Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pope Benedict on Divine Maercy

God’s passionate love for his people — for humanity — is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice."

Think about that for a moment as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.

Jesus, I trust in You! These are the words centered on Divine Mercy. To have these words pressed upon our lips throughout the day speaks of a faith that is profound, a hope that is a live and love that is burning with zeal. This is how we become like the son for the world around us.

Jesus, I trust in you.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Words from JPII

At difficult moments in the Church’s life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit. [...]

Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heart to heart

This morning in the letter of Peter I encountered this phrase; really it is more an invitation to vitality in faith, to be alive in God.

St Peter states the following. "venerate the Lord, that is Jesus christ, in your heart!"

There it is. There is the invitation to be alive in God, to be alive in the world, to be alive. We must venerate the lord in our heArt that is to speak to Him heart to heart.

To have a heart to heart is given new direction and purpose. Here we encounter prayer as the ground if vitality in out heart.
Today look into your heart and see the love of the universe present and waiting for you there. Enter in, have a heart to heart.

Hymn to get you started:
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death.

Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He has appeared

The gospel today recounts the road of encounter as the disciples meet Jesus after the resurrection. Jesus walks with them unknown to them.

Pause there for a moment. Jesus is present to them and they remain imperfect to him. How often is this the case in our life? Jesus is near to us yet we fail to recognize him who journeys with us along the way.

Then only in the breaking of the bread does his appearance materialize before them. In the action of the Eucharist, Jesus makes himself known.

The disciples describe it as an appearance, "he has appeared to us" they recall.

In fact more correctly Jesus doesn't appear but rather he makes himself seen. He chooses the action of the Eucharist, the breaking of bread to make himself known. What was hidden and out of sight is now visible to the senses. Jesus makes himself seen.

This means that Jesus after the resurection is different. He belongs to a sphere of reality which is normally withdrawn from our senses. In the Eucharist he invites us to step into this reality that is beyond our senses. He invites us to enter into this "new" way of being that belongs to God.

This is his gift to us in the breaking of the bread. What a gift this is? Already in the Eucharist we get a taste of what lies ahead for us. This is truly an anticipation and a making present of life in the Blessed Trinity.

He has appeared to us. How often? Every time we gather at the altar and enter into the action of breaking bread. This us why in the Acts of the apostles we are told that the early church devoted themselves daily to the breaking of the bread. Who could ever just limit themselves to once a week? Who would dare refuse to be drawn into reality itself as Jesus makes himself seen in the bread that us blessed, the bread that is broken, the bread that is given for the life of the world.

The Eucharist and the resurrection are inseparable; the resurrection makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist prepares us for the resurrection:"he who eats my body and drinks my blood will not die but have eternal life."

In deed he has made himself known. What a gift!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Your father and my father

Today in the gospel we encounter Mary looking for Jesus. The tomb is open and the body is missing. In her haste she sees a man who She thinks is the gardener. This gardener as she assumes is really Jesus but she cannot recognize him in that moment.

Why can't Mary recognize Jesus who is right in front of her nose?

Two things...
One) she can't see Jesus because of her grief. Her grief blinds her. The darkness of sorrow keeps her from recognizing the face of Jesus that stands before her. Grief does this. It keeps us from seeing clearly.

Second) Jesus is different. He is not the same. The resurrection changed how Jesus is to be recognized. He has entered into suffering and redeems it. He has entered death and brought light. Thus, he stretches our limits, the limits we place on how God can be and is in our life.

The thing that remains the same is the sound of Mary's name from the lips of Jesus.

Faith comes by hearing. Though our eyes may fail the call of Jesus remains the same.

Jesus' call brings Mary back to reality and leads her through her Grief. It also empowers her to speak the nAme of Christ to others since she has heard her name in him. Having heard our name pulls us from ourselves and empowers us to speak to others. It changes how we speak the names of those around us. Once he has addressed us we now address others with that same compassion.

We speak the name of others as he speaks ours.

Only then can we recognize the reality of belonging to the same family;; thus we can say with Christ, my father and his father. And your father is our father.

The resurrection is the tie that binds us all together.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

He was buried

Today is easter saturday, which the name already suggest a joyful end to the destruction we experienced yesterday.

Our creed simple states about today that "he was buried."

He was buried. Think about that for a moment. Goodness itself has entered into the dark, damp, cold ground. The one who was the light of the world, the one who brought the warmth of eternity to earth has now embraced the coldness of death.

He is really dead. He fully participates in all that is human. Jesus travels the path of death right to the bitter and seemingly hopeless end in the tomb.

This is why we visit cemeteries today, at least traditional. We go to visit the dead for is this not what Christ does today. As we anticipate this evening vigil of resurrection we pause to remember that reality that Jesus descends into the place of the dead and visits them, he talks with them as only one who is dead can do.

As Christians it is here that our liveliness emanates; from this place of of sorrow, of anguish, of defeat, of desolation, of doubt we will encounter life.

For we anticipate the empty tomb and it is in this emptiness that we begin to be filled anew. But first we sit with Christ in the silence of his tomb, knocking, waiting, longing for truth to be known, he is risen. But in order to be risen, one must first die.

Friday, April 22, 2011

good friday: speechless

As we meditate on the Crucifixion of Our Lord here are a few words to guide our meditation.

Isaiah 52:13-15

"See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him-so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals-so shall he startle nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless: for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it."


My favorite part of the gospel of the passion of John is where it simply states the fact that "he bowed his head and handed over his spirit."

Think about that for a moment. It this simple gesture he speaks volumes. Bowing his head and handing over his spirit he reminds how salvation comes to us in trust and surrender. This is the way of salvation. All the suffering, all the pain and hurt, all of this and more culminates and finds its strength in trust and surrender.

This is always and the only way to salvation. Salvation comes into our world by way of trust and surrender. Father into your hand sI commend my Spirit.

All we can think is What wondrous love is this....

click here

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

before Easter Triduum

Isaiah 50:4-9; Ps 69 Lord in your great Love answer me; Mt 26:14-25

"One of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priest and said, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?"

How much is it worth to you? Here is a question that has been pressed upon our lips a many time. How can I squeeze this for my benefit.

HOw can I turn a profit?

"They gave him 30 pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over."

We must remember that though the Jews and scribes and pharisees sought to arrest Jesus several times and they sought to stone him and kill him, it wasn't into their hands Jesus surrendered, but rather to the hands of a former disciple that Jesus is forsaken.

Into the hands of a former disciple! Who could have anticipated this reality? One who spent time with Jesus daily and nightly. One who ate with him, listened to him, traveled around next to him. One who seen the miracles, witness the joy this Jesus brought to the world. One who once held a promising future as a messenger, an apostle, one who was going to spread the good news. In fact, Judas was one of the twelve who was sent out to heal the sick and cast our demons.

A disciple. This is who betrayed JEsus.

Jesus was forsaken for a chance to turn a profit by a follower.

Stop and think today how often in our society the same temptation comes to us.
YOu can not serve both God and mammon. YOu will love the one and hate the other.

Here are a few words of insight by Pope Benedict XVI
"In the case of Judas, we encountered the perennial danger that even those "who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Spirit: can perish spiritually through a series of seemingly small infidelities, ultimately passing from the light into the night, where they are no longer capable of conversion."

We must be on our toes and attentive to the motivation of our hearts. The Easter Triduum is meant to purify our hearts and prepare us to follow more closely choosing to forsake the world never forsaking Christ.

Though Judas sells out, Mary does not. She remains with him all the way to the end. This mystical embrace encourages us in our journey.

One thing to remember as we follow Christ to the cross is that most of his disciples flee and abandon him. But the women stay behind. They remain with him. Something about a woman's heart that is strong and faithful and true.

Mary remains.
Here to we begin to see the heart of the Church, the one who is faithful and true to the bridegroom Christ even though her members may stray and flee and abandon Christ.
Mary is a type of the Church.

But like Mary we too must be steadfast in adversity.
So too must we remain. We look to her for guidance and strengthen and push onward.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Song for the week

If thou but suffer God to guide thee,
and hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give strength, whate’er betide thee,
and bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
builds on the rock that naught can move.

Only be still and wait His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
And all-discerning love hath sent;
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Coming Soon: Blessed JOhn Paul II

Homily World Youth Day 2002 (if you don't want to read the whole thing, i highlighted parts worth meditating on...look there in bold and black the wisdom and encouragement)

You are the salt of the earth! You are the light of the world! (Matthew 5:13-14).

Dear young people of the seventeenth World Youth Day, dear brothers and sisters: On a hillside near the lake of Galilee, Jesus' disciples listened to his gentle and urgent voice; as gentle as the landscape of Galilee itself, as urgent as a call to choose between life and death, between truth and falsehood. The Lord spoke words of life that would echo forever in the hearts of His followers. Today He is speaking the same words to you, the young people of Toronto and Ontario, of the whole of Canada, of the United States, of the Caribbean, of Spanish-speaking America and Portuguese-speaking America, of Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Listen to the voice of Jesus in the depths of your hearts! His words tell you who you are as Christians. They tell you what you must do to remain in His love. But Jesus offers one thing, and the "spirit of the world" offers another. In today's reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul tells us that Jesus leads us from darkness into light (Ephesians 5:8). Perhaps the great apostle is thinking of the light that blinded him, the persecutor of Christians, on the road to Damascus. When later he recovered his sight, nothing was as before. He had been born anew and nothing would ever take his new-found joy away from him.

You too are called to be transformed. "Awake, O sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light, (Ephesians 5:14)", says Saint Paul. The "spirit of the world" offers many false illusions and parodies of happiness. There is perhaps no darkness deeper than the darkness that enters young people's souls when false prophets extinguish in them the light of faith and hope and love. The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.

The Lord is calling you to choose between these two voices competing for your souls. That decision is the substance and challenge of World Youth Day. Why have you come together from all parts of the world? To say in your hearts: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68). Jesus - the intimate friend of every young person - has the words of life. The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God's love. It needs witnesses to that love. It needs you - to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Salt is used to preserve and keep. As apostles for the Third Millennium, your task is to preserve and keep alive the awareness of the presence of our Savior Jesus Christ, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, the memorial of His saving death and glorious resurrection. You must keep alive the memory of the words of life which He spoke, the marvellous works of mercy and goodness which He performed. You must constantly remind the world of the "power of the Gospel to save" (Romans 1:16).

Salt seasons and improves the flavor of food. Following Jesus, you have to change and improve the "taste" of human history. With your faith, hope and love, with your intelligence, courage and perseverance, you have to humanize the world we live in. In the way that today's reading from Isaiah indicates: "Loose the bonds of injustice ... share your bread with the hungry ... remove the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil.... Then your light shall rise in the darkness" (Isaiah 58:6-10).

Even a tiny flame lifts the heavy lid of night. How much more light will you make, all together, if you bond as one in the communion of the Church! If you love Jesus, love the Church! Do not be discouraged by the sins and failings of some of her members. The harm done by some priests and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame. But think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good!

There are many priests, seminarians and consecrated persons here today; be close to them and support them! And if, in the depths of your hearts, you feel the same call to the priesthood or consecrated life, do not be afraid to follow Christ on the royal road of the cross! At difficult moments in the Church's life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age: It is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit, just as Kateri Tekawitha and so many other young people have done. You are young and the Pope is old and a bit tired. But he still fully identifies with your hopes and aspirations. Although I have lived through much darkness, under harsh totalitarian regimes, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young.

Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son.

O Lord Jesus Christ, keep these young people in your love. Let them hear your voice and believe what you say, for you alone have the words of life. Teach them how to profess their faith, bestow their love, and impart their hope to others. Make them convincing witnesses to your Gospel in a world so much in need of your saving grace. Make them the new people of the Beatitudes, that they may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world at the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium! Mary, Mother of the Church, protect and guide these young men and women of the 21st century. Keep us all close to your maternal heart. Amen.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Get up, let us go. Look my betrayer is at hand

This week we enter into Holy Week. Jesus makes his grand entrance as he ascends to Jerusalem there to embrace the Cross.
We hear Jesus' words to his disciples, "Get up, let us go. Look my betrayer is at hand." Unlike the apostles who flee, we stay by his side and make that journey with him.

We walk with Jesus this whole week. We must ascend with him. The higher we go the better our vision becomes; the higher we go with him the clearer God’s loves is made known.

Thursday evening we celebrate the Lord's Supper as Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, on his knees he calls us friends.

Thursday night we sit and pray as Jesus enters his agony; we set aside time to stay with him in prayer so that we might not succumb to the test. We remain awake where the apostles slept; we stay where the apostles stray. Then alert and by his side we see him betrayed and arrested, carried away bound hand and feet.

The hands that healed are now wounded by the burn of the rope.
Friday Morning we rise not to greet the new day but to hear the sentencing of Christ, condemned to death. The crowd jeers crucify him.
There he receives the cross and makes his way to Calvary. We journey with him, side by side as he stumbles beneath the weight of the cross.

Friday around three we pause from our activity and we are silent as Jesus breathes his last, bows his head and embraces the silence of death. The lips that spoke of the goodness of God and nearness of the kingdom, the lips so vibrant with life, remain mute, motionless, blue.

Saturday we remember Jesus is buried in the tomb. The one who brought light to the world is now shrouded in darkness. We look for it but find it not.

Saturday evening, we gather to witness the light scatter the darkness in the Easter Vigil and we remember the words of St. John light came into the world and the darkness could not overcome it.

Sunday, the tomb is empty. The presence of God cannot be contained and there we encounter a love that is stronger than death and we rejoice. And once again Alleluias resound.

We ascend with Christ and as we climb and reach the pinnacle, the summit, we experience what real love looks like.
Let us journey with Him and learn to love as he loves us.

failure turn upside down

Ezekiel 37:21-28; Ps The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock; John 11:45-56

"I will be their God and they shall be my people."

"But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, you know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish."

"So from that they on they tried to kill him."

Just a tid bit to get us ready for the week to come. Palm Sunday and Holy Week and Easter Triduum.

Here is a little something from Charlie Chaplain the man who made silent movies roar, "Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself."

God makes a fool of himself. JEsus becomes the jester. And yet what courage is displayed as failure in the eyes of men become victory and triumph in the eyes of God for all.

We become God's children not because we desire it but because God makes it so in the passion Jesus enters into.

What seems like a failure from a far takes on another shape as you draw close and look into his eyes as he hangs on the cross. There we see the Love of God for you and I. The fool of whom it is said it is "better for one man to die instead of the people so that the whole nation does not perish" perishes so that we may have life abundant.

Is this not what true passion entails.

Here is a little snippet from our friends at Busted Halo: Holy Week in Two minutes: worth the watch

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltry, bagpipe and all the rest

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Glory and praise for ever; John 8:31-42

The words of the King Nebuchadnezzar to Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, "Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe and all the other musical instruments, otherwise you will be cast into the white hot furnace, and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?"

Over the past few days I have been speaking morality with the 8th graders in my class. I decided to guide them in evaluating the moral goodness of things they encounter on a regular basis like TV Sitcoms, movies, and most especially music they listen to daily.

So in class we have been on youtube locating their favorite songs and listening to them and evaluating and dissecting the words used in these songs.

We listen to "kick it in the sticks", "No hands" and "not by shakin' hands."

The rhythm and beat of the songs are very seductive. Yet, when we listen to the words we discovered that the moral goodness of want is being sung isn't so acceptable. The songs I mentioned above that seem so popular invite the listeners to sell sex for money, to stay our all night drinking and parting and even drinking and driving, all the while dressing not so modest and putting yourself in dangerous situations. They all speak of going to strip clubs and having lab dances.

The kids response was what I expected, "Father, we listen to it because of the beat not because of the words.
An dI tried to explain to them the reality of materially cooperating with the message but i am not sure I succeeded.

Nonetheless it is easy to get swayed by the trumpet, lyre, harp. bagpipe or in modern understanding the steel guitar, the base guitar, the drums and before you know you go along with the rhythm and get swept away in a moral decline that becomes a slippery slope.

Perhaps this is what the King hoped for. He hoped the rhythm would seduce the three young men and lead them to idolatry.

Yet they held their ground.

Listen the words of the three young men, "There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up."

In the end it is the king who gets converted by the fortitude of the three, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego."

Amen. Don't be seduced by the music.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

leaping into joy

Numbers 21:4-9

Here is a poem i came across recently by Gerald Locklin,

"When my two-year-old daughter
sees someone come through the door
whom she loves, and hasn't seen for a while,
and has been anticipating
she literally shrieks with joy.

I have to go into the other room
so that no one will notice the tears in my eyes.

Later, after my daughter has gone to bed,
I say to my wife,

"She will never be this happy again,"
and my wife gets angry and snaps,
"Don't you dare communicate your negativism to her!"
And, of course, I won't, if I can possibly help it,
and of course I fully expect her
to have much joy in her life,
and, of course, I hope to be able
to contribute to that joy —
I hope, in other words, that she'll always
be happy to see me come through the door—

but why kid ourselves — she, like every child,
has a life of great suffering ahead of her,
and while joy will not go out of her life,
she will one of these days cease to actually,
literally, jump and shriek for joy."

There is something true in the poem above. Something happens to us when we get old. We lose the wonder of it all. Our eyes grow dim and they no longer sparkle and we are no longer amazed by the little things.

As we move through our teenage years rushing along trying to be all grown up, the joy we once knew grows cold.

And we stop literally jumping for joy.

Usually this happens because we turn our eyes inward. All we see is ourselves and how things affect us. We become our own center of gravity and we take ourselves way too serious and the joy God has in store, the Joy God places before us each day, we trample upon and grow bitter and we complain.

Not unlike the Israelites in the desert whom we encounter in our first reading, "But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses."

These are the same people who leapt for Joy as the red sea was parted and they cross dry shod and then saw with amazement and disbelief the army of egyptians swept away before their very eyes. These are the same people who are being led by a pillar of fire at night and cloud by day. These are the same people who are fed with Manna from above and for whom the rock being struck gives forth a fountain flow of water to quench their thirst. These are the same people that experience the shaking of the mountain and presence of God who comes down to speak with them.

THey lose the twinkle in their eye; they no longer are swept away by the wonder of it all. God is boring to them. They have chosen to turn inward and no longer look outward. All they see is themselves. They have become their own center of gravity and they take themselves way too serious. In some sense they are asking the question, "what have you done for me lately."

Boy doesn't this resonate with us.

They cease to leap for joy.

So to day, leap for Joy. Be amazed. Shriek a little, laugh a lot. Be still and know that He is God and he walks with us. Open your eyes wide, turn outward and jump. Recognize what God has done right in your life.

Here is fan favorite to get you started click here

Monday, April 11, 2011

Oh Susanna & monkey in the middle

Daniel 13:1-62; Ps 23 Though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side. John 8:1-11

today we have some very intriguing encounters in the readings. We encounter Susanna who is accused of adultery by two "dirty" old men who only want to appease their lust, and the nameless woman caught in the "very act" of adultery. Wow! We thought all the action happened only in soap operas.

The Biblical literature can compete.

In the first reading the essential line that marks the moment of downfall of these "dirty old men" is as follows, "When the old men saw her enter every day for her walk, they began to lust for her. They suppressed their conscience; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep on mind just judgments."

How is that for a detailed description of how lust can enter through the eyes and completely sink the heart and mind if left unchecked.

The conscience can be suppressed. It can be deformed. It is in constant need of renovation and renewal.

How often do we let things in and give it free reign over our mind and heart. We must be diligent and persistent in rooting our those thoughts before they spread; we must continually raise our eyes to heaven and seek the strength of the one who can help us in time of need.

In the end Susanna is vindicated and the dirty old men are convicted are put to death in the body though in their heart and mind they had already died. Susanna did give in and refused to save her skin; rather she maintained her integrity and trusted in God's ever watchful eye.

In the gospel we encounter the scribes and Pharisees bringing a women caught in adultery, in the "very act of committing adultery."

Now, we are not sure who caught who in the act. But Perhaps a husband was suspecting and had his wife tailed. Maybe the local "private eye" got in on the action.

None the less the sin was exposed and before Jesus they come wagging their fingers. They make this women stand in the middle with their eyes fixed upon her and fingers pointing and minds and heart condemning and they want JEsus to do something about it.

In some sense it looks a lot like the game we played as kids called "monkey in the middle." One thing that always amazes me at this story is that JEsus never looks at the woman. While all those standing around her hold her bound in her sins with their stare, JEsus never does.

It isn't polite to stare. When we stare we hold people bound and refuse to offer mercy and do not allow justice to be served.

Jesus stares not and simply with one little question disperse the crowd, "You without sin cast the first stone!"

Notice Jesus doesn't dismiss women so easy. He has a few choice words for her, "neither do I condemn you. Go! Sin no more."

Jesus recognizes the sin and chooses to direct her on the right path. HE certainly doesn't approve of her lifestyle and he invites us to a new way of living. Better living through mercy.

Oh susanna and the monkey in the middle teach us much about living and walking with God.

Here is little bit from two of my favorites singing Oh Susanna

Sunday, April 10, 2011

delayed reaction

Ezekiel 37:12-14; Ps 130 With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption; Rom 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45

Today we encounter the story of Lazarus. This is the longest continuous story in the gospel of John. It is also the story that contains the shortest verse in the bible, "Jesus Wept."

The story is packed full of meaning. Every phrase and every word in every sentence is intentional. John is meticulous in detail. Nothing is out of place, nothing is extra, all is where it should be. With John's gospel, there is always more than meets the eye. There is the literal meaning but also woven beneath is a much deeper spiritual revelation.

Reading requires attentive listening to what the text is both saying explicitly and implicitly.

For instance, john writes is gospel so that anyone and everyone can be part of the tale. JEsus comes in history and acts in time in a particular place with particular people, like Mary and Martha and Lazarus. At the same time, JEsus continues act in our history in our time and place. John wants us to be able to relate, to be part of the story.

This is why, there is the unnamed "beloved disciple." The "beloved disciple" is suppose to be not only John himself but also each and every one of us.

The story of Lazarus is about lazarus but at the same it can be about our family, our experience, our relationship with Christ. These are friends of Christ. They have a history, they have experiences. They know and love Jesus and Jesus knows and loves them.

In fact Jesus would eat with them and spend time with them. In some sense, Bethany was is home away from home. John tries to get us to understand this reality with the words he uses to describe the "one that He loves" as a description of Lazarus the one who is ill.

Pause for a moment. How many times do we see Jesus reaching out to strangers in their time of need promptly and quickly.
People he meets for the first time he cures instantly, no questions asked. Immediate and complete.

Yet here when his friends need him most, he delays. He waits. 2 days pass before he reacts.

This is strange.
Usually love demands an immediate response. Usually love demands the immediate good. Is this not what we desire and what we want.  Is this not what we have been trained to expect?

A few weeks back when my nephew was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was in need of surgery, I immediately got coverage for the masses and within a day I was on a plane to North Carolina. In fact within 24 hours I was sitting in the hospital at his bedside.

This is what we do for loved ones and ones we love. We do not delay we act. We even speak this way when we say, "if you love me then you would..." fill in the blank.

Yet Jesus waits.................

This gives us moment to pause. Why did he delay? How often in the gospel we Jesus act promptly, immediately? How often we see Jesus meet strangers and he does instant miracles for them?

Yet, here with those who love him and those he loves, he waits.

This delay boggles the mind. How often we experience this is our life. How often we experience God's delay, God's silence. We do not like this. we do not like God delaying, we want promptness. We want what want when we want it and yet God waits.

So what is JEsus teaching us.
He is teaching us and important lesson we do not want to learn.
Love does makes demand. But it does not have the right to demand an inmediate response based on what we percieve to be the immediate good or what we percive to be our greatest need.

The only right love has to demand is the highest good. The immediate good we percive is always trumphed by the highest good we don't always percieve.

Here in lies the lesson.
This is why Jesus says this death of Lazarus will serve the glory of God.

There is the highest good that trumphs all other perceptions of good.

This is where love finds its fulfillment; this is where love is purified: God's glory.

Think about Jesus a moment. How much love must he have , knowing that his delay is going to cause Mary and martha were going to have to enter into that grief and suffering we are never truly ready for, the sudden death of a loved one.

How much love must the heart contained to be willing to allow loved ones to enter into suffering so that the glory of God might be made known?

After his delay Jesus finally arrives and we hear those question that often fill our hearts and minds:"Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died." Lord, if yo would have been here this tragedy would not have happened.

Or the other question, "coud not this man who made the blind see have done something to prevent this death."

These are the questions we ask often. If you noice Jesus doesn't discount the questions, nor does he say not to ask. But rather, the question Jesus welcomes and enters into a dialogue of deepen one's faith.

Even our questions can be faith filled and lead to a deepening of our understanding of God's actions and thus increase our trust.

Questions are okay; questions are necessary; question invite faith to grow.
In the questios asked we hear those words, "I am the resurrection and the life; if you believe even though you die will will live."

Then after the dialogue we encounter the shortest verse in the bible. "Jesus wept."

God weeps. Where does God weep. He weeps when men weep.

God enters into our humanity fully. He is not immune to sorrw and suffering. He understands. This is part of the goodnews.

Then Jesus says those words, "Lazarus come out."

The Word that becomes flesh is the word that is stronger then death. Death is no match.

When Lazarus comes out, I assure you no one saw that coming. Everyone was surprised.

Here is the glory of God at work. John in his gospel tells us a few chapters before that Jesus is sent to "amaze us."

God wants to amaze us; God wants to shake us out of ourselves; God wants to surprise us. But in order to recieve this sometimes we must endure suffering, pain, death.

The glory of God is always at work; the glory of God always has more in store.

Jesus reminds us that our life must be about the glory of God if it is truly going to matter most of all.

One thing to notice is that when Jesus calls Lazarus our from death, he does not do it alone.

He need people to roll back to stone. He also need people to untie his hands and feet and remove the burial cloth from his face.

In order for the glory of God to realize, God invites us to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. We must be involved in bringing about the amazement of God.

this is what the lives of the of saints reveal to us. The likes of John Paul II and Mother Teresa show us. They were unafraid to roll up their sleaves and give the glory of God the opportuntiy to shine through into our lives.

Jesus is primary but the work too belongs to us.

The glory of God is the standard of love. This is why we do what we Even  though we encounter God's delay we must remember even in God's delay, hope remains and Glory is to be found.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

seek praise

John 5:31-47

There are many words in the readings to today, too many to count. I am often amazed at how many words are brought together in such a small space and time for the worshipers to hear and comprehend.

IT is almost unnatural. This is why it is so important for the faithful to read the readings ahead of time, to prepare themselves to hear proclaimed what they have read. Not to prepare is refusing to let God speak clealry to the human heart.

Today is no different. The first reading from the book of Exodus is fileld with meaning. The gospel is a disocurse Jesus has thar reads almost like a treatise.

So what do we do. We focus in, we zoom our lense to just one phrase.

Jesus in the gospel tells the pharisees, "How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?"

Zero in on this particular question. How can you believe when yo accept praise form one another and do not seek praise from the only God?

Here is certianly a lenten reflection for all.

We like affirmation. We like to be praised and exalted by our fellow man. We like applause. We like to be told "way to go" or "good job" or "well done". Sometimes seeking the praise of men can make us deaf to the praise of God. Sometimes trying to please others can often interfere with our ability to please God.

Sometimes seeking the praise of men can turn us away from God.

We have to make sure we are correctly ordered in our life.

Here is quote from Helen Keller that It think puts it all in perspective, "One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar."

Seeking the praise of men is like choosing to creep like bugs and beetles. Seeking the praise of God is truly allowing our spirit to soar as we were created for.

Do we creep or do we soar. One will keep us on the ground, earth bound; the other will lift usand we shall know as St. Paul says, "life on high in Christ!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

come out!

Isaiah 49:8-15; Ps 145 The Lord is gracious and merciful; John 5:17-30

Thus says the Lord, "In a time of favor answer you, on the day of salvation I help you; I have kept you and given you asa covenant to the people, to restore the land and allot desolate heritages, saying to the prisoner: Come Out!...For he who pities them leads them and guides them beside springs of water...Sing out O heavens, and rejoice, O earth break forth into song...For the Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted."

JEsus answered, "My Father is at work until now, so I am at work."

IT is important to stop every now and then, remove ourselves from the business of life and the many task that are pressing for our attention and simple remind ourselves that The Father is at Work and the SOn is also at Work, the Spirit is at work,

We do not work alone in life. The Blessed Trinity is working beside us each and every day, every moment. Sometimes life makes no sense, things happen we were not ready for, the mystery of tomorrow unfolds quickly and often catches unaware.

YEt God is always aware, attentive and at work. God's providential care not only creates but sustains.

The one who pities us leads us...

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states about Divine Providence
in Paragraph 302 "creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created "in a stage of journeying" toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call 'divine providence' the dispositions by whch God guides his creation toward this perfection."

In 306 we encounter the following, "God is the sovereign of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures' cooperation. The use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God's greatness and goodness. God grants his creatures not only their existence but the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of cooperating in the accompllishment of his plan."

In 314, "The ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God "face to face" will we fully know the ways by which-even through the dramas of evil and sin-God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

sunday revisited

1 Samuel 16:1-13; Ps 23 The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

During the Season of Lent the church invites us to rediscover the traditional devotions that are meant to prepare us for the Easter Joy.

One of these devotion is "The Way of the Cross." Every Friday during Lent, we offer the opportunity for the faithful to step in line with Christ and follow in his footsteps, those 14 station to calvary.

Now many people in our society find the stations to be outdated, old fashion or just simply lacking the necessary punch to get them invigorated i their faith. I find this tragic.

How often i wonder what our society would look like if we as church would make the "Way of the Cross" weekly, not just during Lent but every week of the year. How different would we be if we time to follow those 14 stations and prayerfully allowed them ot penetrate our hearts.

We will come back to the stations in a minute.

Now go to the first reading of Sunday. We encounter Samuel on a mission. God has sent him to anoint the next King. The old king has lost his favor with God. Saul was a disappointment or as my nephew would say, "failure." So God decided to choose a another lineage to build this dynasty, this kingdom.

Samuel is sent to the house of Jesse and is told to wait for God would reveal who would be the next King. There Samuel wait with the horn of oil in his hand just waiting for the clue.

In walk's Jesse's oldest Son and Samuel instantly assumes this must be the one. This Son had everything you would want in a king. He was tall and strong and charismatic. Samuel thought for sure this one would win the people over.

Ready jump the Gone and let the oil flow, Samuel hears the voice of God speak those famous words, "not as man sees does God sees; man looks at the appearance and the Lord looks into the heart."

God basically is telling Samuel that it isn't by the standard of man that the king will be chosen. Saul was the people's choice. He was what every wanted. So God let the people have their way and it turned into failure. God was simply reminding Samuel that the people's standard isn't always the best standard.

"Not as man sees does God sees..."

How often do we want God to operate according to our standard. How often do our expectations of how God should act, when God should act, what God should do when he acts interferes with our ability to hear God's call and respond appropriately. HOw often are we like Samuel ready to jump the gun!

Not as man sees does God sees. How often is the man that sees incorrectly you and I.

This is where the stations of the Cross come in. We need our standard to be purified. We need our expectations to be measured by God's way of seeing and acting.

In the way of the cross as we journey with Christ those 14 stations we are in fact invited to see as God sees; we are invited to enter and embrace God's vision. Our blindness is challenged every step of the way. With each step we take our limited vision is stretched to new horizons.

In Christ, we come to face to face with the reality that this one who carries the cross, who is beaten and battered, who falls time and time again, who is stripped, nailed, and dies is not just a man, not just a prophet, but is the son of God.

Here in this disfigured face with the crown of thorns is the one who reveals what the mighty works of God look like.

Isn't that what we seek, what we desire to experience. Do we not want to see more clearly, understand more deeply, and embrace more fully the mighty works of God.

In the stations we come face to face with the mighty work of God in the flesh, God made man.

The love of God in Christ Jesus is the climax of God's way of acting in history, in time.

Does this not shattered our standard, shred our expectations?

What do we experience in the way of the Cross? We experience pain, suffering, loss, forsaken-ness, abandonment, grief, hurt, brokenness and weakness.

Is this not what we seek to avid in life. Yet, this is exactly what god seeks to fill with his presence.

What we seek to avoid God comes to fill. Our standard is purified by the standard of God revealed in the face of Christ disfigured and scarred by the way of the cross.

Should we not have the courage to follow in the footsteps of Christ lest we forget what God's vision entails, lest we forget what love looks like, lest we forget what love can do.

In the stations we experience God's visions. We see as God sees, we judge as God judges, we love as God loves.

In the end the blind man of the gospel doesn't worship God because he is able to see; he worships God because he realizes for the first time that God sees. God sees differently then the scribes and the pharisees. God's visions and judgment is not limited
but rather knows no bounds. God sees differently.

Road to calvary unveils the beauty and strength of God's vision made visible.

The way of cross checks our standard and purifies it and thus prepares us for the journey ahead. As we draw closer to calvary we see God's vision complete.

love too much?

Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; Ps 46 the lord of host is with us; our strength is the God of Jacob; John 5:1-16

Today is the anniversary if Kurt Cobain's death. He was the front man for Nirvana. He comitted suicide ad left a note that read the following, ""I still can't get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There's good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much."

It is a fascinating insight into this man's thinking: "I think I simply love people too much."

I am sure countless things have been written and rewritten on analyzing these last words. I do not want to analyze then, rather just pose another question, "Can one love people too much?"

Jesus in the gospels invites those who follow him to "hate their mother, father, brother, sisters...etc" if they are to be his followers. (Luke 14:25)

Jesus presents us with an interesting twist on love. One can love in an inordinate way. One can be too attached to people, to places, to things and thus become overly frustrated. It isn't necessarily that we love them too much in fact we do not love them enough.

IT is GK Chesterton who said that we must hate people enough to change them, love them enough to think they are worthy of change.

ORdered love is the issue.

Look at today's gospel for instance. Jesus finds a cripple lying amongst a field of cripples and he ask him if he wanted to be cured. A simple yet direct question.

Jesus heals the man and tells him to pick up his mat and walk.

But the healing doesn't end the encounter. After the man is healed JEsus seeks him out and meets him in the temple area and says these words, "Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you."

Ordered love is what we see in this last statement. Jesus love the man enough to warn him, to guide him, to direct him. He brought about change did not leave him simply with a physical cure but sought to remedy a deeper calamity.

It isn't about loving too much. It is about loving just enough.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Word from St Catherine of sienna

Catherine of Siena prayer to the Trinity:

"How, then, did you create, O Eternal Father, this your creature? [...] Fire constrained you. O ineffable love, even though in your light you saw all the iniquities, which your creature would commit against your infinite goodness, you looked as if you did not see, but rested your sight on the beauty of your creature, whom you, as mad and drunk with love, fell in love with and out of love you drew her to yourself giving her being in your image and likeness. You, eternal truth, have declared to me your truth, that is, that loved constrained you to create her."

Seeking to answer the question why is their something and not nothing, Pope Benedict states the following, 'the world is created not that there might be manifold things in heaven and earth, but rather that their might be space for the "covenant" for the loving "yes" between God and the human family. Creation is ordained to the dialogue of the love of God and his creatures.'

Just a thought for the Third Saturday of Lent.

Friday, April 1, 2011

april fools

Today we celebrate what we are the remainder of the 364 days of the year>>>Mark Twain.

Today is a day of laughter and pranks. Where everyone gets in on the laugh usually at the expense of another, though ideally never harmfully.

Today I tried to teach the three years olds at the school what April fools was all about. It was a task trying to get them to catch on to the days events. They never really got it but they loved to say the phrase "April Fools." Every time they said it, which was random and often, they would laugh. Some times they had no idea why they were laughing , but at three do you really need a reason to laugh?

The phrase itself "April Fools" was sufficient in itself to cause them laughter.

Laughter is important for the soul. Only the man of faith can truly laugh. Faith and humor go hand in hand.

Pope Benedict reminds us that "deep joy of the heart is also the true prerequisite for a sense of humor, and thus humor is in a certain sense, the measure of faith...where joylessness reigns, where humor dies, the spirit of Jesus Christ is assuredly absent. But the reverse is also true: joy is a sign of grace. One who is cheerful from the body of the heart, one who has suffered but not lost joy, cannot be far from the God of the evangelium, whose first word on the threshold of the New Testament is "Rejoice!"

So today be bold in you laughter, be bold in your joy, and be bold in your faith and thus you are not far from the kingdom of God.

WIth true faith we live fuller, love deeper, laugh louder.