Friday, February 23, 2018

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses.”

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. - Thomas a Kempis: (1380 –1471: was a German-Dutch canon regular of the late medieval period and the author of The Imitation of Christ)

Gospel Text: (MT 5:20-26)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."

In the readings today from Mass we are told to love our neighbor, however difficult this may be, however unlovable the other person may be. It is not easy to love one who has wronged us or caused us pain or ridiculed us. It is so much easier just to ignore them or forget them.

Despite a person's ugly behavior or wrongdoing against us, we are called to love him because the Lord Jesus had truly loved us. How many times have we sinned before the Lord? And how many times has the Lord forgiven us and continued to show his love for us?

To forgive is not easy; only God is truly merciful without any conditions or limits. Daily, whenever we pray the Our Father, we ask to be forgiven as we forgive our neighbor: do we really mean what we are saying? How can we ask for God's forgiveness if we are not ready to forgive those who have offended us?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

“The Gospel lives in conversation with the culture, and if the Church holds back from the culture, the Gospel itself falls silent.”

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.” ― G.K. ChestertonHeretics

Gospel Text: (MT 16:13-19)
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 

“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Life would never be the same for Peter after this moment.  To be sure, there would be hardships;  there would be ups and downs;  there would be sin and forgiveness; there would be everything that constitutes a fully human life for Peter.  Life, however, would always be, from this moment on,  wholesome and happy.  He had made the journey up the mountain and had seen the Holy Man – the Messiah – and life would be forever changed.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

“If you're waiting for a sign, here it is: Today is your Second Chance. It's a chance to change things. It's a chance for new beginnings. For growth, and expanding perspectives. A brand new day in which you can choose to see, and DO things differently. What will you do with this opportunity? Will you seize this day, this chance?”

Peace and Joy are signs of God’s Presence in the Church – Pope Francis

Gospel Text: (LK 11:29-32)

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

In today’s Gospel Jesus addresses the desire for signs. We all seem to ask for signs from time to time. In the cacophony of our daily lives they seem to give us greater certainty in what we believe and allay any insecurities we may have.  Apparitions, miracles and other sensational spiritual events seem to be important not only for the contemporaries of Jesus but also for us today. We must understand however that Jesus insists that the real sign is his own person: in him God has become a human being, and who sees him sees the Father. Looking for other signs will not get us anywhere. Looking for God in all things, listening to the movements of the spirit within and above all focusing on our risen Lord should be our focus.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

“Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer and forgiveness.”

God always forgives when you are totally repentant and you desire to change. He forgives…and He never gets tired of forgiving. Never. You may get tired asking. I hope not. He never, never tires of forgiving. Never. - Mother Angelica – EWTN Radio

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 men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."

In today’s gospel, Jesus gently nudges us toward the important truth that God our Father sustains us even as he invites us to ask him for sustenance.  Notably, both food and forgiveness are part of that sustaining power. With the help of modern technologies, food has become widely available, but I do not think we are doing so well with forgiveness.  In fact, technologies make it possible for accusations and complaints to fly freely all around us, creating a toxic atmosphere that affects our ability to give and receive forgiveness. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

“Nothing is more difficult than focusing on the needs of others we normally wouldn’t care about. This is the ‘holy moment’ we can all find ourselves in. This is the leap of faith that transforms. Jesus, by commanding us to love those we’d rather ignore or hate, gives us an opportunity to lean on his grace and love instead of our own understanding and power.”

“Whenever I meet someone in need, it is really Jesus in his most distressing disguise.” – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta: (1910 – 1997:Founded the Missionaries of Charity)

Gospel Text: (MT 25:31-46)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

The struggle between choosing the good and what is evil is not a theoretical struggle. It is an everyday struggle, with everyday examples.

Do we really not know what it means to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the imprisoned? Do we really not know the Jesus who is sick and dying, who is hungry, who is without shelter and who is afraid and shivering, people who may be living within our parishes and communities?

I think we do………….

We may even know some by name. However, that doesn’t mean that sometimes we don’t feel helpless and powerless to help, but I believe that we know this Jesus.

Let us not be led astray by those who have turned their back to the Jesus of the Gospel. Let us choose the more excellent way, the Way of Love. We’ve looked at Life from both sides now and we choose Love!