Sunday, February 28, 2016


Luke 13:1-9

Just a bit of a reflection on the words of Jesus in the parable he gives us in today's gospel.

Jesus mentions a fig tree that is found barren without fruit.  In fact, three years the owner waits for fruit and finds the tree wanting.  So he decides to cut it down but the gardener begs for a stay of execution.  He ask for leniency that he might work with the tree and cultivate it that perhaps it might yet bear fruit.  The owner in his mercy gives in to the request and the tree lives to see another day.  However, a  verdict has been given that strikes a chord with all of us, "It may bear fruit in the future.  If not you can cut it down."

The fig tree is type of each of us.  We have been planted.  We have been cultivate and nourished.  God waits patiently for the fruit to be born in our lives and our world.  The fruit is what St Paul describes in Galatians chapter 5: fruits of the spirit-love, patience, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control.

God is kind and merciful and he offers his grace to us daily.  However, the window of opportunity for us is always shrinking.  There is a practical limit to the time we have to respond to the grace of God simply because our earthly life has a limit, we do not live on earth forever.

Each of us are given our own time.

This past friday we had two gentleman pass into eternal life.  The first gentleman was 84 years old.  He lived a long life dedicated in service to family and community.  He was exceptional.  We all hope to have that many years and perhaps more. I got the call of his death around 6 am Friday morning.

At noon I was called to the bedside of a gentleman in the local nursing home.  I assumed he was also an older man of experience and life.  To my surprise, upon walking into the room, i discovered the man was my age, with two small children, 12 and 8 years old.  He was diagnosed with a brain tumor some weeks ago and there was nothing more to be done.

We each are given time.  We know not how much.  Each moment that passes shrinks the window of opportunity to receive the grace of God in such a manner that we become filled with his radiance and allow that radiance to shine outward by the life we live.

At some point we we will all be cut down and the time to bear fruit would have past us by.  Let us not wait.  There is a sense of urgency laid at our feet.  Opportunities come our way, grace is offered and the invitation is there for our taking.

Jump at it.  Embrace it. God will guide the rest, he just waits for us to give him our heart.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Jeremiah 17:5-10; Ps 1 Blessed are those who hope in the Lord; Luke 16:19-31

"Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth."

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted beside waters that stretches out its roots to the stream.  It fears not the heat when it comes, , its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit."

Which description best describes who we are and where we are in our life of faith?

Are we steadfast regardless of the circumstances because our roots run deep and have found themselves  intimately unites to the source of life and love?

Or do we falter with the circumstances of life?

Do we depend on things going our way in order for us to be happy or are does our soul rest in God alone and thus we bring happiness with us into all circumstances?

In the gospel we meet Lazarus and the rich man.  Lazarus is a beggar on the doorstep of another's home.  The only affection he gets is from the pity of the dogs who lick his sores.

The rich man pays no mind.  Day in and day out he walks right passed Lazarus with out ever a nod of the head or extension of his hand.

The one who has plenty hoards rather than gives.  Lazarus who has nothing at least gives the dogs the opportunity to be compassionate with their tongues upon his sores.

The rich man finds torment while Lazarus finds comfort.

The question is if we are friends of God are we friends with those who God loves.
"neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead."

Are we persuaded?
One has risen from the dead.
Are we content with our closets full of clothes and stomach full of food and health care at our finger tips?  Or will we cause a little stir to make sure the Lazarus of today experiences more than just the tongues of dogs upon their aching face?

Are we persuaded by the one who has risen from the dead?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Isaiah 1:10,16-20; Ps 50 To the upright I will show the saving power of God; Matt 23:1-12

Here again are the words of Isaiah spoken to the people of Israel.

"Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.  Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow."

We get right with God in order that we may be right with others.

Drawing close to God is not a one lane street.  It is a street that has many lanes, a street that carries with it many souls.

Too often we look upon our life or relationship with God as if it is just a dance between Him and ourselves rather than realizing that the dance floor has many partners waiting in line.

When my sister got married many moons ago, there was the dollar dance in which people would pay a dollar or clip a dollar on to her dress so that they could dance with her.  This went on for as long as the song.  There were numerous dance partners rotating it seemed every second or so.

I think this is how it is with God.  We dance with God so that we might dance with others and we are constantly be asked for a dance by the many we encounter in our daily walk.

We can not look past them.  We cannot ignore them.  They too have danced with our Father in heaven. They too are our Father asking for a dance with us.

"The greatest among you must be servant."

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbles; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Gen 15; Psalm 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:28-36

Just a few thoughts in regard to the readings of today.

We encounter these words from St Paul in today's second reading: "For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction.  Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their shame.  Their minds are occupied with earthly things."

Could you imagine anything more tragic than those words spoken by St Paul in regards to a group of people as those who conduct themselves as enemies of the cross.

What about us?  Are we enemies of the cross?  How often like the folks of St Paul's time have we indulged ourselves with earthly things and have lost sight of the things that matter most?  How often have we allowed the stuff of earth to compete with our allegiance we owe to God the giver of all things?

Lent is an opportunity to supercharge our allegiance to God above all.

But I think the great  tragedy is that we seldom ponder the cross.  When is the last time we spent time looking at the cross and dialoguing with Christ who is on it?

If we think not of the cross often then we forget and in forgetting we allow ourselves to be persuade by the passing things of earth.

St John Vianney often said that we must approach the foot of the cross daily and there we discover what God has done for us and we learn what we ought to do for him.

During the season of Lent usually most churches offer the devotional of The way of the cross in which folks gather together and meditate on the 14 stations of the Jesus making his way to Calvary.

This is a good opportunity to ponder a new the cross of Christ in such a manner that we remember and allow the memory to supercharge our love.  It is in the cross of Christ that we come to see what it looks like to Love God above all  with all our heart, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

John of the cross said that in giving of his Son, God our Father spoke every word at once and he has nothing else to say.  We make the way of the cross to heart that word a new and to let it dwell richly in our hearts so from it our interior life can be bolstered and such animate our external activity daily.

In this we become lovers of the cross not its enemy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


joel 2:12-18; Ps 51 Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6,16-18

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mt 16:24)

"Put to death therefore what is earthly in you." (Col 3:5)

"So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." (John 16:22)

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church." (Col 1:24)

We share in Jesus' divine life and his divine work of redemption.  We can apply the fruits of our self-denial to others and the world as an act of charity.  For it is self-substituing love that remains the central mystery of salvation and redemption.

Jesus substitutes his life and love for us.  We unite our denial, our fasting, our sacrifices to his and thus it becomes efficacious in the same manner as Christ's act on the cross.  We become the "ambassadors for Christ so that we might become the righteousness of God in him". (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

We embark, as the opening prayer for the liturgy points us, on a "Campaign of Christian service, where we do battle against spiritual evils, armed with weapons of self-restraint."

As the old adage goes, no pain…no gain.

Lent is an opportunity to recognize where we have substituted created things in place of the creator.  It is now, this acceptable time, where we gaze inward to see where we have  chosen lesser goods and have forsaken the higher good.

It is time to unearth our call to holiness that has been buried beneath the debris of life and once again to rediscover JEsus who comes to give us a life that is full and joy that is complete. Our task is to receive the gift and cooperate with it with our willingness.

We are called to get in shape.  Here we are not focused on our physical shape but the shape of our soul.  How is it bent?  What does it seek?  How will these weapons of self-restraint remove the fatty tissue from our souls that have been causing problems?

Self-restraint and self-discipline remain the tools by which we direct our wills to the God who is love and we do this not for a perishable crown like athletes who compete but imperishable.

Seek first the kingdom of God and all will be given unto to you.  First things first!

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8; PS In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11

Foccus!  YOU read that and thought Father can't spell.  What is his problem.

Foccus is a device or instrument that many of us use in ministry to prepare couples for marriage.  It is a pre marriage inventory.  It consist of 168 questions that break apart the relationship the couple is in and looks at it through various lenses.

It takes relations and looks at through the lens of problem solving, communication, sexuality, financial understanding, religion and values, extended family, commitment, readiness, personality, friends and interests, and so on and so forth.

As the couples answers these statements in the format of Agree, disagree, uncertain, then a snap shot is formed of the couples relationship as far as what they know about each other and what they think they know and what they are clueless about.  Then we take this instrument and we invite the couples to use it as a tool to affirm the goodness of their relationship and to challenge them in the areas of discussion.  And hopefully by the end they have a great respect for their differences and and more willing heart to grow together.

It isn't fool proof because fortunately or unfortunately fools will do what fools will do: they rush in.  But it is handy.

This weekend we should do a pre lenten inventory.  We should take a few moments to investigate where we are in our relationship with God and our relationship with those we meet and hang out with on a regular basis.

Agree (A) Disagree(D) or Uncertain(U)

Here are a few statements that are meant to get the ball rolling:

I am willing to go where God calls me . A D U
I give thanks to the Lord with all my heart daily.  A D U
I am willing to forgive those who have harmed or hurt me even if they do not ask.  A D U
I acknowledge and am humbled by God's grace and strength in my life and my family.  A D U
I count the cross of Christ as the true measure of LOVE. A D U
I celebrate the resurrection of Christ in my life as a source of hope. A D U
I acknowledge my sins in order to celebrate God's mercy in my life frequently.  A D U
I am willing to quit hugging the shores and shallow ends of life where i am in control and i will go out into the deep where God invites me.  A D U
I will work with others to make known the glory of God's kingdom.  A D U
I make time to pray daily.  A D U
I tell and show those around me I love them regularly.  A D U
I am concerned with some vices in my life that have weighed me down and hindered my happiness and joy.  A D U
I spend too much time in front of the TV or on the internet thus neglecting my duty to self.  A D U
I trust my Father's plan and loving care in my life and my family's. A D U
I am aware of  God's expectation of me as his disciple.  A D U
I have made tithing a regular part of my life and my relationship with God, giving intentionally not just what is left over.  A D U
I am a friend that supports faith in the lives of others. A D U
There are certain behaviors or habits in my life that annoy others and cause scandal.  A D U
I am inconsiderate of the feelings of others.  A D  U
I show appreciation when some one does something good and kind.  A D U
I gossip and entertain gossip regularly.  A D U
I am mean and spiteful.  A DU
I see myself as a child of God.  A D U
I see others around me as children of God.  A D U
There are some issues I refuse to discuss with God.  A D U
I can depend on God in all things.  A D U
I am satisfied with the way I express my anger.  A D U
I am concerned that I enjoy my comforts in life more than I am willingly to listen to God's will for me in life.  A D U
I value the sexual reality as a gift from God to be celebrated according to God's plan in the confines of a marriage.  A D U
I fast from food one hour before communion at mass.  A D U
I go to confession regularly, once every 2 months.  A D U
I examine my conscience daily before I retire to bed.  A D U
I spend time reading scripture daily and or weekly.  A D U
I spend time praying the rosary weekly.  A D U
I welcome strangers and those different than I as the true presence of Jesus in my life.  A D U
I see Jesus in those I encounter.  A D U
Those I encounter see Jesus in Me. A D U
I am satisfied with my relationship with God.  A D U
God is satisfied with my relationship with him.  A D U
I strive to learn my faith and grow in faith as much as I can and am able.  A D U
I share my faith with others generously. A D U
I am a good listener.  A D U
I avoid confrontation and fail to defend the faith and what I believe.  A D U
I make Jesus a part of my daily life including bringing him to work and allowing him to be part of my livelihood.  A D U
I tell God I love him daily.  A D U
I invoke the Holy Spirit to guide me in all my endeavors. A D U
I seek the wisdom that comes through church as instituted by Christ. A D U

I recently was in the hospital visiting a lady who is dealing with Cancer and its complications.  She was radiant even in the awful diagnosis she received and the surgery she had just under gone.

While I was speaking with her she kept saying: With God at the center all will come together.  Over and over she would say this.  She gain much spiritual strength from this reality which had become her mantra as she deals with cancer and the side effects of treatments and such.

While chatting and praying , i looked over and saw no the spine of one of the magazines situated on the IV stand these words: You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of Goodness."

This is the season of lent for us.  All that we do in regards to fasting, praying, and alms giving is about stretching in the direction of Goodness and allowing that reality of goodness to no longer be determined by our own opinions of things but by God's word who comes to guide us and illumine the path before us.

This lent stretch yourself in the direction of Goodness.

Friday, February 5, 2016


Sirach 47:2-11; Ps 18 Blessed be God my salvation; Mark 6:14-29

Today in the book of Sirach we get an obituary of the life of David the king.  We are given a summation of his life and legacy.

Beautiful and inspiring words are laid before us to meditate on.  So much to think about. "With his every deed he offered thanks to GodMost High, in words of praise.  With his whole being he loved his maker and daily had his praises sung; "

What a marvelous description!  What a beautiful legacy!

As we read this biographical litany of David's accomplishments including his courage and musical prowess there is one glaring absence:  What about his mistakes?  What about his not so good decisions?  What about his terrific sins?  What about the Adultery, murder, cover up, scandal?

None of this makes the cut, rather we are told simply: "The Lord forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever."

And in keeping with simplicity the acknowledgement of his need for forgiveness is sufficient.  There is no need for the dirty details, unlike in today's society where everyone's dirty laundry is aired out publicly.  No…It is sufficient to celebrate forgiveness for it isn't the sin that makes God's mercy so great but rather the greatness of God that exalts mercy in all conditions it is  bestowed.  Mercy is not greater or less.  It just is simply bestowed when sought.

This is the truth of David.  He was humble enough to seek the mercy of God and there he found true strength.   "The Lord forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever."

The next time we go to confession and celebrate God's mercy and loving tenderness, Let us be reminded that in that moment not only are we forgiven but we are strengthened. God doesn't just restore us with his forgiveness but elevates us and strengthens us and raises us a little higher than before.

I believe it is this experience of mercy and strength that enabled David "with his whole being" to "love his maker and daily had his praises sung."

Imagine this image of today's first reading, "He added beauty to the feasts and solemnized the seasons of each year So that when the Holy Name was praised, before daybreak the sanctuary would resound."

What a beautiful imagine!  When we praise the Holy Name the temple of our body should resound if we we truly appreciate the mercy offered and the mercy given to us daily on our walk.

Just a look at the gospel briefly.

We hear these words in the gospel about King Herod after the girl requested the head of John the Baptist, "the King was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and his guest  he did not wish to break his word to her."

This word "deeply distressed" is the same greek word used to describe Jesus in his agony when he tells his apostles he is "very sorrowful" unto death.   The same emotion and state of mind fills both Jesus and Herod, yet two different responses to this interior reality is embraced and the results are quite telling.

Herod represses it and turns his attention to saving face in front of the crowd and thus love is betrayed by pride. Jesus enters into it, falls to his knees and prays for strength to fulfill the Father's will, and strength is bestowed in his act of humility and love shines through.

Interesting to note how we experience many emotions and a variety of interior states and yet our response to it can bring such drastic and different results.  Humility always ensures that love shines through no matter what.  Pride disfigures love and keeps God's healing embrace from transforming us.

We have a tale of three kings:  David, Herod, Jesus.
Ponder a new and invite humility to shine the way.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


1 kings 2:1-4,10-12; PS 1 Chron 29 Lord, you are exalted over all; MArk 6:7-13

We encounter David's farewell speech to his son and successor Solomon in today's first reading.  David reminds Solomon of the necessity of obedience to God's commands through the Mosaic Covenant.  Part of this farewell exhortation is for Solomon to "take courage and be a man."

What does it mean to be a true man?

The first characteristic is to be God-fearing.  God-fearing is one who seeks whole heartily to follow in the way of the Lord.  That is, we, if are to be truly courageous must put first things first.

CS Lewis stated that if we put first things first then we get second things but if we put second things first then we lose everything, even first things.

God-fearing allows us to tap into all the other qualities of our personality that enables goodness to rise to the front: generous, principled, devoted to service, decisive, humble, patient, strong, persevering, etc..

All qualities that we would recognize in a Good Man flows from our relationship with God.  One's relationship with God is revealed by how we carry ourselves daily.

First things first is a sure recipe for discovering the beauty of who God made us to be man or woman.

As we look to the gospel and we encounter Jesus' words of instruction they too remind us of putting first things first, "take nothing for the journey but a walking stick-no food, no sack, no money in their belts..but wear sandals"

The lack of material possessions serves to underscore complete and total dependence on God, not upon our own human resources or devices.

Even the sandals is pointing to dependence of God as it draws its symbolic meaning from the passover meal and God's instruction to Moses (Exodus 12:11).  Sandals were indicative of the "ready position" eagerly anticipating God's command to move forward.

The sandals underlie a sense of urgency that is meant to free them and from complacency and self-reliance.

They went out to preach repentance.  They drove out many demons,and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Though repentance means to change, to change one's way of thinking, some things never change.  Even today we go forth anointing the sick with oil and experience healing.  We also drive out demons.  And repentance remains a hallmark of the Christian enterprise.   We never tire of changing how we think about God's action in our lives and world, whose love never changes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Malachi 3:1-4; PS 24 Who is the king of Glory? It is the Lord!Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

Today we are asked to ponder the presentation of the Lord.  Jesus as a child, 40 days after his birth is brought to the temple.

Imagine the phenomena if you can: The temple is the place where God's presence was made known to Israel and all the world an din this place JEsus the incarnation of God's presence makes his entrance.

It is much to ponder and think about.  So don't rush ahead, sit a while on such an encounter.  Jesus who is sent from Heaven enter into his Father's house on earth.  I imagine the walls singing with jubilation.

Hear Malachi, "The messenger of the covenant whom you desire.  Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears?"

Who can endure? Who can stand?   We endure, we stand because of his gracious mercy toward us.

"He is like a refiner's fire…refining them like silver and gold that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD."

Today we bless the candles we use at the liturgy.  The candles give us light and warmth as they born down.  This is a reminder to us as to what a good and worthy sacrifice looks like. A sacrifice that is good and pleasing to God is the which gives us light and warmth as it is consumed in love.

This is the work of the refiner in our life!

We are told that Jesus will be a "sign of contradiction" and a sword shall pierce Mary's heart" by Simeon.

This announcement is like a second annunciation, where in the first an incredible amount of joy issued forth as Jesus Messianic royalty was revealed but in today's announcement something different is embrace.  Jesus' mission will be accomplished but in misunderstanding and sorrow.  This is the work of redemption.  The annunciation brought joy.  The work of redemption requires perseverance.

This too is the virtue held out to us in Christ not his day.

May we persevere in bringing light and warmth as we share in the work of redemption and bring Christ to our world.