Monday, April 28, 2014


Acts 4:23-31; Ps 2 BLessed are all who take refuge in the lord; John 3:1-8

Peter and his group has been arrested for speaking about Jesus and God's will for humanity.  THey were order not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.  However Peter andJohn said that it would be impossible to keep quiet and not share what they have seen and heard.  So they were threatened once again before they were released.

Upon returning to the community, they reported what had happened then they___________  what?

Fill in the blank.

What did they do next according the Acts of the Apostles.

BElow you will find some multiple choice answers to choose from:

Did they

a) complain about their unfair treatment

b) were filled with sadness and grief about the unjust arrest and accusations and threats

c)find a lawyer to defend them because their freedom of speech was being abused by authorities

d)They decided to move to a safer place to carry on their mission

e) They prayed for strength to continue to good fight, to run the race

The answer is e).  They prayed for strength and they boasted in God's mighty hand so much so the place shook and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

What do we do when things get tough and obstacles arise?
Do we cry foul?  Do we pout about unfairness?  Or do we pray and continue to speak boldly about the mighty works of God?

Saturday, April 26, 2014


The Process of Beatification & Canonization
The process of documenting the life and virtues of a holy man or woman cannot begin until 5 years after death. This waiting period insures that the person has an enduring reputation for sanctity among the faithful. It can be waived by the Supreme Pontiff, and has been done on two occasions. Pope John Paul II waived 3 years of the waiting period in the case of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Pope Benedict XVI waived all five years in the case of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
After the five years have concluded, or earlier if all or some of the period is waived,  the Bishop of the diocese in which the individual died can petition the Holy See to allow the initialization of a Cause for Beatification and Canonization. If there is no objection by the Roman Dicasteries, in particular the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the permission, or nihil obstat (nothing stands in the way), is communicated to the initiating Bishop.

Once a Cause has begun, the individual is called a Servant of God, e.g. the Servant of God Karol Wojtyła or the Servant of God Pope John Paul II.
Diocesan Tribunal: Informative Process
During this first phase the Postulation established by the diocese, or religious institute, to promote the Cause must gather testimony about the life and virtues of the Servant of God. Also, the public and private writings must be collected and examined. This documentary phase of the process can take many years and concludes with the judgment of a diocesan tribunal, and the ultimate decision of the bishop, that the heroic virtues of the Servant of God have or have not been demonstrated. The results, along with the bound volumes of documentation, or Acta (Acts), are communicated to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
Congregation for the Causes of the Saints: Positio
The Acta resulting from the documentary or informative phase of the process are committed by the Congregation to a Relator appointed from among the Congregation's College of Relators, whose task is to superintend the Cause through the rest of the process. Working with a theological commission established by the Congregation, the Relator ensures that the Positio summarizing the life and virtues of the Servant of God is properly prepared. When the Positio is finished, the theological commission votes affirmatively or negatively on the Cause. This recommendation is then passed to the cardinal, archbishop and bishop members of the Congregation who in turn vote. Their vote determines whether the Cause lives or dies. If the vote is affirmative, the recommendation of a Decree of Heroic Virtues is sent to the Holy Father, whose judgment is final.

Supreme PontiffDecree of the Heroic Virtues of the Servant of God
Once the person's Heroic Virtues have been recognized by the Pope, they are called Venerable, e.g. Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, or Venerable John Paul II.
Diocese: First Miracle Proposed in Support of the Cause
The remaining step before beatification is the approval of a miracle, evidence of the intercessory power of the Venerable Servant of God and thus of his or her union after death with God. Those who propose a miracle do so in the diocese where it is alledged to have occurred, not in the diocese of the Cause, unless the same. The diocese of the candidate miracle then conducts its own tribunals, scientific and theological.
The scientific commission must determine by accepted scientific criteria that there is no natural explanation for the alleged miracle. While miracles could be of any type, those almost exclusively proposed for Causes are medical. These must be well-documented, both as regards the disease and the treatment, and as regard the healing and its persistence.
While the scientific commission rules that the cure is without natural explanation, the theological  commission must rule whether the cure was a miracle in the strict sense, that is, by its nature can only be attributed to God. To avoid any question of remission due to unknown natural causation, or even unrecognized therapeutic causation, theologians prefer cures of diseases judged beyond hope by medicine, and which occur more or less instantaneously. The disappearance of a malignancy from one moment to another, or the instantaneous regeneration of diseased, even destroyed, tissue excludes natural processes, all of which take time. Such cases also exclude the operation of the angelic nature. While the enemy could provoke a disease by his oppression and simulate a cure by withdrawing his action, the cure could not be instantaneous, even one day to the next. Much less can he regenerate tissue from nothing. These are, therefore, the preferred kinds of cases since they unequivocally point to a divine cause.
The theological commission must also determine whether the miracle resulted through the intercession of the Servant of God alone. If the family and friends have been praying without cease to the Servant of God exclusively, then the case is demonstrated. However, if they have been praying to the Servant of God, to the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and others, then the case is clouded, and probably cannot be demonstrated. Thus, the task of the theological commission is two-fold, judge whether the cure was a miracle, and judge whether this miracle is due to the intercession of the Servant of God. The decision is forwarded to the Congregation in Rome.
Congregation: First Miracle Proposed in Support of the Cause
As occured at the diocesan level, the Congregation for the Causes of the the Saints establishes both scientific and theological commissions. The affirmative vote of the theological commission is transmitted to the General Meeting of the cardinal and episcopal members, whose affirmative judgment is forwarded to the Supreme Pontiff.
It should be noted that in cases of martyrdom the miracle required for beatification can be waived - martyrdom being understood as a miracle of grace. In this case, the vote of the Congregation would establish the death of the Servant of God as true martyrdom, resulting in a Decree of Martyrdom by the Holy Father.
Supreme Pontiff: Decree of a Miracle
With the Holy Father's approval of a Decree of a Miracle, the Servant of God can be beatified.

Supreme Pontiff: Beatification
With the beatification rite, conducted on the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, the Venerable Servant of God is declared Blessed, e.g. Blessed John Paul II.
Blesseds may receive public veneration at the local or regional level, usually restricted to those dioceses or religious institutes closely associated with the person's life. "Public veneration" in this use of the term doesn't mean that it is done in public; rather,that it is an act done by the clergy, or delegated laity, in the name of the Church (Mass, Divine Office, images in churches etc.), even if done in private. On the other hand, "private veneration" means veneration by individuals or groups acting in their own name, even if done "in public." While the Church restricts the public venration of Blesseds, Catholics are free to privately venerate them.
The reason for this distinction and its disciplinary norm is that beatification is not considered an infallible papal act, and so it is not yet appropriate that the entire Church give liturgical veneration to the Blessed. Perhaps to reinforce this distinction, Pope Benedict XVI has restored the practice, in use prior to Pope Paul VI, of having the Prefect of the Congregation conduct the beatification, rather than the Pope doing it himself. He has made exceptions, one of which is his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
In the case of Blessed John Paul II, the Holy See in a Decree Concerning the Liturgical Cult of Blessed John Paul II has determined that public veneration is lawful in the Diocese of Rome and the nation of Poland. Other nations, dioceses and institutes may petition the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for the Indult to render cultus (veneration) to the Blessed. Without an Indult, however, public veneration is illicit, and even harms the possiblility for Canonization of the Blessed.
Diocese: Second Miracle Proposed in Support of the Cause
After beatification the Church looks for a second miracle before proceeding to canonization. The process is the same as it was for the miracle which made beatification possible. The alleged miracle is studied by scientific and theological commissions in the diocese in which it is alleged to have occurred.
Congregation: Second Miracle Proposed in Support of the Cause
After the diocesan process is concluded the proposed miracle is studied by a scientific and then a  theological commission of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. The vote of this commission is forwarded to the episcopal members of the Congregation whose affirmative vote is communicated to the Holy Father.
Supreme Pontiff: Decree of a Miracle
The consent of the Holy Father to the decision of the Congregation results in a Decree of a Miracle. Canonization is now possible.

Supreme Pontiff: Canonization
By the Rite of Canonization the Supreme Pontiff, by an act which is protected from error by the Holy Spirit, elevates a person to the universal veneration of the Church. By canonization the Pope does not make the person a saint. Rather, he declares that the person is with God and is an example of following Christ worthy of imitation by the faithful. A Mass, Divine Office and other acts of veneration, may now be offered throughout the universal Church.
If the saint has some universal appeal he may be added to the general calendar of the Church as a Memorial or Optional Memorial. If the appeal is localized to a region of the world, a particular nation, or a particular religious institute, the saint may be added to the particular calendars of those nations or institutes, or celebrated by the clergy and faithful with a devotion to the saint with a votive Mass or Office.


Mark 16:15-20

"These signs will accompany those who believe : in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.  They will pickup serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."


"But they went forth and preached everywhere and the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs."

When was the last time we picked up serpents?  Now notice Jesus doesn't say the serpents are alive when you pick them up.  Just pointing out the obvious.

But what's the deal are we empowered to do such things are not?  Do these signs still accompany those who believe?

Rather than focus on driven our demons, picking up serpents, drinking deadly things without being harmed, healing the sick, speaking new languages, we should on the essential.

Too often we get distracted by the details and lose sight of what matters most.

The essential ingredient in all of this is the phrase "in my name…"

It is in the name of Jesus we find our ability to let the grace of faith to transform us and reveal the signs of Jesus' action in our world through us.

How do we live "in his name"?  That is the most essential question for us as believers.

Too often we live in and act on our own behalf.  We do not truly let the power of His name guide and direct our steps.  We are hesitant; we are scared; we are luke warm in our faith.

What would happen if we truly let the central motivation of our life revolve around His Name rather than our own personal gain or ideas or desires?

A boldness of faith would begin to spread throughout the world.  Signs of the living presence of Jesus would be seen and experienced as it was in the days of the apostles.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Acts 3:11-26; Ps 8 O Lord, our God how wonderful your name in all the earth!; Luke 24:35-48

Jesus once again shows himself in the upper room to his apostles.  The gift he brings is forgiveness and peace.

Why does Jesus appears?  A question that can only receive a speculative answer.  But we can investigate the fruit of this appearance.

He shows himself to be real.  He is not some renegade spirit or some phantom or hallucination.  He is real.  He is alive.  He sits, stands, talks, eats, and is touched.

Jesus is not distance but near at their side. Pope Francis pointed this out some time back, "Jesus is not up there far away.  He is by our side.  We should reach out to him."  The distance we experience from Jesus is not his doing but ours.

2)Jesus reveals the necessity of the cross.  The cross was not a last ditch effort or emergency back up plan.  As JEsus tells us according to the law of Moses and the prophets the cross, suffering, death of Jesus was center stage of God's plan of bringing us back to him.  This is why we have the crucifix in the sanctuary of the Catholic Church.  we do not want to lose sight of the cost of freedom and love and peace as Jesus gives it.  Too often we shift our focus and turn away from the that which makes the resurrection possible.

3) There remains a sense of urgency.  Jesus speaks about going out to others to preach repentance and to offer them the peace he brings.  To all nations we must go.  Repentance begins with us but must not end there.  The fruit of Christ passion is meant for all.

4) Assistance is on the way.  We do not do this alone. In verse 49 Jesus speaks of being clothed with power.  The Holy Spirit will be sent. B this narrative we understand what it means to live in the spirit: to proclaim the passion of Christ, to embrace the cross, to be instruments of forgiveness and peace, to go forth unceasingly.

He is Risen.  He must rise in and through us daily to greet the world and to transform it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Acts 3:1-10; PS 105 Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord; Luke 24:13-35

What does it mean to profess faith in the resurrection?  What does it mean to say "the Lord has truly been raised and appeared to Simon!"

It means the power of God is not bound by the limits and the laws of nature.  God's power is truly a power that liberates.  The resurrection begins a new reality of God's presence in our midst that is beyond our senses.  Jesus is different.  He no longer belongs to the world of the senses that is he is no longer contained or limited by the senses.

He is accessible in a new and deeper way.  This is why he is made known in the breaking of the bread.

Faith in the resurrection is a profession of the real existence of God and the real existence of God is made present in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist.

We have access to the presence of the resurrected JEsus in the Eucharist we celebrate.  This is how god has chosen to stay with us

"And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  With that their eyes were opened and they said to each other, 'were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"

The experience of the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist, becomes a lens by which they look back an begin to understand the real presence of God, Jesus who accompanies them.

In the Eucharist Jesus is with us to accompany us.  Just as the Lord appeared to Simon he also appears to us every time we celebrate the breaking of the bread.

A few words from Blessed Pope John XXIII

"The older I get the more I realize the value of simplicity in thought, word, and speech…simply all that is complex.  As much as possible, reduce it to its original clarity without getting distracted by details."

The Eucharist is the original clarity of Jesus fulfilling his last promise to be with us always...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


John 20:11-18

There are three things about this gospel that are intriguing.

Mary weeps outside the tomb.  As long as she stays outside the empty tomb she is overcome with sadness.  She has an uncontrollable fit of tears that consumes her.

The moment she goes inside the tomb, the moment she enters empty tomb things begin to change.  The reality begins to take over and bring about an opportunity of conversion.   She enters upon the opportunity of encounter with the risen Lord.

She moves from seeking evidence to having an encounter. This is truly the hallmark of faith.  Evidence can be easily manipulated, but an encounter is truly lasting.

Notice the encounter with the Risen Lord occurs in three stages.

First there is the initiative.  Jesus initiates the encounter.  Then there is the recognition.  Mary hears Jesus call her by name and this encounter is personal.  Then she is given a mission to go forth and spread the message to the apostles.

Evidence is surpassed by encounter. And the encounter empowers her to go forth.

Here in lies the matter of faith and exposes what is the matter with us as believers.

We have a tendency to stop at the evidence and keep Jesus distant or if we do go further then we usually stop at the encounter and make it about our own personal relationship with Jesus and we cling to him as Mary did with out realizing it is about the mission. We never move beyond the encounter to go forth and spread the message.

This last stage is essential; we too must busy ourselves with the proclamation.  By our lives and actions the risen Lord is proclaimed.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Here is an excerpt from Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth, in regards to how God acts in history.

“It is part of the mystery of God that he acts so gently, that he only gradually builds up his history within the great history of mankind; that he becomes man and so can be overlooked by his contemporaries and by the decisive forces within history; that he suffers and dies and that, having risen again, he chooses to come to mankind only through the faith of the disciples to whom he reveals himself; that he continues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly opens our eyes if we open our doors to him. And yet—is not this the truly divine way? Not to overwhelm with external power, but to give freedom, to offer and elicit love. And if we really think about it, is it not what seems so small that is truly great?” (p. 276)  

Before we start wondering about evidence of the resurrection, we must first note that the bible focuses on the encounters with the resurrected Lord. 

No amount of evidence can truly convince us; only a true encounter with the risen Lord can drastically alter our conscious, our thinking, our living.

In is in the recognition of Jesus in our midst that embowers us to give witness. 

Encounter not evidence is what drives the apostles.  The tomb is empty this is true and factual.  The signs of resurrection are real, indeed.  But it is the encounter that super charges their life.  May it be so for each of us again and again these fifty days of easter and beyond. 

May our hearts be open to the gentle unfolding of God's presence in history  in such a many that we too can become his witnesses and proclaim his joy to the ends of the earth. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Isaiah 50:4-9; Ps 69 Lord, in your great love, answer me; Matthew 26:14-25

"What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?"

These words are the most haunting words of all of scripture.  Judas, a chosen one of Christ to lead the church upon his ascension, turns aside and sells him out. 

And what a cheap price at that:  30 pieces of silver to betray a friend.  To treat a person as an object is unheard of, right?

How often have we discovered the very words of the disciples upon our lips we hear in today's gospel, "surely it is not I, Lord."

Surely we would never do such a thing!  But we have done such in our life.  We have objectified others to our own gain, whether it be material gain or emotional gain.  We Judas others in and throughout our life. 

Think about pornography or don't think about it.  But rather the business of pornography is objectification for the sake of gain, fleeting as it is. 

Think about entertainment in general.  Much of it consist in objectification of others and the art is some how lost in the process. 

No it is real.  We have all done it.  We are guilty.   Judas isn't the only one who sold someone out for personal gain.

Yet like Judas we continually treat Jesus as if he were existing simply for our gain.  How often is our attitude one of demanding when we go to Jesus? We demand this or that?    How often we demand for ourselves from him only to find ourselves turned aside from him.  When we seek ourselves in love, eventually we find ourselves alone and distant from love itself. 

If we treat Jesus in this light, then when the going gets rough then we leave altogether.  We don't stick around much.  We see this in marriages as well.

Judas can teach us much if we are willing to learn.

Judas was never grateful.  Thus he found himself backed in a dark corner with no way out. 

We too find ourselves in that same corner when we approach with selfish attitude rather then one of gratitude. 

Betrayal is often founded upon the inability to be grateful for the gift that is and we shift our focus to the gift we think it ought to be. 

It is good to ponder Judas.  It is good to examine our lives.  It is good to reevaluate how we love and how we give thanks. 

Who have we taken for granted in our life?  Betrayal often shows itself in this reality of taking for granted, not truly appreciating the value of the other.   Something to be mindful of as we journey to calvary. 

Today be grateful. Today show appreciation.  Today recognize the true worth of another apart from what we gain from it. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Isaiah 49:1-6; Ps 71 I will sing of your salvation  John 13:21-33,36-38

We continue our journey through holy week as we move toward Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil.    We take a peak this morning at the unfolding events surrounding the crucifixion.

The church invites us to go into the upper room and sit with Jesus and his disciples as they share a meal.  THey are all "reclining" at table as John's gospel relates back to us.

Reclining at table, Jesus is deeply troubled.
Then we hear why?  "I say to you, one of you will betray me."

Quickly questions arise in the hearts and minds of the disciples.

Then we see Judas rise from the table after he had received the morsel and John gives is this sentiment, "After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him."

How could someone so close to Jesus be so far away?  It should give is all a moments pause to investigate and do a little introspection.  Are we as close as we think? We too who have journeyed with Christ in our own life can also be susceptible to temptation.

Then we hear about Peter and his bold proclamation of laying down his life.  We too are proud in our own estimation.  Yet, Jesus points to Peter and declares, "not before the cock crows will you deny me three times."

What then.

If you notice we read from john chapter 13 verses 21-33 and verse 36-38.

What is missing is truly the missing link verse 34-35.  Here is Jesus words, "I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I loved you, so you also should love one another.  this is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

There it is so simple and and clear.

What should we focus on more than those few words.

Pope Benedict once remarked that what makes men men is their ability to no longer ask "can" I do it bit  "should " I do it.  Here we understand who we are. Jesus invites by saying you also should love.

This is how we stay close to Jesus this week.  We seek the 'shoulds" of our life, and thus we fill what is missing and discover God's closeness every step of the way.

As we journey this week to calvary with Jesus and we see that he does what he should, may we do likewise.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Matt ch 26-ch 27


As we read and experience the passion of JEsus this past Sunday, there were a few things that jumped forth from the experience.

There is a lot of darkness that surrounds Jesus' passion, his arrest and condemnation and crucifixion.

Darkness and dysfunction swirl like one of those familiar dust storms I remember from my childhood.  We would be playing outside and out of no where a little wind twister would form throwing up dust and it would last a few minutes, spinning wildly.

We would run through them, trying to break them up, afraid they might becoming bigger and bigger.  This was our fear as children that the little wind twisters were offsprings of the giant tornados.  IT was our job to defeat them while they were young less them take on a greater enormity and significance only to lead to destruction.

Strange I know.  But as a youth that was my thinking.

We see that in the passion.  Darkness springs up in twister like formation from the beginning to the end of the passion narrative.  All the while Jesus is facing them head on.  He boldly goes right through them, as if he was trying to stop them from getting our of hand and becoming more destructive than they already were.

He takes all upon himself.  This is how Jesus deals with sin and darkness and faces them head on and then eventually he nails them all to the cross.

The opening lines of the passion the gospel of Matthew begins with Judas and his act of betrayal.  For 30 pieces of silver the master, his friend, is sold.

Then in the garden we have violence erupt as Jesus prepares himself for surrender.  The people around him take up swords and cut off ears.  Blood is shed.  Jesus halts the violence for he knows his blood alone can stop the pattern of violence form becoming worse and getting out of hand.

Then false testimony and lying rise to front and whip through the trial.  Like a dust storm tossing sand into every one's eyes, the truth is covered over and falsehood rises to the front. Lying is every where.  We see how harmful these words are, these words that spread rumors and gossip and and extend one lie after another.

Then we encounter mocking and ridiculing of Jesus.  He was already down and they continued to beat him.  This is so typical.  How easy it is to target those who are already down.  How easy it is to pick on those who have been picked out.

Then we hear the cock crow and envision Peter denying JEsus three times.  If only he would have heeded the words of Jesus, "pray that you may not undergo the test."  How often we too have denied Christ in our life in part because we didn't pray, we didn't invest our selves in preparation.  Like Peter we buckle under temptation.

Then there is despair as Judas has sorrow for what he has done.  He tosses back the money trying to undo what he had done to no avail.  It had all been set in motion and there was no turning back.  Judas was a scape goat, a pawn, and he realized it too late.  So he despairs of God's mercy and hangs himself.

If only he would have trusted the words of his friend.  How often did hear Jesus speak about forgiveness and the Father's mercy.  If only he would have waited until the third day, then maybe even Judas would have been changed and renewal and restoration could have been part of his journey back.

The one thing that is most evident is the disciples reaction to Jesus.  When Jesus need then most an stake them with him to pray as he enters the garden.  He gives them one little command: pray and keep watch.

And rather than keep vigil and be attentive and pray with Jesus, they fall asleep.  Three times Jesus finds them sleeping.  Spiritual laziness.  When Jesus lays at their feet and opportunity to deepen their devotion and dedication they sleep through it.  Spiritual Laziness rises to the front like ashes stirred in the wind.

We may be able to excuse ourselves from betrayal, or denial, or false testimony, and even despair, but none of us can excuse ourselves from spiritual laziness.  We all stand convicted of doing what the disciples do in the garden.  So many of us refuse to grow spiritually because it looks like work.  We want the path of least resistance.  We want the path that is easy.  We want it to be accommodating.   Like the disciples we put off the invitation God lays at our feet daily.

But not this week.  This week we call holy, we must rise to the challenge.  W emus dig a little deeper and truly enter wide awake.  There is no time like the present to truly dust off our our sloth and become more attentive and focused.  We pray a little longer this week.  We meditate a little deeper.  We fast a little more.  We want to be hungry and attentive so that we may enter in and truly be transformed by the liturgies this week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil.  We will not abandon the Savior again.  We will move forward full speed ahead humbled by the invitation to come and follow after him.

This week we must be different.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


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

Just an interesting note on today's first reading.  We get the reading of the promise and covenant to Abraham.  Abram's names get changed to Abraham.  His name gets bigger and so does God's promise to him that he will now be a father of nations.  And what I find interesting is that the land Abraham is to take over is the whole land of Canaan.

Now this may not seem like much.  But in the story of Noah, Canaan is the son of Ham and it is Canann who is cursed by Noah because his father Ham uncovers the nakedness of Noah or as scripture reads Ham saw his father's nakedness.

There is much debate over what this means.  Some scholars suggest that there is more going on here than Ham peeping at his father's naked body.  There is more here than voyeurism.

Some suggest that this phrase "seeing the nakedness of your father" is really about incest.  Ham actually takes advantage of Noah being drunk by having sexual intercourse with his own mother, thus seeking to usurp the authority of his father.  And the same scholars suggest that Canaan is the child conceived in this incest between Ham and his mother, Noah's wife.

If you go to Leviticus 18:6, God warns the Israelites not to do what the people of Canaan do, do not conform to their customs.  Incest is part of their customs.  One of these customs is disgracing your Father by having intercourse with your mother or as the biblical hebrew suggest, "uncover the nakedness of your Father."

Unfortunately while Ham commits the crime it is Canaan the child that is cursed and punished.   Sounds familiar doesn't it.  How often are children punished because of the the sexual act that leads to conception.  How often do we kill the pre born because the child is conceived outside of wedlock or by rape or incest or any other reason.  Why punish the child?

In the first reading for the day we discover that it is the land of Canaan the becomes the promised land.  There is a reversal of fortune.  The curse of Canaan is lifted and the land of his descendent in become part of God's promise to Abraham.

This sounds all to familiar.  We are the ones who are cursed by the sin of Adam and Eve.  It is through the act of Christ we experience a reversal of fortune.  The curse is lifted and we share in the blessings and favor of God through the act of Jesus on the cross.

Now lets go to the gospel briefly.  There is something unique in the gospel of John that often gets overlooked.  This is real evident in chapter 8 of John's gospel.  On the lips of Jesus are pressed these words , "I AM".

Now this may not seem like a big deal.  But whenever Jesus says it, the jews want to pick up stones and kill him.    At first glance we think wow they are very sensitive.  But when we think about the phrase in proper context it begins to make sense.

When Jesus says this phrase, "I AM" he is referring back to the story of Moses and the burning bush.  It is in this story in exodus chapter 3 that God reveals his name to Moses.  When Moses ask God who shall he say sent him, God responds with the following, "I am who am" sent you.

God's name is  the great "I AM".  When Jesus states this phrase time and time again in the gospel of John, he is actually taking upon himself the very identity of God.  This is why the Jews want to stone him because they consider it blasphemous: Jesus a man claiming to be one with God. Yowsah!

The name of God was only said once a year in the temple on the day of  atonement.  Jesus says it through out his public ministry because he will be the source of atonement and reconciliation.  God becomes man to reverse the curse.

That little phrase "I AM" means so much.  Jesus is claiming to be one with God.  In his act on the cross, God himself dies that the curse may be lift and we too may now share in the promise of God in Abraham where all the world will be blessed through him and his descendants in particular the one descendent, the God man Jesus Christ.

Now you know the rest of the story!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Daniel 3:14-95; Glory and praise for ever; John 8:31-42

"Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments…"

Music is seductive.  It easily sways the listener.  It causes our moral radar to be somewhat disconnected.

How often have I (or have you) been listening to the radio and found myself (ourself) singing along only to realize the message of the song probably isn't the best of messages.

Just recently I found myself singing along to the radio only to realize the lyrics were talking about step bars and lap dances and going down to the river to get on.  I was so caught into the music that I wasn't paying much attention to what was being said.

Music has away of seducing our moral compass and invites us to just go with the rhythm.  We can easily get carries away if we are not careful or attentive.

Perhaps this is what the good King Nebuchadnezzar is anticipating from Abednego, Shadrach, and Meshach.  Perhaps he figures that the  music would sway the three young men to lower their moral guard and just get seduced into pagan worship.

We see this with the young of today.  They are being swayed to enter into pagan worship that is worship emotions, or power, wealth, success, fame.  This is what a lot of songs are about with out any real direction or guidance.

On second note, I find it fascinating how many modern gathering places for fellowship do the same thing.  They get every one seduced by the band, the musical instruments and this is what folks are drawn too.  There is something in the seduction of music that sways and convinces.

Don't get me wrong i love good music.  But isn't worship more than a song! Isn't worship more than melody and rhythm!  At what point do we begin to realize that music is more about us then it is about true and right worship.

Back to story of the three young men.  They are not so easily bought.  It takes more than a steel guitar and drums so to speak to get them to bow their knee in worship.

I love what the three young men say, "There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us!  But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that yo set up."

Regardless of whether God intervenes and saves their life or not, the three young men remain dutiful and loyal to God.  No circumstances could dictate their fidelity.  They truly possessed wisdom.

Pope Francis in today's wednesday audience began a new series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  He reminds us that the gift of wisdom  is the ability to see as God sees.  This vision is a product of intimacy with God.  The Spirit of God draws into God's life in such a manner that we are able to share God's vision.  We are able to look upon the world with the heart of God.  It removes us from ourselves and we no longer judge based on what pleases or displease us.

Wisdom doesn't mean we are a know it all.  But rather it means we know of God, God's actions.  We see with God's eyes, hear with God's ears, love with God's heart, and judge with God's judgment.

We see this gift unfold in and through the lives of the three young men.  Wisdom means we march to the rhythm of eternity.  We can only be swayed by the song of heaven.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Num 21:4-9; Ps 102 O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you; John 8:21-30

"But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?  We are disgusted with this wretched food!"

Patience worn out! Complaining against God and leadership!  This never happens in real life.  This only takes place in the biblical stories, right?

St Teresa of Avila was described life on earth as "a bad night in a bad inn."

The problem with humanity is we want earth to feel like heaven.  If this assessment is right then we have a very low expectation of heaven.

Here are a few words from St. JoseMaria Escriva, "Are you suffering great tribulations (or small ones)? Say very slowly, as if savoring the words, this powerful and manly prayer: May the most just and most lovable will of God be done, be fulfilled, be praised and eternally exalted above all things,  Amen.  Amen.  The Peace shall be found.

Why not try it when frustration rises, patience runs thread bare, sufferings mount, obstacles arise and life, well, simply looks and taste like the journey it is suppose to be.   Put things in its proper proportion.   Stand back and see the larger picture.  

As the psalm reminds us about God's attention, "he hears the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer."

A little destitution opens the door way to the inner halls of heaven,

Jesus says this in today' s gospel, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that i do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me."

When impatience rises, lift your eyes to the one who has been lifted up; with our eyes directed upward then all things began to shift in their proper place.  Patience returns to the one who has pondered the Cross continuously.  Proper perspective returns as well.


Monday, April 7, 2014


Daniel 13:1-62; Ps 23 The Lord is my Shepherd; John 8:1-11

"When they old men saw her enter every day for her walk, they began to lust for her. They suppressed their conscience; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments."

This is the critique the scripture writer give to the two old goats who seek to trap and seduce the lovely an innocent Susana.

They suppressed their conscience.  It was a gradual and slow death to their conscience.  It did not happen all at once, but over time their conscience slowly eroded, an erosion caused by giving into their lust.

Where does this conscience come from?  Here are a few words from Cardinal Ratzinger aka Pope Benedict XVI currently the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI that I think help elucidate the issue:

"The first so called ontological level of the phenomenon conscience consists in the fact that something like an original memory of the good and true has been implanted in us, that there is an inner ontological tendency within man, who is created in the likeness of God, toward the divine. From it's origin, man's being resonates with some things and clashes with others.  This memory of origin, which results from the god-like constitution of our being, is not a conceptually articulated knowing, a store of retrievable contents.  It is, so speak, an inner sense, a capacity to recall, so that the one whom it addresses, if he is not turned in on himself, hears its echo from within.  He sees: that's it! That is what my nature points to and seeks…The more man lives "in fear of the Lord"the more concretely and clearly effective this memory becomes."

St Basil calls this the "spark of divine love which has been hidden in us."

What this boils down to according to Ratzinger is that "what characterizes man as man is not that he asks about the "can" but about the "should," and that opens himself to the voice and demands of truth."

The reality is that this memory can be covered over.  This memory can be falsified by our subjective whims and fancy as we see in the story of Susanna.  The old men muted their conscience and let their own subjective desires of lust to trump the voice of truth.  They stopped asking "should we do this" and merely focused on the "want to" and "can do" of the selfish desires which lose sight of the objective truth at hand.

Thus what morality requires, if we are going to restore humanity to its original memory of truth is witnesses.  We need witnesses to the life wisdom of faith, in which the primitive wisdom of humanity is cleansed, maintained, and deepened.

Daniel in todays first reading becomes that witness to truth. Where are our witnesses today.  Daniel was impelled by the spirit of God to speak out.  Who today stands on the ground of truth and goodness?  We have many judges like the old men who have allowed their consciences to be corrupted.  Too many!  What we need are witness.

This is why the martyr is so powerful for us. They stood their ground.  They allowed the fear of God to become center place int heir life.  All of their actions were rooted in this one reality: does it glorify God or not.

Then maybe innocent blood can be spared.

Friday, April 4, 2014


wisdom 2:1,12-22; Ps 34 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; John 7:1-2,10, 25-30

The readings today contain the quintessential "Trash talk."

"with revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience." book of wisdom

In the gospel Jesus is being taunted. Men are whispering behind his back, "is he not the one they are trying to kill? he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.  Could the authorities have realized he is the Christ? But we know where he is from."

Then JEsus Cries out in the temple area.  He had enough.  He reached his breaking point.  He is about to lay down the smack.  Oh wait, that would be our reaction.   We are the ones that insist on getting even.  We are the ones that insist on making sure we get a word in edge ways.  We are the ones that return smack with smack, trash talk with trash talk, taunts with taunts.

Jesus, however, just clarifies for them what they were talking about, "You know me and you know where I am from.  Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.  I know him because I am from him, and he sent me."

Then they tries to arrest him.

Jesus is constantly getting into trash talk sessions with the people he comes to save.  They taunt him, ridicule him, deride him, tease him.  They genuinely try to get his goat, as they say.

All the while, he picks his moment to unleash his fury.

That moment of release is on the cross.  He bears the insults in such a way they become a life giving remedy for the trash and taunts and teasing he endures.  By his wounds we are healed.

How is that for transferring the negative into a positive.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 106 Remember us O lord, as you favor your people; John 5:31-47

"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.
Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” Pope John XXIII

Here is a  little snippet from the future Saint Pope John XXIII. I thought it might be a good appetizer for the soon to be canonization of him along with Pope John Paul II.

Concern yourself  not with what you tried and failed but with what is still possible for you to do.

It sounds a lot like the mentality of Moses in today's first reading.  Once again he comes up against the stubbornness of the people he is asked to lead.  They find themselves turning away form God and worshipping idols.

God is ready to do away with the whole lot.  Moses becomes their advocate, the advocate of God's promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.  Moses has a keen eye for what is still possible even in the midst of failure though cleansing will be necessary.  Cleansing is intimately connected to true possibilities.

The same sentiment arises from the gospel as Jesus exclaims, "How can you believe, when you accept praise form one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God."

True possibilities are found when we seek praise from God alone.

Only in this shift of mind can we become more deeply aware of true possibilities that lie hidden or disguised in the unfolding events and circumstances of our life.

Thus we become a Advocate not unlike Moses even when things look bleak we see the light amongst the shadows realizing that shadows exist to magnify the light.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


John 5:17-30

Often times is accompanying loved ones through the transition of the earthly and bodily dying process, many nurses and doctors mention that hearing may be the last sense to go, thus one should continue to talk to their loved one, expressing their love, gratitude, and even giving permission to surrender, to let go and to move forward,

I am no expert.  I don't know if this is true or not at least for the physical and bodily realities of life.  However, from a spiritual point of view, Jesus makes it pretty clear that perhaps the hearing remains long after bodily death, "Amen I say to you, the hour is coming and is here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."

Perhaps Jesus is comparing the living who reject him as dead already.  But if I recall correctly upon the crucifix and death of Jesus according to the gospel of Matthew, "the earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.  And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many."

 Jesus goes on to say in John 5, "Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation."

Just something to ponder.  It is never to late to hear the word of God and respond to the call of Christ, that is unless its too late.

Of course in the hebrew mindset to hear was equivalent as being obedient.  When Jesus speaks of hearing he also means following.

But the life of faith isn't about just making it or just squeezing in or beating the dead line.  The life of faith is about being empowered here and now to live differently, to live and love like Jesus.  That is a life of fulfillment.

The whole notion of death bed confession is a true reality but with something so good offered us by Jesus why delay, why wait, get on board while the getting is good.

This ties is with a few words from Pope Francis a just a few weeks ago.  "Every person's life, the life of every man and woman who has the courage to draw near tot he Lord, will discover the joy of God's celebration."

What s the word JEsus is calling out to us?  He is calling us to his Father's celebration.  We are the guest of honor.  The celebration is for us.  Now that alone should open our ears just a little wider and catch the voice of the shepherd calling us home.

Run don't walk, you might just miss the party.

HEaring may be the last thing to go.  But in the matter of faith it is the first thing necessary to experience the fullness of life and joy Jesus comes to give.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


John 9:1-41

This with week of Lent we look at a few details of the gospel of the man born Blind.


The disciples ask why is the man born blind as they walk by.  They want to know if it because of his sins or the sins of the parents.  Jesus responds, "neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."

Who is that for an answer.

Many times we ask similar questions not unlike the disciples.  Usually or questions are about why this ir that is the way it is.  Why is so and so sick or crippled, or lame or deaf or fill in the blank.  We struggle with comprehending how a good and gracious God can allow such pain and suffering.  So we ask why?

Jesus' answer seems the best yet.  SO that the works of God might be made visible.  That is, God is not done yet.  God is still actively involve in the lives of those who are afflicted and those who are near or far away.  Some how some way, God's work is going to be made visible through the situation or suffering or pain.

God is never done.  God is always working.  Give him a minute or two.


The man born blind, once he receives his sight his world goes from bad to worse.  The miracle he receives restores his sight but it also starts a bit of controversy.  His neighbors begin to interrogate him, the pharisees ridicule him, his parents denounce him, and eventually he is thrown out of his community.

But when the world turns against him, he does not turn against God.  Th man digs deep and maintains his faith.  No circumstance can waver is firmness and his adherence to the man who cured him.  In fact he worships all the more.

What a great witness for us.  How often do circumstances interfere with our faith?  How often do we stop worshiping when things get difficult?  We need to let th mean born blind show us how to see more clearly.

In fact when the man is thrown out, who comes to his rescue?  No one other than Jesus himself.

The man takes a stand for Jesus ad Jesus comes to stand with him.  What a great thing to remember.  We never stand alone when we stand in faith.


Jesus uses his spittle and earth to form a paste then he rubs it on the man's eyes.  We too must rub Jesus into our life.  The scene is indicative of a new creation.  Just as Adam was created out of the earth and received the breath of God and came to life so does the blind man.  Then he is sent to he pool to be washed which is symbolic of baptism.  Through the waters of baptism we experience a new sight, a new way of seeing.  We no longer are bound to darkness but we receive the light of Christ.


When ask whether or not the man born blind was in deed the same man who use to sit and beg the man responds "I am."  This is huge.  Through out the gospel of John, Jesus uses the phrase I am, to connect himself to the divine name revealed by God in Exodus, "I am who am."  Every time he uses the phrase and he uses it a lot, "I am the vine, I am the gate, I am the good shepherd, I am the bread of Life, and again in the garden the soldiers come he says "I am" and all the soldiers fall to the ground. In fact in John 8, Jesus says "I am" and they all pick up rocks and want to stone him.  It is a powerful phrase that has deep connections to claiming to be God, divine, the same as the Great I am of the OT.

When the blind man says "I am" and is helping us realize that once we have gone through the waters of baptism, Jesus now lives in and through us.  We have a new identity.  We are another Christ, as the church teaches.

Just a few things.