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.


I just wanted to look back on the Papal visits and highlight some of Pope Francis' words that he shared with us as he journeyed throughout the US.

Here are few highlights

The words of Pope to Congress
"You are asked to protect, by means of law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face…"

"Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good…"

"Attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within…"

"Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people…"

"We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome…"

"The golden rule points us in clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.  Seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Help others to grow as we would like to be helped.  If we want security, give security.  Want life, give life.  Want opportunities, provide opportunities.  Yardstick we use for others, will be used for us."

Madison Square Garden

"God's faithful people can see, discern and contemplate his living presence in the midst of life…in rapid pace of changes so many faces pass by unnoticed…"

Vespers in St Patrick's Cathedral

"Spirit of Gratitude: the joy of men and women who love God attracts others to him.  Joy springs from grateful hearts.  Seek grace of remembrance so as to grow in the Spirit of Gratitude.  Are we good at counting our blessings?"

"Spirit of Hard work: grateful heart is spontaneously impelled to serve and find expression in life of commitment.  Hard work is a privileged way of responding to what God has given us."

"We are often jealous of our free time and surround ourselves with worldly comfort…This diminishes our spirit of sacrifice, renunciation, hard work.  We must learn how to rest in which deepens our desire to serve with generosity."

In Philly
"One of the great challenges facing the Church in this generation is to foster in all the faithful a sense of personal responsibility for the Church’s mission, and to enable them to fulfill that responsibility as missionary disciples, as a leaven of the Gospel in our world."

"What about you?” It is significant that those words of the elderly Pope were also addressed to a lay woman. We know that the future of the Church in a rapidly changing society will call, and even now calls, for a much more active engagement on the part of the laity. "

Canonization Mass in D.C.
"We don’t want apathy to guide our lives... or do we? We don’t want the force of habit to rule our life... or do we? So we ought to ask ourselves: What can we do to keep our heart from growing numb, becoming anesthetized? How do we make the joy of the Gospel increase and take deeper root in our lives?

"Jesus gives the answer. He said to his disciples then and he says it to us now: Go forth! Proclaim! The joy of the Gospel is something to be experienced, something to be known and lived only through giving it away, through giving ourselves away."

"A Christian finds joy in mission: Go out to people of every nation!
A Christian experiences joy in following a command: Go forth and proclaim the good news!
A Christian finds ever new joy in answering a call: Go forth and anoint!"

"Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by: siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized. He kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!"

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Tobit 8:4-8; Ephesians 5:2,21-33; Matt 19:3-6

"They are no longer two but one."

"Brothers and sisters, live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us."

"On their wedding night Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife, "Sister, get up.  Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant deliverance."

Today i will celebrate a wedding in Round Rock, Texas.  I have known the family for many years.  I have presided at weddings and baptisms and funerals of loved ones.

It has become for me one of those strange and yet beautiful relationships.  As a priest, it is true our own family often takes backstage to the families we serve.  It is difficult at times to even begin to register the effect of being drawn away from your own blood in order to be more available to those who have been united to you by the blood of Christ.

But as with all things, God's generosity is never out done.  When we give of ourselves God always paves a way forward that is stranger and more beautiful still.

So today I journey to Round Rock, Texas.  The pastor, a friend, has given me permission to preside at this wedding and i am grateful.

A few years ago, i presided at the funeral of the bride's sister.  It was a difficult time.  And now, i travel with a different sentiment welling in my heart. But a similar message remains.

Both in the death and in marriage the cross of Christ stands at the center.

Today, the bride and groom will exchange their vows holding on to a crucifix.  Imagine as they say those words, "I promise to be true in good times and bad, sickness and health, to love an honor all the days of my life" their hands shall be pressed tightly around the cross of Christ.

Can we think of any other place more meaningful.

I am told this is a croatian tradition.  The people of Croatian for many years have been exchanging vows with hands wrapped around the cross.  I am told that the divorce rate is almost nil since the tradition began.

However, I surmise the tradition does not begin in Croatia but rather on Calvary.  It is on the cross Christ proves himself faithful to his bride the church.  He shows himself loyal no matter the circumstances.  His love shines forth regardless of the feelings and terror and tremors associated with the crucifixion.  In fact, the cross reveals that love is a power to give of oneself and to seek the highest good of the other.  Is this not the vocation of marriage?

In Croatia, I am told that the priest says these words as the couple embraces the cross, "You have found your cross.  It is a cross to love, to carry with you, to cherish."  After the exchange the priest invites the couple to kiss the cross.

Kiss the cross.

Jesus tells us in the gospel that unless we pick up our cross daily and follow him we cannot be his disciple.

Here the bride and groom become more deeply aware of the cross Jesus invites them to carry.  They do not have to look for one that is hidden.  No! Their cross is in plain sight.  The vocation to marriage becomes that reference point, that axis by which their life will unfold and enter into new life.

The cross is the point by which newness is born into our world.  Such it will be for the couple as they journey forth.

This is why Tobiah in his prayer in the first reading states matter of factly, "Lord, you know I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose."

Is there anything more noble than the cross.  In the cross of Christ nobility of purpose is introduced into our world.  It becomes a sensible and tangible part of our life.

This couple begins their married life together hand in hand on the cross and nobility shall follow them all the days of their life.

"Live in love as Christ loved us an hand himself over to us."  True love is the power to give oneself for the other.  In the cross this exchange is made real and through the cross it empowers us to do the same daily.

You have found your cross.  Love it, carry it, cherish it.  Nobility of purpose shall blossom forth.

This is the witness we are in need of today.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Yesterday we heard Jesus tell the Twelve that as they go they are to "take nothing with them on the journey."

Take nothing.  Imagine living in an attitude that Jesus invites the Twelve to embrace.

We are not talking about down sizing.  Many people down size that is they take inventory and get rid of stuff in their homes or garages that they have stored away but really don't use on a regular basis.

For them to down size is no big deal.  There normal life will not be affected in any particular way.  All that is happening is more space is being created for different stuff to fill as life goes on.

Jesus is inviting the Twelve not so much to down size but to truly be dependent.  He is asking them to go with out necessities that one needs when a journey is embrace.

Take nothing just the clothes on your back and go.

How many of us could do that?

This invitation by Jesus brought to mind the words of St Francis de Sales, "desire nothing, refuse nothing."

These are particularly haunting words because they demand a complete transparency of self desire.  Desiree nothing, refuse nothing means we must be freely at God's disposal.  We are to desire nothing for our own benefit or personal gain but truly live completely for the glory of God and his gain as the kingdom grows by the life we live.

We entrust our lives in to his providential care.  Refuse nothing invites us to remember that God holds all things in his hands both the joys and trials of life. All things work for Good for those who love God even if we don't see the good immediately.

Desire nothing, refuse nothing.  Are we at God's disposal?  How often does our self desires or comfort get in the way?

Int he words of Cool hand Luke, "sometime nothing is a cool hand."  With God it is the only hand.  We extend our hand with nothing and trust he will fill it.

Take nothing.  Desire Nothing.  Refuse Nothing.

Nothing leads to everything.  Just as God creates from Nothing the immense beauty of the world and all it holds an doffers so God creates anew with the nothing we bring to the front each day anew.

This certain happens when we go out and go forth to proclaim.

This is what Pope Francis reminds us in the homily of the canonization of Junipera Serra.  We keep our hearts form going numb by going out and going forth to proclaim the kingdom.

In that simple proclamation nothing brings new life and the world is recreated anew.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


1 Timothy 3:14-16; PS 111 How great are the works of the lord; Luke 7:31-35

Here are a few words form Pope Francis' encyclical.

"Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously...

in this context the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise  and distractions of an information overload...

true wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, as sort of mental pollution...

Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature..."

For some reason I though of the above when I read today's gospel.

Jesus compares the people of his generation  like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, "we played the flute of you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did into weep."

Jesus in some sense speaks of the disconnect that often happens in the lives of people in regards to reality.  We rather have reality TV shows than be engaged in reality.  We prefer our relationships on Facebook or connect on instagram or twitter than actually have a meaningful exchange that demands a true gift of self.

Our worlds have become digital but no longer flesh and blood.  We expect the world to obey our every passing whim and we seek immediate gratification.  But what happens when gratification no longer occurs.

But their is hope.  Jesus' last line in today's gospel calls to us clearly and precisely: Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.

The wisdom of the sages of the past will wait for us even as they call to us from the past.  The lessons they seek to teach will wait for us, just as God waits patiently for us to come back to him.

When we are worn out by the 'make believe' connections that are held out to us in the digital world, we know that God has become flesh and blood to fill the gaps the world as we know it can never truly and fully fill.

Then and only then can we dance and sing and be fully engaged in life and love.

As St Paul tells us, "who was manifested int he flesh, vindicated in the spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed by Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory."

Where do we find it, "the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.."

What refreshing words from St Paul.  When the world has offered all it has and we have drank the cup to the dregs then the Church, pillar and foundation of truth, remains there with arms outstretched to welcome us in to the embrace of Christ himself where a true gift of self, flesh and blood, awaits us.

In the end, flesh blood we are and flesh blood is what we will need to show us the way home.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Here is a few words form Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw some years ago as a reflection or memory of of Now St Oscar Romero

A Future Not Our Own 
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

As we here in the gospel of John, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

It is beyond us  but also very much part of our daily walk. What lies beyond us is always break forth in and through us as we follow Jesus' lead and look upward at the cross.  As our eyes are lifted up so is our life and thus we help raise a fallen world. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Isaiah 50:4-9; Ps 116 I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35

Faith or works?
This is a hot topic.  It has been hot since the reformation.  Martin Luther made it a big deal.  It continues to cause havoc for many.

What is the deal.

It is actually very simple.

We are saved by grace through faith.  This is not from you: it is a gift from God.  It is not from works so that no one may boast as St Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9

Most non catholics would say, "see there I told you so."

Unfortunately most well meaning people stop there and don't bother reading the rest of the words of St Paul.

Look at Ephesians 2:10  "For we are is workmanship created in Christ Jesus for the good works prepared by God in advance that we may live (walk) in them."

Did St Paul just say we were created for Good works prepared for God in advance that we may live in them?

I think so.

So in truth it is both Faith and Works as St James in our Second reading tries to get through out thick skulls.

We are saved by grace through faith for good works.  This would be a better biblical understanding of the so called Faith or Works controversy.

We are justified by grace which is a free gift from God who calls us to himself.  No one comes to the Father accept who the Father calls.  God alway initiates the encounter.  He makes the first move.

This is the initial conversion.   This is why we catholics baptize infants so that we can proclaim that God is the one who initiates our life in faith by his free gift.  By grace through faith we are saved.  We are justified by grace in faith.

But that is just the beginning of our relationship with God.  We must respond to God's grace offered to us.  We must move toward him as he moves toward us.  This is what we call sanctification.  We are saved by God's grace but we are sanctified, that is we grow in holiness by love.
Faith is perfected in love.

St James says this very clearly in his letter in Chapter 2:22,  "Faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works. "Again St James states it clearly in 2:24, "See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

This by the way is the only time the words faith and alone are seen together side by side in the bible and it is used in the negative, "not by faith alone."  Sola Fide is not biblical.

It is an unbiblical teaching promoted by those who claim to be biblical Christians.  Strange but I digress.

Truth be told.  Faith is what puts us in the game.  We are no longer on the sidelines as spectators.  We have been empowered by Christ to do those things by which we were created for.

Faith is the gift of God's grace that empowers us to act on his behalf in the world: faith and works!

Faith to be salvific must be expressed; it must express itself in action.  But all of Christians believe this.  We all celebrate this in life and love.

So why do we keep beating each other up?  Wonders never cease, I suppose.

See again St James' words, "So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead."  Pope Francis said a similar thing back in Feb, "faith without works, doesn't engage us in the world, it doesn't lead us to witness, thus it is not faith but words and nothing more than words."

God wants us to be people of action and witness.  Words are easy.

Just like in the gospel when Jesus ask, "who do say that I am?"

We all have to answer this question.  But Jesus isn't looking for the answer in the words we speak but in the way we live.  By our actions in the world, what answer do we give to this question of Jesus, "who do you say that I am?"

Is he a fraud? deluded holy man that means well? false prophet? moral teacher that met  tragic end? A starry eyed messiah (in the word of the eagles)?  Son of God?

Word and deed must align as we answer this question daily in our life as we invest our love and move forward each day anew.  Do our actions proclaim Jesus' Lordship over our life.

Our answer can never be conditioned by circumstances.  Peter had the right answer but his answer was conditioned by circumstances and what was appealing to him.

How often do we judge our faith based on what is appealing to us, whether it gives us the warm and fuzzy?  This can not be the case in real conviction or faith.

Jesus mentions the cross and denying ourselves and following after him.  Faith must keep him at the center and follow after his lead an not let the circumstances dictate our conviction.

Is our Faith God centered or self centered?

Let your Faith shine through your works: Saved by grace through faith for good works.

So Work your faith.  Work it!

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Colossians 3:12-17; Ps 150 Let everything that breathes praise the lord; Luke 6:27-38

I have friends who concern themselves tremendously with what they are going to wear.  They agonize over the clothing they put on.  They want to look just right for the occasion.

They color coordinate and climate coordinate all at once.

When the clothes are just right then they proceed to their hair and shoes and other accessories.

For the most part, as a culture, we spend a lot of money and time on clothing and looking just right or trying to capture the "look" we were going for. Think about the number of clothing lines and styles.

Daily apparel is not simple any more.

As much as we worry and fuss over our outer apparel or outer wardrobe, imagine if we put the same attention in our spiritual wardrobe.

What if we took a little extra time to get our attitude to fit just right or get that spiritual "look" down pat as St Paul describes it for us, those virtues we need for the work of any given day.

Here is a list of spiritual clothing we have in our spirit filled closet given to us on the day of our baptism when we clothed ourselves with christ.

"put on, as God's chosen ones. holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, if one has a grievance against one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also do.  And over all these put on love, that is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace in to which you were also called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you did in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Of course Jesus in the gospel add a few extra spiritual clothing for our perusal and wear.  "For the measure with which yo measure will in return be measured out to you."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Colossians 3:1-11; Ps 145 The Lord is compassionate toward all his works; Luke 6:20-26

What is our greatest fear?
Many fear failure.  We all want to be successful at what we do and how we live.  We do not want others to think less of us.  So we try hard to make them (who ever they might be) proud of us.  We try to earn others respect by our actions and our choices.

Many fear the lack of companionship.  We want to know that we will find someone to spend our life with and for.  So many fear being alone.

Many fear dying.  We fear saying good by to the life we have grown accustom. We like our earthly life and all that it offers and all that we find pleasing whether to the senses or to the intellect or even to the spirit.  We cling to it and we struggle with surrender.  We hurt and experience heart ache over the prospect of facing death either our own or that of a loved one.

St Paul is aware of this aspect of human nature, especially the fallen nature of man.  This si why his words are so striking to us in today's first reading.

St Paul tells us, "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. "

We are already dead.  We are dead to the world and all that it offers.  And because we are dead we experience a more fuller life.  Strange to think that.  Strange to ponder such a paradox.

Only in dying can we live fully engaged in all that the world offers.

"Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly."  We must learn to live the higher life.

It isn't that we do not experience life and love but rather we experience it more perfectly.

Put to death:immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed, anger, fury, malice, slander, obscene language.  Stop lying to one another.  These are St Paul's instructions.

Imagine a life where these vices no longer hound us or weigh us down.

Jesus redefines us.  Our relationship with him changes and transforms us.

It is a gradual transformation, a daily experience.  It is never all at once.  Slowly Christ becomes all in all and we become a new and improved version of ourself.  

This is what is held out to us in Christ each day we walk with him.

Today take a few moments to identify how being in love with Jesus has made a positive impact in your life!  In what way are you better than before.  What is new and improved as you examine your life and take inventory.

Celebrate what God has done in Christ and let the momentum carry your forward.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Colossians 1:1-8; Ps 50 I trust in the mercy of God forever; Luke 4:38-44

As we read today's first letter the first question that comes to my mind is, "Who is that?"

Epa who?

Paul and Timothy write this letter to this community of faith gathered in Colossae.

Perhaps the community consist of maybe a dozen or so men and women who have accepted the message of the gospel.  It is small by today's standard.  Nonetheless, it seems an important enough place that warrants a letter from St Paul and St Timothy.

It seems teachers have arrived on the scene that have given themselves authority they do not have and taught things were not theirs to teach.

We see this all the time.  So many people in our society want everyone to believe they are infallible in regards to their understanding and often times this leads to weird and bizarre teachings especially in regards to Christ and his church.

This is why there so many 'denominations' in our society today.  Every tom and Harriet out there thinks they are fit for the job when it comes to propounding the faith.

Yet, St Paul and Timothy in a not so subtle way direct the community to go back to the one authorized teacher that began the endeavor to bring the gospel truth to that place: Epaphras.

That's right: Epaphras.

If anything this letter help underscore the necessity of discerning what message is received and form whom.  Not every "Christian Teacher" teaches the same thing and not every one should be weighed in the same measure.  There are some that team though they do not have credentials to do so and yet we give them credence because it may "tickle the ear" as St Paul describes in another letter.

Just because something sounds enticing doesn't mean it is sound if you know what i mean.

St Paul directs the community to rediscover its roots and check their understanding at the door of Epaphras' doorstep so to speak, the one who is chosen to be their guide.

We need to do this as well.

There are many so called teachers but again just because someone claims to be a teacher of of the faith doesn't make it so.

This is why we have the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We can check out what others are saying to see if they are on line with orthodoxy, right teaching or not.

We need to seek out the Epaphras in our lives so that we can stay on the right track and not get derailed by every whim and fancy that blows our way.

We start with the bishops and then go from there.  This is why St Paul and Timothy both write the letter; they are bishops and they are pointing the community in the right direction.

I spent this past monday at our local Ministerial Alliance which includes a variety of folks across the spectrum.  It includes nondenominational, a variety of baptist minsters and some main line church ministers as well.

As I was listening to some of them talk, i began to be very grateful for my Catholic faith and the hierarchy Jesus set up to guides us in regards to interpretation of scripture and faith and morals.

Some of them had strange understandings of scripture and the life of faith.  I bet it was what Epaphras was dealign with in Colossea.

Be grateful for the Hierarchy; it is good to know someone out there has their head screwed on straight and their heart  in tuned with the heart of Christ.

Pax et Bonum