of the world.  

Joseph, though he sought a way out,  never was stubborn about his will but always open to God's.   It was this openness that enabled him to continually discern God's will even in a difficult situation, and to the point of embracing that difficulty and allowing it to become a source of grace. 

Joseph stands guard always and perpetually as one who sought to always be ready and willing to respond "yes" to God. 

Joseph's faith united with Mary's faith has stood the test of time and shows to all of us what a husband and wife are called to be as they live out their vocation in the gift married love.

Excerpt: St. Bernard of Siena
"Obviously, Christ does not now deny to Joseph that intimacy, reverence, and very high honor which he gave hi on earth, as son to his father.  Rather we must say that in heaven Christ completes and perfects all that he gave to Joseph at Nazareth."

The picture above is a sculpture of angel coming to Joseph in a dream.  It is located in Santa Maria della Vittoria, a beautiful church in the city of Rome.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Dt 4:1,5-9; Psalm 147 Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; Mt 5:17-19
Jesus tells us in the gospel that not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. 

The text in greek doesn't speak of letter but rather speaks of the "iota" of the law. 

The "iota" is the smallest greek letter;  its size however doesn't speak of its great significance. The letter is important for without it the alphabet would be incomplete.  Nothing incomplete is ever satisfactory. 

Just so with God, he desires completion not incompletion, and thus the "iota" of the law is important. 

Many people make comments about how the little things are not important.  Many people excuse themselves from things they consider to be of little importance in the life of faith.  Jesus reminds us today that even the little things are of great significance.  

Jesus comes to fulfill not abolish. He comes to enhance the meaning to the smallest "iota" not diminish it.

At Christmas we read about the birth of Jesus.  While Mary and Joseph are in the cave laying Jesus in the manger, the shepherds are in the field watching their sheep.  The angels appear to them with this greeting, "Glory to God in the highest and peace to men to whom He is pleased."
In the incarnation we encounter the reality that "Glory to God" and "peace to men" are inseparable. Jesus unites the two for eternity. 

In fact this has always been God's desire and will.  The law and the prophets were the instruments meant to bring about this union of God's glory and peace to men.  The law and the prophets were essential to understanding right relationship to God and right relationship to men and thus giving glory to God and experiencing peace among men. 

Jesus comes to fulfill that reality.  In his person, in his passion, glory to God is fully realized and peace among men reign eternally.  This is the joy of all Christians. 

In Jesus we now know what it looks like to give God glory and are given the avenue to experience true peace. This is fulfillment Jesus speaks of in the gospel.  In Jesus we know how God is t be glorified. 

On second note concerning the "iota"
In the 4th century there was much discussion about the Holy Trinity.  The Church spent much time trying to figure out how to speak about the reality of the threeness of God and the oneness of God. 

Most of the discussion focused on Jesus and his relationship to the Father. 
There were two schools of thought that emerged in the dialogue. 

One school taught that Jesus was of the same substance as the Father and used the term homoousios.

The other school taught Jesus was similar substance as the Father and used the term homoiousios. 

The church determined that the correct theological way of speaking and thinking about Jesus' relationship with the Father was expressed with the term homousios and not homoiousios.  
The first is considered orthodox teaching the latter is considered heretical or not true.  The first is the Catholic Church and the latter is the Arian heresy.   Thus, the "iota" made all the difference in understanding truth and living properly what God as revealed in Jesus, the one who shows us how to give glory to God and receive Peace on earth. 

This is where we get the phrase"it doesn't make an iota of a difference" comes from yet we know in reality the "iota" makes all the difference.   

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

st patrick

St. Patrick prayer:
I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the creator of creation.

I arise today, through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism, through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial, through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension, through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today, through the strength of the love of the Cherubim, in obedience of angels, in the service of archangels, in the hope of the resurrection to meet with reward, in the prayers of patriarchs, in prediction of prophets, in preaching of apostles, in faith of confessors, in innocence of holy virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of heaven; light of sun, radiance of moon, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of wind, depth of sea, stability of earth, firmness of rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me" God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak to me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me, from the snares of the devil, from temptations form vices, from every one who shall wish me ill, afar and near, alone and in multitude.

I summon today, all these powers between me and those evils, against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of pagandom, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of women and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today, against poisoning, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so there come to me abundance of reward.  

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me, Christ in the eye of every one that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. 

I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the Creator of creation.


Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Psalm 25 Remember your mercies, O Lord; Matthew 18:21-35

"unless each of you forgive your brother from your heart."

The gospel today on this feast of St. Patrick is quite lengthy.  It consists of 14 verses and details the story of forgiveness.

Of all the words that are contained within this passage, I believe the most striking is the word "unless."

Jesus tells us, his disciples, that "unless" we forgive our brother from the heart we will be handed over to the tortures until we pay the last debt. 

This is true. 
The inability or refusal to forgive leads to a tortuous life.  Those who hold on to grudges and refuse to give the gift of forgiveness betray themselves into the hands of torturers.  They spend their life eaten up on the inside, racked and in pain, imprisoned by their own devices. 

As long as the forgiveness is withheld, the torture continues even it to the beyond.

Jesus' words are words not just of warning, they are not words of threat, they are words of insight to help us embrace freedom by seeking to always give the gift of forgiveness.  Jesus invites us to allow our life to mirror his, "while we were sinners Jesus died for us and offered the forgiveness and thus reconciled us tot he Father by his blood."

Jesus forgave with his whole heart.  As the spear pierced his side and water and blood flowed forth, his heart was exposed and forgiveness reigned.  

Lent is a season of meditating on the passion of Jesus.  As we meditate, may we always reach into the side of Christ and hold firmly his heart and pray that Our heart may be conformed to his.  

Thus, from His heart to ours, forgiveness might be given and the torture may end.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Go wash in the jordan

2 kings 5:1-15; Psalm 42-43 A thirst is my soul for the living God.  When shall I go  and behold the face of God; Luke 4:24-30

Today in the readings we encounter the cure of a leper, Naaman.  It was an unlikely cure, according to Naaman, whose faith was weak.  But through the faith of those around him and their insistence, Naaman listened and followed through and thus something beautiful before God and man occurred.

The hero of the story isn't Naaman or Elisha but rather the servants.  They were the ones who understood want needed to be done.  It was their friendship and service to Naaman that made the healing possible.  

The servants were true servants, not just in material welfare, but in understanding the spiritual reality before them and guiding their master to the proper place and proper spiritual mind set.

May we all be like the servants in today's reading and truly become instruments worthy of the many miracles God is desiring to bestow daily; all we must do is be a positive force that helps over come stubbornness and pride of those around us.

on a second note:  Elisha's command was for Naaman to go and wash in the Jordan.  Today the Jordan is hardly a river.  Due to human interference, the river has become nothing more than a trickle and in many places it is contaminated and the ecosystem is all but destroyed. To wash in the Jordan today would be a very dangerous thing and hazardous to our health.

We are commanded to be steward's of God' creation, however, time and time again we have exploited the created world and neglected the commission God has given us.  Much of the world and the environment has been mistreated through our hands.  

St. Paul tells us that all creation groans for salvation through the freedom of God's children.  It is exactly the abuse of our freedom that has led to the destruction of our rain forest, our rivers, our coastlands, our farm land, our skies above and earth below.  

Today we pray for a better understanding of stewardship and the courage to fight for the redemption of our created world.  May we embrace the grace to stop the abuse so that we may once again "go wash" not only in the jordan but in all our rivers and streams and truly experience redemption of all.

Friday, March 6, 2009

the last penny

Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 130 If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand? Matthew 5:20-26

The psalm today repeats, "If you, O Lord, mark our iniquities, who can stand?"

Who can stand?

As we ponder our sinfulness and weakness and frailty, at times we can be inundated with doubt and fear and uncertainty about whether our efforts are even worth it.  

Is lent really going to benefit us?  
Will this frailty ever be strengthen?  
Must we drag this weak fledgling flesh and heart and mind through this life, with out any hope of experiencing redemption?  
Must we wait till heaven to experience heavenly goodness and strength on our journey?

Jesus tells us, unless our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Great! Now we have more pressure to perform.  

We must remember that righteousness isn't something that we do, rather it is what we receive.  It isn't about pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps and muscling forward.  Righteousness is about letting God have his way with us.  It is always a step toward God before it is a step toward our neighbor.

This is why Jesus tells us to leave our gift at the altar, then go and be reconciled, then come offer the gift.  At the altar we encounter what righteousness is, what it looks like, how to receive it.  

At the altar,  we trade our pain and sorrow and weakness and fear, for the strength of Christ, the one who has already paid the last penny.  By bringing our gift to the altar we are participating in a sacred exchange, and truly allowing Christ to take over.    
We can not forgive on our own, but only in union with Christ is forgiveness possible.

At the altar, we are brought into the intimate reality of Jesus' love for his enemies.  As Jesus is being crucified, upon the altar of the cross, he shows us righteousness, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Not only does Jesus seek to forgive them, but he also makes an excuse for them.  "Forgive them for they know not what they do."  

Is this not the invitation of Jesus in today's gospel.  We must remember that when one is in sin, their ability to think clearly and act righteously is hindered. Rather then dwell on our hurt and pain, should we not recognize the great tragedy of the human soul who has fallen short of being who they were meant to be.  Should we not lament their current state, rather then focus on ourselves and our suffering. 

Is this not what Jesus does on the altar of the cross.  He leaves his gift at the altar and he seeks to be reconciled.  It is his gift of his life that brings about reconciliation, "by the blood of the cross he has reconciled the world to himself."

The last penny has been paid with the last drop of blood shed upon the cross.  Jesus shows us that true righteousness is where ones words and actions are identical.  Here we receive the gift of righteousness, at the foot of the cross, at the altar of the cross, we bring our gift, the gift of our self and we experience redemption and thus our weakness becomes strength, our frailty becomes zeal, and we begin to have the "mind of Christ" and perfect love cast our all fear.

Who can stand?  The answer we find in the prayer of the Mass.  In Eucharistic prayer II, we pray, "Lord, we thank you for having made us worthy to stand in you presence and serve you."

Who can stand?  
We can stand!  And we stand not our own but in the shadow of the cross, the altar of our redemption, and our weak knees no longer tremble at our guilt and frailty for we encounter the one who makes us righteous.  God has marked our iniquities, and through the humility of the cross, Jesus gives his life, forgives us and makes excuses for us, so that  we might stand.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Esther c:12,14-16, 23-25; Psalm 138 Lord, on the day i called for help, you answered me;

Today Jesus gives us a catechesis on prayer. 

He helps us realize that prayer is more than just asking for what we want and getting it.  Prayer is deeper than an invitation to petition but rather it is an invitation to conversion.  This is why it is one of the tenants of Lent: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.

We all can relate to Esther in her prayer in the first reading, "Help me!" is the resounding theme of her request.  She has found that she is in complete dependence on God, "Help me who am alone and have no help but you, O Lord, my God."

In deed the primary movement of conversion through prayer is growing in our own awareness of being dependent.  God does not want us to be autonomous, the rugged individual who is far to independent for him, but rather he wants us to be those who have the heart of child, who is aware of their need and dependence on him.

Jesus in the gospel flushes this out, "ask and it will be given; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open; for everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened...how much more will your heavenly Father give good things those who ask."

Three things:
Jesus helps us understand, above all, that God is one who hears and speaks.  He is person, not some distant entity in the clouds.  He longs to hear us ask, seek, and knock.  He desires a relationship with each of us.  He is not just a father figure, but in reality from all eternity He is Our Father.

Secondly,Jesus also wants us to recognize God is powerful.  He can grant everything.  He is not limited.  Prayer is the concrete recognition of God's immense power and glory.  When we pray, we open up to this eternal reality of supreme do-ability, "with God all things are possible."

 Thirdly, Jesus points to the fact that God though unlimited in his power confines himself to giving "good things."  It is the Father's power and goodness that holds the world and all together.  God is love and it is this good love that finds a way to answer the hopes of those that He loves.   If we meditate on God's goodness, we discover that God can give everything but he will not just give anything.  There is purpose and meaning behind the gift God disposes upon those who ask, seek, and knock.

Prayer is not just about getting what we want, but it is about wanting what God gives and seeking to find the "goodness" that often times is disguised in the answer bestowed.  We pray in the Eucharistic prayer III, "to God from whom all good things come."

As we ponder the cross, we should be humbled by the goodness of such a gift, such an answer to our souls' deepest longing, a longing of true communion, a long for real prayer and dialogue. Gazing upon the cross our understanding of prayer is blown wide open, the fragments of our limited  and self-centered expectations lie shattered on the floor.  At the cross, we begin to understand the deep and profound and all powerful goodness that the Father wields so that love can find a way so that love can bring forth the answer.

In the midst of prayer as we spend time with goodness itself, we slowly become transformed to be like the goodness we ponder.  Here begins our true conversion, here is why we must pray as part of our Lent journey, for conversion is about goodness transforming us. 


Monday, March 2, 2009

What if?

Leviticus 19:1-2,11-18; Psalm 19 Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; Mt 25:31-46
The response in today's liturgy is: Your words, Lord, are spirit and life

Mt 25 reads:
I was hungry and you gave me some food.
Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.

I was thirsty and you gave drink.
Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.

I was naked and you clothed me.
Your words,Lord, are spirit and life.

I was ill and you cared for me. 
Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.

I was in prison and you visited me.
Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.

Amen, I say to you whatever you did for one of  the least brothers of mine, you did for me.
Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.

"The poor anywhere in the world are Christ who suffers.  In them, the son of God lives and dies.  Through them, God shows his face." Mother Teresa

Sunday, March 1, 2009

1st Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25 Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant; Mark 1:12-15

  As we read the gospel, we encounter Jesus in the desert among wild beast. 

Instantly, we should all go back to advent when we read this in the gospel.  In advent, as we began our journey of expectation f the birth of Christ, we read the prophecy from Isaiah: 

"The wolf shall be guest of 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; the cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox, the baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child shall lay his hand on the adders lair; their shall be no harm or ruin on all of my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of  Lord, as water covers the sea."  (Isaiah 11:6-9)

Mark is telling us that the Messianic hope is being fulfilled in Christ, the beloved child of God, who sits with beast in the desert and leads them. 

Jesus is the fulfillment of the messianic kingdom.  Advent gives way to lent and the hope we thought we received in the manger is being realized in the desert in the person of Jesus Christ. 

This is why the first words of Jesus in his ministry are, "This the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the gospel."

The kingdom of God is not some distant place.  The kingdom God is not some territory with particular boundaries and borders.  Th kingdom of God is not even a noun.  It is a verb.  It is a way of living.  It is the way of life.  

Mark is telling us to watch Christ move in the gospel and we will discover how the kingdom is meant to be a living breathing reality in all of us.  We discover that the greatest territory which the kingdom comes to claim is the human heart.  It is from the heart that the Kingdom truly reigns.