Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Genesis 19:15-29; Psalm 26 O Lord, you mercy is before my eyes; Matthew 8:23-27

Today  we celebrate the memorial of the First Holy Martyrs of The Holy Roman Church.  What a name for a feast. 

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of Peter and Paul who both were martyred in Rome.  Today we remember those early christians who accompanied Peter and Paul not so much in their death but more importantly in their witness to something greater than themselves, the witness of Faith.

If you go to Rome, in Vatican City, to the east side of St. Peter's Basilica is the Plaza of the Roman Protomartyrs.  It considered to be the place where the early christians were tortured for their faith.  

As you walk through the plaza it leads to the Scavi office, which is the gate way to the necropolis underneath St. Peter's Basilica, where the tomb of St. Peter resides and his bones can be seen. 

The plaza of the Roman Protomartyrs is not anything spectacular.  It is simply a space set aside to remember those who were valiant in faith.  It is a space that gives us something to think about in hope to follow the examples set before us, in hope to allow the blood shed to be a seed ground of faith and courage for us all. 

Here is what Tacitus, the roman historian, has to say about the holy martyrs:

 "Consequently to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace...Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred for humanity.  Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths.  Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired." 

This is what Pope Clement, 3rd bishop of Rome, has to say about these martyrs: 

"To these men, Peter and Paul, who lives holy lives, there was joined a great multitude of the elect who by reason of rivalry were victims of many outrages and tortures and who became outstanding examples for us...we are writing this as a reminder to ourselves; for we are placed in the same arena, and the same contest lies before us."   
Indeed, the Holy Martyrs continue to serve as a nightly illumination for all of us.  They inspire us to be faithful, to bear witness no matter what, trusting that God will see us through. 

The Plaza of the Protomartyrs continues to give us something to think about, something to hope for, memories of courage for the ages so that we might enter the contest and life our faith fully through it all.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Solemnity of Peter and Paul

Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 34 The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Peter and Paul, the great one two punch of the early church.  

Peter the fisherman and Paul the tentmaker both exchanged their trade for something greater.  The moment they were called they ceased "making a living" and they began to make a life, as they proclaimed the Gospel, the good news, to the gentiles and Jews, without hesitation, without wavering, in season and out of season. 

They both had their share of hardships, their share of chains and persecutions, but in the end they maintained the course as 'apostle martyr'.  Peter crucified upside down and Paul fell beneath the sword, they gave all they had to make known the message, truly sent to bear witness. 

In the end, they did not define their faith, but they let the faith define them.  This is their witness to us throughout the ages, this is their witness to us today.  

As the gloria rings out today on this solemn celebration, "gloria to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth," and the creed is professed, "We believe in one God, Father almighty...We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ...We believe in the Holy Spirit the giver of life...We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church..." we look to Peter and Paul and we thank them for their dedication and we ask for their intercession that we may do the same in bearing witness to the faith and allowing the faith to define us each and every day. 

Solemn Blessing
"May the keys of Peter and the words of Paul, their undying witness and their prayers, lead you to the joy of that eternal home which Peter gained by his cross, and Paul by the sword.  Amen" 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

risk and reward

Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30 I will praise you Lord for you have rescued me; 2 corinthians 8:7,9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43

We encounter two characters in today's gospel both of whom are desperate. They are both up against a wall and time is running out.  

Jairus' daughter is sick and dying.  The woman's health is getting worse and she knows her end is near.  Both of them have no other options, they have no where else to turn, no one else to seek.  In an act of desperation they come to Jesus. 

Faith is awaken in the circumstance of destitution and desperation.  It isn't comfort or wealth or prosperity or success that awakens faith but desperation.   This is important.  Often times we feel the squeeze of destitution or desperation and we blame God.  We point our finger at him, why does he let this happen.  

Did we ever stop to think that perhaps this is a good thing.  It is these circumstances that keep us on our knees, keep us from being self-sufficient, that keep us seeking true strength that comes from Christ. Here we learn faith.

Why did they seek Jesus?

They sought him because they heard about him.  People talked, word traveled, news spread.  They both had heard that people like themselves, destitute and desperate, were helped, healed, and made whole.  Jesus' reputation precedes him because people talk about their faith experience of him.

What do we talk about?  

We talk about many things: the latest hollywood scandal, the latest development in the sports world, the current crisis in countries, the latest tv series of interest.  We talk about all these things, but when do we talk about our faith experience with Jesus.  

When do we stop and evaluate what God is doing in our life?  How can people hear if we do not talk?  How can news spread if our lips are sealed?  If we are not talking, then where is our faith?

We know what the two are looking for but what are they willing to risk?

Jairus, a synagogue official, is seeking Jesus who is notorious for disrupting synagogue services.  Many times throughout the gospels, the synagogue officials pick up stones and want to stone Jesus for disturbing their service, for healing on the Sabbath. 

Here a synagogue official who is charge of keeping order is seeking the one who disturbs that order.  As soon as Jairus bends his knees in homage, he has closed the door on his previous life.  His position of prominence has been terminated.  He would no longer be allowed to come to the synagogue to worship.  He betrays his position, his friends, and all that he had previously known.  As a Jew, no worship means no life. Jairus risk everything.

The woman also risks much.  She is a social misfit, an outcast.  She is "unclean" because of her bleeding.  Thus, she is to live on the outskirts of the community with no interaction.  The mere fact she is in the crowd, means she is going against social norms.  She is risking her life.  This is why she sneaks up behind Jesus so she can make a quick get away without being discovered.  If she is discovered and recognized, she is liable to be stoned herself,  She risks everything.

Jairus and the women risk everything.  They do not cut corners or look for short cuts.  They hold nothing back and as they say in poker, they are all in. 

Are we?
What risks do we take in our life faith?  Perhaps, we are hedging our bets.  Perhaps, we are holding back.  Jesus wants us to be all in. 

If we are holding back, perhaps this is why we have nothing to talk about.

We need to examine our life?  

What areas are stingy on when it comes to living our faith: perhaps we hold back financially and do not tithe; perhaps we hold back sexually and rather than give  all to God we hold back by using artificial contraception, the pill, condoms, or even had a vasectomy.  Where is faith in this?  One does not need faith to use contraception, but one does need faith to practice self-control, abstinence and be open to the gift of children.  This will keep you on your knees and thus truly experience the power of faith.

Perhaps we hold back in our relationships and give in to the pressure and thus have sex before marriage or even move in before marriage.  Again where is the faith risk?  One does not need faith for this but one does need faith to abstain, to wait until married trusting that God will see them through.  Trial marriages never work.

will we risk living our faith forsake all for the encounter with Christ.

The reward is truly great and permanent.  In the healing Jesus shows himself to have power over life and power over death which points to the fullness of life itself.   As we say in the creed, we believe in "the resurrection of the body and life every lasting. Amen"  This is the reward that is worth all the risk.

Friday, June 26, 2009

prostrate and laugh

Genesis 17:1, 9-10, 15-22; Psalm 128 See how the Lord blesses those who fear him; Mt 8:1-4
As we continue to read the unfolding of God's plan with Abraham and interesting thing happens.  

God appeared to Abraham and in this apparition, God informs Abraham that not only will He Give Abraham a son at a ripe old age of 100 but his wife at a ripe old age of 90 shall bear this son forth.  

What was Abraham's reaction? Well as we read in scripture, Abraham " prostrated himself and laughed and said to himself Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?"

Abraham prostrated and laughed to himself.  What a reaction from our father in faith.  Abraham's faith is considered to be a model for all, yet we find that in the midst of believing he also was unsure about God's request.  His faith didn't waver but his mind sometimes just could not comprehend.  But he allowed his faith to see him through.  He did not trust in reason or in his own intellect but rather he trusted that the light of faith would help lead him through the darkness of his own understanding. Thus he kept walking forth in God's presence.

In prostrating first, Abraham shows that faith must be first.  He illustrates that reason is subordinate to faith and it is fortified by faith.  Where our reason can no longer be stretched faith continues forth.  It is faith that allows our reason and understanding never to be stagnant or just reduced to the limits of our own minds.  If our life was limited to our own minds, we would all be imprisoned.  It is faith that gives us freedom from ourselves.  In faith we are no longer bound to the confines of our cerebral folds or grey matter.  We reach new heights.

What was God's reaction.  He did not smite Abraham for laughing.  He did not get angry for his inability to comprehend.  Rather God simply responds, "nevertheless, your wife is to bear you a son."  "Nevertheless," it shall be done whether you comprehend or not.  God does not limit his action in our life based on our ability to comprehend or understand.  He doesn't limit his action in the world by the boundaries of our darken intellect.  He simply laughs back and moves forth with a confident "nevertheless."  

In today's gospel we encounter Jesus once again being harangued by crowds.  He is constantly being crowded in on all sides.  Yet, the crowds do not affect His mercy or his gentle love.  He makes room for all of them.  His heart is wide open.  

As He comes down the mountain the leper comes forth and gives him homage and makes his request, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean."  The leper is led by faith.  Nothing in his history tells him that man can heal his wounded life and scarred flesh.  His mind is unable to comprehend his request, yet, his faith issues forth and keeps his feet from stumbling or straying.  Like Abraham he initiates this encounter with an act of worship.  

Worship is the oil that keeps the light of faith burning.  In the darkest of times it is worship that brightens our life like  the light just before dawn, darkness scatters. 

Jesus responds to such faith, "Be clean."

I came across a quote recently by a man I do not know, who was describing his motivation in life.  He states this, "the only measurement I had in assessing what we should be involved in was: 'Is this something Jesus would do? Or something God would want done?'  Ultimately it boiled down to this, as I wrote in my bible in a prayer to God, 'let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.  As you read scripture, watch who Jesus interacts with and how he reaches out to them.  Here we discover not only what breaks the heart of God, but also what should break ours.  

Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the leper.  May we never short arm anyone.  May our hands always stretch out and thus allow the heart of God to enter into our own. 

prayer from this morning
"Lord, fill our hearts with your love as morning fills the sky..."

(the above picture was taken here in the desert yesterday.  The rainbow brightens the desert in the distance.  A bright spot in the barren desert.  Faith in the midst of our own darken intellect.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Genesis 16:1-12, 15-16; Psalm 106 Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; Mt 7:21-29

We have a lot of tension in today's first reading.  We have been following the unfolding of Abram's call and his response and his journey.  Today with get to look into his household, we catch a glimpse of the going ons of his relationship with his wife and her relationship with his concubine. 

Abram and Sarai and Hagar and Ishmael are thrown together.  Their is a lot of tension. 

The primary tension is within Sarai.  She is barren and she has grown frustrated with God's plan.  God had promised Abram he would be a father of nations and yet she remained without child.  How could their descendants be as numerous as the stars or as countless as the grains of sands if they still had not even one.  

Sarai has a great deal of inner tension and frustration also because she is not a mother.  To be barren was looked upon as a curse.  children were considered God's favor.  Sarai was beginning to doubt herself, to doubt her role, and to lose faith in God, perhaps. 

Abram was also filled with tension.  He felt his wife's frustration.  Perhaps there was bitterness in the home.  He could do no right.  Perhaps he tried to console her and support her and ensure her his love, yet it wasn't enough.  Sarai felt inferior and wanted to do something about it.

So she took matters into her own hands.  She grew impatient with God and herself and her husband and life and she decided to grab at life.  So she sent her concubine to her husband to produce a child.  Wow!

This sounds a lot like modernity, today's society.  People grow impatient with God's plan.  So they rush ahead taking matters into their own hands: we are left with fertility pills and treatments that cause women to be pregnant with 6 and 7 or 8 babies at a time.  We have unwed women who run to fertility clinics to have themselves impregnated with someone's sperm they have never meant nor will ever meet.  Thus, we have children who will never know their father and is left abandoned and void of that great and necessary gift of fatherhood.  We have eggs being harvested and being fertilized outside the womb in petri dishes.   As a result we have countless fertilized embryos in frozen storage abandoned and forgotten. Or we have countless embryos who are destroyed because they lack the right genetic makeup, because they are considered weak. We have same sex couples who are seeking to adopt children or who become pregnant so they can produce a child because they feel entitled with no regard for God's plan.  And the child is left confused and his or her identity will be forever on shaky ground. Just to name a few. 

Or we have the opposite.  We have men and women who find themselves expecting a child and yet not wanting the child.  They were impatient with God's plan and jumped into bed without being responsible.  Sex becomes mere recreation or sport.  So countless women are hurried along to abortion mills where their children are being murdered and they themselves are being tortured with the memory of such events.   We have father's who abandon their children because they were looking for sex not love and they leave women alone and scared and confused and scarred for life. 

All of this because we have decided like Sarai to take matters into our own hands.  We have grown impatient with God and we are left with more tension, more worries, more confusion, more depression, and more innocent blood shed. We have pulled at the single thread and the fabric of society has unraveled.

Like Hagar our society is "running away" from the very one who can bring this chaos into order; who can take this vast formless reality and recreate it, if only we trust his plan and refuse to take matters in our own hands.  We do not need to grab at life we need to embrace the life God offers.  

God seeks to be continually active in our life and world.  He is continually seeking to bring good out of all this mess.  He sends His messengers into the world to get the attention of society.  The messengers are us who believe.  We are sent into the world to bring light in the darkness, to go out into the wilderness where people are groping at darkness to grab their hand to show them the alternative way, the true way.  We must speak the words of the messenger, "The Lord has heard you, God has answered."

We must never tire of reaching out, speaking forth, standing firm.  We must point out the obvious, what we are currently doing has not made the world a better place, impatience is never the answer.  We all must learn to wait on God's love and in waiting we experience true blessing and strength.  Here we learn to build on solid rock, a foundation that will not collapse. 

This is how we astonish the crowds and bring them back from the "wilderness" of destruction.
"The Lord has heard, God has answered."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist

Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 139 I praise you for I am wonderfully made; Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66, 80
St. Paul in the book of Acts tells us that "to us this word of salvation has been sent."

The "word of salvation" is Jesus.  John the Baptist is the herald of the "word of salvation." 

 As St. Augustine exhorts us, John the Baptist is the "voice of one crying in the desert, make way the path of the Lord."  The voice is St. John but the "the Lord in the beginning was the word.  John was a voice that last only for a time; Christ, the Word in the beginning, is eternal," the beginning and the end, the ALpha and Omega.

Why do we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist.  It is his birth that reveals to us how to live out our prophetic role in the world.  

John as a prophet always points toward the "Word" for as he says in the gospel, "I must decrease and He must increase."  He was never amused by his own voice that is he never just spoke to hear himself talk, rather his voice was filled with meaning.  He never said anything that didn't mean something.  The "Word" so captivated him that his voice was no longer his own but set apart for the praise of the "Word" himself.

John in the gospel never attracts people to himself but always directs them to Christ.
John never seeks for others to recognize him or to praise him but rather he makes it his life's work to direct all to seek the face of God, as he cries out "Behold the Lamb of God" as Jesus walks near. 

What a shining example of how to live our prophetic role given at baptism.  We should imitate John so that our voice is always speaking the "Word" as St. Paul says we should say only the good things people need to hear.  It is easy to get lost in the ability to turn a phrase or to sound clever but does our voice carry the presence of the "Word Himself."

We should imitate John so that our life work is to point toward the face of God in Jesus.  We should not busy ourselves with pointing fingers at others because of their presumed hypocrisy or faults but rather simply point toward Christ and allow his goodness and gentleness to be radiant and thus transforming.   Point to toward Christ so that others may begin to see Christ in themselves and those around them.  This alone brings about conversion. 

A life lived thus will result in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, "Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing , uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.  For now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb..."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sons and servants

Genesis 13:2,5-18; Psalm 15 He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord; Matthew 7:6, 12-14

This morning as I continue my journey in the desert I was particularly moved by the hymn for morning prayer:

"With hearts renewed by living faith, we lift our thoughts in grateful prayer
To God our gracious Father, whose plan it was to make us sons, 
Through his own Son's redemptive death, that rescued us from darkness.
Lord, God Savior, Give us strength to mold our hearts in your true likeness,
Sons and servants of our Father."

As the hymn goes, we must also recognize that we must first be formed in the image of the Son only then do we truly understand what it means to be a servant.

Often times we focus on service, on being servants, but we forget that the invitation to be a servant in the gospel of John, is in the order of grace preceded by the invitation to be a friend, "I no longer call you servants but friends." (Jn 15)  

Our service lacks true strength and true charity when we seek to be servants first and friends later.  Our focus must be directed toward friendship in Christ before we can truly understand service.  

We must remember that Jesus goes to his knees to wash the feet of the disciples and then afterwards he invites the disciples to enter into his friendship.  Only then are they told to be servants, " what I just did was give you an example: as I have done, so you must do." (Jn 13)

We must embrace that friendship first then we can truly know what it means to be a servant; only in friendship with Christ do we understand our adoption as sons.  In the intimate embrace of friendship we begin to realize our dignity and value no longer as strangers but as ones part of the family, as ones belonging to the household of God, as sons in the Son, children in the kingdom.

Only understanding our adoption as sons are we empowered to see as the Father sees and do as the Son does.  Here our service begins to take shape and begins to have meaning and purpose.  Here the cross becomes a shining example that lights the way for service that is really charity.

In friendship with Christ, we enter in to the "narrow gate" that leads to life. 

Thus we understand service not so much as doing a variety of projects but as being a presence of divine charity in the world.  Thus, the strength of the cross shapes us and empowers us and becomes a shining lamp for our feet that scatters the darkness.  In Chirst, as sons, we now know what service is:

"Love one another as I have loved you," and "no greater love than lay down one's life for one's friends."  (Jn 15)  Here our motto of servants rings true: to know Him and to make Him known, for as Jesus says in Jn 17 in his priestly prayer to the Father, "I have made your name known to those you gave me out of the world...I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me...consecrate  them by means of the truth...as you have sent me into the world so I have sent them into the world."

May we sing this hymn throughout the day and may our friendship with Christ empower our service so that the world sees our sonship in the Son and comes to know our gracious heavenly Father: 

"with hearts renewed by living faith, we lift our thoughts in grateful prayer 
To God our gracious Father, Whose plan it was to make us sons 
Through his own Son's redemptive death, that rescued us from darkness.  
Lord, God, Savior, 
Give us strength to mold our hearts in your true likeness, 
Sons and servants of our Father."

scripture to remember
"And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you.  Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.  Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord" Daniel 3:41-43

Quote of the day
"Oh that every Christian would know that when he rises from the altar he takes all of heaven with him in his heart when he goes"  St. John Vianney on Holy Communion

Monday, June 22, 2009

Christian is another Christ

Gn 12:1-9; psalm 33 Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own; Mt 7:1-5

I am currently on retreat in the middle of the desert.  Yet, it seems I have internet connection.  Truly amazing how we all can stay connected.  It reminds me of the power of Christ working in us who believe.  In him we are one body, held together by his grace, intimately connected and united.

The connection to the body never can be lost unless we choose to walk away and abandon a life of faith.  

St. Gregory of Nyssa tells us in his treatise on Christian Perfection  that "the cumulative force" of the many titles given to Christ "reveals to us his inexpressible  majesty, insofar as our mind and thoughts can comprehend it.  Since by the goodness of God, we who are called "christians" have been granted the honor of sharing this name, the greatest, the highest, the most sublime of all names, it follows that each of the titles that express its meaning should be clearly reflected  in us.  If we are not to lie when we call ourselves "christian," we must bear witness to it by our way of living."  

As St. Paul tells us, "It is no longer I who live: it is Christ who lives in me."  Thus, a Christian is another Christ through and in faith.

What are some of those titles of Christ that help us understand our identity as a new creation in Christ: 

"power and wisdom of God, unapproachable light where God dwells, our expiation and redemption, the radiance of God's glory, our great high priest, our paschal sacrifice, our spiritual food and drink, the cornerstone, the visible image of the invisible God, the head of his body the church, the first fruits of those fallen asleep, the first born of the dead, the mediator between God and man, the Lord of Glory, king of the universe, prince of peace, and last but not least the only begotten son."

If we were to meditate on each of these titles then we would truly discover who we are meant to be when we are plugged in, connected to the body of Christ from where all grace flows.  

We stay connected in faith and in faith we come to know what it means to be alive in Christ.

For as St. Ireneaus exhorts, "the glory of God is man alive." 

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Hosea 11:1,3-4, 8-9; Is 12 You will draw water from the springs of salvation; Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19; John 19:31-37

"Thus says the Lord: when Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son.  Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; Yet, though I stopped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer...I will not let the flames consume you."  Prophet Hosea

"Brothers and sisters: To me, the very least of the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery  hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the Church."  St. Paul in letter of  Ephesians

"But a soldier thrust a lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.  An Eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth,  so that you also may come to believe.  For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:  'Not a bone will be broken' and again another passage, 'they will look upon him whom they have pierced.' " Gospel of John 

 The prophet Hosea speaks of God who will not let the flames consume his children.  St. Paul reminds us that in the inscrutable riches of Christ God' s plan is laid bare for all to see the wisdom from eternity.  There is no longer any guess work but the blueprints are drawn and made ready for us to spy. 

St. John tell us in the gospel that all this happened so that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 

When you put all this together we realize that Jesus did not accidentally die on the cross. Rather, it was all deliberate.  It was all part of the plan.  God wanted to lay his heart bare for all to see, and thus the lance becomes the deliberate key in unlocking for all the immense love God  reveals for us his children.  It is a deliberate, pre-planned love that shines forth for all.

To celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to celebrate a heart that deliberately dedicated itself fully to love.  

The scandal of the Incarnation is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In His Heart we understand that the glory of God is man alive.  To be Sacred means to be fully alive.

Most sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, you are concealed in the holy eucharist.  I worship you with all my best love and awe, with deep affection, and with my most resolved will.  For a while you take up your home within me.  O make my heart beat with your heart! Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud, of all perversity, and of all disorder.  So fill it with you,t hat neither the events of the day nor the circumstances of the time may have the power to ruffle it, but that in your love and your fear, it may have peace. Amen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Our Father"

2 corinthians 11:1-11; psalm 111 you works O Lord are justice and truth; Matthew 6:7-15

Today in the gospel Jesus teaches us how to pray:

"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."

In teaching us this prayer, God makes himself accessible, even vulnerable.  He puts himself within reach of our invocation.  He assumes the risk of relationship, of communion with us. 

Thus by giving us the "Our Father" God enables us to purify and correct our desires and assist us to slowly come to realize what we truly need.

When we pray the "Our Father:, we are praying to God with words given by God as St. Cyprian reminds us.  Thus, we we pray these words, Jesus' promise regarding true worshipers, those who adore the Father "in spirit and truth" is fulfilled in us.

St. Benedict coined the phrase, "our mind must be in accord with our voice."  In prayer, especially liturgical prayer prayed out loud, the word, the voice, goes ahead of us, and our minds must adapt to it.  Thus as we say the "Our Father" we set out toward Him, we gradually come to know Him and draw closer to Him.

In the "Our Father" Jesus involves us in his own prayer; he leads us into the interior dialogue of triune love; he draws our human hardships deep into the heart of God.  Thus, the words of the "Our Father" train us in the inner attitude of Jesus, in the "Our Father" we have the mind of Christ.

The "Our Father" keeps us connected.  It is a global experience.  We recognize that we are no longer isolated but intimately united by the will of the Father who wants us all to be one.  We don't need super fast internet or networking, we just need to let what we pray become real in our lives, allowing the very first words "our Father" become the foundation for peace and love for all.

scripure for memory
" In this morning, fill us with your love." psalm 90

quote of the day
"mens nostra concordet voci nostrae-our mind must be in accord with our voice" St. Benedict

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


2 corinthians 9:6-11; Psalm 112 Blessed the man who fears the lord; Mt 6:1-6,16-18

Jesus in today's gospel references the "Father" in heaven through out the passage.  In fact, the sermon on the mount is filled with references to the Father in heaven.  

The sermon of the mount was an invitation and introduction to the attitude of the Father. 

Pope Benedict exhorts us to the following truth, 

"The man whose only desire is to be an adult makes himself a god thereby loses both God and his own self.  But where he continues to say "Father", he realizes what sonship and knowledge and freedom mean.  All these mean belonging to God, and that is our salvation."

In the sermon of the mount, Jesus shows us our place of belonging and this place is intimately wrapped up in God as Father and ourselves always seeking to remain sons.  It is refusing to surrender our sonship, refusing to be adults, that we truly begin to experience redemption.

We must guard our hearts so that we remain children on earth thus children in heaven. 

This is why Jesus teaches us to pray with the words and reality, "Our Father who are in heaven..."  This is our beginning and our end, our hope and our life.

scripture for the day
"Am I God when I am near, and not God when I am far away?  Can anyone hide in a dark corner without my seeing him? Do I not fill heaven  and earth?"  Jeremiah 

"But when you pray, go to your inner room, close door, and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." Matthew

Quote of the day
"above all, [Jesus] did not want us to pray by ourselves in private or for ourselves alone.  We do not say "My Father, who art in heaven," not "Give me this day my daily bread."  It is not for himself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation or to be delivered from evil.  Rather, we pray in public as a community, and not for one individual but for all.  For the people of God are all one."  St. Cyprian

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


2 corinthians 8:1-9; Psalm 146 Praise the Lord, my soul; Matthew 5:43-48

In the gospel today Jesus tells his disciples, "And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?"

what is unusual about that?

What is unusual?

We do not normally think being called "unusual" is a compliment but this is exactly what Jesus is seeking in his disciples. 

We are called to be unusual.  We are asked to stand out from the crowd, be different, be noticeably different from all the rest.  We should not be like everyone else.  

Unfortunately this is what has happened.   We have succumbed to the pressure of society and the world and we look and act just like everyone else.  How condemning is that for us who say we are followers of Christ.

We must we discover our identity and we must let Jesus and His Church show us what it means to be Christian, to be unusual and thus be perfected. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

today's poverty

2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Psalm 98 The Lord has made known his salvation; Matthew 5:38-42

"Behold now is the day of salvation."

For believers every day is this "today" of God. Since the resurrection, ascension and descent of the Holy Spirit, time in which we live has been made anew.  Time no longer just flows toward death but is filled with Christ's promise, "I am with you always."

Thus, each day is the "today" of salvation.

St. Therese of Lisieux put it this way: 

"my life is but a moment, an hour that passes by/ my life is just a day that flees and flies away/ you know this well, O my God! To love you on earth/ I have nothing but today!"

In the Gospel Jesus speaks of a radical way of living that day he has given:

"I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.  When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.  If anyone wants to go to law over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.  Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.  Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.'


Jesus invites us to embrace true poverty of spirit.  As St. Francis would often speak of, the beauty of "Lady Poverty" awaits us all.    Poverty of Spirit mulches our hubris and creates the right soil by which true charity can blossom. 

Poverty, chastity, obedience are the three evangelical councils by which we conform ourselves to Christ most perfectly. 

Jesus doesn't ask us to live a manner no different than the manner of life He lived himself.

It is the poverty of each day that we embrace the day of salvation and thus find perfect joy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Corpus Christi

Exodus 24:3-8; Psalm 116 I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Sequence of the Day:
"Lo! the angel's food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
See the children's bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent...

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
where the heav'nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guest to be.  Amen. Alleluia."

"take it; this is my body...this is my blood."
We celebrate the gift of the Eucharist today on this feast of Corpus Christi. 

We celebrate reality.  We let reality hold firm our belief and give it life.  We trust the words of Christ to be as He says like the disciples in the gospel today who "found it to be as he told them," and such so we discover the truth of Jesus' words, "this is my body" and we are nourished by his generosity, fed at His table, strengthen by His presence.  

We say "Amen" and we enter into that Sacred exchange, where we give our weak consent and Jesus gives us his very body, blood, soul, and divinity; He comes to make our weak love strong.

God is near us; in communion, He comes to communicate his divine life and thus we enter into the wellspring of life. Here we discover the truth, we can only understand love by sharing in it.

This is the gift of the Eucharist, we share in Christ's love a love that is "taken, blessed, broken, and given."   When we leave the table, we are instructed to become what we receive, to be eucharist for the world. 

We carry around in us the dying of Christ so that the life of Christ might be made known.

"Vivimos para esa noche de la resurrection."  We live for the night of the resurrection.  In the Eucharist we are strengthen to keep our eyes fixed on the light, our will intoxicated by God's plan, our resolve strengthen and our desires rehabilitated.  Thus we are truly able to spend our lives longing for the night of the resurrection that await us all.

thus we fall in adoration of this great sacrament, God near us, Jesus stay with us.

Friday, June 12, 2009

earthen ware

2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 116 To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise; Matthew 5:27-32

"We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us."

It is our weakness that boldly proclaims God's greatness.  It is the cracks in the pot that allow the light to radiate outward.  

It is our imperfections that enable the perfection of God to take over, to heal us, to form us, to shine through us.  

In the presence of imperfection, perfection is more easily noticeable, recognizable, and be praised. 

Our humanity becomes the proper soil by which the Divinity of God can be made known.  This is why the incarnation is the central mystery of God's revelation.  God has a human face in Jesus, thus every human face becomes cable of making known the complexion of eternity. 

"always carrying around about in the Body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested."

The word "Body" is capitalized because St. Paul speaks of the Body the Church, not just the individual body of a believer, rather the communal Body of Believers.  The Church is the light of Christ, the light to all the nations.  Together we shine brighter.  

The power of God working through the communal reality of the Church. 

A church of sinners manifesting the sanctify of Holiness collectively and individually together we are the Body of Christ. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saw the grace of God

Acts 11:21-26;13:1-3; Psalm 98 The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power; Matthew 10:7-13

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Barnabas.  Several things of note about our saint of the day. 
First, his name is Joseph and he was a jewish convert. Barnabas was a nickname given to him by the early church and the apostles.  The nickname means "son of encouragement."  Someone who encourages another is someone who empowers the other to remain firm in heart, steadfast. 

The nickname speaks to Barnabas' personality; it reveals how he responds to grace in his life.  What would our nickname be?  How does our personality respond to grace in a particular way? What trait or characteristic would others recognize in us as a fruit of grace in our life?

Secondly, Joseph aka Barnabas was a man who did not hold back.  He was prompt and he gave himself completely to the faith.  In the Acts of the Apostles 4:37, we discover that upon his conversion to following Christ, Barnabas took his farm sold it and gave the money to the early church by laying it at the feet of the apostles.  In poker terms, Barnabas was all in.  He did not skirt the fence, he jumped in with both feet, heads over heels, and became a great missionary for the faith.   Perhaps today is time for us all to be all in, to no longer skirt the fence.

In today's first reading we encounter Barnabas on one of his journeys.
Barnabas arrives at Antioch and "saw the grace of God."

What a sight to behold, something beautiful for God.

Barnabas rejoiced and encouraged them to all "to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart."

What does the grace of God look like? What did Barnabas see?

We must remember that holiness does not consist in never erring or never sinning or never being wrong.  Rather, Holiness consist in an increase capacity for conversion, repentance, willingness to start again, over and over again, increase capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness marked by an increase in charity and mercy for all.  

Perhaps this is what Barnabas saw when he spied the grace of God in Antioch.
May we be on the look out for the grace of God in others, and may we also enable those who are on the look out see that grace in us.

scripture for memory
"Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; the Lord has made his salvation known." Psalm 98

Quote of the day
"What the heart does not desire the eyes cannot see."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


2 Corinthians 3:4-11; Psalm 99 Holy is the Lord our God; Matthew 5:17-19

In his Book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict takes a chapter to reflect on the relationship between the Law of Moses and the Law of the Messiah as mentioned into day's gospel passage. 

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."

In his chapter concerning The Torah of the Messiah, Pope Benedict recalls the words of Jacob Neusner in his book "A Rabbi Talks with Jesus" as summarized below:

"Neusner follows Jesus all day only to retire to prayer and study with the Jews and the rabbi from a certain town quotes from Babylonian Talmud: 
'In Israel there were 613 commandments given to Moses, 365 negative ones, 248 positive ones; David came and reduced them to 11; Isaiah came reduced them to six; Isaiah came again and reduced them to two; Habakkuk came and reduced them to one, righteous shall live by his faith. The rabbi then ask Neusner, 'is this what the sage Jesus had to say?' Neusner responds, 'Not exactly but close.' The rabbi asked, 'what did he leave out?'  Neusner responded, 'Nothing.' The rabbi continued, 'what did he add?' Neusner responded, 'Himself.'"

Pope Benedict points out that this is what brings the believing Jew alarm at Jesus' message.  The centrality of Jesus' "I" in his message gives everything a new direction.  Perfection, the state of being holy as God is holy, as demanded by the Torah, now consists in following Jesus. 

In Jesus, St. Paul tells us that the "ministry of death" gives way to the "ministry of the Spirit."  
In Jesus we have all been qualified as ministers of the new covenant.  We are all empowered to allow Jesus to fulfill the law in us for others.  Jesus has the credentials to fulfill the law and He passes that on to us who believe. 

Thus, we no longer can make excuses.  We can no longer just depend on others.  We are no longer justified in being a bystander.  In Christ, we are invited to partake in the role of minsters, minsters of love, mercy, justice, forgiveness allowing Jesus to fulfill the law in us for others. 

scripture for memory
"He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage" 1 Samuel 2:8

Quote of the day
"strive most ardently for the glory of God and of the Church.  The stage is small, but the action great." St. Francis de sales 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Harp of the Holy Ghost

2 corinthians 1:18-22; Psalm 119 Lord, jet your face shine on me; Matthew 5:13-16

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ephrem, a deacon and doctor of the Church.  He is the second oldest doctor of the Church 306b-373d.

He is considered the 'harp of the Holy Ghost' because of his poetic style, harmonious words, and mystical hymns composed about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother, Primacy of Peter, and many teachings of the Church.

One such Hymn is on Faith, The Pearl:

"On a certain day a pearl did I take up, my brethren; I saw in it mysteries pertaining to the kingdom; semblances and types of the majesty; it became a fountain, and I drank out of it mysteries of the Son.

I put it, my brethren, upon the palm of my hand, that I might examine it: I went to look at on one side, and it proved faces on all sides.  I found out that the Son was incomprehensible, since He is wholly light.

In it brightness I beheld the Bright One Who cannot be clouded, and in its pureness a great mystery, even the Body of our Lord which is well-refined: in its undividedness I saw the Truth which is undivided."

For Ephrem, as for St. Paul, Jesus is the promised fulfillment of all promises.  Jesus is the eternal yes to all of us.  In that Yes St. Ephrem found his way and harp of the Holy Ghost was played.

side note:
At mass when the Consecrated Host is raised and the priest leads the congregation,"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, happy are those who are called to His supper," the congregation responds, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be held."

What is that word we long to hear to heal us and set us free?  What is that word that opens the doors to the banquet and places into our hands the invitation that welcomes us to the table?

The word we long for, yearn to hear, is nothing more than the the "Yes" of Jesus to the Father, "for however the many promises of God their "Yes" is in him" (Jesus).  Our response to the "yes" of Jesus is "Amen" for the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory. 

As we come to the banquet, every time we celebrate the Eucharist, our "Amen" is that which acknowledges the "Yes" of Jesus, and there we receive the bread of life.  Between the "Yes" of Jesus and the "Amen" of the faithful we finally find a living space, a space for life itself.

"In your sacrament we daily embrace you and receive you into our bodies; make us worthy to experience resurrection for which we hope.  We have had your treasure hidden within us ever since we received baptismal grace; it grows ever richer at your sacramental table.  Teach us to find joy in your favor!  Lord, we have within us your memorial, received at your spiritual table; Let us possess it in its full reality when all things shall be made new." St. Ephrem

quote of the day:
"we must love while we suffer and we must suffer if we love" St. John Vianney

Monday, June 8, 2009


2 Corinthians 1:1-7; Psalm 34 Taste and See the goodness of the Lord; Matthew 5:1-12

St. Paul in the first reading uses the word encouragement at least 9 times.  

"God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God."

There is a whole lot of encouragement going on in one sentence. 

If only there was that much encouragement in life, in us, in the church, in the world. 

When I read this passage I think of another passage from Acts 23:6-11.  Paul is being rescued from a mob that wants to kill him.  He is being held in a compound, a prison.  While he is there getting ready for his own death the scripture reading follows, "The following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Take courage..."

This is what encouragement means.  It means to stand by one's side in order to lift up, give strength, to help carry a burden.

"Lead on me when you're not strong, I'l be your strength, I'll help you carry on."

Jesus stands by our side, hidden but forceful, throughout life helping us carry on.  How often He has carried our load, unknown to us.  In the end we will only then discover how little we had to endure and much Christ stood by us. 

In the gospel of John Jesus tells his disciples, "Take courage, I have already conquered the world." (Jn 16:32-33)

St. paul reminds us it is God who accomplishes all things through us.  It is his strength.

May we return the same encouragement to others and truly be sons of encouragement that is sons of God.

scripture for memory:
"God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God."

Quote of the day
"Atlas! O my God, if there are so few to bear the cross, there will only be few to adore thee in eternity" St. John Vianney

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; psalm 33 Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own; Romans 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20

"Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much  as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.  Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit" 1 Corinthians 2

"Our God comes, he keeps silence no longer," Psalm 50.  The silence has been broken by God's revelation. 

"We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being.  It is wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved."  St.Athanasius (born 296 died 373 a Doctor of the Church and Bishop of Alexandria)

Every time we get together to celebrate God' s love at the altar of the Eucharist in the house of God we begin with the sign of the cross, and the priest begins, "the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

We begin by invoking that energizing and creative energy to recreate us anew, to renew the very essence of our being so that we might truly live as sons in the Son and cry out 'Abba, Father.'

In that celebration we are empowered to be who God says we are, not who we say we are.  This is true integrity, not that we be who we say we are but we embrace the identity God bestows upon us and be who He says we are. who we are made to be.

Who are we but "sons of God," "Children of God," and "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" as St. Paul tells us in the second reading.  How do we stand in this true integrity.

As St. Paul tells us in the second reading, If only we  suffer with Christ we will be glorified with him.

"If only we suffer with him," St. Paul tells us in the letter to the Romans. "If only" means there is no other way.  

In age that wants to eliminate suffering St. Paul ask us to embrace it and receive true strength.

A few months ago I was invited to a local hospital for an ethics discussion.  They wanted me to share with the Catholic stance on the end of life issues in regards to hydration and nutrition.  I informed them that the Church teaches that nutrition and hydration are considered "ordinary means" unless it cause more harm than good.  I also informed them that extending ones life is always a good. 

One of the doctors informed me that he disagreed.  His sole mission was to eliminate suffering. 
I laughed.  I responded that one may alleviate pain but one will never eliminate suffering.  In order to eliminate suffering one must eliminate life.  

The problem is we equate physical pain with suffering.  We reduce suffering to pain.  Suffering is so much more.  

We suffer the alarm clock in the morning to get up.  We suffer love when we have  children who don't listen and we watch them make mistakes.  We suffer the imperfections of our friends, spouses, and parents.  We suffer our muscles to bend the knee to worship.  Suffering is part of life.  We cannot live otherwise. 
St. Paul invites us to suffer with Jesus. He invites us to embrace it, find life in it and be glorified by it. 
Scripture points out in the letter of Hebrews that Jesus endured the cross for the sake of the glory to come and again he learned obedience by what he suffered.  St. Peter tells us that "Christ suffered for you and left you an example to have you follow in his footsteps...when he was made to suffer he did not counter with threats but instead he delivered himself up to the One who judges justly...In his own body he brought your sins to the cross so that all of us could live in accord with God's will."

What did Jesus suffer?
Jesus suffered many things:
He suffered the sins of another: Jesus was brought to the cross not by his sins for he was sinless but by the sins of humanity.  Thus he suffered the sins of another.  In suffering he did not seek vengeance but justice; the difference between vengeance and justice is justice seeks to save and vengeance seeks to destroy.  The cross is justice for it brings salvation. 

He suffered obedience: The agony of the garden remains the central mystery of the Christian.  We are all gardeners.  Jesus in the garden prays "Lord, take this come from me but let it be your will not mine." He surrenders to the Will of God and he teaches to pray this way in the "Our Father," "thy will be done."  Only when we live in God's will do we truly experience peace in all circumstances even in crucifixion.

He suffered his sonship: While on the cross Jesus seeks his Father, "Father, into your hands I commend my sprit", he suffered trust, loyalty and honor as a son.  We too must suffer sinship, invoke the Father's aid and trust his guiding hand.

He suffered love to the end: Jesus reminds us that "no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends", and "I no longer call you servants but friends", and again "as I loved you you must love one another"; Jesus loves to the end and reveals a love stronger than death.  How often we give up on love to soon.  We must let our love be shaped by the vows we make and fidelity to God.

He suffered life to the full: he was like us in every way, tempted but never sinned, thus he had the fullness of life; sin interferes with life; it keeps us from the life God desires for us.  Jesus refused to settle for less and chose to be more.  How often we settle.   How often we choose sin rather than suffer righteousness, suffer to be more.

He suffered true joy: Jesus proclaims,"I have come so my joy might be in you and your may be full"; Jesus shows us what true joy is.  Joy is about fidelity not about feelings.  Jesus had joy in standing upright before God.  It is in standing faithful before God do we truly experience joy.

He suffered the reputation of his Father who is merciful and forgiving: At the Cross Jesus faced those who crucified him and prayed, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."  How often in scripture Jesus repeats the phrase, "neither do I condemn you."  Jesus suffers the reputation of his Father who is merciful and just and forgiving.  How God wants us to do the same with one another and with ourselves.  We suffer the reputation of our Father every time we celebrate the confession of sins and the priest says "I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  The Father's reputation of mercy precedes him.

He suffered heaven coming to earth as we say in the creed: he came down from heaven and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  The incarnation is Jesus suffering heaven coming to earth.   This is the power of Faith in the believer, heaven comes to earth through us.  As a believer we become a gateway by which we suffer heaven coming to earth.

These are the things we are invited to enter into so that the Blessed Trinity can truly dwell with in us and we can become that creative and energizing force in time.

Every time we make the sign of Cross we invoke reality itself and we invite God in totality to empower us on our journey, to strengthen our drooping hands and weak knees, so that we might walk to the rhythm of eternity learn to suffer with Christ bearing heavenward.

"Eye has not seen, ear ha snot heard nor has it dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.  Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the spirit."

We are no longer in the dark.  The secret is out.  In the Most Holy Trinity we truly discover life that is worth living.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Tobit 11:5-17; Psalm 146 Praise the Lord, my soul; Mark 12:35-37

"The great crowd heard this with delight."

What a way to end the gospel.  

The crowd was delighted.  They were not entertained.  They were not amused.  They were not satisfied.  They were delighted. 

Finally some one was man enough to stand up to those of arrogance.  Finally, some one was man enough to stand up for those who had no one to stand up for them. 

Finally, some one was man enough to be bold and daring and truthful.

Jesus is that some one.  Jesus wants us to be that some one too. 


Thursday, June 4, 2009

they started to pray

Tobit 6:10-11;7:1,9-17;8:4-9; Psalm 128 Blessed are those who fear the Lord; MArk 12:28-34

As we continue to read the story of Tobit and journey with him and his family as they go from despair to hope we encounter the marriage of Tobiah and Sarah.  As they go to bed on their first night together, they do something truly worth while, they pray together. 

Imagine that!

When was the last time this aspect of family life was seen on TV.  Television has gone where no one has gone before.  They have pushed the envelope, in fact some would suggest they threw out the envelope completely. 

TV and movies and the media have exploited every aspect of family life; they have taken us directly in to bedroom and exposed the intimacy of the marital embrace and have defiled the marriage bed.   The sacredness of love and life have been trampled upon time and time again, night after night. 

And we as Christians have sat back and have done nothing about it.  We have simply grabbed a drink and quietly ate our popcorn as the media has had its way.  Shame on us. 

No wonder marriage it in the fix that it is  in.  No wonder marriages don't last. 

How would our society change, if TV programs would show couples praying together, sincerely and truly.  How would our society change if couples instead of watching TV would stop and pray together as Tobiah and Sarah do today in the reading.

The problem of marriage is primarily a problem of faith, a problem of prayer.  Where there is no faith and prayer their will be no true love. 

Prayer invites God to sanctify the love between a husband and a wife.  Invites God to make their weak love strong.  This is what is lacking in our marriage, sanctification. 

"Tobiah  arose from bed and said to his wife, "My love, get up.  Let us pray and beg God to have mercy on us and grant us deliverance.  she got up and they started to pray..."

"Blessed are you, O God of our fathers, praised be your name forever and ever.  Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever.  You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from those two the human race descended.  You said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.' Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose.  Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.  They both said together, "Amen, amen."  

These are the words that need to fill our marriages.  When 'amen' echo through our marriages then our families will once again experience the grace God intends for them.

scripture for memory
"But when your pray go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you." Mt 6:6

quote of the day
"The business done in the home is nothing less than the shaping of the bodies and souls of humanity.  The family is the factory that manufactures mankind."  G.K. Chesterton


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

unanswered prayers

Tobit 3:1-11,16-17; Psalm 25 To you, O Lord, I lift my soul; Mark 12:18-27 

Jesus reminds the Sadducees that God told Moses  that "I am God of Abraham, the God of Israel, and the God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead but of the living, "

Pope Benedict points out when God reveals himself as God of our Fathers, he is not a god limited to a place, but a god of men, for men, with men.  He is not bound to one spot, but he is present and powerful wherever man is.  He shows himself to be He who is always near, whose power is boundless; He is always to be found  where man is and where man lets himself be found by Him.

This makes prayer even more meaningful, valuable, and indispensable.  

Pope Benedict in his homily on Pentecost invited us to be more dedicated to prayer thus availing ourselves more and more to the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. 

In prayer we let ourselevs be found.

Tobit and Sarah in today's reading bowed to pray.  In prayer they opened themselves up to God.  Hope remained though despair was pressing in from all sides.  Prayer fortified their spirit, their life, and drove away the pollutants of despair and misery. 

One thing to note.  
Their prayer was unanswered.  What they prayed for did not come about.  They prayed for death and God gave them life.  The power of prayer resides in the fact that it is not limited to our desires but it lets God in to do his work.  God is never limited by our feeble prayer request.

Their are times when we do not know how to pray, as St. Paul tells us, but this is when the Spirit will groan for us, pray for us in our need. 

This is truly the power of the Advocate. 

Sometimes, we discover as we continue to read Tobit, we truly are thankful for unanswered prayers.  

scripture quote for memory:
"And as well as this, the Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness for, when we do not know how to pray properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means because the prayers the Spirit makes for God's holy people are always  in accordance with the mind of God." Rom 8:26-27

quote of the day
"to invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" Thomas Edison

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

bleating goat

Tobit 2:9-14; Psalm 112 The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord; Mark 12:13-17

The book of Tobit begins with this sentence, "I, Tobit, have walked in the paths of truth and good works all the days of my life."

Then the first chapter list the virtuous deeds of Tobit: faithful to worship in Jerusalem while his whole family broke away, careful to tithe, gave alms to orphans, widows, and strangers, obeyed the dietary laws, gave bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked, and buried the dead.

And what happen!

On the night of Pentecost, a time of great celebration and joy, Tobit was called from his table because someone had died.  He sprang from the table to bury the dead.  The neighbors laughed at him for his foolishness. 

That night he slept near the wall and bird droppings went into his eyes and he eventually lost his eyesight. 

Tobit was blind. 

In today's reading, Tobit's wife comes home, she is now the bread winner and had been for 4 years, and there is tension and frustration in the house.  A dispute erupts and in the mist of this dispute words are exchanged that cut Tobit to the heart.  

His wife tells him, "Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts?  See! Your true character is finally  showing itself?"

How tension can easily build in a relationship when communication is not carefully carried out.
Tobit's wife for years watched Tobit give away their livelihood by his charitable deeds, almsgiving, burying the dead.  Years she quietly sat back watching poverty befall them.  Now, to top it off, her husband was left blind and she was left carrying the load and he had the gall to accuse her of being a thief.  

The bleating of the Goat was the straw that broke the camel's back. 

Tobit's wife was not only frustrated with Tobit and his accusation but she was also frustrated with God.  She was struggling with reconciling a belief in God's goodness with daily experiences, which seem to contradict that belief. 

All she could see was the stupidity of virtue and hopelessness in the face of overwhelming misfortune.  

The story ends with this tension.  We are all left wondering what will happen next.  We all can relate.  How often does this tension arise in our life.  How often we struggle with reconciling a belief in a Good God with misfortune in our life, misfortune brought about because of charitable deeds. 

Tobit was not a bad person but an exceptional person; he was righteous, just and merciful.  Why do bad things happen to Good people?

Well, we have to wait until tomorrow to see how the story plays out.  We have to wait.  We have to keep reading.  God is not finished with them yet.  Perhaps this is the hope we hold on to, God is not done yet.  So, we also have to keep living, moving forward. 

Scripture quote for the day for memory:
"Our soul is waiting for the lord.  The Lord is our help and our shield. In him do our hearts find joy. We trust in his holy name." Psalm 33

Quote of the day:
"Lord, You love us, your forgiveness and Your presence bring to birth in us the brightness of praise." Br. Roger