Sunday, September 30, 2012

self criticism

These are not my words but the words of a very respected priest, who says it a lot better than i could.  ENjoy
"In the second half of the passage, we find a miscellaneous collection of sayings that call for a stance of self-criticism. The disciples are directed to reflect on their own style of life and ministry. Do any of their words or actions serve as stumbling blocks for the children of the Church? Mark uses words of Jesus against scandal and the misuse of one’s hands, eyes and feet. Jesus does not mandate mutilation. He has a typically Semitic way of speaking – graphic, vivid, even exaggerated. Nothing, no one comes before Christ. Jesus’ command to “cut it off” is not mutilation, but rather an invitation to liberation. It liberates us to love without reservation, not trapped in the self-love where everything and perhaps everyone, even God, himself, must revolve around me. The fascinating paradox of this story is this: The more we focus on the God who lives in us, on the people God cherishes in a special way because they are more needy, and on the earth that God saw as being “very good” (Genesis 1:31), the richer will be our delight in ourselves. Human life is a matter of relationships: with God, with people, with earth.
Despite its disjointedness, today’s Gospel passage provides a strong antidote to the ever-present temptation to over-estimate one’s own position as the chosen of God. Human nature tends to be judgmental. Sometimes our inclination to judge results in elitism, concluding that others are not worthy of our company. We make difficulties, not thinking of others but blindly plunging ahead with feet, hands and eyes. We ignore God’s consecration of our hands to work, of our eyes to perceive, and of our feet to walk God’s special ways. We reject others as outsiders, foreign to our own ranks and status in life. Instead of questioning the validity of other active and perhaps successful groups, we are reminded in graphic fashion of the importance of self-criticism and humility.
A final thought on humility
Jesus said, “learn from me, for I am gentle, and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). Most of the saints prayed for and manifested humility in their lives. Many of us live in societies and cultures that value self-promotion of worth, assertiveness, competitiveness, communicating our accomplishments if we wish to get anywhere and make a difference.
The virtue of humility is a quality by which a person considering his or her own defects has a lowly opinion of himself and willingly submits himself or herself to God and to others for God’s sake. How can we strike a balance between being humble and meek, and assertive enough to succeed in the world today? Or do we need to sacrifice one for the other? In living just and upright lives, we can do a good job as a humble leader, but that is different from been able to succeed and being placed in greater positions of responsibility.
Mother Cabrini’s humility
When I was growing up in an Italian-American household, we often heard stories of the saints and blesseds from my grandparents and parents. Two Italians, of course, were at the top of the list: Mother Cabrini and Padre Pio. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850 – 1917) was the first American citizen to be canonized by the Church. As a child, Mother Cabrini’s prayer for humility was given to us and I have kept it ever since in my Bible. The life of Mother Cabrini and the words of this prayer embody many of the thoughts found in today’s Scripture readings.
“Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you may fortify me with the grace of your Holy Spirit, and give your peace to my soul, that I may be free from all needless anxiety and worry. Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to you, so that your will may be my will.
“Grant that I may be free from unholy desires, and that, for your love, I may remain obscure and unknown in this world, to be known only to you.
“Do not permit me to attribute to myself the good that you perform in me and through me, but rather, referring all honor to you, may I admit only to my infirmities, so that renouncing sincerely all vainglory which comes from the world, I may aspire to that true and lasting glory that comes from you. Amen.”
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Friday, September 28, 2012

A day early

Rev 12:7-12; Ps 138 In the sight of angels i will sin g your praises; JOhn 1:47-51

Today at the school we are celebrating the feast of the archangels, a day early.

Since the name sake of the school is St. Michael's, we figured why not celebrate it when the kids are around.

So we moved the feast and why not, angels are not material and pure spirit and being intellect and will, i am certain they understand.

Today's feast gives us a pause to think on the creed where we profess to believe in God creator of all that is visible and invisible.

Today would be a good time to ponder the invisible realities in the created world.  Angels are creatures, just like my cat or the birds, or the dog, or myself.  They are created by the hand of God, they just are a little different.

Invisible realties are all around us.

In fact we as men sit on the boundary since we are both material and spiritual.

We have a leg in both spheres.

The archangels are like the Avengers.  THey know how to get the job done.

Michael: who is like God, is a champion of loyalty to God.

Gabriel: strength of God, is the harbinger of God's message, three times he makes an appearance in scripture and each time he has make"s God's word heard.  The most famous of course is the appearance  before the Blessed Mother, "Hail, full of grace, the lord is with you."

Raphael: healer of God, the angel who accompanies Tobias on his journey and brings about healing to his father, opens his eyes to see, and brings blessing on the wedding night between Sarah and himself.

Perhaps, more marriages need to look to Raphael for healing and instruction.

The three champions of God: loyalty, messenger, healing.

Perhaps to honor them, we too could do as they do and avenge the honor of God by being honorable.
We can make visible what they do an invisible manner.

Loyalty, spreading the message of God, and healing those around us is a visible way of becoming more angelic in our lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A word fro the wise

Proverbs 21:1-6,10-13; Ps 119 Guide me Lord in the way of your command; Luke 8:19-21

We begin our meditation on the book of the proverbs.  Proverbs in general are considered expressions of popular wisdom, truth that is expressed in common sense language thus easy to grasp and quick to penetrate.

A proverb is like a dagger that jabs quick and the point arrives sooner than we think.

we have proverbial sayings in english: 90% of life is showing up or a cheerful wife is the spice of life or an apple never falls from the tree or all things come to those who wait.

The book of proverbs are filled with little sayings such as the above but are meant to keep our eyes peeled for the action of grace in the human heart, thus purifying our human thought and action.

The last saying for today is the one I would like to call to mind: "He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard."

It reminds in an odd way of the boy who cried wolf.  He would scream out, "wolf" and then people would come running only to find him  laughing because of the prank.

Eventually the prank went to far, after a while the people no longer came running, the joke was over and when danger arose the poor boy was left all alone.

Often times, we react this way to the poor.  We are like the village people, we refuse to heed the cry because we are afraid we may be taken for fools.

So we shut our ears and we turn the other way and we refuse to see or act.

What we forget is that its okay to play the fool for in the end, it is the "Lord who proves the heart."

Not all poor cry "wolf"; some of them are sincere and in need.  For the sake of the one we keep trudging forward remember the words o Christ, "my mothers and brothers are those who her the word of God and act on it."  What is that word, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart....Love your neighbor as yourself.....give to those who ask...."

Many words, one Lord, one way of life.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Wisdom 2:12-20; Ps 54 The Lord upholds my life; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37

Greatness.  Success.

We all have big dreams.  We all have a  desire to "make" something of ourselves.

Growing up, my father had a recipe for success, for greatness he would often share with us.  He would tell us,  if you want to make something of yourself then and usually what followed was a list of requirements: be prompt->if you see something that needs to be done than do it.  For my dad there was no room for waiting around.  no quitting->Dad would always tell us there was no learning in quitting.  We had to keep going until we got it.  work hard->effort and determination was necessary.  last is my personal favorite, do it right the first time->this required vision and thoughtfulness.  Dad would always invite us to think before you do, measure twice cut once as the carpenter's say.

this was my dad's recipe for greatness.

But if asked, a majority of the people would say the same thing as regards to greatness. The attributes that successful people have are: hard work, dedication, determination, passion, perseverance, visualizing, not quitting, driven and so on and so forth.

We are all familiar with these.  As the list was being created, we would all nod our head in agreement.

These are all tried and true, proven.

In the gospel, for the most part, Jesus includes these same attributes as part of being a disciple;  If we are to follow him and experience the fullness of life and live life to its full then we too are called to live out these attributes.

But at th every heart of greatness according to the standard of Christ is not us but the other person.

We are not called to be great for the sake of greatness, being noticed, or for our own sake.

"If you want to be first, then be last of all and servant of all."

Greatness revolves around the other.  Only if we recognize the greatness of others are we able to realize the greatness in ourselves.

We cannot be self centered in our search for greatness but other centered.

As JEsus receives the child and invites his disciples to do the same he is reminding us that it is the least in our society who provide the opportunity for true greatness.

That is where we begin and where end.  It is the least that offer the great opportunity.


Friday, September 21, 2012

follow me

Matthew 9:9-13

It is often amazing to look back and try to imagine the scenes of the gospel as they are related to us through the eyes and ears of the gospel writers.

They crunch everything up in such small space it seems a bit overwhelming.

Take for instance today's gospel reading on this feast of St. Matthew.

IT took all of 3 lines to for MAtthew to describe the event.  He simple states the action: "As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.  HE said to him, "Follow Me.:  ANd he got up and followed him."

That is it.

He seems so easy.  He sos effortless.  He seems so unrealistic.

How often do people respond so promptly to the call of Christ today.  No.  Today we think about it and think about it and think about it so more.  We weigh our options.  We seek people to guide us.  We take years to make up our mind.

We analyze it from every angle: financially, psychologically, spiritually, emotionally.

At the rate it takes us to respond to a nudge from Christ, we forget what he was nudging us to do.

We could learn a lot form Matthew.  Prompt readiness and rises and follows.

all it took was the simply bending of knee to rise.

MAtthew's heart was ready for a change.  Ready to be led.  Ready for an adventure.

Prompt.  Ready.  Quick to respond.

We should try it sometime.

"Follow me."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

what is primary

1 corinthians 15:1-11; Ps 118 Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; Luke 7:36-50

"I handed on to you as of first importance what I received..."

IT is often the case that we as a people lose sight of that which matters most.  How often in our lives we get bogged down with trivial things?  How often we forsake the most important for the least important?

We, as St. Augustine would say, lose sight of the certain as we seek the uncertain!

Every now and then we need to stop and we focus; we need to collect ourselves and direct our mind and heart to that which stands as the foundation of our lives.

What matters most!

Think about your lives, your families, your work places, your friendships....when was the last time we spoke about that which was most important?

We speak about the football games, we speak about the news, we speak about the sales, we speak about fashion and design, we speak about our hair, we speak about what we ate, we speak about how we slept.

Why not speak about what is essential?

St. Paul reminds us today what it is all about....."Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures: that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared...."

There it is.
Why can we live and love and laugh because of what He did.

At the very heart of our life is the death of another, the burial of another, the resurrection of another.

He as come to set the record straight.

IT is certain, it is secure, it is reliable.

"Your faith has saved you, go in peace."

Go indeed and take the peace of Christ with you as you go.  May it be soothing, calming, and direct your heart and  mind to that which matters most most of all.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

strive eagerly

1 corinthians 12:31-13:13; Ps 33 Blessed are the people the Lord has chosen to be his own; Luke 7:31-35

Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.  Striving is something we do, but  a gift is what we receive.

IT seems initially to be a paradox or contradiction but yet it remains true.  The gifts we are given are bestowed undeserved, but they must mature and maturation requires an effort.

But do we put forth an effort?  Do we strive eagerly?

Most of us have a notion that being spiritual is a passive reality.  We don't have to sweat.  We don't have to work.  We don't have discipline ourselves.

The protestant notion of faith with out works has made us a bit lazy and sluggish.  We grope for what we know not.

Faith is primary.  The grace of God is what initiates and completes our  life.  But grace builds on nature.

One of the things that comes to mind as I hear the words of St. Paul about striving is baptism.
When children are baptized, we ask the parents to accept the responsibility to train their children in the ways of faith.  We know that practice is necessary for maturation to be realized.

With all things, the more we practice the better we are able to respond to the task at hand.

One who plays a musical instrument knows that one is more like to be able to play spontaneously beautifully only after years of training and practice.

IT goes the same with playing any sport.

Practice prepares the body and mind to enter fully into the game, sharpening our instincts along the way in such a manner we are able to respond gracefully and efficiently to the circumstances that unfold.

So it is with faith.  We practice our faith in all circumstances and thus we are able to instinctually respond in a graceful manner in each circumstance.

We must strive that is train ourselves. Each moment is an opportunity to practice.

We strive eagerly get our souls in the game.  The greatest gift of course is love.  What a gift if we practice well: patient, kind, not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude, not seeking own interest, not quick-tempered, not brooding over injury, not rejoicing in wrong doing but rejoiced with the truth.

Now there is a recipe for success.

Strive for that and be eager.

A word form the Pope:

"The human being lives in the suspicion that God's love creates a dependence and that he must rid himself  of this dependency  if he is to be fully himself.  Man does not want to receive his existence and the fullness of his life from God.  He himself wants to obtain from the tree of knowledge the power to shape the world, to make himself a god, raising himself to God's level, and to overcome death and darkness with his own efforts.  He does not want to rely on love that to him seems untrustworthy ; he relies solely on his own knowledge since it confers power upon him.  And in doing so, he trusts in deceit rather than in truth and thereby sinks with his life into emptiness, into death."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Dunce

1 corinthians 12:12-14,27-31; Ps 100 we are his people: the sheep of his flock; Luke 7:11-17

Today in the church we celebrate the memory and life of Joseph Cupertino.

He was considered a Dunce as he grew.  He was absent-minded, awkward, and nervous.  He could not learn very well and was so forgetful that people thought him to be a queer child.

He was clumsy, often breaking things or knocking things over.

He was sickly, often found with one contagious infection after another.  A constant trial was he for his parents and for his neighborhood.

A Dunce!

At the age of 17 he decided he was going to joined the Franciscans since he had two uncles who were friars.

Shortly after jointing he was asked to leave on account of his inability to learn.  THey thought him too stupid to be part of the order.

He later joined the Capuchins but after 8 months was asked to leave because of his clumsiness, he broke everything in the monastery.

Eventually he was accepted into a Franciscan order as a stable boy. He would tend to the animals.

He developed quite a light heartedness that seem to attract people to him, though he remained a trial to those of his order.

Eventually after much difficulty he learned to read. After some time, he was invited to study for the priesthood, though he not very clever.

As he study scripture he seemed to only recall one particular passage Luke 11:27, "Blessed is the womb that bore you."

while standing before the bishop to be examine to see if he was fit for the holy orders, the bishop open up the scriptures and his eyes fell to a particular passage Luke 11:27 and asked joseph to expound on it.

Joseph passed and was later ordained.

Shortly after, miraculous things began to happen to him and around him.  He began to receive mystical visions and the like.

The order often kept him secluded and away from others less the curious people disturb the peace.

Throughout his life he was  trial, harshly treated by his superiors, seldom understood by his peers, and often mistreated by others.  He never lost his joy not did he complain.

He accepted who he was and knew who he was not.

He remains an awkward example of holiness, yet nonetheless Gods chosen vessel.

He was raised to the rank of sainthood shortly after his death.

God chooses who he wills, when he wills it.  I suppose it is important for us to remember that it is not for us to make saints but for God.

Like into day's gospel, Jesus approaches a widow whose only son had died.  Moved by pity he stepped forward and touched the coffin and the young man was brought back to life.

The widow did not ask for the miracle, but Jesus chose to give it nonetheless.

Who are we to begrudge his generosity.  Such is the story and life of St. Joseph Cupertino, the unlikeliest of saints, the dunce of holiness, the reluctant saint, the man of God.

Perhaps we should keep our eyes open and remember that saints are not who we would choose but who God has chosen to bear his visitation to the world.

The stable boy, the dunce of Cupertino pray for us.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Robert Bellarmine: doctor

Here is a tid bit from St Robert Bellarmine.  As we get our work week started and embrace another Monday.  May the words of Robert Bellarmine spur yo onward with glory in mind.

"Prosperity, wealth, poverty, adversity, health, sickness, honors, humiliation, life, and death, in the mind of the wise man, are not to be sought for their own sake, nor avoided for their own sake.

But if they contribute to the glory of God and your eternal happiness, then they are good and should be sought.  If they detract from this, they are evil and must be avoided."

Certainly this is a good way to get back on tract.

Take a few moments and examine what you give yourself to in your daily schedule. What contributes to the glory of God and what detracts.  Begin their and move forward.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

faith perfected in love: land of the living

Isaiah 50:4-9; Ps 116 I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living, James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35

True Story

Charles Blondin was tight rope artist.  He began practicing when he 9.  In 1859, he become the first person to tightrope across Niagara falls.  A crowd of 100,000 gathered to see him go back and forth sometimes even blindfolded over Niagara falls on the cable stretched from one end to the other.

He would astound the folks below watching as he would carry a chair across. He even cooked an omelette and ate it half way across.  Once he laid down on the wire and then proceeded to rise and continue across as if he had just awoken from a nap.

He even carried a gentlemen on his back across the gorge on the tightrope.  In 1860, the prince of whales appeared for the show and Charles offered to carry him across as well, though the prince refused.

It seems the prince trusted that Charles could certainly perform the task at hand but he wasn't quite ready to put his money where his mouth was.  He wanted to be a spectator rather than a participant.

Which brings me to the readings for today.

James tells us that "faith with out works is dead."  "What good is it if someone says he has faith but he does not have works?  Can that faith save him?..."

More is demanded than mere words.  Faith can never be as simple as profession with the mouth but demands action of the heart in real time, as they say.

Peter found this out as well.  Peter in today's gospel answers the million dollar question posed by JEsus, "Who do yo say that I am?"  This is a good question.

Peter stepped up to the challenge, "you are the Christ."

Peter was correct, yet he wasn't quite convinced.  The moment Jesus began to teach him about the suffering and pain and being rejected, Peter, as the gospel tells us, "took JEsus aside and rebuked him."

Peter didn't like what he was hearing.  He did not agree.  Yet, this is exactly where the men are separated from the boys when it comes to faith.

Faith isn't only about what we agree with.   Faith isn't about what we are ready to believe or even willing to hear but rather faith is about what God has revealed.  Faith is responding to the invitation as God gives it not as we want it.

Peter found out that words were cheap when it came to faith.  Faith, real and authentic, required an investment a willing to follow even in difficulty, even when we did not agree.

Jesus' rebuke Peter set the record straight.  The one who has faith does not determine for himself the way but rather he must follow the path that opens before him.

How often like Peter do we seek to rebuke JEsus for the difficulty of the path, the narrow way?  How often are we quick to speak our faith but slow to put it into action?

We too must be willing to be rebuked by Christ daily!

Peter had to learn this lesson through out his life.  By no means did he get correct the first time.  Through out the gospel JEsus is constantly bringing Peter out of his mind set and into the mind of God. In fact, all the way to the end of his life, Peter had to learn and re learn the reality of faith in action.

So it is with us.  JEsus comes to rebuke us and thus pull us from our own thinking and truly set us free that we may truly have the mind of Christ as St. Paul exhorts us in his letters.

Faith in words is the beginning but it must continue be perfected by a life we live.

Faith is perfected in love as St. Paul tells us.  If I have faith to move a mountain but do not have love then I am nothing.

Peter was learning the way of love.  James invites us to learn it as well.  Talk is cheap.  Faith in action is what ultimately keeps us moving in the direction Christ leads.

Are we dead or alive in faith?  Perhaps a little of both.  Perhaps there are parts of us that need a little revitalization.  The rebuke of Christ comes to shock our hearts back into right loving and thus walking in the presence of GOd in the land of the living.

Friday, September 14, 2012

exaltation of the Cross

Numbers 21:4-9; Do not forget the works of the Lord; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17

Today is the feast of the exaltation of the cross.

It is also the birthday of Margaret Sanger, the founder of planned parenthood, the woman who pushed for contraception.  She coined the term "birth control." She once stated, "No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."

Perhaps you are wondering how these two events are related, the church's feast of the exaltation of the cross and the birth of the lady who helped put "artificial contraception" on the map in the  bed room.

According to the Guttmacher institute: 8% of women who have abortions never used birth control, which means 92 % of them have used birth control.  So much for preventing abortions by use of artificial contraception.

Just a bit on her quote above: no woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.   As if one is a  mother by choice alone.  The moment someone engages in the act of sexual intercourse they are assuming the responsibility associated with the act: babies. 

What Margaret Sanger really wanted was not so much freedom to consciously choose to be a mother but rather access to sex without responsibility.  Artificial contraception basically divorces love and gift of self open to life from the act of sex thus reducing sex to mere pleasure minus responsibility.  Basically contraception refuses the gift of one's whole self.  Love demands a complete surrender of self not a partial gift.  Sex no longer speaks of love.  

In our society, "making love" is often associated with the sexual act, which entails a openness to the other.  However, now with the introduction of contraception, there is no complete openness, thus where love was experienced is now hindered. 

Sex is no longer life giving but a selfish act.   This of course stares in the face of the cross of christ, whose very act of giving himself on the cross ensures life for all.  The sacrifice of the cross entails an opening to new life. 

New life comes by way of gift of self and sacrificial love.  

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life."  Using contraception, especially between a husband and the wife, would be like putting a condom over the side of Christ to keep his blood and being shed and thus the gift of self from being totally given. 

The Cross of Christ shows us what love looks like: free, total, faithful, fruitful.  
Sanger got it wrong.  And no one bothered to question her along the way.  Convenience took precedence over true love. 

think about our society for a moment.  Has birth control made out society better. Have abortions decreased?  Have divorces decreased?  Have women been treated better by men?  Unlike the Cross that brought life, "birth control" has contributed to the culture of death. 

Sad really. 

We adore you O Christ, and we bless you, because by your cross you have redeemed the world.

We pray that on this feast redemption may truly come to men and women every where.  We pray that they no longer be afraid of life and that fear would be cast away and true love and freedom be experienced.  We pray for all married couples who have been betrayed by society and the promise of "false" freedom through "birth control" that they experience God's mercy and begin to seen clearly the path Christ has shown us in the cross.  We pray that those who have mutilated their bodies in order to prevent pregnancy find true comfort in Christ who comes not to "condemn but to save."  That they become advocates and a voice for truth.  We pray that men and women every where begin to recognize the beauty of life, the beauty of children, and the tremendous honor of being parents.  We pray that sex can be reinstated into the proper context of love and gift of self and no longer be reduced to mere pleasure.  We pray that men and women truly learn to respect each other and grow to nurture each other's identities as children of God rather than objects of pleasure.  We pray that as we exalt the cross, the standard of love offered by Christ be recognized and valued and become the foundation of every union between husband and wife.    We ask this through the crucified Savior, Christ Our Lord, the one who comes to set us free.  Amen

We adore you O Christ, and we bless you, because by your cross you have redeemed the world.

"Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honorable.  It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation. The cross is both the sign of God's sufferings and the trophy of his victory...the cross is called Christ's glory; it is saluted as his triumph."  St. Andrew

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Today we celebrate the Holy name of the blessed Mother.  Mary simply means Lady.  A sJesu sis our Lord, so Mary is our LAdy.

Pope Benedict reminds us so often, human life is a journey.  Life is a voyage on the sea of history, often stormy and dark.  We watch for the stars to indicate the way home.  The true stars, lives of those who radiate goodness, who reflected the light of Christ, these are the ones we look to for direction.

Mary, above all is that fixed constellation, whose yes opened the door of our world to GOd himself.  She sines brightly the light of Christ.

We honor her and look to her for guidance. If we follow her we will not stray; with her as our guide we will not tire for she illumines the path before us.

What a Lady!

Poep Benedict reminds us that in JEsus God inaugurates a new relationship with humanity.  We are no longer just creatures but we are sons in the son himself.  God, when we say the word and think on that reality should now invoke the image of Father.

The Lady herself who is the vehicle of the relationship.  As Jesu sis son of God so also he is son of Mary.

We give thanks to God for such gift.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

being over doing

1 corinthians 6:1-11; The Lord takes delight in his people; Luke 6:12-19

Here is a quote fron Blessed John Paul II, "Being is much more significant and essential than having or doing.  And the greatest temptation we face is to prefer having and doing more than being.”

The words of St. Paul, "This is what someone of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord JEsus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

Think about who yo are today.  Think about the water of baptism pouring upon your head, having been washed and thus sanctified. 

Think about your identity as a Christian. 

What we use to do  gives way to who we are.  We are children of grace, children of God. 

At some point we have to let our identity as Christians, followers of Christ, take the lead. 

Today don't focus on doing or having, just focus on being, being a christian. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

widely reported

1 corinthians 5:1-8; Ps 5 Lead me in your justice Lord; Luke 6:6-11

Sometimes I find myself wondering, "what would St Paul say about our current culture."

I wonder how he would mange the various decisions that our society has made in regards to say sex marriage, abortion on demand, cohabitation, sexual explicit movies and video games, the rampant usage of violence in films, the unheard of amount of divorce and the disposal nature of marriage in general.

What would St. Paul say.

Into day's first reading a get a sense of St. Paul's thinking:"It is widely reported that there is immortality among you, and immortality of the kind not found even among the pagans-a man's living with his father's wife."

St. Paul is appalled at such behavior.  He is astonished at such insolence.  He is amazed that the community is tolerating such practices in their midst.

"The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst."

Now listen to the next line very carefully, "I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus."

So much for the mindset of today where every one claims, "you are not to judge me."

Sure we are.  We are called to make judgments in light of our Christian identity.  There are some things that are not acceptable.   Perhaps we should over come that societal poisoning of wishing to tolerate everyone and truly start to love them.

No amount of love is every considered love if we see a brother in a sinful situation and leave him there.

We must act to help him be set free from the poison and prison he is living in.

"You are to deliver this man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord."  St. Paul is harsh.  St Paul is truly and sincerely in love.

What does mean?  Part of it is the ability to recognize the action as belonging not of God but of Satan himself.    Only then can true conversion be obtained.

St. Paul does not mess around.  He is hardcore.  Love trumps tolerance every day.  May it be so in our lives.

"Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness (tolerance of everything), but with the unleaven bread of sincerity and truth (what love looks like)"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cardinal Dolan's prayer at the Democratice convention

Let us Pray. 

Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation. Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us. 

We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile. 

We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform. 

We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community. May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries. 

We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy. 

And finally Lord, we beseech your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war. 

And most of all, God Almighty, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country. 

For we are indeed “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust.” 

So dear God, bless America. You who live and reign forever and ever. 


Friday, September 7, 2012


1 corinthians 4:1-5; Ps 37 The salvation of the just comes from the Lord; Luke 5:33-39

A few words form St. Paul

"Thus should one regard us: as servants of CHrist and stewards of the mysteries of God.  NOw it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy....therefore do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God."

Stewards of the mysteries of  God....

Think about that for a moment.

A steward is one who: manages the property of another; administers anything as agent of another; watches over the domestic concerns of another; responsible for the comfort and safety of passengers on a plane or ship or train etc.

All of these can be used to describe our roles as disciples.

We are all on a journey, a pilgrimage.  We are all traveling from this life to the life to come.  We are all on a ride.

God has seen fit to make sure this ride has necessary stewards to ensure safety and comfort of passengers.

We have been equipped, like a stewardess on a plane.  We are there not just for the ride but to be present and helpful for others.

We are agents of God.
We are agents of the mysteries of God.  What mysteries?
The mystery of God refers to God himself.  We make God present with our life choices.

It was once said that a every christian will be a mystic or nothing at all.
A mystic is one who enters into communion with Go union of human soul with divine on earth,  and allows that communion radiate through their lives for the sake of others.

Most mystics of the church are associated with the suffering of Christ.  Often times we seem them with the stigmata.  The suffering of Christ is a revelation of GOd's love for humanity.

A steward of God is a mystic, the one who brings the mystery of God with them.  We must bring that love to bear on all we do and say.

We live in mystery and thus we are mystics and stewards.

 A just a bit on the last phrase of Paul's words "then everyone will receive praise from God."

We often say, how could God send anyone to hell.  What kind of loving God is that.  SO we find ourselves in our current society dismissing hell all together.  This is a problem.

HEll is a real possibility.  As St. Paul mentions, in the end the true motivations of the heart will be revealed.  In other words, we are not fooling anyone, only fooling ourselves.

Our inner attitude is always exposed to the light of Christ.

But even in the end, final judgment, when it is all said and done and the smoke clears and the dust settles, our condemnation or salvation, will be "praise for God."  God's justice and God's mercy will be united in that instant of judgment and thus "praise" shall rise.

Just something tot think about as we kick against the notion of hell.  Hell is real because God's justice not our justice reigns.

a different take on "homosexual" experience

Here is an article written by the below, I thought it to look at the "same sex attraction" and "gay" identity in a unique and christian perspective...

by David Prosen

Are people born "gay" or do they choose to be gay?
The answer to both questions is no—although in many passionate debates generated by this topic, we are quick to dismiss objectivity. In reality, these questions provide a smoke screen to a much bigger problem that is pervasive in our society, in religious circles, politics, and clinical settings. The problem I speak of is the idea that homosexuality is an identity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that every individual must "acknowledge and accept his sexual identity" (no. 2333). This refers to the "physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity" of both genders which are "oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life" (Ibid.). At the most basic level, our identity is rooted in the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God—"Male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27).
I used to believe I was a "gay" person. I had been attracted to the same gender for as long as I could remember. Because this attraction was present from early on in my life, without my conscious choice, I concluded that I must have been born this way. After all, that’s a logical conclusion . . . right?
The attraction I had to the same gender when I was a little boy was normal and similar to what many boys experience. Boys look for heroes, role models who they respect and want to emulate. For me, the attraction to men started out with normal admiration but then began to take some dysfunctional turns. As a child, I was often made fun of and told by my peers that I wasn’t like them. This made me question what the difference between us was. At this point, shades of covetousness characterized my admiration. I secretly wondered, "If I looked like so-and-so, would I be accepted?"
In puberty, this attraction or admiration became eroticized. The derogative homosexual label was given to me by my peers, and I yielded to their accusations because I truly did have a sexualized same-sex attraction. Eventually, I embraced this label and called myself "gay."
Although I didn’t freely choose same-sex attractions, I did willfully choose to act upon them. My decision to sin brought me intense pain, loneliness, and—worst of all—separation from God. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explained this reality in a statement that observed, "As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood."[1]
Eventually, in my brokenness, I responded to the Lord’s loving call to forgiveness and healing. He has brought me through the valley of shame and out of the darkness of my past and shined His light of truth upon the many lies I believed about myself—especially the one that claimed that I was a "gay" person.

Defining Terms

By defining myself as a "gay" male, I had taken on a false identity. Any label such as "lesbian," "bisexual," or even "homosexual" insinuates a type of person equivalent to male or female. This is simply not true. One is not a same-sex attraction, but instead experiences this attraction.
In his book, Growth into Manhood, Alan Medinger shows that homosexual tendencies and behaviors have been around for thousands of years, but the idea of a homosexual identity only began to evolve about 150 years ago with the emergence of the term "homosexual."[2]
In a later study, Medinger further demonstrates his findings, revealing a number of untruths that tend to surface when one accepts homosexuality as an identity:
  1. I must have been born this way.
  2. If I was born that way, God made me this way.
  3. If God made me this way, how can there be anything wrong with it?
  4. It’s in my nature and I must be true to my nature.
  5. If it’s my nature, I can’t change.
  6. If I try to change I would be trying to go against my nature and that would be harmful. +Accepting myself as gay feels so good—I feel like a thousand pound load has been lifted off of my back—so it must be okay.
  7. If people can’t accept my being gay, then something is wrong with them.
  8. If people can’t accept my being gay, then they don’t accept me because that’s who I am.[3]
When I read these, I was floored. I believed each and every statement deep down to my core. When I was engaged in this lifestyle, it made perfect sense to go along with what felt natural. However, it was logical only because it appeared to be truth. In reality, lies had to be built upon lies for them to add up to something with the semblance of truth.
I believed I was gay. But I was also certain that I didn’t choose this for myself, and so I believed that God must have made me this way. However, Scripture verses like the following made no sense in light of my feelings: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them" (Lev. 20:13).
How could a God of love create me this way and then condemn me to hell? I began to do what many other Christians struggling with same-sex attraction do and searched for "pro-gay" theologies for explanations. I desperately wanted to be in a loving relationship with the same gender, but at the same time, I had a gnawing feeling in my heart that this was wrong.

Time for Truth

Looking back, I believe that my search for truth and struggle against accepting this lifestyle was ultimately the way in which the Holy Spirit convicted me. Still, this gnawing feeling—that same-sex attraction was not God’s plan for my life—was not easy for me to reconcile with because I believed that my sexuality alone was my identity.
Ignorance of this distinction is dangerous. My false beliefs regarding my identity deterred me from accepting the conviction in my heart from the Holy Spirit. St. Paul acknowledged this very same process, explaining:
Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator . . . God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error (Rom. 1:25-27).
Only after I accepted the truth that acting on homosexual attractions was a sin did I begin to ask for the strength and the grace to carry that cross—and the Lord abundantly poured these upon me. Several years later, He showed me that homosexuality was a false identity that I had embraced. And at this point, my integral healing began as I searched out who I really was. My reflections led me to the discovery that I never truly believed I was a man, and yet I didn’t think I was a woman. In that searching process, I realized that I did not fully identify with either gender.
Through the sacraments—especially the Eucharist—as well as counseling, spiritual healing retreats, and much prayer, Christ revealed to me that I am a man. I have many masculine traits that I was never aware I possessed—such as courage and strength. I can never adequately express the tremendous joy I felt when I began to internally recognize and accept the fact that I am a man, I am masculine, and I do belong in the world of men. At the same time this recognition occurred to me, my attraction to men continued to decrease drastically and my attraction to women increased.

Identity and the Church

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned the discussion over whether persons are born homosexual or if they choose to be. Neither is true because same-sex attraction is an experience—not a type of person. Accepting homosexuality as an identity, which has largely been affirmed in our culture, brings so much confusion. In order for a Christian to justify homosexual behavior, he or she needs to alter and contort Sacred Scripture.
Many individuals from within are trying to force the Catholic Church to change her stance toward homosexuality because it seems like discrimination against those who are just "being themselves." But it is not discrimination when we identify and seek to correct falsely held beliefs.
The problem has not just effected those dissenting in our Church. There are very good Catholics and even good priests who wrongly assert that people cannot change their sexual orientation. These people may have the best of intentions, but for whatever reason they have bought into the lie that homosexuality is a type of person.
The Church’s response to those suffering with same-sex attraction offers us this perspective:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition (CCC, no. 2358).
There is hope for those who have same-sex attraction, and we must not abandon efforts to help others understand the truth. This is not to say that God will "change" His creation, the person, because He did not make them this way or intend for them to experience this attraction. Rather, God can change the person’s way of thinking by revealing the lie that the individual has accepted and assimilated into their sense of self.
Once the lie is exposed, wounds that led to this lie such as abuse, rejection, or lack of affirmation in one’s gender identity can be addressed, healing can begin, and the person’s true identity can emerge. When this healing process begins, the attraction to the opposite sex for many has increased.
Courage, the Catholic support group for those with same-sex attraction, as well as many Christians, refrain from using words such as "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual," "transgender," or even "homosexual." Words can have powerful effects. Because these words are labels which insinuate that homosexuality is an identity, they reinforce untruths and continue to escalate the problems in our society and our Church. As Catholic Christians, I encourage each of us to be careful with our speech and eliminate the use of labels and instead use the words "same-sex attraction" which more accurately describe the experience that these men and women go through.

Heart Knowledge

Earlier, I spoke of the importance of recognizing that I am a man and feeling it internally within my heart. Fr. Larry Richards’ challenging book Be a Man! helped me obtain even deeper healing. Intellectually, I knew that God was my Heavenly Father, but I didn’t really know and believe it with my whole being. And then I read the following passage in Fr. Larry’s book:
When we were baptized, the sky opened up just like it did upon Jesus, and spiritually, God the Father, the Creator of the universe, looked at you and me and said, ‘You are my beloved Son.’ You stopped being a creation and you became a son of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit.[4]
Talk about the power of words! In Jesus, we are sons and daughters of the Creator of the universe. He truly loves us more than we could ever imagine. This is our true identity; this is who each of us truly is.
Isaiah 43:4 states, "You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. . . ." Fr. Larry brought this verse home to me in a very personal way by explaining:
We must enter into a relationship with God knowing that truth. We must know that our relationship begins where Jesus began, with the knowledge that we are loved by the Father. The God of the universe looks at you and says: ‘I love you!’[5]
This touched me deeply. Before this inner healing took place, I had known with certainty that God loved everyone. But when it came to Him loving me personally, I only knew this intellectually— not in my heart. Fr. Larry helped me to connect this truth from my head to my heart.
I am grateful to God for showing me my true identity in Him. Now, I embrace my masculinity and know that I am a man of God. In Jesus, I know I am a beloved son of God who is uniquely and wondrously created, and whose name is David.
[1] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons," July 22, 1992, no. 3.[2] Alan Medinger, Growth into Manhood (Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 2000).
[3] Medinger, "Calling Oneself ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ Clouds one’s Self-Perception" from Same-Sex Attraction: A Parent’s Guide. Eds. John F. Harvey, OSFS, and Gerard V. Bradley (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2003) p. 173.
[4] Fr. Larry Richards, Be a Man! (San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2009), p. 43.
[5] Ibid., p. 37.

yesterday's interruption

Luke 5:1-11

Today I would like to reflect a bit on yesterday's gospel reading.

The scene:
The crowds were pressing in and around Jesus.  Things were getting quickly out of hand.  The crowd was growing frantic, they all wanted to be close to Jesus.  JEsus gets in a a boat and embarks away from the shore line, away from the crowd in order create space so that he could teach.

The boat belonged to Simon, the fisherman.

After he finished his teaching he asked the SImon to "put out into the deep and lower the nets for a catch."

Simon was reluctant. "Master we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing but at your command I will lower the nets."

The catch was enormous, so much so the net was tearing and the other boat nearby had to come to their aid.

They were all seized and astonished.  Jesus responds, "do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men."  They left everything and followed him.

The story of our lives:

How often have we been interrupted in our lives?  How often have our plans changed or been changed beyond our control?  How often have the unexpected left us a bit astonished and seized ourselves by the unfolding our our lives?

Recently I have inherited a nephew, a 19 year old nephew.  He has been sleeping in my study.  I have had to adjust to this new situation and living arrangement.

A few weeks back My sister informed me that my nephew her son was going to be on a one way flight to Austin and she wanted to know if I could keep him for a while.

I am nephew sitting, I suppose.

He is a good kid, though a teenager.  Teenagers are a different breed of people.  I think the soul leaves the body when we are teenagers.  IT has been a trying time, though a graceful time as well.

But our lives, his and mine, have been interrupted from the general course we were headed.

I had to take  a step back.  This time has certainly caused my prayer life to increase. God an dI have many conversations.  I was pretty sure i was cut out to be a priest; not so sure if I am cut out to be  a parent of a teenager.

But the interruption has occurred.  Not unlike with SImon in the gospel.  His life was coasting along.  We can surmise that he was content with his trade on the open sea, fishing.  I suspect his father was a fisherman, and his father's father was a fisherman and so on.  He was on the path he knew was destined for him: tending and mending nets and seeking out the big haul.

Yet his life changes in a flash.  God's interrupts his plan.  The word of God enters his life and invites him to put out into the deep, to do what seemed impossible, "Lord we worked hard all night and have caught nothing."

Going against his instinct as a fisherman he listened.  Why did he listen?  Something moved him to respond in an affirmative manner.  In that brief moment of letting God in, letting Jesus take command of his life he went from a fishermen to a fisher of  men.

What a beautiful interruption.  He could have rejected it and fought it but he simply surrendered and let God lead.

God does that.

He wants to interrupt our lives often.  There will be moments we will rejoice and gladly receive the interruption and there will be moments we will want to fight it but we have a choice.

We can put out into the deep and ready our nets and allow God to show us his power or we can cower and fade into bitterness and regret.

I am with Simon, "Depart from me Lord for I am sinful man."  And in the debts of my being the words of Christ echo forth, "Do not be afraid;"

Refreshing it is to let go and let Christ lead.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Today is the feast day of Mother Teresa.

I was visiting with the 6th grade class this morning as I teach them religion and they were not familiar with Mother Teresa, which shows my age and their youth.

It also reminded me that in our society seldom does goodness and heroic virtue get elevated and exalted.  How often we can speak of the cruelty of man and the terrible deeds done by men and women and yet we lose sight of those who have done goodness consistently throughout their life.

Recently  I received a relic of Blessed Teresa.  I introduced the class to relics and the intercession of the saints.

So here today in honor of BLessed Teresa I have listed the ABC's of holiness according to Mother Teresa:

Always have the courage to say sorry
Be kind, be compassionate
Control your judgments
Don't let yourself get discouraged

Every minute is precious-don't waste your time
Find out what is nice in each other
Give until it hurts
Have deep respect for each other

If you really want to love God, love one another
Just do small things with great love
Keep your heart clean
Learn to pray, love to pray, and pray often

Make time for  each other in your family
Never tell lies
Only believe you are precious to God
Put love in whatever you do

Quite a lot of people have forgotten what love begin to give the joy loving
Refrain from prejudice
Smile at each other
Take the trouble to listen
Use your talents for the glory of God

Very often, we look but we don't see.  Let us look and See
When humiliation comes, accept it and offer it.
eXcuse rather than accuse
You must learn to forgive
Zeal is a second name for love. Do not lose that zeal/

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

mind of Christ

1 corinthians 2:10-16; Ps 145 The Lord is just in all his ways; Luke 4:31-37

"No one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God."

How often in our life do we forget this!

How often do we find ourselves thinking about things with the spirit of the world rather than the spirit of God?  How often does the spirit of the world began to dictate our lifestyle and the choices w make?

When we guard grudges, when we refuse to forgive, when we no longer extend our hand in charity to the lonely and despairing, when we say those words that are frightfully ugly, when we give in to the irritation of the neighbor, when we excuse the wrong of another with stopping to offer a gentle correction, when find ourselves watching a TV sow that gets us laughing about a sexual sin in one form  or another and the list goes on and on and on.

How quickly we begin to think like the world living in the world!

But wait! St Paul tells us, as he was telling the corinthians almost 2000 years ago, that we do not have to rely on our own mind, on our own thinking.

No! not at all!

We have the mind of Christ.  Wow!  What a statement!  What a gift!

Not only is the spirit of God given to us but the mind of Christ also is laid bare for us so that as we move through the world we can follow the light more clearly.

What is the mind of Christ?

St Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians, "put on the the mind of Christ, who though was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather he emptied himself taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found in human appearance, he humbled himself becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross..."

Humility seems to be the counter weight of balance that tips us into the Spirit of God most readily.

Humility becomes the ground form which we live.

Only then does God exalt.  We do not have to exalt ourselves, for the weight of glory shall lift us upward if only we humble ourselves as Christ humbled himself.

Put on the mind of Christ daily, hourly, minute by minute

Sunday, September 2, 2012

under my roof

Deuteronomy 4:1-8; Ps 15 The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-23

"As long as you live under my roof, then you will live by my rules."

These were the words I heard quite often growing up, especially from my father.

My father had one rule, "As Long as you live under my roof, then you will live by my rules."

Dad wasn't joking.  He made sure we understood what was required to keep peace and concord in the family.

I used to think this was just my dad trying to control us and not let us have any fun.  But the older I get the more I realize dad was doing us a favor.

He was firm certainly.  But even in his rules there was freedom.  We knew the boundaries of happiness and fulfillment.

The boundaries were pretty clear.

It wasn't until recently did I truly begin to appreciate my Father and his rule of rules, "As long as you live under my roof, you will live by my rules."

For the first few months as a pastor, I was living in the rectory alone. It was the first time I had a rectory to myself and i was enjoying it.

But about a month into my stay, i was given a couple of other churches to administer and thus an associate.

Quickly i discovered the importance of laying down ground rules in order to keep the peace and concord in the place.

One thing that gets my nerves frayed is leaving dishes in the sink over night when they could have easily been washed and put away.

I found myself speaking the words of my father, "as long as you live under this roof, you will live my rules."  Now we are still working out the kinks in the rectory but nonetheless rules of engagement are essential to peace.  It eliminates the guess work. This way every one knows where every one stands.

Freedom can be found where rules are laid down.

In today's first reading Moses invites the people to remember whose house they are living under, "these are the statutes and decrees which i am teaching you to observe so that you may live, enter in, and take possession of the Land which the Lord is giving you."

In other words God is telling moses to tell the people, "As long as you live under my roof, then you will live by my rules."

The giver of the land is the one who knows how to keep the peace.

Commandments are not restrictive they are liberating.  They eliminate the guessing game. Freedom is found where commands are laid down.

God communicates very clearly.

Things begin to go awry the moment additions and subtractions happen to the word given by God.  The Israelites were taking things away form the law.

The Pharisees and scribes in the gospel were adding things.  In either case they were choosing to make their own rules rather than trust the one's God had given.  They were acting as if they were the owners, benefactors rather than the beneficiaries.

JEsus just wants to set the record straight.  It was time to return to the basics of love and life. Jesus invites them to integrate reality where the external and the internal are moving in the same direction.

JEsus as the word of God has the authority to clarify.  HE also gives that authority to his church.

"You are peter and upon this rock i will build my church.  What you loose on earth will be loosed on heaven, what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven."