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.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence. ― Frederick Douglass: (1818 - 1895) was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman.)

Gospel Text: (MT 5:33-37)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God's throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.'
Anything more is from the Evil One."

Today our Lord reminds us to speak truthfully and so live with integrity.

Our words are powerful. Our words can mislead people, set wrong directions, hurt feelings, divide a community and maybe even kill. We must take care that what we say is what we honestly and truly mean. And what we honestly mean is what is truthful and real.

Simply put, our words must be words lived out always in a life of truthful love. We need not take an oath to profess our compassion for others, especially the weak: we need only to express it daily in heartfelt and generous charity. We need not pronounce vows to assure others of our sincerity: we need only to be consistent in our humble service. We need not swear unremitting loyalty to prove that we are trustworthy: we only need faithfulness in our day-to-day responsibilities and respect for our dreams for the least in our society.

It is only when our words reflect and signify the Truth that the Word-made­ Flesh has revealed to us that our words could be truly powerful, life-giving and life-sustaining. Let us then pray to the God of Truth that we may speak truthfully and so live with integrity.

Friday, June 16, 2017

“Temptation usually comes in through a door that has deliberately been left open”

"The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelieving heart, so that I should recall my sins."--Saint Patrick: (was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland.)

Gospel Text: (MT 5:27-32)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

"It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful)
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

In the Gospel reading Jesus says that we should prefer to lose our eye or whatever part of the body responsible for the sin, rather than risk damnation because of sin. If something or some place might cause us to sin, avoid it. If a show brings lustful thoughts and acts, avoid it.

The following of Christ is not easy: Jesus speaks of the narrow path. Jesus says that his disciples, following a crucified Lord, should also be ready to carry their own crosses.

But if we love the Lord, nothing is difficult to give; with God's grace, nothing is impossible.