Friday, August 30, 2013


Mt 25:1-13

The parable of the ten virgins: 5 were wise and 5 were foolish.

As we read the parable, I wonder how many of the so called foolish virgins actually considered themselves foolish and how many of the wise virgins actually considered themselves wise.

My best guess is that the wise virgins were just being practical.  They thought ahead to realize that perhaps there might be a delay so why not bring extra oil.   After all being practical means we step aside from theory and focus in on reality and the actual doing of something. Being practical simply means put in to practice and after all isn't that what Jesus invites us to do throughout the gospel: practice, be practical, keep it real.

Or if they were like me, perhaps they were so afraid of the dark, they didn't want to be without light so extra oil they packed just in case.

The so called foolish well maybe they suspected the bridegroom to come a little earlier or maybe even ahead of schedule and figured they had it covered. Those darn presumptions seem to get in the way all the time.

But even before we get to the whys and whats of the virgins we need to stop and look at the bridegroom for a moment.

What gives with bridegroom?  What is his MO?

It seems the bridegroom has a particular habit of coming suddenly, arriving in unexpected moments.
Now this is important for us.  Understanding this can certainly help with the distinguishing factors of "wise" or "foolish".

The wise had known that the bridegroom liked the surprise, the unexpected entrance where as the foolish they were just plain stupid.  They didn't seem to focus on the bridegroom at all, just on themselves.  Maybe that's the difference.

Are we looking inward or outward; do we zero in on our presumptions or on the reality at hand?

Are we practical or just stupid?

In the end the foolish were just wedding crashers well as the wise were guest of the bridegroom.

Just a thought!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Jeremiah 1:17-19; PS 71 I will sing your salvation; Mark 6:17-29

"Gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you. Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them.  For it is I this day who made you a fortified city,  a pillar of Iron, a wall of brass, against a whole land."

These are the words of God to Jeremiah, perhaps to motivate him, to encourage him, to instill him a burst against the rising fear and sense of doom as he stares down his mission.

There are times when we are asked to do things that seem overwhelming.  We feel anything but like a pillar of iron or wall of brass.  In fact, we feel weak and fragile as we embrace the reality before us, especially when it comes to speaking the truth in love.

So what do we do when it seems the odds are against us and the words don't seem to want to formulate in  mouth and our spine feels like rubbery jelly.  How do we manage to speak the truth in love when everything in us wants to just tolerate the evil for the sake of false peace?

This is the dilemma we face often in our life.

The answer is clearly shown to us by Jon the Baptist.  Sometimes you just have to let your head roll.  The truth has to be expressed for only then does love ring true as they say.

We must be willing to put our head on the platter because if we compromise truth often enough we begin to lose part of our soul.  We forsake our own life when we turn aside from what is truth and good.

Where truth is denied love is mocked.  John the Baptist understood this very well.

So his head was separated from his body but truth can never be separated from love otherwise wants a head and body for if not to stand at defense of that which makes the world go round: truth and love.

Sometimes we have to stand fast and let our head roll.
This is true passion that transforms the world.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Ps 139 you searched me and you know me; Mt 23:27-32

"If this or that person can do it, why can't I?"

These are the words St. Augustine thought he heard at the time of his conversion, and they were among the last encouragement  he needed for risking the leap into faith and into God's love.

Why Can't I?

As Pope Benedict points out, Augustine became a Christian not by birth but my conversion.

Even in baptism we are reminded we receive the capacity for faith but not actual faith.  Actual faith comes by way of conversion, an experience that points us toward a life of holiness.

St. Augustine had a deep thrust and a constant restlessness that kept him from settling for less, settling for mediocrity or superficiality.

He sought truth.  He sought it in a prestigious career, in possession of things, in the voices that promised instant gratification.  He made mistakes, encountered setbacks, and understood sadness.

But he never quit. Eventually he came to the realization that as he searched for truth, it was Truth that had searched for him.

Augustine was not afraid of the truth and perhaps that is why he is so  important for us today.

There is a lot of fear in regards to truth in our society and culture.
There are many who refuse to acknowledge truth but wish to twist it to be what they need at any given moment.

Not Augustine.
Then it happened.  Not that it made his life easy.  No but conversion gave his life a new kind of direction, a direction toward something more, a direction that pointed toward  a life beyond oneself.

Pope BEnedict points out the following, "For Christian holiness does not consist in being superhuman and inhaling an extraordinary  talent or greatness that others do not have.  Christian holiness is simply the obedience that puts us at God's disposal wherever he calls us."

This is where actual faith is realized.

St. Augustine pray for us that we never settle for less, for superficiality or mediocrity but allow the restlessness to drive us toward truth head long.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; PS 139 You  have searched me and you know me, Lord; Mt 23:23-26

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine.  Monica was the mother of three children.  It could be said that Augustine was her problem child.

He refused to accept the faith.  He began to traverse down a dark and windy path of hedonism, pleasure seeking destruction.

Mom was worried, as most mothers would be.

So what did she do?

She prayers, she cried, and she stalked him.

Well perhaps not literally stalked him, but none the less she was persistent it locating him, tracking him down, showing up to events and places he would be and eventually by the grace of God brought him back to the church.

She didn't nag but she didn't do nothing either.  She was intimately involved in reminding her son where he came from and what was at stake.

She was tireless in her effort to win her son back to the faith.

Prayer, tears, and persistence.

St. Monica is definitely a force to be dealt with as are most mothers, if you haven't noticed.

We turn our attention to St. Paul and his words this morning, "that is how we speak, not as trying to please men, but rather God who judges our hearts..."

And again we look at the psalm for this day, "you have searched me and you know me." (Ps 139)

Today spends some time in that reality of God searching and knowing each of us.  It is comforting to know that we don't have to pretend before God nor do we have to pretend before others.  Our true self is known inside and out by the watchful gaze of God.

This thought should bring us security and trust and drive away shame.

Shame is an a result of trying to hide something form another.  There is no hiding from God who searched and probes and nows us through and through.

Take some time today to embrace that reality and let the peace of God be your foundation.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks

Friday, August 23, 2013


Ruth 1:!,3-6,14-16,22; Ps 146 Praise the Lord, my soul; Matt 22:34-40

"Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God."

Thus Naomi and her daughter in law arrived in Bethlehem.
Now this may seem like an insignificant  moment in history, but then again doesn't every moment start off as insignificant.

Which brings me to Thomas Merton and the following observation he makes,

"Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.  For just  as wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.  Most of these unnumbered seeds parish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them, for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity, and love."

There are no insignificant moments.  Though every moment starts small it leaves a big footprint on the soul.

Ruth's willingness to journey with her mother in law back to Bethlehem, a foreign country to her, was quite a small moment that began a tidal wave of influence.

Her meager refusal to abandon her mother in law in her time of need, this moment of loyalty and devotion to her dead husband's mother begins the foundation that paves way for the coming of King David, the shepherd boy.

Ruth will eventually meet another and will marry and bear a child who shall become the grandfather of David.  Thus begins the reign of the king though hidden and out of sight yet to be discovered through the time and pages of history.

Ruth simply yes to her mother in law began the great unfolding of God's plan for through her great grandson David, God shall reveal his pledge and promise to raise a king whose throne shall never go empty and whose kingdom shall know no end.

In Bethlehem it begins the unfolding of God's plan.

It also begins where we are daily.  Each moment is filled with grandeur of God.  Each moment beckons at us t take notice.  There is no thing as insignificant when God's plan is at sway.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Better than or better for

Judges 9:6-15; Ps 21 Lord, in your strength the king is glad; Mt 20:1-16

We listen today to the parable Jesus gives us the workers in the vineyard. The workers are picked up throughout the day and at the end of the work day the last ones hired get paid first and they get paid the same amount as those who worked all day.

The workers who started early in the day began to complain about the unfair treatment.

How dare they get paid the same amount though they did more work?

For them it seemed unfair according to their standards of just compensation.

But perhaps that is the problem not just with them but with us.

We all go around judging things based on our own hidden agenda or hidden standard or just and unjust without stopping to ponder what is just in regards to God's goodness.

We get to busy defending our standard rather than standing a defense for goodness that comes forth from God's standard.

We often get caught up in comparing ourselves to others and exaggerating how we are better than they are or just better than rather than shifting our focus where we are better for them.

This is the line of standard Jesus introduces us to in today's gospel.

Are we busy making ourselves better than the next guy or better for the next guy?

Only when we set aside those childish attitudes of comparing our selves to others or wanting to be better than other can we begin to shift our focus and our energy to that which is more constructive: being better for the other person that better so that we can aid them and help them and guide them forth.

Thus we can truly rejoice when goodness enters the lives of others and stop calculating how we have been cheated and start calculating how we can be helpful.

In the end we don't get what we deserve at least we hope we don't. rather we get simply because God gives and our life is always a seeking after to return the favor and return the generous offer laid at our feet.

This is how we live out the words of St. Paul, to restore all things to Christ that is to renovate the world and seek its original beauty.


Saturday, August 17, 2013


we continue our reflection on the "Our Father" the prayer Jesus gives the disciples at their request, "Lord, teach us how to pray."

Over the past few Sundays we have reflected on this prayer a bit.

We looked at the context in which the prayer is given in the gospel, both in Matthew and Luke.  We also  asked the question, why do we pray and what is the purpose of prayer only to discover that prayer isn't about changing the circumstances around us as much as it is about changing or transforming the one who prays.

We noted that the Prayer can be broken in to five bare essentials when it comes to prayer:
Adoration, Surrender, knocking/kneading (seeking what God gives and working it so that it can become food for us and others), forgiveness, asking God to escort us through life.

This week I would like to reflect on the last part of the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from Evil..."

In order to mature and to make real progress we need adversity.  We need to be tried.  Trials help us discover who we are and whose we are.  Just like grapes need to be fermented in order for the gladness of wine to be tasted upon our lips so we need purification and transformation.

God will try us but never tempt us.  This part of prayer reminds us of that important distinction.

When we are tried we are more intimately united to Christ himself who was sent into the desert to be tested.  God allows us to be tried perhaps to dampen our pride so that we don't form too high opinion of ourselves and keep us readily disposed to reach forth for God's grace.

When we pray "deliver us from evil..." we are essential invoking the need for redemption for God to rescue, redeem, and to free us.

The whole of salvation history is caught up in the last petition that connects back to the first three uniting us to God's kingdom.

We return full circle.

Evils are necessary for purification and transformation.  They reek havoc in our life but they lead us forth to maturity.

It is Evil singular that we ask God to deliver us.  Evil singular is that which can destroy.  We ask God to keep us focused so that in our concern for goods we do not lose sight of God.

This is what the first petition of the prayer is about.  we are asked to prioritize with the Father at the center of our life and love.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Vigil readings:  1Chronicles 15:3-16; 16:1; Ps 132 Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Luke 11:27-28

Readings during the day: Revelation 11:19-12:1-10;Ps 45 The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold;  1corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56

Don't shrug your shoulders; don't frown in sadness; don't give into despair; don't let the darkness entrap you; don't let the lie become truth.

Our God is fascinating; what he does always surpasses the impossible.

Let me repeat.

Our God is fascinating; what he does always surpasses the impossible.

God looked upon a woman, one from our race, one who belonged to the nameless, the humble, the forgotten; one who belonged to the exalted, famous, the renown; one who belonged to the faceless, homeless, exiled; one who belonged to the poor and the rich alike.

God looked upon a woman one like us and loved her, not for his sake, not for her sake, but for our sake.

God looked upon a woman and found such beauty amongst us.

That one who comes from us in time has now found favor in eternity.

Here is what the apostolic constitution that which pronounces, declares, and defines the Assumption to be a  revealed dogma that Mary having completely the course of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory states:

"The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purposes of his own mind the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that He interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work  together unto good for those who love him."

In order to temper our sorrows he gives us a reason to rejoice.

In Mary one like us has been exalted into heaven.  In deed the door way to heaven has been unbound, loosed, set open for us.

St Paul tells us that as the Body of Christ we should rejoice with those who rejoice.  The joy experienced by one member should be an occasion of joy for all.

Mary's joy is complete has she enters heaven and that joyful fulfillment reaches down and touches us here and now.  The grace of redemption has brought her home and that grace that worked for her works for us.

The toil of our journey is not in vain.  Mary surrender to God and that surrender has been turned into glory.

Our yes to God is not in vain.  God who is fascinating.  God who always surpasses the impossible and allows the  impossible to be seen by all  as Mary is assumed body and soul into heaven.

In the Assumption of the Blessed Mother the fruit of the resurrection is realized and its effects on us can now be fully anticipated.

We rejoice because we have a reason that cannot be denied.

As Jesus reminds us, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

To surrender is divine for it is traded for glory.  As Paul reminds us, "when that which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: Death is swallowed up in victory...Thanks be to God who gives us victory through our lord Jesus Christ."

Mortality has been clothed in immortality.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Brave and steadfast

Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Response The portion of the Lord is the people; Mt 18:1-5,10, 12-14

As we continue to journey with Moses and the people of Israel from Egypt to the promised land, we are introduced to Moses' farewell address.

Moses is bidding goodbye as he prepares himself for death.  He has recapped for the people all that they had experienced together.

He reveals his legacy.

What is our legacy?  What will people remember us for?

Will they remember us being bitter, hostile, angry, self serving or will they remember something more profound?

What will the people remember Moses for?  They will remember that God will never forsake them.

This is his legacy to the future generation.

So he invites them one last time to recommit and to trust the guidance of God who has led them thus far.

He exhorts them to be "brave and steadfast."

This invitation is more than just words it had been exemplified through out his life.

As Moses exhorts the people to be brave and steadfast, he then turns to Joshua the one who will replace him and invites him to do the same.

It is a reminder to us that bravery and steadfastness is easier when you have someone to be brave with, someone to stand with.  Bravery is always more readily accessible when there is another around to bolster you.

Who are we brave with?  Who helps us to stand firm?

Who do we help stand firm?

Friday, August 9, 2013


Dt 4:32-40; Ps 77 I remember the deeds of the Lord; Mt 16:24-28

We have entered into the Book of Deuteronomy.  It is the last book of Moses, before he bids farewell and gives the reigns to another.

Most of the book of Deuteronomy is a looking backwards.

We live forward but we understand it backwards.  That is we can only sometimes makes sense out of life by stop, hitting the pause button, and replay what we have experienced.

Only in retracing our steps can we begin to see the pattern unfold, the hand of God at work.  Too often we rush full speed ahead with out a second look and we miss it altogether.

We need to stop, pause, replay often so that we can see the hand of God at work and thus enter into a familiar litany of gratitude that unfortunately is not familiar enough.

In our attempt to pray we should begin to include this pausing and looking backward so that gratitude and appreciation blossom in our heart.

As we look to the reading today at Moses' invitation to remember what God has done, we discover God's motivation.  Why does God do what he does?  Why does he put up with us and or rebellious nature?

Short and quick answer: God does what he does so that he might be made known to us.  He wants to be known so that he can be loved not for his benefit but for ours.

This is the most important part of the revelation.  God makes himself known not for himself but purely for our benefit as we embrace the gift of life.

We honor God by following his commands, this is true, but the honor given to God ultimately is honor given to us, ourselves.

We are the beneficiaries.

We live forward but understand it backwards and thus gratitude becomes real and true strengthen rises in the heart.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Numbers 20:1-13; Ps 95 If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts; Mt 16:13-23

Today we have two reprimands from God.  In the first reading Moses is reprimanded for not being faithful in showing forth the sanctity of God before the children of Israel.

Secondly, Peter is reprimanded by Jesus in the gospel with these words, "Get  behind me Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Two things to consider: sanctity and sanity.

Sanctity has to do with the will and its work is to love, to choose, to act and ultimately to love what is good.

Sanity has to do with the intellect and its work is to know, to understand, to see and to ultimately see what is there.

Sanctity is to love what is good and sanity is see what is real.

Moses did not love what was good.  He chose his own emotions over God's command and act with regret and bitterness toward the people of God, forgetting that they were not privy to his experience.

Peter, on the other hand, just let reality slip by him. After he grasped reality by recognizing Jesus as the Christ son of the living God, the ground of reality itself, he refused to listen to him.  In one moment he is sane and the next insane.

Sounds a lot like us.    How often do we profess Jesus as the son of God and then in the next moment refuse him in our life because we don't like the circumstances or situation that is unfolding due to our profession of faith.

We have to let reality become our  focal point no matter the circumstances or situation.  We must pray for the grace to love what is the highest good regardless of the passion that wants to take over.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Numbers 13:1-2,25-14:1,26-35; Ps 106 Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people; Matt 15:21-28

On every step of the journey from Egypt to the promised land there has been one consist reality: rejection, rebellion an forgetfulness.

The ole adage of one step forward and two steps back would be a good way to sum up the experience of Israel in regards to God's care and bounty.

The people continually looked for a reason to disbelieve or distrust.

Have you ever known someone like that?  Someone who just seemed to reject any notion of progress or change? Or have you known someone who always brings a negative attitude to every situation: the glass is always half empty no matter what goes on.

This seemed to be the majority of attitude among the people of Israel.

They were always biting the hand that fed them and discrediting or discounting the power and majesty of God.

God would do an amazing thing and it would linger in their memory banks briefly before it got buried beneath the cry of "what have you done for me lately."

Today's reading is a perfect example of this reality.  God's sends 12 men to reconnoiter the promised land.  The people have finally made it.  They were on the brink of seeing their dream of freedom fully realized.

Excitement and enthusiasm filled the air.

40 days the men were given to explore and they come back with info that startled the people and began to bring fear and dread.

The whole nation began to turn sour  and negative toward God's agenda of taking the land by storm.

But their was one force that was faithful and true. Caleb was the one solitary voice that spoke confidently in the strength of God to lead them forth.

One bright spot, one ray of hope.

Sometimes we may feel as if we are the only voice of hope and light.  We are in good company.


Daniel 7:9-14; Ps 97 The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth;  2 Peter 1:16-19; Luke 9:28-36

"we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have been eyewitness of his majesty."

Eyewitness of his majesty.

When we begin to discuss faith, we must necessarily begin to discuss trust.  Who do we trust?  Whose version of the story of salvation do we consider reliable?

How do we make sure we are not being duped?

These seem to be common questions raised by many who are searching for a reason to believe.  Many refuse to believe the testimony of so called "witnesses" or "believers" because they think their testimony is biased.

Many are in search of unadulterated truth.  They don't want someone else's testimony but rather they want to see for themselves, believe for themselves and not take another's word for it.

But most of faith is just the opposite.  We are invited to trust the word of another.  We are invited to let another lead us forth.  We are asked to listen to the witness of those who have gone before us.

This is strange concept for many yet they trust the word of News anchors or reporters and we know how much spin goes on there.

Most of us are hypocritical in this stance...we want to choose which witness we abide by and usually it has to do with the witness that best fits our situation and makes our life easy.

It is time to be honest with ourselves in order to truly be open to the truth revealed.

Secondly, How are we eyewitnesses of God's majesty?

In the gospel for the feast of the transfiguration, Jesus takes Peter, John, James up the mountain with him.

And while Jesus speaks with Elijah and Moises, the three, Peter, John, and James fall of sleep.

The good stuff is unfolding right before their noses and yet they are drowsy.

How often have we slept through the glory of God unfolding in our midst.  It is time to be awake, to give our attention fully to each moment lest we miss the unfolding of the mystery of God's life in and through our life.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Exodus 40:16-38; Ps 84 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God; Matt 13:47-53

Just a few glancing thoughts as we look at today's readings.

"It was Moses who erected the Dwelling."

The dwelling of God had been erected.  It was the place God had chosen to manifest his presence for the nation Israel to assure them of his guidance, his presence, his assistance.  It was God's way of nailing down for the people that they did not go alone.  It was an answer to Moses' request that God go with them on the journey.

We are a sensible people.  We need to see and touch the presence in order to find security and certainty for the journey.  The erected dwelling brought about that reliable reality the human heart longs for.

Though it was only a shadow of things to come as we see int he gospel of John, "the word become flesh and dwelt amongst us."

The dwelling erected by Moses hands is a foreshadowing of the coming of CHrist in the flesh points to the eucharist even here and now.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist and receive with faithfulness we become the dwelling of God.

God has chosen to make our lives the meeting tent of his presence.  Think about that for a moment. As good and as bad as we are God chooses to dwell within us and to allow our lives to make his presence, his dwelling felt in the world.

The gospel points to the action of fishing.   A net is thrown and all is hauled a shore.

There is no prejudice and no discrimination as to what goes into the net.  All is gathered.  All is accounted for.  All is laid before the gazing of the eye of the one who sees most clearly.

In the end, it doesn't matter what we think or how think what belongs and what doesn't.  It isn't our judging that will matter but our living.  We are fish.

We get to swim in the ocean of the world we call life.  We do not know when the net will be cast and we will be hauled a shore but we know it is will come.

The life we had lived and the love we have offered will be that which determines the kept from the thrown away.

The angel will be sent to determine the outcome.  We will be like fish out of water completely vulnerable.

We should practice now by being transparent with out selves and with others.  We can no longer fool ourselves or others.

The angels will come.  They will know.  Let us give them something to rejoice about, a reason to keep us, hold on to us, bring us to the Father's embrace.