Monday, November 30, 2015

The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.

“If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.”  - Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862: American author, poet, & philosopher)
Gospel Text: (Mt 4:18-22)
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.

«Come, follow me, and I will make you fish for people» (Mt 4:19). In the same village there were two other brothers, James and John, friends of the first ones, and fishermen like them. And Jesus also invited them to follow him. It is nice to see how they leave everything and follow him “at once”, a word that is repeated in both cases.
We cannot tell Jesus: “afterwards”, “later on”, “I'm busy now”...
To each one of us —to all Christians— Jesus is also asking every day to place at his service whatever we are and whatever we have so that while living with him amidst our professional and family obligations, we may become “fishermen for people”. What does it mean to be “fishermen for people”? A nice answer might be a commentary by St. John Chrysostom. This Father and Doctor of the Church says that Andrew did not know how to explain to his brother Peter who was Jesus and, consequently, he «brought him to the very source of light», that is, Jesus Christ. “To fish men” means to help all those around us, in our family and in our work, to find Christ who is the only light for our route.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

He is most free from danger, who, even when safe, is on his guard.

To be nobody but yourself -- in a world which is doing it's best, night and day, to make you like everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. - E. E. Cummings (1894 – 1962: an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright.)

Gospel Text: (LK 21:25-28, 34-36)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus, in his deep familiarity with the “end time” readings of the Old Testament, offers a vision of a world out of order.  The sun and moon are no longer in alignment and the roar of the sea and waves terrify people. These readings don’t frighten me but they do grab my attention, as if God is begging me not to be overwhelmed with what is out of order, but to pay attention to the promise, here and now.

Jesus talks about the anxieties of daily life and cautions us to “not become drowsy”
from them. We can fret about everything from terrorism to our “To Do” list.  But Jesus
is offering us hope, consolation and his endless love.  He tells us to pay attention at
all times and to pray for strength.  What he really wants is for us to know how very
deeply each one of us is loved and cherished by him.  I find this very consoling.

Relying on that love releases my fierce grip on control of my life.  We can stop each
morning, set aside our “To Do” list and pray.  We can ask God to help us feel how
deeply we are loved and to help us let go of things that really don’t matter. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

“Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts.”

“At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God's own love and concern.” – Mother Teresa: (1910 –1997: also known as Teresa of Calcutta, MC, was a Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary)

Gospel Text: (LK 21:34-36)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”


We begin the four weeks of Advent,
When we are asked to put on patient waiting,
To stay awake and be alert as we prepare
To welcome the Christ Child in our midst.

Advent should challenge us to move out of our complacency, turn away from stubbornness and impatience and put ourselves in the hands of the one who promises to make all things good if we but trust.

Yes, be vigilant!  That preparation for tomorrow will make for a more beautiful today.       

Friday, November 27, 2015

"Our world is filled with fear, hate, lust, greed, war, and utter despair. Surely the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the only hope of replacing these depressing features with trust, love, universal peace, and prosperity."

“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.”― Søren Kierkegaard: (1813  -  1855:Danish philosopher, theologian, & poet)

Gospel Text: (LK 21:29-33)
Jesus told his disciples a parable.
“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees.
When their buds burst open,
you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near;
in the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that the Kingdom of God is near.
Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.”

We all have seen the comic strip depiction of the ascetic man dressed in flowing robes and holding a sign that says, “The End Is Near.” Recently I heard of another of these humorous frames that had the usual ascetic-looking fellow holding a sign that proclaimed: “The End is NOT near -- So Figure out how to live in an imperfect world!” There’s great wisdom in that because it encourages us to look outside of ourselves and our fears and limitations.

We KNOW how to live in an imperfect world.  God has already “uncovered” God’s self in the very person of Jesus, God’s son and our brother.  Jesus has shown throughout the course of his whole life and especially his last days of dying and rising from the dead.  He brings the Kingdom of God to our very imperfect world and invites us to join with him in living lives that help to illuminate the Kingdom in our troublesome days.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

“Whatever troubles may be before you, accept them bravely, remembering whom you are trying to follow”

“Do not let your heart become troubled by the sad spectacle of human injustice. Even this has its value in the face of all else. And it is from this that one day you will see the justice of God rising with unfailing triumph.” - St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina: (1887 – 1968: Known as Padre Pio — was a friar, priest, & stigmatist)
Gospel Text: (Lk 21:12-19)
Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Jesus tells us we can not escape from life, but must enter into it. Disciples can not be by-standers to life.  When Christians enter into life it takes on meaning. By entering into suffering that is often found in day to day living, freedom can be found if we allow the suffering to transform us. 
Scriptures tells us: “I will bring the one third through the fire; I will refine them as one refines silver, and I will test them as one tests gold. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people,” and they will say, “The LORD is my God.” (Zechariah 13:9)

Victor Frankel, a survivor of the holocaust, said: “A life without meaning is not a life.  To live we must choose. To love we must encounter.  To grow we must suffer.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

“We can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more.”

"For a small reward, a man will hurry away on a long journey; while for eternal life, many will hardly take a single step." - Thomas a Kempis: (1380 – 1471: Was a Dutch canon regular of the late medieval period and the author of The Imitation of Christ)

Gospel Text: (Lk 21:5-11)
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
Everything that’s built by human beings can be destroyed. That’s why something like the Great Pyramids of Egypt are so awesome: not simply because they are so colossal, but because they have—to an amazing extent—survived the ravages of time. You can think of one of the large cities on the West Coast of our own country (Los Angeles, for example): from the air, as you fly into the area, you can be filled with awe. And yet an earthquake could destroy everything in the area in a matter of minutes.

Through the prophet Daniel, God wanted King Nebuchadnezzar to know that his kingdom, so dear to him, could and would undergo destruction. Other kingdoms would take its place, but they, too, would last only a time (Daniel 2:31-45). The prophecy of Daniel foreshadowed the words of Jesus in today’s gospel, when he spoke of the Temple of Jerusalem: it, like everything built by human beings, will be destroyed. These are not the sorts of things to place our hope in.

Daniel also prophesied that God would set up a kingdom that would not be destroyed. There was no way that Daniel could understand this prophecy, but through Daniel, God was speaking about the Church: not church buildings (even Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome will some day fall), but the Church herself, made up of “living stones” will last forever.

Remember the words of Jesus himself, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18)