Thursday, February 27, 2014


James 5:1-6; Ps 49 Blessed are the poor in Spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs; Mark 9:41-50

"Everyone will be salted with fire.  Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?  Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another."  JEsus in today's gospel.


Here are a few words from Pope Benedict as Cardinal Ratzinger

"Salt interpreted as a symbol of wisdom, sapientia, always in association with sapere, with tasting: one must discover a taste for truth.  He who is wise is the one who taste things as they really are.  Salt was also used as  sacrificial offering in Old Testament: only by salt were such offerings made pleasing to the taste of the Godhead.

A man must be salted if he is to be pleasing to God and if he is to acquire a taste for God.  The salt of the passion is necessary for him if he is to walk the way of truth: communion of the cross heads to a taste for the truth."

PErhaps this is the salting by fire Jesus is speaking about in the gospel, the willingness to under take the passion, dying to self, which is in align with the rest of the gospel about plucking out eyes and cutting off limbs that lead to sin.

The passion of the believer is the dying to oneself, one's desires, one's affinity for sin.

Thus it is no longer we who live but christ who lives within us.  We have been crucified with Christ.

St. Paul refers to salt as grace.  Sin repels grace from our hearts thus avoiding sin and continually reaching out to God and invoking his covenant of salt (2 Chron 13:5) with us, then we become bearers of grace and thus bring his peace to the world.

To be salted with fire is to embrace the call of the passion in our life, dying to self, and allowing the fire of the SPirit to penetrate our lives and thus God's grace becomes abundant and overflowing.

Here let Matt Mahr help you with his song Overflow

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


James 4:13-17; Ps 49 Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs; Mark 9:38-40

"Where ever the need of the light and life of the Risen Christ is greatest, the church will want to be there…Frequently we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators.  But the church is not a tollhouse, it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems…"

"One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and Zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, "sourpusses".  Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand.  If we start with out confidence we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents.  While painfully aware of our own frailties, we have to march on without giving in, keeping in mind what the Lord said to St. Paul" My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Pope Francis Evangelium Guadium


We often speak of self-defeating behaviors.

How often have w meet people who set themselves up for failure?  They procrastinate, choose things that will disappoint, they reject attempts of help or opportunities of success.

Behavior change is complex.  Yet St. James tells us plainly, "so for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin."

Sin is a self-defeating behavior.  It sets us up for failure , time and time again.

We know this!  Yet why do not take a more proactive role in removing ourselves from those situations?

Because of the fall, all of us experience the effects of that original sin and enlarge part they show themselves as self-defeating behaviors.

Part of our task is to not accept these behaviors as fixed parts of our personality. We can not say God made me that way and be done with it.  This is the first task of taking hold of the day as St. James says, "If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that."  Our plans are subject to that which is greater than us.  Thus, we are empowered to embrace each day as a gift and opportunity.

It is in recognizing the poverty of our spirit that we encounter the blessing power of God as the psalmist reminds us, "Blessed are the poor on spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs!"

We are conquerors for Christ lives in us.  Our self-defeating ways can actually be a source of grace that enables us to be in touch with God's creative and transformative power.

JEsus reminds us, "whoever is not against us is for us."  We too shall not be against ourselves but open always to God's redeeming grace.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


James 4:1-10; PS 55 Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you; Mark 9:30-37

"Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? "

Now this is the question St. James poses in today's first reading. It is an important question, not because we seem to be in a time where conflict and civil disturbance is high.  Every time we turn around a new conflict is rising and violence seems to be spreading.

It is an important question because it ultimately deals with something that is near and dear to us all: unhappiness.

St. JAmes is asking  us to diagnose the cause of unhappiness in our life and the lives of those around us.

Unhappiness….why does it exist.

Knowing the why can help us with a program of true happiness.

St James diagnosis the situation as follows: "you  covet but do not possess. you kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war.  you do not obtain because you do not ask. you ask but do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."

There is the diagnosis.  Study it for a while.

When we seek to please our passions unhappiness follows.  We love what we want rather than loving what God desires to give.

Unhappiness stems from the inability to be content with God's plan of sheer goodness that we might share his blessed life.

Think about the first commandment: I am the Lord your God.  God is saying, "I am yours and you are mine, we belong together."

Can we be content with what God desires for us?  Can we let God's desire for us purify the other desires we experience along the way?

St. James says we ask wrongly and this is why we don to receive.

We seek ourselves in love rather than putting God first.  We ask with ourselves in mind rather than seeking to do his will in the first place.

Rather than focus on external actions why not spend a few moments reflecting on our internal desires.  Then we ask God to realign them to his plan of sheer goodness for us.

"so submit yourselves to God.  Resist the Devil (the one who stirs up our selfish desires)…Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…"

Thursday, February 20, 2014


James 2:1-9; Ps  THe Lord hears the cry of the poor; Mk 8:27-33

We continue to follow in the footstep of JAmes as he gives guidance and direction to the universal church.  St. James in his letter turns his attention to partiality.

He ask the question, "who are we partial towards?"  Who do we have a tendency to choose to be next to or to invite over or want to share our life with?  Why do we choose those people?  More importantly why do we choose to exclude others?

Many times we choose people with ourselves in mind, that is we think about what we can get out of it?

When was the last time we chose someone for themselves and what we could give to them not for our sake but for theirs?

We live in an age of much partiality, a partiality that could be seen as prejudice?  We pre judge many before we ever get to know them.

We judge by appearance, by dress, by lifestyle, by color, by accent, by position.  When was the last time we set those aside and just got to know the person next to us for the mere fact that we share a common lot, fallen and in need of salvation.

Hear the words of St. James, "Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom that he promised to those who love him?

Does not Jesus identify himself with the poor, "what you have done to the least of my brothers you have done unto me…"

St. Margaret of Cortona pray for us as we seek to serve the poor and rich alike, surrendering our partiality and allowing God's grace to lead us forth.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


James 1:19-27; Ps 15 Who shall live on your holy mountain; Mark 8:22-26

Here again are  a few words from Pope Francis from his Apostolic exhortation on evangelization.

Pope Francis states that every christian should be "permanently in a state of mission. Evangelization of today's world is not about self-preservation…Our missionary style should concentrate on the essentials, that which is most beautiful and most necessary, where it is simplified while being more forceful and convincing."

Are we on a permanent state of mission?  Or are we on a permanent state of self-preservation?  Do we want to keep things as they are because that's the way it has always been or do we want to evangelize, adapting our presentation of the gospel so that the most essential is brought forth in a more forceful and convincing manner.

I encounter this self-preservation mindset all too often in the church, especially on the level of the parish.  Pope Francis is basically saying that when we lose sight of the mission, when Jesus is no longer the focus then we ourselves become the focus and center.  This is detrimental to the life of faith and the proclamation of the good news.

James is saying that as well in today's first reading.
Listen attentively to his words.

"Be doers of the word not hearers only, deluding yourselves…But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts; such a one shall be blessed in what he does."


James goes on to say "if anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

One who is "permanently on mission" is aware of what is most essential.  He is a doer.  He does not forget.  The mission itself purifies his thoughts, his words, his actions.

Does the mission Jesus give us effect and permeate the whole aspect of our life or is it just a Sunday thing?

But before you get overwhelmed by the task remember the gospel.  Jesus has to lay hands on the blind man twice before he can see clearly.  Jesus is patience.  He will accommodate the limitations we all bear and he will continually work with us to transform our hearts and our minds.  

It is said of the blind man that "he could see everything distinctly."

There is so much hope in this passage for us all.  We must continually go to Jesus and expose our limitations and allow his grace to transform us and make us whole so that like the blind man, we won't go back to the village that is we won't go back to the way things always were but we will be filled with a renewed sense of mission & purpose and then we can finally lose our self permanently for the sake of the gospel.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


James 1:!2-18; Ps 94 Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord; Mark 8:14-21

"Do you still not understand?"

In today's gospel Jesus ask a lot of questions. The second half of the gospel is a list of questions Jesus is posing to his disciples.  IT seems Jesus it a little frustrated with their lack of comprehension and the slow uptake.

I wonder if Jesus is ever frustrated with our lack of comprehension and our slow uptake?

James in the first reading continues to play with the reality of being tested as opposed to tempted.  It seems to me these two realities are really two sides of the same coin depending on how we choose to perceive it.

God does not tempt us but he does test us.  Sometimes testing can be look upon as tempting depending on one's attitude.  In the gospel JEsus is critiquing the attitude of the disciples.

Temptations are like CAT SCANS for the soul,  They reveal to us the ailments in our desires.  They point out where we need more fortification.  They point out where we need strength exercises to build those spiritual muscles.

They are necessarily problematic unless we refuse to heed their warning and grow in strength in God's grace.

See where yo are tempted on a regular basis?  How do you handle it?  Do you use it as opportunity to grow in strength and fortify the weaken area or not?

Monday, February 17, 2014


James 1:1-11; Ps 119 Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live; Mk 8:11-13

We are reading from the Letter of James.  It is considered to be one of the "catholic" or universal letters since it is not written to any particular or single community but rather to a broad audience.  Here is what James says today.

"Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…"

I do not know many people who like test or being tested.  Many students cringe when a test is on the horizon.  They would rather it be other wise.

I do not know many adults who like trials in life.  They took like the students also cringe and would rather it be another way.

Testings in life are for us who are undergoing them a revelation of our deepest values and truest selves.

Under fire, as they say, impurities are removed and so are mask and false selves and everything else we put on to avoid who we really are.   Fire refines.

Where does the joy come from in such an occasion?  It can only come from one place and that is the passion of Christ himself, the Paschal Mystery.  In our testing we are invited to pass through the passion, death, and resurrection of the Christ.

On the Cross Jesus had joy.

James continues, "Let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.  But if any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, he will be given it."

What will God bestow in order to help us grow in wisdom?  Perhaps trials and testing.  To grow in wisdom, one must suffer the loss of ignorance.  Seldom have I discovered a more sure fire way of attaining wisdom then suffering the loss of ignorance.

Wisdom doesn't come easily.  God will certainly give us the opportunities to grow in that area daily.

Will it hurt?  Yes.  Will it be rewarding? Yes.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Be my Valentine!  Tis the day for exchange.  Today countless gifts are purchased and given to show one's love and affection.  Candy, Chocolate, flowers, cards.  Tis the day for Love.  Be my Valentine!

We pray today that love does not sell it self short and simply settle for flowers that will fade, cards that will be discarded, chocolate that will cause weight gain, and candy that may go stale. 

May today be  a true exposition of love: May you love one another as I have loved you! (Jesus)

It is both a sad tragedy and and a comedy of errors that as we enter into this day of love, we read in the book of genesis love gone sour. 

The happy couple of Adam and Eve, who were filled with awe and wonder at the gift of each other find themselves in a all to familiar "blame" game: whose fault is it, anyway?

Adam blames his wife, the wife blames the snake, and all get expelled from paradise. 

Yet, the story doesn't end in failure of love.  God continues to guide them and work with them and lead them along the path.  Adam and Eve do not call it quits.  They continue forth, re-learning, time and time again, what love is all about. 

There is hope in the story of the fall.  As the narrative tells us, "the man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all living. For the man and his wife the Lord God made leather garments, with which he clothed them."  A sign of God's continued grace. 

But there were consequences to the fall, from the garden they were sent and a Cherubim with a fiery revolving sword was stationed to guard the way to the tree of life.

We shall see the sword again!

The sword will appear on calvary and shall pierce the side of the one who will come to allow access once again to the tree of life.  Only this tree is not in the garden of Eden but on Calvary.  The cross of Christ is the tree of life, and from there we all shall eat and live: Lest you eat my body and drink my blood you shall not have life with in you. 

The cross is the wedding bed of Christ and the church.  It was spousal love that led to the fall it is spousal love that redeems.  Truly, this is why we celebrate Valentine. 

On the Cross Jesus looks out to the world and behold he says, "Be mine..." What an exchange! Here Jesus gives his life that we might have life.   So much for chocolate, candy, cards, and flowers.  There is something greater and more lasting here.  

This is the strength of St. Valentine.  May it be ours as well.  

"Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and offered his life up for her." Ephesians 5

Thursday, February 13, 2014


1 Kings 11:4-13; Ps 106 Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people; Mark 7:24-30

Sometimes when I look at the readings for the given day's liturgy, I scratch my head trying to figure out how they fit together or why were they chosen to be together.

Today's readings was that for me as well.

Int he first reading we get Solomon making political alliances by compromising his religion.  Now this sounds eerily familiar.  Look around.  how many politicians and people in general compromise their religion for alliance of a political sort.

Solomon bows his knee to the pagan gods, Astarte, Milcom, Chemosh, and Moloch.

In the gospel we have Jesus encountering a pagan woman who will do everything to save her daughter, even to the point of forsaking her gods.

Solomon bows the knee to the gods that would have been worshipped by the syrophoenician woman in the gospel.  She bow shed knee to Jesus seeing that he rods really haven't helped her  much.

It is ironic.  Solomon turns away from God almighty for his own personal gain; the mother turns toward God almighty for the sake of another.

Now think about the pagan gods for a moment.  Astarte was considered a female demon of Lust.  Today Trojan or viagra might be the company that relates to this pagan goddess.  Moloch was a god that demanded child sacrifice.  Perhaps Planned Parenthood and the abortion mills might have this god enshrined.   Chemosh was a god that also enjoyed violence and human sacrifice.  Perhaps this god would be a welcome for those who push illegal drugs upon our children and family members.

Either way there are many things in our society that want us to turn our heart from God not unlike in the time of Solomon.  There are many who want us to make alliances with them and to look for happiness in all the wrong places. Isn't that what all consumer companies want.  They want us to think happiness is found in what they offer: Beer, Smokes, Cars, Shoes, Video games, computers and on and on.

It is our task to guard our heart and then drive them from our land and refocus our heart on the living God where happiness alone is found.

It is said that Solomon erected a shrine to Moloch on the hill opposite Jerusalem, which was probably Mount of Olives.  It is only when we spend time with JEsus on Mount Olives can we truly get our hearts aligned correctly.  It is ironic.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


1 kings 10:1-10; Ps 37 The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom; Mark 7:14-23

"Each Christian and every community must discern the path the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the "peripheries" in need of the light of the Gospel.  The gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy….The Church which "goes forth" is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice…we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and to become involved…"  Pope Francis

"But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.  From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly…"

The above two passages give us a hint as to what to  recognize in regards to spiritual healthiness.

JEsus points out the obvious symptoms of spiritual illness.  A long list of symptoms that speak of stench of the heart and erosion of true value and worth.

The list is a cesspool  that cries out for a need for healing.

Pope Francis gives us another look at to spiritual health.  A sense of missionary joy, a joyful desire to go forth from one's comfort zone to be involved and supportive, to stand at the cross roads and be involved.

True Spiritual health requires a stretching forth to fill the world around us with joyful rejoicing at the news of another, Jesus.  Spiritual malady is when we ourselves become the focal point.

Where are we?  Which do we relate?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


1 Kings 8:22-30; Ps 84 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God; Mk 7:1-13

"For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary.  For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible."

These are the opening lines of the documentary movie about the apparitions of Our lady of Lourdes, The Song of Bernadette.

Bernadette was an illiterate, poor, very young.  At the age of 14 she wasn't permitted to receive communion because of her inability to understand the Catechesis which was given in French.  Her family lived in an abandoned jail.  Her Father had spent time in jail for stealing bread to feed the family.

After the apparitions began, things got worse.  The town folk mocked and made fun of Bernadette.  She was hounded by the police and local authorities.  She was interrogated and even threatened with prison because of the visions.

Yet she remained steadfast.  She would go to the grotto carrying a lit candle and pray the rosary.

From Feb 11, 1858 until july 1858, Bernadette received these visions.

What was the message of our lady?  She asked that a shrine be built on the spot where the water would flow.  She asked that we pray for sinners.  She took the title, "Immaculate conception."

She told Bernadette that she would find happiness in heaven.

Over 60 miraculous cures have been officially recognized through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes.  Many more have gone unofficial.  The pilgrimages to the place continues.  The process seeking the intercession  of Our Lady daily.  Many who visit Lourdes return home rejuvenated with a renewed faith and a readiness to serve God in their  neighbor.

How often in the gospel is the sick privileged place for the encounter of the divine?  How often is it to those that Jesus reveals his divine power?

Sickness isn't a punishment as much as it is an invitation to humble thyself and seek refuge in him who alone can console.

We pray that Our Mother continue to lead us on the path that  culminates in the heart of Christ her son.


1 Kings 8:1-7,9-13; PS 132 Lord, go up to the place of your rest; Mk 6:53-56

In today's first reading from the book of Kings we experience the transfer of the Ark of the covenant from the tent of dwelling to the Temple commissioned by King David though built by King Solomon. 

It is quite a celebration and solemn possession. 

It mirrors when Kind David brought the ark into Jerusalem for the first time.  

"KIng Solomon and the entire community of Israel present for the occasion sacrificed before the ark steep and oxen too many to number.  The priest brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place beneath the wings of the Cherubim in the sanctuary,  the holy of holies of the temple…"

A grand possession and celebration in deed. 

God remained with his chosen people; he has always desired to journey with them whether it be in tribal association or settled urban as a nation or even a kingdom.  God remained present.  God traveled with them. 

God is never distant, disinterested, or disengaged.  He is always with and for his people.  
The Ark represents the indwelling of God in the mist of his people.  It is very much a sacramental presence: it can be seen, touched, experienced in the flesh. 

This of course is a preja vu for Jesus, the incarnation of God, who dwells among us as St. John's gospel points out so clearly. 

We get that in today's gospel.   Jesus, the son of God, is with his people.  He allow himself to  be touched, "they begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed."

God travels with us.  God wants to be experienced in a sensible way.  God makes himself available to us every day throughout the journey. 

Friday, February 7, 2014


Sirach 47:2-11PS 18 BLessed be God my salvation; Mark 6:14-29

Today is the birthday of Charles Dickens, who in A Christmas Carol stated "There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” 

Laughter and good humor and I would add mercy.  Three elements that help lift us to the divine. 

Today is the first reading we encounter a Eulogy of sorts for King David.  Written some 700 years after his death the author remembers what made David so grand in the eyes and hearts of his nation, the kingdom of Israel. 

Three things are mentioned. 

He called upon the Most High God who gave him strength to defeat his enemies and to raise up the might of his people.  

Secondly, he had great concern for worship, "he set singers before the altar and by their voices he made sweet melodies, adding beauty to the feasts and solemnized the seasons of each year so that when the Holy Name was praised before day break the sanctuary would resound.

Thirdly, he sought God's mercy at every turn and lived life enveloped in God' s mercy.  He was forgiven and from this experience of mercy cam this strength. 

We could do well to imitate the life of David: seeking the strength of God daily that we might add strength and might to his people, adding beauty to worship by our participation and presence, and seeking God's mercy and letting it be the foundation of our life.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


1 kings 2:1-12; Ps  1Chronicles 29 Lord, you are exalted over all;Mark 6:7-13

"Take courage and be a man."  These are David's final words to Solomon as David hands over the crown to his Son.

Take courage  and be a man.  What does it mean to be manly.

 David continue is exhortation with these words, "Keep the mandate of the LORD, your God, following his ways and observing is statues, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn, and the LORD may fulfill his promise he made on by behalf, 'if your sons so conduct themselves that they remain faithful to me with their whole heart and with their whole soul, you shall always have someone of your line on the throne of Israel."

What does it mean to be a man, it means to go to church and be dedicated in living out the values of God.  Being manly is being Godly.

One who is truly masculine is one who is:strong, principled, generous, devoted to serve  and protect those under his care, decisive, God fearing, and humble, just to say a few things.

In the psalm today with get David's last prayer before he dies.  The paslm begins with David's words, "Lord, you are exalted over all."

If you turn your bible to  1 Chronicles 29 you will be able to read the entire prayer but also you will get David's last words to all before he departs by 'way of all flesh.'

These are his last words, "Bless the LORD your God."

If we live out these words the we truly discover what it means to be a true woman or man of God.  To bless the Lord with the life we live is the hallmark of godliness, our worth as men and women is found in the blessing we bring to the LORD.

As we look to the gospel we see Jesus send out the disciple with authority over unclean spirits and nothing but a walking stick and sandals, no things to weigh them down-no food, no sack, no money.

Urgency was the name of the game.  Urgency and clarity.  They were to focus on the task at hand, keeping their eyes on the ball, so to speak.  Possessions are distractions and JEsus wanted his disciples to be clear minded and clear hearted, zeroed in on the task before them:  driving out demons, bringing healing.

Signs of the kingdom then remains signs of the kingdom today.  The only thing lacking is our urgency.

Put on your sandals and grab your stick and go forth and let the kingdom reign.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


2 Samuel 24:2-17; Ps 32 Lord, forgive the wrong I have done; Mark 6:1-6

"The believer is essentially one who remembers…"

What's the big deal?  Why get all bothered for David wanting to do a census in order to get a head count?  Does the punishment fit the crime?  

These are few of the questions that come to mind as we continue to follow in the footsteps of David.  

Once again, David's audacity seems to get him in trouble.  He demands a head count, "tour all the tribes in Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba and register the people, that I may know their number."

At first glance perhaps we think, so what, a census.  Every nation does a census.  We do one every ten years.   

It seems the issue may not be the census as much as it is David's intention behind the census.  It is often said one of the great temptations is to do the right thing for the wrong reason. 

Motivation and intention are important. We are reminded by this story that our own inner motivations and intentions are always beneath the scrutiny and judgment of God. 

Think about how many times we may have done a good with the wrong intention or motivation.  There is something lacking in that endeavor.  

What about the punishment?  Was it fair?  I think fair maybe the wrong question to ask.  In reality, we are invited to realize that individual decisions are never carried out in a vacuum.  Individual decisions always have an impact on society at large. 

The pestilence that effects the 70,000 people remind us that we are our brother's keeper.  We have a responsibility not just to look out for ourselves but we must consider all in the decisions we make. 

No man is an island.  This is true for the time of David but also for our time as well.  As we continue to read form 2 samuel we discover one of the last official acts David does as King before he dies. 

In 2 samuel 24:25 we read the following account, "David built an altar to the Lord there, and sacrificed burnt offerings and communion offerings.  The LORD granted relief to the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel."

How does David save face?  By bowing his face to the ground and returning his heart to God.  The census was David's way of being puffed up, boasting about all that he has done.  The altar was his way of remembering it was grace that has carried him every step of the way. 

This is what we remember. 

as Pope Francis reminds us, "The believer is one who remembers."

Don't forget!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


2 Samuel 18:9-19:3; Ps 86 Listen , Lord, and answer me; Mark 5:21-43

We continue to follow the saga of king David and his reign over Israel.   Today we pick up with his son, Absalom who has rebelled against him.

We find Absalom hanging from a tree by his hair (2 Samuel 18:9-10) "Absalom unexpectedly came up against David's servants.  He was mounted on a  mule, and, as the mule passed under the branches of a large terebinth, his hair caught fast in the tree."

This reminds me of the many westerns I grew up watching.  Usually each movie contained a pursuit of sorts on horseback.  And eventually in the pursuit someone would get knocked off his horse by a low lying limb of a tree because they were not attentive and did not duck low enough.

Such is the case with Absalom, except he gets hung by low lying beaches by his hair.  Absalom in his hurry to get away doesn't duck low enough.  This is ironic because ducking is a sign of humility.

Now to understand the scene a little better, it is important to get to know the man, Absalom.  If we journey a few chapters back to 2 Samuel 14:25 and following we get the picture of Absalom more clearly, "In all of Israel there was no man praised for his beauty than Absalom, flawless from the sole of his foot tot eh crown of his head.  When he shaved his head-as he used to do at the end of every year, because his hair became to heavy for him-the hair weighed two hundred shekels according to the royal standard…(2.5 kilograms)

You get the image.  Absalom was Fabio of his day and age.

He liked himself.  He was the quintessential pretty boy.  He took great care in his appearance and especially in his hair.  Yet, it was this vanity, this pride that gets him stuck in tree. Hair today gone tomorrow:).

This is what the writer of Samuel is telling us.  Pride and vanity cause separation and ultimately destruction.  Absalom's pride not only separated him from his father and the nation of Israel it eventually led to him being separated from life itself.

Now having said these things we look to gospel for today.  We see Jesus caught up in another action packed day of healing.

Yesterday we saw Jesus cure the man possessed and restore him to his family.  Today he brings restoration to the women who had 12 years of hemorrhaging.  She, because of her illness, was isolated from society.  By her contact with Jesus she is brought back into the community.

Jairus, the father, approaches Jesus because his daughter is sick and on the verge of death, again being separated from life.  Through his contact with Jesus, the daughter is reunited with  her family.

Jesus in his ministry seeks to bring forth a better sense of belonging, of community.  He brings forth unity, restoration of communion amongst people.

After all, it is by his blood we are reconciled back to the Father.  Jesus's ministry is always focused on making individuals a apart of a communion.  Jesus is about community building exercises.  Everything he does is about communion: preaching, healing, being crucified.

What is Jesus?  Jesus is the humility of God in the flesh.  God humbles himself and becomes man.  In this humility man is restored to communion, to community.  Absalom's pride brings isolation and disunity; God humility if Jesus brings restoration and unity.

Where pride brings forth separation, humility makes communion.

This is the lesson for today and it is good for us to be attentive.

Do we build walls of separation because of pride or communion in humility.  Are we like Absalom caught op in pride and vanity or Jesus, who's humility brings healing and restoration?

Only life lived can answer the question posed!

Monday, February 3, 2014


2 samuel 15:13-16:13; Ps 3 Lord, rise up and save me; Mark 5:1-20

"An informant came to David with the report, "The children of Israel have transferred their loyalty to Absalom."

Transferred their loyalty.

This little phrase can be summarization of the entire history of Israel.  Through out their journey as a people of God they continually transferred their loyalty to so called 'gods' or kings of other nations or even to themselves rather than to the God that formed them into a nation, led them through the desert, and brought them to the promised land.

Their loyalty was not always firm or fixed but loose and easily transferable.  They sought their own benefit, putting their personal dreams and endeavors above that of what God desired for them.

This reality is pretty common today as well. People are continually seeking themselves in love.  They put themselves first and not the other.

I see this is relationships.  Couples who come to me and want to get married will often say that they "love the way the other makes them feel."  They only focus on whats in it for them.  They seek themselves in love.

I see this with people who are so called "seekers."  These are men and women who do not have a faith to call their own or a "religion" to belong to but rather they seek what makes them have that "feeling" rather than truth itself.

I see this when people leave the church and go else where.  They say they are seeking God but what they are really seeking is themselves in love.

I see this in people who claim to be 'spiritual' not religious.  What they are saying is that they want God in their life on their terms not his.  They want God in their life bit they do not want to give God a say in the matter.  They seek themselves in love.

We transfer our loyalty often becomes we have become attached to ourselves.

Is this not what Jesus warns us about in the gospel when he tells us "if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,  for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

We cannot seek ourself in love but we seek to love God and then truly discover love of self as it is meant to be.

so back to the reading about David.

David is in a tight spot.  He finds himself in the mount of Olives weeping.  This is a classic  preja vu.

Preja vu?  This is when in the bible we see something that points to something that will happen later in Israel or the life of Christ.   David the king is weeping in the mount of olives trying to trust himself to the will of God because he has been betrayed by his own blood.

Jesus will do this later in the gospel, several times.  Once he will be weeping over Israel and at a later time he will sweating drops of blood seeking strength to do the will of God as he also will be betrayed by one who was part of his intimate circle.

Preja vu.

What I love about this incident in the life of David is his humility.  David is at a all time low in his life.  His own son has turned against him, betrayed by his blood and his own nation.  He is probably thinking about his past transgression and overcome with guilt.  When he thought he could get no further down, out comes a relative of Saul's hurling rocks and insults at him.

David could have easily dispatched the fool but he doesn't.  Rather he recognizes in it the hand of God, "Suppose the LORD has told him to curse David; who then will dare say why are you doing this?…Let him alone and let him curse me, for the LORD has told him to.  Perhaps the LORD will look upon my affliction and make it up to me with benefits for the curse he is uttering this day."

David rather than taking matters it his own hands.  Rather than returning insults with insults or curses with curses, he blessed this man and leaves it entirely in the LORD's hands.

Again, preja vu!

Another king of Israel, will walk that same walk and people will throw curse and insults at him.  His response is not unlike the response of David, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Here is the question for us:

How can we in our life foreshadow the actions of Jesus as David does in his?  How can we mimic the response David gives to this low point in his life in such a manner that Jesus' very actions begin to take shape in and through our own?

For us it is not about preja vu but deja vu.  How can we in our life show forth the action of Christ, that which we have already seen and experienced.  People should look upon us and say, "I've seen that before, haven't I."

This is what the life of saint does daily.