Monday, June 26, 2017

“We are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts.”


A man does not mind being blamed for his faults, and being punished for them, and he patiently suffers much for the sake of them; but he becomes impatient if he is required to give them up. - JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE: (1749 – 1832: was a German writer and statesman)

Gospel Text: (MT 7:1-5)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,'
while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter from your brother's eye."

All of us somehow pass judgments on others, whether verbalized or simply in our minds. We are fond of comparing people with ourselves and with others.

In the Gospel reading Jesus tells us not to make judgments on others; and, if we do, to be ready to be judged in the same measure we judge others.

As a matter of right only God may judge other people. In God's greatness and goodness, He forgives if we ask for His forgiveness, rather than judges.

In the Gospel story about the woman caught in adultery, the Jewish leaders wanted to see what Jesus would do.  Rather than judge and punish her, Jesus wisely says, "Let anyone among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her." One by one the accusers went away, starting with the elders. (Jn 8:1- 11)

It takes personal good will, effort and prayer to avoid making hasty  judgments on others.  Let us look  at the example of Jesus who  inspires  us with  his wisdom and mercy, who shows love and kindness to all.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

“We must be willing to fall flat on our faces. Fearlessly putting ourselves out there is simply a required part of the process. At the very least, it results in the gift of humility and, at best, the triumph of our human spirit.”


I have had numerous conversations with friends and professional acquaintances over the years on the subject of openly sharing our Catholic faith. I am always a little surprised at how often many of them express strong reluctance to being open about their beliefs. The reasons given have included, “I don’t want to offend anyone.” “We could never do that at […]

Gospel Text: (MT 10:26-33)
Jesus said to the Twelve:
"Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father."

Self-preservation is a good instinct. Without it, we would have no natural defenses to predators or enemies. Self-care is a good thing. Without it, we risk squandering the gifts of life God has given us. However, in a world in which there is little transcendent reality - little attention to reality beyond the day to day battle for survival - self becomes the ultimate concern. The ultimate imbalance in life is to see everything and everyone in relation what is best for me. Fear of losing oneself - or any part oneself - can lead one to wake up in the morning and go through the entire day wrapped up in self.

How do I look? How am I coming across? How is this a slight to me? How can I win here? I'm not going to be the one to give in here. I really need to score here. I deserve a little attention that I'm not getting. What about me? Nobody's paying attention to my needs here. They're not going to get the best of me. Watch me manipulate my way around this. It's either him/her or me. I can't do that; I need to take care of myself. I'm already over-committed. I can only do so much. I don't have time. I have my priorities. I have my boundaries. You can't let people take advantage of you. I'm not my brother/sister's keeper. 

This is not a happy way of life. Can this be what Jesus meant when he said, "If you try to save your life, you will lose it"?

When Jesus says, "Don't be afraid," he is telling us that we can place our lives in his hands. He is telling us that he has already taken care of the ultimate "self-preservation." No one can ever take that away. We will live forever. We are only here on this earth, in this life, for a brief time. In helping us keep our ultimate goal and meaning in perspective, Jesus is empowering us with great freedom. Our hearts need not be occupied with ourselves. If we are liberated from this debilitating self-pre-occupation, we are freed to give our lives away, in great and heroic acts of love and service.


Imagine how different our lives could be, if in the face of self-centering fear, we would pause and say, "Courage my soul; I don't need that fear; be brave; be free; trust in Jesus' care." Imagine if I "tuned out" or "turned off" the inner voice of self-absorption, and became absorbed in the needs of others today. Can this be what Jesus meant when he said, "If you lose your life for my sake, you will find it"?

Friday, June 23, 2017

“God never takes away anything that He doesn’t replace with Himself.”


“To sin is a human business, to justify sins is a devilish business”: Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy: (1828 – 1910: was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time.)

Gospel Text: (MT 11:25-30)
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

The world today rejects the Church because it has already rejected Christ. There can be no fraternity between the world and the Church. We must make a choice. It will be either the Church or the world, but not both. "One cannot serve both God and mammon. He will love one and hate the other. He will serve one and despise the other."

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote, "If you do not live the way you believe, then you will believe the way that you live." If you are not fully committed to the way of life mapped out for us in the Holy teachings of the Church, then you will soon find yourself opposing them — and that is a huge problem for the Church today — lukewarm Catholics, those who vacillate between the Church and the world.

Pope Francis has told us this himself. In a recent homily at the Santa Marta residence, he told those attending Mass, "You are hurting the Church if you are lukewarm. ... Such Christians do great harm because their Christian witness is a witness which ultimately disseminates confusion, disseminates a negative witness. These are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold. ... Our Lord says in the end times that he will vomit such people out of his mouth."  

The time for choosing is now. Whom will you serve? Today I leave you with the words of our Patriarch, Joshua, who said to the Israelites thousands of years ago, "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD ... choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have a set appointment with the Lord daily and keep it.


'Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven.'  - St. Ephrem the Syrian: (306 – 373: was a Syriac Christian deacon and a theologian of the 4th century.)

Gospel Text: (MT 6:7-15)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"This is how you are to pray:

'Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.'
"If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."

Today’s gift of the “Our Father” has few words, but words revealing a fullness of meaning.  We discover the fullness of who God is for us and how we, united to God and each other through the Lord Jesus, are guided and directed to the fullness of who we are to be.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.


One night a man came to our house and told me, “There is a family with eight children. They have not eaten for days,” I took some food and I went. When I finally came to the family, I saw the faces of those little children disfigured by hunger. There were no sorrow or sadness in their faces, just the deep pain of hunger. I gave the rice to the mother. She divided it in two, and went out, carrying half the rice with her. When she came back, I asked her, “Where did you go?” She gave me this simple answer, “To my neighbors-they are hungry also.”

I was not surprised that she gave–because poor people are generous. But I was surprised that she knew they were hungry. As a rule, when we are suffering, we are so focused on ourselves we have no time for others. – Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997: Founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India)


Gospel Text: (MT 6:1-6, 16-18)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."

It is not bad to aspire for a comfortable life. But as we work for it, especially as we achieve it, let us not ignore our brothers and sisters who do not have the capacity or opportunity or resources to have the same. It is our responsibility to share with others cheerfully and generously so that they do not get left behind.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Love leaves a legacy. How you treated other people, not your wealth or accomplishments, is the most enduring impact you can leave on earth.


“Take away from love the fullness of self-surrender, the completeness of personal commitment, and what remains will be a total denial and negation of it.” - Pope Saint John Paul II (1920 –2005) was Pope from 1978 to 2005.)

Gospel Text: (MT 5:43-48)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

But love my enemies?? Love the terrorist, the rapist, the killer, the abuser? Love the corporate plunderer, the arrogant politician, the lazy, the entitled, the insufferable, and the list goes on and on? It’s good in theory, but are we humans really built to let go of our fear, anger and hatred of the perceived “other” and simply stand with them, shoulder to shoulder, in love and humility before God?

Jesus tells us that the call to love-not mushy, sentimental, romantic love-but a love that is forged out of the guts of our own resistance-is a call that reverses the very course of our human history, the history taking shape in space and time and the history unfolding daily within our own hearts.

I confess that there are times when I adore, like a false idol, my “righteous” anger at certain people and their actions or values. I feel entitled to it. I even enjoy it.  Maybe it gives me the sense that I am actually doing something productive or it affirms my “superior” nature. But in the end, it is all a distraction, I think, from what I’m really supposed to be doing.

As Christians we are called, tested even, to love each other generously and graciously, to be an image mirrored back of how our merciful Creator loves us (as difficult as that must be at times).  We know that Jesus felt intense anger while on earth, but that was at hypocrisy and injustice. That was the real “other” he was trying to isolate and cast out.


So if there has to be an enemy, let it be injustice. And if there really is an “other,” maybe it’s the stranger within us, the flawed heart just waiting to be healed by love for God, one’s self, and others.

Monday, June 19, 2017

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”


“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” ― Coretta Scott King: (1927 – 2006: was an American author, activist,  civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Scripture Text: (2 COR 6:1-10)
Brothers and sisters:
As your fellow workers, we appeal to you
not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.
We cause no one to stumble in anything,
in order that no fault may be found with our ministry;
on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves
as ministers of God, through much endurance,
in afflictions, hardships, constraints,
beatings, imprisonments, riots,
labors, vigils, fasts;
by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness,
in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech,
in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left;
through glory and dishonor, insult and praise.
We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful;
as unrecognized and yet acknowledged;
as dying and behold we live;
as chastised and yet not put to death;
as sorrowful yet always rejoicing;
as poor yet enriching many;
as having nothing and yet possessing all things.

The Scripture readings today from Mass tell us that to be a follower of Christ entails challenges such as avoiding evil and loving one's enemies. One does not have to look so far to come across one's "enemies": they could be among family, among friends and co-workers. To love one's enemies is to extend compassion and forgiveness on them, just as Jesus did. Jesus died on the cross for us, when we were his enemies.

Love is a choice, especially for those difficult to love. Choosing to use kind words instead of answering back, extending compassion instead of revenge and hatred can work wonders. We Christians are called to mirror Jesus' unconditional love for others. Just as we seek and ask for God's forgiveness for our failures, we should be ready to forgive others for their transgressions against us.

It is by the urging and grace of the Holy Spirit that we are able to accept and forgive those who have wronged us, to overcome our human tendencies of anger and pride, revenge and judgment of others. It is in choosing to love and forgive that we show our own repentance before God.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit for the strength to show compassion, forgiveness and love for all, especially those who are so difficult to love.