Monday, October 31, 2011

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” ~ Mother Teresa

“Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them.” ~ Mother Teresa

Gospel text (Lk 14,12-14):
On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
He said to the host who invited him,
"When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

How many begging, crippled, lame, or blind people have you had over for supper lately?

Why does Jesus want us to eat with the poor and handicapped? It is not because they are so needy but because they are not able to repay us (Lk 14:14). The Lord calls us to look for situations in which we won't, or better yet, can't be repaid. As far as the Lord is concerned, thankless jobs are the best because we won't be repaid. Moreover, secret or obscure works are ideal, for no one but your Father knows about them (Mt 6:3-4, 6, 18). Thus, no one but your Father is in a position to repay you. Although we must often go public for Jesus to be His witnesses, there is a danger in this because we might be appreciated and rewarded. We must try as best we can to hide our life "with Christ in God" (Col 3:3). This guards against the temptation to live and work for payment rather than for pure love. Therefore, look around for situations that don't pay.

Let us beg from the Mother of God enough generosity so that we can elude any temptation of selfishness.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Preach what you practice

The most persuasive gospel passage is the exemplary life

Matthew 23:1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
"The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people's shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.'
As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.'
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called 'Master';
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

The religious scholars and Pharisees in today’s readings are competent teachers in God's Law. For the most part, we won't go wrong in following their teachings. Yet, we are told to be careful about mirroring their actions. Although the Pharisees and religious scholars can talk a good line, they don't live out their words. They do not absorb the teachings of Moses into their hearts and reflect it through their behavior. Morosely, the Pharisees and religious scholars are not the only ones to fall short of reflecting God’s love to others. I know this because I am one who has fallen short.

Too often we put ourselves, or get put by others, onto a pedestal like the Pharisees because we can talk a good talk. We then can forget that we all have our shortcomings. Or at least we want to forget, so we don’t have to acknowledge to others we are not as good of a teacher as we come across to be. We must remember we all have a single Teacher, and we ALL are the classmates, continually learning and making mistakes.

"The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." -Matthew 23:11-12

We all want to stand out; to know that we are different. But let us all step down from our pedestal and learn to become a servant. God is constantly asking us, "What is more important, your pride or your relationship with me?" If we are willing to put our pride aside, our hearts will finally be filled with God’s grace and love. Only then can that love be reflected out onto others by our behavior.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”--Saint Augustine

If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. - Mother Teresa

Gospel text (Lk 14,1.7-11):
On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
"Give your place to this man,"
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
"My friend, move up to a higher position."
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

Today, did you notice the beginning of this Gospel? «They [the Pharisees] were carefully watching him». Jesus also watched and «noticed how they tried to take the places of honor» (Lk 14:1). But... what a different way to watch!

Jesus says with words whatever He is, whatever He has in his heart: He is not looking to be honored but to honor; He does not think of his honor, but of his Father's glorification. He does not think of himself but of the other. Jesus' whole life is a revelation of who God is: “God is love”.

This is why, in Jesus, it becomes a reality —more than in anybody else— his teaching: «Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance (…) Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name» (Phil 2:7.9).

Jesus is Master in deeds and words. We, Christians, want to be his disciples. We can only assume the Master's behavior if we have inside our heart what He had, if we have his Spirit, his Spirit of love. Let us work to completely open ourselves to his Spirit and to let him get hold of us and be entirely possessed by him.

And, let us do this, without thinking of being “enhanced”, without thinking of us, but only of him. «Should there be no heaven, I would love you; should there be no hell, I would be afraid of you; just as I love you I should love you» (Author unknown). Being only carried by love.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It is simply impossible to lead, without the aid of prayer, a virtuous life. --Saint John Chrysostom

My little children, your hearts, are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.--Saint John Vianney

(Luke 6:12-16)
Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.

When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Today, we may contemplate a full day in the life of Jesus. A life with two clear sides: prayer and action

You may ask yourself a question. Did Jesus need these lengthy hours of lonely prayer, when everybody else was asleep?

Once we have well established our prayer life , it only remains for us to imitate Christ in our action. In today's gospel, we can see him “organizing the Church”, that is, choosing those who were to be his future evangelists, the followers of his mission on earth: «When day came, He called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them whom He called apostles» (Lk 6:13). We find him, later on, healing all types of sicknesses. «Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all» (Lk 6:19), the Evangelist says. So that our identification with him may be complete, we only need to digest the fact that this “power” to heal everybody may also come forth from us. But here is the key, the source of that “power” is not ourselves but Jesus. John the Baptist put it best, “I must decrease and he must increase” (Jn 3:30). This will only be possible if we remain in him, by developing a daily prayer life and participating in the Sacraments of the Church frequently (both the Eucharist & Confession). Then little by little, our lives will mirror more and more the life of our Lord. Scripture tells us, “for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Do you truly believe that?

I feel Mother Teresa captured this idea well when she said:

"Each of us is merely a small instrument. When you look at the inner workings of electrical things, often you see small and big wires, new and old, cheap and expensive lined up. Until the current passes through them there will be no light. That wire is you and me. The current is God.

"We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us, produce the light of the world. Or we can refuse to be used and allow darkness to spread."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Divine Providence, in its own good time, will defend the innocent." – St John Bosco

“Let us not forget: we are a pilgrim church, subject to misunderstanding, to persecution, but a church that walks serene, because it bears the force of love.” - Archbishop Oscar A. Romero - martyr

(Romans 8:31-39)
Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written:

For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

St. Paul asks: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Trial, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword?" (Rm 8:35) This was no mere rhetorical question for Paul. He had experienced firsthand all of these dangers and more (see 2 Cor 11:23ff). He knew for "certain" that nothing could separate him from the love of God (Rm 8:38, 39). This certain knowledge of God's personal love for him gave Paul the courage to be more than a conqueror (Rm 8:37). No threat could deter Paul from carrying out his mission.

Just like Jesus, our lives as Catholics are not easy. While we are not living in a time or place where people may not want us physically dead, there is much adversity in our lives and cultures that makes being a Catholic difficult. Even in my experience, going to Catholic schools my whole life and coming from a predominately Catholic area, I have met many challenges to my faith. People who question, people who judge, people who see scandals, or mistakes, or simply don’t understand the fundamental tenants of my faith have all posed challenges.

We must never forget that we were baptized into Jesus, and like Paul, we have a mission from God. Pray to know God's love for you (Eph 3:18-19). This is where it all begins, a rock solid understanding that Jesus loves you, like no one ever has or ever will. Then "do not be afraid" (Mt 10:31). No threat can deter you from carrying out your God-given mission.

The goal is to live the mission, for people to see Jesus and to see what it means to be Catholic through me; through all of us.

“I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit.”

“A man may read the figures on the dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes unless the sun is shining on it; so we may read the Bible over, but we cannot learn until the Spirit of God shines upon us and into our hearts.”

(Romans 8:26-30)
Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Think about a time when you were going to do something wrong. Remember that feeling in your gut that you shouldn’t do it? How about the time when you felt drawn to pray or go to church for no explicable reason? Some call this feeling conscience. Christians call it the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit tends to be the underappreciated person of the Trinity. When we are in trouble or filled with joy, we rarely call upon the Spirit. Yet, the Spirit is indispensible. As St. Paul tells us, the Spirit is the one who helps us, because we do not know how to pray without the Spirit. It is the Spirit who moves our hearts to God and enables us to pray.

Everyone likes to say, “With God all things are possible.” And this is very true. But, we must also remember, “Without the Spirit, nothing is possible.”

“I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit.”

“A man may read the figures on the dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes unless the sun is shining on it; so we may read the Bible over, but we cannot learn until the Spirit of God shines upon us and into our hearts.”

(Romans 8:26-30)
Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Think about a time when you were going to do something wrong. Remember that feeling in your gut that you shouldn’t do it? How about the time when you felt drawn to pray or go to church for no explicable reason? Some call this feeling conscience. Christians call it the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit tends to be the underappreciated person of the Trinity. When we are in trouble or filled with joy, we rarely call upon the Spirit. Yet, the Spirit is indispensible. As St. Paul tells us, the Spirit is the one who helps us, because we do not know how to pray without the Spirit. It is the Spirit who moves our hearts to God and enables us to pray.

Everyone likes to say, “With God all things are possible.” And this is very true. But, we must also remember, “Without the Spirit, nothing is possible.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When the world says, "Give up," - Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."

“God wishes us not to rest upon anything but His infinite goodness; do not let us expect anything, hope anything, or desire anything but from Him, and let us put our trust and confidence in Him alone.” -Saint Charles Borromeo

(Romans 8:18-25)
Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that sees for itself is not hope.
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

Hope is a difficult concept. As Paul mentioned in Romans 8:24, “For who hopes for what one sees?” The idea of trusting something we cannot see is not a natural human characteristic. As humans we are accustomed to only trust those things that we can see and touch. This makes faith in Christ difficult because we cannot see him. However, if we nurture our faith in Christ it is able to grow and produce incredible fruit. The mustard seed is the smallest of seeds, but when it is planted and nurtured it can grow to become a large bush.

A lengthy waiting period can either make or break our hope. We can react by growing bitter and losing hope. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Prv 13:12). For example, a man had been sick for thirty-eight years (Jn 5:5ff). Although he daily placed himself in a position of hope by the side of the healing waters, he had lost hope and didn't expect to be healed. When Jesus came to him, he had excuses instead of expectations (Jn 5:7). He built his life around going through the motions of hope, but he was a man "without hope" (Eph 2:12).

Alternatively, we can use a long and difficult waiting period to increase in hope and get better instead of bitter. "Affliction makes for endurance, and endurance for tested virtue, and tested virtue for hope" (Rm 5:3-4). Instead of breaking our hope, the difficulty and the long period of time without seeing makes for a hope full of patient endurance (Rm 8:24-25). Simeon (Lk 2:25ff) and Anna (Lk 2:36ff) used a long period of waiting to grow better, not bitter. Instead of going through the motions of hope, they devoted their hearts to God and became full of hope.

For what have you been hoping and praying a long time? Are you going through the motions of praying for these intentions without having any real hope of the Lord answering your prayers? Like the growth of a mustard seed, sometimes in God's kingdom things take a long time. Ask God for an increase of hope. With Simeon and Anna, say: "this hope will not leave us disappointed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us" (Rm 5:5).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Each day brings a miracle of its own

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” – CS Lewis

Gospel text (Lk 13,10-17):
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
"Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the Sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
"There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the Sabbath day."
The Lord said to him in reply, "Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the Sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day
from this bondage?"
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

We always have an excuse for not being healed. In our gospel passage, the chief of the synagogue said it was the wrong day for Jesus to release the stooped woman from her shackles (Lk 13:14, 16). If we are honest with ourselves, there's always something standing in the way of our being healed. Receiving God's healing means obeying "Doctor's orders" (Dr. Jesus), although we can think of a hundred excuses why not to obey. God's healing is for you, for now, and for here.

In Luke 13, we are provided with a very clear example of what it looks like when someone allows the work done by God in their life to define them. Having been crippled for 18 years, a woman is healed and set free by Jesus. Luke tells us “she at once stood up straight and glorified God.” Did it say she contemplated if she were truly healed, or just partially healed? Nope. Did it suggest that she continued to resume the gait of one crippled by disease simply because that was what she was accustomed to? No, of course not! She didn’t spend any time contemplating if she were healed or if she wasn’t, or if she should perhaps still move about her world as if she were still crippled just because she used to be (it would be absurd if she had, right?). Rather, she immediately stood up, and glorified the Lord, rejoicing in her new-found state of being. She embraced her new identity that she had been graced with, let go of her past, and walked into her future praising God for setting her free.

May we be more like the woman in Luke chapter 13. May we let go of our failures…sins…insecurities…fears. Not limit ourselves to the crippling definitions that they have over our lives, but rather embrace our new found identity in the Lord. May we allow him to define us, allow him to claim us as his children, as his beloved. May we go forth glorifying and sharing the great work that has been done in our lives, focusing our eyes upward and outward instead of inward and down.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

“The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.”

“Live simply so others may simply live.” - Mother Teresa

Exodus 22:20-26
Thus says the LORD:
"You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.
My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword;
then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.

"If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people,
you shall not act like an extortioner toward him
by demanding interest from him.
If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge,
you shall return it to him before sunset;
for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body.
What else has he to sleep in?
If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate."

The reading today seems to be stating a version of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would like done unto you.” This passage calls us to recognize the common ground we all share instead of our differences.

Mother Theresa Story:
A successful businessman traveled to India to spend a month working in one of Mother Teresa's shelters. He longed to meet the tiny nun, but Mother Teresa was traveling, and it wasn't until the day before his departure that he received an audience. When he was finally in her presence, much to his surprise, he burst into tears. All the times when he'd been self-centered, busy or focused on his own gain flashed before his eyes, and he felt an enormous sadness that he had missed so many opportunities in his life to give of himself and his resources. Without a word, Mother Teresa walked over to where he was seated, put her hands on his shoulders and looked deeply into his eyes. "Don't you know," she said, "that God knows you are doing the best that you can."

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” - Mother Teresa

Friday, October 21, 2011

'I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.' - Nelson Mandela

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave - St. John Chrysostom

Romans 7:18-25
Brothers and sisters:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.
So, then, I discover the principle
that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,
but I see in my members another principle
at war with the law of my mind,
taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. What a universal theme this is. I know we all fight with this every day.

We're constantly tempted to focus on our limitations. Jesus gave us a new nature so we can instead focus on His omnipotence. Are you broke? Say not: "I'm so broke." Instead, say: "Jesus, You're my Wealth" (see Phil 3:8). Are you fearful? Say not: "I'm so afraid." Instead, say: "Jesus, You're my Helper. I will not be afraid" (see Heb 13:6). Are you overwhelmed? Say not: "I'm so swamped." Instead, say: "Jesus, You are Peace beyond all understanding. I know You'll work all things to the good" (see Phil 4:7; Eph 2:14; Rm 8:28). Are you in pain? Say not: "I can't bear this suffering." Instead, say: "Jesus, You suffered in agony for me. I trust Your love will carry me through this cross."

Let Jesus remove any vocabulary of limitation and give you free speech. Let Him fill your throat with the high praises of God (Ps 149:6) and the gift of tongues to praise Him "very well indeed" (1 Cor 14:17). May He give you "a well-trained tongue" (Is 50:4).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”-St. Catherine of Siena

....We must carry Jesus in our hearts to wherever He wants to go, and there are many places to which He may never go unless we take Him to them. None of us knows when the loveliest hour of our life is striking. It may be when we take Christ for the first time to that grey office in the city where we work, to the wretched lodging of that poor man who is an outcast, to the nursery of that pampered child, to that battleship, airfield, or camp... - Caryll Houselander: Lay Catholic writer and mystic

Luke 12:49-50:
Jesus said to his disciples, «I have come to bring fire upon the earth and how I wish it were already kindled; but I have a baptism to undergo and what anguish I feel until it is over!

The symbol of fire has become a representation of who all Catholics are called to be. It’s this idea of being enflamed with passion and life: being enflamed with God. If I am to call myself a believer in God and follower of Jesus, then I cannot just go through the motions; rather I must consciously choose my actions and words to reflect God’s will and Jesus’ life. This idea of being on fire, of actively acting out our faith, is the way in which Jesus and so many others have lived, and what I think he is calling us to do here. Jesus did not just sit in the temple and preach to a specific few. Rather, he was out with the people, eating with them, talking with them, living with them. He took an active role in society and shared his faith by living it. Similarly, John the Baptist was on fire – preaching the coming of the Son of God even when met with hostility. Dorothy Day was on fire when she established the Catholic Worker Program. The six Jesuit martyrs and the four church women martyrs were on fire as they worked in and with the people of El Salvador.

When St. Ignatius said “Go forth and set the world on fire”, he was calling us to do the same as Jesus has said here – to let ourselves be engulfed in the fire and spirit of God and to share it with others. Jesus came at the time he did because that’s when he was most needed – when things needed to be shaken up and lives refocused. We must continue to set on fire ourselves and share this passion, this light through our actions. We must stay focused in the will of God so that our lives radiate his love.

Have great aspirations! Train your goals onward and upward! Seek your personal perfection, that of your family, that of your work, that of your deeds, that of the assignments you receive. The saints have always aspired to the highest goals. They have not been afraid to face efforts and stress. They have moved. Carry on, move, too! Remember St. Augustine's words: «If you say enough, you are lost. Go further, keep going. Don't stay in the same place, don't go back, don't go off the road. Who does not move forward, stops; who keeps thinking of the starting point, goes backwards; he who reneges goes off the road. It is better to limp along that way than to stride along some other route». And he adds: «If want to be what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have stopped. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing». Are you advancing or have you stopped?

Implore the help of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Hope!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Those who have been given much, much will be expected

Do not forget that there are many children, many women, many men in this world who do not have what you have, and make sure that you love them, too, until it hurts. – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Gospel text (Lk 12:39-48): Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."

Then Peter said,
"Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?"
And the Lord replied,
"Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
"My master is delayed in coming,"
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant's master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master's will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

Jesus has come that we might have abundant life, life to the full (Jn 10:10). He plans to fill our cup to overflowing (Ps 23:5) and lavish the Holy Spirit upon us without measure (Jn 3:34; Ti 3:6), just as He changed water into a huge amount of wine (Jn 2:6ff). God will open the floodgates of heaven to bless us with a superabundance if we obey Him in generous trust (see Mal 3:10).

In view of God's abundance, why do so many people demand just a little from God when He wants to bless them with so much? The secular culture gives lip-service to unlimited freedom, but it truly is a culture of limits: limited love, life, relationships, and responsibility. The culture wants married couples to have their two children, but no more. It wants God's protection and financial blessings, but not His intimacy and definitely not His lordship.

The only things that seem unlimited in the secular culture are sin and arrogant speech. Most of all, the secular culture wants to limit the unlimited Almighty God. It doesn't want Him to be God. It tries to eliminate Him from the bedroom, schools, courts, halls of government, financial institutions, the entertainment industry, etc. The secular culture finds Jesus "too much" (Mk 6:3).

Are you a child of the secular culture or a child of the Living God? Are you limiting God in any way and thereby stifling the Holy Spirit? (1 Thes 5:19) Repent of a lack of trust in God and His plan for abundant life. Love God and love His abundance.

Stay watchful. Keep seeking. Always remember. Be faithful. Don’t drift. Each day matters. Live in expectation. God is coming – count on it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One living sermon is worth 100 explanations

The Christian ideal has not been found tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried. -- GK Chesterton

Gospel text (Lk 10,1-9):
The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter,
first say, "Peace to this household."
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.'"

In sending out the 72, Jesus also is relying on a few good people. I think He also is trying to instill an attitude, a culture, in how these disciples should interact with the people they encounter. When he sends them as they are, without a money bag, or sack or sandals, I think He tells us that the outer layers of who we seem to be is not as important as who we are at our core, our commitment, our attitude of peacefulness. We all have baggage we could (and do) carry with us, but Jesus says try to leave all that aside. Just go. Just do. Just stay focused. Don’t stop to socialize, just do what you are sent to do. Don’t waste time on those who reject you, focus on those who are receptive to you. Be zealous. Be driven.

As it is the middle of October and fall is upon us here with the leaves changing colors, let us remember God’s call for us to spread his Word because “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2). There are countless opportunities to change the world, may we make a small yet powerful contribution to God’s immeasurable harvest by helping to spread the news of the Kingdom of God.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.” – Mother Teresa

Gospel text (Lk 12,13-21):
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
"Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."
He replied to him,
"Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?"
Then he said to the crowd,
"Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one's life does not consist of possessions."

Then he told them a parable.
"There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, "What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?"
And he said, "This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!""
But God said to him,
"You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?"
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God."

Reflection on sharing by Mother Teresa:

Not so long ago a very wealthy Hindu lady came to see me. She sat down and told me, "I would like to share in your work." In India, more and more people like her are offering to help. I said, "That is fine." The poor woman had a weakness that she confessed to me. "I love elegant saris," she said. Indeed, she had on a very expensive sari that probably cost around eight hundred rupees. Mine cost only eight rupees. Hers cost one hundred times more.

Then I asked the Virgin Mary to help me give an adequate answer to her question of how she could share in our work. It occurred to me to say to her, "I would start with the saris. The next time you go to buy one, instead of paying eight hundred rupees, buy one that costs five hundred. Then with the extra three hundred rupees, buy saris for the poor." The good woman now wears 100-rupee saris, and that is because I have asked her not to buy cheaper ones. She has confessed to me that this has changed her life. She now knows what it means to share. That woman assures me that she has received more than what she has given.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is. " – Gandhi

“Tolerance that only accepts God as a private opinion, but denies Him the public knowledge (...) is not tolerance, but hypocrisy” - Pope Benedict XVI

Gospel text (Mt 22,15-21):The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax."
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."

Many Catholics feel that Church should not get “mixed up in political life”, but mind only its salvific mission and faith. But this interpretation is totally false, because dealing with God’s matters does not mean to mind only the cult of the Church, but to be also concerned about men, who are God's children, and about man's justice. Pretending the Church does not move from the sacristy, while being deaf, blind and mute before the moral and human problems and abuses of our time, amounts to stealing from God what belongs to God.

In St. John's Gospel, Jesus tells Pilatus: «You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above» (Jn 19:10). Jesus does not want to appear as a political agitator. He simply wants to put things right. As baptized Catholics, so should we.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Consequences of Silence in The Public Square

When we speak about truth and life and redemption, we are speaking of Christ. - St. Ambrose

Gospel text (Lk 12,8-12):
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God.

"Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."

The Compendium Of The Social Doctrine Of The Church (CSDC) explains that the Church "seeks to proclaim the Gospel," making it "present in the complex network of social relations," thus "enriching and permeating society itself with the Gospel" (62).

Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles to speaking the truth in public is fear. For instance, it is not uncommon to find people at social gatherings who are engaged in debate over the economy or the need to provide affordable housing for the poor. While it is true that these are important subjects, if one tactfully and with humility points out that these issues pale in comparison to the evils of abortion or the damage wrought on children, marriage and society by contraceptives, one will suddenly find himself feeling as if he just uttered an incomprehensible punch line in a stale joke.

Although the truth is often unpopular, those who promote it with love can be consoled in the knowledge that they are indeed serving our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical letter Caritas In Veritate, reminds the faithful of the nature of charity: "Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. . . . To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, rejoices in the truth" (1).

It is time to learn our Faith, live it and speak it in our daily lives without compromise. Only then will we begin to turn back the unrelenting tide of relativism which continues to erode the shores of America.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek

"I do not fear at all what men can do to me for speaking the truth. I only fear what God would do if I were to lie." - St John Bosco

Gospel text (Lk 12,1-7): At that time:
So many people were crowding together
that they were trampling one another underfoot.
Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples,
"Beware of the leaven'that is, the hypocrisy'of the Pharisees.

"There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
will be proclaimed on the housetops.
I tell you, my friends,
do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear.
Be afraid of the one who after killing
has the power to cast into Gehenna;
yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?
Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows."

So many of us have safety deposit boxes and even safes in our homes where we place all of our valuables to protect them from theft and fire. However, some valuables cannot be protected in that way. One is our faith.

Three-hundred and sixty-five times, once for each day of the year, the Lord commands us in the Bible: "Do not be afraid" (Lk 12:4). Pope John Paul II repeatedly proclaimed, prayed, and prophesied: "Do not be afraid." Although Satan tries to use fear to manipulate and even to enslave us (Heb 2:15), we can overcome the temptations to give in to fear. We can overcome not because we are strong, but because Jesus is our Strength and we believe in His love for us.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Though we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil for He is at our side (Ps 23:4) and even within us (see Jn 6:56). Jesus is the Light of the world. He is our Light and our Salvation; whom shall we fear? (Ps 27:1) Jesus is Love (1 Jn 4:16), and "Love has no room for fear; rather, perfect love casts out all fear" (1 Jn 4:18). Jesus is God. He is perfect. Know Jesus; no fear!

This isn’t easy however; we are still human. It takes a conscious, day-by-day, moment-by-moment effort to love in this way, especially when others cause us harm. Love isn’t easy; it’s a risk, it’s a decision, it comes with the knowledge that it may never be returned. But “Do not be afraid”, for this is truly the love of God.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The mystery of grace: it never comes too late

“For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.” - Saint Augustine

(Gospel Lk 11:47-54 ): The Lord said:
"Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets
whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
'I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute'
in order that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter."
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees
began to act with hostility toward him
and to interrogate him about many things,
for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.

As I reviewed the readings for today, two themes were apparent to me, grace and hypocrisy. The first reading (Romans 3:21-30) and the responsorial psalm (Psalm 130:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6ab) resound with God’s grace and mercy. In the gospel, Jesus clearly takes them (us) to task for hypocrisy and dishonesty in living God’s word.

I have often spoken of grace in my reflections – I love the sound of the word, I love the meaning! Grace is such a beautiful concept, yet almost beyond comprehension. God so freely gives this to us and sometimes, we do not even reach out and embrace it. I remember well a teacher in High School teaching us history in an Accelerated curriculum. She was not about to let us think our intellectual gifts were anything but God-given. She frequently reminded us that there but for the grace of God go I. At any moment, she reminded those abilities could be lost in an accident. I realize that at least once or twice daily, I use the expression, “by the grace of God.” It is not lost on me that all the goodness in my life I owe to God and that all I do should be for the glory of God. Of course, once again what I know and what I do are not always consistent. Clearly, my actions do not always reflect God’s glory as my goal. My feet are definitely of clay although as I age I can see this more rapidly and try to change it more consistently. A recent gospel reminded us that intentions alone are not enough, to say we will follow and do not, does not get us to our goal.

The gospel addresses such inconsistencies. Jesus is very clear in his message, He will not accept hypocrisy! While this idea of building temples and appearing to be reverent yet rejecting the word of God may have pertained directly to the scribes and Pharisees at that time, it still pertains to us at least symbolically. It sometimes seems that as a collective we have strayed far and wide from the intent of many of the teachings of Jesus. Our actions oftentimes belie our values. We describe some values or even people as being of the utmost importance yet there is no evidence to support this in our daily lives. I love the words from St. Francis of Assisi, Preach the Gospel and if necessary, use words. The message is obvious: through our actions, our words, our very being, anyone should immediately know our values and who we really are. We speak of being “centered” yet what is at that center of our being and how is it expressed to others?

One last closing thought: Our lives are God’s gift to us, what we do with our lives is our gift to God.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If you judge people, you have no time to love them - Mother Teresa of Calcutta

This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people. - C. S. Lewis

(Rom 2:1-11): You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.
For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself,
since you, the judge, do the very same things.
We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.
Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things
and yet do them yourself,
that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience
in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God
would lead you to repentance?
By your stubbornness and impenitent heart,
you are storing up wrath for yourself
for the day of wrath and revelation
of the just judgment of God,
who will repay everyone according to his works,
eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality
through perseverance in good works,
but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth
and obey wickedness.
Yes, affliction and distress will come upon everyone
who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.
But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone
who does good, Jew first and then Greek.
There is no partiality with God.

If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that hypocrisy is THE key temptation for all good people. It’s the line you and I walk every day… How often do we say more than we do? How often do we intend the good and fall short again and again.

So, when Jesus addressed the Pharisees, they functioned as a foil for his disciples. They “love the seat of honor in the synagogues…” What did the disciples fight about at the Last Supper? “Who is the greatest?” What do we fight over in our own time? Yep, you got it.

Paul spoke strongly to the Romans, saying, “You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things…”

Essentially, he’s calling them hypocrites because of the way they judge others. And by extension, he’s calling us… Yep, you got it.

Paul insists that we do the very things we judge others for.

Even though it’s not Lent, I do find that I wonder about what sort of grace, what sort of event, what nudge will God send me to change me? And why does it take so darn long? What don’t I get?

More and more, I believe that the BIG grace and purification I hope for comes only in purgatory. Which leaves me standing always in need of the graces of challenge and comfort from the Lord. Even though it hurts my pride to be situated with the Pharisees, it does seem more realistic and truthful. Ouch!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“One of the hardest things to teach a child is that the truth is more important than the consequences.”

“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires... The church needs to withstand the tides of trends and the latest novelties.... We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith.” - Pope Benedict XVI

(Romans 1:16-25): Brothers and sisters:
I am not ashamed of the Gospel.
It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:
for Jew first, and then Greek.
For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith;
as it is written, "The one who is righteous by faith will live."

The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven
against every impiety and wickedness
of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
For what can be known about God is evident to them,
because God made it evident to them.
Ever since the creation of the world,
his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity
have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.
As a result, they have no excuse;
for although they knew God
they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.
Instead, they became vain in their reasoning,
and their senseless minds were darkened.
While claiming to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for the likeness of an image of mortal man
or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.

Therefore, God handed them over to impurity
through the lusts of their hearts
for the mutual degradation of their bodies.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie
and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator,
who is blessed forever. Amen.

The reading today from St Paul is pretty straightforward: “Brothers and Sisters: I am not ashamed of the Gospel”. We are told that salvation is ours if we try to live our lives being faithful to the Gospel.

In a world full of false gods and a world, which promotes these false gods, it can be difficult to live remembering the messages of the Gospel. We are tempted all the time to make decisions for personal gain, forgetting that we are called to think and to behave “out of love” as described in the Gospel.

The reading today reminds us of our faithfulness to God and all that Jesus modeled for us, while on earth. The Gospel messages show us how Jesus loved the weak and the strong, people of influence and people with no influence, the healthy and those lacking good health, people with money and power and those who owned nothing and had few options. Jesus asks us to be faithful to the Gospel, in our thoughts and in our actions, and to not “exchange the truth for a lie.” While there are endless temptations we are reminded to keep our faith strong, making the Gospel the backbone of who we are and how we live our lives.

The Gospel message is as alive today as it was in the time of Jesus and we are directly reminded that “The one who is righteous by faith will live”; and those who “Become vain in their reasoning, while claiming to be wise will become fools by exchanging the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of mortal man.”

If we are witnesses to Christ, we must know that the truth will always shine through the darkness. This is our mission amidst the present culture in which we all live in, trying to model our hearts to the Scared Heart of Jesus. Let us then remember that blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see the face God (Mat 5:8). Each one must decide what he wants to see for all eternity, we can not have it both ways.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"If you are who you are meant to be you will set the world ablaze." - St. Catherine of Siena

Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and in all of them we see people who achieved sanctity by fulfilling their obligations well.--St. Anthony Mary Claret

(Rom 1:1-7)Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an Apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the Gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are "called to holiness" (Rm 1:7). The secular culture cherishes the idea that holiness restricts our desires, implying that holy people are not free to do what they "really" want. However, "God has not called us to immorality but to holiness" (1 Thes 4:7). Only the holy "live in freedom — but not a freedom that gives free rein to the flesh" (Gal 5:13).

"It is God's will that you grow in holiness" (1 Thes 4:3). Yet "there is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle" (Catechism, 2015). There is a saying: "The more I say 'No' to myself, the more I find myself saying 'Yes' to the Holy Spirit." What we learn from that is, by self-denial, what we gain is far more fulfilling than what he renounce.

We can't become holy by our own efforts or will. What we can do is let the Spirit make us holy. The Spirit fights against our sinful desires and gives us holy desires (Gal 5:17). If we desire to be holy, we will be, for Jesus promises: "Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill" (Mt 5:6).

God wants to "share His holiness" with you (Heb 12:10). Answer the call to holiness (Rm 1:7). "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:22). Be made holy as God is holy (1 Pt 1:16).

Sunday, October 9, 2011


...Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity ... is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men's lives. --Soren Kierkegaard

(Gospel Mt 22:1-14)
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
"Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast."'
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.'
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?'
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'
Many are invited, but few are chosen."

God wants His house to be full for His heavenly banquet (Lk 14:23). His strategy for filling His house is to send His servants all over His kingdom, especially to the byroads (Mt 22:9), alleys (Lk 14:21), and other unlikely places.

Jesus understands this dilemma. That's why He specifically calls His servants "fishers of men" (Mt 4:19). Any fisherman who wants to bring home a catch knows that he will probably not easily "come upon" large numbers of fish; rather, he must learn "how to cope with every circumstance" (Phil 4:12). He knows that he must study the habits of the fish and spend much time, effort, and frustration learning their favorite feeding places and times. A leisurely midday fishing trip might be convenient for the fisherman, but he will likely bring home an empty boat. His best catch might come before dawn, in freezing weather, in dangerous waters, or after many unsuccessful attempts. The main question is: Will the fisherman take the trouble to "come upon" the fish?

Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to go out every day and night looking for the dying in the streets to give them love, a dignified death, to clean them, and feed them. Once, she said: «I'm not afraid of dying, because when I will be before the Father, there will be so many poor people I gave Him, that they will know how to defend me».

Let us learn that lesson, too.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some wish to hear the word of God, others wish to receive it

Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and said, Bob, why are you resisting me? I said, I'm not resisting you! He said, You gonna follow me? I said, I've never thought about that before! He said, When you're not following me, you're resisting me. --Bob Dylan

Gospel text (Lk 11,27-28):
While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
"Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed."
He replied, "Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it."

At times, people ask me whether we Christians believe in predestination, as other religions do. Certainly not!: we Christians believe God has reserved for us a destination of happiness. God wants us to be happy, fortunate, blessed. Take notice how this word is being repeated in Jesus' teachings: «Blessed, blessed, blessed...». «Blessed are the poor, the meek, the merciful, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who have not seen and yet have believed» (cf. Mt 5:3-12; Jn 20:29). God wants our happiness, a happiness that begins right here in this world, even though the path leading to it is not wealth, or power, or easy success, or fame, but, the poor and humble love of he who expects it all. The joy to believe!

It is a kind of happiness which is greater than the joy of living, because we believe in an endless and eternal life. Mary, Jesus' Mother, is not only blessed because she bore him and nursed him —as spontaneously surmised that local woman— but, mainly, because of her having heard the Word and kept it: for having loved and having let his Son Jesus love her.

If we know and obey God's Word, we are blest. This means we are happy. "Happy are they who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their heart" (Ps 119:2). Obeying God's Word also makes us secure. Our lives are like houses built on rock (Mt 7:24). Moreover, those who know God's Word are fully competent and equipped for every good work (2 Tm 3:17

The Lord commands us: "Keep this book of the law on your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may observe carefully all that is written in it; then you will successfully attain your goal" (Jos 1:8).

Friday, October 7, 2011

"The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you'll be amazed at the results." --St. Josemaria Escriva

"There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary."--Sister Lucia, of the seers of Fatima

Gospel text (Lk 11,15-26):
When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
"By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons."
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
"Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

"When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
"I shall return to my home from which I came."
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first."

When Jesus cast out demons, some people reacted negatively. This still happens today. Jesus continues to drive out demons, and some respond by denying the devil's existence or at least the need for deliverance.

Even if we accept the Biblical and orthodox teaching about the devil, we may still be affected or "infected" by secular ideas. We may not take the devil seriously enough, thinking of him as only an evil force. However, he is a real enemy with great intelligence and personal attributes.

To win our battle against the devil (Eph 6:12), we must have a realistic view of him. We should not be terrified of the evil one, for we have authority over him (Mt 10:1). Yet we must recognize the devil as a formidable opponent, "a strong man fully armed," who must be disarmed and despoiled (Lk 11:21, 22).

Jesus is teaching us that it's good to clean house spiritually, but it's critical to press forward and grow in our faith. We can't be idle in the spiritual realm, or we'll be in worse shape than ever. A soldier on the front lines of the battlefield knows he cannot take a month off to take it easy. If he does, the enemy will soon realize he has no resistance. Soon the soldier will be overrun without mercy by the enemy (see Lk 11:22). This is why Jesus, referring to spiritual warfare, says: "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Lk 11:23).

Let Jesus clean your soul. Then fight the good fight of faith by growing "in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pt 3:18; 2 Tm 4:7). Instead of being content with empty, let Jesus give you life to the full (Jn 10:10). Fill your mind with God's Word; fill your mouth with the Eucharist, the Bread of Life (Jn 6:35). Then fill the world with your godly teaching (Acts 5:28) and your praise of God.

"Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Heb 3:1), but don't fail to notice the serpent at your feet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

“Perpetual adoration with exposition needs a great push.” - Mother Teresa

“Each day we should spend one hour in adoration except on days we are busy, then we should spend two” -Mother Teresa

Gospel text (Lk 11,5-13):
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
"Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,"
and he says in reply from within,
"Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything."
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?"

Today's gospel passage is often misinterpreted to only mean we should persist in prayer. Persistence is part of the parable, but not the main point (Lk 11:8). The parable concludes that, if we can get something from an uncooperative friend through persistence, we can be sure of receiving much more, even the Holy Spirit, from our heavenly Father Who loves us with a perfect love (Lk 11:13).

The point of the parable is the certainty of our prayers being answered. Because we are certain our prayers will be answered as we expect or in an even better way, we are motivated not only to persist in prayer but to pray always (Lk 18:1). Because of our Father's love, we see the power, privilege, and joy of prayer. To pray always is not a burden but a cause for thanksgiving (see Phil 4:6).

When we pray, we are not doing God a favor. He is gracing us with the awesome privilege of communicating with Him. We can never be worthy enough to pray, but the Lord gives us the privilege of entering into His presence always, and not just once in a lifetime. Pray in thanksgiving for God's gift of prayer.

To conclude, lets take to heart the words of Mother Teresa speaking about persistence in prayer and the fruit it bears:

“It was not until 1973, when we began our daily Holy Hour that our community started to grow and blossom... In our congregation, we used to have adoration once a week for one hour, and then in 1973, we decided to have adoration one hour every day. We have much work to do. Our homes for the sick and dying destitute are full everywhere. And from the time we started having adoration every day, our love for Jesus became more intimate, our love for each other more understanding, our love for the poor more compassionate, and we have double the number of vocations. God has blessed us with many wonderful vocations. The time we spend in having our daily audience with God is the most precious part of the whole day.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From Mary we learn to surrender to God's Will in all things

A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will.
--St. Francis de Sales

(Jon 4:1-11)
Jonah was greatly displeased
and became angry that God did not carry out the evil
he threatened against Nineveh.
He prayed, "I beseech you, LORD,
is not this what I said while I was still in my own country?
This is why I fled at first to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God,
slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.
And now, LORD, please take my life from me;
for it is better for me to die than to live."
But the LORD asked, "Have you reason to be angry?"

Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it,
where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade,
to see what would happen to the city.
And when the LORD God provided a gourd plant
that grew up over Jonah's head,
giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort,
Jonah was very happy over the plant.
But the next morning at dawn
God sent a worm that attacked the plant,
so that it withered.
And when the sun arose, God sent a burning east wind;
and the sun beat upon Jonah's head till he became faint.
Then Jonah asked for death, saying,
"I would be better off dead than alive."

But God said to Jonah,
"Have you reason to be angry over the plant?"
"I have reason to be angry," Jonah answered, 'angry enough to die."
Then the LORD said,
"You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor
and which you did not raise;
it came up in one night and in one night it perished.
And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city,
in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons
who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left,
not to mention the many cattle?"

Jonah is one of those prophets that I find myself chuckling about when I hear his story, not only because I find the reticence and disgruntled temperament of the man amusing, but I also find it easy to imagine myself in his shoes. Jonah embodies the human quality of resistance to change. He is stubborn to his core; and, especially considering the length of his book in the Old Testament (only 4 short chapters), Jonah is the king of digging in his heels before the will of God. Now, I don’t mean to imply that the book of Jonah is a testament to the inexorable will of God. Rather, I think that Jonah’s story is intended to be an opportunity to look within ourselves, a challenge to find those areas in our lives where we might be silently (or perhaps not so silently) refusing the will of God. I think that, on some level, even the best of us struggle with change and stepping outside of the comfort zones we have unknowingly built for ourselves and had built for us. We accept things that improve our lot in life (as Jonah easily accepts the gourd that God grows for him outside of Nineveh), but when it comes to planting gourds ourselves the matter becomes a bit more intimidating. When we reach out to forgotten friends, when we challenge the status quo at our places of work, when we try to make amends for past mistakes, or when we see a problem and actually stop to become the solution, we are planting gourds. Yet, to be honest, I’m not sure if what I mean to say is that God is constantly calling us to step out of our boxes. He certainly works within our lives as they are, calling us to love our friends, families, and neighbors, but, at the same time, due to our restless hearts and God’s divinity, he may also be constantly hoping for us to do more, to challenge ourselves on a deeper level than we ever have before.

God did this with Jonah, forcing him to confront people he disliked (for the Ninevites were traditional enemies of Israel), warn them of God’s displeasure, and then watch as those enemies changed their ways and became people of God. After witnessing Nineveh’s conversion Jonah clung to his enmity, maintaining the narrow mindset that he had had his whole life. The book ends with God pointing out Jonah’s irrationality, for, much like Jonah’s anger over the gourd plant suddenly dying as he sat outside of Nineveh, Jonah’s hatred for the Ninevites is fruitless. Jonah shows us that anger is a destructive emotion, and it is capable of blinding all people (even God’s prophets). It is not worth investing oneself in, especially because it is usually directed at things beyond our control. Yet, in one form or another, we have all been there, and we will almost certainly be there again. What will we do the next time anger clouds our judgment?

It’s when we face for a moment the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know the taint in our own selves, that awe cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart. – Denise Levertov

We are called to plant our own gourds, and one of the best is forgiveness. In today’s readings, it is fitting that Jonah’s story of belligerent, blind anger is followed by Christ sharing the Our Father with his disciples. The prayer is not only a means of communing with each other and with God, it is a way of life. We can be daily bread for each other, and, by those actions, we bring God’s kingdom that much closer to our reality.

“Lord, teach us to pray. . .”- Luke 11:1

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Today is the Feast of St Francis - “The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”

“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that has been received--only what you have given.” - St Francis of Assisi

Gospel text (Lk 10,38-42): Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
"Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me."
The Lord said to her in reply,
"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her."

Martha or Mary? But..., why opposing those who loved each other so much and loved God too? Jesus loved Martha and Mary, and their brother Lazarus, and He loves each one of us, too.

On the path of sainthood not any two souls are exactly alike. We all try to love God, but within our own style and personality, without imitating anyone. Our models are Christ and the Mother of God. Do you resent how others treat God?

«Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the serving? Ask her therefore to help me» (Lk 10:40). To serve others, for the love of God, is an honor, not a burden. Do we serve with joy, as the Mother of God did with her cousin Elisabeth or at Cana's wedding, or as Jesus did when washing the Apostle's feet at the Last Supper?

I think that what we can learn from this passage is that it is important to find a balance between Mary's and Martha’s lifestyle. We need to stay active and busy, like Martha, but we also need to take the time to be at peace and listen to what Jesus is saying, like Mary. It is impossible to not get caught up in all the different things life is asking of us, but it is possible to make sure that we listen to Jesus during our crazy schedules. Jesus asks us to spread his love and message to the world, and we can do that through our busy lives. We can do it by serving others, treating everyone we meet with respect and showing love and compassion to everyone, even through the small things. It is important that we live a balanced life by taking time to be in quiet in prayer, listening to Jesus, and still living a full and exciting life spreading the word of Jesus and loving and serving our neighbors. Just like everything in life, the key is balance, and we need to make sure that throughout our busy lives we do not get too busy that we neglect Jesus or live a life that is not pleasing to him. By living a busy and active life we are given the wonderful opportunity to meet people and spread the Word of God.

Monday, October 3, 2011


How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? – Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Gospel text (Lk 10,25-37):
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said,
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?
How do you read it?"
He said in reply,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself."
He replied to him, "You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live."

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
"And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus replied,
"A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
"Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back."
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers victim?"
He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy."

What does it mean to be a Christian? Don’t many of us identify being Christian with faithful observance of external requirements? We see religion primarily as observing the “do’s and do not's” we have been taught.

But Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan challenges this basic assumption.

A man fell victim to robbers on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was stripped and beaten and left half dead.

Two men approach, a priest and a Levite. These men, from religious classes known for their punctilious observance of the Jewish law and enjoying the very highest religious status and respect among the Jews, pass by the victim, actually crossing to the other side of the road.

Then a Samaritan traveler, a member of a group despised by the Jews, comes upon the victim. He is moved with compassion, dresses the victim’s wounds and brings him to an inn covering all expenses.

Then Jesus puts the question to the scholar of the law who was trying to test him, “Which of these was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”

The answer is obvious: not the priest or the Levite but the despised Samaritan whose heart was moved with compassion. For Jesus this Samaritan becomes the examplar of living the great commandments of love. He only was neighbor!

Punctilious fulfillment of religious obligations that does not include compassion for those in need does not make a true disciple of Jesus.

The Gospel challenges us Christians: Who are the individuals or groups in our lives for whom we lack compassion?

For whom have we not yet become neighbor?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” - Saint Augustine

(Matthew 21:33-43)
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
"Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
'They will respect my son.'
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
'This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.'
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?"
They answered him,
"He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times."
Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit."

Think of the person whom you love the most. Possibly this is your spouse, mother, father, child, brother, sister, or friend. You love this person so much that you would even give up your life for him or her. Now imagine seeing this person, whom you love so much, being cruelly rejected. This would break your heart, and you would try to console the one you love by professing your love for him or her.

It is so easy to reject Jesus. Our lives are like houses (see Mt 7:24). If we have the opportunity to make Jesus the Cornerstone of our lives, but do not do so, then we have rejected Him.

Jesus has never rejected anyone (Jn 6:37), but He has been rejected more than any other person. Love Jesus; don't reject Him. Make reparation to Jesus for the abuse He suffers daily.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

May you be content knowing you are a child of God. - St Therese of Lisieux

"Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness." - St Therese of Lisieux

Gospel text (Lk 10,17-24):
The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus,
"Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name."
Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
'to tread upon serpents' and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
"I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."

Little people — uneducated "backward" people — are not given much respect in our society. Yet by faith they command great respect from the fallen archangel Lucifer, who trembles and cowers as these “little people” wield their God-given authority.

Will you be a sophisticated know-it-all or a simple faith-filled victor?