Saturday, March 30, 2013

One Word from Pope Francis: Cross

Here are the Pope's words on Good Friday:

"I do not wish to add too many words. One word should suffice this evening, that is the Cross itself. The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. In judging us, he loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.

Dear brothers and sisters, the word of the Cross is also the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did. This evening we have heard the witness given by our Lebanese brothers and sisters: they composed these beautiful prayers and meditations. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for this work and for the witness they offer. We were able to see this when Pope Benedict visited Lebanon: we saw the beauty and the strong bond of communion joining Christians together in that land and the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters and so many others. That occasion was a sign to the Middle East and to the whole world: a sign of hope. 

We now continue this Via Crucis in our daily lives. Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross and let us do so carrying in our hearts this word of love and forgiveness. Let us go forward waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus, who loves us so much, who is all love."

Friday, March 29, 2013

awful, awe-filled, Good Friday: atonement

"We have entered into the three most sacred days of the year.  By these three days all the world is called to attention.  everything that is and ever was and ever will be, the macro and the micro, the galaxies beyond number and the microbes beyond notice-everything is mysteriously entangled with what happened, what happens, in these days.  This is the axis mundi, the center upon which the cosmos turns.  The alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the life of all on this day dies.  Stay awhile with that dying."

Thus wrote Richard John Neuhaus in a not so little book entitled "Death on a Friday Afternoon" as he begins a series of reflections on the seven last words of Christ.

He goes on to invite us to linger a little longer on this Friday's events.  "on the cross we find out who we most truly are, because here on the One who is what we are called to be...we like to hurry on to Easter, but we will not know what to do with Easter's light if we shun the friendship of darkness...he bows his head and breathes his last. Here is a synopsis of what Fr Neuhaus has to say:

These three days are about Atonement: at-one-ment. Whatever the theory of atonement, at the heart of it, forgiveness cost.

Atonement involves a few simple truths:

1)Something very bad has happened.  Something has gone wrong with us and with the world of which we are part.  The world is not and we are not what we know was meant to be. Something is awry and we know this by the long history horrible realities from death camps of Auschwitz to the slaying of innocent children in Connecticut, from  human trafficking and slavery to the holocaust of killing babies in the womb, we know something is not right with us.

This reality of something gone wrong shows up daily from the habits of compromise, loves betrayed, lies excused, dreams deferred,  marriage beds defiled, promises forsaken, lawsuits and liabilities, sexual exploitation, fraud, running a stop light and excessive speeding, to drinking and driving,  and the list go on and on.  Something is not right.

2) We are complicit in what has gone so terribly wrong. It is easier to look at world class criminals, murders, drug traffickers and point the finger and and exclaim we aren't that bad.  Yet, we too have ownership in the problem.  It is difficult to face up to our complicity because the confession of sins does not come easy.   Only the dulling of moral imagination prevents us from seeing how we are implicated in the complex web of human evil.  We rightly condemn the great moral monsters of history-hitlers, stalin and the like.  But we must not forget the words of Christ, 'he who looks at a woman with lust commits adultery in his heart.  The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.

All the trespasses of all the people of all time have gravitated here, to the killing grounds of Calvary.
What ever the measure of guilt, we are all responsible.

3)Something must be done about this that has gone awry. Things must be set right. We can not go on this way of destruction

4) What ever it is that needs to be done, we cannot do it.  Each of us individually, the entirety of the human race collectively-what can we do to make up for one innocent child killed, not mention the death camps and slaughtering grounds that have plagued the pages of history.

If things are to be set right, if justice is to be done, somebody else will have to do it.  It cannot be done by just anybody, as though one more death could somehow "make up for" innocent deaths beyond numbering.

We need a scapegoat.  And history is filled with scapegoats.  Lord commanded Moses that Aaron should bring the goat before the Lord and Aaron should lay both his hands upon the head of the living goat and confess over him all the sins and iniquities of the people of Israel and then send the goat away into the wilderness.

The goat must die.  Something must be done,  But forgiveness isn't cheap because then our trespass wouldn't matter at all.   Forgiveness coat-it must cost-or our trespass doesn't matter.  But our history tells us every sin matters, every trespass counts, every iniquities afflicts the human race deeply.

But we cannot set things right, we cannot set ourselves right, never mind the world-who then?

The act must be done by someone not responsible fro what has gone wrong; it must be done by an act perfectly gratuitous, perfectly free; the cat must be done by one who embodies everything, whose life is not one life among many, but is life itself-a life that is our life and the life of all who have ver lived and ever will live.  Who is this one?

"In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with GOd, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with GOd; all things were made through him, and with out him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

He who is light and life plunges headlong into darkness  and death and does so in perfect freedom.  It is his mission as he tell us, "no one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, "he said, "I have power to lay it dow, and I have power to take it again, this charge i received from my father."

In perfect freedom the Son becomes the goat, the lamb of God condemned by the lies to bear witness to the truth.   GOd does not just take our part, he takes our place.

As st paul reminds us, "for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might becomes the righteousness of God."  God must become what we are in order that we might becomes what God is.  To effectively take our part he must take our place.  Thus God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

This day we realize it is the world in need of reconciling to God's justice not God to the world's justice.
The true Crisis is not in justifying God's ways to us, but in justifying our ways to God.
"he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.:

Atonement:at-one-with.  What has been separated by an abyss of wrong has been reconciled by the deed of perfect love.  What the first Adam destroyed the second Adam restored, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."  We knew not what we did, but today we come to our senses.

Today, here at the cross, our eyes are fixed on the dying one who is the  Lord of life.  We look at the one who is everything that we are and everything that we are not, the One who is true man and true God.

In him, God and man are perfectly one.  At-one-ment.  Here, through the cross, we have come home, home to the truth about ourselves, home to the truth about what God has done about what we have done.  And now we know, or begin to know why this awful,  awe-filled Friday is called good.

holy thursday: go lower

Words from Pope Benedict:

"Jesus represents the whole of his saving ministry in one symbolic act.  He divest himself of his divine splendor; he, as it were, kneels down before us; he washes  and dries our soiled feet, in order to make us fit at table for God's wedding feast."

Over the past year I have been teaching the sixth graders religion.  I have enjoyed it tremendously.  What I have discovered, is that the students have a thirst for fairness.

What they want more than anything else is to be treated fairly, however, they also want the privilege of defining what "fair" means.

So not only do they want life to be fair, but they want it only inso far as it benefits them them most.

It is a unique perspective on fairness.
But let's face it, when it comes to love we are no different.  We want love's give and take to be fair.

We especially want it to be fair in regards to its favoring us, making our life easier, more manageable, less difficult.

We all want fairness; we all want to receive what we give: reciprocity is what we hunger for.

Yet, Jesus shows us another way, a more freeing way of love; he shows us a love no longer hindered by our notion of fairness or reciprocity.

He stoops down and washes the feet of his disciples: these are men who will betray him, deny him, abandon him, forsake him, run far from him.

JEsus washes the feet of those who don't deserve it.  In doing so he shows us a love that is not limited to our desiring, not focused on our wanting, not bound by our notion of fairness, not engineered around our demands, but rather a demeaning love.

It is a love that refuses to be held captive by any notion of fairness.  It just loves.

Think about our life: how often have we said those words: they don't deserve "my" love.  But it is exactly in that moment when true love can finally be understood, received, and given.

Love never ask what we think others might deserve; love simply recognizes that we have been loved beyond what we deserve and we are simply returning the favor, for while we were sinners Christ died for us, so says St. Paul.

In the words of Jesus, "what I have done for you, you must also do."

Think about the first part of the gospel we read John 13.  John tells us that all power is handed over to Jesus.  Think about power for a moment.  Our culture and our society hunger for power and control.

We see Jesus' power throughout the gospel as he multiplies the loaves and fish and feed thousands, makes the leper whole, the bold the see with a simple touch, or raises the dead with a word of command, or calms the storm by his presence.

JEsus has power over the created world, the gospel makes this clear and leaves no doubt.

What would we do with power?  What do we do with power?

Would we have the courage and strength to do what JEsus does, stoop down and become like a slave to wash the dirty, soiled feet of faithless friends.

The fact of the matter JEsus reminds us and shows us that when it comes to love, w can always go lower so that love can be higher on our priority list.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

betrayal and denial

John 13:21-33,36-38

Yesterday we read the above reading and it detailed the act of betrayal by Judas and the the prediction of denial of Peter.

It is important to remember before we point to blame at Judas and Peter and swear how we would never do such a thing that we have already been complicit in the act of betrayal and denial of Christ.

We are all guilty.  None of us can stand innocent before the Cross of Christ.  All of us stand silent before crucified love.

As we ponder the act of betrayal and the reality of denial I direct your attention to the last words of Christ on the Cross: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Think about those words for a moment, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

It is good to remember that forgiveness is not limited to sins that we know. 

Think about that one more time: it is good to remember that forgiveness is not limited to sins that we know. 

Father forgive them for they know not what we do. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

holy week

Luke 22:14-23:56

every year we begin holy week with the proclamation and participation in the passion narrative of JEsus.

this year we here St. Luke's version of the passion of Christ as he journey through the city on the path to Calvary and beyond.

Has you meditate on the passion the one thing that jumped out to me was the realization of the way the apostles behaved at the supper that night of nights.

As JEsus tells them that one of them was going to betray him, as they let the info sink in all they apostles could do was argue about who was greater or more important.

How typical of us all to try to make everything about us. How typical for us to think that our life is about our selves.  How typical like the apostles we focus on our wants, our desires, our plan rather than on God's will, God's wants, God's desire, God's plan for us.

Yet it is JEsus Crucified that exemplifies what it looks like to keep God at the center of our lives no matter the circumstances.  Every step of the way JEsus is focused on one thing, God's will for him.   Jesus gives and perseveres in giving all the way to the end.  JEsus never says he can't take it any more or he has had enough, he just gives.

IF we are going to make this week holy, then we too must move beyond ourselves.  We must allow the circumstances of our life regardless of what they are to stretch us beyond our comfort zone.

We are invited to take all of our annoyances, irritations, frustrations with life and those around us and unite it to the redemptive work of Christ.

Here we realize that suffering endured for the sake of the other offered to God becomes life giving, it brings about a true transformation.

Only in this way, the way of Christ crucified, does goodness, peace, love, forgiveness begin to reign in our lives and only this way does the proclamation of the kingdom echo forth not with words but with the very lives we lead.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

let us make this week holy

Here is a note from Sister Bowman now deceased, but the words continue to inspire as we gear up for holy week, so much unfolds, so quickly, may we give it all a chance to penetrate and soak in the "all" of our lives.

"Let us resolve to make this week holy by claiming Christ’s redemptive grace and by living holy lives.

The Word became flesh and redeemed us by his holy life and holy death. This week especially, let us accept redemption by living grateful, faithful, prayerful, generous, just and holy lives.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by reading and meditating Holy Scripture.

So often, we get caught up in the hurry of daily living. As individuals and as families, reserve prime time to be with Jesus, to hear the cries of the children waving palm branches, to see the Son of Man riding on an ass' colt, to feel the press of the crowd, to be caught up in the "Hosannas” and to realize how the cries of acclamation will yield to the garden of suffering, to be there and watch as Jesus is sentenced by Pilate to Calvary, to see him rejected, mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, to hear the echo of the hammer, to feel the agony of the torn flesh and strained muscles, to know Mary’s anguish as he hung three hours before he died.

We recoil before the atrocities of war, gang crime, domestic violence and catastrophic illness. Unless we personally and immediately are touched by suffering, it is easy to read Scripture and to walk away without contacting the redemptive suffering that makes us holy. The reality of the Word falls on deaf ears.

Let us take time this week to be present to someone who suffers. Sharing the pain of a fellow human will enliven Scripture and help us enter into the holy mystery of the redemptive suffering of Christ.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by participating in the Holy Week services of the church, not just by attending, but also by preparing, by studying the readings, entering into the spirit, offering our services as ministers of the Word or Eucharist, decorating the church or preparing the environment for worship.

Let us sing, "Lord, have mercy," and "Hosanna." Let us praise the Lord with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength, uniting with the suffering church throughout the world -- in Rome and Ireland, in Syria and Lebanon, in South Africa and Angola, India and China, Nicaragua and El Salvador, in Washington, D.C., and Jackson, Mississippi.

Let us break bread together; let us relive the holy and redemptive mystery. Let us do it in memory of him, acknowledging in faith his real presence upon our altars.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy within our families, sharing family prayer on a regular basis, making every meal a holy meal where loving conversations bond family members in unity, sharing family work without grumbling, making love not war, asking forgiveness for past hurts and forgiving one another from the heart, seeking to go all the way for love as Jesus went all the way for love.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy with the needy, the alienated, the lonely, the sick and afflicted, the untouchable.

Let us unite our sufferings, inconveniences and annoyances with the suffering of Jesus. Let us stretch ourselves, going beyond our comfort zones to unite ourselves with Christ's redemptive work.

We unite ourselves with Christ's redemptive work when we reconcile, when we make peace, when we share the good news that God is in our lives, when we reflect to our brothers and sisters God's healing, God's forgiveness, God's unconditional love.

Let us be practical, reaching out across the boundaries of race and class and status to help somebody, to encourage and affirm somebody, offering to the young an incentive to learn and grow, offering to the downtrodden resources to help themselves.

May our fasting be the kind that saves and shares with the poor, that actually contacts the needy, that gives heart to heart, that touches and nourishes and heals.

During this Holy Week when Jesus gave his life for love, let us truly love one another."

Friday, March 22, 2013

rocks and stones v hugs and kisses

JEremiah 20:10-13; Ps 18 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice; John 10:31-42

"any of those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine..."

How often are these words of Jeremiah a fitting description of our own sorted mind?  How often do we seek to catch others doing something wrong and ready to pounce?

Yet, this isn't the only way.  THere is a better way.  We can actually doing it differently. What if we started to catch people doing something right and praise them for it.

What if we started each day with that determination that we were going to catch people red handed doing good and being good.

what if we started looking at the world differently.

I am reminded of the coca cola commercial that uses security cameras to show people doing good and enjoying life rather than just catching criminals in a misstep.

Here is the link   watch if you like, but know i am not supporting Coke but i do like the twist on things that is presented and the slogan: look at the world differently.

"Sing to Lord, praise the lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked"  even and especially if the wicked is in us.

Look at the gospel it goes right along with the first reading and it begins, "jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus."

This is certainly an intense way to begin the gospel, "the good news".  We are invited to enter right in the middle of the plot twist that is going to lead to Jesus death.

There is so much hostility, and anger, and violence, and frustration.  The opening lines begs for us to experience in full force, "picked up rocks to stone him."

They had blood on the brain and were ready to exercise the violent thoughts of their hearts.

WHy?  They wanted to defend God.  That is right they wanted to defend God with violence.

What an awkward and distorted way to show honor to the one who is the source of life, goodness, and grace!

How many times have we done this in our history.  How often has the name of God in whatever religion has been used to bring forth bloodshed upon bloodshed, violence upon violence?

The complaint was that They thought jesus, "you a man, was making himself out to be God."

How ironic that they were almost correct.  It isn't man that was making himself God in the person of Jesus but rather God who has become man.  They were almost correct, but almost didn't count and led to violence.

JEsus is being bullied and quickly the plot turns toward the paschal mystery: suffering, death, and resurrection.
There is only one way this can resolve it self and it is with goodness absorbing the heat of violence and anger, nailing it to the cross, only to restore it to new life and new goodness in the victory over death itself: by his wounds we are healed.

The best part of the gospel is JEsus walks away.  He knows which fights to pick and how to pick them.

If only we knew the same!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Genesis 17:3-9; Ps 105 The lord remembers his covenant forever; John 8:51-59

the story from Genesis begins for us today in this manner, "When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him."

The act of prostrating is certainly a lost act among us who consider ourselves followers of Christ.

Many of us will sit and pray or pray in our cars, usually praying "on the run", or we will walk or find a relaxing position to mediate.

This latter is certainly all the rave.  I remember in the seminary we told often to find a relaxing position to meditate, to center ourselves, to get comfortable so we can give our selves to prayer.

What a joke!  Since when is prayer about us, about our comfort, about our style.

Prayer is primarily about surrender, trust, opening up and letting go and this is the act of prostration.

Here is the definition of prostrate:

 stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission; also : lying flat: completely overcome and lacking vitality, will, or power to rise 
IT is an act of submission where power and will are surrender to God.

The best position for this is to make sure when your pray you hands are always opened, faced upward for in this position before God we can only receive and he can take as he pleases and give as he pleases. 

As Abram is changed to Abraham so to we are changed each time we prostrate ourselves before God with open hands, hearts, and minds: letting God take and give as he pleases. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

make it matter

Daniel 3:14-95; John 18:31-42

Today we roll into Babylon as we encounter King Nebuchadnezzar and three: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego who get thrown in the fiery furnace because of their faithfulness and refusal to give in, give up.

It is certainly a good read for us all.  The crucible is always before us.  We too must be willing to stand in the fire of faithfulness and not give in or give up, throwing our hands in the air as if it didn't matter.  It does matter.  If it doesn't matter to any one esle we must remember it must first matter to us and that is what counts most of all.

The fire comes for us who are faithfull, it will not burn but only burn brighter if we are willing to stand firm.  And Oh what a witness it will bring.

Go ahead and dive right in, be not afraid.  Make it matter and the world around will will learn what matters most of all.

Secondly Jesus inthe gospel has these words: If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciple and you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

It is important to note the difference between being an apostle and being a disciple.

 An aposlte is the one who is sent with a message to be delivered.  They are asked to go forth and share that message with others. 

A disciple is a learner, the one who remains close and is open to the message of the one who is the teacher. A disciple is first and foremost a student.

so many of us want to jump ahead be the apostles and join the ranks of the twelve.  So many want their voice to be heard, their message to be delivered.

 But we forget Jesus asks us primarily to be a learner, a student, to stay close.  We must begin there and stay there.  We can never get ahead of ourselves.

too often we want to give the message before we learn the message.  But we must not forget that in learning the message our life will begin to give it effortlessly, freely.

It is our willingness to learn the message then we begin to bear the message worthy of being heard not before but only in the process of learning, which is daily.

The truth will set you free from the insistence of being heard and guide you to just live.

The way we live is the sermon best preached.  If we are willing to learn daily then that sermon of our life will only get better and better.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ON the feast of St. Joseph, homily by Pope Francis I

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the Inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church.  It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.
I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful.  I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence.  My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.
In the Gospel, we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24).  These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector.  The protector of whom?  Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1).
How does Joseph exercise his role as protector?  Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand.  From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care.  As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.
How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church?  By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own.  This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading.  God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan.  It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit.  Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping.  He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions.  In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ!  Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!
The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone.  It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us.  It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.  It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents.  It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness.  In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it.  Be protectors of God’s gifts!
Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened.   Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.
Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.  Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world!  But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves!  Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives!  Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down!  We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!
Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness.  In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love.  We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!
Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power.  Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it?  Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep.  Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross.  He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46).  Only those who serve with love are able to protect!
In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Rom 4:18).  Hoping against hope!  Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others.  To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope!  For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ.  It is a hope built on the rock which is God.
To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly.  Let us protect with love all that God has given us!
I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me!  Amen.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

point or lift the finger

John 8:1-11

It is often important to have a reference point when it comes to the gospel.  As we look at the woman caught in adultery, there is one critique of JEsus that comes to mind.

Throughout the gospel as Jesus interacts with the scribes and pharisees, there is one consistent response and critique he offers to them.

Jesus often points out to them that they love to lay down the law and point the direction people need to be headed or living but seldom do they lift a finger to help them arrive at the destination.

They point the finger of blame but not lift the finger of mercy and aid.

Another critique is they often  stare down in shame and imprison others in their judgments but seldom look forward to future possibility of transformation that opens up as we journey.

JEsus always chooses the latter: he lifts finger to help and looks forward to transformation that awaits.
For me the most prominent example is seen in the way of the cross in particular the fifth station of the cross traditionally known as Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

We often misunderstand this station.  Initially we think it is about SImon helping Jesus, that one of us as entered the trenches with Jesus to assist him on his way.

This reflection is only secondary. Primarily it is Jesus who enters the trenches for us.  It isn't Simon who  helps carry Jesus' cross but it is JEsus who comes to carry the cross of humanity represented in the person of Simon.

JEsus lifts a finger to come to our aid.  As he walks to calvary he is not just looking at the death that will come but the resurrection that awaits and the future of possibilities that will open wide for humanity.   The grace of the resurrection will offer aid to humanity that they may have life and have it abundantly and offer the gift his joy that our joy may be compete.

He looks forward to this new thing that is about to befall humanity.

This is why JEsus invites us to deepest reality of our lives int he gospel when he says those words, "he who is without sin let him throw the first stone."  IT is an invitation to the great solidarity, we are all sinners.  IT is here alone we discover true compassion and the strength to no longer point to finger but lift the finger of aid, to join in the mission of Christ who enters the trenches and who is committed to offering aid that we might arrive at the future filled with possibilities: life abundant and joy complete.

misery and mercy meet

Today in the gospel we encounter the story of the Woman caught in Adultery. The story is very fitting for our day and age.

It truly is a commentary on our mentality.  How often are we like the scribes and pharisees who seek to catch people in the wrong!  How often are we the ones who point the finger of blame and hold others bound in their mistakes and pains and failures!  How often do we refuse to let others move forward all the while imprisoning them in their past! 
We hunger to catch the other in the act so that we can pull them aside, point the finger, and show ourselves to be better than they.  Listen to the words of the scribes and pharisees as they bring the woman to Jesus, "Moses commanded us to stone such women."  

How quickly we form groups and sides and consider ourselves better than" those" people or people "such as them."
Take a moment to examine your life: when have we been guilty of this reality?

Then one of the most famous biblical passages every written is echoed forth on the lips of Jesus: "let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

The great equalizer.  Jesus invites us to to come to understand at the depths of our being the resounding truth that unites us all, the one great act of solidarity: sinners we are all.  

The one thing we all have in common as St. Paul recites, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. 
Of course this doesn't meant we should let every thing go.  This doesn't mean we should be soft on sin and its effects on society.  It does invites us to deeper level of compassion that wants to help each other rather than condemn each other.  ANd it is precisely in this transition we go awry.  We love to point our faults and failures but we fear the commitment necessary to take the other by the hand and lead them forth to freedom.

One of Jesus main critiques of the scribes of pharisees is that they lay down the law but do not lift a finger to help others live the law.  How do we lift our fingers to help rather than point the finger of blame? 

We should not be concerned with vengeance or punishment but with aid and effort to move from that place of destruction known as sinfulness and misery to that place of renewal and transformation we call mercy. 

IT is fresh beginnings and a new start that Jesus concerns himself with: "go and sin no more." How do we help others go and sin no more.  Too often we beat them down and push them away and glare and point the finger but when do we lift the finger to help them. 

Blaming others is never effective, helping others break free from the chains of sinful attachment, this is where charity begins to be the very foundation of our lives in that intersection of misery and mercy. 
Misery loves company as it often stated but it mercy that misery longs for most of all.
Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future.  We can either direct our attention to the past and be consumed by it or we look forward to the future of things and great hope that awaits and find freedom and discover the bounty of mercy that paves the path of charity.

Here is a bit of story from "Dead man Walking" where sister Prejean accompanied a family to deal with the imprisonment of the one who killed there son
Sister Prejean wrote: “Lloyd LeBlanc has told me that he would have been content with imprisonment for Patrick Sonnier [who murdered LeBlanc's son]. He went to the execution, he says, not for revenge, but hoping for an apology.
“Patrick Sonnier had not disappointed him. Before sitting in the electric chair he had said, ‘Mr. LeBlanc, I want to ask your forgiveness for what me and Eddie done,’ and Lloyd LeBlanc had nodded his head, signaling a forgiveness he had already given.
“He says that when he arrived with sheriff’s deputies there in the cane field to identify his son, he had knelt by his boy — ‘laying down there with his two little eyes sticking out like bullets’ — and prayed the Our Father. And when he came to the words: ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,’ he had not halted or equivocated, and he said, ‘Whoever did this, I forgive them.’
“But he acknowledged that it’s a struggle to overcome the feelings of bitterness and revenge that well up, especially as he remembers David’s birthday year by year and loses him all over again: David at 20, David at 25, David getting married, David standing at the back door with his little ones clustered around his knees, grown-up David, a man like himself, whom he will never know.
“Forgiveness is never going to be easy. Each day it must be prayed for and struggled for and won.” (Dead Man Walking pp. 244-245 New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1993)

Just as forgiveness offered must be struggled for and won through the feelings and sentiments of bitterness and revenge so too forgiveness received requires the same struggle and the same path to victory is often the road of great challenges to overcome our attachment to sin and truly living to be free as God created us to be.
Too many times do we presume on God's mercy, especially when we are filled with misery and yet once we find it we quickly forget the tough road ahead and begin that soft slide back in to sin.

Friday, March 15, 2013

hidden counsels of God

Wisdom 2:1,12-22; The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; John 7:1-2,10,25-30

Just a few words on today's readings as we arrive at another friday during Lent: meat is off the table, abstinence ensues, and the way of the cross will be made by many.

We turn to the book of wisdom, we believe was written fifty years before the coming of Christ, by a jewish author who probably resided in Alexandria, in Egypt.  HE writes to encourage his fellows JEwish brothers in light of opposition and persecution by those jewish who were apostates.

His opening lines set the tone for the whole work, "love righteousness, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness and seek him in integrity of heart, because he is found by those who do not test him and manifest himself to those who do not disbelieve him."

Love righteousness, think of the lord in goodness, seek him with integrity of heart...

As we turn to chapter 2 there is a twist.

There are the '"hidden counsels of God" that we must all take into account.

The hidden counsels of God... Ponder that a moment.

As great as we are at reading people, reading events, making judgments of what is right and what is wrong, at planning or scheming, yet there is the "hidden counsels of God" that ultimately lay beneath the surface of our lives directing the paths that open us to us with each step we take.

This is encouragement for those who think of the lord in goodness and seek him in integrity of heart but for the wicked, their own destruction they plan as they scheme.

We too must be attentive to the hidden counsels of God: only then can true humility and patience begin to take root in our lives, can holiness become an attribute of our love.

Love righteousness those who judge the earth...think of the lord in goodness, seek him in integrity of heart...but when we judge we must be attentive to the hidden counsels of God.

As we make the devotional of the stations of the cross this days and experience the desire for meat think on the hidden counsels of God, especially as we walk in the footsteps of Christ to Calvary and beyond.

Pope Francis first homily

Here is the english translation of the first homily by Pope Francis 1 (highlights are mine)
In these three readings [Isaiah 2:2-5, 1 Peter 2:4-9, Matthew 16:13-19] I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement is the journey [itself]; in the second reading, movement is in the up-building of the Church. In the third, in the Gospel, the movement is in [the act of] profession: walking, building, professing. 
Walking: the House of Jacob. “O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise. 
Building: to build the Church. There is talk of stones: stones have consistency, but [the stones spoken of are] living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. Build up the Church, the Bride of Christ, the cornerstone of which is the same Lord. With [every] movement in our lives, let us build! 
Third, professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ - I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil. 
Walking, building-constructing, professing: the thing, however, is not so easy, because in walking, in building, in professing, there are sometimes shake-ups - there are movements that are not part of the path: there are movements that pull us back. 
This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord. 
I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage - the courage - to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward. 
My hope for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, that the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother, might grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ Crucified. So be it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

thoughts of God

Exodus 32:7-14; Remember us O lord as you favor your people John 5:31-47

Here is an interesting thought line from Albert Einstein, a bit of a glimpse into the madness that was a genius:

"I'm not much with people, and I'm not a family man. I want my peace. I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.

I want t know his thoughts and the rest are details. 

Interesting line of thinking that I can not but be fascinated with.  To know the thoughts of God is certainly a worthy endeavor for anyone, most especially a scientist.  I wonder what most scientist are after today, perhaps they are busy chasing their own thoughts rather than the thoughts of God, at least this is what it seems as you ponder some of their rantings and ramblings. 

But to know the thoughts of God is a noble quest.  The question remains is it attainable. 
What does God think about?  

The readings for today are an insight into the mind of God, as are most of the readings from sacred scripture. 

Sometimes seeing the thoughts of God aren't what we are ready for: 

from the first reading

"I see how stiff-necked this people is.  Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.  Then I will make of you a great nation."

OF course every gospel passage points toward the thinking of God as we listen to the words of JEsus and see how he interacts.  

Most importantly the words of Christ in today's gospel: "but you do not want to come to me to have life."

There it is, kind of the bottom line of all the thoughts of God.  

To come to Jesus to have life. 

The very gravitational pull of our lives that keeps us in orbit.  He pulls us to himself, we can resist, we can run, we can refuse, but the invitation and the call remain.

I want to know the thoughts of God and the rest are details.  

Now don't neglect the details for it is there we build a life; it is there that the thoughts of God purify our thoughts and give direction to our steps daily. 

The details make all the difference.  The details reveal to us the abundance of life and the fullness of joy. 
In the details we either draw close to Christ or keep him at arm's length. 

Lent is to examine this relationship and to move a little closer to the one who offers life.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Splash int he pool of life

John 5:1-6

Words form the gospel: Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way someone else gets down there before me...JEsus said to him Rise, take up your mat, and walk.'

Here are a few words from Pope Benedict XVI for tho year Lent prior to resigning,

"Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity” to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbour than to break the bread of the word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God: evangelization is the highest and the most integral promotion of the human person. As the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, the proclamation of Christ is the first and principal contributor to development (cf. n. 16)."

We can never reduce charity to a simple hand out or a hand up.  Charity with out Christ is just cruel. 

The greatest work of charity is introduce another to a relationship with GOd in Christ. Only in the encounter with Christ, like the man in the gospel, can a human person truly discover the inner strength to Rise, pick up their mat, and walk. 

Too long have we dragged our tale.  Too long have we refused to rise.  Too long have we allowed others to go down before us in the pool of life to spread their own message.  IT is time for Christ to take priority, center stage.

And this introduction is a costly one.  There are many who do not appreciate a relationship with God.  Like the pharisees and scribes there are those who will want to persecute us all the more because of our effort.  Let them persecute, let them rebuff,let them come forth with an attack for in the words of St. paul to love Christ is gain and everything else we count as loss.

Charity without Christ is cruel.  Charity with Christ gets us up and moving in the right direction, no longer just spinning our wheels waiting for someone to push us in the pool of life.  Rather with him we are unafraid, and let nothing hold us back to make that splash into the pool of life.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Novena to St Joseph whose feast is MArch 19th

Novena prayer to Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph, you are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. I have special confidence in you. You are powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me, to your intercession. By the love you have for Jesus and Mary, do not abandon me during life, and assist me at the hour of my death.
Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the immaculate Virgin, Foster-father of Jesus Christ, obtain for me a pure, humble, and charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the Divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore: (Mention your request). Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I am confident that your prayers on my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

A word from Cardinal elector Dolan

A few “bloopers”

March 9th, 2013
We cardinals here in Rome – – along with all our brothers in the Sacrament of Holy Orders – – take our task of teachers of the faith very seriously.
These days in the Eternal City offer us a welcome occasion to do that.  I sure have enjoyed my meetings with people here, especially the journalists, who give me the chance to teach.
It’s clear to me that there are quite a few misconceptions out there about the church.  Let me mention a few to you.
One would be that the Pope has a divine status in the Church.  True, while Catholics love the Holy Father, and consider loyalty to him a virtue, we hardly consider him divine!  He is the Successor of St. Peter, whom we believe Jesus appointed earthly pastor of His Church (Mt. 16).  And anyone familiar with St. Peter, as shown in the New Testament, knows that he was far from divine!  In fact, our first Pope was a big sinner.  He denied even knowing Jesus at the very time the Lord needed his friend Peter the most.
An inquirer even used the word “worshiper” when referring to us Catholics in relation to the Pope.  That’s malarkey!  We can only worship the one true God, not any mere mortal, no matter how revered his office may be, or we violate the first commandment.
A second common misperception is that a new Pope can “change doctrine.”  That, of course, is impossible.  Catholicism is a revealed religion, meaning we believe that God has told us about Himself and about the meaning of life, primarily by sending us His Son as the “Word made flesh.”
To preserve this truth, to “pass on” the faith to our children, is at the very essence of the Church, and the “job description” of the Pope.  He cannot change the deposit of faith.
Some have the impression that we are electing a man who has a “platform,” who can decide new “policies” for the Church.  We are not.
Yes, a new Pope can develop fresh, new strategies to better, and more effectively, teach the doctrines of the faith. In fact, this is a big part of what we call the New Evangelization: to express the timeless truths of the faith – – especially the message and mystery of the Person who called himself the Truth, Jesus – – in a timely, radiant, more compelling way.
Remember the way Good Pope John explained it on the eve of the opening of the Second Vatican Council?  The faith of the Church is a gift that cannot be altered, he remarked.  But, the way this gift is “wrapped” can!  That is always a challenge for a Pope.
In other words, the how of our teaching can change; the what of it cannot.
Because, as Billy Graham used to say, the aim of life is to change our lives to conform to God’s will, not to change God’s will to match ours.  We let God re-create us in His image; we do not attempt to create God in our image!
Finally, some tease me that we are here to elect a “new boss.”  Yes, while I look forward to pledging my obedience to our new Holy Father, I also recognize that his ancient title is “servant of the servants of God.”  Following Jesus, he will be elected to serve, not to be served.
And, he will hardly be a “boss” who tells us what to do, but a shepherd who invites us to walk with him on a journey to eternal life in company with Jesus and His Church.  As Blessed John Paul II observed, “The Church proposes, not imposes.”
There you have a view of the misunderstandings.
Keep us in prayer, please.  Let’s hope we get home soon – – I’m running out of socks!


Joshua 5:9,10-12; Ps 34 Taste and see the goodness of the Lord; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3,11-32
First a quote from Jesus.  It is always good to begin a quote from some famous person known for wisdom and wit.  It is even better to begin with one from Christ himself:

"He who sees me sees the Father."

Invite you to go to John ch 14 and see and experience the context in which this statement is made. It falls under the last supper discourses of Jesus.  The statement is a response to one of the apostles (Philip) exclamatory statement, "Show us the Father and that will be a enough for us."

Secondly, ponder this question: 'Does God love Satan as much as he loves the BlessedVirgin MAry?'

As we read or listen to the story of the Prodigal Son, as the story is so titled, we encounter three characters: son 1 who squanders all he has been given, son 2 who feels entitled and thus is angry and despises his father's generosity, and the father (generous and giving, never judging nor condemning, fully of mercy and forgiveness) yet he seems a bit imprudent with everything.

Let's look at the father's house as related to us in the story.  Let's look at the father's interaction toward both sons.  IT seems at first glance the father is a bit strange.

Son 1 comes demanding his share that he would be owed when his father died.  In some respect the son is wishing the father dead by demanding his inheritance.  Most dad's would probably come unglued as they say, but not this father.  He simply "divided his living between them."

Not only does he not cut off his allowance after such an insult, he doesn't even try to reason with him.
He lets himself be plundered by the boy with out so much of a murmur of protest.

Now we turn son 2.  The older son is feeling a bit entitled, upset, and unappreciated.  He is having his own moment not unlike his brother.  When he refuses to join in the celebration, the feast, the eating of the fatted calf, it is the father who comes out to beg him to reconsider, with no threats, no warnings, no irate exhibit of anger or frustration, just a simple humble request, "my son you are here with me always; everything I have is yours, but now we must celebrate and rejoice..."

This is a strange household indeed. It is certainly a far cry of many households across the land and definitely a far cry from the so called "father" figures many of us were exposed to in our life.

Initially we read the story and we begin to think, "when is this father going to finally stand up for his rights" or "when is this father going to lay down the law" or "when will the father say I command you."

What a strange father who doesn't even seem to give a thought to his own dignity and who doesn't exercise his authority as a persuasive tool.

Looking at the father as he deals with his sons we discover a truth: love if it is love requires and demands freedom.  No living being can be forced to love as no one can be loved by force.

Freedom is the condition of love and love is the endless renewing of freedom.  Love always runs the great risk of freedom: the ability to accept or refuse, to be received or denied, to say yes or to say no.  Love is demanding but it can never be demanded

Like the sons in the story God gives us freedom and he offers his love to us daily: we can refuse him, haggle with him, deny him, or finally come back to him, but he will never take that freedom away.  He will always let us suffer with the consequences of our decision.  He will suffer right along with us, always with the invitation to change before us daily.

Does God love Satan as much as he loves the Blessed Virgin Mary, yes, of course, God is love.
The difference isn't the love offered by God but rather the response to the love by one to whom the offer is given.  Satan's response creates hell.  Mary's response brings heaven to earth.
Where does our response fit in?  This season of Lent, with prayer, fasting, almsgiving, is meant not so much to earn God's love but to make us more readily disposed to respond more generously to the love that is offered.  We are to purify our response.

This is why Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.  He simply is revealing the Father to us.  He is showing us what it looks like to offer love freely without strings attached.

He who sees him sees the Father.

Only when we watch Christ can can truly begin to understand the breadth, height, depth, and length of love and can we become true ambassadors of Christ offering reconciliation to those around us.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Hosea 14:2-10; I am the Lord your God, hear my voice; Mark 12:28-34

Once again the church directs our attention to the voice of the prophet.  Hear was God's chosen channel in communicating to his people.

Even today, they continue to bear witness to the life giving word and judgment of God.  Even today, in our time, we need not look beyond the prophetic voice that echoes hear and now to understand where we stand before God and where he directs our steps daily.

Hosea speaks: "take with you words and say to the Lord...we will no longer say "our god" to work of our hands, for in you the orphan finds compassion."

Think pour often we create new "gods" with out hands.  Think our often we depend on our hands, our doing, our thinking, our understanding and forsake the invitation to trust in the living God himself.

Think how not just the work of our hands but work in itself becomes the measure of our life, the standard of our worship.

Look at the society we have created.  We no longer have time for ourself, for our families, for true rest int he Lord.  We work 24/7.  Sunday is no longer the day of the Lord, the day of the family.

Now we have to go to work or our children have to be at ball practice or school routine.  There is always another "have to" that replaces time for our God and his command to keep holy the Sabbath.

To the detriment of the health of our society, our family, and our own sanity w have forsaken God for the "work of our hands."

It is time to return to the LORD.  Today, examine your life.  See what is really at the center of your plans, your lifestyle as each day unfolds.  Where is God to be find in that busy schedule.

How do you let him have his time so that your time can truly begin to be moved by the giver of time itself?

As JEsus points out in the gospel: "YOU shall love the Lord your GOd with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength..."

God does not what half hearted, half souled, half minded, half strength believers.  We must go all in.

Where is the other half you have given away to other "gods"; it is time to set it free from slavery.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Listen to my voice

Jeremiah 7:23-28; If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts; Luke 11:14-23

Let the prophet speak; head the words that issue forth from his lips.

Can he be trusted?  Does he really have the inside scoop in to the words of God?  The risk belongs to the believing or not believing heart.

JEremiah speaks: "Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people.  Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper."

So that you may prosper...could it really be that easy and simple?

Should it not be more complicated.  Should not require a greater task on our part?  Is God really that eager to lead us forth into prosperity for life?

Listent o my words and you shall be my people.  Walk in my ways and you shall prosper.

How simplistic and yet how complicated and twisted we make it out to be.

How often do fear and anxiety leads us down paths of destruction and make decisions that effect us and our life?

If only we listen to the voice of God rather that the voice of fear.  St John tells us that love cast our fear and God is love.  This is where our ear must bend daily.

Bend it to that voice who has shown us love that is stronger than death, stronger than destruction, stronger than anxiety, stronger than fear.

Then we shall walk and then we shall prosper, not materially, not in wealth and riches and things but in a deep abiding relationship of trust, security, freedom, and peace.

These are things where our treasure should be.  This is where life begins to be what it was created to be.

IS it that simply?  Absolutely.

But be on guard.  As we encounter in the gospel, demons abound to twist the truth, distort and falsifying the word of God.

It is a subtle attack but remember love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.  This becomes the measure by which which we measure the truth and falsity of the voices we hear.

"If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts."