Thursday, April 30, 2015


John 13:16-20; Acts 13:13-25

This is the beginning of today's gospel reading for us to meditate on, "When Jesus had washed the disciples' feet, he said to them…."

Imagine in your mind this scene once again.  Don't hurry past it.  Picture Jesus on his knees tending to the dirty soiled feet of his followers.

Imagine what will unfold in a just a few moments.  When Jesus rises from the floor, he shall be betrayed, denied, abandoned by those whose feet he just washed.

How often does he get the same response from us?

How often does he do more than wash our feet and yet we continue to treat him with ingratitude.

Go back to that image, "When Jesus had washed the feet of his disciples'"

All of those feet resting in the hands of Him who was about to receive the nails of the crucifixion.

All of those feet that stand in stark contrast to Him whose feet shall be blood stained and bruised from the path to Calvary.

All of those feet that will flee from harm to seek safety, while His feet remain bound on the wood of the cross.

When Jesus had washed the feet of the Disciples'.

"No messenger is greater than the one who sent him." These are his words once had washed their feet.

How often do we think ourselves greater than Him who sent us?
How often do we forget our role?  How often do we forget the example he set before us?

How often do we forget we are the messenger?  We are sent by another!

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118;  1John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

Just a few things of note.

As Peter speaks to the leaders of the people and elders he says these words, "if we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, who God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed."

Just notice what Peter says first.  Before he speaks of healing he mentions salvation.  First things first. Salvation, being saved, is always the priority.  Everything else including healing is secondary.

How often do we focus on second things or third things in our life and let the first and most important thing slide down the list of importance.

First things first.  When we are properly ordered, everything is harmony, then we truly begin to experience salvation here and now.  When we put other things first such as health, wealth, prosperity, job, hobbies and then everything is lost and life is in disarray.

What is salvation?  Too often we think of salvation in material terms: eternal delights, eternal disney land of sorts; 72 virgins if you are muslim.  But salvation is simply this: to share the life of God, participation in the divine nature, to be children of God, truly and wholly.

No other religion besides Christianity promises sharing in the very life of God.  This is big.  Jesus says clearly: I have come that you might begin me and I in you and in the Father.

Secondly, Peter in his defense of Christ, quotes Psalm 118, "the stone rejected by the builders, as become the cornerstone."

Psalm 118 is an important hymn. It is one of the Hallel psalms, the psalms used in the passover ritual.  Every year the jews get together and celebrate the passover meal and recite the Hallel psalms as part of the ritual meal they partake.  The psalms are psalm 113-118.

These would have been the very psalms Jesus and his apostles recited and sung on the night he gathered in the upper room prior to being betrayed, arrested, thrown in a dungeon, condemned, crucified, put to death.

In fact, psalm 118 would have been the last psalm recited and sung as Jesus stepped out of the upper room and made that mile mile and half journey across the rocky terrain, through the Kidron Valley, to the Garden of Gethsemane.

As he walked in order to prepare for that moment when he was going to embrace his identity as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, he had psalm 118 pressed upon his lips, reverberating in his heart and mind.  This psalm was forming in his attitude as he prepared for hard times to come.

We see great athletes before games wearing headphones to cancel out the noise, to get hyped, to put their game face on.  I wonder what they are listening to to help them get ready.  If Jesus was wearing head phones the night before he died then psalm 118 would have been playing in his ears as he stepped on the field of play that night.

If we look at Psalm 118, we discover that it is very upbeat and positive.  It is filled we hopefulness.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever" is a refrain in the psalm. Then is goes on to say, "in danger I called on the Lord and he answered and set me free...The Lord is with me, I am not afraid...I was hard pressed but the Lord came to my help...The joyful shout of deliverance is heard...I thank you for you have answered are my God I give you thanks, I offer you praise...give thanks his mercy endures forever."

These are the words Jesus incorporated in his life as he prepared to become the Good Shepherd who lays down his life.

Imagine if we were to do the same thing when we face hard times in our life.  Rather than complain and moan and gripe, we followed the Good shepherd's lead.  What if we took Psalm 118 and let it become our hymn of preparation and let it transform our attitude and our response to difficulties in life?

Lastly, Jesus uses a comparison between the hire hands and the Good shepherd.  He basically says the hire hand treats the sheep as a commodity: they focus on what they can get from the sheep.  Rather, the good Shepherd focuses on what he can give to benefit the sheep, the sheep are not a commodity but a object of its affection. This is quote a difference.

Let's suppose as sheep we did the same.  We stopped treating Jesus as a commodity, seeking only what we can get and start treating him as an object of affection seeking what w might give.

It might just change our life.  It might just open the path to truer experience of salvation, here and now.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Acts 9:1-20; Ps 117 Go out to all the world and tell the Good news; John 6:52-59

"Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains."

This was Saul's plan.  He wanted to round up those christians and drag them back in chains.  He was angry.  He was determined.  His will and mind was made up.  He was stern.  He was ferocious.  He was relentless.  Nothing was going to get in his way.  With letters in his hands and fury in his heart, he journeyed toward Damascus.

"On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"

This was God's providence..  He wanted to break open the heart of this man that his light might penetrate the darkness that had become so much a part of his life.  God was determined.  He was relentless.  He was ferocious n getting his point across.

Saul's plan encountered God's providence.  Then a conversation ensued.  A conversation that became the tipping point for a conversion of heart and mind.

"Saul said, "who are you, sir?" The reply came, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."

This is what happened when our plans meet God's providence.

Pope Francis reminds us continually that God is a God of surprises.  His providence is always butting up against our planning.

The Horizon of infinite love can do that.

What will we do with it?  Saul comes around, he is changed and transformed from the inside.  So much so, he becomes Paul.  He gives us the most profound theology of the church as the body of Christ.

A chosen instrument he was chosen to be; a chosen instrument he became as he surrendered his plans to God's providence.

Thus the invitation belongs to us as well, each day a new.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Acts 8:26-40; Ps 66 Let all the earth cry out to God with Joy; John 6:44-51

"Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this scripture passage, he proclaimed jesus to him."

What does it mean to proclaim Jesus to someone we meet?

Obviously, it means explaining scripture and who scripture introduces us to, Jesus.  But, it is more than that as well.

St Paul in one of his letters mentions, "learning Christ."  He also mentioned we should, "put on the mind of Christ."

How do we proclaim Christ to everyone we meet?  Both in good circumstances and in not so good circumstances?

How do we proclaim Jesus to the world with the words, actions of our life?

Jesus says this in the gospel today, "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

We must imitate Jesus if we are to proclaim Jesus.  Our flesh to must become like bread for the life of the world.  That is, the way we live in the flesh should become that vehicle in which Jesus is made known, proclaimed, experienced.

On this feast of St George, we too fight the dragons that keep us from living authentically our Christian identity that Christ can be made known.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


ACTS 8; PS 66 Let all the earth cry out to God with Joy; John 6:35-40

"There broke out a severe  persecution of the church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles."

I love this opening line of today's first reading.

First in reminds us that persecution will always come.  People, different groups of people, will do their best to eliminate the church of Christ founded.  Jesus said in the gospel, if they persecute me they will persecute you.

Persecution means we are doing something right.  We are living the faith.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be.

The new persecution is not surprising.  ISIS is just another in along list of those who sought to destroy the Christians, and the church.  Good luck with that I say.  Jesus will watch over us.  His Sprit will empower us.  He who destroyed death will stand with us as we journey forth.

Secondly, I note that all were scattered.  The Christians were on the run, perhaps avoiding persecution or perhaps just making it difficult for the persecutors. A moving target is always harder to hit.

While there were scattered, they weren't hiding out.  Rather, they were preaching the word, "Those who had been scattered went about preaching the word."  How awesome is that.

The persecutees were not cowering in fear but were more embolden then ever.

Lastly, as the Christians were scattered, the Apostles were not.  They remain where they were. They were not backing down.  This is the kind of bishops we need today.  I think of Archbishop Cordileone in San Francisco where much persecution is coming from inside the church.

Wow!  How times have changed.  The greatest threat to the church isn't the outsiders but those who claim to actually be faithful to the church.  Strange.

We keep moving forth.  We keep preaching the word.  We trust God's good grace will shine through.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Acts 3:13-15,17-19; Ps 4 Lord, let your face shine on us;1 John 2;1-5; Luke 24:35-48

there is a common theme in the readings for today and it can be summed up by the following: witness.

Peter int he first reading is give  testimony to what he has witnesses, "the author of life you put to death; God raise whim from the dead.  Of this we are all witnesses."

In the gospel Jesus reminds the Apostles of what they have witnessed, "Thus it was written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things."

If that isn't obvious enough, then the 2nd reading as well as something to say about being a witness, "Those who say, "I know him," but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. "   This is definitely about being a authentic witness, where what we profess and how we live are in harmony.

Witness! Witness! Witness!

Think about being a witness for a moment.

Normally, we associate being a witness in a court case or hearing.

There is the eyewitness, someone who has first hand experience of the matter at hand.  Then there is the hearsay witness, someone who heard or read from another source what has happened in regards to the matter of interest.

There is the expert witness, someone who has specialized knowledge in regards to expertise in a particular field relating to the case.

My personal favorite is the reputation witness.  This is someone who is called to the stand to testify about the reputation of another who has already testified or who is on trial.  The reputation witness will help determine whether someone's is reliable and trustworthy and all around good person or  a fraud.

What does our life give witness to as it unfolds each day anew?  What is our life give credibility to the witness of our faith?  How does our life prove our faith true and trustworthy?

What choices do we make that corroborate our profession of faith?  This is our witness.

Think about your witness, the witness you give by what you say or don't say, do or don't do.

How does our lifestyle as a witness corroborate our faith?

If we were to bring in a reputation witness on our behalf, what would they testify in regards to the faith we profess and the life we live?

Thursday, April 9, 2015


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

We continue to follow i the footsteps of Peter in Acts of the Apostles and the disciples in the unfolding narrative of the resurrection according to the gospel of Luke.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John become instruments of healing for a beggar and the whole crowd gets stirred up with excitement.

Then Peter addresses the crowd with an exhortation that is brought to a close with these words, "For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways."

To bless you by by turning you from your evil ways.

Think about that phrase for a moment and what reality it signifies.

We think of blessings normally on another line of thought.  We think of God blessing us with good health. Many preachers today proclaim blessing in the form of prosperity or wealth.  We often think of blessing to show itself in a new position or status, perhaps fertility, maybe a break through in particular relationships.

But when have we thought of a blessing as god moving us beyond wicked ways.  God wants to send us freedom to be no longer bound by the sins we commit and the tempting spell we fall under time and time again.

To bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.

Ponder that for today.  Evaluate your life and see where God's blessing is trying to break into your life for a change for the better, for the good.

We glance at the gospel for today.  We read that it is Jesus himself who "opens their minds to  understand the scriptures."  One of the first things that get a deeper understanding for is the necessity of the cross, "thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  Yo are witnesses of these things."

There is no detour around the cross for Christ or for us.  The more we enter in to the cross, dead, resurrection of Christ, the more we are able to live as witnesses of "these things."

Luke paints for us the bedrock of all preaching in the early church.

Jesus' passion in the possibility for our repentance and thus transformation.  The condition for the possibility of renewal comes through the cross.

Think about how many communities remove the cross from their sanctuaries because it is a downer.  Yet, Jesus doesn't remove it.  Grace is not cheap though it is free.

We must be witnesses of that reality daily in our life.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Luke 24:13-35

We continue the Easter Season with the stations of the resurrection.  We are all familiar with the stations of the Cross and Jesus' journey to Calvary and the tomb.

There is also the stations of the Resurrection, where Jesus makes himself known to various disciples at various times within the 40 day period prior to the Ascension.

Today with get the station of Emmaus.  Two disciples are on their way to Emmaus which is 7 miles from Jerusalem.

Many suggest that the journey away from Jerusalem is a sign that the disciples have lost their faith or least entertain doubt.  But I'm not sure if that is accurate.  But it does have something to add to the attitude of the disciples for they have heard the news that Jesus was risen.  Rather than running to the other disciples to get the low down of what occurred, they simply seem not chant or at least indifferent.  Which seems a bit striking!  How could one be indifferent.

Yet, aren't each of us a bit indifferent at times.  How seldom do we blow off the resurrection in our own lives?  How often do we make decisions in our life with little reference or though to the resurrection?  These disciples were business as usual.  Perhaps they had plans and didn't want to bother with changing them.

It is hard and not hard to comprehend the indifference of the disciples.

Perhaps that is Why Jesus addresses the disciples with these words, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!"

Oh how foolish we are.

How often we let trivial things take on such great importance and we lose sight of that which matters most of all?

We do it all  the time.

Even now, we, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus are business as usual.  We fail to let the resurrection really have a foot hold on our life.

Perhaps now is the time to change things.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


John 20:11-18

Here are a few words from pope Francis from the Easter vigil in regards to entering the tomb as we see the ladies do in gospel of Mark and Mary in today's gospel:

"Entering the tomb is an entering into mystery, going beyond our own comfort zone, beyond our laziness an  indifference which holds us back, sign out in search of turret, beauty, and love. Entering the mystery means seeking a deeper meaning, an answer, not settling for the easy score but encountering faith and fidelity which is a challenge to our existence."

We see this unfold in today's reading with Mary as she goes form being bent over with grief peering into the empty tomb to standing erect and running forth to proclaim the news to the disciples.  The drastic change revolves around her searching and responding to the call of he name by Christ.

What a thrilling discovery!

Jesus invites us through Mary to a new kind of intimacy, "I am going to my father and your father, my God an your God."

With a certain divine madness Jesus invites us into his relationship with the Father.  He wants to share that intimacy with us.  In this desire to share we encounter the foundation of mission activity.  Everything is founded on that thrilling discovery that we too now share in God's embrace, our Father's embrace in and through Christ's resurrection.

We should meditate on this: God is my Father.  We belong together in him.  We are no longer a people of God but a family of God.  The kin ship God wanted it humanity that began with Adam and Eve now begins to be realized, a realization that will be cemented in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

We are children of our Father, bearers of the only flame that can light up the paths of the earth for souls, of the only brightness which ca never be dimmed, darkened, or overshadowed,  The Lord uses us as torches, as St Josemaria Escriva reminds us, torches to make light shine out.  IF we respond like Mary then people will be in darkness no longer, but will walk instead in along paths that lead to eternal life.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Mark 16:1-7

Reenactments have become a big part of our life in society. Many often reenact big events especially in regards to local historical events.  Just this past weekend, we had the reenactment of the Goliad Massacre.

People dress up.  They get into the mindset of the era of the particular event with clothing, weaponry, even food and drink.

We do it in order to remember, to not forget, but mostly to deepen our appreciation for those who have gone before us, perhaps that we might be a little more grateful as we move forward.

It is an intense emotional experience for many.  It helps the past become real and tangible.  We need the the past to be real and tangible.  Now whether you like or dislike these reenactments, doesn't really matter.

We do them.  We do them in the church as well.

Palm Sunday is a reenactment.  We have a procession.  We wave palms in the air.  We unite our voices to the crowd as we sing Hosanna to the son of David.  Then we allow the words of the crowd to be pressed upon our lips when we shout 'crucify him.'

We don't stop there.  Holy Thursday we reenact the washing of the feet.  The priest takes off his outer garment and bends low to wash the feet of the men chosen as they represent the apostles.   We witness the humility of Christ as seen in the person of the priest.  Though it isn't exactly historical, nonetheless it makes it real and tangible and for some an intense emotional experience.

Friday we had the living stations.  Again, people reenacted the way the cross and the crucifixion. Then we gathered and had the veneration of the cross.  We touched it, kissed it, bowed low before it. Again we entered the passion of Christ and witnessed his breathing his last. Then Friday evening we had the Tenebre service of the burial service of Christ as we read the ancient psalms from the Old Testament. Psalms that were read long before the time of Christ.  We place a burial cloth over the statue of the deceased Savior.

We extinguished the candles one by one until only one solitary flame remained as a symbol and sign of hope to come.

On the Easter vigil we continue our reenactments.  But rather than one moment in time we reenact the moment before time.

We start outside in the dark.  The darkness represents the time before time when the world was a formless waste.  The darkness represents danger and uncertainty.  We gathered around the fire burning bright on the outside of the church which represents the presence of God outside of time and space.

Then with a word the fire leapt from the outside to the inside with a single solitary flame.  Of course this brings us back to the words of the Genesis, God spoke let there be light an light was.

Then the light was proclaimed as it slowly spread through the church, as the light of God's word spread through the world.  Each proclamation represents God entering into time and space making himself known, preparing us for the gift of his son.  This is why the  proclamation is the, "light of Christ" because everything prefigure Christ.  Then after each proclamation pressed upon our lips was the only suitable and fitting response, "Thanks be to God."

Gratitude is the only response to the gift offered, God's presence in our midst.

Then after the third proclamation, the whole church was bathed in light.  The third proclamation represents of course the third day.  The third day represents hope for all humanity.  From the resurrection, light began to spread through whole world.  The light of the resurrection illumines the darkness of man's mind and heart.  It imparts to us the importance of the missionaries who carried the light of faith to the far corners of the world.

Then we nestled down and retold the economy of salvation history.  We read how God intervened in history continually.

We entered in to the narrative from the beginning of Genesis, through Abraham's ready willingness to sacrifice Isaac, through Moses and the Israelites marching forth on dry ground, to Isaiah's prophecy of the maker becoming our husband, God's desire to unite himself completely to us.

Then St Paul spoke of how Baptism initiates us into the life of Christ.

It is how we become part of the story of salvation, a story that in light of the resurrection has no end.

Then the gospel retells the resurrection.  The women go the tomb and are amazed, yet they are told not to be amazed, which I find amazing.

Should we not be amazed by the resurrection.  We should be amazed, only if we doubted God's word.  Jesus simply does what he said he would do.  So we should not be amazed.  We should expect the unexpected.  We should expect God to fulfill his end of the bargain and to fulfill our end as well.

In the resurrection God offers us the single most important gift, "All that is mine is yours."

God never tires of intervening on our behalf.  He is relentless.  He is risen.  He offers us love with out reserve; love that knows no bounds.   Love shows itself indestructible..  Life stretches itself out toward a boundless future.

Amazement has become for us the new normal.  This is why we are told in the gospel, "do not be amazed."
Jesus has proven he is the way the truth, the life.