Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Numbers 6:22-27; Ps 67 May God bless us in his mercy; Galatians 4:4-7;Luke 2:16-21

"God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts crying out, Abba, Father!"

As we enter into a new year bidding farewell to the year that has grown old, as we stand ready to embrace the challenges that are awaiting us in the unknown of tomorrow as we cross the threshold into a new beginning, the church gives us this as a word of encouragement: God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts.

Thus with this word of encouragement we might have confidence to enter into the future, a future in which we are promised an inheritance as St. Paul continues, "So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir…"

Though we cannot know the ways of the future, though they remain unknown and hidden there remains certainty in the midst of the uncertain: we are heirs.

Here is the ultimate substance of our future.

As Pope Benedict pointed out, "as heirs of God we will be masters of the universe."

Though we are not masters as such that might manipulate the future to our liking or our benefit but rather empowered to surrender to the unknown trusting in the all powerful God who will make a way for us as his adopted children.

This the example that Mary shows us so well as we celebrate the feast of Mary, the mother of God.   She becomes for us like a star that reflects the light of Christ to help illuminate for us the way as we enter upon this voyage we call life.

Here we begin our new year.  

As we embark on this new year, world day of peace, we seek to deepen our relationship with the prince of peace himself.  Invoking the Spirit to strengthen us daily that our life may ring out the peace Christ alone brings.  

We ask the Blessed Mother to guide us and we receive the very gift of peace of Christ in the Eucharist and thus these two pillars help bring us the stability we need on the seas of life.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Sirach 3:2-14; Ps 128 Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways; Colossians 3:12-21; Mt 2:13-23

In the end what will carry the day?

What will ultimately lead to success or victory in life?

What will carry the day for us as human persons as a whole and as individuals?

I had a family come down recently to Cuero and we spent the evening looking at the Christmas lights here in town followed by a quick stop at Pizza hut.

This Christmas visits to the lights of cuero has become a main stay over the past few years and a joy for me as well.

This is a family of six, mom, dad, and three girls and a boy.  I look forward to their visit.

This year the son and I got on this little game "what would you do for hundred dollars."

I would ask him random things to see what he would or wouldn't do for money.  Being that he is a staunch Texas fan i asked him if he would get and Texas A &M Tattoo on his forehead and wear to for a week for a hundred dollars.  He of course said yes immediately.

The game went on and on back and forth: I was trying to find his stopping point.  At what point would money not be enough.

At one point I asked him if he would drink water from a toilet bowl for a hundred dollars and he hesitated.

Remember the movie Indecent Proposal where a man offered a couple a million dollars to have sex with his wife?  This is our mind set and it is what we gravitate toward.

What is our price tag?  Where do we draw the line?

Money is a big deal for many of us. We find ourselves stressing over it, anxious about it, concerned and worried for more of it.  How much of our family life revolves around money?

We talk about it often.  We gamble it away.  We try to grow it on the market or in the savings. We put some aside for a rainy day.

Money, Money, Money.

And if we aren't talking about money then we are talking about pleasure or prestige or power or possessions.  Our lives are consumed with these realities.

But when is the last time we talked about, thought about Honor.
When i s the last time we spoke a conversation about respect, regard, holding someone in honor?

When have we spoke to our children about honor and respect and imitated that reality with our lives in the way we treat our spouse, our neighbor, our children, our very selves, even God.

But in the end what will carry the day?

It won't be money, or prestige, or power, or possessions, or pleasure.

In the end what will carry the day will be honor: how we honor one another and how we honor God.

This is the tipping point we must rediscover if we will truly be holy families.

The family is a domestic church, this is what the teaching of the church points us to understand.

If it is a domestic church than honor and reverence is essential for without it then it simply becomes a mad house of chaos.  Honor revolves around prayer, silence, sacrifice, worship, respect to authority, all of which are necessary tools to holiness.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Today we honor the memory and life of St. John the evangelist.

He is the writer of the gospel of John, the three letter of John as well as the Book of revelation.  St John was busy writing.  Some of the riches words describing the divine nature of Christ are from John's pen.

John is the one who wrote these word down: Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

John has a beautiful way with words: poetic and efficient with words used.

John is the only Apostle of the original that was not martyred.  He lived, w believe to be about 94 years old.   Think about that for  a moment:

John out lived most of if not all of his friends and family.  The gift of age can also be a martyrdom.  Yet John took it all in stride.  Toward the end of his life John was able to speak a  whole lot.  So when he would visit the early gatherings of communities he would say simply these words, "My dear children, love one another."

That is it.  All of what he wrote about the life of Christ can be reduced to that little phrase.  John reminds us of the simplicity of faith.  it does not have to be complex.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Isaiah 7:10-14; Ps 24 Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory; Luke 1:26-38

Yesterday I found myself pondering Scrooge and his attitude toward Christmas.  Today I woke up with the Grinch on my mind.  Not sure why these two figures seem to want to occupy this already crowded mind.

The Grinch.

What was the Grinch's problem?  Why could he not enter in to the spirit of Christmas that the Who seem to get so quickly and contagiously?

If you remember, when the Grinch is introduced:

 "It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
 It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small."

His heart was too small. 

We all have encountered people with small hearts and greedy in nature and stingy rather than generous. 

Yet, in today's gospel we encounter someone who is just the opposite of the grinch. 

We encounter Mary, the virgin, who shows us what it means to have a BIG HEART OPEN TO GOD as she pressed those beautiful words upon her lips: "Behold I am the handmaid of the lord, May it be it done to me according to your word."

Our hearts may be small but the one thing the Grinch shows us is that they can grow and become large. 

MAry's yes and her big open heart to God paves the way for transformation and conversion for us all. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Judges 13:2-7,24-25; Ps 71 My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory; Luke 1:5-25

Tis the season to be bombarded by all the Christmas classics: Rudolph, Frosty, Christmas Story, Its wonderful life and of course A Christmas Carol.

So I thought I would include this morning a little word from Scrooge, Mr Ebenezer himself.  Here we go, "Every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

How's that for Christmas Spirit. 

We will be encountering probably a fe people in our goings and comings this season with a little bit of the chip of scrooge on their shoulder.  What shall we do with these people? 

We should do what Jesus ask us to do: bless those who curse you, do good to those who hurt you.

When we celebrate Christmas and enter into the Spirit of the season we are in actuality experiencing what Elizabeth experiences in today's gospel passage about the conception of John the Baptist. 

Elizabeth, when she discovered she was pregnant after being barren for so long has these words to say, "so has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others." 

At Christmas, as we follow the the star to Bethlehem we discover that God has removed our disgrace as well.  God's grace and favor rest on us. 

The best way to enter into the Spirit of Christmas is to be grace for us, give the grace we ourselves receive from God. 

This is why we bless those who may be experiencing a bit of scroogeitis. 
Rather than wishing them to be boiled in their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through their heart. 

Tis the season to be grace filled and graceful and pass on the grace to others.

A poem for the season

I had a conversation with a delightful and faith filled women about the passing of her husband about two years ago.  The missing of him is still fresh in her heart and mind and the grief still wells up like the tides moving in  on the shore.  It was a full moon last night and perhaps the gravitational pull of the moon stirred the waves in her heart, so we talk a little about death and the part of that seems so hard: the missing.

So I came across this poem and thought it captured a little bit of the experience of missing someone though it is entitled The Meeting.

The Meeting

After so long an absence
       At last we meet again:
Does the meeting give us pleasure,
       Or does it give us pain?

The tree of life has been shaken,
       And but few of us linger now,
Like the Prophet's two or three berries
       In the top of the uttermost bough.

We cordially greet each other
       In the old, familiar tone;
And we think, though we do not say it,
       How old and gray he is grown!

We speak of a Merry Christmas
       And many a Happy New Year
But each in his heart is thinking
       Of those that are not here.

We speak of friends and their fortunes,
       And of what they did and said,
Till the dead alone seem living,
       And the living alone seem dead.

And at last we hardly distinguish
       Between the ghosts and the guests;
And a mist and shadow of sadness
       Steals over our merriest jests.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Isaiah 48:17-19; Ps 1 Those who follow you Lord, will have the light of life; Matt 11:16-19

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy, Lucia. She was a young noble lady who being raised in the Christian Faith by her mother, decided to vow herself to Christ. 

She was refusedly betrothed to a young man who did not take her consecrated virginity to well. He sought to take it from her. She refused to give in. Miraculously she was guarded by the Holy Spirit and kept undefiled. 

The youth in his fervor took her life when he could not have her virtue. 

Lucy should be a patroness for our current age. So few women guard their virtue and so few men seek to respect it. In this age of casual sex and recreational "hooking-up" Lucy reminds us that virginity is a mark of faith. 

One who guards her virginity is one who truly loves. This is the rebelliousness we are lacking in our current society. 

In the Words of the Poet Kenneth Patchen, "It's always because we love that we are rebellious; it takes a great deal of love to give a damn one way or another what happens from now on: I still do"

Lucy cared. This is why she rebelled against the onslaught. The Youth of today seem to care not and thus they have lost their way. Through the intercession of St. Lucy may the youth once again learn love and guard their virtue for the sake of love himself.

Which points us to the gospel.  Jesus says, "To what shall I compare this generation?  Is it like children who sit in the marketplaces and call to one another, 'we played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn."  

Th whimsical nature of our current generation can at times be frustrating.  It seems we belong to a generation that seeks to straddle the fence, always seeking to choose a side that best benefits them rather than seeking the common good or that which benefits the whole. 

Whimsical characters we are?  Yet there comes a moment when we must choose and in choosing we can no longer go back, this is the mark of true perseverance.   

If anything or nothing, Advent is meant to ready us for that moment where we take a stand or rather this moment, and we choose to no longer be at the mercy of the winds of change in our society.  
Only when we stand firm can we truly be flexible, can we truly make a change for the better. 

Lucy stood firm.  In her stance she experienced the perfect storm of love overwhelming her. 

Whimsical no longer could be our theme for Advent.  Thus when we get to Christmas and we stare in to the eyes of the child in the manger,  then we might finally understand God's firm purpose for us, he who chose to take a stand. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Isaiah 40:25-32; Ps 103 O bless the Lord, my soul;Mt 11:28-30

Through out the Advent season i have decided to read the Apostolic Exhortation form Pope Francis.  He writes it not he joy of the gospel.

Joy is a pretty important them in the life of faith, especially during the season of Advent.

Here is an excerpt from Pope Francis in light of todays gospel, "I invite all christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day…The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.  Now is the time to say to Jesus, "Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you.  I need you.  Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace."

Is this not what Jesus says in the gospel today, "Come to me all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn form me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, my burden light."


ISAIAH 40:1-11; PS 96 The Lord our God comes with Power; Mt 18:12-14

"In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."

Who are these little ones Jesus speaks of the gospel.  In fact, throughout the gospel of matthew in particular chapter 18,this phrase, "little ones" comes up over and over again.

Jesus seems to be preoccupied with the little ones.

At first glance we think he is talking about a child or little children, but as we read further into the text we cone upon this phrase, 'Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to  have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

Again Jesus states, "see to it that you do not depose one of these little ones, for I say to you their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father."

So who are these little ones.  Are they children between the ages of 1-12 or are they teenagers or are they young adolescents.  At what point are we no longer little ones ourselves?

Or perhaps, though we might grow up, we remain little int he eyes of God.

From God's point of view are we not all "little ones?"

We should think about this the next time we come across someone who irritates us or annoys us: they too are little ones as we are little ones.  We need to recognize the little one before us and then perhaps we can discover the compassion God invites us to celebrate in our life.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Isaiah 29:17-24; Ps 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Matthew 9:27-31

Hobbits are queer little folk.  Yet there is something endearing about their fantastical existence.
The way they live and the way the enjoy the little things in life like eating and smoking and dancing and community.  Tolkien does a good job describing humanity or atlas projecting the best part of humanity on these little folks of the Shire.

I not sure if any of you have seen the Second installment of the Hobbit movie or not but here is quote from the movie, a few words form Gandalf…

Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? I don’t know. Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage. — Gandalf, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I agree with Gandalf on this issue.  What keeps evil a bay but the small deeds of thoughtfulness.  It is in these small deeds of ordinary folk and nothing is more ordinary than the hobbit and perhaps that is what makes them extraordinary.  IT is in their ordinariness that goodness evades the surrounding and sets the Shire a blaze with the radiance of Heaven.  

Something that we have forgotten in our search for power and greatness.  Small ordinary deeds by everyday folks is what scatters the darkness and the gloom and thus keeps evil a bay. 

This is what makes St. Nick such a powerful ally in the task at at.  He was ordinary. He was simply ordinarily generous. It was his small acts of generosity that kept the darkness and gloom at bay. 

He was a simple man who wanted to see goodness take off like an orchard.  He secretly, though it is no longer a secret, gave money to a poor father so that his daughters could get married lest them become women of the streets. 

This small act of generosity kept love a love as these women entered in to marriage and enjoyed the gift of married love. 

St. Nick would have been a good hobbit. 

ordinary small deeds that bring forth the light of hope is really where the Advent season begins to prepare us for the smallness of the child wrapped in swaddling clothes. 

Today lets be ordinary folk who offer ordinary generosity to those we meet. 

My parents on the feast of St. Nick would put out bowls at night.  When we awoke the next day we would find them filled with candy and sweets.  We were always excited.  Their little act of generosity reminded us that generosity makes life sweeter and it doesn't take much just a small cereal bowl full of generosity is all you need. 

Perhaps my parents were hobbits as well.  After all Shiner and the Shire have a lot in common: ordinary folk who like beer. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Isaiah 26:1-6; Ps 118 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord; Matthew 7:21,24-27

What you say!  Come again!  Hows that!  Can you run that by me one more time!

These are familiar exclamations one may make toward another if they missed something that was said.  It is an attempt to reposition oneself to hear better or to be more attentive.

But in the gospel Jesus says something a little different, "I never knew you.  Depart from me, you evildoers."

These are the words of Jesus' rebuke to those who claim to know Christ with words but fail to live up to it in action.

"I never knew you.  Depart from me" is a lot different then Come again!  Hows that! Run that by me one more time!

Rather it is more like a "do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth."

What is intriguing is Jesus choice of words, "I never knew you."

The people are claiming knowledge of Jesus but Jesus claims no knowledge of them.

How do we allow Jesus to have knowledge of us?  How do we give him permission to know us intimately so as to have access to our hearts and minds and thus be transformed in the process of being known?

It goes back to the first lines of today's gospel and even Isaiah hints at it in the first reading.

"Not every one who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."

What Jesus is speaking about is he whole will of the Father.  We cannot pick and choose when to be a follower and when not be a follower.  We can not just focus on the lofty things such as prophesying, driving out demons,  mighty deeds but the little daily ordinary realities make up the bulk of our fidelity to the will of the Father in our life.

It is in the nitty gritty and the grind of living where the Father's will is realized by the life we live.

Words and deeds daily contribute to the bringing down and making present the will of the Father heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is more than just a place where we hope to live forever.  It is the way we want to be forever.  And we start that being here and now today.

We can not be lofty in our own estimation. As Isaiah points out, God will "humble those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; he tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust.  It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor."

The poor trample it to the ground.

The poor seem to be a place we must begin to live the will of the Father.

Lady poverty calls us out and invites us to put our actions where our mouth is.

Christianity is never meant to be a living of comfort.

Poverty of spirit is necessary.  Embracing the poor is necessary.  Living the word unites the two together.

How often do we give but yet maintain our level of comfort?

Who are we serving when we do that?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Throughout the Advent season we will be introduced to the Prophet Isaiah.  He broadcast the hope of Israel in the future of restoration to Israel.

It is an important message for our time as he describes this transformation of society at the hands of the coming Messiah.

Throughout his prophetic message he continually uses the phrase, "on that day" to direct our gaze to the horizon where something mew will be breaking forth in our world and into our lives.

He reminds us that though the present may be filled with darkness and trail, the future is bright for on the horizon just over the hill and beyond the curve there awaits a new beginning.  God's promise will finally bring that longed for reality where hope blooms.

But something to remember is that as Isaiah beckons at the gaze of that day we who now live our faith must realize that "that day" is now "this day" each day anew.

We have already received the Messiah.  The horizon has already birth the new hope into our hearts with the coming of Christ.

We no longer just await something new to enter into our world but rather that newness we actually carry with it daily.

As we live and by our life of faith, this new reality Isaiah speaks about has already arrived and arrives this day, each day, and every day.

This is the duty of Advent: to make "that day" "this day" by the life of faith we have in Christ.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


We all have heard of Christmas wish list.  Schools have them, parishes have them. businesses have them, children and grand kids have them.

Everyone has a list of things they would like to experience or receive at Christmas.


I have an advent wish list I'd like to share with you.

Jesus in today's gospel tells us to stay awake.  Do not be distracted and thus caught off guard and unaware like the people of Noah's time.

So do we stay awake  and keep vigilant. Red bull or 5 hour energy drink can certainly keep us physically attentive but what about interiorly being alert and ready.

I have done some calculations and i think we should tithe our time.

We often hear about tithing our financial resources, which i still think should be done as sign of trust to almighty God and a help to the church as he seeks to build programs for faithfulness, but do we tithe our time.

We think about the one hour a week the church says is a minimal obligation as we gather at mass with the community seeking to keep holy the Lord's day.  But what about the rest of the days and hours and minute we have?

I figure, if my math is correct, their are 10080 minutes in one week.  If we tithe that, that is take 10 percent of that and gift it to God, then we are left with 1008 minutes in a week.  If we divide that by 7 then we get 144 minutes per day dedicated intentionally to God and his purpose and our transformation.

If we take that 144 minutes and divide that by 24 then we get roughly 6 minutes an hour, which i know could had been factored simply by dividing 60 by 10 but what fun would that have been.

So if we are to tithe our time then 6 minutes of every hour should be intentional directed toward God.  Maybe we sit silently for 6 minutes or we say a decade of the rosary for 6 minutes or we read form scripture for 6 minutes or we offer prayers for 6 minutes or we dedicated what ever we are doing at the time for the glory of God intentionally for the 6 minutes allotted.

If we do this them we will be attentive, awake, vigilant; we will walk int he presence of the lord in the land of the living and this is how we prepare ourselves daily.

What i invite you to do is keep a chart of your time of prayer throughout the advent season.  Call to mind God's presence 6 minutes on the hour, every hour, while you are awake.  Don't worry about when you are sleeping, we will let the guardian angels take over at those times of the day.

Don't be like the people of Noah's time, unaware, unprepared, and washed away. Distracted they found themselves the last to know.  There is much in our life that distracts us, but for t least 6 minutes an hour we can be attentive.

Set you phone to ring every hour and practice the presence of God.

IT is often said if you take God with you when you go, then it will affect where you go and how you get there; may it be so.

Advent: coming attractions

We all know that the best part of the movies, going to the movies,  are the previews.  Oh how I long for those 20 minutes in which we glimpse into the future of Cinema and what is awaiting on the horizon soon to be birth into our world on the "Big Screen."

Coming attractions attract, so it seems they are aptly named.

I love to sit in the theatre for those 20 minutes and allow my mind to take in these quick glimpses into what lies a head, hidden yet revealed.  These sights and sounds are captivating.

Of course, i love the previews because it gives me a heads up as to whether or not a movie will be worth my time.  The previews give just enough to wet the appetite or just enough to sour it.

Why not be in the know? Why not spend those 20 minutes taking a peek so that you won't waste 2 hours wishing you had went to another movie in the first place.

Coming attractions and previews are particularly insightful.  Even though they only give a little they can tell a lot.

Such is the case with the readings for Advent, especially the readings from Isaiah and the gospels.  The prophet along with Jesus gives us a bit of taste of coming attractions, a preview of sorts, a glimpse into the future of sights and sounds that fill the biggest screen of all, reality.

He gives us just enough, not too much and not too little, to wet our appetite and to keep us in the know.

Just like in the previews, we are told what to look for and when so Jesus gives us a glimpse of the attitude required to welcome the future events.  Jesus doesn't concern us with the nitty gritty details of exact times and dates because if we nail the attitude and live it daily in our life, it won't matter the time and place because we will be prepared regardless.

What is this attitude that we are meant to possess as we journey forth: wakefulness.

We must simply be alert and attentive ready to receive at a moments notice.

Perhaps this reading would be a great introduction to those 5 hour energy drinks or red bull or the like.

I can see it now, want be alert for second coming try our new energy drink, guaranteed to keep you alert and refreshed to meet the king of kings.

Jesus, fortunately for us, is speaking about being interiorly attentive and alert, recognizing in the midst of life unfolding his presence very near already.

It is an attitude of vigilant waiting, where we anticipate the coming of Christ daily in our life hidden behind every brush stroke of life we experience.

Pope Benedict put it this way…

"Our whole personal, familial and social existence passes through this dimension of waiting. Waiting is something that is present in a 1,000 situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important, which draw us in completely and in the deepest way. 

Among these, we think of a husband and wife waiting for a child; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; we think of a young person waiting to know his grade on a major exam or the outcome of a job interview; in romantic relationships, of waiting to meet the beloved person, of waiting for a letter, or of receiving forgiveness…

One could say that man is alive so long as he waits, so long as hope is alive in his heart. And man is able to recognize that what he waits for and what he hopes for discloses something about his moral and spiritual "stature."

What we wait for discloses something about our moral and spiritual stature!

This is what Advent opens us up to, a better glimpse into our selves that we may see who we are and how that aligns with who we were created to be.

What we wait for reveals something about ourselves. 

This is where advent begins; this is where we must be vigilant and attentive. This is where the pruning hooks that Isaiah speaks of will come in handy for us these four weeks. 

We must be more intentional in our waiting, in our lounging, in what we anticipate only then can we truly be ready for the coming of Christ daily in our life. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Daniel 5:1-28; Give glory and eternal praise to him; Luke 21:12-19

We encounter the hand writing on the wall in today's first reading.  King Belshazzar was giving a banquet, eating and drinking quite luxuriously, it was over the top, and in the midst of the banquet he performs an act of sacrilege. He orders the sacred vessels reserved for use in the temple to be brought forth and order that his guest drink form them.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king's palace.

The hand writing on the wall.

I love the description of the king's react to this sight, this mysterious unfolding, this bizarre hand that appears with out a body.  Scripture tells us upon seeing this hand the King's "face blanched; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked."

Wow!  That is the kind of reaction I would expect from myself if i were to see a mysterious sight such as a hand minus the rest of the body writing on the wall.

What was the message?

MENE:God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it

TEKEL: you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting

PERES: your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

It is a message for us as well.

God has numbered our days.  We often because of our ingratitude have been found wanting.

Do we see the hand writing on the wall in our own lives?  How often we find ourselves indulging in things and fail to recognize the effects they are having on our families, on our children, on our relationships with our significant others in our life?

Should thanksgiving be an opportunity not only to give thanks, to express our gratitude but also to right the ship, to get back on the path where life and love once again mean something and we treasure it as it should be: the greatest commodity bestowed.

Abraham Lincoln, when he asked us to set a side the last Thursday of November as a day of national gathering and remembrance, invited us to make it a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father.

He also asked us to make a day of penitence for our perverseness.

Think about our country for a moment?  Think about the perverseness we indulge in as a people?

Should we not do penance for the tragic deformation our country has undergone over the past 60 years.

We kill our pre born children for one in the name of freedom and rights to choose we murder our future generation.  Is there anything more perverse.

We have sought to destroy the sanctity of marriage and family,

We have sought to force corporations and business to provide so called health care that goes against the very fabric of their religious profession.

Our congressman and Senators are just selfish clowns who care not for the good of the people but their own agenda.

Our children are being raised with mothers and fathers and many of them abandoned to the streets.

Lewd sexual perverseness is everywhere.  Sex is no longer a sacred act that is guarded and embrace but exploited for the sake of gain.

Penance for our perverseness is necessary if our thanks and praise will be genuine.

When we give thanks do we mean it?  Penance makes Praise and thanks authentic in our lives.

Give it a try.  Before you feast, why not fast only then will the feast truly be directed to our Beneficent Father form whom all good things come.

Friday, November 22, 2013


1 Maccabees 4:36-37,52-59; we price your glorious name, O mighty God; Luke 19:45-48

"For this is our life: to rise again continuously and to resume our journey."  Pope Francis

Here are the words of Pope Francis this past wednesday Audience.  In the context of teaching about God's forgiveness and the ecclesial dimension of the forgiveness that is why do we go to a priest to celebrate the sacrament of forgiveness.  It is beautiful teaching.  Christ is the head of the church and just  as the Holy Spirit passes through the wounds of the body of Christ to bring forth forgiveness so god continually uses the body of Christ the church to breathe forth the forgiveness and such he commissions priest and bishops to be minsters of his forgiveness.

I recommend it as a worthy read and look into the Ecclesial dimension of God's forgiveness.

But at the end as he speaks of our sins and need for forgiveness he states the following: For this is our life: to rise again continuously and to resume our journey."

We are not created to quit.  We are not created to stand down.  We are not created to fold.  We are created and redeemed so that we may rise up continuously and continue forth on our journey.

What a beautiful reality check for us.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Cecilia the patron of musicians and singing.

I thought i would include a quote form Pope Benedict on the primacy of singing

"THE IMPORTANCE of music in biblical religion is shown very simply by the fact that the verb “to sing” (with related words such as “song”, and. so forth) is one of the most commonly used words in the Bible. It occurs309 times in the Old Testament and thirty-six in the New. When man comes into contact with God, mere speech is not enough. Areas of his existence are awakened that spontaneously turn into song. Indeed, man’s own being is insufficient for what he has to express, and so he in­vites the whole of creation to become a song with him: “Awake, my soul! Awake, 0 harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, 0 Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithful­ness to the clouds” (Ps 57:8f.). We find the first mention of singing in the Bible after the crossing of the Red Sea. Israel has now been definitively delivered from slavery. In a desperate situation, it has had an overwhelming experi­ence of God’s saving power. Just as Moses as a baby was taken from the Nile and only then really received the gift of life, so Israel now feels as if it has been, so to speak, taken out of the water: it is free, newly endowed with the gift of itself from God’s own hands. In the biblical ac­count, the people’s reaction to the foundational event of salvation is described in this sentence: “[T]hey believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses” (Ex 14:31). But then follows a second reaction, which soars up from the first with elemental force: "Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord” (i 5: i). Year by year, at the Easter Vigil, Christians join in the singing of this song. They sing it in a new way as their song, because they know that they have been “taken out of the water” by God’s power, set free by God for authentic life. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 136]
The singing of the Church comes ultimately out of love. It is the utter depth of love that produces the singing. “Cantare amantis est”, says St. Augustine, singing is a lover’s thing. In so saying, we come again to the trinitarian interpretation of Church music. The Holy Spirit is love, and it is he who produces the singing. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who draws us into love for Christ and so leads to the Father."

Singing is a lover's thing. May it become our thing this day.

St. Cecilia pray for us

Thursday, November 21, 2013


2 Macc 2:15-29; Ps 50 To the upright I will show the saving power of God; Luke 19:41-44

We continue to read and reflect on the stories of faith in the book of Maccabees.  We heard the story of Eleazar, the 90 year old who chose to remain faithful rather than scandalize the youth.  We encountered the mother who encouraged her seven sons to be faithful regardless of the torture and impending death sentence so as to live the faith and die worthy lives.

Today we encounter Mattathias who decides to no longer be passive but chooses to take action as he puts his life on the line for his faith and the faith of the nation.

He refused to be bought by accolades and promises of friendship with the king along with gold and silver for the betrayal of his faith.

He becomes the aggressor as he seeks to restore order to his nation.

The story of Maccabees eventually leads to the festival of lights; it is where the Jewish days of Hanukkah celebrate the rededication of the Temple at the time of the Maccabean revolt.

The feast reminds and retells the story of the light that refused to burn out.

Ultimately the stories of faith we encounter in the book of Maccabees all point to that same reality of the light of faith refusing to burn out.

Darkness and doubt may arrive on the scene but it will also depart for the light of faith burns steady and true.

The Maccabean revolt is the revolt of light against darkness; hope against despair; faith against unbelief;  

Every time we pray and live our faith we enter into that revolt ourselves; we put our lives on the line.

We become active and no longer just passive believers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


2 Macc 7:1-31; PS 17 Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full; Luke 19:11-28

What does a mother's love consist?

Think about that for moment?  How does the image of a mother's love take shape in our heart and mind?

There is so many things to be said about a mother's love.

I am not going to bore you with a list of possible answers to the question.  However, I will direct your attention to the  first reading which invites us to not so much rethink or re imagine what a mother's love consist of but rather to yeah and instruct us to see what is and should be at the heart of not just a mother's love but love itself in all relationships.

The reading goes as follows, "Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother, who saw her seven sons perish in a single day, yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.  Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage, she exhorted each of them in the language of their ancestors with these words: 'I do not know how you came into existence in my womb; it was not I who gave you the breath of life, nor was itI who set in order the elements of which each of you is composed. Therefore, since it is the creator of the universe who shape's each man's beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of the law."

And to the one son she continues, "Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them."

She encourages her son to die.

Most mothers are excellent at making sure the material needs of their children are met.  Most do this in an disorderly fashion that is they only focus on this reality.  So many neglect the spiritual part.  And this is where their love s shaky at best.

In fact, to neglect the spiritual aspect of a child's life is to neglect the life itself.

This is what the mother shows us. True love will never forsake the spiritual well being of another for the sake of the material but will forsake the material for the sake of the spiritual.

Look in to your life?  How do fair in regards to the material welfare of those you love?  How do you fare in regards to the spiritual welfare?  Which takes precedence?  Which is primary?  The answer to the question reveals the state of your love?

Perhaps like in the gospel we have stored away the gold coin God has given us, hidden in a handkerchief.  It is time to bring into light and be creative and apply a little elbow greece to the spiritual side of reality.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


2 Macc 6:18-31; Ps 3 The Lord upholds me; Luke 19:1-10

What role does our elderly play in our society?

Many of them are ushered off to the local resident home or nursing facility and forgotten by family and friends as life goes on and the family and friends get on with life.

There they sit waiting for death.  Now this may seem to be a harsh treatment of thing but nonetheless it does capture the reality of things.  We have last the art of taking care of family.  We struggle with valuing the lives of those who are aged, crippled, disfigured, hobbled, immobile and the like.

We put them out of our sight for as they out of sight out of mind.  If we don't see them then we won't have to think about them and does we we can as i mentioned above get on with our life with less bother.

But there are those who sincerely invest in the elderly, and i don;t mean see it as an opportunity to make money though that is obvious.  But there are family and friends who see value in the aged, elderly, those who have journey far and wide in life and love.

As they move toward the end of the earthly life, they are looked upon with respect and admiration regardless of their utility.

Which bring me to the first reading for today.

We encounter Eleazar who is described as "as man advanced in age and noble appearance."

He is elderly.  He has lived and loved.  He is drawing close to the end of his earthly life.

At the eve of life he is asked to compromise his faith by eating a pork chop.

Okay maybe not exactly a "pork chop" but pork which was seen as blasphemous and a sacrilege to the faithful jew and the nation of Israel.

Why?  Because they were asked to abstain from pork as way of honoring God.

Yet though he chooses to not compromise faith and spit out the pork he is ridiculed and asked to pretend to eat it for the sake of his life, "they urged him to bring meat of his own providing, such as he could legitimately eat, and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice prescribed by the king; in this way he would escape the death penalty, and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him."

He asked not only to compromise his faith but also to pretend in such a way that he would give false witness to every one else.

The scripture describes Eleazar with the following, "But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood; and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God."

What a beautiful description and the power of witness.

Why because Eleazar wanted tone a good witness to the young as he says "At our age it would unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young people  would think the ninety year old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion.  Should I pretend for the sake of brief moment of life, they would be led astray  by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age."

So what does he do?  Scripture says he "manfully" gives up his life and thus leave a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered holy laws.

All because of pork chop we are left with a noble witness and courageous example of fidelity.

Who says the little things don't matter?  But Oh they do and add up as well as we see in the life of eleazar and thus become a "model of courage and unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation."

Even pork chops can be used to give glory to God and witness to the nations.

Today, don't overlook the small acts of fidelity.  They add up huge in a lifetime of fidelity.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Wisdom 13:1-9; the heavens proclaim the glory of God; Luke 17:26-37

We live in an age where identity theft is everywhere.  People fill out credit cards using other people's information then charge on the card and leaving another holding the bag.   There are many people who hack other people's accounts and computers stealing information, stealing identities, and reeking havoc. 

Fraud seems to be everywhere.  It has become a stable part of our society.  We take credit for another's work.  We plagiarize another's ideas, writing, thoughts and everything else inbetween. 

But there is a greater fraud prevalent in our society that is often over looked.  It has led to the slow decline of our morality, our standards, and our values.  It has increased despair and depression and has attempted to beat hope into submission. 

This particular fraud is the most dangerous.  It is identity theft on a large scale. 

The first reading points it out: "all men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan."

It is not  that we have stolen God's identity but rather we have refused to acknowledge it, but couldn't that be the same thing.  We have give credit falsely to the primordial slime, to chance, to accident when the world screams at us the truth of being designed. 

We look at the world around us and we turn a blind eye to the reality right before us daily in our life.  Rather than seeing the hand of the creator who holds all things together we just see our own hands.  

We have stolen the identity of God, we have kidnapped it from society, removed it from our school and work and buried it beneath our illogical conclusions.  Rather then letting the evidence lead us we  have  been leading the witness, as they say. 

We have committed fraud not in stealing an identity but in refusing to acknowledge one. 

As the reading continues, " the original source of beauty fashioned them." 

Because we have refused to acknowledge God in his creation, we have also closed our eye to real beauty.

How often in our society have we proclaimed beauty where beauty is lacking?  How often have we rejoiced in that which is ugly though not realizing it until it was too late?

Think about what we find humorous?  Think about the movies and entertainment that receives the greatest accolades?  Think about our legislation and laws that we celebrate?  

Think about the parades and gatherings?

We celebrate ugliness and call it beauty!  How bizzare!

We have been perverted because we have chosen to live in falsehood. 

Jesus sums  it up at the end of the gospel today, "where the body is, there also the vultures will gather."

Today we pray to cast off the falsehood and let the truth set us free. May the heavens declare the glory of God and firmament proclaim his handiwork! Psalm 19

Thursday, November 14, 2013


"And passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets. For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom." Wisdom 7

"Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”

Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.” Luke 17 

Yesterday I went to visit the island of Molokai, the leper colony.  Even today there remains 17 or so patients who reside on the bottom side of the island .

We saw the place where sister Marianne, now st Marianne, and Fr Damien, now st Damien, lived out their vocation. 

They spent their lives tending to the sick and dying seeking to bring some small sense of dignity to the patients.

The first reading describes the fruit of wisdom in the human heart where she produces friends of God.

The saint not only becomes a friend of God but they busy their life trying to help others that they to have counted as friends of God as well.  It is that friendship with God that clarifies our truest dignity.

This is why st Damien and st marriage did what did so tirelessly.  Realizing our friendship with God has a deep impact on the lifestyle we choose to participate in daily.

When Jesus speaks I. Today's gospel that "for behold the Kingdom of God is among you" he is inviting people to embrace the friendship God is offering in and through the very presence of Jesus himself.

Jesus is the embodiment of God's friendship toward humanity, a friendship that finds its perfection not in what we do but in the suffering and rejection Jesus chooses to undergo in order to prove the friendship is not temporary nor existing in certain conditions or circumstances.  The friendship is tried and found true and lasting.

The friendship offered by God does not waver but it is always waiting with open arms to receive us more fully into that bond of life and love and loyalty.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Luke 17

"As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

I have recently been reading a book on prayer.  It isn't a normal book on prayer.  It isn't a theological discourse or even a scriptural based exercise in prayer, but rather it is one woman's experience, practical and readily available to everyone.

She breaks prayer down into 4 different words: help, thanks, wow, amen.

She uses these for words to enter into this humorous and thought provoking look into prayer and how our life is prayer.

Help, thanks, wow, amen.

As I reAd this morning's gospel passage and journeyed with the ten lepers who seek Jesus' attention and continued as I went back to Jesus with the foreigner who on his knees expresses a new dimension of gratitude I couldn't help but think of these four little words: help, thanks, wow, and amen.

Here is a few of her insights:
"But where do we start on the daily walk of restoration and awakening? We start where we are. We find God in our human lives, that includes the suffering...if I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little. ..

"Praying help means that we ask that something give us courage to stop in our tracks, right where we are, and turn our fixation away from the knot of our problems ...and we turn our eyes to something else..."

"Grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though you want clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on."

"Without revelation and reframing, life can seem like an endless desert of danger with scratchy sand in your shoes, and yet if we remember or are reminded to pay attention, we find so many sources of hidden water, so many bits and chips and washes of color, in a weed or the gravel or a sunrise...""

"Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides.  It means you are willing to stop being such a jerk."

"When Sam was six, he explained to me why we call God "God".  "Because when you see something so great, you just go, 'God!'"


"The amen is only as good as the attitude"

The foreigner who returns experienced all of these in rapid succession: help, thanks, wow, amen.

But don't we as well in our daily walk.  We just need to keep our eyes open, hearts humbled, heads raised to heavens and our arms busy in service to others: help, thanks, wow, amen becomes like the air we breathe and the life we lead.