Tuesday, December 31, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

Here is the ultimate substance of our future.

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

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

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

Here we begin our new year.  

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

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

Sunday, December 29, 2013


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

In the end what will carry the day?

What will ultimately lead to success or victory in life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Money, Money, Money.

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

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

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

But in the end what will carry the day?

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 27, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 20, 2013


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

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

The Grinch.

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

If you remember, when the Grinch is introduced:

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

His heart was too small. 

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013


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

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

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

How's that for Christmas Spirit. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A poem for the season

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

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

The Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 13, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Jesus seems to be preoccupied with the little ones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 6, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Nick would have been a good hobbit. 

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 5, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The poor trample it to the ground.

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

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

Christianity is never meant to be a living of comfort.

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

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

Who are we serving when we do that?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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