Saturday, July 30, 2011

question and answer

Isaiah 55:1-3;Ps 145 The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs; Romans 8:35-39;Matthew 14:13-21

Often times in the Victoria Advocate they will pose the "Question of the Day." This column invites readers to weigh in or share their opinion regarding the question presented. The topics are usually random and varied.

In today's readings, we encounter several questions that are meant to get us to think not just today but think about our life.

Isaiah ask the question, "Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?

The Prophet gets to the heart of the matter. He skips all the unnecessary chatter and lays it bear. "Why spend for that which does not satisfy?"

Look into you life and see how often you spend on that which promises satisfaction but really is a fleeting appeasement that is here today and gone tomorrow.

Think about all our car advertisements and any advertisements that promise satisfaction and yet we have a society filled and growing with dissatisfaction.

St. Paul in the second reading poses a question as well, "What will separate us from the love of Christ?"

Perhaps this question can be reworded, "What has separated us from the love of Christ?" What have we allowed to run interference from receiving and giving fully the love Christ offers continually?

In the gospel, the boy lets nothing interfere. He gives everything in the sum of two fish and five loaves. The gospel tells us that the crowds that had gathered "all ate and were satisfied."

Do we not want to be satisfied?

He who gives Jesus all that he has will find that God multiplies the gift and satisfaction stretches forth for all who receive and even for the one who gives.

God takes what seems insignificant and makes it meaningful. But we have to be willing to give it.

The risk is worth the reward.

Let nothing separate you from the love of Christ!

Quote from Mother Teresa
"What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Friday, July 29, 2011

festivals of the Lord

Leviticus 23:1-37; Psalm 81 Sing with Joy to GOd our Help; Matthew 13:54-58

Over the past few weeks we have been following Moses and the ISraelites go from slavery to freedom, from living in Egypt to wandering in the desert, from being a hodgepodge of people to becoming the nation of ISrael chosen to be God's people.

It is quite a journey.

So the question remains, how does the story get passed down from generation to generation. What guards the truth of the experience and enables future generations to grow in appreciation of what has been experienced.

Surely, it was written down. But the written page sometimes in not enough. Not every one likes read. Some like a more dynamic exposure to history.

Thus we have the Festivals of the Lord, we encounter in the Book of Leviticus. God asks the Nation of Israel to keep these festivals so that the festival celebration could keep them in tuned with the mighty works of GOd, his salvation, his gift of mercy, his ever abiding presence.

We keep festivals so that they may keep watch over us and our true identity.

Thus, the experience of God and the salvation given to the ISraelites was not to be restricted to the written page but rather was meant to become a part of the living culture, the air they breath.

These festivals were extensions of the salvation experiences and it captivated the senses; they were a full body experience and they kept the year moving forward, a year unfolding in grace.

From the Sabbath to the Feast of Passover, Unleaven Bread, the wave offerings, Pentecost, Feast of Booths, the day of Atonement, all of these invited the generations of ISraelites to taste again the victory of God and renew their commitment and to rediscover their identity, to be who God had called them to be, "holy and set apart."

This is the beauty of the festivals of the Lord.

We do this still. The liturgical calendar is meant to infiltrate the secular calendar and fill it with life and grace and hope.
Our festivals of faith are not just Sunday events but rather they are meant to be the pinnacles and grounds of our life, especially as the mystery of the life of grace unfolds through the story and salvation won in Christ.

Daily we enter into that great festival of the Son, "do this in memory of me."

DOn't jsut keep the festivals but open your heart and let them keep you.
We are what we celebrate!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

to educators who prepare for school

Here are few words from the Papal Nunico Pietro Sambi who recently passed from this life to the fullness of life in God. He was the Pope's representative here in the United States since 2006.

"[A] young man, 22 years old, once took a piece of marble and sculpted in it two of the most deep human sentiments: suffering accepted from the hand of God does not diminish the beauty of the human person but increases it, and -- second sentiment -- even in death, a son continues to have full confidence in his mother.

This is the Pietá of Michelangelo, that you can see everytime you enter in the Basilica of St Peter in Rome.

Michelangelo, the author of the Pietá, is considered one of the greatest artists in the world. I don't believe it! The greatest artists are the educators -- are you -- because you try to sculpt the best of yourselves, of who you are and what you know, not in a piece of marble, but in living, breathing human beings, who are the glory of God."

Pray for our teachers as they prepare to close the time of vacation and to get back to the grind of forming young hearts and young minds....

Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38; Psalm 84 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God; Matthew 13:47-53

The first reading details for us the establishment and completion of the dwelling place where God chose to make himself known through the desert years.

Notice, Moses couldn't enter the tent when "the cloud covered the meeting tent because the glory of the Lord filled the

Moses couldn't enter because God's glory was filling....but in Christ the glory of the Lord now fills us, for we are the temple of the Holy SPirit, we are dwelling place.

The Incarnation, God becoming man in Christ, has altered the rules and has stretched the bounds and has included us in the glory of God.

The reading ends with a very poignant passage, "In the daytime the cloud of the Lord was seen over the Dwelling; where as at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey."

In all the stages of the journey....

God was near no matter what. He was close at hand. God's nearness was not dependent on whether or not the People of ISrael felt his presence of experienced an emotional high but rather God's presence was because God decided and willed that he would be near.

He was with them in all the stages of the journey.

So it is with us. Why? BEcause he has willed to be near us. HE wants to be close.

As Bill Crosby once said, "not every eye that is closed is sleeping; not every eye that is open is seeing."

Reality is not dependent on us but on the God who creates, the God who reveals, the God who redeems, the God who has chosen to remain near.

today, for a brief moment, ask the Lord to see more deeply the things of God and be awaken to the cloud at day and the fire at night that journeys with you at every stage.

IS this not why we have the Blessed Sacrament and the sanctuary lamp to remind us at every moment the words of Jesus, "I will be with always until the end of the age."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99 HOly is the Lord our God; Matthew 13:44-46

"When Moses enetered the presence of the Lord to converse with him, he removed the veil until he came out again. On coming out, he would tell the children of Israel all that had been commanded..."

"Jesus said, the Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in the field, which a person finds an dhides again, and out of Joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field..."

Just a couple of things to think about this morning and through the day...

In the readings we have a man who stumbles upon a treaure, another who deliberatley searches for a treasure, and a Moses who is summoned by God.

All three have something in common.

The two men in the gospel are willing to give up everything for the one thing. They are ready to make changes to their lives and create space for the this new found reality, this which has moved them to joy and whose joy moved them to make changes for the better.

Moses who is summoned by God also is changed by his experience with God. His conversation with God has left him marked for all to see for "the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the Lord."

Chnage is inevitable they say. But for us who follow God change is welcomed. Change is a sign of our transformation brought on by this encounter with the living God.
This Change should be written all over our face: the encounter with God is like getting a facial.

As John Cardinal Newman was said, "to change is to be perfected."

Here are a few words form the Pope:
"But each of us, in accordance with his or her state of life, is called to work for the advancement of God's kingdom by imbuing temporal life with values of the gospel. Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life, a culture forged by love and respect for the dignity of each human person...light must shine in the sight of all."

How do we change the world, by allowing ourselves to be changed.

But it is joy that changes us. The joy of discovery is what gives us the the strength to open ourseleves up to God and let him do with us as he desires. We must let God have his way with us.

Only Joy can make the process of change so captivating and enthralling.

think about all the thing we do to make our complexion better or to help our face glow. How many face creams and treatments are out their promising an "organic glow."
God also promise this "glow."

But it a radiance that comes from opening our hearts andminds ot him and living in the willingness to be changed.

thus is Joy.
It is both a prerequisite and a product of that enocunter with the living God.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

grandparents of Jesus

Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28; Ps 103 The Lord is kind and merciful; Matthew 13:36-43

Today in the church we celebrate the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the grandparents of JEsus.

Today take a few moments to consider where you come from. Genealogies are a big thing today. Everyone wants to map out their family tree, to see where they come from.

But today, take a few moments to map out your spiritual genealogy. Where does you faith come from? Who introduced you to Christ, to the life of faith? Where did you learn to pray and speak and converse with God?

Who was instrumental in your journey? Locate your roots, your spiritual roots and say a prayer for those people today. Be grateful!

I think about my grandmother on my father's side. I remember growing up watching her pray and speak with God. I remember kneeling at her bedside praying the rosary with my family.

I think about her faith in the midst of her suffering. Though she lost five sons and a husband early in life, she never wavered and she persevered in faith.

This is my root of my spiritual or faith based genealogical Tree. Here it begins and slowly branches outward.

I can only imagine who passed the faith to my grandmother. I never asked but I wished I did.

We hear the words of Moses, "If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. THis is a stiff necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own."

"Do come along in our company."

Think of all the people who have kept the presence of God alive in the midst of our pilgrimage on earth. How many have guarded the faith and passed it on, keeping Jesus present in our company?

What a gift!

St. Joachim and St. Anne pray for us

Monday, July 25, 2011

St. James the greater

2 corinthians 4:7-15; Ps 126 Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing; Matthew 20:20-28

As we celebrate the feast of St. James, the gospel invites us to reflect on his mother. "The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something."

What an image to think about! A mother brings her sons to Jesus with a wish, a request.

How many mothers have followed in her footsteps? How many mothers have come before Jesus through the centuries, bringing their Children and asking that He provide for them, strengthen them, guide them.

Even as I write this, i wonder how many mothers and fathers have already been on their knees praying for their children.

"HE said to her, "'what do you wish?" She answered him, "command that these two sons of mine sit on at your right and the other on your left, in your Kingdom."

What a wish? I only hope my mother, for I know she prays for me, ask the Lord of the same thing. Why settle for less? If you are going to ask, ask boldly!

"Jesus said in reply, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?" They said to him, "We can." He said, "My chalice you will in deed drink, but to sit on my right and my left this is not mine to give but it is for those whom it has been prepared by my Father."

What a beautiful response. Jesus simply offers them the opportunity to share his chalice. They do not drink alone. JEsus himself shall drink it with them.

IS this not ultimately what the mother seeks, that Jesus not abandon her sons. To share his cup is truly a blessed gift.

Yet, Jesus doesn't make empty promises. He can not give the right and left for they belong to another to give, his Father.

Jesus gives what belongs to him, the gift of sharing in his chalice, his life, his experience; the gift of being a companion on the journey of glory.

It is because he offers to share it with them, makes it even more attractive and prompts them to respond with such eagerness, "We can."

As we read in the first reading, "For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of JEsus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh"

We share with him his suffering so that his life might be revealed through us. This is what communion is about, "take this all of you and drink from it..." We drink his death and experience his life.

James the greater was the first apostle to be martyred. In his suffering and approaching death, i always imagine him with a smile on his face on his lips the words of JEsus in this gospel, "my chalice you will in deed drink."

kingdom pickers

Yesterday revisited.

This summer we have been reading and experiencing the encounter with christ in the gospel through the eyes of St. Matthew's gospel.

The gospel of matthew could be described as the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. In writing his gospel, in bringing to us the encounter with Christ, his actions and teachings, Matthew uses the phrase "kingdom of heaven" 32 times in 28 chapters.

When Jesus begins his ministry, he invites the people to reflect on the fact that the "kingdom of heaven is at hand" Matthew ch 4.

In chapter 6, in the middle of the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus teaches us how to pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" as he gives us the Our Father.

In chapter 16, Jesus tells Simon that "you are Peter, "rock" upon which I will build my church...I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, what you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

In chapter 28, at the very end of the gospel as Jesus is about to ascend he tells the 11 apostles that all authority in heaven and earth has been given him and thus they should go make disciples of all nations, that is they should spread the kingdom to the ends of the earth.

Over the past three weeks on Sunday we have been reading from ch 13 of Matthew's gospel in which Jesus has been giving us the sermon of the parables of the kingdom of heaven.

Each parable begins with "the kingdom of heaven in like...a sower who sows, a mustard seed planted, leaven in dough and this week the kingdom of heaven is like a man who finds a buried treasure, a merchant who find the pearl of great price, the net cast into the sea.

These three parables are connected by the word "again." Jesus tell us that the kingdom is like a man who finds a treasure in a field, Again the kingdom is like a merchant who finds a pearl of great price, again the kingdom is like a net.

Thus, they belong together. If we want to understand them we must take all three together.

Look at the first two parables: A guy finds a treasure, sells everything to buy the field. Notice that the guy is not looking for the treasure. Rather, he seems to be just doing his work; he is earning a living. Day in and day out, he goes to the grind of living, routine to make ends meet and provide for his family and then the kingdom of heaven smacks him in the forehead.

The same goes for the merchant. He is looking for fine pearls, perhaps to sell to his customers, to make them happy and again to support his family. This is what he always does. In the midst of this routine of living he encounter life itself.

This is important for us. Jesus invites us to understand that we do not have to go far to find the kingdom. Rather, the kingdom is hidden right before us. God hides himself in our homes, our families, our jobs, in our places of leisure so that we might have the joy of discovery.

These two parables remind of the TV show: American pickers. The two guys on the show go around the US scouring through junkyards, barns, and basements looking for valuables. They dig through junk with an eye peeled for treasure.

The beauty of these two guys and what separates them from hoarders is that they can discriminate. They only take what is valuable and leave the junk behind.

This what Jesus invites us to do. In the parables, the two guys who find the treasure and the pearl are willing to sell everything, leave the junk for the prize. So to must we.

The parable of the net reminds us of this. The net is brought forth with all kinds if fish, but the good are kept the bad are thrown away.

We too must be able to discriminate. In the end, God will discriminate as JEsus reminds us. The angels will come to separate the wicked from the righteous.

God discriminates. And because he discriminates, his love is true.

How we discriminate here and now will determine whether we are discriminated for or discriminated against in the end.

We must learn to be pickers for the kingdom. We must be willing to leave the junk behind, to sell everything for the one thing.

We are invited to become pickers for the Kingdom.

This is what makes Solomon's prayer so important for us. Solomon prayed for an "understanding heart to discern what is good from what is bad."

This too is what we must attend to.
What do you pray for? How often do you pray for wisdom to discern the good from the bad?

For with Wisdom then truly we will certainly be able to pick out the prize amidst the junk the world as to offer and hold on tight.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

from the pope on vacation

I missed my ordinary quote from the pope wednesday so here it goes on Saturday. These are the Pope's comments about what a summer vacation is meant to be.

It is more than just getting away but rather a vacation is about getting in touch with and moving back toward the God of creation.

"I would like to recommend that during this time of vacation, you revivify your spirits by contemplating the splendors of Creation. Parents, teach your children to see nature, respect and protect it as a magnificent gift that presents to us the grandeur of the Creator! In speaking in parables, Jesus used the language of nature to explain to his disciples the mysteries of the Kingdom. May the images he uses become familiar to us."

Above is a picture of my experience in colorado for my vacation a few weeks back.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19 Lord, you have the words of ever lasting life;

today we read the Ten commandments. Moses recieves the commandments from God and is invited to give them to the people, the nation of Israel.

As I was reading the ten commandments, I could not help but recall the opening lines of a homily given by Saint Leo the Great. In one of his homilies at Christmas time, St. Leo the great begins his homily reflection with these words, "Christian recognize your dignity!"

Recognize you dignity.

Dignity is a fascinating word. It means to be worthy of honor, respect, esteem.

today the words is tossed about as if it were yesterday's newspaper. It goes in one ear and out the other and seldom do people really stop and think about their dignity and the dignity of those around them.

Our dignity stems from the opening lines of the bible, in the creation narrative God speaks these wrods, "let us make man in our image and our likeness."

Here is the starting point of understanding dignity, we are made in the image and likeness of God.

But, our dignity gets a boost. Th eincarnation, God becoming man, solidifies the very dignity we have recieved. How much more dignified can our humanity be for God becomes one of us, taking on our flesh and blood.

This is why St. Leo the Great invites us to recognize our dignity on the solemn occassion of Christmas.

We are worthy of honor, respect, and esteem, becasue of what God has chosen to do in taking on our flesh.

We are dignified.

The ten Commandments were meant to help the people of Israel understand their dignity. They were meant to guard that very dignity and to keep the people from living beneath their dignity.

This is the beauty of the decalogue, the ten commandments. They are guidelines that invite us to the fullness of life of honor and respect.

They are not negative commandments but they affirm in a positive way our very dignity. What beautiful gift they remain for us.

Recognize your dignity. Live that dignity in love of God and love of neighbor. Never settle for less. Never live beneath the very dignity you have recieved from the hand of God.

The truth remains, we do not know just how dignified we are. God alone knows the values of our lives and he alone can guide us into that life of honor. thus, he offers the commandments as a token of our dignity.

Be dignified. Be true to the gift you have recieved.

Recognize your dignity an dlive that dignity in godliness and holiness and thus as God becomes man so we are invited to be like God in our relationshsips to others.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Exodus 19:1-20; Ps Glory and praise for ever; Mt 13:10-17

Hear the words from Jesus in the gospel today:
"gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes...lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them...but blest are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear...."

Gross is the heart of this people...
What is interesting about the word "gross." Today it is used in a negative way to indicate something disgusting or perverted. However, in its original context it was meant to describe something as large and common and in french it was used to describe someone who was pregnant.

In other words, "gross" meant that something had potential. There was room for improvement and all that was need was a little refinement.

Perhaps this is what Jesus is getting at when he says "gross is the heart of this people."

We shouldn't give up on them but look beyond and see the potential and aid them on their journey. This is what the parables are for. The parables are meant to reach the people whose heart is thick and common and full of potential.

Today in the church we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence of Brindisi.

He was a Cappuchin in the 16th century, known for his preaching and intensity of life. He is a doctor of the church.

Two of his favorite sayings ate as follows. When ever he encountered something unusual or difficult especially pain or sickness he would respond to is with the phrase, "Ah! Simplicita!", which simply expressed his desire to surrender to Divine Providence. In other words, nothing is too big for God and God can use all of it for his glory so there was no need to worry.

Secondly, when face with a monumental task he would say, "there will be nothing difficult here provided we have a crucifix!"

May we remember this when difficulties arise and our gaze fall upon the crucifix of our Lord and there trust shall blossom and hope shall be engender and strength shall carry us forward and we are filled with the charity by which God has loved us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Exodus 14:21-15:1; Matt 12:46-50

We continue to read the story of salvation of the Israelites from Egypt. The Israelites are on the run seeking to escape the Pharaoh's chariots and army whom are closing in fast.

The Israelites are panicking and filled with fear and trembling and the Egyptians are blind in their stubborn pursuit with nothing but revenge and hatred clouding their judgment.

Then it happens, the sea is split and Israel walks through it. The Egyptians follow behind only to be swept away by the waters of salvation.

The Israelites enter the waters as slaves running for their lives, overcome with fear and they emerge in safety, lives spared and hearts filled with gratitude. They stand on the banks overlooking the waters of the Red Sea, overlooking the waters of life and death and they testify to God's deliverance.

They realize for the moment something they will realize time and time again, that they were not alone that God's power led them through. Grace is the air they breathe.

Their fear that seemed so paralyzing and so devastating now seems useless and pointless. How often is this the case for us?

Yet, it is important to note how the miraculous deliverance occurred. It was both wonderful and ordinary.

*The waters were split by the rod of Moses yet the wind blew all night and laid bare the sea.
*The waters stood up as a mighty wall on the left and right, yet the Egyptians were drowned when the sea returned to it normal channels.
*Yahweh produced panic with his fiery glance but it was the mud that clogged the wheels of the chariots.

God's deliverance was both in the miraculous and the ordinary. What a combination!

What a deliverance!

ANd yet, God continues to work that way in our lives.

How often I hear people speak of healing brought about in the same way: wonderful and ordinary, the skill of the doctors, the precision of medicine and the hand of God!

How often have I heard doctors testify to the ordinary and wonderful!

Even our redemption is wrought in this way. The incarnation, God becoming man is a ordinary yet wonderful way of deliverance. In blood, sweat and tears; in surrender and trust; in the agony of the garden; in the nails in the hands and the feet; in bowing his head and breathing his last; in the rising from the dead; in his ascension to heaven.

What a combination: wonderful and ordinary.

We too stand on the banks of the river overlooking death and testify to our deliverance.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

trained professionals

Wisdom 12:13,16-19; Matthew 13:24-43

"And you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins." Wisdom 12:19

"He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom . The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels, Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The SOn of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evil doers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Matthew 13:24-43

Some years back I was driving a white chevy Lumina, 4 door Sedan. I purchased it used with about 80000 miles on it and I drove it until it had 200000 miles on it. For the most part it was a very reliable car. I never anything seriously wrong with it except for a a water pump here and a battery there.

However, at about miles 170000, the AC decided to stop blowing cold air. This occurred roughly around mid July. For the first two weeks, I just drove around with my window down. I thought I would just offer it up. However, August happened. And AUgust in Texas is hot. The heat was turned up and the black I wear just absorbs all of it.

So I had had enough. I reached my breaking point.

I called my brother in law who works in Halletsville. I asked him if he would check out my AC. HE said he would So I met him in Halletsville at the shop.

Now from the moment I talked him to the time I arrived at the shop I had another conversation with a friend who informed me that all I needed to do was to go to Wal-mart and buy a canister of freon and just put it in my AC and it would act like a boost and all would be well.

SO I made my way to Halletsville Wal-mart and found my instant fix of freon and drove over to the shop and called my brother in law. He said he would be there in a minute or so so instead of waiting I decided to take matters into my own hands. I opened the hood and started to look around and
I found something that looked a lot like the AC unit. I even found a hole that looked like the place one would put the freon in it.

So I took the canister and put the nozzle in the hole and was just about to squeeze the trigger to let in the freon when my brother in law grabbed my hand. He asked me what I was doing and I informed him of my mechanical prowess and how I was about to download or upload this freon boost into my AC unit.

He looked at me and simply said,"well, I think you got the wrong hole." It turns out the hole I thought was for the AC was actually for the fuel intake. He quickly informed me that it wasn't a good idea to add freon to the fuel intake.

Then he pulled out his rap from his pocket and wiped off the air filter pan and pointed my attention to the sign on the air filter and asked me to read it.

So I looked in that direction and read the following warning sign written on the air filter pan, "WARNING: Only Trained Professional should do car repairs."

Only Trained Professional!
I laughed and he laughed. He told me the following. "Look Fr, you don't see me preaching on on Sunday. I don't try to do you job, perhaps you shouldn't try to do mine."

Our society is filled with trained professionals. We have specialized professionals for every part of the body:heart, brain, internal, skin, ear, nose, throat, feet, hands, you name it we got it.

We have trained professionals to build bridges and highways. We have trained professionals to teach, to counsel, to drive us around.

For the most part we generally let the professionals do with what the professionals are trained to do, except for one area.

We all like to think we have the upper hand when it comes to judging those around us. like the servants in the parable,w e all want to start uprooting the weeds in our life.

We want to write people off, dismiss them, get rid them.

Yet, Jesus tells us as he explains the parable that in the end he will send his angels and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin, and all evil doers.

Jesus has Trained Professionals to do the job, which means we do not have to. What a blessing for us.

Judging or condemning is not our specialty. Now this isn't to say that we should not be critical. We should. We should be critical, we should correct and admonish people who are in error. This is necessary; this is how conversion occurs. But to condemn and dismiss and uproot, well this we are not trained for.

The problem with judgement is that our vision is always limited. We only see what happened yesterday and perhaps what happens right now, but we do not search the heart. God alone is the one whose vision takes in all time: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He alone knows where things come from and where the are headed.

He alone is the one that can truly identify the weeds. His eye is trained to tell the difference. Our eyes cannot. A weeds to us may be a wheat plant to God, in time. Besides, we classify weeds general as those things that interfere with our plans. But this isn't always about our plans.

A noxious weeds to us maybe a saint in the making to God.

God's patience invites us to be patient as well.

In the end, we all will depend on mercy as the first reading reminds us, "the ground of hope is that you permit repentance for sins."

This statement is for all of us.

Our task is to reap the benefits of mercy and to pass that benefit on to others. Only then is the kingdom truly found.

Our training is not in judgment but in mercy, and what a training we have received. Go, as Jesus states, "I desire mercy not sacrifice."

Friday, July 15, 2011

something greater

exodus 11:10-12,14; Psalm 116 I will take the cup of salvation ad call on the name of the Lord Matthew 12:1-8

Jesus often times uses the phrase "something greater" to help the people understand his identity. In the gospel encounters with Jesus and the folks of his time, he uses this phrase several times. He describes his presence and his reality as "something greater than Jonah" and again "something greater than Solomon."

These two occasions lends themselves to further biblical investigation. We are invited to read about Jonah and Solomon and then compare their lives to Christ and begin to sort out in what ways or in what manner is Christ greater than Jonah who preached repentance to Nineveh after spending three days in the belly of a whale. How is Jesus greater than Solomon and all of his wisdom, in particular? How is the wisdom of Jesus that which surpasses even the wisdom of Solomon?

Thus, Jesus sends us on a fact finding mission and in our study and research the answers are made clear.

But what about today's passage. Jesus says something that is staggering and mind boggling.

JEsus says that "something greater than the temple is here."

Think about that for a moment. The Temple was everything for the believer in the time of Jesus. IT was the dwelling place of God on earth. IT was the place of communion. It was where people went to offer sacrifices to experience and receive the great gift of reconciliation and forgiveness.

IT was the holiest place on earth for in brought God to earth in an accessible way. It was the sign of God's covenant love.

Yet, Jesus says. "there is something greater than the temple here."

The only thing greater than the temple is God himself. And yet, Jesus once again assures us of his divinity, assures of his identity. He wants us to get it into our stick skulls that in deed He is greater.

How is that for an attribute for Jesus? How is that for a new name for Christ?

As we move through life and encounter difficulties, trials, uncertainty, clouds of doubt, loads of misfortune and whatever comes our way, stop and remember, "there is something greater here."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Breathe on me

On this wednesday a song to soothe and comfort...

"Breathe on me, breath of God, Until my heart is pure,
Until with you I have one will,
To live and to endure

Breathe on me, breath of God,
My soul with grace refine,
Until this earthly part of me,
Glows with your fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So I shall never die,
But live with you the perfect life
In your eternity

Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12

Today in the first reading we have described for us the encounter with God. Moses experiences this "remarkable sight", this bush on fire but not consumed; his curiosity brings him face to face with the angel of God who speaks to him.

Curiosity is an amazing thing. How often is our curiosity is misdirected? How often are we curious about all the wrong things?

How often do we find ourselves putting our noses in other people's business?

Yet, curiosity when used correctly can be a great gift. Moses is curious about the bush, about the fire, and he allow sit to move him forward.

His will is engaged and just a short few steps his curiosity about good things and remarkable things brings him face to face with the living God.

In this moment of moments, Moses discovers the truth about God. God is one who hears, for "the cry of the children of Israel have reached" him.

He also discovers that god desires to be worshiped, for"I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you; when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain."

He lastly he discovers that God is not bound to a place as was often understood but rathe He chooses to bind himself to people. God is a God who journeys with us, for he is the "God of Abraham, Isaac, the God of Jacob."

God has entered the history of humanity and he has chosen to make our history his own.

Th story of salvation history is manifested before Moses, before us. Our history no longer belongs to us alone, but we walk wiht God as he walks with us.

Words from the Pope
"God is not far from us, he is not somewhere out in the universe, somewhere that none of us can go. He has pitched his tent among us: in Jesus he became one of us, flesh and blood just like us. thi si shis tent. And in the Ascension, he did not go somewhere away from us. His tent, he himself in his Body, remains among us and is one of us. We call him by name and speak at ease with him. He listens to us and, if we are attentive, we can also hear him speaking back. Let me repeat: In Jesus, it is God who "camps' in our midst."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

tap out

Genesis 32:23-33; Ps 17 In Justice, I shall behold your face; Matt 9:32-38

"Jacob was left there alone. Then some man wrestled with him until the break of day. when the man saw he could not prevail ove rhim, he struck Jacob's hip socket, so that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled. The man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob said, " I will not let you go until you bless me." the man asked, "What is your name?" HE answered, "Jacob." Then the man said, "you shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with the divine and human beings and have prevailed... At sunrise, as he left Penuel, Jacob limped along because of his hip.

Today's first reading is a beautiful image of the spiritual life. Jacob wrestling with the messenger of God. Who would have though that the spiritual life could be equated with wrestling, though of course it is nothing like the wrestling we see on TV, that is child's play, that is soap opera like.

Perhaps it can be compared to UFC, and the submission hold is the choice move of the man of God.

But the true journey to God can and often does take on a wrestling scenario, us and God wrenching each other as we go.

How many have experienced this struggle, too many to tell.

Mother Teresa and St. John of the Cross just to name a few speak of the dark nioght of the soul.

Notice the wrestline match occurs in the night where the day break as not yet come.

The beauty of this passage, among many things, is the fact that Jacob refuses to quit, he refuses to let go, he refuses to give up; Jacob does not tap out.

What a lesson for us!
How often do we wuit to soon on the struggle? How often we throw in the towel? How often we tap out when the going gets difficult.

JAcob is a great model of faith for us.
If he would let go to soon, he would not have recieved the blessing God had in store for him. He would reamin, "JAcob, the who who decieves as his names means in hebrew, rather than becoming "Israel" the one who strives with God and thus becomes a nation set apart for God.

A little struggle leads to a greater blessing. One never knows what God has in store. The only way we can discover is to keep struggling, keep striving, not to quit on faith.

We have to keep the faith, run the race. The daily practice of devotion even when it is dry. THe weekly attendance at Mass even when we feel nothing. The continual acts of charity and giving of ourselves even when we limp along as Jacon limp, nonethelless the the blessing remains an offering for those who are willign to strive.

JAcob teaches us not to tap out.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

scavenger hunt

Matthew 11:25-30

"Come to me all who labor and burden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yourself and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

How many of you are familiar with scavenger hunts. A scavenger hunt is when a list of items is given to someone or a group of people and they are sent forth to locate and find the items listed. The first person who completes the list, finds all things on the list, is the victor.

In my first parish assignment, we use to do this with the youth of the parish on our 30 hour famine. From Holy Thursday to midnight of Good Friday we would invite the youth to fast. We would also gather them to together and do different things on Friday so as to help them enter into solidarity with Christ.

We would take them to cemetery so that would realize that Christ is one with the dead because of his death. Christ in his grave hallows every grave.

We would take them to the nursing home so that they could visit the residents, those people who are forgotten by society to help them realize that the blood of Christ is shed for all people, known and unknown.

We would do the way of the cross so that they could experience a little bit of what Christ went through on Good Friday.

We would also have them do a scavenger hunt. We would divide them in groups and give them a sheet of paper with a list of food items or paper items on it and then drop them off in a neighborhood. They would go door to door, looking for these particular items; perhaps they needs a can of tuna, or a bag of rice or a box of Mac and Cheese.

Sometimes we would include things like toilette paper or kleenex or even "feminine products."

And basically these items would be used to feed the poor. So in some sense they would go door to door begging for food so that they would know what it as like when someone would come begging at their door.

The first group to find all things on the list was victorious.

This is a scavenger hunt.

This mentality is also how many people pursue happiness in life. They treat happiness as if it were a scavenger hunt. They have a list they receive from the world and they busy their life trying to fill it with all these things hoping it will make them happy.

But in the end, this pseudo happiness is fleeting and they are left empty and unsatisfied.

JEsus in today's gospel invites us to leave the list behind. He invites us to stop the madness and to quit the scavenging.

"Come to me, all of you who are labored and burdened and I will give you rest..."

What a beautiful invitation.

Jesus invites us to come to him. He doesn't want something from us; rather, He wants us, whole and entire. What an exchange. We give him our empty search, our failure, our disappointments and in return he gives himself as the foundation of rest we seek.

This rest, is not sleep. Jesus does not promise us 8 hours of shuteye. Rather, this rest is the Sabbath rest, that true communion with the divine we experience in the book of Genesis. Is this 'rest' nothing less than true happiness.

But in order to receive this happiness there is a prerequisite.

Right before these beautiful lines i have quoted above Jesus say the following, "I praise you Father, you have revealed these things to the little ones."

Jesus once again directs our gaze to the child amongst us. This is the primary image Jesus uses to help us understand the kingdom of God.

The greek term for little ones is actually a word that means, 'infant.' In greek,the word infant is a word that literally means 'no-word' or "not -speaking," The infant is one who has no say of its own. The infant is one that is completer dependent on the word and say of another.

This is essential. It is this dependence that affords the child the opportunity to grow and mature. How does a child learn? A child primarily earns by imitation. The child learns to speak by imitation the mouth of its parents. The child learns to walk by imitating the movement of its parents. At very foundation of our life is the necessity of imitation.

The child's expression of self to the world is based in the ability to imitate the other.

Is this not what Jesus ask from us when he invites us to "take his yoke upon ourselves and to learn from him who is meek and humble of heart."

We must be dependent and we must surrender so that we can imitate him and thus know true happiness.

The greek word for meek is a word that is often translated as 'gentle' but in reality is it used to describe a domesticated animal. The difference between a wild dog and our pet dog is the fact that the pet knows the voice of the master. The voice of the master becomes it voice. The pet also knows where its home is, where its water bowl and feed bowl await him.

The wild dog knows no home nor heeds no voice and thus remains in exile. The pet, however, knows the comfort of security in the words and voice of its master.

Jesus invites us to be domesticated. He invites us to heed the voice of the master. He invites us to no longer have a say on our own or to do it our own way but rather to surrender to the Father;s way for us. The Father's Word must become our word, his say is now our way.

Jesus invites us to be humble. Thus, we are bowed low. This bowing low is the proper disposition of the one who worships. the humble one is the one who is willing and ready to give thanks and praise to God above.

Humility in greek also means to reduce the swelling. SOmeone who is prideful we say their head is swollen. Humility is about deflating our swelling. We no longer depend on ourselves but we recognize we are needy. We realize that it is only by the grace of God and his strength we are able to move forward. We do nothing on our own.

We must guard our neediness. We must grow in our dependence. Only then do we truly open ourselves to receive the gift of happiness that awaits us in Christ.

We must inventory our life. Where have we refused to surrender to God? Where do we hold on tight? In our time, talent, treasure, and sexuality, in all these areas, where we refuse to let Jesus be the Lord all, there we shall encounter the essential reality of our own unhappiness.

He is Lord of all or He is Lord of nothing at all. "Come to me" He invites us. He wants all of each of us, whole and entire. If you keep from him, then you keep yourself from true happiness.

We must yoke ourselves to Christ, that is bind ourselves to him and only then are we truly free and thus truly happy.

Be needy; be dependent; surrender all; be happy; In God alone is our soul at rest.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

immaculate heart of Mary

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a celebration of the complex relationship of Mary with her Son's work of salvation: from the Incarnation , to his death and resurrection, to the gift of the Holy SPirit so states the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy.

A celebration of the complex visceral relationship of MAry with her Son's work of salvation.

Think about these words again: visceral relationship of Mary and her Son's work of salvation.

Visceral is more than the intellectual but rather the deep connection of one heart to the other. Mary was deeply connected; she felt deeply the reality of salvation worked in the life and death of her Son.

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and today we are invited to experience the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They cannot be separated.

It is through Mary's "yes" to the Father that Jesus enters into the world. This Mother carried the Redeemer in her very body as he was knit in her womb, as he grew and developed from a fetus to an infant born into the world.

This Mother knows deeply the cost of salvation, the gift of salvation. Her Heart remains forever an intimate part of the that gift to the world that is the Sacred Heart of Jesus pierced for all.

We too must feel deeply this great gift. We too must carry this gift in our hearts. Our hearts must also be pierced by the very sword that pierced the side of Christ, only then can we truly begin to enter into this gift of salvation and allow it to transform us each day anew.

Mary "kept all these things in her heart" and she invites us to open our hearts wide so that the treasure of salvation, this gift of redemption, Christ himself can be kept there, living in us as he lived in her.