Monday, May 31, 2010


Romans 12:9-16; Among you is the great and HOly one of ISrael; Luke 1:39-56

Today in the church we celebrate the feast of the Visitation. We celebrate the 2nd joyful mystery, when MAry, our BLessed Mother travels to the hill country to visit and assist her cousin Elizabeth.

As we ponder this beautiful moment in history, just a few things that stand out.

What is striking about the encounter as we enter into the biblical narrative is the fact that the joy of JOhn in his mother's womb begins with the greeting of MAry.

Her greeting brings forth the good news, carries with it the grace of the son she has conceived in her womb: "for at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy."

Think about the many greetings we have made in our life. THink about the many greetings we will make today or those that await the arrival of tomorrow or linger on the horizon of the days still to come.

How often have we just rushed through our greetings of people just to get on with the conversation or even to just get on with our life? How often have we been busy with so many things that our greetings have been anything but welcoming and certainly anything but that which carried with it the grace of Christ?

As believers, as baptized Christians, we all carry the same reality in our life that MAry carried in her womb. The Holy spirit seeks to bring forth Christ from our life on a daily basis.

Think about how important a greeting is as well. It really does set the tone for the conversation to follow; it sets the tone for the visit to unfold.

When is the last time our greeting resulted in a leap for joy?

Maybe it is time to slow down a bit. Maybe it is time to truly be attentive the presence of Christ living in our soul, burning in our hearts. Only when we are attentive to this presence and the working of God' SPirit with in can we truly bring forth the grace of God with ever greeting we make.

The genuine recollection of God's presence within will sincerely bring forth an awakening of faith, enlivening of hope, and deepening of love not only for ourselves but for all those we greet along the way.

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice, "Most Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."

What a greeting, what an encounter with grace of the living God.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Today we turn our gaze toward the Blessed Trinity as we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. As we turn our gaze turn the mystery of God himself, this eternal exchange of love of the Father, Son, and HOly Spirit, we must remember that the Trinity is a lot like the Ocean.

We cannot wrap arms around the ocean. IT is too vast, to deep, too wide. But as for the Ocean, we can simply enter into it. We can get wet; we can experience the Ocean on many different levels.

Such it is with the Most HOly Trinity. We cannot wrap our arms around the Trinity, this exchange of love for all eternity. This mystery of Three persons yet one God, all equal, all persons, all divine. IT is too vast, too deep, too wide and we cannot wrap our arms around it. We cannot wrap our minds around it. But we can simply enter into it.

In fact our entire life is fully immersed in the Most Holy Trinity.

Our life of faith begins as the water is poured upon our foreheads and the invocation of the Blessed Trinity is pronounce: I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. At the end of our Life the same Blessed Trinity is invoked as we lay in our death bed preparing for arrival in heaven and the priest says the words of commendation: Go forth Christian soul from this world to God the Father who created you, God to Son who redeemed you, God the Holy SPirit who sanctified you, Go forth Christian soul...

The Trinity is the book ends of our life on earth and the fulfillment of our life in heaven.

And while we are on earth working out our salvation, the Blessed Trinity is invoked at all the important stops of our life:

In moments of weakness, where sin grabs hold we go to confession and the priest says those words that set us free and strengthen us for the journey: God the Father of mercy as reconciled the world to himself by the death and resurrection of his son, he has sent the HOly Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sin, by the ministry of his church may he give you pardon and peace and I absolve you of all of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy SPirit.

In moments of sickness, when the body's weakness lays claim to the strength of God, in the sacrament of the sick, again the invocation of the blessed Trinity brings forth the healing hand of that communal exchange of love: May the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the HOly SPirit, may the lord who frees you form sin, save you and raise you up...May God the Father bless you, God the SOn heal you and GOd the Holy SPirit enlighten you. amen.

At confirmation when we are sealed with the Power of the Holy Spirit again the Blessed Trinity is called upon to fill our lives and make them holy: Let us pray to our Father that he will pour out the Holy SPirit to strengthen his sons and daughters with his gifts and anoint them to be more like Christ the Son of God.

In Holy Orders when the priest is ordained is by the Power of the Blessed Trinity is is invited to offer the sacrifice of Christ in the Spirit for the sanctification of the People of God.

At marriage when and husband and wife exchange the rings and enter into the vocation of the gift of married love they seal their vows with these words: Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Sprit. Amen.

Every time we begin our time of prayer, our time to converse with God we make the sign of the cross recognizing the reality of God as the one we seek to hear from and listen to. We lean our ears to heaven for a word of strength as we cry from earth longing for consolation. In moments of need, in moments of gratitude, in moments of confusion, we fall upon our knees and we invoke the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When we gather as a community on Sundays to honor the day of the Lord, to keep holy and enter into God's rest in worship, we begin the celebration by the sign of the Cross-in the name of the Father and of the SOn and of the Holy Spirit- and after we have experienced heaven on earth in the Eucharistic celebration we set out into the world with the Blessing of Almighty God-Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy SPirit. AMen.

Our entire life is an invitation to not so much understand the Trinity but to enter in the life of the most Holy Trinity, to live the Power of the Trinity in our daily life.

And each time we invoke the Blessed Trinity we are called to live who God is from all eternity:

* a unity in distinction: God is one yet he is distinct; the difference of the persons of the Blessed Trinity are the same in love. We are called to mirror that reality in our life. Despite our many difference as a people of God we are called to be the same in love. It is what we have in common that binds us and holds us together and makes our differences a source of grace for all.

* we are called to rejoice in the goodness of the other. In the Most Holy Trinity the three persons of God rejoice in the goodness of each other. So to we are called to rejoice in the goodness of those around us. Not to be nit picking but to truly see with eyes of faith and reach forth with hands of love.

*The Persons of the Trinity speak well of one another. They have a common goal of salvation and love and they collaborate in making that mission a reality. Their entire life is directed toward honor and praise of the other. They seek to glorify one another.

*They give themselves fully for each other. They hold nothing back for themselves. There is no selfishness in the Most Holy Trinity; they are single minded in the gift they give to each other

* In the Most Holy Trinity we discover the perfect fulfillment of the command: love thy neighbor as thy self. Only in God for all eternity is this lived reality perfected and complete.

Here in the Most Holy Trinity we encounter what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God. The image and likeness of God is about how we relate to one another, how we live out that communal exchange of love with one another. Only together can we truly begin to understand the foundation of our lives built upon the communal exchange of life and love revealed in the Most Holy Trinity.

The Trinity is the most relevant aspect of our faith. Only there do we truly discover how to live the life we have received in love. God has spoken. He has revealed himself from all eternty. He invites us to enter in and live who we are called to be in his image and likeness with one another.

May we enter in with every sign of the cross we make and remember who we are, where we come from, and where we are headed.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

ice water in your veins

Yesterday we read from the first letter of Peter. The words of Peter have been somewhat irritating, in a good way. They have been gnawing at my brain.

Peter says these words: "Therefore be serious and sober-minded that you will be able to pray."

We are called to be serious and sober-minded.

Peter tells us that in order to pray and pray well we must exercise self-control on our thoughts and we need to be calm and collected. That is, no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the news that is spiraling around our lives, we must stand fast and have "ice water" running through our veins, as they say.

This exhortation from Peter reminds us that no matter what is happening around us, it is what is happening in us that counts. Faith empowers us to a deep penetrating trust in God. We call to mind the fact that no matter whose hands reach into our lives, it is the finger of God that guides us all. God has control.

Thus we should let nothing disturb us, all things are passing, God alone suffices.

Faith invites us to ice water running in our veins. Just something to remember. The happenings around us is directed by the happening of God's grace within us.

Only then can we truly embrace the sufferings of Christ, and thus rejoice that we have a share of such a gift. The sufferings of Christ is the reality of suffering God's love for his people. We are all invited to suffer God's love for all of his people. This is what our life of faith is about.

Friday, May 28, 2010

moral reflections by St. Gregory

Moral reflections:

It is the wisdom of this world to conceal the heart with stategems, to veil's one thoughts with words, to make what is false appear true and what is true appear false.

On the other hand it is wisdom of the just never to pretend anything for show, always to use words to express one's thoughts, to love the truth as it is and to avoid what is false, to do what is right without reward and to be more willing to put up with evil than to perpetuate it, not to seek revenge for wrong, and to consider as gain any insult for truth's sake.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

combat boots

1 peter 2:2-5,9-12; Psalm 100 Come with Joy into the presence of the Lord; Mark 10:46-52

"let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

Just in case we forgot, the priesthood is larger than those who are ordained. All of us who have been made wet by the waters of baptism have been initiated into the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

"The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ's mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of baptism and Confirmation the faithful are "consecrated to be...a holy priesthood." ( Catechism of Catholic Church 1546)

The priesthood of the faithful is an unfolding of baptismal grace-a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the spirit. (CCC 1547)

All of us are capable of doing what we were taught from early on, "offer it up." We can make those things in our life, "holy, set apart." We can invite God to fill those things with his life and grace, no matter what they are.

"Offering it up" is truly what we as a priestly people are called to do. We have a voice that is heard. In some sense, we all stand between the breech of heaven and earth and invoke the power of God to come in and transform our lives and thus build the kingdom.

"We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 peter 2)

So there fore put on your combat boots and "wage the war" against worldly desires as St Peter invites us and remember you do not go alone. Be the priestly people we are all capable of being in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

gospel revisited

MArk 10:32-45

As we look back at the gospel of today, i could not help but be struck by a few things .

First, JEsus is once again headed toward JERUSALEM. Now we just ended the Easter Season. We are well familiar with the JErusalem scene. We know what is coming next. We are all aware of calvary, of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Yet, Here we are at the beginning of Ordinary Time, Jesus in is public ministry, and yet the church directs our gaze to JErusalem.

We are never finished with Jerusalem. Our gaze must never get tired of peering at the wounded head surrounded with thorns, or scarred hands and feet of the crucified. SO just in case we thought the Easter celebration was to turn our gaze from the passion and death of Jesus for good, we get a gut check. The passion remains the focal point of our gaze. The resurrection is the lens by which we begin to understand such beauty, such love, a reason for it all.

Secondly we get the encounter of the the two brothers who come to JEsus with a request in hand. They are bold. THey are courageous. THey do not mess around with petty request. The go all out, "Grant that in glory we sit one at your right and one at your left."

These brothers show us what we should desire above all else. We should never settle for less. We should seek the highest possible and be bold in asking.

JEsus responds with an invitation "to drink the cup that I drink." We must remember in order to arrive at our destination we will be asked to drink the cup that God pours for us, not the one we pour for ourselves. The road to glory is not often achieved by the smooth path. The cup of suffering shall always be offered. We must drink of it in order to move forward. We cannot bypass the passion, we cannot go around the cross that bars the passage. We must pick it up and trudge forward. We must let the cup JEsus offers to quench our thirst, for no other shall do.

THen the brothers respond in a way that is striking. When JEsus asks, "can you drink the cup that I drink?" the brothers do not respond in the singular affirmative, but rather they respond as a team working together. It is the "we" that will be able to endure, only then shall the "I" arrive at glory. We must stand together, only then shall we drink the cup God offers on the road to glory.

know and fix in your heart

1 peter 1:18-25; Psalm 147 Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; Mk 10:32-45

Today we celebrate the feast of St, Philip Neri, a priest who spent most of his ministry in parishes in Rome. He is considered the Apostle of Rome. He lived during the later part of the 16th century.

Just a few bits of wisdom from St. Philip of Neri:

"My Jesus, my love, all the world is vanity. HE who wishes for anything other than Christ does not know what he wishes. HE who asks for anything other than Christ does not know what he is asking. He who works and not for Christ does not know what he is doing."

"A man without prayer is an animal without reason."

St. Philip' s prayer each day before he went out into the word was the following, "Lord, watch out for Philip, he betray you today."

In the words of St. Peter today in the first reading: "Beloved: realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct...with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished Lamb."

Peter asks us to "realize" this.

Spend sometime today letting this verse roll around in your head and in your heart. Meditate on the precious Blood that has ransomed us. How beautiful! How AMazing! How thoughtful of God!

Memorize this passage and let it become a source of contemplation. See how it penetrates and changes your heart empowering to "love one another intensely from the heart."

In the words of Moses in Deuteronomy: "know and fix in your heart..."

Know and fix in your heart.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


1 peter 1:10-16; Psalm 98 The Lord has made known his salvation; Mark 10:28-31

JEsus in the gospel instructs us that "there is no one who has given up house, brothers, sisters, mothers, father, children, lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not receive..."

JEsus doesn't say that we should give up everything, but it sure does sound like it.

Everything seems like a lot. But in comparison to eternity, in comparison to the love that has been revealed in the life and death of Jesus, 'everything' doesn't even come close.

What doe we hold back? What do we keep for ourselves? What have we refused to surrender to God above? Where have we kept a secret stash for those rainy days or just in case emergencies?

With God, there is no need to hold back; there is no need to save something for a rainy day; there is no reason for 'something' when God asks for 'everything'.

As we enter into Ordinary time, we take notice that the Easter candle that has been burning for the last 50 days, burns no longer. The candle that once was a firery reminder of the presence of Jesus these past 50 days has now been extinguished.

Where has the fire gone?

The church reminds us that the fire is in us; we are all on fire; we are called to be burning examples of true discipleship. The fire burns brightest when everything is set ablaze.

We must be living torches setting the world a blaze. We now symbolize the presence of JEsus in our midst by the life we live.

God has placed his holiness in our hands. We bring that holiness to the world by that which we give for the sake of his name, for the sake of the gospel.

Everything is everything. Everything matters so lets get busy with giving it all away.

Monday, May 24, 2010

This has only been a test

1 Peter 1:3-9; Psalm 11 The Lord will remember his covenant forever; Mark 10:17-27

I remember growing up, often times when we children were watching TV after school, something strange would occur. The TV would start making a weird buzzing/beeping noise and the screen would turn different colors and then a voice would come on saying, "This is a test. For the next 60 seconds, this station will conduct a test of the emergency broadcasting system. This is only a test."

We children would sit and watch and listen then a note would come on telling us, "if this had been an actual emergency..."

Then shortly it would be followed by we will now return you to your regular programming.

The emergency broadcasting system was intriguing, but we always looked forward to the regular programming.

This is what the Lent and Easter seasons are sort of like. THey are the test of the emergency broadcasting system. It is the Church's way of making sure we are in line. Our senses are put on alert and we enter deeper into the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection.

But now we return to our regular programming, ordinary time. We enter in the travails of these ordinary days, walking with Jesus in the daily grind.

It is here in the daily grind that our faith is "proved" and we exercise our muscle of faith increasing in strength through the ordinary moments of our life. It is here in the ordinary that Jesus invites us to sale all we have, and follow him more closely. It is here in the ordinary that we allow God to be the Lord of our life, surrendering control that we too may cross the needle's divide.

We may want to invoke the intercession of the patron saint of the daily grind to keep us active in our faith while it is being proved through the daily living we embrace.

Saint Benildus pray for us. Our patron of the daily grind.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Today in the church we celebrate the feast of pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection, God sends down the Holy Spirit to fill the world. God's life is now fully active in our life and world.

In the acts of the Apostles we see the first fruits of the Spirit come alive in the Apostles as they are empowered to proclaim the mighty works of God. Not only do they proclaim but they proclaim in such a way that the message is heard.

Thus the mission of the church begins: making the message known, proclaiming the mighty works of God.

As the Spirit worked then, he desires to continually work today, empowering us to make the message known in our life.

In a world that is filled with talking heads, where everyone wants to have their opinion broadcast on all channels, it is time for us to begin to speak as well. For if we do not speak about the power of God then the world will not hear.

Think about all the things we speak about on a daily basis? When is the last time we sat someone down and shared what God is doing in our life? Do we recognize what God is doing?

Peter and the eleven at pentecost were not afraid to tell the people what God was doing in their life, in the world; neither should we be afraid.

If the Spirit of God is going to renew the face of the earth,t hen it will come through. THe face life will be through our hands, our lips proclaiming the mighty works of God.

Everyone else talking about everything else, should we not speak about the beauty of God. Isn't JEsus the center of our life; should we not share what he is doing. Instead spreading the local gossip, why not gossip about God, and spread the news, make it known.

In the psalm today there is a line that stands out. Psalm 104 is a prayer to God and the psalmist states, "pleasing to him be my theme."

What is the theme of our life? What is that which gets brought up over and over again? IS JEsus and the working God the theme that binds our life together and makes it meaningful?

Take some time today and evaluate your "theme" and then pray that the SPirit may come alive in you: come, Holy SPirit, Come and renew the face of the earth, renew me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

truth crucified

Acts 20:28-38;John 17:11-19

Jesus in today's gospel speaks of truth. He prays that the apostles may be "consecrated in the truth." He speaks of that truth as the very "word" of God..

Jesus reminds us that he himself was sent into the world to consecrate himself so that they (the apostles and followers) could be consecrated in truth.

The mission was a mission that led to the crucifixion of truth. Truth is crucified, only then does it become believable. Only then does it demand attention.

As followers, we too must allow ourselves to experience the crucifixion of truth as we live it and proclaim it. We can not surrender truth but we must allow it to be crucified.

Salvation comes by way of the cross. Salvation comes when truth is crucified. Only then is it able to penetrate the human heart. Only then is it able to be come real food and real drink. Truth crucified leads to the eucharist.

As Pope Benedict reminded us in is inauguration homily, "love is giving what is truly good, nourishment on God's truth, God's word."

We must embrace the cross, as we carry forth the truth into a world that seems to not care for truth at all.

Surrounded by people who do not believe in truth or who want truth to be personal and subjective where "my" truth has nothing to do with "your" truth mentality only the crucified truth can break through that barrier of relativism.

The battle that wages for truth must find its culmination in the crucified reality of truth that saves.

Consecrate them in truth!

In the words of Pope Benedict, "we impose nothing, but we propose ceaselessly."

Our mission to the world is to make the truth known, even it means bearing the marks of crucifixion.
The stigmata awaits us all as we live our faith in truth.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pope John I: anno domini

acts 20:17-27; Psalm 68 sing to God, o kingdoms of the earth; John 17:1-11

Today we celebrate the feast of Pope John I (523-526).

In his 2nd year as Pope he commissioned a monk to compile a calendar of the saints. He produced an updated list of feast days for saints to be celebrated throughout the year.

He then examined the formula by which the days and months of the calendar were determined; Julius Caesar had devised a calendar 500 years earlier, with months determined by the moon and year measured by the sun. The monk suggested to the Pope that the calculation of the year be reconfigured.

Instead of having dates given ab urbe condita (from foundation of the city of Rome over a thousand years earlier), he suggested history and configuring of dates be marked not by the foundation of Rome but by the birth of Christ.

Thus, history would be read through the lens of salvation: before the birth of CHrist or after the birth also known as Anno Domini (the year of the Lord)

when the Pope gave his approval for the change by which time was measured, history itself was changed. Now at the center of history, at the center of the way we keep time was marked by the central reality of salvation history. The incarnation marked the beginning of a new city, the heavenly jerusalem, which was to denote our movement through history, and Rome was to become second fiddle.

We keep time no longer by man's achievements but by the workings of God in our time and space:anno domini

Monday, May 17, 2010

fine tuning

acts 19:1-8; psalm 68 Sing to GOd, O kingdoms of the earth; John 16:29-33

First the acts of the Apostles

Over the past couple of weeks we have encountered several occasions in which a faithful member of the church encounters someone who is Christian but not quite fully yet. They take time to give instruction, to guide and help set them straight.

Acts 18:23-28 Priscilla and Aquila encounter Apollos and when they heard him speak, though he spoke "boldly" and he was an "authority on scripture", they pulled him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

And today, Paul meets a group of twelve who were professed disciples of Jesus yet they had not heard of the Holy Spirit, so Paul takes them aside, instructs them and baptizes them.

In both instances, self-proclaimed disciples were in need of some fine tuning in their understanding of scripture and Christ and how to live and teach the faith most fully.

The early church reminds us that it wasn't enough to "believe" in Christ, but you had to know the fullness of faith. Paul and Priscilla and Aquila made sure the fullness was understood so that the fullness could be carried forth and proclaimed.

These instances in sacred scripture should encourage us and remind us that just because some one is a self-professed Christian doesn't mean they are not in need of a little fine tuning.

So we should take a little time.

It also reminds us to make sure we are in tune when we go out into the world.

An instrument in tune makes a beautiful song to the Lord, as the psalmist tells us, "sing to God, chant praise to his name" but before you do, just make sure you are in tune.

When in doubt search scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic church, get your tuning in, then play loudly and let the song be heard.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Today in the church we celebrate the ascension of our Lord into Heaven.

What exactly does this feast do for us?

When we think about the major feast in the church most of them we understand.

Christmas, we can relate with. A baby born in a manger; mom and dad seeking the best possible place. a time of crisis filled with a bundle of blessing. We know what this is like.

Good Friday: we know what Good friday is without a doubt. We all relate to suffering, pain, crucifixion and death.

Easter: what a feast of joy. Who cannot relate to the reality of death being destroyed. THe human heart longs for this and thus we celebrate with great enthusiasm.

But the Ascension leaves us scratching our head. What do we do with this.

The Ascension is primarily a feast of hope and joy united. The Joy of Jesus is our hope.
The feast of the Ascension invites us to look back on Jesus' life and try to understand where he comes from and how he got where he is, ascending into heaven.

Think about his life
*crown of thorns that pierced his head and bloodied his face is transformed into crown of gold.
*the mocking crowd that had harsh and angry words, pushing and shoving this innocent man is now transformed into a myriad of angels in celestial praise
*the betrayal of judas, kiss of deceit is transformed into the fulfillment of love. Love cannot be denied.
*the denial by Peter as the cock crows is transformed into a welcome of heaven, with arms outstretched.
*the agony of the garden, where sweat was like drops of blood is transformed into glory.

In the ascension we experience the mess of living give way to the beauty of life. We see the mess of living become something beautiful for God.

The circumstance of Jesus' life did not deter him. The circumstances did not make his life. His life was determined by a decision of faithfulness with each step he took regardless of the circumstances and thus he opened up to a new horizon of joy.

The ascension shows us the power of perseverance in faith that transforms our reality and invites us to life of high.

We all have a sad story to tell. We all have harsh realities to deal with. We all have circumstances that are not in our favor. But JEsus' has the saddest story of all and yet he remains steadfast and shows us what life can be with proper perseverance and dedication to something greater than one's self.
The Ascension is an event horizon. It is an invitation into a new dimension. Jesus transcends time and space. HE takes our humanity and incorporates it into the fullness of God, God's way of being and God's way of loving.

God creates space for us in the ascension and thus gives us a reason and a cause to create space for him here and now on earth.

This is why JEsus tells the Apostles at the end of the first reading Acts 1:1-11, when they ask "Lord, will you restore the Kingdom of ISrael" and he replies, "it is not for you to know the time or seasons the Father has established by his own power. But you will receive will be my witnesses..."

When we create space for God in our life then the kingdom is restored through us. Jesus has done his work it is time for us to do ours.

By creating space for God in our life, we live the kingdom, we build the kingdom, we make the kingdom come.

We can finally live out perfectly what we pray, "on earth as it is in heaven."

JEsus opens heaven to earth below when he rises, ascends upward.

When we look at the gospel, Jesus does something to strengthen us and give us courage.

As he ascends, he lifts his hands and blessed the Apostles as he goes upward. THis may seem like a nice gesture but there is more to it.

The gospel writers what us to remember that Jesus is the new moses, the one who leads us to a new exodus. In order to understand what Jesus does, sometimes it is best to see how moses acted.

In exodus 17, Israelites are in a fight with their enemy. As long as Moses as his hands held high, Israelites taste victory. When his hands are down, then they experience defeat. Hands up brings victory, hands down defeat.

When JEsus ascends with hands held high he is reminding the Apostles that on their mission, victory is guaranteed for his hands are forever raised high. We live forever on earth under the blessings hands of Christ raised upward as a sign of victory thus giving us courage to create that space necessary for God so that the kingdom can be restored through us.

The kingdom is alive through us in the power of faith animating throughout our lives. Thus the mess of living can truly be something beautiful for God regardless of circumstances. Through us the kingdom comes alive. Thus hope and joy unite.

The joy of Jesus is our hope and may we have life on high.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday reflection: organic love

1 John 3:11-17

This morning in the office of reading we read from the first letter of John. The letter states the following:

"I ask you, how can God's love survive in a man who has enough of this world's goods yet closes his heart to his brother when he sees him in need?"

What a pertinent question?

How can God's love survive in a man when his heart is closed to his brother in need?

The question points to the reality that God's love can be destroyed. God's love can shrivel and die. God's love is a gift that can be taken for granted. God's love needs to be nourished and nurtured and tended.

God's love is organic, living and breathing reality in our life that when left untended can whither away.

God's love can be killed by our action and inaction.

How we relate to others and how we reach outward has a great deal of effect on the love of God living in our life.

How do we nourish that love?
How do we tend the garden of our soul where God's love has been planted by the Holy Spirit?
Have we been negligent?

WIll we let that love survive, blossom, and be prosperous?

"we too must lay down our life for our brothers..." st John tells us. This is how we keep love alive.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Acts 1:15-17,20-26; Psalm 113 The Lord will give a seat with the leaders of his people; John 15:9-17

Do you remember your first kiss?
Most people remember their first kiss. These are big moments in the life of a child becoming a man. I was in 4th grade when i shared my first kiss in the closet of the classroom in Catholic School.

I often wonder if the girl remembers it as I do?

First kiss! IT was a big deal.

Kisses are memorable. Some are good memories and some are not so good.

It is an infamous kiss that brings us to the first reading today. Where Peter stands up and announces that the church must now replace Judas, the one who with a kiss betrayed Jesus in the garden. This kiss certainly has left a lasting memory.

Two questions come to mind
Why did Judas do this?
There are two answers that come to mind.

For Judas, things were not going his way. Jesus wasn't doing what Judas wanted fast enough. Perhaps he got a little impatient and tried to rush head, taking matters into his own hands.

How often have we betrayed JEsus because we felt things weren't going our way fast enough. How often have we been impatient with God's plan in our life and we took matters into our own hands? How often have we left a kiss of betrayal in our wake as we rushed ahead making demands where simple obedience was required?

Secondly, the Scriptures mention that Judas gave into temptation. Temptation is always a clear and present danger for us all. As St. Peter warns us, the devil is prowling seeking to devour souls. We must be attentive and alert. We have to keep our eyes peeled and our ears open, lest we be deceived and carried away.

Second question is how did Jesus handle this kiss of betrayal?

Jesus took the kiss of betrayal and transformed it into a gift of love. The passion of Christ takes the act of betrayal and transforms it. This is the real power of the resurrection. Every act of betrayal does not have to remain an act of betrayal. We, by the power of the resurrection living in us, can transform it into something beautiful for God.

It takes work. The cross was no easy feat, but it was a work well worth it.

If only Judas had remembered this then perhaps he would not have committed suicide. Judas repented from his betrayal but his repentance degenerated into an act of self-destruction for he lost sight of the mercy of God.

We should never underestimate the mercy of God.

In today's reading Matthias is selected to replace the one who betrayed Jesus, to replace the one who betrayed love itself. Jesus seeks to do this in our life at every moment. He wants to replace our old self of betrayal with a true self that gives witness to the power of the resurrection.

It is never too late.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we celebrate the power of God to transform an act of betrayal into salvific love, a gift that changes everything. May we give witness to this power daily.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

zealous not foolish

acts 18:1-8; Jhn 16:16-20

In the reading from Acts, We find Paul leaving Athens and going to Corinth. We encounter a list of early converts: Aquila, Priscilla, Titus Justus, Crispus.

The faith was spreading but not every one accepted what Paul had to say.

18:6 "When they opposed him and insulted him, he would shake out his garments in protest and say to them, ;your blood be on your own heads. I am not to blame! From now on, I will turn to the gentiles.'"

"Your blood be on your own heads."

What does this mean?

Paul is simply reminding the people of the personal responsibility necessary. They must become responsible and integrate the word preached to them personally in their lives. There is always a personal aspect of faith necessary for faith to be truly genuine and authentic and sincere.

IF we do not personally take responsibility then we shall personally be responsible.

Paul is telling them that he had done all that he could do. It was now in their hands to decide to act or remain obstinate.

When we look in the world we encounter a lot of people trying to skirt their responsibility. They always find someone to blame for their situation. Children blame teachers for their bad grades. Athletes will blame coaches for losing games. We will blame our bosses for low moral and productivity. We often blame our parents for our behavior and personality traits. We blame our president for our country. We blame supreme court for morality issues. we blame our legislatures for bad laws. We blame God for everything else.

At some point, we have to recognize it is our responsibility. God does his part, do we do our part. The blood is on our own heads.

We can learn a lot from Paul. Paul knew when to stop pushing. Paul knew when he had reached his limit and done all that he could do. He was not ashamed to back away and let people deal with the personal responsibility and freedom God gave them from the beginning. Paul knew when to walk away.

Paul knew when to push and pull; he also knew when to cool the jets and look elsewhere.

One moment he was "absorbed in preaching in giving evidence to the Jews that JEsus was the messiah" (Acts 18:5) and the next he leaves them be to think about what he had said (18:6).

Paul was zealous for Jesus but he was no fool.

At some point we too must leave people be and let the grace of God do the rest.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

unknown no longer

Acts 17:15,22-18:1; Psalm 148 Heaven and earth are full of your glory; John 16:12-15

St. PAul tell us in the first reading that "God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will judge the world with justice through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead."

This week we are accompanying Pope BEnedict on his pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal. Fatima is the location where the BLessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children 6 times beginning May 13, 1917 until October 13, 1917.

She asked that the world increase its devotion and fervor of faith to bring about conversion and true peace. She asked that the people pray the rosary daily. Meditating on the life of Christ daily would effect a deeper conversion and a more stable life of faith.

Pope Benedict upon his arrival had these words to share:
"Relationship with God is constitutive of the Human Being, who was created and ordered toward God. He must seek truth by means of his cognitive process, tend toward the good in the sphere of volition, be attracted by beauty in the aesthetic dimensions. Consciousness is Christian to the degree it opens itself to the fullness of life and wisdom that we find in Jesus Christ."

In other words: We must seek the truth with our minds, do good with our wills, allow beauty to enter into our hearts and then we shall begin to fully open up to the person of Jesus as the fullness of life.

Every time we say the rosary we seek the truth with our minds as we think about the life of Christ, his ministry, his service, his teaching. He is truth himself. We learn to do as he did as we conform our will to his and truly understand goodness seen in action in the life of Christ. We learn to love what is good for us from goodness himself. We let the beauty of such a life, the God man who brings grace and redemption, to enter into our life and heart and show us what true beauty is all about, "no greater love then to lay down one's life for one's friends." Is there anything more beautiful?

In the Rosary, truth, goodness, and beauty converge in the person of Jesus Christ himself. Perhaps this is why the Blessed Mother in Fatima encouraged us to pray the rosary daily, so that we may open ourselves to fullness of life in Jesus and thus open the world to God himself.

The unknown God is no longer unknown. In the face of Jesus God is made known. Here is the man God has appointed.

Prayer of Pope BEnedict in Fatima upon arrival: click here

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

reason to sing

Link to worthy Mother's Day homily by Bishop of St. Augustine Florida: click here

Acts 16:22-34; Psalm 138 YOur right hand saves me, O Lord; John 16:5-11

Today we encounter Paul and his companions entering onto the soil of Europe in a little place called Philippi. For the first time, the gospel of Christ is being preached on european soil.

Immediately Paul makes several converts: lydia, a wealthy merchant, a slave girl, and a Roman jailer. Each one of these people were from different social classes: top, bottom and middle. Paul converted the gamut of society and shows how the gospel is meant for all peoples. Paul shows how the preaching of Jesus is meant to be the bridge that closes the gap between peoples.

Paul and his companions are arrested and beaten for preaching. They are thrown in jail and chained to the floor.
Certainly, these were not the expected outcomes of their mission. Yet, Paul and his companions do something unthinkable.

They do not complain, pout, or grow bitter. They simply and faithfully pray and sing hymns. Paul and his companions never let their circumstances dictate their joy but they let their joy be the driving force in their life. Joy is not about what is going on outside but who is going on inside. Keep close to Jesus and we keep joy alive.

This explains why Paul in his letter to Philippi years later reminds the faithful that they should "rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Paul is reminding them of how he and his companions carried themselves that first time and every time thereafter.

Joy is not a feeling, joy is rather about faithfulness. We are faithful then we will always have a song in our heart and reason to sing upon our lips.

Monday, May 10, 2010

a new saint

Today in the church we celebrate the first feast day of the newly canonized Saint Damien of Molokai.

Saint Damien spent his ministry as a priest living among lepers, even becoming one himself.
The most effective moment of his ministry is said have been when he climbed the pulpit to give a homily, shortly after discovering that he himself had leprosy, and he began with these words, "we lepers."

The people realized he was one of them, he belonged and thus they could trust him and let him into their lives because he understood where they were coming from, what they were experiencing, their fears and sorrows. HE now understood their heart and thus they were willing to put themselves into his hands as their priest.

"we lepers."

The incarnation lived out once again. God becomes man to show to us that he understands. We can trust him with our hearts because he has a human heart like ours. We belong with him for he comes to be with us.

"we lepers."

St. Damien pray for us that we will always seek to understand the other person, becoming one them so to better lead them to God.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

church and mother

acts 15; Psalm 67 O God, let all the nations praise you; Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-29

This past week I was visiting with a young couple and their family in getting ready for their upcoming wedding. We were talking about all the necessary things to get the wedding off the ground: readings, music, musicians, flowers and all that jazz.

In the midst of the conversation, the young lady, bride to be, asked this question: Why the Catholic Church? She wanted to know why she should choose to stay in the Catholic church, why should she raise her children Catholic, why should she attend Mass on Sunday as oppose to fellowship service somewhere else.

she wanted me to pitch a sale for the Catholic church. The question is a good question. How would we answer that question?

Why the Catholic Church? We look out into the world, there are 26,000 christian denominations and they all think they are right. they all believe they have the authority to teach us and guide us on how to get from here to there. Which one do we follow? Why the Catholic Church?
Hold on to this for a moment.

THe other day I was visiting mom and dad and the family. When we get together as a family, being one of ten, there are a lot of us around. My nephews and niece are all over the place. Inevitably, my nephews will get together and start playing. During their play time, pushing and shoving usually occurs over a particular toy or game. One of them has it, and the other wants it.

Eventually, crying begins and they coming running from whatever room they were in, in search of their mothers. They will grab their mother's legs and try to climb in to their laps. They want their mothers to finish the fight for them, to take their sides, make it all better.

My sisters, will console their children, but eventually, they set them on the ground and tell them to go to their cousin and say they are sorry.

My little nephews with tears clinging to their little cheeks, will sulk over to one another, give each other a hug, say they are sorry and then everything is fine. THey will go back into the room to play again until the next episode.

every time I witness this event unfolding I am reminded of my youth. My brothers and I or my sisters and I would often get into arguments. Their was one thing that was certain no matter what the argument or fight or dispute. We always knew one thing. No matter what, Mom was going to win.

It was guaranteed. Mothers outside of everything else they do knew out settle disputes. Regardless, Mom always won.

As we turn to Acts 15 we encounter a dispute in the Church. There was some internal arguments about morals.

There were some teachers who were upsetting the minds and hearts of new converts by their teaching. They were teaching, though they were not given the mandate to do so.

The dispute was between the traditionalist and the liberals. The jewish Christians wanted to make sure to maintain the Jewish customs: circumcision and dietary laws as necessary for the faith. The gentile converts were not sure about those practices.

The question arose, who was right and what needed to be done in order to follow Christ fully. What was the fullness of the faith?

The Church got together, apostles and elders of the church (leaders) and they met to figure it out. We have the council of Jerusalem. After some discussion and arguments about what was what necessary to live the faith fully, follow Christ fully, the CHurch came to a decision: "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us."

The HOly Spirit is active through the leaders of the church. The church settles the dispute.

Then representative with proper credentials were sent out to deliver the message about what was necessary to follow Christ fully.

The CHurch has done this 21 time sin 2000 years, gathered in councils to settle disputes.

Council of Nicea 325, the church settled the dispute over the divinity of Jesus. EVery SUnday when we say the creed we profess that decision.

Council of Ephesus 431 and council of Chalcedon 451 clarified that not only was JEsus divine but he is fully human. Mary was the mother of God. This is important. Jesus could not redeem what he did not become. Being fully human and fully divine he could redeem all of humanity.

Council of trent in 16th century arose to deal with the teachings of Luther and the protestants. Was there teachings valid. Did they have authorization to teach. Vatican II in the 1960's arose to deal with modernity and how to live our faith given the modern technologies being developed. How does the church truly become global? just to name a few.

TIme and time again the Church, bishops, successors of the Apostles and leaders, got together inspired by the Holy SPirit and sought to guide us in ways of truth in faith and morals, proclaiming the fullness of the faith for all.

As St. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 3:15, "the church of the living God, is the pillar and bulwark of the truth."

It is the church that God has given us to guide us and settle disputes. We are not left alone to figure it out nor are we asked to decipher the teaching on our own.

There are many so called teachers who seek to guide and lead, but we must asked do they have the proper credentials. Are they teaching what the church teaches? The prosperity gospel sounds good, but is it sound, that is the most important question.

Why the Catholic Church? Because she is our mother. I would not leave her like I would not leave my own mom. I may not like what she says or how she settles disputes but God has given her to us to guide and lead and allowed His Spirit to guide her in guiding us.

Mom knows how settle disputes and in the end we the children are the ones that benefit most of all.

Happy Mother's day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mary continued II

As we turn the corner of spring and head on this straightaway we call the month of May that leads us right into the heart of Summer, the Church ask us once again to direct our gaze toward the Blessed Mother.

Especially this weekend as we honor Mothers every where, why not pause to honor the Mother of Jesus, Our mother.

As my little nephew says so beautifully when he spies a picture of the Holy Lady, "Mamma Mary." In deed, out of the mouth of babes wisdom and truth shall be heard.

When we think about life for a moment, often times people suspect out loud that life is fundamentally about that one shining moment, that one moment that will define our life, those 15 seconds of fame that often allude us.

We spend a life time looking for that one moment that will set us free, that one moment that will make us who we were meant to be. We spend a life time only to discover the moment must have past us by.

But Life isn't fundamentally about that one shining moment.

Rather, every life is about a series of moments that are defined by the choices we make.

Any fool can have a great moment. But greatness is about making every moment count. Here in we shall come face to face with true greatness.

When we look at Mary, what we find so fascinating is that her life wasn't defined by one shining moment. The Annunciation, the encounter with the angel, did not define her life but it was one moment in a series of moments.

Mary's life is not about saying "yes" in that one solitary moment in time, but rather her true greatness is that she said "yes" every moment, with every step she took. Whether it was before the angel's invitation, or Elizabeth's concern, or the wedding guest at Cana or through out the ministry of Jesus, Mary's heart remained open to God's plan.

From the crib where the child Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes until the cross where he was striped naked and unashamed, Mary's was there with a "yes" for each moment.

True Greatness is seen in the face of Blessed Mother whose life was a series of moments defined by the choice she made in time, a simply "yes" would do.

As we honor Mary Most Holy, the Church invites us to learn to recognize true greatness and to never be satisfied with the counterfeit version offered by the world. The Church also invites us to say "yes" one moment at a time and let true greatness shine through our lives.

As we celebrate mother's day, if we look hard enough we may discover in our mother's eyes, a little greatness as well. Like Mary, they too said "yes" time and time and time again.

Friday, May 7, 2010

a little piece of eternity

Acts 15:22-32; Psalm 57 I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord; John15:12-17

Tennessee Williams, an american playwright, in his work, A Streetcar Named Desire, writes the following about New Orleans, "Don't you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans, where and hour isn't just an hour-but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands- and who knows what to do with it?"

A little piece of Eternity dropped into your hands-and who knows what to do with it.

I like this description. Isn't this what Jesus offers us in the gospel today when he calls us friends, "a little piece of eternity dropped into our hands."

The question is, "what will we do with it?"

The gospel is a beautiful exhortation by Jesus to all of us. His words are very elegant and inviting. In the gospel we hear the words we all long to hear: love and friend. Jesus tells us no one has greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. What beautiful words.

We all long to hear words of love and friendship.

But Jesus includes other words we often miss. He mentions "commandment" and "bear fruit." But the the word that is probably most often over looked and yet the most essential in the conversation with Jesus is one of the smallest words.

"You are my friends if you do what I command you." There it is, that simple yet powerful word "if."

Love is unconditional but yet conditions remain. It is the condition that invites us to experience the unconditional embrace of divine friendship.

"If you do what I command."

Perhaps we should sit with this for awhile. Let it roll around in our mind and heart. Unconditional love that begins with a condition. This is how we know it is true love after all. It has to begin somewhere.

The condition set by the "if" is really the starting line for love and friendship.

Not only is it the starting line it is also the measuring stick. The "if" phrase helps us judge whether or not we have been true friends. IT lets us know where we stand. This is what true friendship is all about: where to start and where to stand.

a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands-and what will you do with it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

after much debate

acts 15:7-21; Psalm 96 Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations; John 15:9-11

The first readings begins today with these words, "after much debate."

The early church is caught in a heated debate about what is the proper way to handle pagan converts, non Jewish people who have begun to follow Christ.

There is much "debate" between the apostles and elders as to what is to be done in welcoming these new followers into the fold. Should they or should they not be required to be circumcised? SHould they or should be required to obey the same dietary laws?

Peter stands up and from his mouth issues forth the "debate" stopper. Peter clinches the argument with these words, "we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they."

From the early church on, until today, Peter and his successors have been insisting on this truth, "we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus."

It isn't by works, it isn't by faith but simply by grace. Salvation is a gift that comes to us. Faith is our response in receiving this gift. Works are the results of our faith being authenticated and genuine. ANd we need Faith and works to authenticate the reception of this grace that has been freely bestowed in Christ.

Everything else naturally flows from that supernatural gift of grace.

We must simply open and receive.

Is there anything else to argue about? Is there need for further debate? Sure, absolutely.

We must continue to debate but we must never lose sight of Grace.

Link to Saints worth the read click here

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shroud of turin: in heart of death beats life

acts 15:1-6; psalm 122 Let us go rejoicing into the house of the Lord; Jn 15:1-8

The psalmist invites us to go rejoicing into the house of God. Here are a few words from Pope Benedict as he makes his pilgrimage to Turin, Italy to pray at the Shroud.

"The Shroud recalls to our mind the reality of Holy Saturday. It is a witness to that interval in history in which God, in Jesus, shared our dying.

In the kingdom of death resounds the voice of God. Love penetrates this extreme darkness and extends his hand to lead us through.

Human beings lives by the fact he is loved and can love; if love has penetrated into the realm of death, the life has also arrived there. In the hour of death, we can never be alone.

In the heart of death now beats life in as much as love lives there.

The Shroud is an icon written in blood. Every trace of blood speaks of love and life. It is like a spring that speaks in silence; we can hear it; we can listen to it."

Because of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday we can truly go to the house of the Lord rejoicing, for we do not go alone. In the valley death, with your rod and staff you give me courage, with your hand you lead me to pastures of repose.

Jesus tells us in the gospel, "Remain in me and I will remain in you." The Shroud reminds us the truth of these words that Jesus indeed remains even in death.

Link to news interest on the Shroud: click here

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mary most holy

As we enter into the month of May, the Church ask us to increase our devotion to the Blessed Mother, the mother of Jesus, the mother of the Church and our mother.

The Church reminds us of the pivotal role Mary's life in action was for the work of redemption in Jesus Christ for all.

Mary's yes to God, her abiding trust in him, continues to be a radiant light for all who seek the path of faith, love and hope. Her example is always shining like a bright star in the night sky guiding us on the voyage of faith to our homeland that awaits.

We thank God for her gift of faith. We thank God for her willingness to be led. We thank God for her yes that brought Jesus into our world. Mary was asked to intercede for mankind in bearing Jesus in her womb into the world. As queen mother she continues to intercede for us, seeking to bring us that grace of redemption that comes in Christ.

We thank God and we honor her as we place the crown of flowers upon her, may it be a symbol of the place of honor we hold in our heart for her as well.

Here are a few words from Pope Benedict:

Mary, more than any other, contemplated the face of God in the human face of Jesus. She saw him as a newborn in swaddling clothes. She was there when he said his first words and make his first steps. She was there when he learned about life and love; she was there when he learned about sorrow and disappointment; she was there every step of the way. She was there when he discovered joy, when he discovered pain. She was there when, as St. Pal says, he learned obedience by what he suffered.

She was there seeing the lines of hurt, pain, and agony in the crucifixion; she was there when his lips were silent as on his face she beheld the peace of death. She was there when death gave way to life and on his face shone glory. She was there.

"Mary's heart carried the mystery of the face of Christ, the mystery of death and glory. In Mary, we learn how to look upon the face of Jesus with the gaze of love and faith, and thus we recognize in the human countenance of Jesus, the countenance of God."

Mary pray for us as we honor you on earth may we honor you in our heart and lives and thus welcome the grace of your son in whom we see the face of man, the face of God himself, "He who sees me sees the Father."

Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us the following:
"The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship. (997)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

road to glory

acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145 I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God; Rev 21:1-5; John 13:31-35

I am part of a book club here in town. We get together once a month and discuss a particular book we were going to read for that month. We read all kinds of books: fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, biographies, historical fiction and the list goes on.

We read the book, discuss the book, and then we vote on the book. We decided whether it was good literature or not. Was the author effective in getting the story across? Was it worth reading? Would we recommend it?

This past Monday we got together and we were to discuss two books. We did not meet in March due to Holy Week.

When I arrived, everyone was excited about the last book we were supposed to have read. They were eager and excited. I, however, had not finished the book. I informed of this fact and told them they could go ahead and discuss it anyway.

But they refused. They told me that if i knew how it ended, then it would ruin the book. Their thinking was that somehow the suspense of the book, the unknown ending, would keep be engaged. IF I knew the end then they thought I would stop reading and lose interest.

This is the case a lot of times. The suspense of the book or the movie engages us and captivates us. It keeps us reading, keeps us moving and following the plot and character developments along the way.

But here is another question: does knowing the ending really ruin the story?

I have read plenty of books when after i get to the end I go back and reread the story. What I have discovered is that the end actually enhances the story. Knowing the end doesn't ruin the story but makes it more engaging. The characters are more alive and the plot is more meaningful. Knowing the ending helps me pick up on the things I missed the first time around.

Knowing the end actually, I would say, enhances the story not ruins it.

This of course brings me to the second reading from the book of revelation.

As we read from the book of revelation we should note that we are reading from the last chapter of the last book of the bible.

We all know the beginning of the bible. Those famous words echo from ages past, "in the beginning..." We also know that the bible is comprised of many different kinds of books with different writing styles. When you read the bible you encounter drama, mystery, suspense, adventure, sex, murder, scandal, rape, pillage, conflict, battles won and battles lost. We encounter history, science, prophecy, poetry, hymns, letters, homilies and the list goes on.

What we often forget, however, is despite the many books and variety of writing styles the book is about one story. It is a love story, God's love for us. How God time and time again comes to rescues us, comes to undo what we did, and guide us on the way. God intervenes so that we might know what way to go to encounter the best of life.

It is one story and today John in the book of revelation tells us how it all ends. HE tells us the climax, how it will resolve itself this story we are all a part.

The question is, does John ruin the story by telling us the end. Does John eliminate the suspense, and thus cause us to lose interest.

The answer is no.

IT is not the character of love to keep the suspense up or to keep the beloved guessing. since the bible is a love story, it must follow the rules of love. Love demands certainty. Love seeks to eliminate suspense and guesswork though mystery always remains.

think about marriage for a second. How many husbands would marry their wives or wives would marry their husbands if before the vows the husband or wife would say that they were unsure if they could be faithful. What if they said they were not sure about tomorrow whether they would stay or leave. In most cases the bride or groom would get the boot.

Love demands certainty. And when couples say I do to each other they know how it will end: love and honor in good time and bad, sickness and health, til death do us part.

It is the certainty of the end that enables couples to truly be free to love each day anew. The end makes all the difference to the present moment.

Such it is in love with one another and love of God for us and vice verse. Keeping the end in mind makes all the difference and keeps us engaged in the present moment, fully participating in the story we are invited in through faith.

What is the end that John speaks of in today's second reading?

First John speaks of a "new heaven and a new earth."

God has a place in store for us. There will be a place of belonging for those who live a life of faith. That place of belonging, a new heaven and new earth is a transformation of the old order. God does not abandon the work of his hands. In the end creation doesn't get the boot but it gets an upgrade.

So it will be with our bodies. We will not be floating weightless ghost like beings, but we will have a glorified body and a new earth to reside.

Then John tell us the "sea will be no more."

This is fascinating. I don't swim so i am glad i won't have to worry about drowning in heaven. But the "sea" does not refer t water as we know it but is pointing to the book of genesis. In the beginning before God spoke light into being the world was a formless, chaotic watery wasteland. In the bible, the "sea" refers to death, destruction, violence and disorder.

When John speaks of the "sea no more' he is saying this new place will be a place of order: place for everything and everything in its place. There will be no destruction, death, or violence. There will be no "tears, weeping, pain, wailing, death or mourning." We won't have to worry about what will come next or hope for something better to arrive. We will be in the fullness of God, God will dwell in the human race." This is the beatific vision.

Thirdly, John speaks of a 'holy city." Many people ask me if heaven will be boring. They ask if we will simply be playing on a harp all eternity. But what John describes is a "holy city." Think about cities, houston, san antonio, Dallas and the like. Cities are a place where diversity comes alive. A city is a place where all the human powers are engaged and active.

This new heaven and new earth will be where Man if fully human and fully alive for the very first time, It will be holy, a place of no sin, no betrayal, no disappointment. A place where communication is with ease and goodness flourishes like wild fire.

Glory of God is man alive and this is what the end will be for those who are faithful

We must keep the end in mind for it will make all the difference. It will keep us engaged in life and fully immersed in the story no matter the obstacles or sufferings we encounter. The end makes it all worth while.

The road to glory is keeping the end in mind. He doesn't ruin the story but enhances our life.

Think about Paul in the first reading for today. We find him and Barnabas moving on to another city after making disciples in "that town" Acts 14:21.

But what we should read is what comes before in Acts 14:18-20. Here we see that Paul as he preaches is stoned and left for dead, drugged out of the town. ANd what does paul do? He simply gets up and goes back into the town and preaches more.

Paul doesn't quit, he doesn't hold a pity party or speak of his sad story. He brushes himself off and gets back to living the life of faith. He doesn't let the suffering and challenges defeat his mission and his life of faith.

Paul keeps the end in mind and it makes all the difference. HE runs the race on the road to glory and doesn't let the circumstances distract him.

Keeping the end in mind makes all the difference for all who believe. It empowers us to engage the struggle of faith in life and love and it enhances all we are as we move down that road to glory: Glory of God is man alive.