Thursday, December 24, 2015


Readings for Christmas
Isaiah 62:1-5; Ps 89 Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; Acts 13:16-25; Matt 1:1-25
Midnight Mass
Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 96 Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
Mass at Dawn
Isaiah 62:11-12;Ps 97 A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:15-20
Mass during the Day
Isaiah 52:7-10; Ps 98 All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God; Hebrews 1:1-6;John1:1-18

There is a lot to take in on this celebration of the birth of our Savior.   Take some time to read the readings and let the fullness of the meaning enter your heart and soul.

It is true to say that nothing changes us like a baby.
A baby's presence transforms people lives both for the good and bad.  Husbands and wives become fathers and mothers.  Sons and daughters become brothers and sisters.  Parents become grandparents. Uncles and aunts arrive on the scene when a baby is born anew into the world.

Nothing changes us like a baby.

Enemies becomes friends.  Agendas are seta side.  Attention is put where it has always needed to be in the first place.  Houses become homes, sanctuaries of cleanliness and sanitation.  Everything is sharpened and becomes more alive because of this deep sense of alertness that comes with a child being born into the world.

Nothing changes us like a baby.

Will we let this baby born to us transform us as we move into the new year.

For as we sing in the song, O little Town of Bethlehem, "Our hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

We will we let this child become the gravitational pull in which our hopes and fears finally have a resting place?

In this season we renew our old customs and traditions with our family and friends. There is togetherness and laughter.  Generosity abounds in this season of light and joy where we look for ways to manifest that generosity of goodness usually in gifts wrapped and brought and delivered to express our affection in concrete ways for we know words don't seem to be sufficient.

Joy and goodness echo from earth upward into the heavens and like a boomerang it comes back to fill our hearts and minds.

This is what we look for this season.  Along with this we look for peace.
I was in a bank earlier and found myself singing along to a christmas carol: Have your self a merry little christmas.  As I was singing the tellers were rooting me on.  Then I got to the verse that struck me in my heart: "Let your heart be light, from  now on your troubles will be out of sight...have your self a merry little christmas...make the yuletide gay..from now on your troubles will be miles away.."

I thought to myself, will there be a moment that our troubles will be out of sight or even miles away.

Then instantly the words of the song little town of Bethlehem flooded my soul: hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

Look at the words of the second reading from midnight
St Paul tell us, "The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devout in this age,a s we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ..."

We are empowered by Christ not so much to be free from trials and tribulations but to journey through them with great hope.  We no longer have to be bound by worldly desires but for once, our life can be lifted high and our spirit can soar with things of real importance and consequence.

This is why the angels sing that great hymn: glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

On whom does his favor rest?

The obvious answer is on this child born to us: Jesus himself bears the weight of God's favor for all of humanity. Jesus is the one with whom God is pleased.  Jesus lives completely oriented toward the Father, focused on him and in communion with him.  For us who share the attitude of Jesus, being confirmed to the Son, we are united to God's good pleasure.

Grace and freedom become totally interwoven.  We could not love have we not been loved.  God's grace precede us in the race, embraces us and carries us.  But it remains true that we must love in return.  This is God's good pleasure revealed to us in this Christmas celebration.

We have a choice we can create space for this child to enter into our lives not just for a moment but thoroughly or we can be like the inn keeper and refuse to create space and crowd him out.

No one remembers the inn.  But the place that received Mary and child remains a vibrant a part of our rich tradition.  It is marked with a silver star and is decorated with a exquisite basilica.  We remember the place that welcomed him.  Even the shepherd fields are highly decorated for their response to the angels message.  Yet, the inn remains gone from our memory.

Which will we choose? Remember the words of the prophet "The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand." Isaiah

In this season of presents, we seek to imitate God who gives us himself.  The only worthy response is to return the favor and give him ourselves as well.

Merry Christmass.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


1 Samuel 1:24-28; 1 Samuel 2:1-8 My heart exults in the Lord, my savior; Luke 1:46-56

We read the stories of Hannah and Mary in today's readings for this December 22, 2016.  Just a few days before Christmas.

We witness Hannah bring her child, the one God gave her, back to the Lord for rearing, "Now, I in turn, give him to the LORD, as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated tot he LORD."

We witness the Blessed Mother in today's gospel burst in to song, "my soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior."

Both women are caught up in the unfolding of salvation history.  Both of their sons will be instruments for God as his saving plan unfolds.  Both mothers are being asked to step back, to not control, but to simply trust and let God's plan unfold according to his purpose and his plan.

God's plan of salvation happens in the lives of real people, at specific times and according to God's purposes.

This is important for us to remember.

The stories from scripture are not fairy tales that took place in some distant land far far away.  It happens in real lives and it continues to happen in our lives daily.

Like Mary and Hannah we have a choice.  We can cooperate with God's plan according to his purpose and surrender our control or we can fight it.  We can let God lead or we can become a hinderance for all that is good for us and the world.

Hannah and Mary both step back and let go and follow God's lead.  We too are invites to do the same.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Micah 5:1-4a; Psalm 80 Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45

I recently read an article about how Christmas has changed.

When we are young, christmas is about gifts beneath the tree.  These presents are tokens of love and care wrapped in glistening outter wear.  The time is filled with excitement and enthusiasm and great expectation which comes to a head very quickly and in an instant it is gone.

I find myself a bit nostalgia for those days.  To be young again to look upon Christmas with that same devotion and joyful enthusiasm, however,  is not what is asked of us.

Christmas has become gift bags and cards.  I love them and find myself grateful with every card and gift bag that comes my way.  I am blessed beyond measure, for sure.

But now a days we are all grown up. Most of the folks my age are dealing with morgages on their homes or car payments or baffled by the economy and their 401K/ retirement.  Then there are doctor bills and increasing cost of providing for a family and maintaining a family. Anxiety is the rue by which life is brewed.

Busyness.  We are all busy.  Smartphones and tech-time has replaced conversations and visits face to face.  Netflix and video on demand has made us all isolated and distant.  No man is island but we have become just that. Multitasking is the norm.  It isn't only expected but demanded.

This last week of Advent what if we shifted our focus from buying these last minute presents to being present?  What if we stopped all this fuss over gifts and focused on presence, being attentive in a real and spiritual way to the unfolding of life?

Presence before presents!  Giving of our selves before gifts from ourselves!

What then would become our life?

Instead of adding more stuff to life, what if we conversed and actually stopped long enough to look each other in the eye.  What if we actually got in touch with one another for a change rather than this drive by mentality that has swept us off our feet where social networking is the only frame of mind?

What if we powered down when we were with our family? No more iPhones when at the dinner table.  No more texting and eating.  For me, no more texting and praying.

What if we actually prayed in real ways not just pretend or fly by the seat of pants.  Too often we limit prayer to what we can get in between home and work or between this and that.  We try to fit its in without actually changing anything. Not only are we juggling life we juggle prayer as well and we become what we juggle.

What if we did what the letter of Hebrews reminds us what Jesus does: by this "will" we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Jesus made his body a prayer and offering.  What if we made our cooking our prayer an offering to God for our family?  What if we made our decorating and cleaning an offering for consecration of our family to the glory of God?  Prayer isn't just words it is a life we live where it matters.  What matters to us is what matters to God and He wants to be part of it.

Think about our gospel today.  We have two pregnant women who have set aside their agendas and their busyness to be with one another, to console each other, to share their stories, and to give each other the gift of their presence, the gift of their very selves.  They set aside their personal agendas and busy work and just are with each other: be still and know that I am God.

In this beautiful exchange there is honor and veneration and holiness that envelopes them.  Mostly though there is joy that radiates from these two who have listened to the word of God and welcomed it into their daily lives.  The word of God has found a home in them and having grown it nows becomes a source of joy immense.

Unlike us, as the scripture proclaims, "all to full is our soul with the world" these two ladies have created space for God's word to dwell and what it produces is timeless.

Think about how Mary responds to the gift of the Spirit and the new life in her, she goes with haste.  Mary does not delay. There is no procrastination.  She moves forward and outward.  What about us?  How much have we left undone because of lame excuses?  How have we refused to move forward and outward but instead remain inward and back ward?  What holds us back?  What keeps us from living the path the Spirit has opened wide for us: forward and outward so that joy can be multiplied and God be magnified?

Presence verse presents!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25; Psalm 85 Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior; Luke 7:18-23

"For thus says the LORD, the creator of the heavens, who is God, The designer and maker of the earth who established it, not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in: I am the LORD, and there is no other..."

Advent reminds us of the very reality Isaiah is proclaiming; we are not a waste.  Our lives are not a waste.  We are created from of old to live with the one and only God.

Is this not what the baby in the manger proclaims.  Is this not what his cries echo forth from Bethlehem.

"Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.  Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven...the LORD himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase.  Justice shall walk before him, salvation, along the way of his steps."

When we think of Jesus do we think of the above sentiment?  When we contemplate the face of Jesus, do we see in that beautiful countenance: kindness and truth meeting or justice and peace kissing or truth springing out of the earth and justice looking down from heaven?

In the God man Jesus Christ all of this comes to pass.  Kindness and truth are united as the divinity of humanity become one in Christ.

It is Him who assures that we are not a waste of time.  We may have wasted our time but God finds us a waste well worth it.

The ole adage applies to God: waste not want not.  
Listen to the words of John the baptist in the gospel.

"Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?"

Listen to Jesus' response.

"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard..."

The search is over.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Zephaniah 3:1-2,9-13; Ps 34 The Lord hears the cry the Poor; Matthew 21:28-32

Vineyard.  This is how the sacred scripture often describes what God is up to.  Often times God is described alone who is planting a vineyard.  The prophets loves to utilize this language.

Jesus also speaks the same way in describing the unfolding kingdom as a vineyard being built or workers being sent to the vineyard as in today's gospel.

A Vineyard is not the same as a Winery.  Too often we want to taste the wine and not work in the vineyard.  Too often we want to jump ahead when God is inviting us to be attentive to what is in front of us.

Vineyard is a place where grapes are grown and tended.  We are called to task as these workers of the vineyards; God will take care of the wine.

Most vineyards have to thrive int he conditions that the earth and the universe provide.  In fat, in Italy a vineyard cannot use irrigation systems.  They have to be completely depended and completely at the mercy of the environment.  IT is these conditions that create the potency of the grapes and in return the wine.

So it is in our life.  The conditions are always what they need to be in order to intensify the flavor God is oping to experience in the process of making wine.

Vineyard workers we are.  Tending to the grapes is what we do.  We leave the wine making up to God.


Monday Dec 14 was the commemoration of the John of the Cross.

So here are few insights from this saintly priest of the Carmelite order.

"Words are like the Sun; they do tot he heart what light does to the field."

Think about the words we use today.  How do they bring light and warmth?  How do they build up an invigorate?

"Where there is no love then put love and then you will find love."

"In the twilight of our lives, we will not be judged by the possession we have gathered or accumulated but on how well we have loved?"

Where is love in our life?

"if you want to be sure about the path you are traveling then simply close your eyes and travel in the dark,"

Only a mystic can say something like this and it be meaningful.  Though we are all called to be mystics.  SO it should resonate with each of us as we read it.

We have to stop relying on ourselves and stop trusting our own vision and rely on God and trust his vision for us.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Zephaniah 3:14-18; Isaiah 12:2-3,4,5-6; Philippians 4:4-7

This past Tuesday, Dec 8th, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee year of mercy by opening the Holy Door in St Peter's Basilica.  Today he will continue to spread the message of this Jubilee year by opening the Holy Door at St John Lateran Basilica the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

Yesterday, our local Bishop Brendan, symbolically opened and dedicated the Holy Door of our Cathedral in Our Lady of Victory as the Diocese began its journey in this jubilee year of Mercy: Merciful like the Father.

Te Holy Door is symbolic of Christ who states it he gospel of John that He is the door and no one comes to the Father except through him.  Passing through the door is a sign of our renewed commitment and conviction of faith to let ourselves be led by him who is the visible face of the Father's mercy.

The Church has called us to deepen our conversion throughout the centuries by these Jubilee years with a particular focus on a theme or celebration.  The first Jubilee Year was in 1300 declared by Pope Boniface and the jubilee years usually declared at 25 year intervals though their have been occasion where the Pope declared an extraordinary year of mercy breaking from the 25 year tradition.

The idea of Holy Year comes right out of Salvation History as detailed for us in the book of Leviticus 25:10 where every 50 years people were to be set free from their debt and no collectors could collect and slaves were set free and land returned to their original owners.

The year marked a sense of reconciliation and forgiveness as well as restoration to wholeness.

This year Pope Francis has invited us to become merciful like the Father.

He wants us to return to the basics in such manner we bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters with merciful love.  He invites us to a revolution of tenderness in such manner that we live the experience of the closeness of the Father whose tenderness is tangible so that faith be strengthened and our testimony and witness be more effective for the world and one another.

Just as the Father Forgives and forgets so we too are invited to live this reality daily in our lives, setting aside grudges and allowing hurts to be healed.

The hallmark of this year the Pope wants us to rediscover the richness of the corporal and spiritual works of Mercy.  In doing so we will contemplate the mystery of mercy which is the wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace.

Mercy is the ultimate supreme act by which God comes to meet us. It is the bridge that connects God and man where we experience the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.

We are to Gaze at the effective sign of the Father's action in our lives which is Mercy.

God manifests his omnipotence in Mercy.

As we turned to the readings for this weekend in light of the jubilee year of mercy just a few thoughts

There is much said about different lifestyles in our day and age.  There are a variety of classifications and descriptions and categories that can help focus our attention on particular lifestyles embraced.

Here are few descriptions i have come across:  Hippie, clothing free, Primitive, living off the land, rural, city, traditional, simple, Activist, Green, a variety revolve around diets and food choices etc.

Lifestyles of the rich and famous.

St Paul in today's second reading invites us to embrace a lifestyle of rejoicing and gives us a script or recipe of living this out daily.  It is a three step process.

1)Your kindness should be known to all: Kindness means to treat each other with respect and deference.  It is all indicates equitable treatment: we treat everyone the same and show no partiality.
2) Choose to trust in God's providential care rather than give in to anxiety over worldly affairs or matters at hand-cast your cares on God who cares for you.  We don't reflect enough on God's providential care and how he is at work behind the scenes of our life.  We can't micromanage our life or the lives of others nor can we micromanage how God works in and around our lives and the lives of others.  We do our best but at some point we have to create room for God to do his thing.
3)Practice prayer, petition, and thanksgiving.  Too often when we go to pray we lead with our wants rather than actually asking God what we should be attentive to.  When we pray we should ask God to show us what we need and what we should be seeking then we turn it into a petition that is fortified with thanksgiving.

This is St Paul's recipe for a lifestyle of rejoicing.  It is isn't rocket science that is for sure but effective.

It follows on the same line of the Gospel where people ask John the Baptist what should they do to prepare for the Messiah.  Is response is an unapologetic invitation to do what you should be doing.  Live the right way.  There is nothing greater than just simply being good for the sake of goodness.  Go back and look at his responses and look at your life: how do we embrace doing the right thing simply because it is the right way to live and the good thing to do?

Be merciful like the Father!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Isaiah 41:13-20; PS 145 The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness; Matthew 11:11-15

Here are the words of Isaiah for this morning meditation at Mass:
"I am the LORD your God who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, "Fear not, I will help you." Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the LORD, your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel…"

Not quite sure of the O worm and O maggot are considered terms of endearment, however, they do convey a truth that is essential.  We can not do for ourselves.  The days of self-reliance are over.

If we like the nation of Israel are going to get our of this fix, this mess, then we need to look beyond ourselves and beyond our own contriving and figuring and planning.

We can no longer pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.

We need the hands of a another to grasp us and lead us forth. The entire passage of Isaiah 41 is directed to this reality.  Be no longer self reliant or self dependent.

How do we become less self-reliant in our life?  How can we continue to trust that we are in His grip as Isaiah points out so clearly?  We have a choice.  We can live in his grasp or we can continue to grasp at straw.


Here is a link to better understanding the Holy Door for the jubilee year of mercy

Holy Door

Brief history and explanation here as well:  Holy door explained

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Genesis 3:9-15,20; Ps 98 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds; Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12; Luke 1:26-38

What are some some stellar moments in world history?  Think about a few.  Some that come to mind are the following: the dropping of the Bomb on Hiroshima, the landing on the moon; the discovery of penicillin, the first heart transplant, The polo Vaccine and all other vaccines like it, the invention of the printing press, fireworks and dynamite, refrigeration (including AC), Solar power energy, Fossil fuels, Aviation, the elevator, MRI Machines and X Rays, purification of drinking water, wine and Spirits, and the list could go one forever.

There has been some great break throughs in history.  Today in our readings for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary we are asked to reflect on two stellar moments of World history, that from which everything else turns.

We have the story of Adam and Eve's "no" to God and the fall.  In the midst of their refusal to trust, they give in to doubt and uncertainty and temptation.  In the middle of this uncertainty and confession,  we encounter something surprising.  God offers a counter to Adam and Eve's "no".  God offers a solution.  Rather than getting caught up in the blaming an pointing of fingers God is already looking for away through.  He wants to lead humanity out of this darkness and into hope and light.

In Gen 3:15 we encounter the protoevangelion, the first glimmer of good news: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head while you strike at its heel."

God has a plan to pull humanity upward and out of this downward spiral created by mistrust.  The woman and her offspring with inflict a deadly blow to the serpent (he will strike at your head) and yet the offspring may suffer (he will strike at your heal) he will will stand victorious.  This is Christ who is wounded on Calvary but stands triumph as the tomb opens up to emptiness.

God's yes stands strong and true even in the face of humanity's opposition. In fact, God escorts Adam and Eve out of the garden not as punishment but to safe them form their self-destructive ways.  He won't let them eat of the fruit of the tree of life lest they remain in this state of fallenness: confession doubting, distrustful, shameful etc.  God doesn't want them to settle for lest but to reach their true potential of greatness.

Then in the gospel we have another stellar moment in history.  In fact the angel coming to Mary and her "yes" to God is the most important moment in human history as we know it.  One like us has opened up to God.

Mary's "yes" continues to echo forth and bring goodness into our life. Mary's yes open's our world to God and brings Jesus Christ into our time and space. This stellar moment as described in the gospel is a quiet moment.  It is not reported with pomp.  In fact it is often overlooked.

This moment reminds us that true greatness grows outside of the limelight.  Stillness of Nazareth becomes more fruitful than busyness.

So much of our life is measured by what we do, activities and exercises.  Here in Nazareth in the simple greeting of the angel to Mary we discover life is about what we receive before it is ever about what we do.  What we receive is just as important.

Mary received the invitation of God. In the quite and stillness she open her life to his gift of the Holy Spirit and the history of the world has been transformed.

How do we imitate Mary in our life?  How do we set aside the busyness of life and become more receptive to his gift in such manner that like Mary by our life we open our world to God's goodness and transforming love?

This is the Immaculate Conception.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


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

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

"I applied myself especially to loving God, and it is in loving him that I understood my love was not to be expressed only in words, for "it is not those who say 'Lord, Lord' who will enter the kingdom of heaven,but those who do the will of my Father in heaven,"  St Therese the little flower

The kingdom of heaven is more than just a place where we hope to live forever.
It is the way we want to be forever.  (think about this today)

The kingdom of heaven is a communion of lives that steadfastly yield to the Rock, that take refuge in the lord and not in men, and that willingly accept all that the Father asks of them.  The kingdom of heaven is not merely a hope for an afterlife; it is the way of life for those who know that the love of God endures forever.

It was Jesus' trust in the Father that reconciled us with God; it is the only way of living our reconciliation with him.

We do not give our lives purpose.  We receive that purpose in Christ.  Thus, "that day" that Isaiah speaks about becomes "this day" every day.

Let the needy and the footsteps of the poor trample our high walls of pride.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Isaiah 11:1-10; PS 72 Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever; Luke 10:21-24

Hearsay is what a someone heard rather than what they witnessed personally.  It is information we get from another though there may not be anything to substantiate what was heard.

Hearsay cause concern nut doesn't have enough to convict; hearsay helps spread rumors but doesn't lead to conversion.

We are told by Isaiah that God's root that will sprout front he stump of Jesse will not "judge by appearance, nor by hearsay decide, but will judge the poor with justice…"

He will witness everything.  He will see clearly.  How often in the gospels are we told that Jesus doesn't need anyone to tell him of the see what is int he heart of men, he knows them?

Then we are told "the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea."

Imagine true knowledge of God overflowing into everywhere.  There is much talk about knowledge of God these days from a variety of places and sources.  It seems many claim to be not he inside track or have the inside scoop to God and yet this often leads to pain and hurt and destruction all in the name of God.

Perhaps instead of acting in the name of God we should let God act in and through us.

Today do not judge by appearance.  Today do not judge be hearsay.  Today let God show you what he sees and what he witnesses.  Pray for the grace to look with his eyes.

Then truly will be like jesus saids in the gospel, "blessed are the eyes that see what you see…"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015



We encounter the proverbial "writing on the wall" in today's first reading.  Though it is not proverbial for the king of Babylon.

Nor should it be considered proverbial for us.  The message to the king is a message for all.

Mene, Tekel, Peres....

Counted, weighed & found wanting, thus separated from the rest.

This was the message to the king because as Daniel recites for us, "you have rebelled against the Lord of Heaven,  you praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, that neither see nor have intelligence.  But the God in whose hand is your life breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify.  By him were the wrist and hand sent and the writing set down."

Thus he was counted, weighed & found wanting, separated from all.

As we prepare for the day of thanks and praise and gather with friends, perhaps we should pause and before we count our blessing, we should take an inventory on where we stand before God.  We know God is good an this goodness is immense.  But let us count ourselves and weigh ourselves lest we too be separated.

Where have we given ourselves over to the false idols of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, stone?  That is where have we let greed become an idol or money or riches or wealth or power or self-reliance or lust?

Abraham Lincoln on the proclamation of the day of thanks stated not only should be give thanks and praise for God's generosity but we should also do penance for our nation's perverseness.  In his own right, he was a prophet.

What perverseness have we sat idly by and let take hold of our country?

Our praise and thanks will mean much more if we do a little penance first.  Let us fast before we feast and check ourselves before we step on the scales of justice.  Then perhaps our thanksgiving that is not just a gesture of passing whim but true and sincere can tip the scales in the right direction.

Perhaps then we can truly give him glory like the sun and moon and stars and shower and dew and even the winds that blow by becoming who we are created to be a creature that enters in to praise and thanks whole heartedly.

Then our perverseness will give way to perseverance in truth and love and praise and thanks and we will finally live the fullness we were made for form the beginning.

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

Rooted in his love, mature in the full stature of Christ, pure in intention in serving him alone.

Friday, November 20, 2015


1 Maccabees 4:36-59; Ps We praise your glorious name, O mighty God; Luke 19:45-48

My house shall be a house of prayer.

We experience the result of the revolt in the time of Maccabees.  The temple is rededicated and the lights are set ablaze and for 8 days a celebration ensues.

The people gathered to praise heaven.

Each time we fall on our knees or light a candle or set aside time to pray, to look upward we enter we keep the revolt alive.

The revolution isn't over but it begins a new and is sustained by me and you daily in our prayers and in our devotions.

The revolt of the Maccabees is continued in Christ as he cleanses the temple and continues in us as we cleanse the temples of our bodies and making our very life the place of encounter with the liberating presence of God who is in our midst.

Prayer does is not a sport we can take or leave but the very center of self realization.  Prayer reminds us that we are not alone, that we are watched and loved.  God's creative eternal love is always present to us anew.

This is how the temple gets cleanses simply by this understanding of God's presence and love daily in our walk.

Let us keep the revolt alive daily.  Let the rededication of our temples occur regularly.  Let th eloping gaze of our Father spur us on and thus true liberation begin anew.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


1 Maccabees 2:15-29; Psalm 50 to the upright I will show the saying power of God; Luke 19:41-44

What a contrast in today's readings.

We have the Maccabean revolt spurred on by zeal for the God of ISrael and his covenant and in the gospel Jesus  laments over the city of Jerusalem, and perhaps all of humanity, of their lack of zeal and attentiveness to God's reach into their lives.

Strange how one generation is ready to lay it all on the line and the other generation has grown stagnant and slothful in their faithfulness to God's will and call.

This seems to be a pattern played out all too often from generation to generation.

This generation has to make a decision as to where it will fall: zeal for the Lord or slothfulness.

The last words of the gospel again today are striking, "because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

Could this be a verdict assed upon us in our day and age?  If Jesus were here would he lament over us?

Have we failed to recognize the time of our visitation?  Do we see God's presence and invitation right before our eyes?


2 Maccabees 7:1-31; PS 17 Lord, when you glory appears, my joy will be full; Luke 19:11-28


We often think of the power of a mother's love; there are songs and hymns and poems and novels incorporated to illustrate such love.

Today we experience it first hand in the first reading from Maccabees.

The mother and her 7 sons are on display.  What is striking is this: it is one thing to die for for children and thus exhibit your love for them but it is another reality to be forced to watch your children die in front of you and not lose heart or be discouraged.  Not only does the mother today watch watch her children die,, but use encourages them to be faithful to the God of ISrael and that if death was necessary to be faithful then so be it.

How many mother's would do this?

To often, i see mothers and father sit idly by as their children live forsaking the command of God.  I  also see parents encourage their children in ways of sinfulness.  Yet this mother shines as a brilliant example of faithfulness and encouragement to all of her children.

As you read the story, the mother never covers her eyes.  She to chooses to watch as her children are brutally persecuted and murdered for their faithfulness.

This mother is a type of the Blessed Mother who stands at the foot of the cross and watches her son, Jesus, embrace torture and death for his faithfulness to God and man.

Definitely worth a read.

Int he gospel two things stand out.  First the nobleman who goes off to be crowned king has a crowd of opposition following him wishing to stop the crowning and coronation.  Yet despite their best effort, the nobleman becomes king, "but hen he returned after obtaining the kingship…"   Regardless of the opposition, the violence, the terror JEsus reigns.  Jesus is king and their is no amount of human opposition of otherwise that can deter him from his rightful place.

This is good news.  This is the source of peace and strength for us.

Lastly, as the accounting occurs for the use of coins given upon departure there is one thing that is constant.  We must be willing to grow and risk the gift we have received.

Each of us has received a gift from God and we must cooperate with that gift for the building of the  kingdom, for God's glory and our good.

To risk is to lose our footing momentarily; to not risk is to lose ourselves permanently.

Risk is constant if we are to follow Jesus faithfully.  We cannot always play it safe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Wisdom 2:23-3:9; Ps 34 I will bless the Lord at all times; Luke 17:7-10

But they are in peace.

These are the words from our first reading in regards to those who have gone before us.  Notice the reading doesn't say that are at peace but rather they are in peace.

The simple little word "in" should have a drastic impact on what we think about in regards to the beloved deceased who have been called out of this world into the the merciful embrace of our Father's hands.

To be in peace is to be restored to that rightful place of belonging.

To be at someone's house is different than being in that house.

Being "in" denotes an intimacy not otherwise achieved.

Think about that this month as we remember the faithful departed.

The psalmist invites us "to bless the Lord at all times."

To bless the Lord.  We often seek God's blessing in our life.  Do we seek to bless God with the life that seeks his blessing.  This denotes an intentionality on our part.  We can not just go along to get along but rather we are attentive to our words and actions in regards to who we belong to and by whose benevolence we have life.

To bless the Lord moves us away from just letting life happen to being an active an intentional participant with one eye always on the gaze of our Father.

Lastly we are told in the gospel that we should live as unprofitable servants; we have done what we are obliged to do.

There are two characteristics of every disciple: willingly forgivers and willingly servers.

In fact, the greatest service is to forgive.

The task of serving should always make an easy transition form the greatest of task to the menial of task.  There is no distinction, just service.  Whether we are int he field or at table, service remains a part of our livelihood.

In the traditional japanese culture it is considered an insult to receive tips for serving.  Good service is considered a courtesy.  It is always rendered generously.  So it should be with the one who follows Christ.

The service is the reward in itself for in it we have blessed the Lord.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Romans 14:7-12; Luke 15:1-10

In the evening of our life we shall be judge on love, so says John of the cross.

He goes on to say that we should learn to love as God desires to be loved and not in our own ways of acting.

Think about that for a moment.

We live in an age of personal taste an personal fashion.  Every one wants to have their own style or their own way.  We all want to stand out and do it differently.  We want to do it our way.

Yet, to follow Christ a different demand is made: love God as he desires to be loved.

The true fashion of Christ is not love as we want to love but to love as the other ask of us.  This is a greater act of love.

It is easy to love according to our standards, but to love according to god's standard is really where true growth is obtained, not to mention true liberty as well.

When we hear the words of St Paul, "so then each of us shall give an account of himself to God" we should be thinking a bout how we love god as he desires daily in our life.

Then in the gospel Jesus tells us about the Shepherd that leaves the 999 to rescue the one or the woman who turns her house upside down looking for a penny then throws an extravagant party for all once it is found.  This may seem shocking and it should.

Who would throw a party for a penny?  Who would care about that one sheep that refused to follow the rules and continued got it set fin trouble?

God does!  Each individual is the most important person in the eyes of God.

We are called to look upon one another with the eye of God and to love with the heart of Christ.


Romans 13:8-10; Luke 14:25-33

We will hear a lot about financial responsibility over the next few months and year that is approaching.  Given we will be in an election year, the talk will constantly be about our deficit.  How do we get out of debt?

Can a country ever get out of debt?

But not only do we think and talk about our government's financial issues, we also talk about our own.

Every household is constantly dealing with the financial issue of budgeting.  We focus on income and expense and we all want a balance budget.

What about budgeting love?  Can we ever have a balanced budget in regards to love?

We all what love to be equal.  We want the expense of love and the in come of love to balance out.  In fact, most of us would rather have the in come of love to far surpass the expense of love, what we give away.

We all want to operate in the black.

But is this possible!

St Paul tells us to owe no one but the debt of love.

We are forever in debt in regards to love.  God's love for us is always greater than our love for him.  This is good news.  God doesn't ask us to repay him in a negative tone.  God is not a bookie taking an accounting on love but rather he wants his generous bestowal to move us to do the same in our life.

This is why St Paul is so incessant and persistent in this regard: owe nothing to anyone but love one another.

The beauty of spiritual physics is the more we give the more we receive.

Th balance budget of love can never be achieved; we will always receive more than we give.  This is the way God has designed it to be.

Our task is to rejoice in it and then live it fully.

It is not that we love God but that he first loved us.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Romans 9:1-5; Ps 147 Praise the LORD, Jerusalem; Luke 14:1-6

Today's gospel Jesus poses this question, "Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?"  Then he posed a another question just in case we couldn't comprehend the first.  He dumbs it down for us, "Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would you not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?"

Name a day in which goodness is not acceptable?  Goodness is always in season.  In fact, it is more so on the sabbath, the day in which we reconnect to the goodness of God.

We are never with an excuse not to be good toward others or ourselves.  Goodness itself has its origin in the reality of being suitable.  One is good in so far he is suitable.  His actions or words are suitable for someone who is made in the image and likeness of God.

Our actions and our words suit us because of who we are.  All actions and words should flow out of this reality.

Today we have our school children coming to mass dressed up as saints.  Saints are unlike celebrities.  Celebrities are those who have been noticed for their talent or ability.  They have mean basketball skills or football skills.  They have ability to draw us in by their acting talents or musical or artistic ability. Normally, celebrities are high profile personalities who have hewn a skill set.

Saints are recognized not primarily by their skill set or natural talent.  They are not primarily recognized by what they do but really who they are.  Who they are is the foundation for all of their action.  There is a supernatural element alive and at work in and through their love and life.

We hear Jesus say in the gospel, "be perfect as you heavenly Father is perfect."

Just what we need to hear.  There is only one perfect thing in life and He is Jesus.  We are not perfect.  We are a work in progress.  But we make strides simply uniting ourselves to the one who is perfect.  We can be friends with Jesus.  This is the beginning and end of perfection.  God shares himself with us in this renewed friendship offered through Jesus in the Holy Spirit.  Here in lies Saintliness.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Romans 8:31-39; Ps 109 Save me, O Lord, in your mercy; Luke 13:31-35

Imagine a love that is invincible.  Imagine a love that knows no obstacles.  Imagine a love that can never be barred or blocked or hindered.

St Paul mentions three possible blockades to Love: Will Litigation (Who will bring a charge against us for it is God who acquits us), course of life (anguish, distress, persecution, peril, famine, nakedness, sword),  superhuman forces (death, angels, principalities, future things, powers, any other).

None of these can stand in the way of God's love for us in Christ.  Invincible love comes our way through Jesus.

There is one thing that can stand in the way it is our own willingness to open our heart to God's invitation.  Back in Romans ch 2:5-10, 6:16, 8:13,11:21-22 just to point out a few passages in the same letter.

God's love is invincible, in penetrates the harshest environments yet it will not betray our freedom to respond to its invitation.

Lastly, in today's gospel we hear these words from Jesus, "But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

We say that very phrase right before  the consecration at Mass.  In anticipation of Jesus who comes to be with us on the altar through the power of the Holy Spirit as the bread and wine are transformed by the very word of JEsus himself.  Every time we gather at the altar, the time has come for Him to come to us.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Ephesians 2:19-22; PS 19 Their message goes out through all the earth; Luke 6:12-16

 Here are the words of Pope Francis at the close of his homily on the synod of the Family: "A believer is someone who has experienced God's Salvific action in his life."

Have we experienced God's salvific action in our life?  Are we aware of God's action in and through our life on a daily basis?

The Apostles, as we celebrate the feast of Simon and Jude, preached God's salvific action because they first experienced that action within their own lives.  They were able to give what they themselves first received.

What about us?

Jude is often seen holding a carpenter square as a symbol of his untiring labor to build up th household of God.  He was an architect.  As St Paul reminds us in the first reading, "you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles an prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."

St Paul helps us identify what that salvific action looks like. It primarily brings us together.  We are being built together into the dwelling place of God.

How do we strive toward unity in our life with those around us?

In Christ we can get the better of our differences and difficulties rather than they get the better of us.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Mark 10:46-52

We meet Bartimaeus today. He is the blind beggar who sits on the side of road from Jericho to Jerusalem.  

We live in a world where folks want to be spiritual but do not want to be religious.  We want to be connected to their higher power but not connected to a community of believers.  We want to feel the presence of God but we want it on our terms in isolation from others.  We all want to get to heaven but we do not want anyone to tell us how to get there.  We want truth as long as it does not interfere with our good opinion.

we live in a dysfunctional world.

What is the answer to such dysfunction.

I think the Beggars today has the answer for us.  We are introduced to Beggar Spirituality.

First of all, the beggar begs.  Self -assertion is out.  He realizes there is nothing he can do to solve his problems on his own.  He can not go alone.  Self-sufficiency has failed him.  He is helpless, miserably helpless.

This seems to be the only starting place with God.  Not only is it the starting place it is the place we must restart at over and over again.  This is why at the mass we begin every celebration as a community of believers with the words of the beggar pressed upon our lips: Lord, Have Mercy; Christ, Have Mercy; Lord, Have Mercy.  This is the only way we can come to experience joy, peace and God's healing presence in our life.

We never get past this point.  We are always dependent on God.  The introduction of the mass invites us to recognize what is it that we need most of all.  Of all of ur wants in life, what is our truest need.

Lord, Have Mercy is where we begin and end in our relationship with God.

Secondly.  Notice it isn't Jesus that brings the blind beggar to himself but rather he commission his disciples to do it.  He tells them, "Call Him."  And they call him.  The community of believers are the ones who bring the blind beggar into an intimate embrace with Jesus.  The community of believers is God's way of reaching into the lives of others and making himself known to them.  We are his hands and feet.  This is import because this is what will happen to the beggar; he becomes part of that community of believers.

At the end we are told he receives his sight and he follows Jesus on the way.  The beggar becomes a confident disciple.  He is empowered by the encounter and wants others to come to experience the same thing.  He follows him externally, which means his life now looks different from the outside.

Does our life like different from the outside?

Also he follows interiorly.  He now abides with Jesus and he is at Jesus's disposal.  This is true litmus test of discipleship: to be with Jesus and to be at his disposal.

Here, in this spiritual space, the most important part of human existence is reveal: to be with him and to be at his disposal.

We can learn a lot from the beggar.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Romans 6:12-18; Ps 124 Our help is in the name of the Lord; Luke 12:39-48

St Paul has quite the  exhortation of for us today.

"And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourself to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness…"

Here is certainly counter culture advise.

Look around.  How many body parts are being presented as weapons of wickedness as opposed to weapons of righteousness?

What does this mean?

I think it goes back to the gospel for this past Sunday.  Here are a few words of Pope Francis to help us reconnect to the gospel of Sunday and St Paul's words for us today.

"In the biblical tradition, the Son of Man is the one who receives from God “dominion, glory and kingship” (Dan7:14). Jesus fills this image with new meaning. He shows us that he enjoys dominion because he is a servant, glory because he is capable of abasement, kingship because he is fully prepared to lay down his life. By his passion and death, he takes the lowest place, attains the heights of grandeur in service, and bestows this upon his Church."

Dominion through service, glory through abasement, kingship by laying down his life. 

Again, Jesus has a way of turning the world upside down.  What we see has the goal he flips it on its edge. 

Service, abasement, laying down one's life are the ways our body parts become weapons of righteousness. 

We use our body for the the good of the other.  We display our body so that others may be lifted upward to godliness. 

Our body is an instrument, a temple.  Through our body we reveal to the world the love of god and his goodness.

Modesty is important.  Clothing doesn't so much disguise as reveals what is at the heart of our love and attention.  Bride's wear veils not to disguise but rather to reveal beauty.  So too our dress is revealing to the world where the true meaning of beauty is to be discovered  

Weapons of righteousness. 

Think about that to day.  Our body is a weapon for righteousness.  Through our body the world comes to know God's goodness and love.   

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Rom 5:12,17-19,20-21; Ps  40 Here I am Lord, I come to do your will; Luke 12:35-38

According to the first letter this morning, the letter to the Romans, St Paul, points out the power of one.

"If by that one person's transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow the many..."

He is comparing the action of Adam to the actions of Jesus.  They both effected many.  One brought destruction and hurt and pain and the other healing and mercy and love.

The power of one.  One can make a tremendous difference in the life of many.

I see that in my line of work all the time.  I see people and I see how they effect the lives of those around them.  I see the power of one in play each and every day.

All it takes is one, we say.  It is true.  One person doing good can effect generations.

Mother Teresa in one of her letters in particular to her sisters quotes Isaiah in the suffering servant passage of ch 53, "I looked for one that would comfort me and I found no one..."

Under neath this quote from Isaiah she wrote to herself and to her sisters, "Be the one..."

Be the one.  Be The one Jesus is looking for to bring comfort.

Be the one today to be the difference.  Be the one that does it differently for the good of the other.  Be the one that reaches down and lifts up.

It is simple spiritual mathematics.  The addition of one always makes more.  The subtraction always makes less.

Jesus made more by the gift of his life.  Adam made less.

Which do we follow?  Be the one!

Monday, October 19, 2015


Isaiah 53:10-11; Ps 33 Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

Here are a few words from John Paul II, a homily he gave for the canonization mass: "Heroism must become daily and daily must become heroic."

Think about those words.

Basically, John Paull II was inviting us to realize that heroic actions is not heroic simply because of the action but more importantly the motivation behind the action the why behind the what is what makes an action heroic.

Any action that is done with great love and faithfulness is heroic, it is laying down our life for another.

Simply put, laying down our life is primarily not about shedding blood but about giving of our time.  Every time we invest our time for the good of another with great love and faithfulness we allow heroism to become daily and daily to become heroic.

We cannot reduce heroism to the big sacrifices such as risking one's life.  These are good deeds certainly but usually they are one time events.  Truly heroic actions must be duplicated in our daily affairs. Again, daily must become heroic and heroism must become daily.

This is why Jesus reminds the Apostles and all of us that the greatest amongst us is the servant of all.

The highest honor bestowed upon us; the highest accolade to be achieved as a disciple is simply to be recognized as a servant, someone who gives unsparingly and untiringly for the good of the other, for the good of all.

Again we hear Jesus say the Son of Man has come to serve and not be served.

Every action that is done with greta love and faithfulness belongs to the servant.

Perhaps we think we have done our share of service.  Maybe we think we have already fulfilled our duty in volunteering.  Maybe we think we have done enough already.  But the truth be told there is only one who has done enough.  He is on the cross.  If we want to know what enough looks like then we must look at the crucifixion.  Until we do that, we have not done enough.

There is always more to do.

In fact St Paul reminds us that Jesus didn't stop with he cross.

Listen to his words, "So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for our time of need."

Jesus is still giving to us.  We approach him in confidence and he continues to bestow his grace and strength to us.  Even the cross is not enough for Him.  He continually gives and serves us in our need.

This should become our new paradigm.  The ultimate paradigm shift has occurred on calvary.  Jesus isn't done and neither should we be.

The greatest among you must be servant of all and then heroism becomes daily and daily becomes heroic.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Rom 4:1-8; Ps 32 I turn to you  O LORD in time of trouble and you fill me with the joy of salvation; Luke 12:1-7

"There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known."

Thus spoke Jesus in today's gospel.

Think about the many secrets floating out in to the world.  Think about the many conversations behind closed doors.  Think about all the scheming and planning and running around.

Think about the hiding and the pretending and the hoping not to be discovered or found out.

Who are we kidding?


It isn't that our life will be revealed in the end but rather that all of it is already out in the open to the gaze of God.  But not only to God but all the saints and angels in heaven.  They have front row seats. They get to see it all in real time.

Secrets.  There are no secrets.  It is all a lie that we wrap our lives in, get tangles and find ourselves tripping over and over a again.

Secrets are like pot holes they do damage.  Why pretend?  Why even bother?

Why not just come clean and be free?

Transparency isn't an invitation by Jesus it is reality itself.

Let us live in the light and find the joy we have been waiting for.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Romans 3:21-3-; Ps 130 With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption; Luke 11:47-54

psalm 130 for today it a penitential psalm. It is one of the seven traditional penitential psalms: 6, 32, 38, 50, 102, 130, 143.

It is worth praying them at some point.  They all have a similar theme: recognition of sin, expression of true contrition and sorrow, asking for forgiveness and trusting in God's mercy.

The psalm for today begins, "out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…I trust in the LORD, my soul trust in his word…"

When was the last time we really and truly examine our life and recognized those things that have filled our life?  More importantly when have we rejoiced in God's forgiveness?

The penitential psalms are more than just about recognition of sin and being sorrowful.  These are important.  They lead to rejoicing and greater trust in God.  Every time we celebrate God's forgiveness we actually grow in trust and confidence in his mercy toward us.

God remains true to his word and we get to celebrate that every time we go to confession.  We get to confess our faith in God's boundless gift of forgiveness.  Over time, the more we celebrate God's mercy the more we become what we celebrate.

This is the beauty of the penitential psalms; they help us become what we seek: mercy given to us becomes mercy for others through us.

As St Paul tells u sin the first reading, "What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out."

In deed all boasting falls silence before the boundless mercy of God.

Think about being justified by God's grace as St Paul tells us in today's first reading.  That word grace is "charis" in greek.  This should be a familiar word for us.  At the very heart of the mass, the Eucharist, in which we receive the very gift of God himself we see "Charis."  Eu-charis-t.  It is the way God puts his grace in us.

Amen to that!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Rom 2:1-11; Ps 62 Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works; Luke 11:42-46

None of us have exclusive claim on God's goodness.  All of us can easily fall prey to the sin of presumption.  Judgment and punishment as well as blessing and honor remain open to all.

Hence we get to the first word of St Paul in today's letter to the Romans, "You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.  For by the standard by which  you judge another you condemn yourself, since you the judge do the very same thing."

These words should sound familiar.  Jesus says them quite often in the gospel.  The measure you give will be measured back to you.

Of course this doesn't mean that we should sit idly by and do nothing.  Recognizing inappropriate behavior and calling people to task and calling our selves to task is still a requirement.  But rather than judging and doing nothing to help, we must be the first in line to assist.

We can call bad behaviors out, absolutely.  But then, we must be willing to roll up our sleeves and assist in getting others back on the right path.

Judging is easy.  But true charity is way more demanding.

Jesus says it best, "You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not a lift one finger to touch them."

We lift many fingers in our heart but are they beneficial.  It isn't terrible to point the finger at bad behavior but it is terrible to point the finger then refuse to give a helping hand.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Wisdom 7:7-11; Ps 90 Fill us with your love, O lord, and we will sing for joy; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

Here is a few words from Dostoyevski, "Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams."

Why is this a pertinent statement in light of today's readings.

Love in action ultimately has to choose, to make choices where as love in dreams can remain abstract, vague and comfortable without any real ramifications.

A recently came across this statistic that I thought truly enlightening and scary according to Peter Kreeft in is book Making Choices.  A survey of highschool principals in 1958 asked the question: what are the main problems among your students?  In 1958 the main problems were: not doing homework, not respecting property, leaving lights on and windows open, throwing spitballs, running though the halls.  In 1988 the same question was posed and here are the answers given: abortion, AIDS, rape, drugs, fear of violence including guns and knives.

In a span of thirty years what has happen to our society?

I think for lack of better words again as Peter Kreeft diagnosis the issue, we have become moral wimps.

We speak about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.  We mention things as acceptable or unacceptable.  But when is the last time anyone said this or that was "right" or "wrong?"

Choosing is hard for us because it means we have to discriminate one thing over another.  Choosing is difficult because we will have to refuse this for that, saying no to one path in order to say yes to another.

Moral choices are not purely personal choices.  Personal choices are relative to the individual.  For instance "what shoes one wears" or "what one eats for dinner" are personal preference or choices.  Moral choices are not relative to the individual but are about what is objectively right and objectively wrong.   There is a standard that has been set before us.

Moral choices are personal in so far as a person has to make them and has responsibility for them.  They are not "personal" in the sense that rightness and wrongness is relative to the person who makes them.  The right and wrongness exist independently of the one making the choice.

We see this in today's second reading from the letter to the Hebrews.

We are told, 'the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two edge sword, penetrating even between spirit, joints, and marrow and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.  no creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eye of him to whom we must render an account."

If there is a rendering of account then there must be a standard that has been raised.  It does not rely on our personal preference as much as God's revelation through his son,  Jesus, who offers us a personal invitation in today's gospel.

"You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

It is obvious the young man knew with whom  he was talking.  The question he poses to Jesus provides the answer, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus repsonse reminds the young man that only God is good.  So if he equates goodness with Jesus then he also equates divinity with Jesus.  Jesus' question in return, "why do you call be good?" is a question about whether or not the young man is ready to embrace the identity of Jesus as the son of God.

This of course will have ramification in his life.  If Jesus is who he says he is, then it is a game changer for all of us and the young man included.

For if Jesus is God then he alone illumines  the path we must take not only for eternal life but happiness here and now.

The invitation to "come follow me" is ever more poignant.

Jesus is simply inviting the young man to make Jesus number one in his life.

If we put first things first than everything else will fall in place.

When we hear those words, "you are lacking in one thing" perhaps it is Jesus showing the young man that God is not number one in his life but rather all of his wealth and stuff is.  In order for him to be ready for eternal life then God must be first above all else.

Approaching Jesus with opens hands, clutching nothing, is the only way to experience wholeness and freedom.

This is why the first reading is so important.  Wisdom paves the way for the right ordering of life.

The book of wisdom falls fourth in the books attributed to Solomon in the Bible.
First there is the book of Proverbs in which knowledge is shown to lead to success.  Then there is Ecclesiastes in which despair  of temporal success arises due to the fact that death renders it all vain.  Then in the song of songs the author discovers that love is stronger than death.  But in the book of Wisdom it is understanding life from God's perspective that proves to be of upmost value.

Wisdom is deathless because it leads back to the source of life.    A wise heart and mind is able to penetrate the deepest value of all things as seen from the highest vista, God's point of view.

We achieve perfection only in arriving at our end and our end is to be with God.  Wisdom is granted so that the choices we make always point back to him as we journey in this life.

Detached from the material word we find freedom in our attachment to God.

In St Ignatian spirituality, St ignatius begins with the contemplation of the two standards as he calls them: the standard of Jesus or the standard of the world.  The standard of Jesus leads to gratitude for we recognize we have received God's gifts for God's purpose and thus true freedom arises.

The standard of the world  we focus on material stuff and our possession of it which ultimate puts the "I" at the center in which we think "my" stuff for "my" purpose and here the soul becomes enslaved no longer free.

Jesus invites the man to become aware of the two standards and to choose which will he serve.

It is a radical invitation that makes demands.  It is the same radical invitation laid at our feet daily.

Which will we choose?  Which have we chosen?  Are we wimps or men and women of strength who let Jesus lead us onward.

"Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams"  Love in action has to choose.  What say you!

"Go.  Sell all you have.  Give to the poor.  Come, follow me."
This is not just a personal invitation if Jesus is God rather  it becomes an objective necessity.  IT is from this position of following we discover our moral backbone and shed the skin go being wimps.

The stage is set for all of us and the drama is played out in our choices we make daily.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Joel 1:13-15;2:1-2; Ps 9 The Lord will judge the world with justice; Luke 11:15-26

Desperate times call for desperate measures or at least that is how the adage goes.

When you look a the the first reading and heed the words of Jesus in the gospel it seems very desperate in deed.

The prophet Joel is ranting about the day of the Lord and is calling the minsters of the altar to task.  Time is running out.  So what is left but one last heave to the heavens.  It is like a last minute heave into the end zone hoping that someone on our side might come down with the ball.

An old fashion "Hail Mary."

Joel mentions: weeping, sackcloth, fasting, and crying to the Lord.

This call to action or penance is a call to turn our attention to God most clearly.

The priest and the people have been distracted and now they are called to remove the distraction in their life, to set their face toward God.

We call this penance in the life of faith.

Here is what St Thomas has to say about it:

“the will must abandon sin by moving in a contrary direction from those movements whereby it was inclined toward sin. Now, it was inclined toward sin by appetition [desire] and enjoyment in regard to lower things. Therefore, it must move away from sin by means of certain penances whereby it suffers some injury because of the sin that it has committed. For, just as the will was drawn toward consent to the sin by means of pleasure, so is it strengthened in the detestation of sin by means of penances”

This is all carried out by the grace of Jesus who wants to configure us to be like him. 

What are the distractions in our life?  What penances can help us redirect our lives to be more attentive to God's call?

It is these acts of penance that ensure that God reigns supreme in us and through us.  "A kingdom divided against itself will be laid to waste" Jesus informs us and warns us in the gospel.  The best way to be divided is to be distracted, to be caught up in all the wrong things though we think them right at the time.  

Penance prepares our heart to let JEsus reign supreme.  It keeps us from being attached to sinful desires and allows us to be reattached to JEsus and The Holy Spirit. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Malachi 3:13-20; Ps 1 Blessed are they who hope in the Lord; Luke 11:5-13

A word from the prophet

"But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays."

We live in a society unfortunately that refuses to make distinctions between good and bad moral choices.  We celebrate tolerance.  We celebrate independence.  We celebrate the right to have opinions about things regardless of their moral weight.  We do not like to differentiate between groups of persons  or individuals.  We falsely think that no matter what, all roads lead to heaven or some utopian idea of happiness or pleasure.

Yet, the prophet Malachi seems to suggest other wise. He makes a distinction.  He differentiates between those who serve God and those who do not.  He differentiates those who live in reverential awe of the LORD and those whose pride and live with no regard for God's commands.  It seems this difference matters in the end.

The prophet speaks, "Then you will see distinction between the just and the wicked; between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve him."

Those who do not will be burned up like stubble and those who do shall experience the healing easy of the sun of justice.

Distinctions are important.  Being different; living different; may be the only difference that matters.

The end does matter.  It is does reflect back on how we live today.

We turn our attention to the gospel.  Jesus gives us those familiar words, "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened…"

Every prayer is itself somehow transformative.
When we ask humbly with frequency, we come to understand our utter dependence, we learn our limitations and we are changed in the process.

What exactly is it that we receive and find?  What door is opened?  Perhaps, the one that leads to Jesus himself.  We find Him.  We receive Him.  Because if we are looking for something other than Him, then we still don't know what we are asking.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Jonah 4:1-11; Ps 86 Lord, you are merciful and gracious; Luke 11:1-4

We continue to journey with Jonah. Yesterday I mentioned that Jonah was hesitant, reluctant, doubtful and probably the most insincere prophet on the Old Testament. And yet despite all of this internal nastiness He is still effective in bringing about change in the lives of those who live in Nineveh.

Though God is able to use just about anyone to bring about the fulfillment of his will, Jonah remains obstinate.

Into today's reading we get a deeper look into the interior nastiness that rages in Jonah.  His true colors shine through today.

Not only is he hesitant and reluctant and insincere but we discover that he is just down right angry and mean.  And with this meanness and anger he carries prejudice against the people of Ninevah and quite judgmental as well.

Imagine harboring anger and prejudices against those God wants to extend his rich mercy?  How often does anger infect the lives of so many that we know?

Today we should pause to pray for people who live in anger and prejudice against others for whatever reason.  Jonah is so twisted by his prejudice and anger that he fails to recognize the beauty of what just happened in Nineveh.

Rather than rejoice in the power of God's goodness and mercy, he sulks and pouts and grows more bitter and desires to die.

Just look at his prayer that he makes, "I knew you were a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish. And now, Lord, please take my life from me for it is better for me to die than to live."

Compare that to the prayer Jesus teaches us in the gospel of Luke.  "Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us and do not subject us to the final test."

Which prayer do we make daily in our life?  How we choose to pray is indicative of how we choose to live.  Do we pray our prejudice or do we let God guide us in prayer?

Below is a little something some one has devises as a way of connecting the Our Father to the theological and cardinal virtues.  It is c lever way of connecting prayer to living daily.

Faith:  Our Father, who is in heaven, holy is your name
Hope:  Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Charity: Give us this day our daily bread
Justice: Forgive us our trespasses
Prudence:  As we forgive those who trespass against us
Temperance:  Lead us not into temptation
Fortitude:  Deliver us from evil.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Here is an excerpt of the Pope's address in Philly this past week.


"Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). 

These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. 

Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith."

Friday, October 2, 2015


Exodus 23:20-23; Ps 91 The Lord has put angels in charge of you, to guard you in all your ways; Matthew 18:1-5,10

  Guardian angels reflect the reality of the invisible realm of the Kingdom of God, on that is already actively participating in the history of salvation.

The church teaches the following as found in the Catechism

"from its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.  Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.  Already here on earth the Christian life  shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God."

As Jesus reminds us in today's gospel, the angel always beholds the face of our heavenly father.  The primary way the angel guards and protects us is by adoration.  Through their adoration we are strengthen and guided by goodness.  As the angel looks on the face of our heavenly Father they actually see us most clearly and purely.  This of course means that the Father's sole attention, whole and complete is given over to each of individually and all of us collectively.  Talk about multi tasking.  But only in gazing at the Father are they able to understand what we need as we journey forth.

When we imitate the angels by bowing in adoration before our heavenly father, we too grow in goodness and in our own ability to recognize God's plan and to assist others in growing in strength and goodness as well.   I think the reality is this: as we lift our heart to God in prayer we necessarily open our heart more perfectly to our brothers and sisters.  

Be mindful of your guardian angels and the guardian angels of others.  Just as God seeks to give us divine assistance along the way so too he desires to give that same assistance to every one we meet along this way.  This alone should give us a pause when dealing with others.

Just as our angel beholds the face of our Heavenly father so to the angels of others behold the same face.  

Today we introduce the virtue of gratitude to ur students

Here are a few words of ST Ignatius

"It seems to me, in light of the divine Goodness though others may think differently, that ingratitude is one of the things most worthy of detestation before our Creator and Lord, and before all creatures capable of his divine and everlasting glory, out of all the evils and sins which can be imagined.  For it is a failure to recognize the good things, the graces, and the gifts received.  As such, it is the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins,  On the contrary, recognition and gratitude of the good things and gifts received is greatly loved and esteemed both in heaven and on earth."

Today We introduce the virtue of Thanksgiving to the students at the school here at St Michael.  Last month we focused on Self-control.  This month: thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is mentioned many times in a variety of forms in Sacred Scripture.  It is every where commanded as a necessary attitude of the Believer and disciple.  Give thanks always in all circumstances St Paul tells us.  We know that.  But do we know what St Pauls says happens to those who do not give thanks and thus fail to honor God.  In Romans 1:21 we have these words of St Paul, "For although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.  Instead they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.  They became fools."  He says much more about this as you keep reading.  Just something to think about.

Perhaps God doesn’t necessarily want us always to be saying “thank you” so much as to be noticing how much we are loved and cared for by Him and, in turn, to respond by living a life of gratitude. Grateful people tend to be more generous and magnanimous with others. 

Gratitude is the ability to see more clearly; 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Nehemian 2:1-8; Ps 137 Let my tongue  be silenced if I ever forget you; Luke 9:57

Today we read from the old testament and hear the story of Nehemiah.  It is a strange story that begins with what seems to be a casual conversation.

Nehemiah is serving the king wine.  He is minding his own business and dutifully fluffing the task at hand.

The only difference was that Nehemiah was sad.  He had grown homesick for Jerusalem and the temple which had been destroyed.

Upon seeing this sadness on Nehemiah's face the king asked a question.  The king was concerned.  The king cared.

"Why do you look sad?" "If you are not sick you must be sad at heart?"

A simple question.  A simple casual conversation.

Yet it began to unfold the God has chosen to work in history in the favor of the Israelites.

Nehemiah opened up.  He let the king in.  He was honest and forth coming and something amazing happens: grace.

What follows is that Nehemiah gets appointed governor of Judah and then is commissioned to rebuild the temple.

Who knows what wonder God may work through a simple and casual conversation.

The other side of the story is that Nehemiah wasn't afraid to ask.  He made a request.  He was bold.  God's favor paved the way for success.

How often have we experienced similar moments in our life though perhaps not on a grand as scale as Nehemiah.  We enter into a conversation.  We opened up to another or we let some in to our life and God's grace began to work and transform.

Secondly, we hear these words of Jesus in the gospel, "let the dead bury the dead.  But you go and proclaim the kingdom if God...No one who sets his hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

Bottom line: there is always a greater relative importance in our relationship to Jesus than any other relationship.  It is and must be more significant than all others.


Yesterday we celebrate the feast of the archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael.

The angels are God's invisible way of watching over us, guiding us, guarding us.

They are God's messengers.

The feast day itself is meant to engender in the heart of the believer a deeper sense of gratitude as well as devotion.  In this reality we are invited to live with a greater sense of serenity and confidence that we do not go alone.  God ha snot abandoned us.  We are not orphans.

God has great care and concern for us.

As we thank God for the gift of the angels we are also invited to imitate them inner life.  Just as angels are God's messengers  to us so we too become God's messengers for one another.

Michael acts with God's strength.  Gabriel brings God's word which is usually an invitation to new life as we recount in the message of the angel to Mary in Luke's gospel.  Raphael brings God's healing as described to us in the book of Tobit where Tobit's eyes sight is restored and Tobiah and Sara are united in marriage.

We too can act with God's strength, bring God's word of new life, and reach out with God's healing.  we do this in very practical ways daily with those we encounter in our life.

How do we encourage others?  How do we bring God's word of life in situations that are difficult and overwhelming?  How can reach out and touch others with God's helping embrace of comfort and consolation?

Lastly,  it is said that St Michael appeared to the three young people at Fatima prior to the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He taught the three how to pray as is recorded by the youths.

He told them to pray in such manner, "God, I believe you; I adore you; I hope in you; I love you; I beg forgiveness for those who not believe yet, hope yet, adore yet, love yet."

We can find strength in these words of the Angel.  When life is trying and hard repeat, "God, I believe you, I adore you, I hope in you, I love you."

Pax et Bonum

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Num 11:25-29;Ps 19 The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-48

What terrific reality that affects the human mind and heart.

We deal with it in a variety of ways and a variety of settings.  It is most common in work places amongst co workers or family.  It involves people we are around. We are hardly ever jealous in regards to strangers or folks we do not know well.

What are we to make of it, this jealousy that haunts our affections and hinders our love.

According to St Thomas jealousy arises from the intensity of love.
The word itself comes from the latin-zelus and it took upon itself two derivatives that find their expression in the words Zealous and Jealous.

Zeal is the passionate promotion of something or someone where as Jealous is the passionate protection of someone or something.

At its root Jealousy has a positive undertaking.   But because of the fallen condition of man often times a negative sentiment of suspicion attaches itself to jealousy which creates havoc.

Jealousy wells up and suspicion latches on and thus the negative experience we are aware of and used to arises in our life.

Here is the reality.  All of us begin by loving in ways that are selfish or self-centered.   This selfishness distorts this intense love which cause us to be passionate about promoting or protecting others in regards to how they serve our needs.

However, we should not worry because this selfish love can and does become raw material that God can and will transform gradually.  When we experience Jealousy our first thought should always be that God has plenty of raw material to work with.  This attitude will certainly alleviate the negative affect of such strong emotion and begin to allow us to enter into a path of humility.

Humility is always the answer or solution for jealousy, love gone awry.

The first counter to jealousy is to let go of our need to be possessive or our need to control.  We need to create space and give God the space to operate. Which is what Moses invites Joshua to embrace in our first reading and Jesus invites the apostles to embrace in our gospel.

This way our selfish love again can become raw material int he hands of God in such manner where it will be gradually transformed in to more perfect love where we can truly rejoice in the goodness of the other.