Wednesday, September 30, 2009

scripture doc

Nehemiah 2:1-8; Psalm 137 Let my tongue be silent if i forget you; Luke 9:57-62

"I will follow you wherever you Go."

The response that Jesus desires from the human heart is placed before us today in the gospel. 

The will of man engaged in the footsteps of Christ, "I will follow where you go."

What is Jesus' response to such a word spoken from the human heart, such a desire expressed. 

"No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."  There is no room for indecisiveness.  We must mean what we say and say what we mean and recognize that the kingdom before us is worth all we leave behind. 

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Jerome, a scripture scholar, a hermit, a papal secretary, a guide for souls, and a hot-tempered man of God, not to mention a doctor of the church. 

St. JErome dedicated his life to living the sacred scriptures.  He translated sacred scripture into Latin, learning on his own both Greek and Hebrew.  It is from him we have the "Vulgate" bible, the official bible of the Church, the Latin translation, with a few minor corrections along the way. 

St. Jerome asked the question, "How could one live without knowledge of Scripture, through which one learns to know Christ, who is life of believers?"  The Bible is an instrument "by which God speaks ever day to the faithful," thus it becomes a source of Christian life for all situations and for each person.

He says, "if you pray you speak with the spouse; if you read it is he who speaks with you."

Following on the footsteps of St. Jerome Pope Benedict reminds all that the "privileged place for reading and listening to the Word of God is the liturgy, in which celebrating the Word and making Christ's Body present in the Sacrament, we actualize the Word in our lives and make it present among us...thus, by caring the Word of God within us, we therefore carry within us eternity, eternal life."

"Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ," so coined St. Jerome.  As we avail ourselves to the personal encounter with scripture we avail ourselves to the footsteps of Christ and thus we learn to follow wherever He goes.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Haggai 2:1-9; Psalm 43 Hope in God; I will praise him, my savior and my God; Lk 9:18-22

Theophany is a wonderful word with a truly deep meaning.  It simply means a visible manifestation of God to mankind.  

In the Old Testament these theophanies of God were described with great picturesque detail of earth shaking, fire falling, smoke gathering and mountains quaking.  They leave a lasting imprint on the human mind, in the human memory so much so that they could be easily recalled and not so easily forgotten. 

God wanted to get our attention, hold our attention, and fix our attention so that we might live differently.   Theophanies got man's attention  so that God could then more readily give us something to think about and lead us to change our mind and even our way of life.

The Prophet Haggai describes this reality today for us, "I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.  I will shake the nations and the treasure of the nations will come in, and I will fill this house with glory."

And the people wait with great expectation for the Glory of God to fall upon man in one moment, yet a little while.

The temple became the "place of peace" that was an encounter with God's presence, a meeting place, a gathering place.

Then Jesus describes of course the ultimate theophany, the ultimate shaking of creation, shaking of mankind: "the son of man must suffer greatly and be rejected, and be killed an don the  third day be raised."

In the crucified face of Christ God reveals his presence most perfectly; a visible manifestation of God's glory shown to man. The silence of the cross becomes the great theophany of God's love made sensible to us all. 

The cross and resurrection now become the place of peace for "God reconciled the world through the blood of the cross."

This paschal mystery is the great theophany, a theophany that is revealed each time we celebrate the mass.  The Eucharist becomes that new place of peace, the new shaking of the world, that new theophany each and every time.  And we are invited to enter into this meeting place and allow the glory of God to fill us and transform us.

Do you feel the earth shake, the heavens tremble, the nations creek when you look and enter into the mass.

You should!

Of course it all depends on how you answer the question, "who do you say that Jesus is?"


Thursday, September 24, 2009


Haggai 1:1-8; Psalm 149 The Lord takes delight in his people; Luke 9:7-9

In the first reading God commands the prophet to tell the people, "consider your ways! Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the Lord."

God wants to receive his glory.

St. Irenaeus tells us that the "glory of God is man alive; man alive is the vision of God."

Glory of God consist of the devotion and praise of his creation.  Both of these are untied in worship of the human heart before God.

In building the house the people begin living a life of devotion and praise to God.  They are building that space which is set apart to bring about devotion and praise.  A space that will invoke memories of God's deeds, memories that bring forth a life of thanksgiving. They are building that space that will bring forth communion with God.  In the temple through the sacrifice God communicates is goodness, his desire for reconciliation, his acceptance of man's offering.  Thus, God receives his glory.

Only when God receives his glory from man in true worship, does man become glorified by God.

This of course is realized most perfectly in the Eucharist, the true worship, where we are invited to enter into true communion with God.  In the eucharist, we worship fully, we give devotion and praise, we enter into the thanksgiving of Christ to the Father and God receives his glory.

As we pray in the Eucharist, "May we praise you in union with them, and give you glory through your son, Jesus Christ.  Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen."

John Vianney when he came to Ars, he made it is his work to restore the church building.  It was falling down and in ruins.  He replaced the altar, he painted the wood, he brought in new decor and new vestments.  The house of God needed to be that special place that moved the faithful to devotion and praise. 

He wanted to give the people a space they could truly enter into and keep the Lord's day. Sanctification of the Lord's days was essential for without there was no christian life. 

In that sacred space not only would the people gather to worship so that God would receive his glory.  Also, John Vianney would spend countless hours prostrating in prayer for the conversion of his parish.  He would pray and fast so that their hearts would be burst asunder and they would return to God and God's glory would be returned to Him.

We too should pray for the conversion of our parishes that hearts would return so that God would receive his glory. 

quote of the day
"One communion acts on the soul like bellows on a fire which has begun to go out, but where there are yet plenty of embers; w blow, and the hearth is lit up...when you have received our Lord, you feel your soul purified, bathed in the love of God."  St. John Vianney 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Ezra 9:5-9; Blessed be God who lives forever; Luke 9:1-6

Today in the Church we celebrate the memorial of St. Padre Pio.

Born 1887 and died in 1968, Padre Pio lived a life of dedication and service to Christ crucified.

He was ordained a priest at the age of 23 and received the stigmata at the age of 31.  He bore the stigmata for 50 years until his death at the age of 81.  He was canonized in 2002.

He, a capuchin friar, like St. Francis before him, was given the gift of bearing the wounds of Christ in his body.  He lived the words of St. Paul, "it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me...I am crucified in the flesh."

Pope Benedict in a  visit to St. Giovanni Rotondo, the place of ministry of Padre Pio, preached that Padre Pio was a simple and humble man who was seized by Christ.  Because he allowed himself to be seized by Christ he was able to spend himself for the victory of love and life witnessed by the crucifixion.

He spent himself for the victory of love. 

IS this not what it means to be a saint?  A saint is one who knows how to spend the gift of his life. 

Whether he was hearing confessions, giving guidance to souls, caring for the sick or receiving visitors, PAdre Pio's life and ministry was a commentary on the cross, radiating the victory of love and life of Christ to others.

Padre Pio pray for us that we to may be crucified in the flesh so that the victory of love may be seen in us.  May we all bear the marks of the crucifixion in our life and from those marks may God's mercy flow outward to all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

hearing aid

Ezra 6:7-8, 12, 14-20; Psalm 122 Let us go to the house of the Lord; Luke 8:19-21
We have a very short gospel today.

"The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd.  He was told, "your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you."  He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."

Jesus invites us into the household of God; he invites us to be part of his most intimate circle, his family.  The door open and all are welcomed.  All we need to do is hear the word of God and act on it.

Here are few hear aids for embracing the reality of the gospel and truly living as a member of the household of God.
There are three things necessary for fully hearing:
1) we must listen attentively
We need to foster time for silence and solitude.  Noise pollution is all around us.  There are a thousand noises and voices seeking entrance into our life.

The surgeon general once said, "calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience; noise must be considered Hazard to the health of people everywhere."

We need quiet time so that the word of God can truly enter in, find a home, take root, dwell richly in our heart.

2) We must seek to comprehend
It is not enough to listen attentively we must seek to understand the word spoken.  
Children in school are encouraged to participate in class, by raising their hands and asking questions especially when they do not understand.  This is important for us as well.  We must not be afraid to raise our hand and ask God to clarify what was spoken.

We do this by studying scripture and studying the teachings of the Church.  Christ founded the Church to guide us and educate us.  Her teachings through the centuries are beautiful ways of clarifying the word God has spoken in Christ. 

3) we must trust the one who speaks
Trusting is necessary when it comes to hearing.  If we do not trust the one who is speaking regardless we will not hear. 

we must foster a deep confidence in God in guiding us.  We do this by developing a life of prayer and devotion.  We do this by actively participating in the gift of the sacraments.  We do this by spending quality time before the Blessed Sacrament.  We do this in meditating on the mysteries of Christ through the Rosary.  

Surrender and trust are essential to increasing our ability to hear what is being spoken.  God knows what is best and he will not lead us astray.  His word in sacred scripture and the teachings of the Church are the foundation we stand firm on and will lead us to Him most perfectly.  The Holy Spirit is active in the Church allowing us to hear again for the first time the beauty of the gospel and live it fruitfully.

In the quiet we listen attentively, in seeking to understand we grow in comprehension, in deepening our devotion we grow in trust and together we truly are empowered to act on the word spoken and enter fully into the household of God.

Monday, September 21, 2009

he rose

Eph 4:1-7, 11-13; Psalm 19 their message goes out through all the earth; Mt 9:9-13

Today we celebrate the feast of the apostle Matthew. 

In the gospel we see Jesus encounter Matthew at work, "sitting at the custom post." 

In the gospel, many of the apostles are called while at work.  Jesus takes any and every opportunity to get our attention.  He calls us out at work to spend our lives working differently.

Matthew is sitting at the custom post, which reminds us that he was a tax collector.  A tax collector was considered the worst of public sinners.  They were despised as despicable characters who worked for a greedy authority, the Romans, who handled money from unclean people, the foreigners, who fixed their own tax rate and thus were looked upon as extortioners. 

The calling of this tax collector reminds us that those who seem the farthest from holiness can become the models of holiness.  Those who are the farthest reveal to us most perfectly the effects of God's mercy in and through their lives. 

Jesus did not exclude anyone.  He came for the sinners.  His friendship is available to all. 

Lastly, upon the call we see that Matthew, simply put, "rose and followed."
The brevity of the statement shows forth Matthew's readiness to respond almost instantly to the call.  He rose, stood up,  he took a stand.  He left his notorious ways behind and began something new in Christ. 

Matthew detached himself from a sinful lifestyle and made a conscious decision to attach himself to a new way, a new life in communion with Jesus. 

While at work, may we readily respond to the call of Jesus and take a stand for a new life in Christ. 

finally, Matthew threw a party.  He celebrated the feast of friendship he found in Christ and he wanted all to experience this feast with him.  Conversion is a feast of friendship that reaches out to others and desires to celebrate such a gift with all.  On this feast on Matthew may we celebrate boldly the feast of friendship we have received in the call of Christ.


the tax collector left the gold of Rome for gold of Christ
who offered words  both new and old that haunted and enticed
a man of worldly means to give all that he had to write
those words for all who yet would live to ponder day and night

The tax collector left to us the story eh had learned
that we might rise from ash and dust to treasure what he earned
a life beyond what gold can buy a pearl that has no price
a wealth that folly passes by the love of Jesus Christ

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Wisdom  2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54 The Lord upholds my life; James 3:16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37

James poses a question in today's second reading that has been on the heart of every human heart since the beginning of humanity: "Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?"

Certainly this remains a poignant question for our time. 

Last century is considered by many to be the bloodiest century of all time, though many centuries rival it in blood spilled.  But last century began with WWI then followed it up with WWII, Vietnam, Korean conflict, Desert Storm which led into Iraq and Afghanistan.  It contained numerous genocide including eastern Europe and African, Rwanda, just to name one.  
It has contained too many acts of terrorist, the most notable for us 9/11.
I dare not go into detail of the terror of abortion that has swept across our land, 50 million plus.

The land cries out for the blood that has been shed. Humanity's heart is heavy with the question where does these wars and conflict come from?

James after posing the question follows it up with an answer.  "It is from your passions that make war within your members?  You covet..."

It all stems from the desires of the heart that have gone awry.  At the very heart of this James diagnosis the problem as relating to "coveting."

Can all the wars really be reduced to coveting?  

The word covet should automatically get us to think of the ten commandments. We are familiar with the commandments.  For the most part we can even name few of the big ones: don't kill, don't commit adultery, don't lie, don't steal, keep holy the sabbath, don't take the name of the Lord in vain .  

But how many of us have ever thought to stop and ponder the last two, number 9 and number 10: thou shall not covet your neighbor's house, thou shall not covet your neighbor's wife or possessions. 

What is the big deal about coveting anyway?

In order to understand coveting, we have to understand the first commandment.

The first commandment begins not with "thou shall not" as we might assume but rather it begins with a positive affirmation of reality, "I am the Lord your God."

God invites us to understand reality perfectly; He invites us to enter into a relationship of life and love with this reality.  In some sense god is saying, "I am yours and you are mine and we belong together."  He is telling us that only in this communion can we truly begin to live and love as it was meant to be; only in this communion can the world begin to experience transformation.  

after this God gives us the template for this relationship of life and love.  The commandments that follow speak of our external actions that is all except the last two. 

Number 9 and 10 do not speak of what we do on the outside but what we do on the inside.  The last two commandments speak on the desires of our heart.  God tells us it is not enough to regulate our external behavior we must examine our heart because he is jealous he wants all of us to belong to all of him, to love him with our whole heart, mind and strength.

When we covet, when we direct our desire to what others have we are actually doubting God's love for us.  We are telling God that what he has done for us, what he has given us is insufficient.   We are telling  God we can do better on our own.  We choose to take matters in our own hands.  We fail to recognize the good of what God has given us personally.  We begin to formulate plans by which we grow more and more independent and move away form God.  We start to become our own God, set our own standards, determine our own way.

This certainly sounds like the cause of wars and conflicts. 

Beware of covetous eyes!

St. Augustine tells us that the entire life of a good christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire.  We must desire to do and live according to God's plan.  We must foster a desire to rejoice in the goodness we have received.  We must desire to be grateful for the good God has done.  We must desire to be satisfied by God alone.

This way we guard our heart from coveting and guide it by way of dependence and gratitude.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

sorry enough

1 timothy 4:12-16; Psalm 111 How great are the works of the Lord; Luke 7:36-50

Today in the church we celebrate the memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, a doctor of the church. 

He lived during the time of the reformation and the reformation aftermath.  He spent a lot of time teaching and educating on the teachings of the church.

He wrote many things.  One little book he wrote to his friend Cardinal Sforza is entitled "The Art of Dying Well."

In this little book he list the rules for dying well.  The thirteenth rule for the art of dying well is Penance, learning how to be correctly sorrowful.  

He states that "the power of true contrition is burning love that is so great that it is able to obtain  from the mercy of God remission of all sin and punishment.  A heart truly contrite and humble really arouses the mercy of God our Father in a marvelous way.  He will give him the ring of peace, wipe away the tears of sorrow, and fill him with tears of joy sweeter than all honey." 

When it comes to true contrition, we should let the women of the gospel be our guide.  We must search out the feet of Christ present in the people around us and bathe them in our tears and kiss them with our lips.  We must let our contrition be brought forth in action, only then are we truly contrite, only then are we truly sorry. 

And doing so we shall experience the words of Christ, "So I tell you, your many sins are forgiven; hence you have shown great love.  But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."

We must learn to weep in deep sorrow so that we may love deeply.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

network of charity

1 Timothy 3:14-16; Psalm 11 How great are the works of the Lord; Luke 7:31-35

Pope Benedict in his latest encyclical to the world informs us that "charity is loved received and love given...Love comes down to us from the Son.  It is creative love, through which we have our being; it is redemptive love, through which we are recreated...As objects of God's love, men and women become subjects of charity, they are called to make themselves instruments of grace, so as to pour forth God's charity and to weave networks of charity."

What does it mean to be a subject of charity?  It means we must with great humility and great courage let charity be the rule that guides our life, our words, our actions.   The king that leads the kingdom has charity as his predominate name,"Love one another as I have loved you."

As we celebrate the memorial of the martyrdoms of Cornelius and Cyprian we ponder this reality.  They were subjects of charity and by their witness they wove networks of charity that is invoked every time we remember the life they lived.

The communion of saints is a network of charity that transcends time and place.  This network is always with us, praying for us, guiding us by their example, establishing the rule of life. 

St Cyprian tells us, "by that shared loved which binds us closely together, we are doing all we can to exhort our congregation, to give ourselves unceasingly to fasting, vigils, and prayers in common.  These are the heavenly prayers which gives us strength to stand firm and endure; they are the spiritual defenses, the God-given armaments that protect the love we share we shall thus relieve the strain of these great trials."

Networking charity to bring about the kingdom in reality, standing firm in truth and love, is the cause of martyrdom.

Today we celebrate the beginning of the journey of the Mayflower by the pilgrims.  On Sept 16, 1620 the Mayflower left London for the new land in hopes of religious freedom and a  new life. 

66 days later they landed in Cape Cod and a year later they gathered to give thanks to God, a day of thanksgiving, we continually celebrate in this country. 

Every thanksgiving beings with a journey, a risk, a hope for something more.   


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our Lady has sorrow

Hebrews 5:7-9; Psalm 31 save me,  O Lord, in your kindness; John 19:25-27 

I begin this reflection with a quote from St. Bernard:
"Perhaps someone will say, "Had she not known before he would die?" Undoubtedly.  "Did she not expect him to rise again at once." Surely.  "And still she grieved over her crucified son?"  Intensely.  Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary's son?  For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit?  He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known.  she died in spirit through love unlike any other since his."

Our Lady has sorrow.  Sorrow is not a contradiction to faith.  One who has deep faith feels more deeply the emotions of the human heart.  

Faith is not  wall or barrier to emotions and feelings but a gateway in allowing them to be true.

Our Lady has sorrow, because she has faith. One who can never experience sorrow is one who can never truly love. Deep love and deep pain expand the human heart and helps it realize what it can be, a vessel ready to receive the divine life. 

Our Lady stands at the cross gazing at her son and her heart is moved with tears and anguish. 
She has sorrow because she had loved and she had been love. 

This is why she stands at the cross and not falls in despair.  She has no regrets.  She said yes to God and trusted that He would see it through. 

Standing is a posture that speaks boldly of Our Lady's sorrow.  Standing is a posture of strength, of confidence, of steadfastness, and of hope.  Standing is a posture that reveals to us that Our Lady has joy even in her sorrow for she stands ready and attentive for the word of love of God that will be breathed forth  in the resurrection. 

In a certain sense the sorrow of Mary poses two questions to us, "Why did this happen?" and "Now that this is happen, will you not lead me through?"

The one who has hope lives differently; the one who has hope stands firmly.   

Monday, September 14, 2009


Num 21:4-9; Psalm 78 Do not forget the works of the Lord; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17
Today we celebrate in the church the exaltation of the cross.  A strange feast. 

Exaltation means to feel extremely happy or to elevate in rank or order and yet the cross is meant to be a symbol of fear and terror. 

The cross, that is crucifixion upon the cross, was invented as some historians surmise by the Assyrians. The Assyrians were terrorist of the middle ages.  They saw crucifixion as a way or tactic of inflicting great fear in the hearts of its enemies.  It was used to to bring about the least amount of resistance to being conquered and the least amount of rebellion once conquered. 

Crucifixion was a device that brought about the most amount of pain for the longest amount of time.  It was a terror tactic that was very effective.  The assyrians conquered quickly. 

The Roman Empire adopted the crucifixion from the Assyrians.  They thought it so cruel and base that no Roman citizen regardless of his deeds, even treason, could ever be crucified.  It was reserved only for slaves and conquered people. 

It became a tool of intimidation.  The one to be crucified was stripped naked, publicly humiliated and nailed upon the cross for all to see.  

That which was meant to be a tool of terror and intimidation now stands at the center of faith, is now to be exalted as the means by which redemption is brought to all. 
From terror and intimidation to praise and glorification.  

If you go to the church of San Clemente in Rome, there you will encounter a mosaic.  The mosaic is the cross with Christ crucified.  Yet, the cross is wrapped in verdant vines bearing rich and delicious fruit of all shapes and sizes.  The cross stands as a tree of life.  

The fruit that led to the fall of humanity from the tree in the garden of eden is now borne by Christ to feed and nourish humanity from upon the tree in calvary. 

We exalt in the cross for in the hands of God it becomes life giving. The instrument of terror and intimidation now stands as that which destroys fear, and no longer intimidates but rather invites imitation.

The cross is Justice.  The cross is Mercy.  The cross is love.  The cross is humility.  The cross is hope.  The cross is courage.  The cross is life.  

In the hands of Jesus, the world is turned upside down, an instrument of death and destruction becomes life.

Psalm 96
"O sing a new song to the lord, sing to the lord all the earth.  O sing to the Lord and bless his name. . . Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, let the sea and all within it thunder praise, let the land and all it bears rejoice, all the trees of the wood shout for joy at the presence of the Lord for he comes, he comes to rule the earth.  With justice he will rule the world, he will judge the peoples with his truth."

Thus we celebrate the exaltation of the cross.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Peaceful power

Colossians 3:12-17; Psalm 150 let everything that breathes praise the lord; Luke 6:27-38

The gospel begins today, "Jesus said to his disciples..."

"Jesus said to his disciples" should never be taken as a past action but for us who hear it should always be new, fresh, and now...Jesus speaks to his disciples as we hear his words...

If we keep Jesus' words in the past then we are less likely to hear them as they are.

There is a part of the mass that speaks directly to this reality.  As we pray the mass and the bread and wine is been consecrated, Jesus is present and we unite our hearts and enter into the "Lord's prayer."

After the "Our Father" the priest prays the "deliver us Lord from every evil and and grant us peace in our day, in your mercy..."

Then together we all pray "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever."

Then the priest prays these words, "Lord Jesus Christ you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you.  Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and the unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.  Amen."

The very next gesture of the priest is to give the "Peace of the Lord" to those who are gathered, "Peace of the Lord be with you always."

This gesture in a real sense speaks to the reality that Jesus speaks to us in the present not the past.  It also shows to us that we are now walking in the footsteps of the apostles and are called to bring that peace to the world. 

In receiving the peace of the Lord and allowing  it to control our hearts we are empowered to not just hear the words of JEsus but put them into action, we are empowered to live the words of Jesus. 

It is the peace of the Lord that enables us to hear the words and not let them fall silent.

Thus, we are empowered to carry that zeal with us into our homes, our jobs, our world; we are strengthen to truly do as Jesus says, "Love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who mistreat us."  

Thus, we are able to "see everyone without seeing anyone."  That is we can look upon those we meet with the eyes and zeal of Jesus, seeking to lead souls back to God with words of encouragement, words of challenge, words of rebuke, words of silence, words of instruction, words of peace all in the name of the Love of God. 

In receiving the peace of the Lord we are able to love those who God loves on God's terms. 

St. Paul says, "Let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were called in one Body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell richly in your hearts."

We bring peace because we receive peace and in receiving peace we are finally able to love joyfully.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

stop lying

Colossians 3:1-11; Psalm 145 The Lord is compassionate toward all his works; Luke 6:20-26

Caritas in Veritate is the title of the Pope's latest encyclical, letter addressed to "the bishops, priests, and deacons, men and women religious, lay faithful, and all people of Good will on integral human development in charity and truth."

The pope writes the letter and intends it for all, not just the scholarly, but everyone who seeks to serve humanity in love and truth. 

In paragraph 2 of the encyclical Pope Benedict reflects on charity and truth in social living.  He tells us that "truth needs to be sought, found, and expressed in the economy of charity, but charity in turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practiced in the light of truth.  In this way to we do service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give  credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authentic power in the practical setting of social living."


I believe what the pope is saying is that the credibility of truth is revealed and experienced by the way we reach out in practical love toward our neighbor in the way we interact socially.

Thus, he is not advising social activism but rather social honesty.  

Truth is not just a mind thing.  Truth demands action and directs the way we live. 

Otherwise, we as believers are simply living a lie.  As St. Paul tells us in the first reading, "stop lying to one another."

The 7th commandment should come to mind, "thou shall not bear false witness..."

If martyrdom is a true witness of faith in action, then living socially must somehow embrace the reality of martyrdom, we must die so that love and truth are once and for all integrated.

Lying is more than words we speak or not speak, but is at the very heart of every sin; it is at the heart of every social disgrace and every hungry mouth and every homeless man and every battered woman and every abused and neglected child; lying is where charity and truth are torn apart; it is where the old wineskins lay busted on the floor and new wine wasted, spilled for nought.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mother's birthday

Micah 5:1-4; Romans 8:28-30; Psalm 13 With delight I rejoice in the Lord; Mt 1:1-16; 18-23

In the life of the Church we normally celebrate the feast day on a saint on the day they die.  The day of their death is considered the day they are born into heaven. 

It is usually a little premature to celebrate their earthly birth until we see what they did with their life and how they respond and cooperate with grace. 

There are three exceptions. 

We celebrate the birthday of Jesus, December 25th, which is a no brainer. 

We also celebrate the birth of Mary and John the Baptist.

We celebrate the birth of Mary and John the Baptist because of their singular mission in the life of God's plan of salvation for humanity.

John the Baptist is the prophet, the one who prepares the way of the Lord and he is so from birth, "you my child shall be the prophet of the most high."  John is the last prophet, the end of prophecy as the Old Testament and Old Covenant knew it.  He points out the "lamb of God" the bearer of the new covenant.  He helps us recognize the face of God in Jesus.

Mary, from the beginning is destined to be the mother of our savior, the mother of God, thus our mother as well.  She becomes the dwelling of God on earth.  Conceived without original sin, she is prepared from the beginning.  In her we see renewed humanity.  In her we see what we shall be when we let ourselves be conquered by grace. 

As we celebrate this cosmic birthday we see and experience the power of "yes."  God says yes to Mary and Mary returns the favor and says yes to God.  In this exchange of "yes" the world has we know changes, is transformed, humanity is touched by grace in Jesus the son, the fruit of Mary's womb, the fruit of her "yes" to the Father above.  

Through the birth of the blessed Virgin Mary, "the greatness of God reaches to the ends of the earth."

so we rejoice, we celebrate, we admire the beauty of God's plan as it unfolds today in the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "from Bethlehem  shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler n Israel..until the time  when she who is to give birth has borne...He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord."  

Monday, September 7, 2009

labor day

colossians 1:24-:3; Psalm 62 In God is my safety and my glory; Luke 6:6-11

Today we enter into "Labor Day", an official holiday established legally in 1894 to recognize the benefit and dignity of work and labor and its transformative role in the lives of Americans.

With unemployment on the rise, or least at an all time high, Labor Day for many is a mute point.  Because work has been mishandle by many as means just to make money at the expense of those who work, many have lost sight of the dignity of work.  

This happens when we focus too much on the dignity of work and not enough on the dignity of the worker. 

We must begin our celebration first and foremost with the recognition of the dignity of the worker, only then can work and labor truly be transformative. 

Today we also celebrate the memorial of Blessed Frederick Ozanam.  
Frederick was a young man who lived in the 19th century in France.  He became a stanch defender of the faith, especially in his university classes to his professors. 

He started a club that enabled young people to get together and discuss their beliefs amongst one another.   One day in this club a question was posed to him that stung him deeply, "What do you do besides talk to prove the faith you claim is in you?"

What do you do besides talk to prove the faith you claim is in you?

This question led him to found the St. Vincent de Paul Society dedicated to assisting and helping the poor and working class.

Like the scribes and Pharisees in today's gospel seeking to "discover a reason to accuse" Jesus, do men and women discover a reason in our lives to accuse us of of being faithful.

"what do we do to prove the faith we claim is in us?

Or do we just simply build our alibi in hopes to get off scott free. 

St. Paul tells us, "I am filling up what is lacking in the affliction of Christ on behalf of his body the Church...for this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me...that we may present everyone perfect in bring to completion for you the word of God...that we might be brought together in love.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

1 col 1:1-8; Psalm 52 I trust in the mercy of God forever; Luke 4:38-44

"To other towns I must proclaim  the good news of the Kingdom of God."

The term Kingdom of God is usesd 122 times in the New Testament.  Its frequency of occurence suggest a certain importance to God's revelation. 

The kingdom of God is at hand. 

The reign of God in time, in history is made concrete in the person of Jesus. 

In today's gospel Jesus tells us he must proclaim the "good news of the kingdom of God."

The term, "good news" "evangelion" was not originally coined by the gospel writers. 
Originally it was used by the emperor of the Roman empire.  What ever the emperor had to say, was posted throughout the empire as "evangelion" that is "good news."

The emperor illegitimately pretended to be a god, a savior, a redeemer; therefore, whatever he said was taken to be good news regardless of whether the content was pleasant or not.   His message would go out through the empire and was considered good news not because it was information but because it was going to change the world as the people knew it for the better. 

This is the reality that the gospel writers understood as they transferred the "evangelion" from the lips of the emperor to the lips of Jesus, the true savior, redeemer, God. 

What the emperors pretended to be, Jesus was.  Thus, the good news was really good, for it really changed everything. 

Pope Benedict reminds us it is the word of God that is a living action in our world; a word that brings about conversion and faith, the central core of the good news that truly is performative. 

This kingdom is in the person of Jesus, which takes root in the interior of man, that is proclaimed by the Church.  The good news goes out to all and it truly changes the world for the better.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Over the past four weeks, I have been called to the bed side of 4 persons, preparing for death.  
We has gotten me to think about death and dying quite a bit.

This is what I surmise so far:
The problem of life in general is that we start thinking about death when it is already too late. 

We should think about death much sooner, so that we can begin to live today. 

Thinking about our end should encourage us to live with the right amount of seriousness and the correct amount of levity, only then do we truly begin to enter into life to its full.

This is what St. Paul is doing in the first letter.  He wants us to think about the end so that we can finally begin to live as children of the light.  Thus we may live to love and in loving learn to live.