Monday, January 31, 2011


Just a little tid bit from yesterday's readings especially the gospel of Matthew 5:1-12.

Here we encounter the beginning of the Sermon of the Mount. The Sermon of the mount is the most famous homily given by Jesus. It spans three chapters of Matthew's gospel from 5 trhough 7. IT fact in these chapters all Jesus does is talk.

If you had a red letter bible, a bible that highlights the words of JEsus in red, then these pages would bleed red. There is a whole lot of talking going on. More importantly, there is a lot of listening go on, on the part of the disciples.

Jesus preaches for three chapters straight. The gospel of Matthew contains 28 chapters. For three chapters Jesus talks, the remainder of the book in about Jesus in action. So he talks a little and does a lot.

This is the paradigm for our life: a few words and lot of action. Most of get in trouble when we focus on talking and not enough on action.

now we get the Sermon itself. The sermon is the magna charta of Christian excellence, a recipe for holiness, the blue print for our lives. We should spend some time reading the Sermon of the Mount. In it we find those familiar passages: you are the salt of the earth, light of the world, turn the other cheek, take the wood out of your own eye, seek the kingdom and every thing will be added unto to you, knock and the door wil be open. These are just a few of the sound bites you encounter in these three chapters.

Now for the sermon.
Just a few things to notice.

First the gospel tells us that Jesus sees the crowd and goes up the mountain, sits down then his disciples come to him and he teaches them.

Jesus sees the crowd. There a lot of people who come to him from all over. He is being hemmed in and crushed by the number and mass of the crowd.

Jesus goes up the mountain after seeing the crowd being aware of this scene that lays open before him.

Going up the mountain in the biblical record is important. Going up the mountain always signifies drawing closer to God, a sign of communion with God, a sign of prayer.

Moses goes up the mountain and receives the ten commandments; Elijah goes up the mountain and hears the voice of God. JEsus goes up the mountain then opens his mouth and gives us the beatitudes. Jesus prays before he teaches and what he teaches is not his own opinion but the gift of the father to us.

Then Jesus sits down. Sitting is important as well. In Jesus' time the rabbis would sit in order to teach. The disciples would come to them after they sat down. Here Jesus is sitting as sign of his teaching office and authority. Notice that Jesus doesn't sit on a chair made by human hands but on a mountain, made by the hand of God. Already the gospel writer is trying to tell us just how important this Jesus is.

After Jesus sits, his disciples come to him. There is a crowd around him but only his disciples come to him. There is something important here as well.

One in order to be a disciple, one must remove themselves from the crowd. As a disciple we cannot be just another face in the crowd. We must separate ourselves from everyone else. Jesus calls out of the crowd in order to teach us. Notice the disciples sat down that is they allowed themselves to be taught. One of the greatest gifts we can give Jesus is the opportunity for him to teach us, mold us, form us. We have to sit long enough to be taught.

What about the crowd. Where did they go? Why did they not sit down along with the others.
Think about it for a moment. The crowd mentality is one that looks for a immediate reward or a quick fix. They are not necessarily invested for the lang haul.

The crowd came because they wanted Jesus to do something fantastic. They wanted to see him cure the blind, make the leper whole, make the lame to walk, cast out demons and if not walk on water a least jump from the mountain. They did not want a lecture; they did not want to be talked to or even talked at. No! That takes time and energy.

No the crowd wanted a quick fix but JEsus was offering something for the long haul.
They wanted to see what Jesus could do not so much interested in who he was.

They wanted an immediate reward and Jesus was offering a way of life.

This is the essential reality of the beatitudes.

They are not immediate nor are they quick but they do provide a blue print for long term profitability in the kingdom of God.

They only make sense in this light. As a disciple you have follow Jesus for who he is not for what he can immediately give.

Besides look at the beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: blessed are those who are beaten to their knees.
Blessed are the meek: blessed are those passed over or pushed around.
Blessed are those who mourn; blessed are those who have tear stained cheeks.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: blessed are those who are not satisfied with what they can get or earn or obtain .
Blessed are the pure of heart: the undivided and focused and zeroed in on God alone; those who are ridiculed and laughed at as freaks.
Blessed are the peacemakers though they receive violence.
Blessed are those who are persecuted: blessed are those who are being chased and hounded by the authorities.

These things only make sense if we are in it for Jesus and him alone.
This is the path of beatitude.

Ultimately our reward for all we do is Him and nothing less for there is nothing more.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Non nise te Domine

Hebrews 10:32-39; Psalm 37 The salvation of the Just comes from the Lord; Mark 4:26-34

Today is the feast of Thomas Aquinas. He is called the angelic doctor. He lived in the 13th century is known for his prolific writing and teaching on all things catholic.

There is a story told of Thomas Aquinas about having a vision of Christ on the cross. Christ asked him what reward he wanted for all that he wrote and taught about Him. Thomas replied, "Non Nise Te Domine!" (nothing but you, O Lord)

in this simple phrase, response, "Non Nise Te domine", we discover the bookends of our life; it is both the starting line and the finsihing line and the path that connects the two: non nise te Domine!

Here are few experts from St. Thomas Catechetical instrustion on the creed about faith especially inlight of today's readings where st Paul yes boldly, "we are among those who have faith and will possess life."

On the Nature and effects of Faith
+ The first thing that is necessary for every christian is faith, without which no one is truly called a faithful Christian.

Faith brings about four good effects+Through faith the soul is united to God, and by it there is between the soul and God a union akin to marriage. (it is not for nought that Christ is called the bridegroom)

+The second effect of faith is that eternal life is already begun in us; for eternal life is nothing else than knowing God. (we carry heaven with us when and where we go)

+The third good comes from faith is right direction which it gives to our present life. It order for one to live a good life, it is necessarythat he knw what is necessary to live rightly. But faith teaches us all that is necessary to liev a good life.

+The fourth effect of faith is that by it we overcome temptations; We know that every temptation is either from the world or the flesh or the devil. The devil would have us disobey God and not be subject to Him. This is removed by faith, since through it we know that he is the Lord of all things and must therefore be obeyed.

The world tempts us by attaching us to its prosperity, or by filling us with fear of adversity. But faith overcomes for we believe in a life ot come.

the flesh attracts us by attracting us to the swiftly passing pleasures of this present life. But faiht shows us that, if we cling to these things inordinately we shall lose atrenal joys. In all things take the shield of faith.

We see from this is very necessary to have faith

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the sower sows the word

Mark 4:1-20

Today in the church we celebrate the feast of St. Timothy and St. Titus. They were bishops in the early church, companions of st. Paul. Timothy served in Ephesus and Titus on the Island of Crete.

Today would be a good day to read the three letters of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus. They are short but beautiful and insighful.

Also as we look to the gospel, We here these words, "The sower sows the word."

The Parable we encounter in today's gospel is always striking to me.In fact Jesus uses this parable as a key to understanding all the rest of the parables, "do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?"

The this basic parable of the sower is to be considered the benchmark we use to understand the other parables.

So let us look at one part of it. We will focus on the sower.

The sower in the gosepl seems to be careless. He scatters seeds all over the place. He is consistent in spreading the seed even in places where little chance is provided for it to take root:path, rocky ground, among thorns, rich soil.

Of the places mentioned only one place is ideal the rest are foolish places, nonetheless the sower sows with reckless abandon.

We enocutner places like this all the time. We encounter the person who has a rocky soul, the one who is obstinate or hard headed; or one who is thorny at best, perhaps irritable, bitter, or just plain mean; or peraphs those who have been trampled upon like the path, those hwo have been beaten down by life, by circumstances, by life not going as they expect.

Yet, we are invited to sow the word regardless of the terrain of the soul that is in front of us. We can never judge who is worth and who is not. We must follower the sower's lead. In fact, this parable is really an invitation for the disciples to understand mission in life: to sow.

How often we focus on reaping, getting, finding? Yet, this parable is about goign out and making known. We reap what we sow, but we first must be focused on sowing the word outward.

The sower sows the word.

It is time for us to get busy with throwing out the seed and let God do the rest.

Here is a quote from St. Francis de Sales, doctor of the church whose feast was this past monday. Perhaps it will bolster the parable somewhat:

"We must never undervalue any person. The workman loves not that his work should be despised in his presence. Now God is present everywhere, and every person is His work."

Monday, January 24, 2011

world communications day

Word from the Pope on social network and the digital world

"Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age."

Here is Pope Benedict XVI text:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the occasion of the 45th World Day of Social Communications, I would like to share some reflections that are motivated by a phenomenon characteristic of our age: the emergence of the internet as a network for communication. It is an ever more commonly held opinion that, just as the Industrial Revolution in its day brought about a profound transformation in society by the modifications it introduced into the cycles of production and the lives of workers, so today the radical changes taking place in communications are guiding significant cultural and social developments. The new technologies are not only changing the way we communicate, but communication itself, so much so that it could be said that we are living through a period of vast cultural transformation. This means of spreading information and knowledge is giving birth to a new way of learning and thinking, with unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship.

New horizons are now open that were until recently unimaginable; they stir our wonder at the possibilities offered by these new media and, at the same time, urgently demand a serious reflection on the significance of communication in the digital age. This is particularly evident when we are confronted with the extraordinary potential of the internet and the complexity of its uses. As with every other fruit of human ingenuity, the new communications technologies must be placed at the service of the integral good of the individual and of the whole of humanity. If used wisely, they can contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being.

In the digital world, transmitting information increasingly means making it known within a social network where knowledge is shared in the context of personal exchanges. The clear distinction between the producer and consumer of information is relativized and communication appears not only as an exchange of data, but also as a form of sharing. This dynamic has contributed to a new appreciation of communication itself, which is seen first of all as dialogue, exchange, solidarity and the creation of positive relations. On the other hand, this is contrasted with the limits typical of digital communication: the one-sidedness of the interaction, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one’s interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence.

Young people in particular are experiencing this change in communication, with all the anxieties, challenges and creativity typical of those open with enthusiasm and curiosity to new experiences in life. Their ever greater involvement in the public digital forum, created by the so-called social networks, helps to establish new forms of interpersonal relations, influences self-awareness and therefore inevitably poses questions not only of how to act properly, but also about the authenticity of one’s own being. Entering cyberspace can be a sign of an authentic search for personal encounters with others, provided that attention is paid to avoiding dangers such as enclosing oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world. In the search for sharing, for "friends", there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.

The new technologies allow people to meet each other beyond the confines of space and of their own culture, creating in this way an entirely new world of potential friendships. This is a great opportunity, but it also requires greater attention to and awareness of possible risks. Who is my "neighbour" in this new world? Does the danger exist that we may be less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life? Is there is a risk of being more distracted because our attention is fragmented and absorbed in a world "other" than the one in which we live? Do we have time to reflect critically on our choices and to foster human relationships which are truly deep and lasting? It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.

In the digital age too, everyone is confronted by the need for authenticity and reflection. Besides, the dynamic inherent in the social networks demonstrates that a person is always involved in what he or she communicates. When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves, their view of the world, their hopes, their ideals. It follows that there exists a Christian way of being present in the digital world: this takes the form of a communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others. To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically. Furthermore, it is also true in the digital world that a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it. In these new circumstances and with these new forms of expression, Christian are once again called to offer a response to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is within them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

The task of witnessing to the Gospel in the digital era calls for everyone to be particularly attentive to the aspects of that message which can challenge some of the ways of thinking typical of the web. First of all, we must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its "popularity" or from the amount of attention it receives. We must make it known in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable or diluting it. It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction. The truth of the Gospel is not something to be consumed or used superficially; rather it is a gift that calls for a free response. Even when it is proclaimed in the virtual space of the web, the Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters, those with whom we share our daily lives. Direct human relations always remain fundamental for the transmission of the faith!

I would like then to invite Christians, confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible. This is not simply to satisfy the desire to be present, but because this network is an integral part of human life. The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Saviour of humanity and of history, the one in whom all things find their fulfilment (cf. Eph 1:10). The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive, which stimulates the heart and moves the conscience; one which reflects the example of the risen Jesus when he joined the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). By his approach to them, his dialogue with them, his way of gently drawing forth what was in their heart, they were led gradually to an understanding of the mystery.

In the final analysis, the truth of Christ is the full and authentic response to that human desire for relationship, communion and meaning which is reflected in the immense popularity of social networks. Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the web from becoming an instrument which depersonalizes people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolize the opinions of others. On the contrary, believers encourage everyone to keep alive the eternal human questions which testify to our desire for transcendence and our longing for authentic forms of life, truly worthy of being lived. It is precisely this uniquely human spiritual yearning which inspires our quest for truth and for communion and which impels us to communicate with integrity and honesty.

I invite young people above all to make good use of their presence in the digital world. I repeat my invitation to them for the next World Youth Day in Madrid, where the new technologies are contributing greatly to the preparations. Through the intercession of their patron Saint Francis de Sales, I pray that God may grant communications workers the capacity always to carry out their work conscientiously and professionally. To all, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2011, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales

Dr of devotion

Today is the feast of St Francis de Sales. He was a prolific writer, teacher, catechist, evangelist, spiritual director, and the list could go on. He has several books that ate worth the read: The introduction to the Devout Life and The Treatise on the Love of God not to mention countless letters. Below you will find an excerpt on his understanding of devotion. Savor every word.

When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling.

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.

Tell me, please, my Philothea, whether it is proper for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian; or for married people to be no more concerned than a Capuchin about increasing their income; or for a working man to spend his whole day in church like a religious; or on the other hand for a religious to be constantly exposed like a bishop to all the events and circumstances that bear on the needs of our neighbour. Is not this sort of devotion ridiculous, unorganised and intolerable? Yet this absurd error occurs very frequently, but in no way does true devotion, my Philothea, destroy anything at all. On the contrary, it perfects and fulfils all things. In fact if it ever works against, or is inimical to, anyone’s legitimate station and calling, then it is very definitely false devotion.

The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them. True devotion does still better. Not only does it not injure any sort of calling or occupation, it even embellishes and enhances it.

Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its colour, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable.

It is therefore an error and even a heresy to wish to exclude the exercise of devotion from military divisions, from the artisans’ shops, from the courts of princes, from family households. I acknowledge, my dear Philothea, that the type of devotion which is purely contemplative, monastic and religious can certainly not be exercised in these sorts of stations and occupations, but besides this threefold type of devotion, there are many others fit for perfecting those who live in a secular state.

Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.

Friday, January 21, 2011

St. Agnes: where have all the virgins gone

today we celebrate the feast of St. Agnes: Virgin & Martyr.

In the life of the early christian church there were two things that marked faithfulness: virgintiy and marytrdom.

today, impurity is now the norm. Trying to find a virgin is like looking for a needle in the hay stack. No one care or guards their virtue. So we look to Agnes to intercede and show us the way and elighten our minds on the beauty of purity.

Here is an excerpt from St. Ambrose on the life of St. Agnes

This treatise has a favourable beginning, since it is the birthday of the holy Virgin Agnes, of whose name, modesty, and martyrdom St. Ambrose speaks in commendation, but more especially of her age, seeing that she, being but twelve years old, was superior to terrors, promises, tortures, and death itself, with a courage wholly worthy of a man.

5. And my task begins favourably, that since today is the birthday of a virgin, I have to speak of virgins, and the treatise has its beginning from this discourse. It is the birthday of a martyr, let us offer the victim. It is the birthday of St. Agnes, let men admire, let children take courage, let the married be astounded, let the unmarried take an example. But what can I say worthy of her whose very name was not devoid of bright praise? In devotion beyond her age, in virtue above nature, she seems to me to have borne not so much a human name, as a token of martyrdom, whereby she showed what she was to be.

6. But I have that which may assist me. The name of virgin is a title of modesty. I will call upon the martyr, I will proclaim the virgin. That panegyric is long enough which needs no elaboration, but is within our grasp. Let then labour cease, eloquence be silent. One word is praise enough. This word old men and young and boys chant. No one is more praiseworthy than he who can be praised by all. There are as many heralds as there are men, who when they speak proclaim the martyr.

7. She is said to have suffered martyrdom when twelve years old. The more hateful was the cruelty, which spared not so tender an age, the greater in truth was the power of faith which found evidence even in that age. Was there room for a wound in that small body? And she who had no room for the blow of the steel had that wherewith to conquer the steel. But maidens of that age are unable to bear even the angry looks of parents, and are wont to cry at the pricks of a needle as though they were wounds. She was fearless under the cruel hands of the executioners, she was unmoved by the heavy weight of the creaking chains, offering her whole body to the sword of the raging soldier, as yet ignorant of death, but ready for it. Or if she were unwillingly hurried to the altars, she was ready to stretch forth her hands to Christ at the sacrificial fires, and at the sacrilegious altars themselves, to make the sign of the Lord the Conqueror, or again to place her neck and both her hands in the iron bands, but no band could enclose such slender limbs.

8. A new kind of martyrdom! Not yet of fit age for punishment but already ripe for victory, difficult to contend with but easy to be crowned, she filled the office of teaching valour while having the disadvantage of youth. She would not as a bride so hasten to the couch, as being a virgin she joyfully went to the place of punishment with hurrying step, her head not adorned with plaited hair, but with Christ. All wept, she alone was without a tear. All wondered that she was so readily prodigal of her life, which she had not yet enjoyed, and now gave up as though she had gone through it. Every one was astounded that there was now one to bear witness to the Godhead, who as yet could not, because of her age, dispose of herself. And she brought it to pass that she should be believed concerning God, whose evidence concerning man would not be accepted. For that which is beyond nature is from the Author of nature.

9. What threats the executioner used to make her fear him, what allurements to persuade her, how many desired that she would come to them in marriage! But she answered: “It would be an injury to my spouse to look on any one as likely to please me. He who chose me first for Himself shall receive me. Why are you delaying, executioner? Let this body perish which can be loved by eyes which I would not.” She stood, she prayed, she bent down her neck. You could see the executioner tremble, as though he himself had been condemned, and his right hand shake, his face grow pale, as he feared the peril of another, while the maiden feared not for her own. You have then in one victim a twofold martyrdom, of modesty and of religion. She both remained a virgin and she obtained martyrdom

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the main point

Hebrews 7:25-8:4; Ps 40 Here I am Lord, I come to do your will; Mark 3:7-12

"The main point of what has been said is this: we have a high priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of a sanctuary and of the true tabernacle that th eLord, not man, set up..."

This main point is this...In greek the word for main point is chief.

What does this main point of having a high priest have to do with us. In the very first part of the reading of todat the answer is given,

"Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them."

so what does that mean.

Well, Jesus stands before the father and intercedes for us, which means he is caught up in an eternal conversation to the Father about us, what we need, what will strengthen us, what will enable us to surrender more fully to him.

Think about that...
We are caught up into that eternal exchange between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. wow!

Now when you look gospel you see Jesus folled by alarge crowd from all over, Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Beyond the Jordan, and form Tyre and Sidon.

What a crowd! This is certain quite a gathering that helps us understand the drawing power of Christ.

Now, Jesus does something that instructs on how to go about our affairs.

The gospel relates that Jesus told "his disciples to have a boat ready, so that they would not crush him."

think about for a moment. Jesus planned ahead. He was smart enough to plan ahead. He had a plan in mind. He didn't leave to chance or wait to the last moment. He thought about what he needed and he prepared with sufficient time.

Jesus planned ahead.

so should we.

Also, Jesus plans ahead, which means when he is interceding for us, he has a plan that encapsulates the future. So even if we don't get it, doesn't mean he doesn't get it.

Get it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Twain, mark

recently in the news it ha sbeen made known that a professor was seeking to remove the "n" word from Mark Twain's "Hucklebury Finn." what is disturbing about this reality is that he replaces the "n" word with the word slave.

I find this distrubing. Since when is nigger synonymous with slave.

And why remove it. Is not Twain's use of the word a reminder to us of an important part about our history and where we come from. I find this attempt to sterlize literature a misuse of time and energy.

How bizarre.

Anyway here is a letter that MArk Twain wrote to his pastor friend after the death of his 24 year old daughter. The letter is unedited. It is worth reading to really understand the man behind the literature.

"I do not want most people to write [to me], but I do want you to do it. The others break my heart, but you will not. You have a something divine in you that is not in other men. You have the touch that heals, not lacerates. And you know the secret places of our hearts. You know our life — the outside of it — as the others do — and the inside of it — which they do not. You have seen our whole voyage. You have seen us go to sea, a cloud of sail — and the flag at the peak; and you see us now, chartless, adrift — derelicts; battered, water-logged, our sails a ruck of rags, our pride gone. For it is gone. And there is nothing in its place. The vanity of life was all we had, and there is no more vanity left in us. We are even ashamed of that we had; ashamed that we trusted the promises of life and builded high — to come to this!
"I did know that Susy was part of us; I did not know that she could go away; I did not know that she could go away, and take our lives with her, yet leave our dull bodies behind. And I did not know what she was. To me she was but treasure in the bank; the amount known, the need to look at it daily, handle it, weigh it, count it, realize it, not necessary; and now that I would do it, it is too late; they tell me it is not there, has vanished away in a night, the bank is broken, my fortune is gone, I am a pauper. How am I to comprehend this? How am I to have it? Why am I robbed, and who is benefited?"

Here is a great description of grieve and loss.

jesus gets angry

The words of the gospel from Mark 3:1-6

"Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, "stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death."

First of all, if you notice Jesus was angry...Which means anger isn't always bad. sometimes it is not only good but necessary. the task in life is to be angry at the right times for the irght reasons.

Often times people will come to me and confess the "sin" of being angry. I often have to remind them that anger isn't in itself sinful. Sometimes it is a gift to us that enables us to get moving in the right direction.

the problem in our society is we don't get angry at the right times for the right reason. We don't let anger motivate us to take a stand for what is right and true.

Jesus takes a stand and he allow shis anger to become life giving.

We can use a few more christians in our society getting angry in the right way. Anger is not the opposite of love nor is it an opposite of tolerance. There are some things we should not tolerate.

Secondly, becasue of his act for standing up for life, Jesus becomes a marked man. The Pharisee's response is to get rid of him rather than be converted by him.

People will want to put us to death as well. In fact, a good sign that we are doing right is the animosity we draw from others.

Jesus didn't let other intervere with truth. He didn't back down because it offended the sensibilities of the Pharisees. They were wrong. We forget sometimes that not everyone is right, not everyone's opinion is worth guarding or tolerating. We must do what JEsus does, do good anyway.

Words from Pope Benedict
"being human is like a mountain-climbing expedition that includes some ardous slopes. But it is by them we reach the summit and are able to experience for the first time how beautiful it is to be."

Get on with climbing that mountain and let yor anger drive you upward never downward.

To the highest we go.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


We have been reflecting on the letter of the Hebrews from the New Testament over the past couple of weeks.

The letter is a beautifully written sermon, basically, detailing the priesthood of Christ.

In it, St. Paul reflects on faithful witnesses of faith from the past, a line of faithful witness that culminates in Christ who gives the perfect witness by his sacrifce, the one who is both priest and victim.

Today, St. Paul says these words, "we earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulifllment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promise."

Eagerness and sluggishness battle it out in the human soul.

1)Sluggish:slothful, dull, languid

MartinLuther King Jr, was noted as saying that our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

Misguided people of faith, is certainly what St. Paul is speaking about when he uses the term sluggish.

St.Thomas states that sluggishness or slothfulness is sorrow on account of Divine good. It is oppressive sorrow that weighs upon the mind of a man that he wants to do nothing.

St. Thomas recognizes slothfulness as opposed to the joy of charity.

He list a few things associated with sluggishness/slothfulness.

Here you can check your own temperture:
despair, faint-heartedness, spite which leads ot bitterness, wandering after unlawful things which can manifest itself in the misues of ones imagination, curiosity, or misues is speech, where we speak of things we should not, restlessness of the body that is recognized in instability, or idleness and drowisness in which avoid the good we ought to do or we do it only with negligence.

Reading the list it is hard not to think it is an accurate description of our society at large, especially when it comes to the wandering after unlawful things and misuse of the imagination and powers of speech.

So what is the cure. St. Paul mentions eagerness as teh answer to sluggishness that wants to settle in our soul and make us stagnant and thus repugnant.

Eagerness has little to do with feelings. Our emotions are varied. As G.K. Chestertom oonce noted, our feelings are more about what we ate for breakfast than what is goning on in our life: spiritually or otherwise.

Eagerness is a chocie to stand ready to respond to call of God at each moment, risking to move beyond our complacent nature. It is a choice to serve and to seek to divine Good in every moment.

There are plenty of opportunities.

This desire is sharpened by prayer and fasting, believe it or not. Denying ourselves ultimately makes us more keen to the divine call in each moment. It helps us take a stand for what matters most rather than fall in despair.

Ultimately eagerness is about discerning the things that matter to God for all for the betterment and enrichment of man.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Behold the Lamb of God

Here is the opening prayer from the mass of today. Well, actually this is the alternate opening prayer for the mass. Those of you who may not be aware of this little option, each mass celebrated on Sundays has two opening prayers options. The presider can choose which prayer he thinks speaks more clearly to the readings and his message or homily of the day.

Sometimes the alternate prayers are a little sappy but I was moved by today's alternate opening prayer. So here it is:

"almighty and ever present Father, your watchful care reaches from end to end and orders all things in such power that even the tensions and tragedies of sin cannot frustrate your loving plans. Help is to embrace your will, gives us strength to follow your call, so that your truth may live in our hearts and reflect peace to those who believe in your love..."

Just a comment or two.

The tensions and tragedies of sin do frustrate God's plans. But it is that frustration that ultimate leads to the coming of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

It is precisely because of that cosmic frustration brought about by our first parents in the garden of Eden that Christ comes. In the words of the Easter exultant, "oh happy fault that brought us such a savior."

Behold the Lamb of God, the one who seeks to unfrustrate our lives.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

behold "mozart's" Lamb of God

This week in the gospel we hear those words from the lips of John the Baptist that summarize the entirety of the life and mission of Jesus Christ: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

At this proclamation we are relieved, we rejoice, we stand in awe of such a gift.

Here is a little primary to get wet your appetite. This is Mozart's "Coronation Mass" where the Agnus Dei is sung in St. Peter's Basilica.

It is truly beautiful.

Click Here

Friday, January 14, 2011

on guard

Today' sfirst reading at Mass as a stiking tone of defense and attentiveness and being alert, "Let us be on guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains..."

when I was in college, I decided among many things that I should learn to box. I was always intriugued with boxing and having grown up with the Rocky movies, i thought why not.

So I signed up for boxing at the university.

It wasn't exactly what i had hoped for. I thought we were going to slap on the gloves and just start pounding away at each other. Boy wasI surprised.

the first half of the class we just worked on conditioning. We exercised until we hurt in every part of our body. Two day week we would gather and just do calisthenics.

While we were getting into shape the we also spent the first half of the course learning to keep our guard up. Not only do you have to be in good shape to box, but you have to learn how to protect yoruself.

We had to learnt o dance around the ring with our hands up in guard position, throwing punches into the wind all the while keeping our guard up.

It was harder than it looked. But once learned, it kept your nose from getting broken sooner than need be.

Such is life following Christ. We must learn to be practice charity while keeping our guard up. That is we must be mindful of others but never forgetful of self, never forgetful of the rest that awaits, the promise that lingers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ordinary time

"when he had accomplished purification from sins, he was seated on the right hand of the majesty on high."

These are the words in the first reading as we enter into ordinary time. We bid farewell to Christmas, Jesus as a child and his hidden life, and we welcome him as a man stepping into the public realm for all the world to see.

Ordinary time is an opportunity to see Jesus in action. The readings at the liturgies reflect this reality.

The first reading reminds us why Jesus does what he does. His mission statement, his statement of motivation can be found in that one sentence from above, "when he had accomplished purification from sins."

All of Jesus' activity can be focused in that one activity.

This is why Jesus Jesus says the time of fulfillment is at hand in today's gospel.

What do we see next. Peter and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee encounter the call of Christ while doing ordinary work: mending and casting of nets.

Jesus doesn't wait to speak to us when we go to retreats, he wants to get our attention while we work so that even our ordinary sweat and toil can be transformed from earning a living to making a life founded on that glorious call of Christ.

In the work of our hands offered for the glory of God we too accomplish the purification from sins. For as baptized christians we are all priest of God so that we can sanctify and sacrifice to make Holy and life giving the tasks at hand.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

friends of God and prophets

Today in the morning prayer we were invited to reflect on the following excerpt from the book of Wisdom 7:26-27

"she is a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God's active power, image of his goodness. Although alone, she can do all; herself, unchanging, she makes all things new. In each generation she passes into holy souls, she makes them friends of God and prophets."

What sublime picture of the the Holy Spirit producing the gift of wisdom seeking to make us friends of God and prophets.

the last line is intruiguing. It can be read that the wisdom makes of friends of God and friends of prophets or it can be read making us friends of God and making us prophets.

For if we are truly friends of God, then our task is to become prophetic in our life. On lour lips are the owrds of God an din our life the face of God is made known by how we choose to live. We either bring the image God or we distort the image of God.

then we concluded the morning prayer with the follwoing prayer:
"Almighty, ever-living god, through Christ your Son you made of us a new creation. Shape us, then in his likeness, since in him our human nature now lives with you..."

Shape us like Him who has taken our human nature ot be with you in heaven.

Shape us...

As we begin this new year and make those promises of getting into shape, exercising, losing weight.

May we direct our gaze inwardly and seek to allow our hearts and osuls to be molded and shaped by the hand of God so that we can truly become friends of God and prophets.

Friday, January 7, 2011

keep it simple, keep it loose

Luke 5:12-16

The gospel in bits and pieces.

"It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;"

It could have been any town, and for that matter every town. How often is this our experience that we come across a person who is considered an outcast. It happens all the time, in every town and in any town where ever people gather there inevitably is a person who gets those stares and looks; a person who people will turn and walk the other way; a person who will cause parents to reach for their kids; a person who gets frowned upon.

It happens every day in every place

"when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said ,"

He begged for help. How often it happens that we come across those who beg for help, for attention, for a hand out. How often we keep driving, we refuse to stop, we make remarks about how they are lazy and should get a job. How often do we encounter men and women groveling,reaching up ward because they can go no further down.

Then the dialogue

"Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean."

"Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do will it. Be made clean."

How easy Jesus makes this look! How quick and prompt does he reply and respond to the need of the other.
No excuses. No remarks. No pity. Just compassion and true fellowship as his hand stretches forth to welcome, to console and to bless.

What is truly amazing is the law of Leviticus (chapter 14) that details the prescripts necessary for a leper to be made clean.
32 verses cover the necessary prescripts of purification. About 2000 words are used to describe in detail what a leper must do in order to be welcomed back into camp and once again be part of the community.

Click here to read Leviticus ch. 14

Yet, it took Jesus one simple gesture of stretching his hand and touching him and only 7 words, "I do will it. Be made clean" to accomplish the purification and welcome.

How easy it is for JEsus.

Yet how difficult it is for us. We make it very very hard. How often with a simple gesture and few words we too could restore the dignity of the human person, yet we insist on the 2000 words and the jumping of hoops before we risk the gesture, before we risk the touch.

We like to play it safe, hedge our bets, risk nothing.
Jesus doesn't play it safe, rather he invites others to experience the security of his embrace.

Perhaps we too should learn to keep it simple. Touch first, speak second, welcome always.

Keep it simple.

song to go along with the reading

Thursday, January 6, 2011

ain't just whistling dixie

'Whistling Dixie' has become more or less and american idion that suggest that someone is putting a positive spin on reality or perhaps are particpating in what one might call a rosy fantasy rather than looking at relaity. It may be parrallel with rose colored glasses.

If someone is 'whistling dixie' they often have a hard time with reality.

When someone is not whistling dixie then you know they are straight shooters and not just giving you the bull.

Often times poeple will say, I ain't just whistling Dixie.

In todays first reading and even in the gospel we get the sense that john and Jesus both are saying, "I ain't just Whistling Dixie."

John once again directs our attention to reality: "Beloved we love God because God first loved us. If anyone say he loves God but hate his brother, he is a liar...whoever loves God must love his brother..."

There have it straight, no bull and no rosy fantasy.

Today perhaps we should evaluate and examine the "hate" in our heart and do something about it. It is time to be real with the love of God that seeks to drive away the darkness.

Remember to love someone is to what the highest good for them. Here is a Recipe for success: Pray for them. Ask God to bless them. Prayer affects our desire, desire motivates us to action, action makes manifest love.

In this way hatred is slowly dissolved and replaced bu something more meaningful and beneficial.

Then we encounter Jesus in the gospel. He stands tall and erect in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Which by way shows to us that Jesus went to church on the sabbath. Even the son of God didn't think he was better than worship according to God's plan.

Jesus stands tall, erect and unrolls the scroll. All eyes are on him. They all anticpate this familiar face. They know him. They ate with him. They grew up with Him.

They are all filled with heighten awareness.

Then Jesus reads the scroll and says those words: "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

The shortest homily of Christ given in the synagoue is given to us today and the people were amazed and spoke hiighly at his gracious words.

Were they amazed becasue Jesus was short and sweet? Certainly that would be the case today. Everyone likes short homilist.

Or were they amazed because they knew deep down, Jesus wasn't just whistling Dixie

Perhaps they knew that finally someone arrived who actually could fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. The scrolls no longer contained dead words on parchment but in Christ they are living words, active and breathing forth love, as St. Thomas says.

JEsus gives us something to believe in. Our deepest desires now have a reality to hold on too. We are all no longer just whistling Dixie. No mere fantasy will do, in Christ reality has come to the front and called us each by name.

We no longer have to just believe in ourselves we can now believe in something greater than ourselves and this is what makes life possible and love a reality.

Jesus ain't whistling dixie.

Here is a little dixie tribute just in case your forgot

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

take courage, It is I, do not be afraid

All this week we are meditating on the First letter of John, and it is from this letter that Pope Benedict writes his first encyclical: Deus Caristas Est

Excerpt from today;s meditation of 1 John: "Beloved, If God loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God but if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us...."

Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI Deus Caritas Est

"We have come to believe in God' s love; in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life.

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.
Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: "God so loved the word that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should...have eternal life." In acknowledging the centrality of love, christian faith has retained the core of Israel's faith, while at the same time giving it new depth and breadth. The Pious Jew prayed daily the words of the Book of Deuteronomy which expressed the heart of his existence: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might".

Jesus united into a single precept this commandment of loveof God and the commandment of love for neighbor found in the Book of Leviticus: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself".

Since God has first loved us, love is now no longer a mere "command"; it is a response to the gift of love which God draws near to us."

Something to think about; In the incarnation, in Jesus Christ, God becomes our neighbor. The love of God and love of neighbor coexist on the same plain.

The words of the gospel as Jesus approached the boat being tossed about where the apsotles react with fear and trepidation, Jesus says the following, "Take courage, It is I , do not be afraid."

This is the invitation for us to love, "take courage, It is I, do not be afraid." Here is the rallying cry of God to man as he spurs us onward to open our hearts and minds and let the revolution of true Love begin.

"Take courage, It is I, do nto be afraid."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

tuesday after the epiphany

Tuesday after the Epiphany, this is how the church marks the calendar of today. It is the tuesday after the Epiphany before the baptism of Lord. We find ourselves right in the middle of two great celebrations" God's revelation to the gentiles as the Magi arrive on the scene following the star from above, wondering what will this child be and the Baptism of The Lord where upon his rise from the Jordan, Jesus that is, the words from heaven are heard, 'this is my beloved son listen to him.'

We find ourselves between the question of the magi and the answer given by the heavenly Father above. This is not a bad place to be. It certainly isn't the proverbial rock and hard place but rather a place of growth and warmth and goodness.

God seeks to bring forth the answer to the question our hearts seek to bring forth to him.

"my beloved son, listen to him."

And today in the first reading we encounter that passage of Sacred Scripture that has been advertised in almost every arena, found it self pressed upon many lips, memorized by many cerebral folds, and proclaimed as the marching tune that sets our hearts a blaze:

"In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins."

In this is Love

Here we finally find what we are looking for, love that proves itself to be true.

God seeks our highest Good even while we have fallen to a new low and thus in our sins he comes to pull us from the mud.

In this is Love

Chew on that phrase today. As we find ourselves half way between the question we ask and the answer that seeks us.

In This is Love.....

Today we also celebrate the memorial of Elizabeth ANn Seaton, a saint of the U.S. who for a large part is responsible for the parochial schools as we know them today. She was a woman of great vigor, energy, strength, devotion, faith.

Here are a few words from the saint herself

"What was the first rule of our dear Savior's life? You know it was to do His Father's will. Well, then, the first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly to do it in the manner He wills; and thirdly, to do it because it is His willl. I know what is His will by those who direct me; whatever they bid me do, if it is ever so small in itself, is the will of God for me. Then, do it in the manner He wills it"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Holy Name of Jesus

Today we celebrate the optional memorial of the HOly Name of JEsus

Matthew 1:21
Luke 2:21
Philippians 2:10

These are places in the New Testament that mention the name of Jesus and they are worth looking at.

Matthew speaks of the name of Jesus as that which indicates who He is and what He does for "He will save His people from their sins."

Every time we invoke the name of JEsus we are invoking that power which comes to rescue and save us from our sins, from all that blocks us from truly becoming who we were created to be.

Luke mentions that the name of JEsus was given to Him 8 days after the days were completed for his circumcision, a name that was given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The name of JEsus was thought out ahead of time. Before Jesus entered into our time, God had already from all of eternity destined him to be the one who would come and save and redeem and take away our sins.

This is part of God's plan. We all, as people of faith, are participants in the destiny of Christ. Each invocation draws us closer into the destiny. Our destiny finds meaning and purpose in His destiny.

In Philippians 2:10, St. PAul tells us that at the name of JEsus every knee shall bend and every tongue confess...

This is why during the liturgy, the celebration of the mass, or any of the sacraments, at the invocation of the name of Jesus we should bow our heads in reverence and respect. Our entire body should be given over to adoration and respect not just our mouth. Talk is cheap. Our body must become an instrument of worship and praise as well.

Jesus saves us by what he does with his body. Thus, in our body when we bow we acknowledge the cost of our redemption and the gift of grace that flows from the head of Christ which bowed low and breathed its last so that we might receive grace upon grace.

Our bowing of the head is an act of deep appreciation for Him whose wounded headed bowed for us.

Lastly, we turn to John 17:11 where JEsus in his final prayer before the crucifixion asks the Father, "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one."

The invocation of the name of JEsus is an invocation of his strength and his protection. It is in his name that temptation is driven away, sins are avoided, purity is guarded, charity is manifested, peace is restored, and true Joy is experienced.

What a wealth this name is for all who profess it in faith.

The Holy Name of Jesus remains for us honey on the lips and sweetness in the heart, guidance for the mind, direction for the will.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

auld lang syne

Today we welcome this new year.

The traditional song that is sung throughout the world at the stroke of midnight is Auld Lang Syne.

Auld lang Syne roughly translates into "for the sake of old times" or "days gone by."

The original lyrics are quite moving and appropriate for this day as not only we celebrate day 1 of 2011 but also as we reflect on the gift of a mother's love as we celebrate the solemnity of the MAry mother of God.

Here are the traditional lyrics:

"Heart is ravisht with delight,
when thee I think upon;
All Grief and Sorrow takes the flight,
and speedily is gone;
The bright resemblance of thy Face,
so fills this, Heart of mine;
That Force nor Fate can me displease,
for Old long syne.

Since thoughts of thee doth banish grief,
when from thee I am gone;
will not thy presence yield relief,
to this sad Heart of mine:
Why doth thy presence me defeat,
with excellence divine?
Especially when I reflect
on Old long syne"

On Old long syne my Jo,
in Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
on Old long syne.

As the lyrics go: heart is ravished with delight when thee I think upon; grief and sorrow takes the flight and speedily is gone; Is this not what the gift of a mother's love is all about. A mother's glance and warm embrace has a way of driving away the darkness form our eyes, the darkness in our hearts and a cup of kindness she brings with each delicate smile.

Beautiful lyrics and more importantly a beautiful mother for us all. Mary, mother of God, turn your gentle gaze our way and lead us to your son whose divine face drives away the pain.

Here is a rendition of the song, enjoy