Sunday, November 19, 2017

“The greatest lesson you might ever learn in this life is this: It is not about you.”


“In this period of crisis today, it is important not to turn in on ourselves, burying our own talent, our spiritual, intellectual, and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us; but, rather to open ourselves, to be supportive, to be attentive to others.  Set your stakes on great ideals, the ideals that enlarge the heart, the ideals of service that make your talents fruitful.  Life is not given to us to be jealously guarded for ourselves, but is given to us so that we may give it in turn.” - Pope Francis, to an audience on April 24, 2013

Gospel Text: (MT 25:14-30)
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master's money.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
'Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
'Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.'
His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'"

In 2013 Pope Francis tweeted, "Being with Jesus demands that we go out from ourselves, and from living a tired and habitual faith."

It is so easy to live a "status quo" faith, especially if we live in reasonable comfort. We happily continue on "maintenance mode," and do what we have always done, as we have always done: Sunday Mass, some family prayer, occasional charity contributions, perhaps even some participation in the parish.

There is nothing wrong with this, except that the Lord expects something more from us. He demands that we see how gifted we are, not just with material resources and laudable talents but also with dreams to do better before and for God.

None of us can say that we are exempted from somehow bringing and sharing God's Good News to others: that was promised for us at our baptism. Each one of us should realize that, as God's servants and stewards, we are obliged to do well in small matters in order to somehow dream of accomplishing great things for the Lord.

Today, each one of us, in our own unique way and with our unique talents, is called to be bold and daring for the Lord. What more can we do for the Lord? How do we set the world and our friends ablaze with God's love and mercy? How do we radiate Christ to our friends?

Let us be courageous and take heart that we can do more.

Friday, November 17, 2017

“It's better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”


Flying by the seat of your pants precedes crashing by the seat of your pants.” – Bill Walsh: (1931 – 2007: was an American football coach)

Gospel Text: (LK 17:26-37)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be in the days of the Son of Man;
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage up to the day
that Noah entered the ark,
and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot:
they were eating, drinking, buying,
selling, planting, building;
on the day when Lot left Sodom,
fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all.
So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
On that day, someone who is on the housetop
and whose belongings are in the house
must not go down to get them,
and likewise one in the field
must not return to what was left behind.
Remember the wife of Lot.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses it will save it.
I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed;
one will be taken, the other left.
And there will be two women grinding meal together;
one will be taken, the other left."
They said to him in reply, "Where, Lord?"
He said to them, "Where the body is,
there also the vultures will gather."

Perhaps the only way to be ready for the coming of the Lord is to seek him everyday in the world around us. After all, in a truly sacramental world the Lord isn’t about to come, he is with us every moment of our lives.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

“Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."


“When you expect the world to end at any moment, you know there is no need to hurry. You take your time, you do your work well.” ― Thomas Merton: (1915 – 1968: was an American Catholic writer, theologian and Trappist monk)

Gospel Text: (LK 17:20-25)
Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come,
Jesus said in reply,
"The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed,
and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.'
For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you."

Then he said to his disciples,
"The days will come when you will long to see
one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.
There will be those who will say to you,
'Look, there he is,' or 'Look, here he is.'
Do not go off, do not run in pursuit.
For just as lightning flashes
and lights up the sky from one side to the other,
so will the Son of Man be in his day.
But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation."

The Kingdom of God is already within us. It is in every person who believes in the Lord, in his Church and its sacraments and in the world. God reveals himself to us in countless ways. The Kingdom is where God and his values are. The Kingdom of God is in all the good people in the world.

To bring about the Kingdom of God the Son of God came into the world as man, suffered and died for all. Through God's call and grace, his followers are tasked to continue his mission of bringing God's love and mercy to the world. At the same time we all await the coming and fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when Our Lord appears at his second coming at the end of time.

Let us seek the Kingdom of God, making it grow within us and throughout the world until its final realization at the end of time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.


In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks.- St. Teresa of Avila: (1515 –1582), was  Carmelite nun and author during the Counter Reformation)

Gospel Text: (LK 17:11-19)
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying,
"Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"
And when he saw them, he said,
"Go show yourselves to the priests."
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
"Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"
Then he said to him, "Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you."

We like to think of ourselves as doers and achievers but the basic fact of life is that we are primarily receivers and transmitters not achievers. We all started out as zero, zip, nada. We did not ask to be. We did nothing to get here. My very existence is a gift of God. What am I anyway but a conglomeration of the gifts of God? What do I have that I have not received?


Our most basic relationship with God therefore should be one of gratitude.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

“At a certain point, I just felt, you know, God is not looking for alms, God is looking for action."


The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Mahatma Gandhi: (1869 – 1948: was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule.) 

Gospel Text: (LK 17:7-10)
Jesus said to the Apostles:
"Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
'Come here immediately and take your place at table'?
Would he not rather say to him,
'Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished'?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded, say,
'We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'"

We really do not deserve anything from God: everything is a gift from him: we cannot make demands from God.

Monday, November 13, 2017

“The 3 most powerful resources you have available to you : love, prayer and forgiveness.”


We do not really know how to forgive until we know what it is to be forgiven.  Therefore we should be glad that we can be forgiven by others. It is our forgiveness of one another that makes the love of Jesus manifest in our lives,  for in forgiving one another we act towards one another as He has acted towards us. – Thomas Merton: (1915 – 1968: was an American Catholic writer and poet)

Gospel Text: (LK 17:1-6)
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,'
you should forgive him."

And the Apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."

Forgiving is not a spontaneous human reaction to an offense. What is humanly spontaneous is the desire to get even, to take revenge.


We often miss the spirit of forgiving, because we miss the meaning of forgiving. Forgiving is not forgetting the offense or pretending that it did not hurt us. To forgive is not to forget the hurt, let alone to deny it, but to remember it without a desire for revenge. I submit that, when we think that we are not forgiving, because the hurt is still present, a pertinent self-question could be: if the person who offended me were in critical need of help – a fall, a car accident..., would I be prepared to offer help? If prepared, then I am on the journey toward forgiveness, but the process will take time to be completed. We cannot microwave forgiveness, we need to let the process simmer and run its course.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

“Go to the poor: you will find God.”


Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. – Pope Francis: Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”)

Gospel Text: (LK 16:1-8)
Jesus said to his disciples, "A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
'What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.'
The steward said to himself, 'What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.'
He called in his master's debtors one by one.
To the first he said, 'How much do you owe my master?'
He replied, 'One hundred measures of olive oil.'
He said to him, 'Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.'
Then to another he said, 'And you, how much do you owe?'
He replied, 'One hundred measures of wheat.'
He said to him, 'Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.'
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than the children of light."

This steward in today’s gospel didn’t care about the poor people who owed money and goods to his master…UNTIL… he saw things from the other side. He realized that he would soon be fired and therefore joining the ranks of those without money or resources.

There is no substitute for truly encountering those in need and imagining oneself walking in their shoes for gaining motivation to help.

We need to stop operating by the rules of me-first business and instead operate as disciples of Jesus Christ. Our brothers and sisters cry out from one end of this nation to the other, from one end of the earth to the other.


Can we hear? And can we act?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

One of the greatest distinguishing marks of a false prophet is that he will always tell you what you want to hear, he will never rain on your parade; he will get you clapping, he will get you jumping, he will make you dizzy, he will keep you entertained, and he will present a Christianity to you that will make your church look like a six flags over Jesus


Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. – Matthew the Apostle: died 74 AD

Gospel Text: (JN 2:13-22
Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money-changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money-changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
"Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father's house a marketplace."
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
"What sign can you show us for doing this?"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."
The Jews said,
"This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?"
But he was speaking about the temple of his Body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.

When we assemble for worship this weekend, no one will set up tables to exchange currency. No one will lead in their oxen in hopes of getting rich. No one will tote a cage of high-priced pigeons. But our attire may be elegant. Our music may be world-class. We may put exuberant energy into these things, and make it an impressive spectacle, but if Jesus were to come, if he were to step into our churches this Sunday, he’d be looking for the rabble. Where are the misfits, the socially marginalized, the outcasts?

Are we open to “that crowd”? Do we see them as children of God?