Saturday, January 30, 2016


Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19; Ps 71 I will sing of your salvation; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30

This weekend we kick start Catholic School week.  I have been part of catholic schools for the past ten years as a priest.  But prior to that iIwas educated in a catholic school up until my fifth year of elementary school. I also spent 7 years in higher education under the Catholic school umbrella.

It is a part of my blood and sprit.

What makes Catholics schools so instrumental and valuable especially to a society that is so secular and self-centered?

This is often the discussion raised when catholic schools' week comes around as it does every year this time: what and why catholic education.

I have thought about it much.  It was yesterday in the midst of my pondering that a thought surged to the frontal lobe of my brain, or whatever part of the brain that is engaged in such activity.

The thought was the following:  children learn the best where they are loved the most.  Only in Jesus is love fully realized.  So in Him we both learn to love and love to learn.  This is the reality that is at the heart of Catholic education.  It is not about the best tools or the best tech.  It is not about the latest greatest gadget or teaching enterprise.  It is about love.  And each day at Catholic Schools we get to make visible God's love in  Jesus both verbally and physically by our actions.  And if our catholic schools fail, it is because we have lost sight of His love and have forsaken His love for gadgets and gizmo's of secular society.

No!  A child learns best where He is loved most.  In Him, Jesus, do they learn to love and love to learn.

Now on to our second reading for this weekend

Here is phrase that is a translation of a Latin colloquialism: A man is not where he lives but where he loves.

A man is not where he lives but where he loves.

Where do we love?  Where is our love?  What is the state or quality of  the love we bring to the front daily?

Is it a childish love or have we allowed our love to grow and mature?

A man is not where he lives but where he loves and where he loves he surely lives.

Love precedes life.

At least St Paul thinks so as we encounter the beauty of today's second reading.

He lays down the foundation of what true and authentic love is.

Too often we are lazy in love.  We don't labor sufficiently so that our life can become what it is created to be by our Father.   In case we have lost our way in love and found ourselves lost in life, St Paul gives us an opportunity to revaluate our life in regards to love, which makes our present place known.

"Love is: patient, kind,  it is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interest, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice in wrong doing but rejoices in the truth. it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love does not fail."

A man is not where he lives but where he loves.

"When I was a child , I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when i became a man, I put aside childish things."

It is time to put aside our childish ways.  Love is not child's play but it is in loving that we become like children.  It is a strange world we live in.  It is strange spiritual physics.  Loving demands to be mature but in loving maturely we awaken the child within who is unhindered in loving. We then become the child God created us to be and are able to love unhindered and unencumbered as I see daily with my encounter with the little children at school.

A man is not where he lives but where he loves. And where he loves he finds life to its full.

Just a thought for this Sunday

Friday, January 29, 2016


2 Samuel 11:1-4, 5-10, 13-17; Ps 51 BE merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned; Mark 4:26-34

"This is how it is with the kingdom of God.."

What is the kingdom of God?  It is God's way of acting; it is his action in human history.  It is also our cooperate stance before that action of God working in and through our lives.

How is it?

"It is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.  Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear."

he knows not how...

This defines so much of our life.  How we do not know how God is working but we do know that he is working.  This work of God is often a gradual revelation.  God works with urgency but not with haste.

I wonder how our life would be if we were love with urgency but not with haste.

God can not be hurried.  Sometimes the beauty of love needs time for it to be developed and matured.  Sometimes the gradual revelation of love awakens a more generous response than the abrupt version.

Theis reminds me of the song, "Amazed."  The verse is as following, "You dance over me while I am unaware; you sing all around But i never hear the sound; Lord I am amazed by you, how you love paint the morning sky with miracles in mind; my hope will always stand for you hold me in your hand."

Beautiful reality.   Love that is urgent but not hasteful; Love that is prevalent but not hurried.  Love is patient....


Here is an article from Salt and light media on Pope Francis letter for world day of communication


Pope Francis says a lot of surprising and challenging things.  Often I read something he’s said or written and say to myself, “I can’t believe he said that.”  Still—as with anything else—we can become desensitized to his spontaneity and candour, and we risk glossing over some of his highly consequential statements.
One recent statement that we should not gloss over is his message for World Communications Day 2016 entitled, Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter. In it, he reflects on the urgent need for more charitable and merciful communication between individuals, with a clear focus on the world of social media and communications.  The message prompted atypical news coverage from the digital world: “Apparently Pope Francis Can’t Stand Internet Trolls Either,” read the headline at ThinkProgress. Or, my personal favorite from RawStory, “Pope Francis opens a can of whoop a** on hateful internet trolls—and it’s beautiful.”
With this message Pope Francis did what he so often does; he struck a nerve with a wide audience by using simple, relatable and deeply Christian language. The message applies to all types of communication certainly, but since many people today live “online”, here are 7 direct quotes that should prompt all of us to reflect on how we communicate using social media:
1) “What we say and how we say it, our every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all.”
Here the Pope makes an important observation that how we say something is as important as what we say. It’s easy to forget that and it’s often difficult to try to rephrase something we want to say in light of another person, let alone with “compassion, tenderness and forgiveness”.  Perhaps for every tweet, post or comment we should send another one explicitly expressing compassion, tenderness or forgiveness.
2) “Our words and actions should be such as to help us all escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging expressions of hatred.”
Here Pope Francis flips the script on us and reminds us that how we communicate has a deep impact onus too. The purpose of communicating is, as he says, to create “closeness”, which is a reciprocal phenomenon. We can ask ourselves, how do my communications on social media affect my own attitudes toward others and my relationships with them?
3) “The words of Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and communication.”
Pope Francis, the “sinner whom the Lord has looked upon,” never forgets that being Christian starts with conversion of self. No statement condemning vicious and vengeful comments online would be complete without a direct challenge to his fellow Christians, who are often the most viscous and vengeful trolls. But the deeper challenge here is that condemning evil—something the Church does very often—shouldn’t destroy relationships or communication. The logical conclusion here is analogous to that old saying our mothers used, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it.” When there are human beings involved, jumping to condemn all kinds of evil through objective, categorical statements may not be the most merciful method of communication and relationship building.
4) “The truth is ultimately Christ himself, whose gentle mercy is the yardstick for measuring the way we proclaim the truth and condemn injustice.”
It’s often said in church circles that the greatest act of mercy is to tell the truth. Therefore, if someone is committing an unjust act, I am being merciful by categorically condemning it. That may or may not be the best approach, depending on the situation. The most important variable, according to Pope Francis, is how Jesus would communicate in a particular situation. This requires a deep familiarity with the Jesus of the Gospels whose “gentle mercy” time and time again overwhelms both sinner and judge alike, to the point that the person committing an unjust act truly encounters God’s forgiveness and the person standing in judgement feels it necessary to get rid of Jesus. The question becomes, not whether or not we’re proclaiming the truth, but whether or not we’re proclaiming the truth as Jesus did.
5) “Harsh and moralistic words and actions risk further alienating those whom we wish to lead to conversion and freedom, reinforcing their sense of rejection and defensiveness.”
This statement builds on #4 by taking us a step further. Speaking the truth in a harsh and moralistic way is no guarantee that a person will be converted or freed. In fact, it will most likely have the opposite effect and kill any chance of further communication. Just because we may be right about something doesn’t give us the right to communicate it if a person will feel rejected because of it. Pope Francis’ whole pontificate is the preeminent example in our world today of communicating truth without using harsh or moralistic words.
6) “I would like to encourage everyone to see society not as a forum where strangers compete and try to come out on top, but above all as a home or a family, where the door is always open and where everyone feels welcome.”
Communications technology has turned the world into a global society. We may be more connected, but the online world doesn’t particularly feel like a family. Often we come across comments or tweets that are so negative or competitive and we wonder why someone would say something online that they would never say to a person in real life. Again Pope Francis takes us a step further. When we communicate online, we shouldn’t ask ourselves, “would you say this to the person’s face?” but, “would you say this to your brother’s or sister’s face?” The analogy of the family for society as a whole is a bold one. The key here is unconditional inclusivity. I’m not sure how we can put that into practice, especially because, sadly, even many families fall short of this lofty goal. Pope Francis certainly does swing for the fences, but then again so did Jesus when he proclaimed the Kingdom of God was at hand.
7) “Listening is much more than simply hearing… Listening means paying attention, wanting to understand, to value, to respect and to ponder what the other person says.”
Well… then I’m not a very good listener. Imagine… listening to someone entails a desire to be closer to them in respect and understanding. We tend to think that communication is all about what we say, but there are two sides to every coin. How often do we really try to listen to another person’s views and try to understand where they are coming from? There are so many news outlets and blogs that adhere to one particular ideology and exclude any kind of constructive critique or dialogue with differing views. It may be worth putting some time in to read one of those blogs that we typically ignore for ideological reasons, and share something from it on our own social media platforms that is respectful and constructive. In other words, listen, and show it.

On Further ReflectionIn the complex world of the 21st century there are more questions than answers. The challenge for the Church is to find new and effective ways of bringing the Gospel message into the conversation.  For her part, the Church can act as a much needed voice for dialogue, reason and charity. On Further Reflection invites readers to go beyond the headlines to see the deeper realities affecting the church and society.  Sebastian Gomes is a producer and host at Salt+Light TV.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


2 Samuel 7:18-19,24-29; Psalm 132 The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father; Mark 4:21-25

Today in our first reading we get to eavesdrop on David's personal and prayerful response to God's promise of yesterday.

After the Prophet Nathan had spoken we are told that "David went in  and sat before the LORD and said, "who am I, Lord God and who are the members of my house, that yo have brought me to this point?"

David's first response to God's promise was to to go and be with Him, to be in his presence.

St Thomas, whose feast is today, along with all of the other saints, insist that the task of sanctity, holiness, is to practice the presence of God, that is to be mindful of God's presence that surrounds us constantly and to allow that presence to lead us forth in our daily walk.

David does this.  Do we?

How often do we sit before the LORD?

Secondly, note that David's words are indicative of someone who is in the presence of God, "Who am I?"

The first word is a word of humility.   We we practice the presence of God we become more deeply aware of his greatness and our smallness.  Only then can we truly experience our worth and value.  God in his supreme greatness has chosen freely to love us, it is a gift and for this we are humbled.

Who am I?  This is the beginning for all of us as we journey with God becoming aware of his deep abiding presence and love for each of us.

In the gospel today we are reminded that light is meant for visibility.  Our public witness is essential.
It is not to be hidden but exposed.

 Secondly, God allows us to set the criteria for our own judgment, "the measure you give will be measured out to you."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


2 Samuel 7:4-17; Ps 89 For ever I will maintain my love for my servant; Mark 4:1-20

"Go, tell my servant David, "thus says the LORD: should you build me a house to dwell in?"

How often like David do we make proposals to God only to discover that God has other plans?  It is true that we cooperate with God by proposals we make but ultimately it is God that disposes.

Our lives require constant reassessment  and acceptance of plan B.  God's polite refusal of David's offer sets the bench mark for the rest of us as we journey forth life. How many "polite" refusals of God in our life have led to better things at least in regards to the unfolding of God's gift of salvation for the rest of us and the rest of humanity.

God's building a house in today's first reading also bespeaks of a covenant promise.  The Davidic covenant upon which Jesus ultimately fulfills is set in motion in today's reading.  God's plan is bigger and better than David even could imagine.

The words of St Paul come to mind, "God can do immeasurable more than we can ask or imagine..."

This is what Plan B unfolds for us in our life.  Trust it.  Embrace it.  Let God love us through it.  Hold on.

Jesus the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant instructs us in parables in today's gospel.  The sower goes out to sow.  One of the many interesting things to note is how generous the sower is with the seed.  Some would suggest the sower is wasteful.  But yet it remains  that the seed is scattered everywhere, all over the place.

Despite all the obstacles, the seed finds a way, finds a home, finds a place to bloom and bear much fruit.  We do our part certainly by cultivating a listening heart.  But even our own refusal doesn't derail God's ability to bring forth abundance.

What a beautiful reality to hold firm in our minds and hearts.

We can do our worst.  The devil can do his best to resist and to stop.  Yet, combined there is no stopping the Father's word from producing abundant harvest.  This is our hope.  This is also the reason to cultivate our hearts in a receptive manner.

Pax et Bonum  

Friday, January 15, 2016


1 samuel 8:4-7; Ps 89 for ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; Mark 2:1-12

A brief word on the first reading and the psalm before we get to the gospel.

In the first reading we see the people of Israel long for a human king because they wanted to be like the other nations, they wanted to be like everyone else.

Here is a great temptation for all of us as we journey through life.  How often we forsake our uniqueness in trying to be like others? how often do we give into the temptation to just blend in. In this case, the uniqueness was their relationship with God and His relationship with then as his chosen people.  This too they were willing to forsake to be like the other nations.  Can u think of anything more tragic?

God's plan A was to be the central reality of the people of Israel's lives.  They rejected him.  Yet in their human failings, God does not forsake them but rather respects their freedom and brings good through this.  God continues to act through plan b in order to lead the people to what they really need and beyond what they think they need.  Praise God for that.

In the psalm our refrain is, for ever i will sing the goodness of the Lord.  The word for ever, is a hebrew word that signifies the unfolding to the world one day at a time.  The psalmist invites us to praise God for ever by praising him today, one day at a time.  It reminds me of the song that is often sung at funerals, One day at a time Lord Jesus.  This is a good mantra for us as we journey.  Sing his praise as the day unfolds, we shouldn't get a head of ourselves or get lost in the past but just steady as the world turns we enter in to the song of praise one day at a time.  We praise him more for we fathom him less.

The gospel we continue to journey with Mark as he tells the encounter of Jesus in the beginning of his public ministry.  Jesus hits the ground running.  Already he has cured many and he continues bringing God's healing touch the lives of the people he encounters.

Today a man is paralyzed, lying on a mat, unable to move.  His friends carry him and lower him through the roof in order that he might get close to Jesus. Imagine tearing a hole in smeone's roof to get close to Jesus.  Sometimes in order to get healing we have to do crazy things.  We must be bad in seeking it.

First all, we encounter in the gospel that the man is paralyzed not because of sickness or physical illness but rather by his sins.  He has spiritual and emotional blocks that keep him paralyzed.  It is Jesus offering forgiveness to him that frees him from is paralyzed state and enables him to rise and pick up his mat and walk.

What sins paralyze us?  What sins hold us imprisoned in ourselves?   These are not necessarily personal sins but it may be things we have inherited in a sense.  Perhaps we have wounds from sins of our parents or siblings that have created wounds of abandonment, rejection, hopelessness, helplessness, fear, shame, confusion in side us. Perhaps these are the things that need to be attended to by God's good grace.

Ask God to show you.  Let his Spirit illumine the recesses of your memory and heart to shed light and healing.

Secondly, the friends are instrumental.  It is by their faith, as Jesus points out, this man is healed and made whole.  So often our friends are more aware of our sickness then we are.  Also, their faith isn't isolated but rather it is engaged for the sake of the other.  Faith if it is real must touch the people around us and bring God's healing to them even if they can't find the strength to call out for it themselves.

Just a few thoughts for reflection.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


1 Samuel 4:1-11; Ps 44 Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy; Mark 1:40-45

A tragedy occurs in the life of Israel.  Their one great asset is taken from them, snatched right out of the palm of their hands.  The one thing that set them apart is gone.

The ark of the covenant, God's presence on earth has been lost, or at least so it seems.

Why could such a thing happen?  How could such a thing happen?

The Israelites presumed that God would do what they thought should be done.  They wrongly believed that God was their bellhop.  They did not let God be God, which for us always remains as a starting point in our relationship or relationships.

The Israelites did not give themselves fully to God but rather were using God for their own ends. Tragically this repeats itself over and over again in our lives.

However, it is in their defeat they will discover the truth of God's presence and how God works for them.  The humility of defeat brings them to their knees and out of themselves and thus in looking upward they are able to see more clearly who God is for them.

In the gospel we have a truly moving event.

Jesus continuing his city to city tour of preaching and healing encounters a leper and not only does he heal the leper but more importantly he reaches out and touches the leper.

This was unheard of.  In touching the leper, Jesus contracts the ritual contagion of leprosy and thus becomes one with the leper, entering his life of isolation.  Jesus becomes one with this alienation and illness that was so divisive in his time.

Jesus was not afraid to enter into the depths of human misery and thus identify with all of humanity at every level.

Only when our wounds are touched can they truly be healed.   The leper though taught by his culture to shy away from human contact is not afraid to let Jesus touch his wound.  This too took great courage.

When Jesus touches the leper he is putting his entire professional and religious reputation on the line.  He does this out of love.  The eye of the critics were watching closely looking for a reason to condemn him  and yet nevertheless he deliberately cast aside his reputation according to the world and reaches forth and touches the wound of the leper.

What is the price of this gesture of love?  Jesus, according to the gospel, is no longer able to enter the towns openly.  He remained outside in deserted places.  He took on the life of the leper.  Jesus became unclean and contemptible in the eyes of the world.

This passage invites us to courage.  Too often we are too cautious to step out of the imaginary line of prudence or safety.  At some point we need to trust in the freedom of God to work behind the lines of our own comfort.

If we go to the book of revelation ch 21:8, we see the new heavens and the new earth.  The fulfillment has come and God reigns supreme.  On the list of those who are not allowed to experience the fullness of glory, the first listed are the cowards or the cautious.

Where do we stand?  Jesus threw caution to the wind in order to live truly his identity and to invite others to live their true identity as well. He touched the wounds and wholeness was revealed.

What do we touch?  What do we avoid?  Where does caution breakdown and become a hindrance for growth and true encounter with God?

Courage is what will lead us to the fulfillment of our desires, the very desires God has given to us.