Thursday, August 30, 2012

To lie hidden, will be impossible

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

(Gospel text: Mt 24:42-51)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

"Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant,
whom the master has put in charge of his household
to distribute to them their food at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is long delayed,'
and begins to beat his fellow servants,
and eat and drink with drunkards,
the servant's master will come on an unexpected day
and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely
and assign him a place with the hypocrites,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

For 14 years I have earned my living as a financial auditor. My profession has helped me to grasp the mind set of being prepared, not just in a secular way but also in a spiritual way.

As I have gotten older and experienced the ebb and flow of life, namely births and deaths, I have wondered about people who die suddenly or unexpectedly.

Were they prepared? What if they were not?

When all is said and done, we need to be prepared for a whole host of events in our mortal lives, the greatest of which is our meeting with the Lord. There is much that we can do every moment of every day, but we will never know what enough preparation is, until it is too late. Matthew’s warning holds so much meaning on so many levels for so many of life’s challenges.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

"The highest courage is to dare to be yourself in the face of adversity. Choosing right over wrong, ethics over convenience, and truth over popularity…these are the choices that measure your life. Travel the path of integrity without looking back, for there is never a wrong time to do the right thing." -  Author unknown

(Gospel text: Mk 6:17-29)
Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
"It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias' own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
"Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you."
He even swore many things to her,
"I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom."
She went out and said to her mother,
"What shall I ask for?"
She replied, "The head of John the Baptist."
The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request,
"I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist."
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Courage and cowardice.

Today’s Gospel features these two opposites. John the Baptist, a man of incredible courage; Herod and his wife, Herodias, people of unspeakable cowardice.

When Herod had John arrested and brought to prison, we don’t know if he physically resisted, but we do know he spoke up. “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife,” he said to Herod. He positively stood for the truth of God’s law, holding the king accountable for his prior divorce and remarriage. Herod cowered in the face of that truth, yet was intrigued by it, deciding to lock John up and talk to him on his own terms so as not to be reminded of the truth day after day. Perhaps we’ve all attempted to lock away the truth of God’s law at some point in our own lives, preferring not to deal with it or to listen only our own terms rather than confront our need to change.

Herod’s wife, Herodias, reacted differently toward John, but also as many of us do when people call us out, she “harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.”

Have you ever felt that way when someone spoke up against you?

When someone or something called your life choices, your words, or your ideologies into question, implying they weren’t always in line with God’s truth? I know I have. I just want to spit back in their face that they’re wrong; I don’t need to change; they’re the close-minded one. But maybe…just maybe…they’re not.  

Look at John for a second. He seems a bit of a passive character in this narrative. But it’s his words, his boldness for God’s law of truth that fuels the story. He clearly knows what is right, and even in the face of death, he will not step down. We are called to a courage like this. A courage to step out of our comfort zones and confront the lies we buy into each day in our own lives. A courage to hold those around us accountable to the truth of God’s love and precepts. A courage that doesn’t count costs.  

Today we honor the martyrdom of John the Baptist. May we live courageously like him, speaking and standing for the truth in all we do.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart."

”The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.”-Saint Alphonsus Liguori

(Scripture Text: 2 Thes 2:1-3A, 14-17)
We ask you, brothers and sisters,
with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our assembling with him,
not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly,
or to be alarmed either by a 'spirit,' or by an oral statement,
or by a letter allegedly from us
to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.
Let no one deceive you in any way.

To this end he has also called you through our Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm
and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught,
either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them
in every good deed and word.

Have your children ever boarded an amusement park ride where the passengers are tilted and whirled all around? If they are seated, you want to be sure they fasten their seat belts and stay in their seats. “Hang on tight!” you admonish. If they are still standing up, you may even jump onto the ride at the last minute and put your arms around them to make sure they are safe.

St. Paul has been on this part of the ride before. He knows the young believers to whom he is writing. He wants to make sure they keep a firm grip on some unshakable truths, no matter how frightening the vibrations along the way may be. It seems that the Thessalonians were getting unnerved by talk of Jesus’ Second Coming to the point that they were losing sight of Jesus and thinking only about the final judgment! Just as an Olympic ice skater can use a focal point to avoid dizziness despite numerous pirouettes, we can maintain our balance as long as we remember one simple fact:

God is in charge.

No matter what the Second Coming actually looks like, no matter when it happens, our heavenly Father will never abandon us or stop loving us. With the Lord by our side, we can face anything, even the final judgment.
Every age has seen its own end-of­the-world prophecies. “Get ready!” the prophets tell us. The cataclysm is coming tomorrow, a month from now, in 1981. God will destroy all evildoers, and you’d better be on the right side if you want to survive.

But Paul admonishes us: “Don’t be alarmed.”

The ultimate Day of the Lord holds no terror if we see every day as the Lord’s day, a day to spend in his presence. He reminds us that God our Father “has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace.” If we cling to his Spirit, he will “strengthen [us] in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:17).

So stand firm! Hold on! But also relax.

God has jumped onto the ride with you. His strong arms are around you.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Let your words teach and your actions speak

“At the Day of Judgement we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done.”  - Thomas à Kempis

(Gospel Text: Mt 23:13-22)
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.'
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.'
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it."

Part of being human means making mistakes and experiencing errors.  Such is fine.  But it no longer remains fine when we become wrapped up in the mindset that life is nothing but a do over and that we can make as many mistakes as we knowingly desire to make just because we can and still get away with it.

Today God is reminding us to seek him and to live him. 

He is kindly, but bluntly, reminding us that we are prone to mishap and that we must be cognizant of what it is we say, do, or think, and more importantly, why it is that we do such.  Today God is inviting us to remain close friends (more than that, actually) with him and to continue onward with the progress we have made so far.  These reality checks are vital to our spirituality and they are crucial to helping us become aware of where we slip up.

May we take some time today to reflect over where we have fallen short, where we have actively separated ourselves from God, and by what means we are doing that.  May we ask for true forgiveness and may we actively try to mean the words we so simply say, “I’m sorry.”  God loves us and he wants us to experience such. 

“God is love and all who live in love, abide in God, and God abides in them.” 

May we today work towards the personal journey to abiding in God; may our reward be God himself continuing to abide in us.