Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We must assess our thoughts and beliefs and reckon whether they are moving us closer to conformity to Christ or farther away from it.


...Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity ... is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men's lives. --Soren Kierkegaard: (1813 –1855: was a Danish philosopher, theologian, & poet)

Gospel Text: (LK 9:57-62)
As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Ordinary time presents us with an opportunity to consider again the fact that living as a Christian calls us to meet the Lord in the real stuff of daily life. He is already there, walking before us and beckoning us to follow after Him.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Galatia, No longer do I live but Christ lives in me and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God.(Gal. 2:20) That can become our experience as we give ourselves over to Him and seek to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians can live differently precisely because we live in Jesus Christ.

The original twelve apostles, upon hearing the words Come, follow me abandoned their nets, their jobs and their father, to follow Him. (Mk 1: 14-20) They were ordinary fisherman who heard the Lord. They did not stay put when they heard that voice. They took the risk which lies at the heart of discipleship. They left their nets, their place of comfort and safety, and followed Him on the adventure of faith. 


"There are only two kinds of people in the end," CS Lewis once famously wrote. "Those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell choose it." 


It's the choice between life and death, light and darkness, heaven and hell.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

“Yes, we love peace, but we are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war.”


“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - but hate these things in yourself, not in another.” ― Fr. Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Gospel Text: (LK 9:51-56)
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village.

Jesus sets out for Jerusalem. The name “Jerusalem” literally means “city of peace”. It’s there that Jesus will be condemned to death for our sins, and from there led to Calvary, a hill just outside the city limits. Calvary is that speedbump that there’s no detour around. This is the only way that leads to our destination: the Father’s city of eternal peace, the heavenly Jerusalem.

As Jesus heads resolutely to Jerusalem, the City of Peace, He knows that His vocation is to bring peace to each human person. Peace is often, unfortunately, not commonplace in our earthly lives. You and I may not face the sort of persecution that the martyrs have, but we never seem to have a lot of peace in our lives. Nonetheless, Jesus at the Last Supper said, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you”. Where is this peace in our lives?


Every day God calls us to follow Him. If we worthily receive the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist, He will strengthen us at every “now” of daily life. He wants us to accept the spiritual strength we need to cultivate the virtues of human life, to more closely follow Jesus, and to experience every single day the peace of our heavenly Father.

Monday, September 26, 2016

“In simplicity there is truth.”


"Be demanding of the world around you; be demanding first of all with yourselves. Be children of God; take pride in it!" – Saint John Paul II Czestochowa, Poland, 1991

Gospel Text: (LK 9:46-50)
An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply,
“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
because he does not follow in our company.”
Jesus said to him,
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

To become like little children - to be child-like and not childish - requires a change of heart. That is what conversion is truly all about. Such a change of heart will transform the way we live and teach us the way of love. The great Bishop, St. Ambrose, who baptized Augustine, along with his son Adeodatus, on the Easter Vigil in 387, wrote concerning this in a commentary on Luke's Gospel (Lk. 18:17):

"Why is it that children are eligible for the kingdom of heaven? Perhaps it is because, ordinarily, there is no malice in them. They don't know how to lie. They don't lie to themselves. They have no desire for luxury. They aren't drawn to riches. They are uninterested in ambition. But the virtue herein lies, not in what they lack interest in, or know nothing about, but in what they don't want to do. The virtue lies not in their inability to sin, but in their unwillingness to sin."


The way of simplicity and communion, the way of spiritual childhood, are the path to peace. They lead us into an ever deepening, intimate, loving relationship with God, and, in Him, into a new relationship with all men and women and creation itself.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference


At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference. - Soren Kierkegaard:( 1813 –1855 was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher)

Gospel Text: (LK 16:19-31)
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man's table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.'
Abraham replied,
‘My child, remember that you received
what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go
from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father,
send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers,
so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.'
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”


Surely it is asking us to reflect once again on our consumption to see whether it is moderate or gone out of control. Surely it is asking us to reflect on whether we are sufficiently sensitive to the needs of those around us who are suffering in any way. What is being critiqued in the Scriptures today is when we ignore what is happening around us. Indifference to those who are in need and who are suffering is what the Scriptures put before us today as sinful. What we do to others we do to God. What we do to others we do to Jesus.

Friday, September 23, 2016

“Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”


“Obedience, fasting, and prayer are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real true freedom. I cut off my superfluous and unnecessary desires, I subdue my proud and wanton will and chastise it with obedience, and with God's help I attain freedom of spirit and with it spiritual joy.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Gospel Text: (LK 9:18-22)
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus first asks His disciples what the people think of Him; who were they saying he was. The disciples give their answers, and then Jesus asks them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter, who so often gets it wrong, gets it right. He says to Jesus, “The Messiah of God.” And after Jesus warns them not to tell this to anyone, He then says, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

In acknowledging Peter’s confession of Him as the Messiah, Jesus then tells them how He will be the Messiah: neither by military conquest nor by getting rid of corrupt leaders, but by sacrifice, even to the point of death, followed by resurrection.

For me, the Gospel readings for the last few days have highlighted the difference between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of the Gospel, and we see this once again in today’s reading. That, I think, is one of the reasons Jesus doesn’t want the apostles to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. The people were expecting a different kind of Messiah, and even the apostles had trouble understanding what was going to occur.

Understanding Jesus’ death on the Cross as an act of redemption helps us understand that God does not promise to remove all our difficulties, but instead, God promises us that He will get us through to the other side. Jesus did not only predict His Passion and Death, but also His Resurrection!


Can we live in hope, and thereby tell the world who we say Jesus is by the life we lead day to day?