Saturday, September 30, 2017

“I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I've led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I've loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough………”

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― C.S. Lewis: (1898 –1963: was a British novelist, poet, & academic)

Gospel Text: (LK 9:43B-45)
While they were all amazed at his every deed,
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men."
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it,
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

As God Jesus knew that his mission for the Father would end by death on the cross. He became man, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, emptying himself to save humankind. He entered his passion and death willingly. All because he loved us.

His disciples could not understand his statements about his impending death. How could Jesus, their Master and teacher, the one they professed as the Messiah, the one who performed marvelous deeds of healing and mercy, even raised the dead to life, suffer and die? The disciples could not understand the significance and necessity in God's plan of Jesus' passion and death.

The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah had written about the Suffering Servant. Jesus himself spoke several times about his passion, death and rising from the dead. How could the disciples understand "rising from the dead"?

Like the disciples, we too find it difficult to understand how the great teacher and miracle worker Jesus would suffer and die on the cross. We find it difficult to understand how a loving Father God could have planned things this way for his only begotten Son-become-man.

We are reminded that God's ways are not our ways. We are reminded that Jesus' passion, death and resurrection were planned by a loving God to show Jesus' and his own love for us. We are reminded that true love has no boundaries and really follows no logic.

Friday, September 29, 2017

“When tempted, invoke your Angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped!”

I bind to myself today the power in the love of the Seraphim, in the obedience of the Angels, in the ministration of the Archangels, in the hope of Resurrection unto reward, in the prayers of the Patriarchs, in the predictions of the Prophets, in the preaching of the Apostles, in the faith of the Confessors, in the purity of the holy Virgins, in the deeds of Righteous men.   -St. Patrick of Ireland: (was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the "Apostle of Ireland")

Scripture Text: (RV 12:7-12AB)
War broke out in heaven;
Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,
who is called the Devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world,
was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
"Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.
For the accuser of our brothers is cast out,
who accuses them before our God day and night.
They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
love for life did not deter them from death.
Therefore, rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them."

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Archangels in our Catholic tradition.

Depictions of angels can be found in most specialty shops, catalogs and art stores in the forms of small, medium and large statues, pictures, on prayer cards, garden art and numerous other objects. They can be found in stain glass windows and statuary of the great cathedrals of Europe and around the world. We grow up knowing the guardian angel prayer and hope we haven’t frightened ours off by the time we have “grown up”. In the Catholic faith there are the nine choir of angels beginning with the lowest to highest ranking; Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. In the Church we celebrate the archangels, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael who are mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. Michael’s name means, “Who is like God?” We have a prayer calling on St. Michael for protection. This archangel is best known for his battle with evil, as quoted above. Gabriel is known as the messenger angel who announced to Mary that she was going to bear God’s Son. Gabriel’s name means, “God is My Strength” and is known as the Archangel of Wisdom, Revelation, Prophecy, and Visions. Raphael’s name means, “Healing Power of God”. We find this Archangel in the book of Tobit. He was sent in an answer to Tobit’s prayers and the prayers of his daughter. In this book of the Old Testament, Raphael is companion, guide, and heals Tobit of his blindness.

Angels are spiritual beings who assist God with those tasks on earth and in heaven. In the readings today from Mass we read that, “Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him.”(Dn 7:9 – 10) What a sight that must be! All of those spiritual beings tending to God and doing what God commands. As I picture it in my mind’s eye it seems as if Heaven is a very busy place. During the Triduum I have pondered what the angels were doing as Christ went through his Passion, death and Resurrection. I can hear God telling Michael, No, hold back your angels, do not interfere. Gabriel watching with great sadness and Raphael wanting to heal broken hearts. And then great joy with Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension. And most likely they too understood the plan that God had in mind and tended to Christ on the day of Resurrection and the Ascension.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: To transform us into a brand new creation - both here on earth as well as in heaven.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” ― C.S. Lewis: (1898 – 1963: was a British novelist, poet, & academic)
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.

In the Gospel reading King Herod wonders who this Jesus miracle-worker is: one of the prophets come back to life, Elijah-come-back, or John the Baptist raised to life? Though Herod respected John as "an upright and holy man" and "liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him (Mk 6: 20), he had John beheaded at the request of the daughter of Herodias his consort.

We know that Herod wanted to meet Jesus. He finally met him when Pilate sent Jesus to him at his trial. But he got no reply from Jesus. (Lk 23: 6 -12)

Like Herod, we are asked the same question? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth? And, more important, what is he to us now? When Jesus asked his disciples at Caesarea Philippi, "Who do you say I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Messiah." What is our answer?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

“We need to remember that the first disciples were ordinary men called to an extraordinary mission. Their devotion to Jesus outweighed their fears and insecurities. As a result God change them and use them to accomplish some mind-boggling things. Why couldn't God - why wouldn't God do the same in your life?”

Jesus’ friends are in no way remarkable for their talent or character. He who considers the apostles or disciples great from a human or religious point of view raises the suspicion that he is unacquainted with true greatness. Moreover, he is confusing standards, for the apostle and disciple have nothing to do with such greatness. Their uniqueness consists of their being sent, of their God-given role of pillars for the coming salvation.” ― Servant of God Romano Guardini (1885 – 1968: was an Italian-born German Catholic priest, author, and academic. He was one of the most important figures in Catholic intellectual life in the 20th century.

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.

Jesus gives us his “marching orders” in today’s reading from Luke.

He sends the Twelve out with nothing.  All they had was the present moment and the knowledge that the Kingdom of God was at hand.  I wonder what I would have done if my marching orders were to leave with nothing, and to proclaim the Kingdom!  My guess is that Jesus would have gotten a few questions from me.

This is a good day to reflect on what I need in today’s world to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  I seem to need lots of trappings.  These trappings can obscure the message I am trying to preach.  I need to set aside anything which clouds the truth.  The truth is simple, beautiful and life-changing.  God loves us.  God loves us so much that we are each invited to empty ourselves (die) and be filled with new life (rise). 

I don’t need a "tunic" to proclaim this good news of the Kingdom of God.  I need simply to say yes and “get on down the road!” 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“Our love must not be a thing of words and fine talk. It must be a thing of action and sincerity”

“One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practice the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterized by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anaemia of deeds! We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practice the very opposite of the democratic creed. We talk passionately about peace, and at the same time we assiduously prepare for war. We make our fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then we tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice. This strange dichotomy, this agonizing gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man's earthly pilgrimage.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.  Strength to Love

Gospel Text: (LK 8:19-21)
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you."
He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it."

“Be doers of the word . . . for a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing” (Jas 1:22, 25). On the other hand, “If any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (Jas 1:23).

Being a “doer of the word” is also what is most on Jesus’ heart: “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk 8:21). Without “doing the word” everything is illusion and building on sand (see Matt 7:26). People cannot even say that they have understood the word because, as St. Gregory the Great says, the word of God is truly understood only when people begin to practice it.