Saturday, January 31, 2015


Deut 18:15-20; Ps 95 If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28

We read in the gospel that Jesus comes to a synagogue in Capernaum.  Synagogue was a meeting place to celebrate and to grow in faith as a community.  The rabbi would give instructions and the community would gather to fulfill their obligation to keep holy the Sabbath.

While in the Synagogue Jesus meets a a man with an unclean spirit and he chooses to do something about it.  This man was broken and was in need of healing.  The question that comes to my mind is how many others noticed the broken man and did nothing to help him.

How often do we encounter people who are broken from within and like the crowd do nothing.

Yet Jesus rebuke the unlearn spirit.

Thus, St Mark whose gospel we are journeying with sets the stage for what's at stake with the Jesus who comes perching good news.

First, Mark reminds us that we are at war not at peace.  Spiritual warfare is real.  Jihad is not that which belongs to the Muslim extremist but it belongs to all of us.    There are two roads in life: the straight and narrow that leads to joy and life and fulfillment and the broad and wide that leads to destruction, misery, and dissatisfaction.

Mark reminds us what is at stake.  The bad news is that we are need of liberation.  The good news is that Jesus is sent to set us fee.  But not only does Jesus set us free but he also teaches us some spiritual martial arts or Spiritual Judo that we might defeat evil rather than tolerate it.  Judo is not about over powering but rather throwing opponent off balance.

There are few things we should be attentive to in regards to spiritual warfare. What works?
Obviously the sacraments and prayers are essential.  We should draw close to God.  Going to confession on a regular basis and receiving the Eucharist on a regular basis if not daily is necessary for stamina as we engage in the fight.

There are other things to be in sync with as well.

Sacrifice helps defeat evil.  In the book of Revelation the adversaries are identified.  There is the lamb and the beast.  The lamb in greek is the little lamb and the greek word to describe the beast is monstrous monster.  Yet the lamb wins, defeats evil for it is willing to shed it s blood.  It is the sacrifice, the laying down's one's life as we stand on the principles of goodness that evil is destroyed.

Sacrifice worked on calvary and thus it works every where.  The blood of the martyrs is the seed bed of the church.  Sacrifice is the height of love. It is the saying that becomes the tie that binds: my life of your life. Sacrifice is essential in defeating evil.   Jim Elliot the missionary martyr from Ecuador in 1956 said that "He is not a full to give up what he can not long keep for that which he can never lose."

Humility defeats evil.  One must bow low in order to rise victorious.  As I have been doing  a bible study on the book of revelation, i have been struck by how many times those envisioned in heaven are constantly bowing their heads or bending low before the thrown.  In fact the terror of the end times will not be terrible for those who recognize their neediness before God.  Pride and power go to the side of the road and true peace is engendered. This is why we begin the mass with "Lord, have mercy."  we invoke the words of the blind man on the road to Jericho who cries out to Jesus, "Lord, have mercy on me."  Only when we bow low in neediness are we truly able to stand erect.   Humility keeps evil at bay for it teaches us to be selfless not selfish.

Friendship helps defeat evil.  Friendship means we do not stand alone.  We choose our friends wisely but with this is mind that they will help us in our fight again evil.  Do our friends "invite" evil or "fight" evil. Think about Simon of Cyrean who helps Jesus carry the cross to Calvary.  Friendship is strength because it unites.  Evil wishes to divide.  We are continually asked to look out for each other like the old buddy system.  Friendship that is rooted in Christ defeats evil.

Words are effective in defeating evil.  We tell the students to always use their words.  Words have power because the word preexistence things.  God spoke and the world was created. Words effect a change they signify.  Think about the Sacramental system.  When the minister says "I baptize you"then a change is effected.  Or when Jesus says, "this is my body."  Words effect a change.
The words "I love you" or "I hate you" "I forgive you" are like weapons.  They are arrows that pierce the flesh through to the heart.  They effect a change.

Think about the power that one has over another when their proper name is mentioned.  When I am at school and call the kids by name they stop in their tracks.  There is power.  Think about the name of Jesus.  Invoking the name of Jesus has great power in defeating evil.

As we battle unclean spirit just remember: sacrifice, humility, friendship, words and like Jesus we too will be a liberating force in the world.   Spiritual Judo is a necessity for all of us to keep the opponent off balance so even the weak can overcome the strong.


Hebrews 10:32-39; Ps 37 The salvation of the just comes from the Lord; MArk 4:26-34

I just want to look at a few words from the Letter of Hebrews.

"Knowing you had a better and lasting possession…"

Do we know this?  Are we willing to forsake all else for that which is lasting?

Jim Elliot is the one who said "he is no fool to give up what he can not long keep for what he can never lose?"

How much of our life is determined by that which we can not long keep, earthly possessions and material realities?

Yesterday at the school mass I asked the children to list the property they have.  They mentioned their homes, their toys, their pastures and lawns, their 4 wheel gators, their guns, their video games and so on and so forth.

I asked them for show of hands  as to how many would be wiling to surrender all of that for God himself.  Sadly many of them wouldn't though a few were thinking about it.

But isn't that our secular society that we have allowed to swallow up the thinking of our children.  isn't that the society we have allowed to dictate our own lives and actions.

The full quote of the text above from the letter of hebrew is as follows, "you even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession. Therefore do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense."

Have we thrown away our confidence?  The more we rely on material possessions the weaker we become and less courageous we are for that which matters most of all.

Possessions possess. In doing do they weaken our will for the highest good.

Lastly the author of Hebrews states, "We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life."

We are not cowards.  The is what the letter is inviting us to embrace.  We are not cowards.  Int he words of Elvis, "don't be cruel to a east that is true."

God will not forsake us but only purify us and allow us to focus on that which is lasting not that which is passing away.

On what have w built our life: that which we can not long keep or that which we can never lose.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Hebrews 10:19-25; Ps 24 Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face; Mark 4:21-25

"Since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh.."

What is this new and living way through the veil that is his flesh? Many believe the author of Hebrews is speaking directly about the sacramental presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  This veil is the presence of Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine from which through the celebration of the mass becomes the Real Presence of Jesus.

This is why we are encouraged "to draw near with a true heart and full assurance of faith".  It is faith that enables us to perceive the true reality that awaits us upon the altar.  In faith we move beyond appearances of bread and wine and see reality as it is.

Again we are encouraged to "hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering;  the one who promised is faithful."  Our hope is the very word of Jesus himself who said "take and eat this is my body; take and drink this is the cup of my blood."

Our hope is rooted in the word of Jesus who is truth himself thus he can never deceive.  The word of God is the anchor that holds us firm in the faith we profess.

We are told to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works."  The celebration of the Eucharist is a feast of true love.  We encounter what love looks like on the altar as Jesus lays down his life for us.  Having celebrated this beautiful revelation then we must go forth and live what we celebrate.  The Eucharist is what encourages us in love that moves beyond feelings and becomes active.

Then the author invites us to not "neglect the assembly."
Here the sunday liturgy, the public gathering of the faithful is recommended as necessary part for the life of faith.  At the assembly we enter into the sanctuary together as a people of God united on the word and promise of Christ through which we pass beyond the veil and into the very real presence of Jesus who calls us to himself.   Sunday worship is important.

We can pray at home or in the woods or outdoors or on the back porch.  This is all true and good.  There is something different about the Sunday worship around the altar the place where God has chosen to make himself known, the place where heaven and earth unite that we might experience eternity here and now.

We look to the gospel and Jesus has these words for us to chew on, "The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you…"

We set the standard of our own judgment.  God has that much respect for our freedom.  Think about how hard we are on others and perhaps how easy we are on our selves.  Won't we be surprised.

Is not  a lamp meant to be placed on a lamp stand?  Light has two functions: to help us see and to help us be seen.  Both are important in being a disciple.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Hebrews 10:11-18; PS 110  You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek; Mark 4:1-12

Today we celebrate the feast of St Thomas Aquinas, doctor of the church, Dominican Friar, Theologian, philosopher but above all a seeker of the "Summon Bonum" or the greatest Good.

Thomas is a lover of God.  He recognized that it wasn't enough to know about God but rather one must know Him for he alone is our ultimate end.  Everything pointed toward this reality.  The ultimate reason we must become holy is that that is the only way to become real for being real is union with God.

Happiness for Thomas is not about subjective contentment but it is about perfection and perfection is achieving the purpose for which we were created: union with God.

Too often we lose sight of this.  We think happiness is about subjective contentment (feelings) which is counterfeit theology and we lose sight that it is about perfection: be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.  Everything in life can aid us in becoming perfected.

Here is a truth that we can live on:  The self that wants above all things to be forever bound to God and His will in eternity also wants to be free from him at the present moment to do its own will.  Our wills are divided.  We love our Father in heaven but we are rebellious kids.  We are stubborn, silly, selfish, sinful and even stupid at times so says Peter Kreeft as a summary of Thomas Aquinas' teachings.   This is also a summary of St Paul's thought in Romans ch 7 where he states we do what we don't want to do and what we want to do we don't do.  We need the mind to educate and enlighten the will as a traveler needs a map.

This is what Thomas Aquinas set out to do in his writings.  And it is a good example for the rest of us to follow.  How do we educate our minds so as to enlighten our wills so that we may want what God wants and move along this journey we call life?

We must by God's grace and our effort  allow our will out of necessity to adhere to the last end, which is happiness an let this desire purify all others.  The more w know the more we love and love is the root of desire.

How do we do this?  We need to practice the presence of God, the goodness of God, the trustability of God, the beauty of God.  We need to make it a habit daily to say "Father, I trust you."  We need to brings ourselves before the presence of God and what better way than spend time before the Blessed Sacrament which is the par excellence presence of Jesus himself on Earth for us.   W need to grow in knowledge of God and what he has revealed.  Knowledge affects love.  Thus we can begin out of joyful necessity to want what God wants on this journey of life and seek the Summon Bonum: the greatest good.

As we celebrate the feast of St Thomas, just a few thoughts to linger with.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Jonah 3:1-5,10; Ps 25 Teach your ways O lord; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

We have some exciting readings this 3rd sunday of ordinary time.

Each one has a message that affects us on a grand scale.

First we encounter Jonah.  Jonah's story is all to familiar to us.  It is a story that captivates the young and old alike.  Every one's imagination can absorb the story of the stubborn prophet who resist God's call and then flees.  Jonah wants to create distance between him and God and the town he is suppose to be serving.  As he stows away on a boat he finds himself tossed in a storm only later to be tossed over board.  This is when everything gets interesting.  From the depths of the ocean a huge sea monster aka "large Whale"  swallows him and for three days he finds himself in the belly of the fish.

Of course, he has a change of heart and back to Nineveh he goes realizing he cannot out run God.  Though he is still reluctant.  Yet even though he doesn't feel like doing his job he does it and the whole city is converted.

If you look past the stubbornness and the big fish there is a message that is timeless for us all.  Nineveh was a place of terrible deeds.  The people were doing evil things.  God wanted to wipe them out and if you remember Sodom and Gomorrah then you know he wasn't joking.

Yet, God waits on them to change.  God is willing to go to bat for them and give them a chance to examine their lives and begin a new.  Jonah gave up on them but God did not.  This is the message.  God doesn't give up on us.  No person, no place, no situation is beyond the Mercy of God and is healing reach.

This message should impact our daily life.  Imagine if we looked upon each person we meet with that simple thought: they are not beyond the mercy and healing touch of God. I think it would change us before fit ever changes them.

Though we give up on them and close the door of our life to them, God does not.  No person, no place, no situation is beyond the mercy and healing reach of God.

Then we come to St Paul.  St paul says that time is running out.  There is a great sense of urgency in St Paul.  His urgency is for the kingdom.  Imagine if we took all the urgency we have for our temporal affairs and direct it toward our eternal destiny.  This is why he says if you have a wife live as if you don't, if weeping as if not weeping, if rejoicing as if not rejoicing, using the world as if not using or owning in it.  What is he saying.

I think the simple message on a grander scale for us is this: no relationship, no emotion, no possession should control us.  Our faith should be guiding us through them and beyond the, so that we enter into them with the proper mindset and discipline.

Think about how often relationships lead us away from God?   How often do our emotions interfere with our ability to lobe our neighbor?  How many possessions holds us back?  Every temporal matter must be purified by the eternal love affair God has with us.

Then we get to the gospel.  Jesus has his inaugural address:  This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Repent simply means to change your mind, change the way you see things, change your perspective.  We all need to change our perspective and look with the eyes of God.

Then we see the four fishermen leave everything.  They abandon their nets and father and boat and follow Jesus.

What does it mean to follow Jesus?  Some in the 60's thought it meant we were to look like Jesus so they grew their hair out and a beard to boot and put on sandals.  Others think it means to do what Jesus did that is just a matter of duplication. Yet as good as these are they are insufficient.

John of the Cross as a better notion.  He stated that to follow Jesus wasn't a look alike contest or a matter of duplication but rather seeking to imitate Jesus' motivation.  We do what we do because of the why Jesus did what he did.  Think about that.  What is our motivation?  Are we self motivated or God motivated?  Are free enough form our selves so that God's desire takes first place in our life.

Jesus in the garden prayed, "Father, let it be your will not mind."  Here we encounter true motivation belonging to every Christian.  We should pray daily, "Lord, may i do what I do because you desire to do it through me."  Lord may i do what i do because you ask me to do it.

We need to overhaul our motivation and then we can leave everything and no longer be entangled in our nets and with such freedom experience lasting joy in the footsteps of Jesus.

Joy is not a selfish seeking but a selfless finding.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Heb 8:6-13; Ps 85 Kindness and truth shall meet; Mark 3:13-19

Jesus selects his inner circle.  From amongst the many who follow twelve are chosen to be an extension of himself.  "He summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him."

What a beautiful description of the call and response that we speak of so often in regards to vocational living.

Vocational living is for all of us not just clergy or those in consecrated life.  All of us must at some point in our life respond to His summons if we are to discover happiness or encounter the joy Jesus holds out to us. We must draw close to him before we go out tot he world.

The selection process must have been quite the experience because the diversity of such a small group is quite astounding.  Matthew the tax collector who has thrown his lot in with the occupying Roman authorities is asked to stand side by side with Simon the Cananean or the zealot, the one who wishes to over throw the Roman oppressors.  Then of course there is Judas Iscariot himself called by name to follow and become something more.

There is definitely not a uniformity of personality in this group of twelve summoned and called.  Rather, it is friendship with Jesus that refines and perfects each distinctive personality empowering them to get along for the sake of the mission at hand.  It is the purpose that ultimate decides the union not the personalities or the personal traits of each.   It isn't a cause that unites but a relationship that holds them together.  It is there personal belonging to Jesus that invigorates the mission and acts as the glue that holds them tightly together.

when that personal relationship with Jesus is broken or neglected that is when the union is threatened.

They are called to be with Jesus then sent to preach.  It is being with him they are transformed into a united force to transform the world.  This is the paradigm.  We gather with Jesus and are transformed and then we are sent out where we further our transformation by seeking to bring his message to a world that it might also be transformed.

The twelve form the foundational reality of the church.  Jesus doesn't call individuals to stand alone but a group to unite.  There is no opposition between Christ and the church.  It is the gathering that communicates his presence and power to the world.  Jesus calls into question this individualistic approach that is so contemporary.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Heb 4:1-5,11; Ps 78 Do not forget the works of the Lord; Mark 2:1-12

"Let us be on guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains...for we who believed enter into that rest...And God rested on the seventh day from all his works...Therefore let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.."

We continue to follow the Letter to the Hebrews.  Once again, we are invited to reflect on the disobedience of the Israelites as that which kept them from entering the promised Land, the symbol of the rest of God.

We are also asked to reflect on Exdus 20:8-11, where the Israelites are invited to unite themselves to God weekly on the Sabbath and ultimately in the attainment of salvation (Rev 14:13, CCC 345).

We are reminded that God does not rest from his work because he is tired or exhausted or in need of a break but rather he rest to show us our need to live and work for the "rest" that lies ahead or for the "rest" of our lives.

The Sabbath rest was meant to help us keep our top priority in the top place of our life.  The "rest"  kept everything in its right perspective and right order.  The sabbath rest helped to reorganize our life just in case we began to think temporal things were more important than eternal matters.

Perhaps this is why we are told in chapter 13 in the Letter to the Hebrew that we should not neglect the Holy Assembly.

There is an old axiom that says the last in execution was the first in intention. at least according to St Thomas Aquinas.  Whatever is done last was intended first.  God creates the world looking forward to the day of rest so that he might instill in us what is most important of all.  The sabbath rest points to worship and union with God.  And it is in imitating God we enter into communion with him.   All of creation is ordered to worship and adoration of God.

If we get that right then the rest of our life falls in harmony with the Divine will.  For us as Christians, the eight day marks a day of new creation.  The seventh day was a completion of the first creation, but the resurrection of Jesus marks a new creation for humanity and the world.  The first creation finds its meaning in the new creation.  The last in execution is the first in intention.  This is why the Sabbath for us is on Sunday not Saturday.  This of course directs us to the "final rest" that awaits us.  It is in the culmination of history, that we find our truest purpose and rediscover the meaning of life, which is to be with God forever.  As the Baltimore Catechism teaches us, "to know him, to love him, to serve him, and to be with him forever in heaven."

This is the rest we should strive after daily in our goings and comings.

Sunday Celebration is essential to true Christian living because it puts things in its proper place.  It helps eternal matters first and foremost.

Hopefully this helps answer the question I get so often, "why should I go to Sunday worship?"  "Why should I go to Mass?"  We go because we keep temporal and eternal matters straight in our hearts and mind.  We let our ultimate end give direction to our daily life.   And we allow the Sunday rest to connect us to the heavenly rest that is our end.  We imitate Christ who said "do this in memory of me."  We reconnect to the new creation that directs to our ultimate union with God,  which promise a new heaven and new earth.

We keep the end in mind then it where change how we get there and whether we arrive or not.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Hebrews 3:7-14

"The Holy Spirit says: Oh, that today you would hear his voice, "harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert, where your ancestors tested and tried me and saw my works for forty years.  Because of this I was provoked with that generation and said, "they have always been of erring heart, and they do not know my ways.  As i swore in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest. Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God.  Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today," so that  non  of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.  We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end."

St paul above alludes to the experience of the Israelites as can be found in Numbers 14:1-38.  On this occasion the Israelites were so paralyzed by fear that they refused to seize possession of the Promised Land.  A few of the scouts sent out to he reconnoiter the land came back breathing fear and anxiety into the hearts of the people, and the people allowed fear to trump their trust in God's word spoken to them.

The people of Israel were on the threshold of entering the gift God had promised and they allowed fear to rule the day and thus they were denied entrance, only Caleb and Joshua were trustworthy.

Same is true for the people St paul is writing to in the letter, as well as, for us. We find ourselves each day on the threshold of heavenly inheritance and we too must not let fear trump our faith and trust in the living God.   It seems St Paul is reminding the folks of his time and us that we too can forfeit our inheritance by forsaking the lord and allowing deceit to cause a degeneration of our faith and loyalty.

This is why  St paul insist that we encourage each other daily.  Daily we need a boost.
We take vitamins daily.  We have our daily cup of coffee.  We watch the daily news.  Perhaps we ride or walk or run a few miles daily.  We have daily routine that keeps us percolating in life.

What routines do we have in our faith journey that encourages us and gives us that daily boost?

St Paul is clear that we need to encourage one another while it is today.  Today is the only opportunity we may have.  We only have a limited number of 'todays'.  We need to embrace the opportunity as it comes.

Here is a prayer to the Holy Spirit penned by St Augustine that might be beneficial for us

Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


We follow Jesus into the Synagogue at Caphernaum.  There he encounters a man with an unclean spirit.  What is striking is the question posed by the unclean spirit to Jesus, "Have you come here to destroy us?"


What a statement.  Should we not ask the same question.  Has Jesus come to destroy us?

Jesus says he as come to set the world on fire.  He also says that we must die daily.  He tells us that we can not let any relationship trump our relationship with him.

There is in a certain degree truth to the statement posed by the spirit.

I think Jesus has come to destroy something in us.  We need to be aware of this truth as we journey each day and encounter challenges and obstacles and opportunities.

St Laura who was canonized in 2013 reveals a certain secret to life and in relationship with God.  She would pray daily this prayer, "Lord, destroy me, and upon my ruins build a monument to your glory."


Think on that today.  What in us needs to be destroyed so that a true building worthy of God's glory can be raised in and through our life and love that we share.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Over the last few days the gospels for daily mass have been intriguing. Take a look at them: Matthew 4:12-17,23-25; Mark 6:34-44; Mark 6:45-52.

What do you notice?

Well, considering that over the last two weeks we have liturgically been introduced to the incarnation, God becoming man, Jesus as a child, the reading should be surprising.  We have spent all of 12 days on Jesus as an infant.

We were invited to peer into Bethlehem and see his birth.  We were invited to acknowledge the beauty of the Holy Family.  We walked in the footsteps of the Magi as they followed the star to adoration and gifts of gold, Frankincense, Myrrh. We witness the slaughter of the Innocents, the presentation in the Temple,  purification rite of Mary as well after childbirth.

Yet, just a 12 days have elapsed and Jesus is already all grown up.  This is the surprise of the last few days gospel readings.  We have already moved on.  Jesus is already a grown man ready for ministry, ready for action.

It always amazes me how quickly we move from the infant narrative to the public ministry of Jesus the 30 plus year old.

The church reminds us that we aren't meant to stare at the manger forever.  We are not meant to be lost in the swaddling clothes.  Jesus was born for a reason.  Jesus' life has direction, purpose, meaning.

So does ours.  We are not meant to stay young and immature either.  At some point we have to choose to grow up and become the men and women God created us, destined us to be.

Maybe this is why we move ahead so quickly from Bethlehem to the Jordan banks and Jesus beginning his ministry.  He came that we might have life and we can only have that life when we choose to man up and let his show us the way.

So stop looking for your childhood and start being grown up for a change and get busy doing God business and let life flow abundantly.