Sunday, September 30, 2012

The miracle is this: The more we share the more we have

“The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.”
 - Mother Teresa

(Gospel text: Jas 5:1-6)
Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance.

Consumerism at the cost of human dignity is something we have all come into contact with at some point or another in our lives, whether we realize it or not.  From the clothes we wear, to the fruits and vegetables we eat, we are consistently making choices in regards to which companies we are going to buy from and which products we are going to purchase.  While doing this however, we may also be supporting companies that treat their workers in an unjust and inhumane manner.  This is an issue that I think directly ties into today’s reading.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he spent much of his time reaching out and loving the marginalized and suffering; in so doing, Jesus strived to make the splendor of each human person recognized in the eyes of everyone around him.  As Christians in today’s world, we are time and again barraged by the stark reality of the suffering surrounding us in our lives.  Often times though, it is difficult to know what to do in regards to making this world a better place; it is difficult to feel like we have the power to do anything.  It is a feeling of helplessness I think we all can relate to.  Instead of giving up entirely, we can work to understand that even the smallest of our actions can indeed help to make this world a better place and move us closer to bringing about the Kingdom of God.    

We as human beings have so much potential to make this world a more just and loving place, and it begins with our own individual decisions. 

Again and again, Jesus chose to love in the face of adversity; let us also, as Christians and human beings, strive to do the same.

Friday, September 28, 2012

“The future starts today, not tomorrow.”

“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”  - C.S. Lewis

(Scripture text: ECCL 3:1-11)
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed
for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man's ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done

I love this reading for today because it always reminds me to take a step back and relax.  It is very easy for us all to stress out about where our lives are going.  We all want things to be planned.  But God reminds us in Ecclesiastes that “there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens.”(Eccl 3:1).  Sometimes we just have to be patient, whether we like it or not.  There is also an important distinction in this verse.  Everything that happens or will happen has its own God-appointed time, and most importantly, there is time for everything that we could ever need.  God knows what is on our hearts, and knows what is best for us.  All will be provided, if only we are patient and trusting.

In our world, it is easy to waste time with things that aren’t of God, but not today.  Cherish what is happening, not what is to come.  Make every moment count, and leave space for God’s plans to unfold in your life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”

“We must not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and understanding are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn light, and this we quickly lose through negligence. Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart.”  - Thomas à Kempis.

(Gospel Text: LK 9:7-9)
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
"John has been raised from the dead";
others were saying, "Elijah has appeared";
still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen."
But Herod said, "John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?"
And he kept trying to see him.

Rumors were flying. Speculation was high. Who was this Jesus of Nazareth?

For Herod, this was an espe­cially perplexing predicament. He had already taken care of John the Baptist and it seemed that Jesus’ presence pricked his conscience on the matter. Maybe he wanted to see Jesus not only physically but spiritu­ally. Was God really trying to speak to him through Jesus and even John? Still, Herod’s vision was clouded, and he couldn’t break through the fog to come to faith.

Ask yourself, why was Herod’s vision clouded?

Deep in our hearts, we all want to “see” the Lord. But like Herod, we too could be hampered by blurred vision. Unforgiveness, bitterness, fear, anxiety all of these and more can keep us in the dark. But nothing is more capable of holding us back than sin. John the Baptist brought Herod’s sin to light by criticizing Herod’s marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife. Herod could have repented. He could have found a way out of his immoral union. But he chose to silence John’s voice instead.

You don’t have to follow in Herod’s footsteps!

The Holy Spirit can clear away any clouds that are obscuring your vision of the Lord. And through the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you can cooperate with him in this work. In fact, begin by getting into the habit of repenting every night before you go to bed. This is probably one of the best ways to sharpen your vision over time.

Every evening, look over your day and ask the Spirit to help you iden­tify anything that you may have said or done or thought that was displeas­ing to the Lord. Then simply ask for forgiveness and for the Spirit’s help to do better tomorrow. Over time, your vision will become clearer and clearer, simply because you are giving the Holy Spirit room to work in your heart.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God

To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. - C. S. Lewis

(Gospel Text: LK 9:1-6)
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them."
Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere.

Our central battle is one of faith. Will we or won't we believe that God will provide for us?

If we try to control our lives, we will lose them (see Lk 9:24). If we give God control of our lives, we will gain them. Trust in God frees us from the tyrannical compulsion to control everything, which in reality is impossible. Trust in God also frees us to receive lasting love and power, something everyone is searching for but searching in the wrong places.

"Trust in Him at all times, O my people!" (Ps 62:9)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There was never a war on poverty. At best there was a skirmish.

“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.”  - Herman Melville

(Scripture text: Prv 21:1-6, 10-13)
 Like a stream is the king's heart in the hand of the LORD;
wherever it pleases him, he directs it.

All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes,
but it is the LORD who proves hearts.

To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart?
the tillage of the wicked is sin.

The plans of the diligent are sure of profit,
but all rash haste leads certainly to poverty.

Whoever makes a fortune by a lying tongue
is chasing a bubble over deadly snares.

The soul of the wicked man desires evil;
his neighbor finds no pity in his eyes.

When the arrogant man is punished, the simple are the wiser;
when the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.

The just man appraises the house of the wicked:
there is one who brings down the wicked to ruin.

He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself also call and not be heard.

Whatever we do for "the least of the brethren," we do for Jesus (Mt 25:40). When we don't give to "the least of the brethren," we also deprive ourselves of receiving. We'll have possessions which we've withheld from the poor, but we won't have peace, true joy, or fulfillment.

If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy" (1 Cor 12:26). For example, if one part of your physical body is hurting, your whole body is suffering. Even if you try to ignore that part of your body, it still hurts, and so do you.

The first world is depressed because the third world is oppressed. When we love the poor, we love a part of our own body. The Lord promises: "Happy is he who has regard for the lowly and the poor; in the day of misfortune the Lord will deliver him. The Lord will keep and preserve him; He will make him happy on the earth, and not give him over to the will of his enemies. The Lord will help him on his sickbed, He will take away all his ailment when he is ill" (Ps 41:2-4).

Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see the face of God (Mat 5:8). Only and until we purify our hearts shall we hear the cry of the poor and act according to the Lord's will.