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…"