Friday, January 31, 2014


2 samuel 11:1-17; Ps 51 Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinnedMark 4:26-34

Devious.  Treacherous.

This could be the most fitting word to describe King David in today's first reading.  He is devious in his attempts to go undetected, to cover up what he and the wife of another were involved in.

David took Bathsheba the wife of Uriah as if she were his own.  She becomes pregnant.  So david tries to cover it up.  He tries to trick Uriah.  And when the tricks fail he simply has Uriah killed.


Adultery!  Murder!

Uriah probably never knew what was going on.  He never knew the devious nature of his king.

It is hard to imagine any thing more treacherous.

Why did this happen in the first place?

Well look at the beginning of the reading, "at the turn of the year, when kings go out on campaign, David sent out Joab along with his officers and the army of Israel…David ,however, remained in Jerusalem..."

When kings go out on campaign yet David doesn't go.  He stays back and takes siestas.  His life had become filled with leisure and idleness.   If only he would have stayed active and busy.  If only he would have gone out on campaign like kings do then maybe this could have been avoided.

How often in our life does idleness lead to other more dangerous affairs?

This reading gives us a pause to examine many things in our life: motives, intentions, actions.  All of which are essential to a life of holiness and faithfulness.

Jesus reminds us of this reality in the gospel about the kingdom of God and the mustard seed.

The kingdom of God isn't so much about the difference in size between the seed and plant of the mustard tree; rather, it is about service.  The smallest seed becomes useful.  It serves the birds of the air.

Anything touched by grace directed toward service can be a model for the kingdom.  True growth is for service.

David stopped serving God and fell into the sin of self service.

Where is our growth?  Who do we serve?  How is the kingdom realized in our life?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


2 Samuel 6:12-19; Ps 24 Who is the king of Glory?  It is the Lord. MArk 3:31-35

Jesus poses one of the most poignant question in the entirety of the Gospel.  There are two: Who do yo say that I am and Who are my mother ad my brothers?

The first question is posed to Peter and the disciples.  The second we find in today's gospel, Jesus speaks to the crowd that is pressing in around him.

The crowd tells Jesus that is mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for him.  Taking hold the opportunity he uses it to lead the crowd to a deeper understanding of their own identity, "Who are my mother and my brothers? "

The answer to question is a high fast ball, "for whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother?"

Which brings us to world communication day.  Pope Francis addresses us all as he reflects on the importance of communication, technology, and social media

"...they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement.  What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding?  We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm.  This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen.  We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us.  People only express themselves fully when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted.  If we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions.  We will also learn to appreciate more fully the important values inspired by Christianity, such as the vision of the human person, the nature of marriage and the family, the proper distinction between the religious and political spheres, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, and many others.

How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter?  What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel?  In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another?  These questions are summed up in what a scribe – a communicator – once asked Jesus: “And who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29).  This question can help us to see communication in terms of “neighbourliness”.  We might paraphrase the question in this way: How can we be “neighbourly” in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology?  I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication.  Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours.  The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him.  Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other.  Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God.  I like seeing this power of communication as “neighborliness”.

Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road.  The Levite and the priest do not regard him as a neighbour, but as a stranger to be kept at a distance.  In those days, it was rules of ritual purity which conditioned their response.  Nowadays there is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbor.

It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters.  We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves.  We need to love and to be loved.  We need tenderness.  Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication.  The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness.  The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people.  The impartiality of media is merely an appearance; only those who go out of themselves in their communication can become a true point of reference for others.  Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator.  Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence…."

Friday, January 24, 2014


Homily for Mass before March for Life

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
Below is the text of Archbishop Charles Chaput’s homily for the National Prayer Vigil for Life Closing Mass on Jan. 22.  Weather prevented the Archbishop’s travel to Washington. The homily was delivered on his behalf by Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the National Shrine.
First reading: 1 Sm 17: 32-33, 37, 40-51
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 144: 1B, 2, 9-10
Gospel: Mk 3:1-6
Today is the 41st anniversary of Roe v Wade, which effectively legalized abortion on demand.  It’s a time to look back and look ahead.  The abortion struggle of the past four decades teaches a very useful lesson.  Evil talks a lot about “tolerance” when it’s weak.  When evil is strong, real tolerance gets pushed out the door.  And the reason is simple.  Evil cannot bear the counter-witness of truth.  It will not co-exist peacefully with goodness, because evil insists on being seen as right, and worshiped as being right.  Therefore, the good must be made to seem hateful and wrong.
The very existence of people who refuse to accept evil and who seek to act virtuously burns the conscience of those who don’t.  And so, quite logically, people who march and lobby and speak out to defend the unborn child will be – and are – reviled by leaders and media and abortion activists that turn the right to kill an unborn child into a shrine to personal choice.
Seventy years ago, abortion was a crime against humanity.  Four decades ago, abortion supporters talked about the “tragedy” of abortion and the need to make it safe and rare.  Not anymore.  Now abortion is not just a right, but a right that claims positive dignity, the license to demonize its opponents and the precedence to interfere with constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly and religion.  We no longer tolerate abortion.  We venerate it as a totem.
People sometimes ask me if we can be optimistic, as believers, about the future of our country.  My answer is always the same.  Optimism and pessimism are equally dangerous for Christians because both God and the devil are full of surprises.  But the virtue of hope is another matter.  The Church tells us we must live in hope, and hope is a very different creature from optimism.  The great French Catholic writer Georges Bernanos defined hope as “despair overcome.”  Hope is the conviction that the sovereignty, the beauty and the glory of God remain despite all of our weaknesses and all of our failures.  Hope is the grace to trust that God is who he claims to be, and that in serving him, we do something fertile and precious for the renewal of the world.
Our lives matter to the degree that we give them away to serve God and to help other people.  Our lives matter not because of who we are.  They matter because of who God is.  His mercy, his justice, his love – these are the things that move the galaxies and reach into the womb to touch the unborn child with the grandeur of being human.  And we become more human ourselves by seeing the humanity in the poor, the weak and the unborn child and then fighting for it.
Over the past 41 years, the prolife movement has been written off as dying too many times to count.  Yet here we are, again and again, disappointing our critics and refusing to die.  And why is that?  It’s because the Word of God and the works of God do not pass away.  No court decision, no law and no political lobby can ever change the truth about when human life begins and the sanctity that God attaches to each and every human life.
The truth about the dignity of the human person is burned into our hearts by the fire of God’s love.  And we can only deal with the heat of that love in two ways.  We can turn our hearts to stone.  Or we can make our hearts and our witness a source of light for the world.  Those of you here today have already made your choice.  It’s a wonderful irony that despite the cold and snow of January, there’s no such thing as winter in this great church.  This is God’s house.  In this place, there’s only the warmth of God’s presence and God’s people.  In this place, there’s no room for fear or confusion or despair, because God never abandons his people, and God’s love always wins.
We are each of us created and chosen by God for a purpose, just as David was chosen; which is why the words of the Psalmist speak to every one of us here today:
Oh God, I will sing a new song to you;
With a ten-stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
And deliver David, your servant from the sword.
The Psalmist wrote those words not in some magic time of peace and bliss, but in the midst of the Jewish people’s struggle to survive and stay faithful to God’s covenant surrounded by enemies and divided internally among themselves.  That’s the kind of moment we find ourselves in today.  All of us are here because we love our country and want it to embody in law and in practice the highest ideals of its founding.  But nations are born and thrive, and then decline and die.  And so will ours.  Even a good Caesar is still only Caesar.  Only Jesus Christ is Lord, and only God endures.  Our job is to work as hard as we can, as joyfully as we can, for as long as we can to encourage a reverence for human life in our country and to protect the sanctity of the human person, beginning with the unborn child.
We also have one other duty: to live in hope; to trust that God sees the weakness of the vain and powerful; and the strength of the pure and weak.  The reading from Samuel today reminds us that David cut down the warrior Goliath with a sling and a smooth, simple stone from the wadi.  And what I see here before me today are not “five smooth stones from the wadi” but hundreds and hundreds of them.  Our job is to slay the sin of abortion and to win back the women and men who are captive to the culture of violence it creates.  In the long run, right makes might, not the other way around.  In the long run, life is stronger than death, and your courage, your endurance, your compassion even for those who revile you, serves the God of life.
The Gospel today tells us that Jesus has power over illness and deformity.  But even more radically, it reminds us that Jesus is the Lord of the sabbath itself – the one day set aside every week to honor the Author of all creation.  The sabbath is for man, as Jesus says elsewhere in the Gospel, not man for the sabbath.  In like manner, the state and its courts and its laws were made for man, not man for the state.  The human person is the subject of life and the subject of history; immortal and infinitely precious in the eyes of God; not an accident of chemistry, not a bit player, and not a soulless object to be affirmed or disposed of at the whim of the powerful or selfish.
If Jesus is the lord of the sabbath, he is also the lord of history.  And sooner or later, despite the weaknesses of his friends and the strengths of his enemies, his will will be done — whether the Pharisees and Herodians of our day approve of it or not


1 Samuel 24:3-21; Ps 57:2-11 Have mercy on me, God, have mercy; MArk 3:13-19

Here are a few words from the saint of today:

"God takes pleasure to see you take your little steps; and like a good father who holds his child by the hand, He will accommodate His steps to yours and will be content to go no faster than you. Why do you worry?” St. Francis De Sales


Saul is traveling with his soldiers to destroy David who has given him victory over the Philistines because of jealousy and rivalry.   In the midst of his pursuit he takes cover in a cave to relieve himself.  That is correct.  Scripture tells us that Saul is relieving himself.  He is going to the bathroom and probably not a number 1, if yo get my just. 

WHile he is occupied with the matter at hand, David steals an advantage.  He could have easily destroyed Saul and be done with this pursuit.  But he doesn't. 

Instead a proverb comes to his mind that he perhaps was taught when he was young, "From the wicked comes forth wickedness."  This proverb, this saying he was taught from an early age probably by his parents, acts as a light of grace that directs his path to righteousness. 

This is encouraging for me as a teacher.  How many times have I had students remember little sayings or proverbs.  Perhaps one day this method will assist them as they journey so as to lead them to righteousness.  

The seed planted eventually becomes full grown.  We hope at least. 

Something to be thankful for I suppose as we continue our journey.  Putting scripture to memory is a good thing.  God can use it to shed light for our path as we continue to journey forth. 

This is relief. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


1 samuel 4:1-11; Ps 44 Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy; Mark 1:40-45

Sometimes God will let us taste defeat.  Sometimes victory will seem far off. Sometime we will have to retreat with our head bowed low.

Even this is grace.  We see this through out the story of the nation of Israel.  Defeat is often an instrument God uses to bring them and us into right disposition: humility.

Sometimes others will be praised more than us.  Sometimes fame and notoriety will bypass us and land on another. We have choice we can rejoice in the goodness of another or let jealousy and rivalry slow erode our honor. We see this is Saul today, as David returns from the battle field and the people sing songs about him, exalting him over the King.  Saul has a choice to make.  HE can let the jealousy erode his kingdom or not.

Sometimes what we see as a negative can actually be a positive.  If we take it to prayer rather than react then we might discern  the true nature of the moment or the true nature of that we experience.  W emus always be willing to go deeper, willing to leave the surface behind.

Sometimes the crowd is too much and it is necessary to step back and create space.  Jesus not wanting to be crushed by the crowd steps off land into the water where he can distance himself to give him space to maneuver and to continue to teach and heal and preach.  "He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so they would not crush him."

Sometimes we too must distance ourself from the people we care for, that we might be recharged and renewed so that we continue to give of ourselves.

We must be on the look out for these "sometimes" moment or experiences in our life; they will help us with the all time wonder of God's grace.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


1 Samuel 17:32-33,37,40-51; PS 144 Blessed be the Lord, my rock Mark 3:1-6

"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?"

This is the question Jesus posed to the Pharisees.

Interesting fact about the question posed.  The evil Jesus speaks of is the decision to do nothing rather than something.

Jesus sees a man who has a withered hand and chooses to heal him rather than do nothing.  Since it was in his power to act in such way out of goodness, Jesus does it.  It would have been evil to sit back an do nothing.

How often in our life do we have decisions to make?  How often do we have the power to do good to let goodness spread and we choose to do nothing?

How often are we able to save life and yet we turn a blind eye and look the other way because it is not "our" business or it is "their" choice.

Is it?  Are we not commanded to love our neighbor?  Is the refusal to do something and the choice to do nothing an act of love or betrayal?

Today around the US many have gathered in DC for the march for life.   We march for life.  This is good.  Do we stand for life?  Do we speak for life?  Do we act for life?

Or do we do nothing and chalk up to "privacy."

The voiceless need our voice, our hands, our feet, our hearts, our minds.  Life is no choice.  Life is a gift.

Do something or do nothing, this is the choice we have.

Here are a few words from Pope Francis on the eternal newness of the gospel in Evangeli Guadium

"Jesus is the first and greatest evangelizer.  In every activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God, who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by the power of his Spirit. The real newness is the newness in which God himself mysteriously brings about and inspires, provokes, guides and accompanies in a thousands ways.  The life of the church should always reveal clearly that God takes the initiative (that is God does omething), that "he has loved us first" and that he alone "gives the growth".  This conviction enables us to maintain a spirit of joy in the midst of a task so demanding and challenging that it engages our entire life.  God asks everything of us, yet at the same time he offers everything to us."

Monday, January 20, 2014


1 samuel 15:16-23; Ps 50 to the upright I will show the saving power of God; Mark 2:18-22

Here are the words of Samuel to Saul, "The LORD anointed you King of Israel and sent you on a mission…you have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the Lord."

Mission.  Every one these days write their own mission statement.  They write it to motivate their employees, to stay focus as an organization, to be able to refocus over time.  The mission statement is meant to be the basics that lay the foundation on what the person or organization is all about.

We have a mission statement at St. Michael school: to know as Jesus knew, love as Jesus loved, serve as Jesus served."

God gives mission statement all the time in the biblical reality.  As he does with Samuel, "go and the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction."  In other words, leave no one and nothing behind and take no one and nothing with you when you go.

Simple.  Straight forward.  No room for spin or second guessing.

Yet, some how the mission statement got misconstrued. Saul decided to keep some spoil for himself and his soldiers under the presumption that it was going to be used in sacrificial offerings to the Lord.

Samuel's response is clear and precise, "Does the Lord so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord?  Obedience is better than sacrifice and submission than fat of the ram."

Obedience is the mission statement for Saul as well as for us as Christians.

We get get all fancy with mission statement and have poetic words in the mix of the statement but it all boils down to one thing: obedience to the word of God.

We are asked to both do what God says and do what he does as we see Christ lifted high on the cross.  Obedience will be its own sacrifice.   there can be Sacrifice without obedience but there can never be obedience with the sacrifice of our own selfish desires.

Now a word from Pope Francis

"Goodness always tends to Spread.  Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced  a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others.  As it expands goodness takes root and develops.  If we wish to lead a dignified  and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good…The love of Christ urges us on…Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel."

The love of Christ urges me on becomes the true strength and cause of obedience.

We do not do what he says because of our love for him but because of his love for us.

Friday, January 17, 2014


1 samuel 8:4-22; Ps 89 For ever I will sing the goodness of the lord; Mark 2:1-12

Today in the life of the church we remember St. Anthony of the Desert, the Abbot.

At the age of 18 he sold everything, sent his sister to a convent and headed for the desert, where he stayed for the next 87 years.

All of this began with the words he heard at the mass, "If you wish to be perfect, go sell all that you have.  Give to the poor.  You will have treasure in heaven. Come. follow me."

Simple.  Clear.  Precise.  Anthony took Jesus at his word.  He didn't modify it.  He didn't change it.  He didn't alter it to fit his lifestyle.  He took as it was and allowed the word of Christ to transform him, to guide him, to be the very foundation of his life.

So often we hear people speaking about the word of God and how they let the word of God guide them.  But this isn't completely the reality.

What they really mean is they let there interpretation of the word guide them.  They live in the spin.

Anthony does no such thing.  He took it literal.  He sold everything.  He gave to the poor.  He found treasure in heaven.  He followed.

He went to place where following was unhindered by the noise and distraction of the world.

What about us?

Do we live in the spin or do let the unadulterated word of Christ guide us.

This is what Pope Francis is trying to revive in all of us: keep the word of God simple, don't complicate it, and live it as it is.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Here is a bit on St. Hillary…a patron for all those who are seekers…

This is borrowed from the website busted halo.  But I bought i would pass it on.  happy reading. highlights are my own doing.

"During St. Hilary’s time, the heresy (ARIANISM) was not a small, marginalized movement. It had swept through the Christian world and claimed bishops and even the emperor as followers. The orthodox position (the one we affirm every time we pray the Nicene Creed — God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father…) was considered by many to be a fringe position … an antiquated absurdity. St. Hilary (along with St. Athanasius) battled tirelessly to preserve the orthodox understanding of Jesus as fully human and fully God. Hilary was exiled for his persistent defense of the faith. Eventually the First Council of Nicaea was called in 325 and the bishops upheld the orthodox understanding of Christ’s divinity and humanity. (The next time you’re at Mass pay attention to the language of the Nicene Creed … it is a purposeful rejection of Arianism and an articulation of the faith of the apostles.)
So, why does any of this matter? What does the life of a saint who lived nearly 1,800 years ago on the other side of an ocean in an empire that no longer exists battling an ancient heresy have to do with you and me and all of us trying to live our faith in a world of iPads, globalization, and social media?
A lot. At least I think so.
St. Hilary, like so many of us, was a seeker. His quest for meaning led him to the Catholic Church. Once he became a member of the Church, he was called to defend the faith. St. Hilary reminds us — converts, reverts, seekers, and cradle Catholics alike — that our spiritual journey does not end when we find our way home to the Church. The One whom we had been pursuing and who pursues us without ceasing calls us to holiness. It is not enough to be IN the Church. We are called to BE the Church. We are called to be fierce guardians of the holy and mysterious scandal that is Christ. We are called to bear witness to the reality that God obliterated the line between mutable and immutable, vulnerable and omnipotent, mortal and immortal, human and divine in Christ. We are called to give joyful testimony that this obliteration is an act of the God of love who wants to be close to us for all eternity.
It matters who we say Jesus is. It matters profoundly. Because when we proclaim that the God of the universe became human and took on the flesh of a newborn who shivered and cooed and cried and felt pain and loss and joy and hunger and friendship and tiredness and comfort, we proclaim our own dignity. Our human dignity. The human dignity that belongs — without exception — to every member of the human family. Jesus, our Almighty God and our human brother, is the center of our faith. Like St. Hilary, we must remind the world who our God is. He said of the proponents of Arianism “they did not know who they were.” We must remind the world who we are. We are bearers of the divine image. We are the beloved ones of our God. We are — all of us — made for holiness.


We celebrate the feast of the baptism of the Lord.

First things first.

Let's us look at the Jordan river.

When i think of the jordan river i often imagine it to be this majestic fast flowing river that rushes along the Jordan valley.  After all, if Jesus is going to use it to begin his public ministry, one would think, at leads I think, that it should be awe inspiring and captivating.

However, after some research in anticipation of my try to the Holy Land this Summer, I have come to be disappointed.  The Jordan river is not much of a river.  It is actually more like a stream, even a creek.

In fact the Jordan is often looked down upon and easily overlooked.

In the Old Testament, Naaman the Leper cursed the Jordan and arrogantly protested when Elisha invited him to bathe in it to be cleansed of his leprosy.  He thought it was beneath him to enter such a tiny stream when there were much greater rivers where he came from.

The simply and unmajestic reality of the Jordan is important.  It reminds us that God doesn't only use majestic and awe inspiring realities to make himself known.  Rather, he will use ordinary, over looked realities to bring forth to us an encounter that leads us to him, as he uses the Jordan.

We need not only look for God in "magical" places or mystical regions but we should look for him in the ordinary realities.

Secondly, this stream has an important role to play in salvation history.
The Jordan is the eastern boundary of the promised land.  It is here that Joshua brought the Israelites from the desert into this gift of Land God had promised.  Joshua steps across the stream onto the other side bringing to fulfillment that long awaited promise spoken to Abraham, nearly 500 years after it was promised.

Today's feast we have Jesus, whose hebrew name is 'joshua', leading all of humanity into the gate way of the new promise land.  As he enters the Jordan and rise he makes ready the gateway that leads us to salvation, the waters of baptism.

On the banks of the River, Jesus identifies himself completely with sinful humanity that we  might find our true identity in him.

At Christmas we celebrate God becoming man; but we remember that the humanity Jesus claims is that which is untainted and unsoiled.  He claims humanity that is equivalent to that which Adam had before the fall.

His humanity does not know the effects of original sin.  On the banks of the Jordan, Jesus blends in with the grey mass of sinners, those whose lives were filled with lust and greed and disappointment.  He who knew no sin now aligns himself with sinners, making them his own.

Thus into the water he takes our sinfulness upon himself so that we might now recognize in him that place of true belonging.  For through his death and resurrection he now claim us for God.

When e hear those words spoken over Jesus, "this is my beloved son, in whom i am well pleased" we pause to realize these same words are spoken over us at our baptism.  In christ we now share the Father's favor and pleasure.

The gate has been shown to us; the gate has been open to us; through the waters of baptism we now experience our true identity as sons of God in Christ.

This all begins not the banks of this unforgettable stream called the Jordan.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Luke 5:5-13; Ps 147 Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; Luke 5:12-16

"It happened…"

This is  how the gospel begins this day at the Mass.

It  happened…

This is how any day and every day begins in our lives in the lives of those around us.

How many times has someone began a story about an incident in their life or the life of those around them with the words, "It happened…"

Life happens ad many things in life happen as well.  Some of them we are ready for and we anticipate with great delight: birth of a child, wedding of a friend, a raise in pay, a nice vacation.

Some of them we resist such as news that it is cancer, car accident that has injured someone we love, diagnosis that leaves us shocked, a divorce,  an injury to a child, or death of a loved one.

It happens.

But we can learn front he gospel.

"It happened that there was a man full of  leprosy in one of these towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, please with him and said, 'Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.' Jesu stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, I do will it.  BE made clean."

It happened where something awful becomes transformed not by the touch of Jesus but by the offering of it to him.  The leper offered his reality to Jesus and laid it at his feet.  Jesus received the gift and in that exchange something beautiful happens.

It isn't just about flesh that is made whole but about a soul that is filled with life.

The leper never says why me or how come.  He just simply offers it to Jesus as is.

He lets Jesus touch him.  And in order to do so he had to let down his defenses, his guards, his own stubbornness.  He had to stop fighting who he was and accept it.

Only in acceptance was he able to surrender and open himself up to the touch of Christ.

It happened.  May it happen again to us daily.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


1 John 4:11-18; Ps 72 Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; Mark 6:45-52

Below you will encounter snippets of the words of St. John's first letter we read from during today's liturgy.

"We have come to know and believe the love God has for us."

"In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in the world."

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love."

What creates fear in our lives?  Of what are we afraid?

Why do we fear?

Could it be as simply put as St. John describes it…"one who fears is not yet perfect in love."

Does he mean our love isn't perfect?  If that were the case fear would hound us 'til the day we die.

But that can't be the case.  Then what?

Perhaps it means that we have not yet convinced our selves of God's love, God's perfect love for us.  This alone must be the cause of fear.

And it is true.  Were we totally convinced of God's love for us then fear would be replaced with confidence and peace regardless of the circumstances of our life.

Here is what Pope Francis has to say, "There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.  I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty.  Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.  I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: 'my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is…But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness…IT is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord' (Lam 3:17,21-23,26)"

How many Lents must we endure before we finally except the reality of Easter?  How often must we peer in to the empty tomb before we are awaken to the truth: love is stronger than death?  Apart from death what is there to fear?

Of course Jesus says its best in the gospel today, "fear not, it is I, do not be afraid."

Lets meditate on that for a moment or perhaps many moments.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


John 4:7-10; Ps 72 Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; Mark 6:34-44

Today we read the account of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish from St. Mark's prospective.  It is always a fascinating look into the early manifestations and miracles that surround the life of Jesus.

As Jesus teaches and shares the people grow hungry and in his desire to tend to their needs he responds to the disciples request to dismiss them, "Give them some food yourselves."

Striking I think how God always wants to involve us though he really doesn't need us.

"Give them some food yourselves."

But it what the disciples say next that is so striking and true: "But they said to him, 'Are we to but 200 days wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?"

What is it about us that always looks for a way out, and excuse to avoid commitment rather than a reason to get involved and a way in.

Why do we seek a "But…" when Jesus invites us to join in.  

Here is a little quote from St. Joh of the Cross that might be helpful as we analyze our own refusals.

"Only one attachment…to which the spirit is actually or habitually bound is enough to hinder the experience…of the delicate and intimate delight of the spirit of love, which contains eminently in itself all delights.”  

This quote of St. John of the Cross was in an essay addressing fears which keeps us from God.

What are those attachments that keep us from joining in? 

Monday, January 6, 2014


1 John 3:22-4:6; Ps 2 I will give you all the nations for an inheritance; Matthew 4:12-25

I recently came across a book entitled "Jesus is____."  This nondenominational minister out in Oregon has adopted this phrase as his congregations mission statement.

The premise is we need to fill in the blank, Jesus is_____.

He never says this but the blank is ultimately filled in by the live we live, our actions, our words, our stance, our lifestyle, our choices.

What does the blank say as we look into our life.

On the same line of thought we can create a new phrase, "Love is_____."

Again how would we fill in the blank on such a statement.

For many we would say Love is a feeling. Or for others is would be Love is a choice.  And I'm sure there are just as many answers as there are blanks, yet it shouldn't be.

We shouldn't let there be so many interpretations of love because some things are not love.

Ultimately Love is____ well according to St. John Love is a command, "love one another as he commanded us."  The he is Jesus.

What did he command?  "As I have done for you, you must do for one another."  Or again, "no greater love than lay down one's life for one's friend."

Love is a command.

It requires obedience.  It reminds us that it must be greater the the feeling way in the moment we have them.  We cannot always trust our feelings but we can trust his command.

Love is_____.

Yes exactly that.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


ISaiah 60:1-6; Ps 72 Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; Ephesians 3:2-6; Matthew 2:1-12

"Go and search diligently for the child, bring me word, , that I to may go and do him homage…"

What went wrong?

How could Herod have these words pressed upon his lips yet the breath that produced them be so filled with guile that it would lead to the murder of every 2 year old boy and younger in the area in hopes to destroy the Christ child.


It is such an ugly word for it describes an uglier reality.  In fact deceit is antithesis to very reality of God himself.  God's word effects what it represents.  It makes happen what it carries.  Its breath and its meaning are identical.

Yet deceit is the opposite. The word produced is disguised and meant to fool.  Evil is nourished on the deceitful tongue.  Deceit is what fuels the fires of hell and all its torment.

What is so appalling is that we can all relate to Herod.  There is a little of Herod in all of us and this is why we fall silent when we read this gospel and experience the unfolding events.

Yet despite this God continues to make himself known.  The light continues to shine in the darkness.

St. John says it best, "the light entered the darkness and darkness did not overcome it."

The epiphany gives us hope that no matter how dark we may experience things in and around our life the light remains shining bright.

Friday, January 3, 2014


1 John 2:29-3:6; Ps 98 All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God; John 1:29-34

"You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins."

Twice once with Mary and again with Joseph does the angel give the command that the child was to be named Jesus, which means savior.

To be saved from our sins, is this really something to be grateful for.

In his book on the Infant Narratives of Jesus, Pope Benedict expressed this sentiment, people are disappointed in Jesus because he comes to save them from their sins but what they want is to be saved from suffering. (p 42)

Pope Benedict points out the story of the paralytic who is brought to Jesus on a mat.  The sick man's condition was an urgent plea for salvation and Jesus response to this urgent plea was forgiveness of sins.

Yet the debate was whether or not it was sufficient since the last thing the people were concerned with was forgiveness for what they wanted was for him to walk.

Yet Jesus reveals that the priority of forgiveness for sins as the foundation of all true healing is clearly maintained.

What Jesus points the way for is a clear understanding of what is primary in life: right relationship with God only then can goodness be experienced.

This is what the Holy Name of Jesus represents.  The name itself points us toward the ultimate ground of reality: truth and goodness reside in that right relationship and only when it is healed can the human person be whole.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


1 john 2:22-28; Ps 98 all the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God; John 1:19-28

Who are you?

This the question posed to John the Baptist.

How would we answer that question if posed to us?

Should we not ask ourselves this question routinely.

First in answering the question we must acknowledge who God is: I am who am or He who is.  This is how God, the creator,  has chosen to reveal his substance to us as related through the experience of Moses and the bush on fire yet not consumed.

If God is 'He who is' then what does that make us as creature?  Simply put in short answer form, "I am that who is not, at least who has existence not on its own but only from another.  And this existence has been redeemed by another as well.  Both my existence and my continued existence belongs to another.

Who am I?  I am one who has received a gift undeservingly.  I am a debtor.  And how can I make good on such a debt?

John the Baptist shows us in his response to the question 2000 years ago, "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, Make straight the way of the Lord."

John continues to confess without denial that he was not the Christ.  Here we encounter the duty of a faithful servant: never to covet the master's glory and to ward off the glory lavished by the crowd."

In other words John simply states the fact, " I am nothing because if I am anything , I have it from another who is God."