Saturday, May 30, 2009

When the time was fulfilled

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The reading from the Acts of the Apostles begin with, "When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all gathered in one place."

"When the time for pentecost was fulfilled..."

"When the time..."

Time is an amazing thing. 

We are often told in life to take our time that is to slow down, or not to take it that is hurry up.
We often waste time only to discover we have no time to waste.

We are often told that time will tell yet we are taught from early on how to tell time.
We are always expected to be on time, and never be late; yet how many times have we arrived  only to be asked to give them a little more time!

Many of us have a lot of time under our belts and for some time is just beginning.


We are always wanting time to go quickly when we are young, because we can hardly wait for our time to come; when we get older we want time to slow down because we all know our time is coming. 

most often in life we are looking for ways just to pass the time.

When death approaches, we all just want more time

Time is baffling for us.  We spend a lot of time thinking about time that has passed or time that will come and yet we know that the past is no more and the future is not yet and the present is always somewhere in between time.

Time is always slipping through our finger tips.

And the more we ponder time, we wonder do we really know what time it is?

Today in the first reading, we discover that God knows perfectly well how to tell time and to use it wisely.   No time goes wasted in God's watchful eye.

He is always in charge and makes every moment the right time.  

As the people gather for pentecost, the perfect time arrives.

The feast of Pentecost was one of the three principle and mandatory celebrations.  Every male within 20 miles of Jerusalem was obligated to go and celebrate. 

It was a feast that took place in June which meant it was the ideal time to travel.  This explains the large number of people, the international gathering from all over (Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopatamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Rome).

A good time to travel is a good time to travel.

This feast was a feast commemorating the giving of the law to Moses and the people at Mt. Sinai 50 days after the passover, the crossing of of the Red Sea, freedom from Egypt and slavery.  The law was given to inform the people how to be godly in their life, to walk according to God's way, to live on God's time.   

It was a time to remember God's saving deeds in past time

It was also a feast of thanksgiving.  The first fruits of the harvest were brought forth to the temple as a sign of gratitude to God for the gifts he bestowed.  A time to give thanks for God's generosity in the present time.

It was also a time of holiday.  No servile work was to take place.  Thus, the streets would be packed and people would be every where enjoying this time and having the time of their life in the big city of Jerusalem.

In this moment, when the people were remembering the saving acts of God, the giving of the law, and giving thanks, God sends his Spirit to awaken in the people a sense of a new time beginning.  You could say God comes in the nick of time to help people begin to tell time anew.

The time was now for salvation had come.

The Spirit comes and Peter and the eleven are empowered to speak and Jesus is made known, the one who came in the fullness of time to fill time with grace upon grace. 

Jesus comes in  time to offer salvation in time to free us from the enslavement of time.  We are no longer bound by time in Jesus.

This is the lesson of Pentecost: God is never late; God is never early; God is always right on time and that time is always right now. 

To receive the Spirit of God is to live in the moment and to take hold of the time offered trusting that if we walk where the Spirit leads, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control, then time will always be on our side.

In the end, if we trust the Spirit of truth, time won't matter; time as we know it will give way to eternity and in eternity we will all finally be in the fullness of time.

As we celebrate the Eucharist, that fullness of time is made present in us.  Each celebration of the Eucharist is a "new pentecost", a new outpouring of helping us learn to tell time, to use time wisely, and to walk anew in the newness of time.

Mary continued

Below is a quote from St. Gregory the Great concerning the Blessed Mother:

"The most blessed and ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, can be called by this name, "mountain".  Yes, she was a mountain, who by the dignity of her election has completely surpassed the height of every creature.  Is Mary not the lofty mountain?  For God, to achieve the conception of the eternal Word, raised the summit of her merits above the choirs of angels, up to the threshold of the Godhead.

Isaiah said in a prophecy,"In the last days, the mountains of the Lord's house will be made the highest mountain" (Is 2:2).  And this mountain has been made the highest mountain, because Mary's height has shined above all the saints.  For, just as a mountain implies height, so the house signifies a dwelling place.  Therefore, she is called mountain and house, because she, illuminated by incomparable merits, prepared a womb for God's Only-begotten to dwell in...Mary is justly called mountain rich in fruits, because the best fruit was born from her, namely, a new man.  And the prophet, considering how beautiful she is, adorned in the glory of her fruitfulness, cries out: "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow from his roots" (Is 11:1).  

Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Do you love me...

Acts 25:13-21; Psalm 103 The Lord has established his throne in heaven; John 21:15-19

Slowly as we have gone through this week we have begin to see the church turn toward Rome.  Paul in the Acts of the Apostles is slowly making his way to Rome as he appeals to Caesar.  

As a roman citizen, Paul had to the right to have his case heard by the Emperor. 
Rome is his destination. 

Into day's gospel we read the end of the gospel of John.  Jesus and Peter are standing on the beach.  Jesus ask Peter, "do you love me more than these?"

Three times Peter is asked and three times Jesus gives him a command, "Feed my sheep...tend my sheep...feed my sheep."

We begin to understand the primacy of Peter as head of the twelve more clearly and distinctly.  Peter is entrusted with the supreme leadership.

Just a note:  When Jesus ask Peter, "Do you love me...?"  Jesus uses the greek term, agape, which is considered to be God's love for man, sacrificial and heroic in every manner. 

When Peter responds, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you," Peter uses a different word for love.  Peter uses a greek word, philos, which is more or less a brotherly and affectionate love that might be better rendered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I like you." 

Peter becomes aware of his weak love.  He understands that he may not have what it takes to love fully and completely.  

Jesus in the third question, "do you love me?" actually uses the same word Peter uses in his response, Philos.  Jesus basically came down to Peter's level and ask, well Peter do you at least like me?

The beauty of the passage is that Jesus knows the love of Peter and chose to come down to his level.  Jesus meets us where we are and will strengthen and empower our love in time. 

How does our love become strength?  Simply put, "follow me."  Jesus reminds us as He reminds Peter, in following after him our weak love will be strengthen and our "like" will turn into true and authentic "love."

If you go to St. Peter's square in Vatican City, you will encounter a huge obelsik.  It is a 25 meter high piece of granite that weighs a million pounds.  It is believed to have been in the circus of the Emperor at the time of Paul and Peter in Rome.  Tradition tells us that it marked the spot where Peter was crucified upside down. 

It stands today as a silent witness to Peter's love being transformed from "philos" to "agape" from like to sacrificial love.  Crucified upside down, Peter could finally answer the question,"Peter, do you love me more than these?" with a resounding  "yes, Lord, you know everything you know that I love you."

Rome, as the place of martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul, today stands as a reminder of how grace can transform our weak love and make it strong.  This is why today Rome stands as the standard of authentic apostolic tradition. This is why the fullness of faith resides in the Roman Catholic Church.  The primacy of Peter sent forth to feed and tend the sheep is made complete in the eternal city where upon the cross upside down Peter was empowered to feed and tend with true and authentic love.

scripture quote to put to memory:
"and I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven."  Matthew 16:18-19

Thursday, May 28, 2009

for the cause

Acts 22:30, 23:6-11; Psalm 16 Keep me safe, O God; You are my hope; John 17:20-26

We encounter Paul being interrogated and questioned before the Sanhedrin.  Paul's life is beginning to look a lot like  Jesus' life.  Paul finds himself in hot water because of his preaching just as Jesus found himself against all odds for proclaiming the truth.

At the end of the first reading we encounter the moment where , "the Lord stood by him [Paul] and said, 'take courage.  For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome."

What is the cause of Jesus?

Two things. 

First of all Jesus does not come to preach a cause.  He comes to preach himself.  The cause of Jesus is nothing other than himself, his person, the reality he breathes forth in the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Secondly, the cause is reality itself.  Jesus reveal reality to humanity; he reveals the reality of God and also the reality of man's ultimate destination.  

Paul takes a stand for reality revealed in the person of Jesus who works the work of redemption and stands victorious over death and offers new hope to all who believe. 

The cause of Jesus is Jesus.  

As the sadducees and pharisees dispute over the existence of angels, spirit, resurrection, it is ironic.  They are disputing over what is real and Paul is inviting them to embrace reality in Jesus who comes to settle the dispute, once and for all.

"I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them." Jn 17:26

The cause of Jesus is that Jesus desires to live within each of us, the in dwelling of God in man.

Here is a cause worthy fighting for, living for, dying for.

Scripture quote to put to memory:
"I have written this to you to make you realize that you possess eternal life-you who believe in the name of the Son of God." 1 John 5:13

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

rehabilitate the truth

Acts 20:28-38; Psalm 68 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; John 17:11b-19

Paul in the first reading warns the presbyters about men who "will come perverting the truth."

Jesus in the gospel in his priestly prayer for his disciples prays to the Father that the disicples might be "consecrated in the truth."


What a fascinating reality that lies before us.  In our society we must ask the question, what is truth?  Where do we find it?  Why do we need it? 

Jesus in his prayer tells the Father, "Your word is truth." 

Pope Benedict tells us that we must "Rehabilitate the question of truth in a world filled with relativism."

He warns us that "if we can no longer recognize what is true and distinguish it from what is false then it is impossible to recognize what is good."

He later reminds us that "only if the Christian faith is true does it concern all men."

Paul and Jesus alike direct us to guard the truth for it is truth that sets us free. 

As Pope Benedict directs us, "truth can never be replaced by good intentions."

For if it is not caught up in truth, then the intentions themselves are lacking in goodness.

Just a few words to ponder as we continue to rebuild the society that has fallen from the the truth itself.

"As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.  And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth."  

As we pray at the mass during the Kyrie, "Lord Jesus you have given us the consolation of the truth.  Lord, have mercy."

Truth given is mercy offered.  Truth embraced is mercy received.
Lord have mercy because truth has been revealed in him.  He who offers truth offers mercy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

memorial day

A prayer for Memorial Day:

We gather this day with hearts and minds filled with gratitude, pride, and sorrow for those men and women who have enabled us to stand on the land of the free.  We look upon their many sacrifices, their sweat and blood, their youth and vigor, their hopes and dreams, their livelihood itself, and with awe and wonder we pause beneath the reverential silence we bring beneath the flag flown at half mast.   

As the flag flies low, our eyes soar upward, seeking the strength that comes from praise, from gratitude, from remembrance.  We ask our Heavenly Father to bestow upon us the grace to remember so we might live a lifeworthy of the sacrifices made lest they be in vain and to bestow upon those men and women who have fallen on the field of battle the grace of eternal rest, that their gift for us might be a gift of peace for themselves for no sacrifice shall go unrewarded and love is never in vain.  

Heavenly Father, countless men and women have generously given their all, though they knew us not and their gift draws us all together this day.  Though strangers they are to us, by their sacrifice they have made us friends with their final breath upon the field of combat, and we pause in silence breathing forth love to make good on this bond of friendship forged by the blood they shed and the wounds they bore.  We set aside this day to remember their valor, their love, their life laid down, and their gift of friendship undeserved, wrought with great adversity and greater compassion for us fellow countrymen.  

Bless us with your mighty hand, and welcome our fallen soldiers  into that promised land,a land that is eternally free, a land that has been open wide for all by the blood of the cross that remains the truest battle of all.  May the victims of wars share in the victory over all.  

Bless us who remain with the strength to carry on; may we live a life of honor so one day we may be reunited with the ones for whom today we pause to remember.  As their names ring out here below may their courage and fidelity gain them entrance into the heavenly choir above.  

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in the peace they fought to achieve.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ascension of the Lord: the standard of Hope is raised

Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47 Alleluia; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20; 

"God is rich in mercy; because of his great love for us he brought us to life with Christ Jesus when we were dead in sin.  By this favor you are save.  Both with and in Christ Jesus he raised us up and gave us a place in the heavens."  Ephesians 2:4-6

Hope has arisen.  The Christmas celebration has reached its climax.  What Christ was born to accomplish, what took his suffering and death to bring about, his ascension reveals.  Our destiny is forever laid before us.  Our destination is made clear. 

The hope of our faith shines forth from above as the cloud rises.  We forever live beneath the blessing arms of Christ who intercedes for us forever. 

Often time the polish in Warsaw during the War would stop at the many gateways of the many buildings where altars  would be present and the tenets of the buildings would sing this song seeking hope in the midst of the german occupation: "Listen, Jesus, how your people plead/ Listen, listen, and intercede."

The faith in the ascension could not be denied. 

So we join our hearts and minds in this moment of hope for all: listen, listen and intercede.

Mary continued

As the month of May continues forth, we continue our own pilgrimage walking with our heavenly mother.  Here are a few words from St. Peter Chrysologus about the Blessed Virgin Mary:

"Even before the angel announced God's plan, the Virgin's dignity was announced by her name; for the Hebrew word Mary rendered in Latin is Domina [lady].  Hence the angel calls her Lady, so that fear proper to servitude might leave her, the Mother of the Master.  For her Son's authority decreed and brought it about that she should be born and named Lady."

"Blessed are you among women.  The Virgin is truly Blessed, for she possessed the splendor of virginity and achieved the dignity of motherhood.  She is truly Blessed, for she merited the grace of heavenly conception and wore the crown of integrity.  She is truly blessed, for she received the glory of the divine Son and is queen of all chastity."

Our Lady Pray for us.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Acts 10:25-48; Psalm 98 The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17

Today we encounter the story of Cornelius the centurion.  It is a pretty neat story with many things happening.  

Cornelius was a Roman centurion who was a pagan.  Yet, the Acts of the Apostles describe him as "a religious and God-fearing man, along with his whole household.  He was in the habit of giving generously  to the people and praying constantly."  

What a description!

Here is a man that was held  in high esteem yet in all his good attributes: religious, God-fearing, generous, praying, he was still lacking something.  He was missing an essential ingredient so that he might be fulfilled and complete.  He was good but not good enough.

This is why God sends a message to him to tell him to send for Peter. 

What was he missing?

The answer is simple and straight forward. 

He was missing Jesus.  

His faith as strong as it was, was lacking direction, was lacking true power and force.  He needed his faith to go from being anonymous to being personal and real. 

Only then does he truly become who he was made to be; only then does his attributes become holy and life giving. 

In the gospel Jesus paints the picture with even strokes.  He points out six things that he wants to give to his disciples to enrich their life, to give them direction, to personalize their faith journey: "If you keep my commandments you will remain in my joy will be in are my friends...I have told you everything I have heard from my Father...ask in my name." 

We are introduced to the "my" of Jesus so that our life can be fulfilled.

The guess work has ended; the anonymity of faith gives way to positive direction.  The anonymity of joy and love now have direction and a pattern to follow.  Friendship becomes heavenly and truly intimate.  God now becomes personal and real.  We are given the name by which our prayer becomes forceful and powerful.  

This is what Cornelius was missing.  This is what brings fulfillment.  Cornelius doesn't have to settle for anonymity he now knows personally.  Faith is now personal, not because it comes from the believer, but because it finds a resting place in the person of Jesus, in his "my" our faith has strength to carry us to through life into eternal joy touched with glory.

This is the gift for all of us.  May we spread so others may experience that power as well and no long reside in anonymity but now be personalized, real, and true. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


acts 15:1-6; Psalm 122 Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord; John 15:1-8

"And everyone who does he prunes so that it bears more fruit."

The Good Lord is never satisifed with the fruit that is produced. He wants more. He doesn't want more for the sake of having more; he wants more so that we can reach our full potential and be who we were made to be.

So he prunes us.

How does this pruning take place.

It is a practical matter of everyday living and breathing.

For instance, we will have opportunities to practice patience today, either on the highway or in our families, dealing with our parents or siblings; maybe in the grocery market or at the hair salon or even on the basketball court. That opportunity where ever it shows its face is a pruning.

We will have opportunity today to reachout to those who are different, those who rub us wrong, those who annoy us in some form or fashion. Again, where ever this takes palce, this too is a pruning.

We will have opportunity to be warm and giving, whether it is as simple as getting the mail, taking out the trash, picking up after ourselves; this too is pruning.

Our personality is always being challenged to improve in those small ways; this is the pruning that Jesus desires so that our potential can finally be actual.

What does that fruit look like?

Pope Benedict in a homily in the Holy Land spoke these words in regards to the vocation and calling of the dignity of women in our society, but I believe it is the vocation and dignity of every person who allows himself to be pruned so that he may blossom anew a fruit of everlasting sweetness, one that savors eternal delight:

we are called to be "bearers of love, teachers of mercy, artisans of peace bringing warmth and humanity to a world that too often judges value of a person by the cold criteria of usefulness and profit."

We are called to bear love, teach mercy, and be artisans of peace so that warmth might be felt in our world. This is the product of pruning, this is how we "bear much fruit and become[his] disicples."

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, let us remember her message to the world: pray the rosary daily, pray for the Pope, and make reparation for sinners, offering sacrifices, so that all might be converted and come to know and serve our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Peace I leave

Acts 14:19-28; Psalm 145 Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom; John 14:27-31

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you."

What peace is given?

The world offers peace in material well fare that depends on the circumstances.  Peace is present as long as we have all that we want.  Or peace comes in the form of material possessions that never stay as long as we desire and are always in need of upgrades.  The world also offers a peace of escape as it convinces us to remove ourselves from reality.  How often do we seek peace in escape and fantasy knowing that it is fleeting and passing?  How many times have men and women lost themselves in fantasy only to destroy their lives and the lives of those around them?  The world offers a peace of false security, a security you have to pay for in monthly installments.    The world offers peace in the form of loans so you can get what you want right now though you have to deal with finance charges or mounting debt that you can not afford.  The world offers the peace of medicine and advanced treatments or promises of future cures yet in all the advancement death still comes and decay will find our bones. 

The world's peace is always complicated and never as peaceful as it seems.

Jesus offers peace.  It is a different kind of peace.  It is a peace that is not bound by circumstances or medical advancements or finance charges or fantasy land.  Jesus offers a peace that is lasting, a peace that comes from above and enters into our earth.  It is a peace that began with his birth and is shown more perfectly on the cross and resurrection.  It is a peace that disturbs, shakes us up; it is a peace that delivers on the promises it makes.  There is no empty hope, no earthly gain, but there is a heavenly reward.  It is a peace that gives us strength to keep our heads held high no matter the circumstances; a peace that calms the storms and chaos in our life; a peace that enables us to embrace death as an entrance into fulfillment of life.  It is a peace that conquers, one heart at a time.      

It is a peace that offers reality: "I am going away but I will come back to you."  It is a peace that holds out someone to believe in, someone to hope in, someone who loves even until the end.

excerpt from St. Athanasius:
"O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness.  For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word?  To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin?  You are greater than them all.  O Ark of the New Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold!  You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides.  Should I compare you to the fertile earth and its fruits?  You surpass them, for it is written: "The earth is my footstool" (Is 66:1).  But you carry within you the feet , the head, and the entire body of the perfect God."

Monday, May 11, 2009

eyes wide open

Acts 14:5-18; Psalm 115 Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory; John 14:21-26

"Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

These are the words of Jesus today in the gospel.  They are pertinent words to all of us each and every day.  

We live in an age of great spiritual malaise. People are trying many things to awaken their spiritual fervor, to be connected to the divine, or to tap into their inner strength. 

Many people search for the presence of God, hoping to catch a glimpse as they squint through the lenses of 'new age' spirituality.  What remains is a lot of people walking around squinting only to discover it hasn't sharpen their vision one bit.  Their fervor only last a little while.

Or we have people who convince themselves that they have to feel a certain way in order to have that connection.  They thrive on the 'high' they get from retreats only to discover their addictive personality, they like the 'high' more than reality.  It also leaves them with a spiritual hang over. 

So what are we to do.  

Jesus tells us plainly in the gospel, "Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.  Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

The mystical life meets the proverbial road only in the daily grind of ready obedience and love in fulfilling the commandments of Jesus.  We waste our time looking for God unless we fortify our vision by loving those around us.  Only in the dirty job of loving in the little ways do we give ourselves a chance to see what our hearts have longed to see because only then do we truly live with our eyes wide open and see the face of God. 

We cannot wait for Jesus to show himself to us; we must seek to love only then will we see more clearly.  Thus, every Christian will be a mystic or nothing at all as they tread the narrow road.

Excerpt from St. John Vianney
"The Father takes pleasure in looking upon the heart of the most holy Virgin Mary, as the masterpiece of his hands...The Son takes pleasure in it as the heart of his Mother, the source from which he drew the blood that ransomed us."  

Sunday, May 10, 2009

fear of the Lord

Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22 I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-10
In the first reading we get a picture of the earlier church, "The church throughout Judea, Galilee, Samaria was at peace.  It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers."

What does it mean to walk in the fear of the Lord?
It doesn't mean to be filled with anxiety and terror.

Fear of the Lord is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is one of the seven fold gifts: fear of the Lord, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, wisdom, piety.

It is the foundational gift.  It is the beginning of perfection.  Fear of the Lord teaches us how to keep it real, how to live in reality and to escape make believe. 
There are two aspects of "fear of the lord."

1) fear of the Lord means to fear punishment.  Hell is a real possibility.  It enables us to ask the question, "What is at stake for me?"  We recognize reality in light of our selfishness.  We love God for our sake.   God will often get us to look at ourself so that he might draw us closer to him.  Here God invites us to learn to live with great expectations.  The one who expects nothing can no longer live.

2) fear of the Lord teaches us to move beyond ourself.  It deepens our sensitivity to love.  Thus, we begin to fear offending the one who loves us; we do not want to hurt the one who loves.  
We ask the question, "what is at stake for the other?"  We love God for the sake of God.
This is the most essential aspect of the gift to "fear the Lord."  Here God invites us to live with great appreciation.  Appreciation becomes the fuel in living with love and seeking to never betray the love that is offered.

This is why Jesus tells us he is the vine and we are the branches and that we must remain in him.  The closer we are to Him the more we will grow in our awareness and sensitivity to the cost of love.  We recognize reality.  We then shall grow in perfection seeking not to offend the one who has loved us so.
Fear of the Lord is everything.

In May we honor the Blessed virgin Mary.  It is important to have Mary moments in our life. 
St. Paul tells us we should direct our thoughts to all that is "true, deserving of respect, honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous, and worthy of praise.'
We should ponder the blessed mother.  She teaches us perfectly what it means to live a life that is rooted in proper fear of the Lord.  She always said 'yes' to God and her love never knew sin.  

We as Catholics do not worship her, we do not pray to her, but we do ask her to intercede for us, to pray for us.  We do what God the Father did.  God asked her to intercede for humanity so that Jesus might come into the world, "you shall conceive a son whose kingdom will have no end."  Mary said 'yes' and God raised a fallen world.  We invite her to take us by the hand and lead us ever closer to the vine, her Son, so that we might bear much fruit.
We should set aside Mary moments throughout our day and reflect on the beauty of such a woman, of such a mother, walk in her stead, fearing the lord and growing in perfection daily.

We also honor our mother the Church.  She has cared for us through out our life.  She teaches us right from wrong.  She helps us understand what is offensive to God, she also teaches us about the love of God.   She gives us the gift of faith in the waters of baptism, directs us toward eternal life, gives us the experience of forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation, she feeds us from her table with the Eucharist, she heals us in the sacrament of the sick, she strengthens us with confirmation, allows us to grow with the sacrament of marriage, she guides us with the priesthood, and she gathers us together as the people of God.  She has been ever faithful to her mission, we should honor her well. 

We honor our earthly mothers.  This day is set aside for  'public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country."  Where would we be without our mothers.  Our belly button alone reminds us we are forever indebted, our life is not our own.  May we pause today to embrace our mothers, to thank them, and to love them properly by walking in the fear of the Lord and live with great expectations and great appreciation.

Friday, May 8, 2009

hope in unlikely places

Acts 13:26-33; Psalm 2 You are my son; this day I have begotten you; John 14:1-6

"Even though they found no grounds for a death sentence, they asked pilate to have him put to death, and when they had accomplished all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and placed him in a tomb."

If we were to stop there and read no further, the history of Jesus would simply be a tragedy.  It would be another sad story.  The story itself  would simply dissolve over time and become a legend of innocence destroyed at the hands of the powerful and the tomb would remain a very scary place, a place of despair.

"But God raised him from the dead and for many days he appeared  to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem."

What a beautiful word "but".  The story doesn't end.  In fact, the history of Jesus continues to not only make history but direct history, "And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be."

"Do not let your hearts be troubled; have faith."

As we pray at funerals, "Lord Jesus Christ, by your own three days in the tomb, you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you and os made the grave a sign of hope that promises resurrection even as it claims our mortal bodies."

The grave is no longer a scary place of death where sadness lingers and heartache deepens; rather the grave is place where love shows its true strength, "but God raised him from the dead."

The grave is the unlikeliest place of hope for all; the grave is the first place we look to to discover hope in this life and to be encouraged to keep moving forward with one eye fixed on the things at hand the other on the hand who prepares a place ahead, "and I go to prepare a place for you." 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

personality traits

Acts 13:13-25; Psalm 89 Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; John 13:16-20 

We read in the gospel the words of Jesus, "blessed are you who do it."

Who do what?

Jesus is referring to serving; as he washed the feet of the apostles he tells them what I have done for you, you must do for others.  He is speaking of humility and courage and steadfastness and perseverance.  It is a sending forth.

In the first reading we catch Paul on his missionary journey from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia to Antioch in Pisidia. 

Paul was not one to wait around.  Paul was a go getter.  Every moment was an opportunity.  There was no quit in Paul. Yet, not all the companions had this go getting appetite.  

John one of their companions, "left them" and returned to Jerusalem.  In fact, this leaving of John was taken hard by Paul.  Later in Acts, Paul refers to John as a quitter.  

Why did John leave, no one knows.  Perhaps he was afraid.  Antioch of  Psidia was not a easy place to go.  It was 3,6oo ft above sea level and it was surrounded by mountain ranges; in order to get to this place one had to enter onto one of the worst roads in Asia Minor, notorious for robbers and bandits.  Perhaps John was scared and unsure of himself.  His personality was of a different sort.  Not everyone was Paul.  The beauty of John, he did not try to be who he wasn't; he did not insist on keeping up with Paul.  He knew who he was and more importantly he knew who he was not.

But we do know that both Paul and John are labeled saints in the church.  Despite their personality differences they were able to serve the Lord in a capacity of holiness. 
Despite the differences both were willing to wash the feet of others, some on top of the mountain and others in the valley, but feet are feet no matter where they rest upon the ground. 

This is consoling.  We all have different personalities.  We all have strengths and weaknesses.  Yet, every personality when given over to Jesus for his service can become saintly.

May we seek to be who we are and let the grace of God strengthen and empower the gifts he gave so that we might learn to wash the feet of those around us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

growing the Word

Acts 12:24-13:5; Psalm 67 O God, let all nations praise you; John 12:44-50 

The reading from the Acts of the Apostles begins with these words:

"The Word of God continued to spread and grow."

The Word of God growing and spreading is instantly linked to "tradition" and "Apostolic succession."  Our Protestant brothers and sisters cringe at these words  but that is because they fail understand its importance and its necessity.  

Pope Benedict reminds us:

"Tradition is never a simple  and anonymous handing on of teaching, but is linked to a person , is a living word, that has its concrete reality in faith.  And apostolic succession is never the taking over of some official powers that are then at the disposal of the office bearer; rather, it is being taken into the service of the word, the office of testifying to something with which one has been entrusted and which stands above its bearer, so that he fades into the background behind the thing he has taken over and is just a voice that enables the word to be heard aloud in the world...succession is holding fast to the apostolic word, that is he could trace his spiritual ancestors, by name, back to the apostles themselves, which is the criteria for truth of the Word being spread, thus tradition means the continuing existence  of authorized witnesses...As for the rest-must not the word of God and the reality based upon it always make use of human circumstances so as to be able to express itself among men?"

This is the development of the apostolic succession that enables the Word of God to spread and grow.  This ensures that the word being spread is not only authorized but also true to the Word Incarnate Himself who gave the authorization to the Apostles in the first place, "all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, got therefore make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you and behold I am with you until the end of the age." (Mt 28)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

name calling

Acts 11:19-26; Psalm 87 All you nations, praise the Lord; John 10:22-30

One of the things that we deal with often at the school is the young people making fun on each other.  They are often clowning around.  Sometimes they can be creative with their humor.  Sometimes they can be cruel with their humor.  

A few times they get caught up in 'name-calling.'  It usually does not end up well.  Someone is sent to the office while someone else usually gets their feelings hurt.  Either way, hearts are bruised and love's opportunity slips away. 

In today's first reading  we learn about how the followers of Christ in Antioch were being called "christians."  The term was derogatory and contemptuous.  It was a name that was meant to be an insult.  Antioch was a place of moral degradation, with temple prostitutes and indulgent practice and games.  It was a spectacle for the senses.  So the Christians were considered to be somewhat "prudish."  They chose the moral high road and got made fun of because of it.

Some things never change.  Even today, some 1900 years after Antioch, the name of "Christian"continues to breathe contempt in the heart of many.  In our society, especially in the United States, those who live their Christian Faith firmly and totally are looked down upon as freaks.   Our society loves Christians who are nominal only but not necessarily those who are truly convicted.

Everywhere we look, the teachings of Christ are being undermined and the belief of Christians are being threaten with legal action or in the media.  As a country, we pride ourselves in accepting all creeds and all beliefs, yet  Christians, especially Catholics, have become the end of many a jokes. 

This is okay.  We do not come to be accepted.  We do not come to be liked.  We do not come to be understood.  We come to transform.  We come to take a stand for goodness and uprightness. We come to bring light to those in darkness.  We come to be salt of the earth.  We come to be made fun of if it means the message remains true to Christ himself, because we hold firmly to the words of Jesus in the gospel, 

"My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.  No one can take them out of my hand."    

So we keep living the message boldly and daringly.  We let the names fall where they will. We let the voices echo around us.  We expose ourselves to the world.  We know we are in good hands; we know His hands are strong and secure.  We know his hands are those that bore the insult first.  We know that He endured the name calling as well.  We simply follow in his stead with heads held high, love in our hearts, truth on our lips, hope in our minds, and faith in our souls.  Like in Antioch, we trust that "the grace of God" will be made manifest even in the midst of the name calling.

Excerpt from the the office of readings, St. Chrysologus:
"Listen the Lord's appeal: in me I want you to see your own body, your members, your heart, your bones, your blood.  You may run away from me as your Lord, but why not run to me as your father.  Do not be afraid.  The cross inflicts a mortal injury, not on me, but on death.  The nails no longer pain me, but only deepen your love for me.  I do not cry out because of these wounds, but through them i draw you into my heart.  My body was stretched on the cross as a symbol, not of how much I suffered, but of my all-embracing love.  I count it no loss to shed my blood: it is the price I have paid for your ransom.  Come, then, return to me and learn to know me as your father, who pays good for evil, love for injury, and boundless charity for piercing wounds...present your bodies as a living sacrifice.  Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity.  Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection.  Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you. Keep burning continually the sweet-smelling incense of prayer.  Take up the sword of the Spirit.  Let your heart be an altar.  Then with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice.  God desires not death but faith; God thirst not for blood but self-surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will."

Monday, May 4, 2009


Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 42/43 Athirst is my soul for the living God; John 10:1-10

Yesterday we looked at the Good Shepherd and how he proved himself to be worthy of such a title.

Today we get the first part of yesterday's gospel. 

We continue our reflection on the Good Shepherd.  But today let us reflect on the nature of being a sheep.  Besides, a majority of our problems do not come with the Shepherd but rather with the sheep. It is the flock that causes unrest and anxiety.  The Shepherd can take care of himself, he knows who he is.  The sheep do not know so well what it means to be sheep.

What does it mean to be a sheep: the greek word used for sheep in the New Testament denotes any four legged animal that is tame and domesticated.  Any animal that is willing to cooperate and be docile to the voice of the master.

One that is willing to cooperate.  This sounds like a novel idea.  As sheep of the Shepherd we are call to cooperate with him.  

What does it look like when a sheep cooperates with the Shepherd?  The opening prayer of the mass this morning reveals to us what it means for sheep to be sheep who cooperate with the call of the Shepherd:

 "Father, through the obedience of Jesus, your servant and your son, you raise a fallen world."

As good sheep of the Good Shepherd, we cooperate with Jesus in raising a fallen world.  We lift it up and transform it.  

This is our call, may we be docile and follow our Shepherd's lead and raise the fallen world.  

Sunday, May 3, 2009

hear my voice

Acts 4:8-12;Psalm 118 The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

Today on the church we celebrate the feast of Christ the Good Shepherd. Why do we celebrate this feast on the 4th sunday of Easter?

first of all, a shepherd is one who feeds, guides, rescues, and heals the sheep. 

A good Shepherd, must first prove himself, before he might be considered a worthy shepherd as opposed to a hireling, concerned only for the money.

We wait to see what kind of shepherd is Christ.  We let him prove himself before we celebrate the gift. 

If we go back to Holy week, We begin to realize just how good this Shepherd is.

Holy Thursday: Jesus institutes the Eucharist, "my body is real food and my blood is real drink."  He feeds us, not with ordinary food, but the highest quality, that with everlasting value. 
Also, Jesus institutes the priesthood. He calls forth others to guide his flock.  He does not abandon us with out enriching souls with the gifts needed to guide and lead the flock.  The shepherd continues to train shepherds and call them forth to lead and guide in his steed. 

Good Friday: Jesus dies, embraces the silence of death, and descends into hell.  Here, as St. Peter tells us in 1 Peter, Jesus goes to preach to those in prison.  Jesus goes to the extremes of the world to rescue man, his sheep.   He does not give up, he does not stop searching.

Easter Sunday: Jesus rises from the dead.  He shows himself whole.  In the resurrection, the wound of humanity is healed.  The separation that began in the garden of Eden is now restored to wholeness.  The resurrection points to that eternal healing we have all longed for, and Jesus points us toward that final place of rest, where the pastures are always green and the repose will be forever.

Jesus proves himself to be a Good Shepherd, in his agony, death, and resurrection. We recognize what he has done and thus we celebrate that we are lost no more.  We have a shephed that is reliable, trustworthy, one who knows the way.

Why are we lost no more?
Not only does our shepherd have a face, but he also has a voice.  It is the voice that gathers us together, calls us forth, directs us along the way.  We listen to hear his voice and hope to respond.

How do we recognize that voice?

It is not so much by sound but by content.  It is what the voice is filled with that reveals itself as true and genuine call of the Good Shepherd.

What does the voice of the shepherd speak to us?
Here are just a few scripture verse that speak to the content of the voice of the Good Shepherd:
1) "Peace, be still." Jesus calms the sea.  The Shepherd constantly speaks the sentiment of peace in our lives, especially with the chaos of economic struggles and health scares around the world.  Jesus always seeks to calm us in the storm

2)"Rise, and pick up your mat and walk. Your sins are forgiven"  Jesus speaks these words to the man who is paralyzed.    The voice of the shepherd is one that seeks to remove guilt from our  lives.  He seeks to strengthen us so that we might walk with head held high, confident of his mercy.  Guilt can be paralyzing, we have to let the shepherd remove that which paralyzes.

3)"Neither do I condemn you.  Go, sin no more." Jesus speaks to the woman caught in adultery.  He doesn't hold her in her sins.  Offers her an opportunity to begin a new.  Yet, at the same time he exhorts her to never settle for less, never settle for second best.  The Shepherd wants us to go beyond, seek the higher things, never settle and become less then what we were meant for.

4)"Take courage, be not afraid, I have already conquered the world."  Jesus speaks to his disciples as he prepares for death.  He alleviates their fear.  How often we listen to the fear in our hearts or being broadcast.  Jesus, comes to refocus us, no longer on fear but on his victory, on his strength.  We focus on the shepherd and the fear dissolves.

5)"stop worrying about questions like,'what will we eat, what will we drink, what will we wear. Your heavenly Father knows all that you need."  Jesus comes to alleviate our anxiety and worry.  He comes to remove that unnecessary stress in our life.  He calls us to trust in the one who provides, who holds all things in his hands.  How often we busy ourselves with material concerns and lose sight of the higher things in life.  We must learn to seek what God wants to give.  The fault isn't is God providing but in our wanting.  It too must be purified.

6) "love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you.  Bless those who curse you."  The Good shepherd calls us to a new life of brotherly affection and love.  He calls us to set aside the vengeance, the hatred, the lies, the gossip.  He calls us to truly be one flock.  

7) "What you have done to the least of these you have done to me."  The Shepherd empowers us to discern his presence in the world.  He leaves no doubt where he might be found physically among us.  He calls us to a greater solidarity. 

8) "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, go therefore make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teach them all that I have commanded, and I will be with you always."  The shepherd empowers his church to constantly guide and teach, to leave no doubt about his intentions.  The Catholic Church continues to teach and guide in the name of Jesus through the apostles.  

In all it is the content of the voice that makes himself known as the Good Shepherd.  This is what we listen for, this is how we discern the true presence of the Good Shepherd that will leads us home; this is why we are lost no more. 

He has a voice, he speaks, may we be sheep that listen.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Joseph worker: not your average Joe

Genesis 1:26-2:3; Colossians 3:14-15,17,23-24; Psalm 90 Lord give success to the work of our hands; Mat 13:54-58

Work is often denoted with a negative connotation, but in reality work is any effort put porth to accomplish something, some goal.

What work did Joseph do?

"Joseph her husband, an upright man unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly." Mt1:18-19

Joseph worked toward guarding the reputation of Mary as she was found with Child.

"In a dream the angel of the Lord said to him, "Joseph, son of David, have no fear about taking Mary as your wife. It is by the Holy Spirit she has conceived this child...When Joseph awoke he did as the angel of the Lord directed him and received into her into his home as his wife." Mt 1:20-24

Joseph worked the work of ready obedience in promptly responding to the invitation of God.

"He had no relations with her at any time before she bore a son, whom he named Jesus." Mt 1:25

Joseph practiced chastity. He kept himself pure and his wife as well for love of God. His yes to God was a yes in all aspects of his life.

"So Joseph when from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to David's town of register with Mary, his espoused wife who was with Child." Lk 2:4-5

Joseph worked the work of fulfilling his civil duties in participating in the census even in the extreme difficult of journeying with Mary who was about to give birth.

"The Magi were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house, found the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. They opened their coffers and presented him with gifts." Mt 2:10-11

Joseph worked the gift of hospitality as he welcomed the magi and humbly received the gifts they brought for Jesus. He became the custodian of these treasures in the name of Jesus. The carpenter was willing to humbly receive that which was meant for a king.

"The angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in the dream to Joseph with the command, 'Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt." Mt 2:13-15

Joseph became the protector and guardian of the holy family in time of distress and anxiety.

"But after Herod's death, the angel appeared to Joseph in Egypt with the command, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and set out for the land of Israel...He got up, took the child and his mother, and returned to the land of Israel...he settled in a town called Nazareth." Mt 2:19-23

Joseph did not complain or cry fowl when he was asked to move once again. He worked the work of trust in allowing God to lead him where he need to be

"Where did this man get such wisdom and and miraculous powers? Isn't this the carpenter's son?" Mt 13:54-55

Joseph while in Nazareth got a job and entered into the work force earning the necessary income to support his family. He wasn't afraid of sweat and toil for the sake of his family. His holiness was rooted in the work of his hands.

In short, Joseph cooperated with the work of redemption and wrought the work of love, and thus the kingdom was built.

He did all this with out every saying a word. His mouth was closed but his heart was open and he changed the world for ever.

May we do the same, fill the work of our hands each day with redemptive grace and filial love.
What work do you do?