Friday, February 26, 2010


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

"Jesus said to his disciples: I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven."

The word "surpasses" can be translated as exceeds or more literal in the greek as "more superabundant."

The christian is the person who does not calculate; he does not count the cost; he does not seek the minimal; he does not just do what is correct in order to get by.

The christian is one who does something extra; he lives with a superabundance of goodness. He is the lover who always seeks goodness regardless; he is the lover who does not ask how much farther.

He never rides in the back seat asking are we there yet; rather, he looses himself in the goodness of living in love.

The christian is aware of his failings and short comings but is generous with God and other people because he knows how much he depends on the generosity of God and of his fellow man.
He is the one that St. Paul describes, as the one who owes no debt but love to all. His generosity is rooted in the generosity he knows he has first received.

He is magnanimous.

He realizes the goodness he has received and gives that goodness to others, superabundantly.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ask, seek, knock

Esther c:12,14-16,23-25; Psalm 138 Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me; Matthew 7:7-12

Today we encounter a very famous passage that almost everyone who has ever read the words of Jesus has memorized: "ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

Sounds like a great deal. Yet it isn't what it seems.

First it does suggest that when we ask and seek and knock the Father wants to do our will. The heavenly Father makes our desires part of his plan.

This should be humbling and should caution us when we seek, ask, and knock. We should make sure what we are asking for has been purified by his divine love first.

The first petition to God should always be what do I need Lord, what is it that I really want. Then his good hand shall stir our desires and show to us what we should be seeking, asking, and knocking.

Secondly, it doesn't always work. We do not always get what we ask for, or what we seek for, and sometimes the wrong door opens. God never says we will get exactly what we ask for.

Yet, whether it be the wrong answer or no answer, we must remember the Good God's providential care reaches beyond our little world. God does want our personal private space to become part of a larger scope of living and loving.

Sometimes the answers we receive are meant to stretch us forth, to reach beyond.

We should never underestimate the providence of the Good God. Though we may not see it, yet, it doesn't mean it hasn't already been set in motion.

Thirdly, we too should spend our life responding to what God ask, seeks, and knocks for. Our door must open to him; we must seek to fulfill his request.

Our prayer should be, "Father, ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and our door shall be opened."

Only with all this does this passage truly come to life and become life giving for us and those around us.

Today for lent ponder the providential care of the good God.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

sign of jonah

Flannery O'Connor was asked why her people and plots in the fiction she wrote were often outlandish, even grotesque, and she answered, "To the hard of hearing you shout, for the almost blind you have to draw large and startling figures."

Is there anything more startling or grotesque or outlandish than a man emerging from that as dark as a whale's belly. The sign of Jonah was quite the startling reality as he climbed out of the whale's belly and began to proclaim to the people.

No wonder the entire city repented. They not only saw the sign they recognized it for its value and responded with all their heart.

Is there anything more grotesque, outlandish, startling?

Perhaps, only one other thing, a man emerging from the tomb much darker than the belly of the whale. This is more startling yet. Is this not the sign of Jesus, the man standing outside the tomb, wounded by death yet victorious.

God has a way of writing with startling realities as well.

Flannery O'Connor was simply writing like God reveals, with grotesque and outlandish plots and large and startling figures. God uses figures larger than life, grotesquely beautiful in order to shout at the deaf and startle the almost blind: there is something greater here.

No matter what we do in life, the figure of Christ standing outside the tomb, wounded but victorious, shall always shout through our deafness and brighten our blindness: something greater is here.

sign to all

jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 51 a heart contrite and humble, O God, you will not spurn; Luke 11:29-32

Homily of Pope Benedict on Ash Wednesday 2010

A snippet
"...Salvation, in fact, is a gift, it is God's grace, but to have effect in my existence it requires my consent, an acceptance demonstrated in deeds, that is in the will to live like Jesus, to walk after him..."

"...understood in this perspective also is the penitential sign of the ashes, which are imposed on the head of those who begin with good will the lenten journey. It is essentially a gesture of humility, which means: I recognize myself for what I am, a frail creature, made of earth and destined to the earth, but also made in the image of God and destined to him. Dust, yes, but loved, molded by love, animated by his vital breath, capable of recognizing his voice and responding to him;"

Two realities on this lenten journey

1) we are invited to see ourselves as we really are. We have to take a long look into our life and remove the dross and remove the disguise and remove all that is not me. We must be stripped.

2)we are invited to see ourselves as God would want us to be. We must be cloth anew in the garment prepared for us in the gift of salvation. Our consent changes everything.

"lent lengthens our horizons and orients us to eternal life."

With every act of faith: praying a little harder, fasting a little more, giving to others, our horizon stretches outward and upward and we become the sign this generation longs for. We become the sign of Christ; we let the world know there is something greater.

A week ago today we were marked with ashes to let the world know the sign. the ashes are gone but we remain, our life, our heart shows forth that love is crucified, love is redeemed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

babble not

Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 34 From all their distress God rescues the just; Matthew 6:7-15

Today is the birthday of George Handel. When he was young he loved to play the organ yet his father wanted him to be a lawyer. So at night when his dad was asleep he would sneak upstairs and play the instrument, quietly and discreetly.

At the age of seven, a duke heard him play and was so moved that he gave Handel a fist full of gold coins. Upon arriving home with all this gold, his father decided that perhaps being a musician wasn't so bad after all.

Handel is known for his great composition the Messiah. He composed the piece in 25 days, seldom eating or sleeping. When he had finished he simply responded that he believed he "had been visited by God."

Many people have felt they have been visited by God when something extraordinary happens or occurs either at their hands or witness in another.

But we should not limit the visitation of God to those rare moments or high triumphs.

Jesus in today's gospel teaches us that prayer itself, when done correctly, is a visitation from on high.

God does not want us to babble, that is, he does not want us to talk at him. We do have a tendency to be a bit wordy with God. We talk and chatter and clatter about. But are we praying or justing seeking psychological consolation by getting it off our chest, whatever it may be.

Prayer is different. We do not talk at God but we learn to talk to him, with him. We let him talk in us. This is the gift of the "Our Father." It is a formula that guides our mind into the mind of God. We pray using God's words. We are caught up into the eternal prayer, that union between Jesus and the Father.

We are invited into the inner circle, the deep intimate embrace of sharing in the heart of God. We are invited to talk with, to talk to, to enter in.

It is a visitation, each and every time we speak those beautiful words.

In Christian faith the creature is invited to share in the life of the creator and talk to him, like a son speaks to his father, like the Son speaks to the Father.

A word from St. Cyprian
"So my brothers, let us pray as God our master has taught us. To ask the Father in words his Son has given us, to let him hear the prayer of Christ ringing in his ears, is to make our prayer one of friendship, a family prayer. Let the Father recognize the words of his Son. Let the Son who lives in our hearts be also on our lips...What more effective prayer could we then make in the name of Christ than in the words of his own prayer?"

Monday, February 22, 2010

Peter, the rock

1 peter 5:1-4; Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want; Matthew 16:13-19

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Peter.

Intriguing feast dedicated not so much to a piece of furniture but to the office contained: cathedra of Peter, office of teaching in faith and morals given to Peter and his successors.

When in St. Peter's Basilica, by the final altar in the apse, we encounter the Chair of Peter.

What is most striking about the Chair is that the apostle Peter is missing; he is not present. The Chair floats above , supported by great teachers of the east and West and yet remains empty.

What is also striking is at the center of the chair is a window that is flooded with light depicting a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit.

The dove reminds us that God is the source of light and illumination. The Church itself becomes a place of encounter, a window, where the world is permeated by his radiance, his light.

The Church becomes a meeting place, where God meets us and we find God. All this is empowered by the gift of himself.

The chair, the empty throne also reveals much. It reveals the abiding presence of the apostle, who as teacher remains present in his successors. It is the throne of truth and faith that recalls the words of Jesus in today's gospel,

"Blessed are you Simon, Son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father...You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, the gates of the nether world shall not prevail. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven...what you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. What you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

The empty space of the chair recalls the authority Jesus gives to Peter and his successors, illumined by the Spirit and light from above, to lead the flock and to gather them to Christ the Good Shepherd.

The chair of Peter is not about Peter, primarily it is about Peter and his successors leading us to Christ and then back to God himself, who started it all.

In faith in God we allow Peter, the one Jesus chooses, to lead us to Christ himself so that Christ can lead us to the Father of lights.

The chair is not about who Lords over the people but it is the hard chair of service, primacy of faith and the primacy of love reign in service to mankind, in service to Christ.

Only where faith leads to love can we truly encounter hope and the three gather together around the chair upon which the church is built as a meeting place between God and man and back to God.

Here truth is made known in loving service to all.

Simon, son of are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.

The church is the Father' s gift to the world. What a gift!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Dt 26:4-10; Psalm 91 Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13

Fasting is one of the three practice the church invites us to enter into during this lenten season, these 40 days, in order to deepen our conversion to Christ.

Fasting doesn't mean starving but it does mean being hungry. It is often connected to abstinence, which simply means to go without.

The official rules for fasting and abstinence are as follows: at age 14 and up we are asked to abstain from meat on fridays. Between the ages of 18 and 59 we are invited to fast on those days prescribed: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

But, we should practice fasting often in our own life. We can fast from many things: food, drink, Tv, Radio, Our cell phone, texting etc... anything sensual

But primarily we fast from food and drink.

In the world many people fast for different reasons.

People fast to lose weight. They want to achieve a desired look and work on their figure. IT usually deals with beauty though sometimes, vain glory.

People fast for health reasons. There are times in our life when we should not eat certain foods for it is bad for our health, thus we abstain. When we have procedures or surgery, the doctor will prescribe fasting. Fasting is also a way of cleansing our bodies from toxins.

People also fast for political purposes. They fast in order to bring attention to particular problems in our society. Ghandi would be a prime example. In this case it is fasting in order to bring about change.

When you look into the biblical record, you find many biblical figures fasting.
Moses fasted for forty days prior to receiving the ten commandments; Elijah fasted forty days before climbing the mountain and hearing the whisper of God; the Ninevites fasted in order to change and seek God's favor; Isaiah speaks of fasting as a way of reaching inward in order to reach outward to neighbors; St. Paul fasted after his conversion and throughout his ministry; Jesus fast today in the gospel.

Jesus fasts and prays for forty days prior to being tempted. Fasting and prayer seemed to be a vehicle to prepare for battle. Jesus prepares his humanity for the confrontation; he prepares for his mission. Fasting and prayer deepen his communion with the Father in the Spirit which strengthens him for the ministry ahead.

Jesus leaves nothing to chance.
Jesus prepares for the temptation and thus overcomes them.

Do we prepare? Or do we leave everything to chance?

If the Son of God prepares, how much more do we need to prepare.

The problem is we often think we are stronger than we are.

Fasting has always been a hallmark of the catholic faith. It has also been a hallmark of man's relationship with God. From the beginning, Adam and Eve, in paradise, in the Garden of eden were asked to fast and abstain. In fact fasting and abstinence was at the heart of their communion with God. They were told not to eat of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

It reminded them that the created world, as good as it was, was not to fill them completely. IT was never meant to fill them fully. It also was an invitation to let God direct their life rather than running their life themselves.

As we look at fasting today in our life, the question arises, "what good comes from it?"

* fasting is a prayer for the body, of the body. When we fast our body begins to experience a longing that our spirit endures continually. We practice in our body what we proclaim in our faith: we want more. Fasting is a way of unifying our body and soul, integrating our life before God.

*Fasting shows that we are sincere. We put our money where our mouth is. Sincerity is more than words, for talk is cheap. When we fast it becomes a lived reality. Our sincerity means more.

*the hunger we experience invites us to look beyond. It deepens our longing for the kingdom and helps us to realize the kingdom is both spiritually and physically breaking through. We realize that we do not live on bread alone. Thus, we are empowered to build the kingdom in our life, our relationships, in our society. It gets us moving. We realize we need more.

*fasting is about liberation. We are liberated from our appetites. Our cravings and desires often want to rule the roost, but fasting puts them back in order. We discover we are no longer earth bound but rather we are disposed to heaven and we can do more.

*Fasting is an entrance into humility. The first thing we discover when we fast is we are not as strong as we think we are. We encounter our weakness. When accept our weakness, we are able to look at the weakness of others differently. We can now be compassionate as opposed to judgmental. Living without enables us to live for others. We are able to be more welcoming to our neighbors in need.

*Fasting keeps us awake and attentive and alert. Think about thanksgiving. After we eat our turkey and dressing and pies and the like, we normally are so full that all we want to do is sleep, slumber. We lose sight of the race we are on. The devil wants nothing more than to catch us napping. The scripture often tells us to stay awake. Fasting helps us be alert and watch for more. It is better than any 5 hour energy drink.

*fasting gives us confidence in God. Any time we give up something, we make an act of faith that God will provide, he will see us through. We put our trust in him. Every 'no' we make is a 'yes' to something greater. Self-denial is really about self-fulfillment. When we fast we are able to take possession of ourselves and truly give ourselves to God and neighbor more fully: free, total, faithful and fruitful.

*St, Augustine says if we want our prayer to fly to God then we must give it two wings: fasting and almsgiving. But we must remember it is not about getting what we want but rather accepting what God gives. Thus, we become who we were meant to be and we are meant to be so much more.

This is what our fasting these 40 days is about.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

beneficiaries we all are

Isaiah 58:9-14; Luke 5:27-32

"Jesus saw a tax collector named levi sitting at the custom post. He said to him, "follow me." And leaving everything behind he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a banquet for him in his house..."

Levi was grateful for the call, grateful for the opportunity to follow, grateful for the benefits he received.

A word from St. Irenaeus

"Nor did the Lord need our service. He commanded us to follow him, but his was the gift of salvation. To follow the Savior is to share in salvation; to follow the light is to enjoy the light. Those who are in the light do not illuminate the light but are themselves illuminated and enlightened by the light. They add nothing to the light, rather, they are beneficiaries, for they are enlightened by the light...

The same is true of service to God: it adds nothing to God, nor does God need the service of man. Rather, he gives life and immortality and eternal glory to those who follow and serve him. He confers benefits on his servants in return for their service and on his followers in return for their loyalty, but he receives no benefit from them. He is rich, perfect, and in need of nothing...

The reason why God requires service from man is this: because he is good and merciful and desires to confer benefits on those who persevere in his service. In proportion to God's need of nothing is man's need for communion with God.

This is the glory of man: to persevere and remain in the service of God."

Friday, February 19, 2010


As we enter upon our first friday of Lent, the church invites us to abstain from eating meat. All who have reached the age of 14 up are obliged to abstain from eating meat on Friday's during lent.

Hence, most people will gorge themselves on hefty fish baskets, thinking they are fulfilling the obligation. The fast and abstinence is meant to make us hungry for something beyond, something more; it does not mean we should substitute fish in the place of meat and carry on business as usual.

Isaiah warns us about carrying out our own pursuits. Rather fasting and abstinence is meant to liberate us from our appetites, empower us to seek the higher things and truly enter in a deep communion with God above and draw closer to Christ.

Fasting and abstinence is about turning our attention else where and shows we are sincere in what we seek.

This is not a new notion instituted by the church. Abstinence was part of God's command from the beginning. Even in Paradise, the Garden of Eden, prior to the fall, God asked Adam and Eve to abstain from the tree of knowledge of Good and evil; they were asked to abstain as a act of filial obedience, as a way of allowing God to direct their life rather than running it themselves.

Abstinence was part of their deep communion with God.

Should it not be part of ours as well.

Also, as we fast and abstain, as we offer up small sacrifice we help filter graces of conversion through the church to souls in need.

Through fasting and abstinence we invite God to remake our hearts that they may be contrite and humbled. Thus our hearts are no longer forgetful but attentive to the graces received and longing for God's mercy to fulfill his promise to recreate us anew each day.

Thus, our hearts shall be opened not only to God but to all of humanity, our brothers and sisters in need; Thus, freed from our self-centered reality, we will reach out and tend to those around us with the care and gentleness and generosity we have received from God.

We will be able to give to others what we have received from God's goodness to us. God's goodness to us becomes our goodness to others.

"This is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke, setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke, sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and homeless, clothing the naked when you see them, not turning your back on your own."

Thursday, February 18, 2010


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

"if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

There's that word again, "deny". It seems every time we turn around Jesus is asking us to live a life of denial.

Most psychologist would tell you that living in denial is not healthy. They would say you need to be who you are, embrace yourself, live and let live.

Fortunately for us, Jesus does not practice pop psychology. Jesus doesn't invite us to experience psychological consolation he invites us to enter into his suffering and discover true joy.

It is a strange fact that we have to embrace suffering in order to know joy. This also seems a bit contrary to modern society and the talking heads we hear daily.

Jesus invites us to "deny ourselves" and "take up our cross daily" and only then will we truly discover who we are and learn to live fully the life we have been given.

Denial simply means we have the courage and strength to say 'no' to our selfish desires. We can renounce ourself so that we can be for others.

Lent is an opportunity to practice "living without" so we can truly "live for others." This is a life of denial.

We learn to say 'no' so that we can say 'yes.' We say 'no' in order to take possession of ourselves and then we can truly give ourselves faithfully and fully. every 'no' directed toward a greater 'yes.'

Each day during lent we say 'no'; each day in lent we say 'yes'; each day in lent we take possession of ourself; each day in lent we are able to give ourself away.

Denial is the pathway to freedom. We must daily walk that path trusting that we do not walk alone but we follow the one who goes before us living for others in giving his all.

We are not doing what Jesus ask, we are doing what he did.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

in hoc signo vinces

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

Today we receive ashes upon our forehead in the sign of the cross. The messiness of the ashes as they are speared upon our heads gives way to the mercy of God revealed in the cross.

As the cross is marked on our forehead we should call the mind the conversion of Constantine.

As constantine went out into battle, the cross appeared to him in broad day light. That night as he slept he had a dream of the Christ inviting him to place the cross on his shields and horse and heard the Christ say, "in hoc signo vinces: by this sign you shall conqueror."

Constantine went off into battle and returned victorious and later made Christianity a legally recognized religion.

As the sign of the cross is marked on our foreheads, we receive our marching orders; we are sent out in the next 40 days to engage in spiritual training and combat.

We are sent forth to practice discipline and train our souls to respond more promptly to the saving word and action of God in our life.

We are sent forth to pray, fast, and give alms.

As we pray, our space now becomes God's space; as we fast, we empty ourselves from detachment of the world to a greater dependence on God, allowing him to fill us; as we give alms, we allow charity and generosity to bear fruit as we look upon our neighbor in need and see the face of Christ, begging for the human heart to open wide and to extend a helping hand.

As we do this, the cross we bear on our forehead becomes no longer just a sign but a living reality: we enter into crucified love.

As we give up things or actions, we are making space, we are rending our hearts, opening them wide, to welcome the gift God has prepared for us on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. For if our hands and hearts are already full then we can not truly receive the gift that awaits us when our 40 days have ended.

May we embrace these 40 days a spiritual and emotional and physical retreat. May we engage our whole body, mind and spirit. as we retreat from the world, we also retreat toward God. This is how we "return" to God as the prophet exhorts us.

May our return be fruitful as we learn the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

"Remember your are dust and unto dust you shall return." Remember you are dust alive in the hands of God.

Leave nothing to chance. Leave no stone unturned. Leave everything behind and let nothing get in the way, return and remember, in hoc signo vinces.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

mardi gras

James 1:12-18; Psalm 94 Blessed the man you instruct O Lord; Mark 8:14-21

Mardi Gras

A prayer: click here

A synopsis

Blessed are you Lord God of all creation, from your goodness we have this day to offer, to celebrate, this day to feast.

As we feast today may we be filled with gratitude as we recognize that it is from you all good things come.

May this feasting of today give us strength for tomorrow as we enter into a season of fasting and prayer.

Thus, this 40 days will not be wasted and we shall draw ever closer, more dependent, ever mindful and attentive to you and thus finally we shall be fully yours.

May this feasting undo the deceit and help us appreciate that "every good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights."


Monday, February 15, 2010


james 1:1-11; Psalm 119; Mk 8:11-13

There is a saying that goes, "when opportunity knocks, you must open the door."

You have to take the chance when the chance arrives.

St. James takes it a little further in today's first reading. He basically tells us that every moment, every "knock", is an opportunity to grow in faith.

Every encounter in life can be an encounter to deepen one's faith. There is no moment unnoticed by God that does not contain grace to perfect us along the way, "so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Everything and anything is instrumental to the life of faith God desires for us.

The true challenge is to recognize that we are not perfect yet.

In the gospel, we encounter the Pharisees seeking to argue with Jesus; they come to pick a fight.

Jesus does something that we can certainly benefit from seeing. Jesus decides to walk away.
JEsus gets in the boat and goes to the other side of the lake.

He creates distance between him and the source of conflict. Rather than have a throw down and blow up he simply walks away.

We all must learn to choose our fights. Some fights aren't worth fighting.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1 Blessed are they who hope in the lord; 1 Corinthians 15:12,16-20; Luke 6:17,20-26

"it was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of disbelief; it was a season of light, it was a season of darkness; it was a spring of hope, it was a winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we all were going direct to heaven, we all were going direct the other way..."

The opening lines of Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, are captivating, seducing. They draw us in and convince us to keep reading.

These opening lines of the novel are also the best description of the life and times of the Prophet Jeremiah.

He experienced the brightest period of Israel. When he was young there was a time of great renewal, revitalization, a time of religious reformation. Things were looking up and Jeremiah was leading the charge.

There was a moment where it looked as if the heart of the Israelite nation might finally give itself completely to God. Jeremiah was witnessing the tipping point; he thought that perhaps finally the human heart would give itself completely to the Heart of God, heeding his commands and directions for life.

Then everything changed. He quickly discovers how tortuous the human heart really was. One moment the Israelite people were headed on the right path, then they wavered. The pagan world became to much and quickly the enticements offered overcame the work of the reformation. the word of the world had more pull than the word of God.

The people gave themselves to idols and false religion. They betrayed the God who had rescued them and brought them into the promise land.

Jeremiah looked out and he could not believe his eyes. All that was promising was taken away.
Judah was no longer a nation. Jerusalem was now in ruins. The temple had been burned to the ground. The Israelites were now overcome by the Babylonians and were being deported to a foreign land, uprooted, and families were being torn apart.

Not only was the country affected by this shift of allegiance. Jeremiah himself was affected.

His own family tried to plot his death, they sought to take him out. The king had him arrested and scourged and thrown into the stocks. He was put on trial only to barley escape. He had to go into hiding for 12 years because his life was threatened daily. He was arrested again and thrown into prison. Then he was dragged to a cistern, a hole in the ground, thrown in and left to starve to death. When the Babylonians found him, he was at the point of death. They pulled him form the hole and led him to exile into Egypt, where he would be stoned to death by his own people, the people he was sent to serve by speaking God's word.

"It was the best of time, it was the worst of time; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of disbelief; it was a season of light, it was a season of darkness; it was a spring of hope, it was a winter of despair; everything was before them, nothing was before them..."

How quickly the human heart can change allegiance!

Jeremiah grew despondent toward the human heart. He grew pessimistic toward the ability of the human heart to remain faithful.

Yet, he remained optimistic in the heart of God. In God's heart he found, hope, promise, and power. He never gave up on God no matter how bad the circumstances got.

In fact, considering what Jeremiah went through, his words today in the first reading are more powerful, more uplifting, more meaningful, "Blessed the man who trust in the lord, whose hope is in the lord..."

JEremiah did not let the circumstances dictate his faith. Jeremiah did not blame God for the fickle nature of the human heart. He remained firm and steadfast. God was his anchor, and he became the tree planted next to streams, where his leaves were green no matter the climate change around him.

What held him to God?

At the beginning of Jeremiah's call, God spoke these words to him, "I am with you to deliver you.."

This was the stable force in Jeremiah's life. He trusted God in his words that no matter what, God would see him through and give him the internal peace and joy in life.

"I am with you to deliver you."

what is our stable force? What do we hold on to? Where is our anchor?

For Christians, the cross is the force that stabilizes us through all of life's currents and changes.

On the Cross we see the heart of God exposed. On the cross we see the heart of God that is one of hope, promise, and power. On the cross we recognize that God is in it for the long haul. On the cross, we begin to understand that God is not going anywhere. He is with us to deliver us no matter the circumstances. Even death cannot separate Him from us.

Here is our anchor, here is the center of gravity for our trust. Here at the cross we discover the tree that is planted by running streams that stays green all year round, whose roots have run deep in its devotion to the human family.

"I am with you to deliver you." At the cross the words of God and his actions are one and the same. He says what he means and he means what he says.

Friday, February 12, 2010

short cut

1 kings 11:29-32;12:19; Psalm 81 I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice; Mk 7:31-37

Just a couple of thoughts.

The refrain from the psalm to day: I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.

In Hebrew there is one word that means both hear and obey. If you do not obey then you really didn't hear in the first place. When it comes to God, he makes it a point to be heard.


In today's gospel We see Jesus on the move. He leaves the district of Tyre and went to Sea of Galilee by way of Sidon as the text reveals to us.

Now, Sidon is about 2o to 30 miles in the other direction. It is as they say, out of the way. Jesus doesn't take the short cut to get to where is going.

There is no short cut. Every journey, every experience has profound significance.

There is no short cut on the journey of faith. In fact, sometimes, Jesus will take to places that seem out of the way but for him it is exactly where we need to be.

The journey itself will lead to an "opening" of our ears and a loosening of our tongues so we can both hear and proclaim what God has done.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


In today's readings we discover that the wisdom of Solomon was not used well. Rather then remain faithful to God he ventured out and became attached to other gods, "his heart was not entirely with the Lord."

In the gospel we discover the power of the intercession of a mother as the Syrophoenician woman seeks and begs Jesus to cure her daughter.

Both of these realities relate to the feast we celebrate as we commemorate the apparition of the Blessed Mother to St. Bernadette in Lourdes.

We discover to things as we ponder Our Lady of Lourdes.

1)The Blessed Virgin Mary reveals herself in Lourdes as the Immaculate Conception, the one who is conceived without sin. In the Blessed Mother we meet the only creature who never offended God, for she alone fulfilled the first commandment-adore God only and love him perfectly. This is why she is considered the seat of wisdom.

Unlike Solomon, her wisdom does not stray.

2) We see in the apparition the continued support of the Blessed Mother for her children. She seeks continually to win for us the favors and gifts we need as we journey on our pilgrimage of life. We always have the intercession of a Mother at our side.

St. John Vianney teaches that the apparition of Mary is like a beam of sun on a foggy day. Mary only desires to see us happy. If Hell could repent, the intercession of the Blessed Mother would obtain its pardon.

May we follow Mary's lead and allow her to guide us in the way of love perfected as we seek to devote ourselves to God alone.

One hail Mary day shall gain for us a deeper insight into the life of grace.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

fingerprint of God

1 kings 10:1-10; Psalm 37 The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom; Mk 7:14-23

Today in the church we celebrate the memorial of St. Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict
She lived in the 5th and 6th century.

"On liturgical feast the deeds of God in the past are made present, The feast are participation in God's action in time, and the images themselves, as remembrance in visible form, are involved in the liturgical re-presentation." Pope Benedict

As we celebrate this feast of the life of St.Scholastica, we pause to remember God's action in time. Not only do we remember God's mighty deeds, we pause recognize that God's mighty deeds involves one of us. The saints remind us and also invite us to allow God to use us in time and in history to make his mighty deeds known.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


1 Kings 8:22-23,27-30; Psalm 84 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God! Mark7:1-13

" hypocrites..."

Oh yes, Jesus today uses that old familiar phrase that sends tingles up our spine, makes us blush and shiver in disguise...Hypocrites. Who is a hypocrite?

Hypocrites are everywhere: here, there, near, far, up, below where ever the eyes may go.

Hypocrite: impostor, charlatan, swindler, sham, actor, deceiver, pretender, fraud, phony, just to name few other ways of describing the dreaded beast of the hypocritical genre.

When we think about hypocrites, many people instantly say that the church is full of them. They will point out that christians are notorious for being hypocritical, that is, saying one thing and doing another.

What they live in the public is not what they do behind close doors. In their profession, on their lips, they are faithful and true, but in their life their faith runs blue.

People often complain about the hypocrisy of christians, and they use it as a reason not to believe or follow. Unfortunately this in itself is hypocritical.

Christianity does not rise or fall on what Christians do or not do.

The heart of Christianity is centered not on christians and their ability or inability to be faithful and true; No, Christianity is not rooted in the lives of christians, fortunately it is rooted in the life of Christ.

Christianity is centered on the person of Jesus. It is Jesus we must contend with not christians. The church is made up of sinners, men and women who have risen to the challenge but also have fallen; but the Church is founded by Jesus, the sinless one. This is what we must face.

G.K. Chesterton says its best I do believe, "To all this plausible argument for oppression, the only adequate answer is, that there is a permanent human ideal that must not be either confused or destroyed. The most important man on earth is the perfect man who is not there. The Christian religion has specially uttered the ultimate sanity of Man, says scripture, who shall judge the incarnate and human truth. Our lives and laws are not judged by divine superiority, but simply by human perfection. It is man, says Aristotle, who is the measure. It is the Son of Man, says scripture, who shall judge the quick and the dead." (What's wrong with the world)

Jesus says today in the gospel, " nullify the word of God..."
But Jesus is the Word of God. He is the Word Incarnate, made flesh. It is his word that guides us, directs us, gives us hope, even when we encounter the hypocrite inside all of us as we peer at the mirror.

Monday, February 8, 2010

hand signals

"...begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed."

Below in brackets is a summary of exposition by Msgr Guardini. I thought it beneficial and inspiring.

{The sense of touch is a powerful mechanism by which we communicate and interact. In our hands, every slightest feeling-pleasure, surprise, suspense-shows forth. A quick lifting of the hand or the flicker of the finger speaks volumes.

The hand is a strong tool for work, a ready weapon for attack and defense but also with its delicate structure of its network of innumerable nerves, it is adaptable, flexible, and highly sensitive. It is an organ of receptivity an organ by which we welcome that which comes from outside ourselves; it is also a organ by which we resistant and build a wall.

Our hands are most expressive in prayer. As we open our palms to the heaven we open our life to God. We can feel the power flow from heaven to earth through our hands into our very life.

The language of the hands express greatness and beauty. Perhaps God has given us our hands in order to carry our souls in them.}

Sometimes our hands can say to God better than what our lips attempt; when our words get clumsy it is our hands reaching out that say what we intend and mean what we say.

As hands reached out to Jesus in today's gospel, do they not say clearly, express precisely what the human heart has longed for, to be near, to draw close, to be intimate with God.

Like the people in the gospel, may our hands do our talking to day and perhaps we may discover the presence of God just around the corner, right in our living room, sitting next to us one the couch, holding our hands in his.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

pardon the interruption

Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8; Psalm 138 In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11

When someone gets married in the church, prior to the "I do" the couples must first say "I do."

Before they can give their consent to being married they are asked to state their intentions. They cannot get accidentally married, they have to intend it.

There are three statements they are asked prior to their consent:
1)have you come here freely without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage
2)will you love and honor one another as man and wife for the rest of your lives
3) will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his church

The statement intentions lay out the program or mission of married life.

The third question or statement comes to mind as I ponder these readings: will you accept children lovingly from God and raise them according to the law of Christ and his church

What does this statement say?

Outside of the obvious of course: will you accept children means are you open to the gift of also suggest that you will be open to children even when your not ready...

It means you will not sterilize your love...

I always tell couples that there is one thing to remember about children: they are always a blessing but never convenient.

Basically the question is asking will you create space for God in your life, will you be open to his will and more importantly, his plan.

Will you follow your agenda or will you walk along the path God has laid before you?
Will you give up your control and learn to be dependent on the other?
Will you give god opportunity to interrupt your life? All things work for Good for those who love God.

This is the one thing constant with God...

If we don't create space for God, he will seek to make his own way into our life...God will interrupt our life. We are no good if we are stagnant.

Isaiah and Peter both discover the reality God's resiliency, God's persistence, God's initiative..

For Isaiah, the "frame of the door shook" and the foundation was shaken...

For Peter, he was overwhelmed by the goodness displayed and the abundance laid at his feet...

In both cases, God breaks into their lives and interrupts their plans.

Both Isaiah and Peter have a break though in their life. They allow God to penetrate their defenses, break down the barrier of their own plans and agenda and they come to a deeper self awareness of their smallness: "Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips and yet my eyes have seen the king," and "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

It is being aware of our smallness, our plans and agenda, aware of how often we have refused to makes space for God that humbles us but also opens us up to God.

Once God breaks in and we have our break through we then break out into the newness of life God offers.

There is an emergence for Isaiah and for Peter. They are no longer constrained by their plans or by their understanding. God frees them from their self-restraints, from their self-confinement even their self-imprisonment. God saves us from ourselves, from our plans and invites us to get on board with something greater: "from now on you shall be catching men."

They leave everything, that is, they remove the obstacles that have crowded their lives. They finally create space for God and they journey forth on unchartered territory and their life will never be the same.

They allowed God to interrupt their lives, interrupt their plans, and rather than bulk they joined the ride, they followed him.

They become small, and only when we are small to we begin to understand how large is our God.

Friday, February 5, 2010

something's missing

Sirach 47:2-11; Psalm 18 Blessed be God my salvation; Mark 6:14-29

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Agatha, virgin and martyr. She was martyred around the year 251 A.D.

Upon her death she prayed this prayer, "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desires, possess alone all that I am."

She gave her life seeking to protect her chastity and her dignity from the advances of the Roman Governor. She did allow herself to be pulled downward by the temptations of the day that assailed her on every side, rather she was given the grace and she sought the strength to stand firm against all odds.

Her life became something beautiful for God because she refused to compromise her standards.

today in the first reading we encounter a praise of David. It is a beautifully written account of David's life. He is praised for his strength, his character, his reverence for God and his religiosity. He is upheld as an example to be modeled after.

The heart of this praise for David revolved around this one sentence, "with his whole being he loved his maker."

As we read the account of David, we discover that something is missing. There is no mention of his great folly, his adulterous affair with Bethsheba. The writer of Sirach simply mentions "the Lord forgave him of his sins."

I find it refreshing. In our society every one focuses on the sins of the other; every one wants to know the details of the sin and get hung upon the sin as the defining characteristic of the life of the other.

Yet the writer of Sirach doesn't think it is worthy mentioning. He has moved beyond the sin to the reality of forgiveness. He doesn't focus on what David did wrong but rather what went right, David sought forgiveness, David found mercy. The sins of David did define him rather he was defined by God's mercy.

David spent a majority of his life praising God, so should that not be the overwhelming reality in the eulogy of his life.

What do we get hung up on?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Catholic School week

1 kings 2:1-4, 10-12; Psalm Lord, you are exalted over all; Mark 6:7-13

This whole week we have been celebrating Catholic Schools week.

We have taken the time this week to celebrate the reality that though we may not have many high tech devices or the latest classroom technology or even the highest salaries to offer to our teachers, but at Catholic Schools the one thing we do have is the ability and opportunity to celebrate our faith on a daily basis.

At Catholic Schools we grow up immersed in the life of God, this rich and organic encounter that walks with us in all that we do.

We may not have a lot of things but we do have the one thing. Like the apostles sent out on their mission experience, with nothing in their hands, no sandals, no sack, no money bag, nothing, we too are often left with empty hands held high.

Thus, at Catholic schools we learn early that because we have nothing then we must rely on God for everything.

The lesson the apostles learned is the lesson we live each and every day, everything we have is gift and it is our duty to give the giver thanks and praise for all we have received. Is this not the life of faith, is this not our highest calling, rejoice and give thanks.

Is this not the first lesson of faith: we have received. Not that we have loved God but He has first loved us.

As King David tells his son in the first reading, "keep the mandate of the Lord, following his ways and statues, commands, ordinances, decrees...that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn, and the Lord will fulfill the promise he made..."

Success and faithfulness go hand in hand. This is what the Catholic School way is all about.

Success without faith is no success at all. Faithfulness itself is a life of success.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

health and illness

today we celebrate the feast of St. Blase, bishop and martyr.

Blase was a physician who became bishop in the 4th century. He was reputed as one who cured a little boy who had a fishbone stuck in his throat. Because of this he is the patron of those with throat illness.

"through the intercession of St. Blase, bishop and martyr, may God cure you from every illness of the throat and any other illness. In the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. "

Health and sickness are constant part of our life, a constant part of our journey of faith.

We should never understand our prayers for cures as an invocation of some kind of magical reality. Rather, the prayer itself is already beginning to reveal to us the deep connection God wants for us in life with him in all times, sickness and health.

Sickness in itself can be a profound encounter with God, regardless of whether we are healed.
In fact the sickness itself is an invitation for us to embrace the reality that we are never in control; it is an invitation for us to embrace the first beatitude, "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God."

It is our poverty that leads us to God; it is when our weakness lays claim to God's strength we understand what it means to be human, created not creator.

We should never judge the effectiveness of prayer based on the results of a cure. Rather, the invocation of God is already the remedy for all that ails us, regardless if the cure is physically granted.

Nonetheless, we see God's grace and care and strength in all of life's journeys. Sickness often provides the most immediate encounter with God.

so we invoke him and we seek him and thus he leads us to himself.

St. Blase pray for us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 24 Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

"...For he is like the refiner's fire, or like the fuller's lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, Refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord..." Malachi

When does the smith, the refiner, stop refining silver? When does he know that enough is enough? When does he realize he has final arrived at his goal?


The smith ceases the process of refinement of silver the moment he can see his own reflection in the very silver he is refining.

He must keep a keen eye out for the brilliance of his own reflection shining through the process of refinement. This is when he knows that the impurities have been removed and the jewel of offering he now holds in his hands is ready to be presented.

This is the life of faith. When do we know we have been fully refined by the flame of God's love? When the power of the incarnation, the redeeming heat of the love of Christ has so touched us that in us the reflection of Jesus is seen most clearly. This is when we know the impurities have been removed and we are fully what we were made to be.

This is the moment when we are ready to be presented. This is when the Lord shall present us to his father as one of his own.

The presentation of the Lord, the feast we celebrate not only gets us to look back on when Jesus was presented in the temple but to look forward anticipating our own presentation in the new Jerusalem.

Jesus takes on our flesh so that he may transform and refine us: so that he might "redeem what opens the womb."

Moses tell us, "Let this, then, be as a sign on your hand as a pendant on your forehead: with a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt."

As we bless the candles to be used in the new year, we must remember the flame of faith we have received at baptism. We, too, shall become candles by which the flame burns brightly and we enter more completely into the refining fire of Jesus' embrace. By our life we present to us the redeeming power of God, his strong hand.

"Purify my love, purify my desire, purify me thoughts, purify my deeds, purify my will, purify my memory, purify my imagination; that I may be wounded for you alone sweet Jesus. that my life may radiate your light, your love, your charity, your wisdom, your gentleness, your truth, your perseverance, your devotion to the father...

Thus what you see and love in Christ you may see and love in me."

Monday, February 1, 2010

heads gonna roll

2 samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13; Psalm 3 Lord, rise up and save me; Mark 5:1-20

Today in the first reading we have David's son taking over. The children of Israel, the young generation, have given their loyalty to the son of the King rather than to the king himself.

So we have tension in this uprising. How will the King handle the uprising of the younger generation?

He decides to leave. Not only does he leave but he runs, "Up, let us take flight..."

Wow! This doesn't sound like a kingly thing to do. Normally, we are told to hold our ground, face our enemy head on, don't back down. Yet, this is the opposite demonstrated by David in the first reading.

He runs...

David does so it seems for a good reason. He wants to save the city from the "sword" but also he needs to by some time. He is simply creating space so that he can figure out his plan of action.

David's refuses to react to the news with his emotions but decides to respond, but in order to do so, he needs some space and time to get his head on straight. He steps back in order to figure out how to move forward.

While David is on the move, heart heavy with sorrow and eyes filled with tears, he meets a man, Shimei, who begins to insult him and throw stones at him.

David's companions wanted to fix the problem by eliminating the man, "let me go over and lop off his head."

There is a lot of lopping heads off in the OT.

David, again refuses to react to the situation with his emotions. Rather, he simply buys time and space. He sees past the accusations and acknowledges that perhaps this too shall be part of God's plan.

"Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. Perhaps, the lord will look upon my affliction and make it up to me with benefits for the curse he is uttering today...David and his men continued on the road. while Shimei kept abreast of them on the hillside, all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt a she went."

David refused to turn violent, he refused to react with his emotions, he chose to defend the life of the other even if he was being insulted and cursed by the other.

In the Words of St. Peter in the New Testament, 1 peter 3:9 ff, "Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult. Return a blessing instead. This you have been called to do, that you may receiving a blessing as your inheritance."

How do we handle our Shimei in our life?
Perhaps, David can show us the way. Perhaps we should be more kingly in our life with those who are anything but kingly.

Leave your sword in its sheath and remember heads don't have to roll.