Tuesday, January 16, 2018

“The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God … Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship “

The Sunday is the core of our civilization, dedicated to thought and reverence. It invites to the noblest solitude and to the noblest society.—Ralph Waldo Emerson: (1803 – 1882: was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid- 19th century.)

Gospel Text: (MK 2:23-28)
As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
"Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"
He said to them,
"Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?"
Then he said to them,
"The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

Sunday is a day when we remember that we are on this planet for just a short few years and that we are here to prepare for eternal life. Every Sunday is meant to be a foretaste of heaven, because every Sunday is meant to be a day of rest, and a day devoted to God. Sunday is a day when we remember that we are not just bodies but that we are body and soul. We are hopefully nourishing our souls every day but we do so above all through our Sunday Eucharist when God speaks his word to us in the Scripture readings, when we receive God’s love for us in the Eucharist. Sunday is a day to remember that we are just passing through this life. Sunday is a reminder that there is a spiritual side to each of us and that we cannot expect to be fully happy if we do not feed our souls

Monday, January 15, 2018

“Obedience is always followed by blessings”

Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom.” St. Toribio: (1900 – 1928: was a Roman Catholic priest and Mexican martyr who died in the Cristero War)

Scripture Text: (1 SM 15:16-23)
Samuel said to Saul:
"Stop! Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night."
Saul replied, "Speak!"
Samuel then said: "Though little in your own esteem,
are you not leader of the tribes of Israel?
The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying,
'Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction.
Fight against them until you have exterminated them.'
Why then have you disobeyed the LORD?
You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD."
Saul answered Samuel: "I did indeed obey the LORD
and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me.
I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban.
But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen,
the best of what had been banned,
to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal."
But Samuel said:
"Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as in obedience to the command of the LORD?
Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission than the fat of rams.
For a sin like divination is rebellion,
and presumption is the crime of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the command of the LORD,
he, too, has rejected you as ruler."

Obedience is better than sacrifice…….

God's ways are indeed not our ways: "Obedience [to him] is better than sacrifice, and submission better than the fat of rams."

Fasting and penance are good and most helpful. Jesus has come to stress the law of love as he declared when he washed the feet of his disciples at the last supper: "If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also must wash one another's feet."  (Jn 13: 14)

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (Jn 14:15)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

“Commandment #1: Believe in yourself. Commandment #2: Get over yourself.”

If we turn from self towards God, our understanding and our will become nobler and readier to embrace all that is good: if we never rise above the slough of our own miseries we do ourselves a great disservice. (St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle)

Gospel Text: (JN 1:35-42)
John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God."
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
"What are you looking for?"
They said to him, "Rabbi" — which translated means Teacher —,
"where are you staying?"
He said to them, "Come, and you will see."
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
"We have found the Messiah" — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
"You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas" — which is translated Peter.

Like Peter in today’s gospel reading, we are called by name when God speaks to us. God knows us better than we know ourselves, much like our parents who know us and call us by name (or names). Children often try to deceive themselves and others about what they’ve done, and who they are. But parents, who give life itself to their children, know their children. Parents understand their children’s faults, as well as their strengths. Children often don’t want to work to develop the skills and talents they have, and, trying to convince themselves and others, will say, “I’m just not good at that. I can’t do it.”

Of course, it’s not only children who think this. We adults are just as good at running away from something that we don’t want to do, using the handy excuse that we’re “just not able to do it.” St. Peter did this all the time. But God, the Father of each one of us, knows us better than we know ourselves. When He calls us by name, He’s calling us to be honest to the truth about who we now are, and who He wants us to be.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

“I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” – That says it all……

Jesus' attitude is striking: we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God's face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us, He does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to Him with a contrite heart. "Great is God's mercy," says the Psalm. : Pope Francis— Angelus on March 17, 2013

Gospel Text: (MK 2:13-17)
Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
"Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus heard this and said to them,
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

In the Gospel reading today Levi, St Matthew, was called to be an apostle not because he was good but because God was merciful. Chosen by Christ, Matthew dedicated his life totally to God, even to martyrdom for him. He is said to have preached in Persia and Ethiopia. 

God looks at the hearts of people: those chosen by God to serve should be ready to be changed by God.

Friday, January 12, 2018

“Do not forget this: the Lord never wearies of forgiving! We are the ones who weary of asking for forgiveness.”

“There is no sin that God cannot pardon. All we need to do is ask for forgiveness” – Pope Francis

Gospel Text: (MK 2:1-12)
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
"Child, your sins are forgiven."
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
"Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?"
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"
–he said to the paralytic,
"I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

In today’s Gospel passage Jesus has many followers. “Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them”. This might seem to make Jesus a popular person, successful in ministry. But within today’s Gospel passage there is a confusion of aims. The aim of the friends of the paralytic was his physical healing. Jesus does not dismiss their effort, but he sub-ordinates it to a higher aim: the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus could have spent His three years of public ministry only working physical cures and raising people from the dead. Had he stuck to these aims alone, He would have remained popular. There’s no telling how successful He might have become in the eyes of the world! But it was not for fifteen minutes of fame that Jesus came into our world of sin and death. It was to die that He dwelt among us. Give thanks that Jesus shows us how to put our mission above popularity, and how to put the aim of death before that of earthly life.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Our lack of full surrender limits God's ability to both work in our lives and through our lives."

"He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself." - C.S. Lewis: (1898 –1963: was a British novelist, poet, & academic)

Gospel Text: (MK 1:40-45)
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Let’s for a minute consider the leper in today’s Gospel narrative…..

He surrenders himself to Jesus, and by his actions and words stating “I believe in you and your power over me. I trust you implicitly with my needs. I know you can help me, and I ask for that help.  I surrender myself to you. You are my hope, my cleanser, my redeemer. Please cure me of the stain that covers me.” And so Jesus cures him.

Is your faith like that of the leper? Do you believe that you will be redeemed by trusting in temporal manifestations of God’s power? Or……Do you believe that you will be redeemed by surrendering your self, your will, your entire being to the will of God?

My prayer for today is that I can fully, unconditionally, and generously surrender myself to God.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

“The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you hear what is sounding outside of you.”

God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer. - Mother Teresa: (1910 – 1997: Founded the Missionaries of Charity)

Gospel text: (MK 1:29-39)
On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."
He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come."
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

In the Gospel reading from St. Mark, we see Jesus as a contemplative in action. Jesus performs wondrous acts such as curing the sick with various diseases and driving out demons. We then see the importance of actively seeking out time for reflection and prayer as Jesus goes to a deserted place to pray.

Today’s reading underscores the importance of listening. Our lives are full of endless chatter; be that from the TV, radio, our phones, you name it – it seems we are either being bombarded with noise or actively seeking it out, some would say like an addiction, which drowns out our own thoughts and opportunities for meaningful reflection. Our reading reminds us that we need to not only listen, but then to be open to what we hear, especially from God.

As we open ourselves to the word of God be comforted by Him accompanying us through good times and bad. But, remember, it all begins with listening.