Wednesday, February 29, 2012

leap year saint

Jonah 3:1-10; Ps 51 A heart contrite and humbled, O Lord, you will not spurn; Luke 11:29-32

WOrds that end the first reading, "When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he threatened to do to them, he did not carry it out."

Words of JEsus, "there is something greater than Jonah here."

Something greater. This should be the battle cry of lent. Why do we do what we do? Because there is something greater calling us forth ion the newness of life.
Now for today:

Why do we have a leap year? Why do we have an extra day in February?
The answer to both questions is simple, it is about keeping it real. Leap year has everything to do with reality.

It takes the earth to revolve around the sun 365.2422 days. So every four years we add an extra day in order to keep our calendar in step with reality, in order to keep the way we measure time aligned with the way time unfolds. It is about real time.

Today, we celebrate St. Oswald's feast day. In the year 992 on February 29th St. Oswald was on his knees doing what he always did as Bishop each day during lent, he invited 12 poor men from the street into the Cathedral and he washed their feet and kissed their feet and blessed them.

On February 29th, after he washed the feet of the 12th man, kissed his feet, and then gave a blessing, he died. He simply died. He died keeping it real. He let his faith dictate his actions, order his life. He lived and died loving the Lord with his whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

This is what Jesus invites us to do, today. He wants us to be real. It is not enough to simply understand the command to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. We must live it. We must allow the kingdom to be built in us, through our heart, that is in our conscience, at the center of our being, through our soul, having our desires and affections sanctified, through our mind, by the thoughts we think and choose to entertain, and through our strength, by our actions and abilities, in all we do and say. Then the kingdom can be truly be built on Earth through us.

This is how we become real. This is how our will is aligned with God's will. The more we live this then truly we are headed toward that day when we will leap ahead into eternity. The ultimate leap day awaits us all, that one day added to our lives in which time and eternity are all aligned with love and we leap for joy into the heavenly hymn and we all become leap day saints.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

prayer not babble

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

Today we read in the gospel Jesus's catechesis on prayer. He invites us not to babble like the pagans who think they will be heard becasue of their many words.

In prayer, it seems, at least from the point of view of Jesus, less is best. In fact, structure seems all the more important as he gives us the "THe Lord's Prayer."

We all know, pagans aren't the only ones that babale in prayer, many of our christian separated bretheren also like to babble in fornt of people.

In fact, i had one so called minsiter, tell me that is was incorrect to recite the Our Father becasue it was a repetitions prayer and that is not JEsus meant.

Yet, we have the very words of JEsus in today's gospel, "This is how you are to pray: Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgiev those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us form evil."

Seems pretty straight forward to me.

St. Gregrory instructs us that there isn nothing pleasing to the God the father than to hear these words, this prayer echoing in his ears, for they are the very words of Jesus himself.

If we have Jesus in our hearts, should we not have him on our lips as well.

For as St. benedict reminds us, it is the words of prayer that leads our mind into the heart of Christ himself.

Let the prayer be pressed upon our lips and thus echo and ring in the ears of our Father and let honor be given to him who gave us this prayer in the first place.

With the prayer, we pray not with human words alone but with the very words of God himself.

This morning we woke up early as a parish and add our first 6:30 am mass on tuesday during lent.
FOr this special mass, which about 50 members of the community showed up, i am so grateful; i started my little homily section on wisdom of the saints for our lenten journey.

I quotes St. Josemaria Escriva, a modern saint comparatively, He died in 1975.

I was quoting his take on mortification. Mortification is the discipline of the body, thus the root of the interior life.

The saint says the following, "If you do not deny yourself you will never be a soul of prayer...IF the grain of wheat does not die, it remains unfruitful. Don't you want to be a grain of wheat, to die through mortification, and to yield a rich harvest? What kind of mortification? that word you refused to say to another, the cheerful smile for those who annoy you; the silence when unjustly accused; a friendly conversation with those who irritate you; the daily effort to overlook the irritable trait of another you live with; this with perseverance is indeed solid mortification and thus begins the fruit of the kingdom being laid bear though you."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rainbow: un-hyjacked

Genesis 9:8-15; Ps 25 Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant; 1Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15

Today in our readings we come face to face with two of the most often read and re read accounts in the bible: Noah and the ark and JEsus in the desert being tempted.

What do these two have in common?

In the first reading we encounter Noah, the Ark, his family and the animals two by two as they float around for 40 days and 40 nights as the flood waters rise.

The ark becomes a safe haven from the chaos and upheaval that unfolds around them due to sin.

Noah, because of his righteousness, is invited to construct the ark, because God looks around and sees how corrupt the earth is and that is is full of lawlessness.

Certainly an ominous critique on the created world.

After the flood, the ark lands, Ahoy! and out comes this new opportunity at life.

Then we encounter the rainbow, God places the bow in the sky as a reminder that he will never use water to flood and destroy all mortal beings.

But the bow has more meaning than God just not destroying mortal beings.

The flood doesn't change the human condition. In fact, if we keep reading the genesis narrative then we discover the evil that lurks in the fallen heart. God knows this.

What it actually points at is the fact that God has chosen to sustain humanity even in its fallen form, even though evil resides in the human heart, God pledges to be patient with humanity.

The bow reminds us that the hope of humanity does not lie with man and his ability to rise above himself, his weakness, but rather the hope of humanity now resides in God's love and mercy who chooses to journey with us.

The rainbow represents God's deep abiding commitment to humanity, to you and me, even in our fallen state.

We do not go alone and we go now in the warmth of God's mercy to guide us and care for us, even as we stumble along. God chooses to see us through our predicament, the one we ourselves caused.

Now we flip to the gospel. Mark gives us the bare bones version of the gospel. He tells us just enough, trusting we will be able to make the necessary connections as we move along.

The gospel begins with the Spirit driving Jesus in to the desert for 40 days where he is tempted by Satan and he is with the wild beast and angels minster to him.

ALready Mark points us toward the Noah and the ark story.

The 40 days certainly call to mind the many important biblical moments in salvation history that are garnished by some 40 day or 40 year experience. 40 days is often a time of betrayal and trust in which God and humanity deepen their relationship.

Noah and the ark come to mind as well as, Moses on Mt SInai before he gives the the ten commandments, ELijah journeying 40 days before he gets to Mount Horeb where he encounters God , The israelites journey for 40 years in the wilderness before the promise land, the ISraelite nation has peace for 40 years under the judges, the three great kings, Saul, David, Solomon all reign for 40 years, the people of Nineveh do penance for 40 days to obtain God's pardon.

The bible is loaded with important events in salvation history wrapped up in the number 40.

But why do I think JEsus' experience in the desert is connected to Noah?

First of all, Jesus is in he desert which is a place of chaos and upheaval, not unlike the flood. JEsus isn't there alone he has the angels as well as the wild beast to keep him company. Just a sNoah was with his family and the animals so Jesu sis with his family and the animals.

Jesus himself is the ark, the safe haven from the chaos and terminal of desolation represented by the desert.

But mostly i think there is a connection because of the temptation JEsus experiences in the desert.

MArk doesn't tell us what the temptation is unlike MAtthew and Luke but do we really need to know the details. All of us know temptation. All of us are very familiar.

C.S. Lewis was asked once what kind of research and study he did in order to write the book THe Screwtape Letters, a book about how the devil seduces and tempts man away from God. His response is telling, He told the interviewer that he did not have to study all he had to do was look into his heart, "my heart showeth me the wicked and the ungodly."

Regardless of the gory details, the question to ask is what is at the heart of every temptation?

I think it goes back to the rainbow and the covenant.

If the rainbow reminds us that the hope of humanity resides in the mercy of God who chooses to be patient with us, who chooses to journey with us. If the rainbow reminds us that God chooses to sustain us despite our weak and wicked hearts then the heart of temptation would attack that reality.

Wouldn't temptation convince us that we are on our own or that we are to wicked for God's mercy or that we can do it by ourselves we do not need God for guidance. Or perhaps temptation will simply invite us to enter into lawlessness, where we no longer need the law of God to sustain us on our journey.

I think any and all of these are part of every temptation.

And yet JEsus who is tempted comes out of the desert offering us a new lease on life, a lot like the experience of Noah and his family and the animals as the doors of the ark are opened after 40 days and 40 nights.

New life begins to blossom.

Jesus is the one that resist the onslaught. As he emerges from the desert unscathed we see in him the one heart that has never known sin. It is from his heart that new life is offered to us all.

JEsus tells us that the time of fulfillment is has come. In greek, kairos, time, simply means the opportune moment directed by God. There isn Christ arises a new opportunity to life, just like when the doors of the ark opened up and the animals along with Noah's family came out.

For us, that new life is the gospel as JEsus invites us in with that simple proclamation, "the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." We should turn from lawlessness and cling to the gospel, the good news of God in Christ who reminds us of God's promise to patient with us, to sustain us, to journey with us by becoming one of us.

Unlike the flood waters that did not change the human heart, the invitation of Christ, the gospel is meant to penetrate us and transforms from the inside out. The gospel is good news becomes it comes from the one who has stood triumph in the face of temptation, the one who knows our humanity and comes to strengthen us in our journey.

To repent and believe in the gospel simply means to to turn from our wicked and fallen heart and let our gaze fall on the heart of the one who sets us free. We must fix our gaze there on the one who comes to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Only then does a new world begin to take shape.

JEsus offers us more than just a new lease on life, a new opportunity, but rather he invites us into a new world order, where the law of grace transforms the fallen reality of lawlessness. The kingdom of God is at hand is the invitation to a new world order.

What a gift. What an invitation!

Pope Benedict XVI on Lent: Prt 1

1. "Let us be concerned for each other": responsibility towards our brothers and sisters.

This first aspect is an invitation to be "concerned": the Greek verb used here is katanoein, which means to scrutinize, to be attentive, to observe carefully and take stock of something. We come across this word in the Gospel when Jesus invites the disciples to "think of" the ravens that, without striving, are at the centre of the solicitous and caring Divine Providence (cf. Lk 12:24), and to "observe" the plank in our own eye before looking at the splinter in that of our brother (cf. Lk 6:41). In another verse of the Letter to the Hebrews, we find the encouragement to "turn your minds to Jesus" (3:1), the Apostle and High Priest of our faith. So the verb which introduces our exhortation tells us to look at others, first of all at Jesus, to be concerned for one another, and not to remain isolated and indifferent to the fate of our brothers and sisters.

All too often, however, our attitude is just the opposite: an indifference and disinterest born of selfishness and masked as a respect for "privacy". Today too, the Lord’s voice summons all of us to be concerned for one another. Even today God asks us to be "guardians" of our brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9), to establish relationships based on mutual consideration and attentiveness to the well-being, the integral well-being of others. The great commandment of love for one another demands that we acknowledge our responsibility towards those who, like ourselves, are creatures and children of God.

Being brothers and sisters in humanity and, in many cases, also in the faith, should help us to recognize in others a true alter ego, infinitely loved by the Lord. If we cultivate this way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts. The Servant of God Pope Paul VI stated that the world today is suffering above all from a lack of brotherhood: "Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations" (Populorum Progressio, 66).

Concern for others entails desiring what is good for them from every point of view: physical, moral and spiritual. Contemporary culture seems to have lost the sense of good and evil, yet there is a real need to reaffirm that good does exist and will prevail, because God is "generous and acts generously" (Ps 119:68). The good is whatever gives, protects and promotes life, brotherhood and communion.

Responsibility towards others thus means desiring and working for the good of others, in the hope that they too will become receptive to goodness and its demands. Concern for others means being aware of their needs. Sacred Scripture warns us of the danger that our hearts can become hardened by a sort of "spiritual anesthesia" which numbs us to the suffering of others. The Evangelist Luke relates two of Jesus’ parables by way of example. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite "pass by", indifferent to the presence of the man stripped and beaten by the robbers (cf.Lk 10:30-32). In that of Dives and Lazarus, the rich man is heedless of the poverty of Lazarus, who is starving to death at his very door (cf. Lk 16:19). Both parables show examples of the opposite of "being concerned", of looking upon others with love and compassion.

What hinders this humane and loving gaze towards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material riches and a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our own interests and problems above all else. We should never be incapable of "showing mercy" towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up in our affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor. Humbleness of heart and the personal experience of suffering can awaken within us a sense of compassion and empathy. "The upright understands the cause of the weak, the wicked has not the wit to understand it" (Prov 29:7). We can then understand the beatitude of "those who mourn" (Mt 5:5), those who in effect are capable of looking beyond themselves and feeling compassion for the suffering of others. Reaching out to others and opening our hearts to their needs can become an opportunity for salvation and blessedness.

"Being concerned for each other" also entails being concerned for their spiritual well-being. Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christian life, which I believe has been quite forgotten: fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation. Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea of charity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almost completely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters. This was not the case in the early Church or in those communities that are truly mature in faith, those which are concerned not only for the physical health of their brothers and sisters, but also for their spiritual health and ultimate destiny.

The Scriptures tell us: "Rebuke the wise and he will love you for it. Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he will gain yet more" (Prov 9:8ff). Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). The verb used to express fraternal correction - elenchein – is the same used to indicate the prophetic mission of Christians to speak out against a generation indulging in evil (cf. Eph 5:11). The Church’s tradition has included "admonishing sinners" among the spiritual works of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity. We must not remain silent before evil.

I am thinking of all those Christians who, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to the prevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters against ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do not follow the path of goodness. Christian admonishment, for its part, is never motivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved by love and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other. As the Apostle Paul says: "If one of you is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should set that person right in a spirit of gentleness; and watch yourselves that you are not put to the test in the same way" (Gal 6:1). In a world pervaded by individualism, it is essential to rediscover the importance of fraternal correction, so that together we may journey towards holiness.

Scripture tells us that even "the upright falls seven times" (Prov 24:16); all of us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, to help others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the whole truth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’s ways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, which knows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God has done and continues to do with each of us.

Friday, February 24, 2012

then they will fast

Isaiah 58:1-9; Ps 51 A heart contrite and humble, O God, you will not spurn; Matthew 9:14-15

We have a very short gospel this first friday of Lent.

The question is posed to Jesus as to why some fast( disciples of John and the Pharisees, the religious elite) while his disciples, however, seem to go about their merry way eating and drinking, carrying on like each day is a feast.

Why do some fast and others feast?

Jesus' words are quite telling, "Can the wedding guest mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."

In some sense Jesus is telling the disciples of John that his disciples are enjoying what they have while they have it. They are making the most of the time they have been given while JEsus is with them. They are treasuring each day as it comes.

While Jesus is with them, feasting is required.

But fasting shall become a reality the moment his presence is ascended on high.

Then they will fast, that is then they will hunger. They will long to be with him; they will long for the days of old and that longing and deep desire shall show itself in fasting.

The fast itself will remind them that JEsus is the only thing that truly satisfies.

So, there is no us win feasting for feasting with Christ being present is just pretending.

Fasting is about reality. We do not have completely what our hearts desire mostly, so we fast in anticipation of that union that awaits.

Our hunger grows as we hunger here below.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

after ashes: day by day

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

TOday we commemorate St. Polycarp, bishop & martyr. Polycarp was a pupil under st. John the Evangelist. He knew those who knew Christ.

ON his way to martyrdom, when asked to denounce Christ and to swear by the fortune of Caesar, Polycarp responded, "86 years I have served him, and he never did me ny wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me."

When threatened with with fire, to be burned at the stake unless he denounced christ, Polycarp continued,"The fire you threaten burns only an hour and is quenched after a little; for you do not know the fire of the coming judgment of everlasting punishment that is laid up for the impious. But why do you delay? Come do what you may."

Polycarp truly had courage under fire.

Fortitude, one of the cardinal virtues, ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.

But we cannot win the supernatural olympics unless we have daily preparation and training. This season of lent is meant to be like a 40 day spring training, where we daily prepare ourselves for the courage needed to truly look into the face of the crucified one and be won over by that kind of love and thus seek to truly let that kind of love be the hallmark of our existence.

Polycarp did this. We, too, must have the courage to peer into the eyes of Christ and embrace the cross each day anew.

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

Daily! Not once in a while. Not when we feel like. Not tomorrow. Daily!

It is day by day we learn the courage of love and implement it in our life.

We must remember that the cross of Christ was primarily the burden of the sins of another. That cross was our sins. HOw do we daily carry the cross of the sins of another.

It doesn't take a whole lot of courage to be judgmental. It does take a whole lot of courage to help carry the sins of another and to do so with great magnanimity, cheerfulness, and patience.

interesting take on motherhood

A poem:
I’d Rather be the Father
by Faith Shearin

Right from the start, it's easier to be the father: no morning
nausea, no stretch marks. You can wait outside the

delivery room and keep your clothes on. Notice how
closely the word mother resembles smother, notice

how she is either too strict or too lenient: wrong for giving up
everything or not enough. Psychology books blame her

for whatever is the matter with all of us while the father
slips into the next room for a beer. I wanted to be

the rational one, the one who told a joke at dinner.
If I were her father we would throw a ball across

the lawn while the grill fills with smoke. But who
wants to be the mother? Who wants to tell her what

to wear and deliver her to the beauty shop and explain
bras and tampons? Who wants to show her what

a woman still is? I am supposed to teach her how to
wash the dishes and do the laundry only I don't want

her to grow up and be like me. I'd rather be the father
who tells her she is loved; I'd rather take her fishing

and teach her to skip stones across the lake of history;
I'd rather show her how far she can spit.

I'd be interested in comments from all you mothers out there

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ash wednesday's keynote address

Joel 2:12-18; Ps 5 BE merciful O Lord for we have sinned; 2 corinthians 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

We celebrate the beginning of Lent with the mark of Ashes.

We shall break away from our busy schedules and busier lives to pause and seek to begin anew under the guiding hand of God's mercy.

We shall here those words as the ashes are placed on our foreheads: remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.

These are the same words spoken at a burial at the grave site. We begin Lent with these words to remind us of our mortality, time is running out, we should not waste the opportunity we have been given,

Eventually, when we breathe our last, then our bodies shall return to dust; however, this is not the whole truth.

We are dust and dust we shall return but we do not belong to the earth. For we are more than dust, we are more than molecules and atoms. We are dust alive in the hands of God.

The ashes remind us of the fact that with out the breath of God we would just be dust but with God's mercy and love we are so much more.

No! We do not belong to the earth rather we belong to the heavens. We are destine for so much more.

Thus the church gives us this 40 day retreat of not eat, pray and love but rather FAST, PRAY, and GIVE

The keys note address that truly sets the tone for the Lenten journey can be found in MAtthew's gospel, where today's gospel leaves off. JEsus tells us the following,

"Do not store up earthly treasure. MAke it your practice to store up treasure in heaven. Remember where your treasure is there your heart will be also."

Here is the keynote address for LENT.
Repent and believe in the gospel, which simply means get your head screwed on right or get your head in the game, rather your soul in the game of life. Where your treasure is there your heart will be!

Where is your treasure? Where is your heart?

We belong to the heavens.

Lent reminds us that MAN has a right to greatness! God has a right to our greatness!
We belong to something so much more.

Carnem levare

James 4:1-10; Ps 55 Throw your crew on the Lord, and he will support you; Mark 9:30-37

James in the first letter for this day's celebration of the Eucharist ask a question that is striking and zeroed in, "Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?"

What a question to ask especially in the recent history of the world where it seems every time we turn around their is a another flare up in a different corner of the global scene.

Conflicts in Syria, Egypt, ISrael, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and that is just in one small corner. There are conflicts every where.

Can all of this be boiled down to the passions as James so describes, "Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? "

Our passions!

"Do you not know to be a lover of the world is to be an enemy of God!"

One must hate the world enough to change it and love it enough to think it worthy of change.

We eneter in to Fat Tuesday, tomorrow we step into those 40 days of Lent. The latin to describe this tuesday before Ash Wednesday is Carnem Levare, "Leave away from the flesh."

Thus Lent affords us the opportunity to train the flesh, to discipline our bodies and appetites and to truly put an end to the wars that wage within us as a human community. IT is a time to grow in the willingness to no longer seek our self in love, to set aside our selfishness and to learn to give our selves in love, to truly be sacrificial.

A little mortification goes a long way.

Here are a few words from St Josemaria Escriva:

"Whenever you see a poor, wooden cross, alone, uncared-for, worthless...and without a corpus, don't forget that that cross os your cross-the everyday hidden cross, unattractive and unconsoling-the cross that is waiting for the corpus it lacks: and that corpus must be you."

As James continues, "Submit yourself to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to gOd and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Humble yourself before the Lord and he will exult you."

Here is what the Catechism of the Church states in regards to passions

CCC 1767 "In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent they effectively engage reason and will. Passions are said to be voluntary, "either because they are commanded by the will or because the will does not place obstacles in their way." It belongs to the perfection of the moral or human good that the passions be governed by reason."

CCC1768 "Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses int appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up int o the virtues or perverted by the vices."

CCC1766 "To love is to will the good of another. All other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the good. Only the good can be loved"

words of St Peter Damian whose feast is today,
"May Christ be heard in our language, may Christ be seen in our life, may Christ be perceived in our hearts."

Today is also the feast day of the Holy Face of jesus instituted by Pius XII in 1958. Blessed MArie Pierina de Micheli (1945) had visions in which JEsus spook to her inviting people to make up for the sins of others by devotion to his face,

"I will that My Face, which reflects the intimate pains of My Spirit, the suffering and the love of My Heart, be more honoured. He who meditates upon Me, consoles Me. Every time that My Face is contemplated, I will pour My love into the hearts of men and through My Holy Face will be obtained the salvation of many souls"

Ilumine Domine Vultum tuum supernos, Mane Nobiscum Domine
"May, O Lord, the light of your countenance shine upon us; Saty with us, O Lord!

The bet way to purify the passion is to meditate on the passion of Christ seen in his face.

Today find an image of the Shroud of Turin and look upon it. Spend a few moments gazing upon he face of Christ gazing on you. Let his gaze tame the fire of your passions and truly allowing you to be passionate as he desires.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who among you

James 3:13-18; Ps 19 The precepts of the Lord gives joy to the heart; Mark 9:14-29

Here are the opening lines of the letter of James, " who among you is wise and understanding?"

Now this is a great question as we enter into the season of Lent. Who is wise and understanding?

Are you?

How shall we answer this question? Where shall we begin?

James continues to show the way, "Let him show his works by a good life win the humility that comes from wisdom."

A good life!

Now that sounds like a good a place as any to start. Is our life Good?

Many people claim tone good. In fact, often i hear those words as a priest when someone comes and says those words, "well, you know Father I am good, it is not like a kill people."

How is that for a penetrating understanding of "good."

Wisdom must begin with an honest look at goodness.

Are we as good as we think we are,a s we present ourselves to be? Isn't there always room for improvement, those little areas in loud life that we often over look.

Think about how often we keep repeating the same "little" sins that we blow off: lying, cursing, laziness, unkind words, stinginess with our thoughts. These are things that reveal the level of our goodness.

In is here that we begin to grow in true goodness in th hidden recesses of our hearts and minds, the interior world that no one see but us and God, where the gaze of God penetrates and illumines so that we might be perfected on the path of goodness.

Friday, February 17, 2012

retelling of the HHS mandate

The Parable of the Kosher Deli"

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 16, 2012 ( Here is the testimony of Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the Obama administration regulations on health care coverage for abortifacients, sterilization and contraception. The testimony was given today before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the United States House of Representatives.

* * *

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Committee, for the opportunity to testify today.

For my testimony today, I would like to tell a story. Let’s call it, “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.”

Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.

The Orthodox Jewish community—whose members run kosher delis and many other restaurants and grocers besides—expresses its outrage at the new government mandate. And they are joined by others who have no problem eating pork—not just the many Jews who eat pork, but people of all faiths—because these others recognize the threat to the principle of religious liberty. They recognize as well the practical impact of the damage to that principle. They know that, if the mandate stands, they might be the next ones forced—under threat of severe government sanction—to violate their most deeply held beliefs, especially their unpopular beliefs.

Meanwhile, those who support the mandate respond, “But pork is good for you. It is, after all, the other white meat.” Other supporters add, “So many Jews eat pork, and those who don’t should just get with the times.” Still others say, “Those Orthodox are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.”

But in our hypothetical, those arguments fail in the public debate, because people widely recognize the following.

First, although people may reasonably debate whether pork is good for you, that’s not the question posed by the nationwide pork mandate. Instead, the mandate generates the question whether people who believe—even if they believe in error—that pork is not good for you, should be forced by government to serve pork within their very own institutions. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

Second, the fact that some (or even most) Jews eat pork is simply irrelevant. The fact remains that some Jews do not—and they do not out of their most deeply held religious convictions. Does the fact that large majorities in society—even large majorities within the protesting religious community—reject a particular religious belief make it permissible for the government to weigh in on one side of that dispute? Does it allow government to punish that minority belief with its coercive power? In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

Third, the charge that the Orthodox Jews are imposing their beliefs on others has it exactly backwards. Again, the question generated by a government mandate is whether the government will impose its belief that eating pork is good on objecting Orthodox Jews. Meanwhile, there is no imposition at all on the freedom of those who want to eat pork. That is, they are subject to no government interference at all in their choice to eat pork, and pork is ubiquitous and cheap, available at the overwhelming majority of restaurants and grocers. Indeed, some pork producers and retailers, and even the government itself, are so eager to promote the eating of pork, that they sometimes give pork away for free.

In this context, the question is this: can a customer come to a kosher deli, demand to be served a ham sandwich, and if refused, bring down severe government sanction on the deli. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

So in our hypothetical story, because the hypothetical nation is indeed committed to religious liberty and diversity, these arguments carry the day.

In response, those proposing the new law claim to hear and understand the concerns of kosher deli owners, and offer them a new “accommodation.” You are free to call yourself a kosher deli; you are free not to place ham sandwiches on your menu; you are free not to be the person to prepare the sandwich and hand it over the counter to the customer. But we will force your meat supplier to set up a kiosk on your premises, and to offer, prepare, and serve ham sandwiches to all of your customers, free of charge to them. And when you get your monthly bill from your meat supplier, it will include the cost of any of the “free” ham sandwiches that your customers may accept. And you will, of course, be required to pay that bill.

Some who supported the deli owners initially began to celebrate the fact that ham sandwiches didn’t need to be on the menu, and didn’t need to be prepared or served by the deli itself. But on closer examination, they noticed three troubling things. First, all kosher delis will still be forced to pay for the ham sandwiches. Second, many of the kosher delis’ meat suppliers, themselves, are forbidden in conscience from offering, preparing, or serving pork to anyone. Third, there are many kosher delis that are their own meat supplier, so the mandate to offer, prepare, and serve the ham sandwich still falls on them.

This story has a happy ending. The government recognized that it is absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich; that it is beyond absurd for that private demand to be backed with the coercive power of the state; that it is downright surreal to apply this coercive power when the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down.

The question before the United States government—right now—is whether the story of our own Church institutions that serve the public, and that are threatened by the HHS mandate, will end happily too. Will our nation continue to be one committed to religious liberty and diversity? We urge, in the strongest possible terms, that the answer must be yes. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to answer the same way.

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, February 13, 2012

prelude to valentine

James 1:1-11; ps 119 BE kind to ne Lord an dI shall live; Mark 8:11-13

James speaks these words, "consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance; and let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Now, read it again.

Consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials, for you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance and let perseverance be perfect so that you may be lacking in nothing.

Now think about your life. When have you encounter trials. How have you handled them?
Do you treat trials as a obstacle, a nuisance, getting frustrated and bent out of shape or do you see them as a moment to reach perfection?

Look to 2 Samuel 16:10-14

Are you still lacking, then perhaps the trials are gift that are meant to purify and perfect you along this journey of faithfulness.

Our great nemesis is that we think we are better than we are or we think we deserve more than we get; perhaps, we deserve what we get for it is by the hand of God who seeks to push along the path of perfection brought on by perseverance.

Jesus in the gospel tells us this, "why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, i say to you, no sign will be given to this generation."

The sign we seek is already wrapped up int he life of faith we lead.

I love the way the gospel ends today. "Then JEsus left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other side."

Jesus is not afraid to leave us hanging; Like a good guide he does not give us all the answers ready at hand but rather he invites us to dig deep and to wrestle with question with one eye on him.

A poem
by Jennifer Maier

And what if the passage out of this life
is like a flight from Seattle to St. Louis—

the long taxi out of the body, the brief
and terrible acceleration, the improbable

buoyancy, and then the moment when,
godlike, you see the way things fit

together: the grave and earnest roads
with their little cars, stitching their desires

with invisible thread; the tiny pushpin houses
and backyard swimming pools, dreaming

the same blue dream. And who but the dead
may look down with impunity on these white

birds, strewn like dice above the river whose name
you have forgotten, though you know,

having crossed the Divide, that it flows
east now, toward the vast, still heartland,

its pinstriped remnants of wheat and corn
laid out like burial clothes. And how

you would like to close your eyes, if only
you could stop thinking about that small scratch

on the window, more of a pinprick, really,
and about yourself sucked out! anatomized!—

part of you now (the best part) a molecule
of pure oxygen, breathed in by the farmer

on his tractor; by the frightened rabbit
in the ditch; by a child riding a bike

in Topeka; by the sad wife of a Mexican
diplomat; by a dog, digging up a bone

a hundred years in the future, that foreign city
where you don't know a soul, but where you think

you could start over, could make a whole
new life for yourself, and will.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pope Benedict on the role of sickness

This past saturday we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. IN 1858 the blessed mother appeared to now St Bernadette and asked that a shrine be built on the spot of apparition. Today, thousands of pilgrims coming seeking healing through the water of the spring that flows not he spot.

Feb 11 is also the world day of sick. The pope ask us to pray for those who experience sickness in their life.

Sickness if a powerful experience of our lack of self-sufficiency. In our sickness we come to the deep realization that we need others. We cannot go it alone.

Sickness thus becomes a salutary occasion in which we can experience the attention of others and give our attention to others who are sick.

Jesus often times in his encounter with the sick tell them go your faith has saved you.

Salvation is a communal experience. We need the other and it is in that need salvation is experienced. Salvation is based in our need for the other.

Here lies the underlying power of sickness that awakens us to a deeper experience of grace.

In our sickness we realize we need the warmth of another. It is the nearness of the other that opens up the experience of true salvation.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

feisty and shameful

1 kings 11:4-13; Ps 106 Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people; Mark 7:24-30

"When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the Lord..."

Several of the pagan gods mentioned in today's first reading, Astarte and Molech are written with the vowels taking from the hebrew words boset, which mean shameful or shameful thing.

The biblical writer is already pointing us toward this ugly unfolding in the life of Solomon, this man of great wisdom, who lets his life slide to this abyss of pagan worship.

Solomon wanted to appease everyone and forgot to honor God.

This happens to many of us. How often do we get carried away in wanting to appease every one, keep every one happy and content and in doing so we lose sight of what matters most.

Solomon's decision affects his children, "it is your son whom i will deprive."

How often are our children the true victims in our foolish endeavors!

Just the opposite occurs in the gospel. The "greek" woman comes to Jesus looking for a cure for what ails her child.

The woman refused to back down, "Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children's scraps."

JEsus rewards her for her fiery and feisty nature. SHe refused to back down. she refused to back away. She stuck with her guns.

IT is truly a beautiful passage as this woman and Jesus banter back and forth and thus revealing her faith.

"When the woman went home, she found her child lying in bed and the demon gone."

Solomon did not fight for his children, but the "greek" woman did.

What about us?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


1 kings 10:1-10; Ps 37 the mouth of the just murmurs wisdom; Mark7:14-23

As we look to the first reading of today, we encounter the queen of Sheba who comes seeking the fame and wisdom of this Solomon she has heard about.

The encounter leaves her "breathless" as she discovers the beauty and truth of the rumor that had found her. Indeed it was has she heard and even exceeded her expectation.

Her words ring true in summarizing her experience with this king of Israel, "Blessed be the LORD, your God, whom it has pleased to place you on the throne of ISrael, In his enduring love for ISrael, the LORD has made you king to carry out judgment and justice."

Remember Solomon is the child of Bethsheba. David had an adulterous affair with her and later had her husband killed. This relationship was not honorable to God. Though, it is offspring of this relationship that GOd uses to bring about honor and fame.for Himself.

Nonetheless, Sheba was left breathless.

Recall a moment in your life when you were breathless by the wisdom and beauty you discover.

More importantly, how can our life, like that of Solomon, leave others breathless because of the grace and beauty of God working through us?

We all cannot be as wise as Solomon, nor ahem a hand in building such temples as the temple of ISrael, but we are temples of the Holy SPirit and each of us has our own gift, our own potential created within us so that we too can becomes vehicles of God's fame and glory.

We all have the potential of leaving others breathless by those particular gifts we have received.

What are for gifts? How do you use them?

How can we let the beauty of GOd working through us so that his beauty shines forth?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The light of heaven's love

Today I had a funeral in the parish. As I was preparing for the funeral and the words to speak in such a moment, the words of the closing prayer of this morning prayer came to mind, "Lord let the radiance of your love scatter the gloom of our hearts, The light of heaven's love has restored us to life."

The light of heaven's love has restored us to life.

What a beautiful sentiment. What a beautiful truth.

At every funeral in the church, there standing at the foot of the casket is the Easter Candle burning bright. The eternal flame shines brightly to remind us of this truth that comes to us from the this morning's prayer...

The light of heaven's love has restored us to life. The radiance of the Lord's love scatters the gloom of our hearts.

As Christians, as St. Paul reminds us, we do not grieve like all the rest. Even in our gloom and sorrow there is a glimmer of hope, for the light of heaven's love illumines our path, not only in earthly life but into the great beyond.

Thus we come to the words of Solomon in today's first reading, "there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below; you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants who are faithful to you with their whole heart."

This is what the light of the Easter Candle represents for us. Easter changes everything.

"May the angels lead you into Paradise,

May the martyrs come to welcome you

And take you to the holy city,

The new and eternal Jerusalem.

May choirs of angels welcome you

And lead you to the bosom of Abraham;

And where Lazarus is poor no longer

May you find eternal rest."

Be blessed.

Friday, February 3, 2012

obituary: the tale of two kings

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

Today's readings are obituary like.

The first reading give biographical information on David, the king, "like the choice fat of the Sacred offerings, so was David in israel."

The reading from Sirach is beautiful. It focuses on all the good David was able to accomplish because of God's grace active in his life, "with his every deed he offered thanks to God most high, in words of praise. With his whole being he loved his maker and daily had his praises sung."

It is quite a tribute.

The one thing that is missing is his bad decisions. There is no mention of the mistakes he made. All of his mistakes, the adultery, the murder, the census, are all summed up in the the second to the last line, "The LORD forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever..."

Enough said.

What would our obituary say?

The gospel gives us a little biographical info on King Herod. It seems Herod was notorious not for seeking God's forgiveness but self pleasure and all the rest. It was at the price of a dance that he was backed into a corner and thus rather than stand tall he refused to lose face and gave in to the pressure and John the BAptist was beheaded.

"The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with ores to bring back his head."

HErod didn't want to disappoint his guest. Besides he had his reputation to consider and his pride to shine.

This too is obituary material.

Which King inspires you?
Take a few moments and imagine your obituary. What would it say if your life ended today? Would it be like that of King David or King Herod.

Today is also the feast of St. Blaise, and many throats will be blessed today.

St. Blaise is known as one of the 14 holy helpers that were invoked during the black plague in 1346-1349.

Here is the litany:

The Litany of the Fourteen Holy Helpers
LORD, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs,
pray for us.
Saint Joseph, helper in all needs, etc.
Fourteen Holy Helpers,
Saint George, valiant Martyr of Christ,
Saint Blase, zealous bishop and benefactor of the poor,
Saint Erasmus, mighty protector of the oppressed,
Saint Pantaleon, miraculous exemplar of charity,
Saint Vitus, special protector of chastity,
Saint Christophorus, mighty intercessor in dangers,
Saint Dionysius, shining mirror of faith and confidence,
Saint Cyriacus, terror of Hell,
Saint Achatius, helpful advocate in death,
Saint Eustachius, exemplar of patience in adversity,
Saint Giles, despiser of the world,
Saint Margaret, valiant champion of the Faith,
Saint Catherine, victorious defender of the Faith and of purity,
Saint Barbara, mighty patroness of the dying,

All ye Holy Helpers, etc.
All ye Saints of God,
In temptations against faith,
In adversity and trials,
In anxiety and want,
In every combat,
In every temptation,
In sickness,
In all needs,
In fear and terror,
In dangers of salvation,
In dangers of honor,
In dangers of reputation,
In dangers of property,
In dangers by fire and water,
Be merciful, spare us, O Lord!
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord!

From all sin,
deliver us, O Lord.
From Thy wrath, etc.
From the scourge of earthquake,
From plague, famine, and war,
From lightning and storms,
From a sudden and unprovided death,
From eternal damnation,

Through the mystery of Thy holy incarnation, etc.
Through Thy birth and Thy life,
Through Thy Cross and Passion,
Through Thy death and burial,
Through the merits of Thy blessed Mother Mary,
Through the merits of the Fourteen Holy Helpers,
On the Day of Judgment, deliver us, O Lord!

We sinners, beseech Thee hear us.
That Thou spare us,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou pardon us, etc.
That Thou convert us to true penance,
That Thou give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
That Thou protect and propagate Thy holy Church,
That Thou preserve peace and concord among the nations,
That Thou give eternal rest to the souls of the departed,
That Thou come to our aid through the intercession of the Holy Helpers,
That through the intercession of Saint George Thou preserve us in the Faith,
That through the intercession of Saint Blase Thou confirm us in hope,
That through the intercession of Saint Erasmus Thou enkindle in us Thy holy love,
That through the intercession of Saint Pantaleon Thou give us charity for our neighbor,
That through the intercession of Saint Vitus Thou teach us the value of our soul,
That through the intercession of Saint Christophorus Thou preserve us from sin,
That through the intercession of Saint Dionysius Thou give us tranquillity of conscience,
That through the intercession of Saint Cyriacus Thou grant us resignation to Thy holy will,
That through the intercession of Saint Eustachius Thou give us patience in adversity,
That through the intercession of Saint Achatius Thou grant us a happy death,
That through the intercession of Saint Giles Thou grant us a merciful judgment,
That through the intercession of Saint Margaret Thou preserve us from Hell,
That through the intercession of Saint Catherine Thou shorten our Purgatory,
That through the intercession of Saint Barbara Thou receive us in Heaven,
That through the intercession of all the Holy Helpers Thou wilt grant our prayers,

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us, O Lord.

V. Pray for us, ye Fourteen Holy Helpers.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promise of Christ.

Let us Pray.

Almighty and eternal God, Who hast bestowed extraordinary graces and gifts on Thy saints George, Blase, Erasmus, Pantaleon, Vitus, Christophorus, Dionysius, Cyriacus, Eustachius, Achatius, Giles, Margaret, Catherine, and Barbara, and hast illustrated them by miracles; we beseech Thee to graciously hear the petitions of all who invoke their intercession. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, who didst miraculously fortify the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the confession of the Faith; grant us, we beseech Thee, to imitate their fortitude in overcoming all temptations against it, and protect us through their irttercession in all dangers of soul and body, so that we may serve Thee in purity of heart and chastity of body. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

presentation of the Lord

Malachi 3:1-4; Ps 24 who is this king of glory? It is the lord; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

Snippets from the readings:

"And suddenly there will come to the temple the lord whom you seek and the messenger of the covenant you desire...for he is like a refiner's fire..."

"SInce the children share i blood and flesh, Jesus like wise shared in them, that through death height destroy the one who has power of death, that is the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life..."

"Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested."

"Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in israel, and to be a sign that is contradicted-and you yourself a sword shall pierce -so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

"The child grew and became strong filled with wisdom; the favor of God was upon him."

Today we celebrate the feast of the presentation of the Lord. Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple to offer the necessary sacrifices prescribed by Moses in Exodus 13.

Why did they do that? First of all, everything the Israelites did seemed to be connected to the great act of liberation by the hand of God of leading the people from slavery. They sought to remember this reality, saving event, in all that they did.

Moses reminds the people that they should "remember this day which you came out of Egypt, that place of slavery. It was with a strong hand that the Lord brought you away...when pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every first born in the land of Egypt.This is why I sacrifice to theLord everything of the male sex that opens the womb and why I redeem every first born of my sons."

IT was a sign of redemption. IT was to remind the people about the cost of redemption. Lives were sacrificed so that they could be set free. This is also a foreshadowing of Christ, the Sacrifice for Freedom.

JEsus is presented as both a sign of those redeemed and the one that will redeemed.

If you look to the words of Simeon, then it seems like another annunciation.

Remember the angel comes to mary with the news of incredible joy speaking about her sons's messianic royalty and also the virginal conception. Rejoice highly favored daughter in deed. SImeon , however, now invites Mary to contemplate the Son's work of redemption through suffering, "a sword shall pierce your heart."

Both realities unite: joy in suffering. This is important for us to remember as we move through life. Not all suffering is bad. Suffering itself is always connected to the joy of redemption.

Lastly we see Simeon and Anna. Both of these represent the fruit of prayer.
As we pray we develop our interior life which sharpens our interior vision thus we are able to recognize the Lord when he comes in the way that he comes.

This is what Simeon and Ana teach us. That prayer over the long haul prepares the soul for the encounter with God.

A priest once told me, that he doesn't pray to experience God in the moment of prayer but rathe the prays so that he may experience GOd when he is busy living.

So to it is the same for us.

Prayer and contemplation is not a waste of time, even if we don't experience consolation, because it is sharpening and refining our ability to see more clearly when the Lord comes to meet us.

Interior life affects our interior vision which prepares us to encounter the Lord when he comes.

Another good recipe for the life of faith.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

divine authority: wednesday with Benedict XVI

Today a the wednesday audience the Pope Spoke about Divine Authority.
He mentioned that Divien Authority is not a power of nature but rather a power that creates, apower that descends into humanity, a power that heals the world conquered by sin.

This power is not a power that dominates, possesses or is set on success rather it is a humble power of service.

The authority of God which is sovereign is a servant, it is at the service of the free will of man to accept or deny. It is in this that we encounter love.

Think about the gospels. How often the scribes and pharisees reject the divine authority of Christ. Even in today's gospel, Jesus the home town boy, is rejected by his fellow towns folk.

they took offense to him, the gospel relates to us.

Even in this, the divien authority reveals itself as a humble servant.

How awesome is that.


2 Samuel 24:2-17; Ps 32 Lord, forgive the wrong I have done; Mark 6:1-6

Today is another one of those milestones. I noticed that when i logged in to do this blog thing this morning that I have had 1099 blogs posted and today will make 1100 blog reflections.

Then instantly i thought i about the first reading for today. King David decides to get a head count of the size of his kingdom, "tour all the tribes in Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba and register the people, that I may know their number."

Now of you read the the rest of the story of David, you will discover that God frowned upon this endeavor. IT wasn't for David to keep count nor to measure the size of his kingdom for ultimately it was God's kingdom not David's.

So I thought that this counting business is for the birds. I just keep reflecting until the good Lord decides otherwise or at least until I loose my connection to the internet.

The beauty of today's reading is the last few lines. David was given a choice of disciplinary action for is foolishness in counting his people, three year famine, three months of fleeing form his enemy, or three days of pestilence in the land.

Interesting perspective to ponder. If God gave us a choice of disciplinary action, what would we choose?

David chose the quickest. HE chose three days of pestilence perhaps figuring it was the shortest amount and that it would quickly pass and he could move on with his ruling of the kingdom.

The point conversion for David comes at the end after he sees 70000 of his people die and himself unharmed.

David said to the Lord, "It is I who have sinned; it i sI, the shepherd, who have done wrong. But these are sheep; what have they done? Punish me and my kindred."

Finally David takes responsibility. finally David is able to mature and grow up in the face of calamity that he himself causes.

David is a great example for us in this light. How often we watch other people suffer because of our mistakes and yet refuse to recognize our fault and guilt. How often we refuse t grow up and take responsibility.

The pain and suffering of people took David to a new level of awareness of the importance of accountability in authority.

It is a terrible tragedy in deed. But how often is this the reality we encounter at larger scale around the world, where the sins of the rulers cause great suffering to the people whom they were sent to guide?

We go to the gospel this morning. Jesus is in his home town preaching and curing. His fellows townsfolk are upset and jealous about this unfolding reality.

"Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and SImon? ANd are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him."

They knew everything about JEsus but they did not know him and here in lies the defining movement of the man of faith. We can know about JEsus but it is not enough. We must get to know him and then the power of faith begins to affect our lives.

Where is our faith?