Tuesday, October 31, 2017

It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us. God doesn't want our success; He wants us. He doesn't demand our achievements; He demands our obedience. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a cross, a holy God is utterly glorified. Victory came through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self.

Modern prophets say that our economics have failed us. No! It is not our economics which have failed; it is man who has failed-man who has forgotten God. Hence no manner of economic or political readjustment can possibly save our civilization; we can be saved only by a renovation of the inner man, only by a purging of our hearts and souls; for only by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Justice will all these other things be added unto us. - Fulton J. Sheen: (1895 – 1979: was an American bishop (later archbishop) of the Catholic Church known for his preaching and especially his work on television and radio. )

Gospel text: (LK 13:18-21)
Jesus said, "What is the Kingdom of God like?
To what can I compare it?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches."

Again he said, "To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took
and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened."

The “Mustard seed” and the “Yeast” are real in their beginnings and their resuls.  These images of faith assist us in our human struggles to be who we really are and to show-up in order to show Him off. The “mustard seed” begins its rising to maturity through its wrestling through the soil in which it is buried. Its growth is slow and dependent on the gifts of sun, rain and wind. It reaches beyond itself, up, toward the beyond in a restless yearning for more. It is going to be more than it was, but only in time and with help. Its fruitfulness will be a result of its being what it was, is and will be. The reign of God has always made much of little and the little rises to extend its branches for welcome and sharing.

Monday, October 30, 2017

“Christ is the Good Physician. There is no disease He cannot heal; no sin He cannot remove; no trouble He cannot help.”

“Healing comes only from that which leads the patient beyond himself and beyond his entanglements with ego....” ~ Carl Jung: (1875 – 1961: was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology)

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.

The chief of the synagogue criticizes Jesus for curing on the Sabbath.  The chief of the synagogue was apparently healthy and needed no cure.  Apparently healthy.  Yes, his body may have been healthy, but what about his soul?  He comes across as one possessed with a spirit of self-righteousness, badly stooped with pride, and so infirm that he cannot recognize who Jesus is. 

Who was more in need of a cure, the woman or the chief of the synagogue?

Where is healing needed in our world today?  Yes, there are many people who are physically infirm and in need of a cure.  But many others are crippled by anger, shackled by fear, eaten up by greed, impaired by hypocrisy, blinded by prejudice, starving for appreciation and thirsting for love.  Infirmity is all around.

If we recognize that we are all children of God, created by God, dependent up God and loved by God, then we have well-grounded hope for the cure that is peace.  We can stand up straight and continually be thanking God.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other…..”

When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. - Ezra Taft Benson: (1899 – 1994: was an American farmer, government official, and religious leader who served as the 15th United States Secretary of Agriculture)

Gospel Text: (MT 22:34-40)
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

It is very easy in life to get the two great commandments reversed, and put ourselves and other people first in our life, and give God what’s left over.  Most good Catholics and Christian people in general, work hard at loving other people though, just as much as we love ourselves.  We understand the second commandment pretty well, and work to apply it in our lives.

However, it isn’t easy to love God.  You can’t hug Him.  You can’t detect Him with your five senses.  He is invisible, because He is a Spirit and not made of temporal matter, but He exists none the less.  The only way to truly get to know God, and to love Him like the gospel says, “with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind,” is through a regular prayer life.  The sacraments of the church help to predispose us to His grace, but that alone is not enough.  He wants our time and attention, in regular conversations with Him through prayer.  He has our complete undivided attention then.  It is also good to spend some time listening for God in the quiet, after we have said our prayers.

Silence, solitude, nature, and time spent in prayer are excellent means of becoming more aware of God’s presence in your life.  Surely we can carve out at least a half hour a day, (or more), to spend some time to get to know our creator better?  When we reach for God, He always reaches back for us.

Your life will begin to change in ways you can not even begin to imagine, if you do this.  It’s like scales that fall off the eyes of your heart, and you will begin to see the world around you in a completely different way.  His love will surround you, and permeate everything, strengthening you and supporting you, so that life is so much easier to handle, and gentler on your soul and in your heart, than what you may have ever experienced before. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

“The two pillars of 'political correctness' are, a) willful ignorance, and b) a steadfast refusal to face the truth.”

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”  - Soren Kierkegaard: (1813 –1855 was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.)

Gospel Text: (LK 12:54-59)
Jesus said to the crowds,
"When you see a cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is.
You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

"Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny."

Jesus is making a strong point here.  He seems to be trying to get the crowds to realize that something is happening NOW and they just don’t seem to get it.  I truly wonder how Jesus would deal with us in our times if He was trying to tell us the Kingdom of God is at hand.  Could He get us to put down our electronic devices long enough to even recognize His presence much less the significance of His words and deeds?  Could He interrupt the constant repetition of “Breaking News”?  And could He even hope to distract us from the morning tweets?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

“I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against.”

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer: (1788 –1860: was a German philosopher)

Gospel Text: (LK 12:49-53)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

In today’s chaotic and charged public dialogue, we often retreat to those safe groups or cable networks where all my assumptions are affirmed and reinforced. We can’t seem to tolerate others who might challenge our assumptions or biases. Rather than engage in civic and civil conversations, we berate and insult those who disagree with us.

Jesus did not come to simply mess with people’s minds. He came to show us a different way. And for many, it did not make sense, it was confusing. The Gospel of John (6:65) even says that some of the early disciples left to return to their homes because what Jesus was preaching was simply too hard.

So yes, there will be division, there will be differences, there will be discomfort when we listen intently to what Jesus is saying to us. That’s the nature of conversion. All those assumptions we carry might well need to be re-examined. If you want to put all those assumptions back into place, that’s fine. But first Jesus is going to challenge us and make us look at our life and the world differently.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

“A checkbook is a theological document; it will tell you who and what you worship.”

“If I therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” - Jesus Christ the night before he was Crucified

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."

No Christian is ordinary. At the moment of a person’s baptism, God infuses grace into that adopted child’s soul. The graces given include the divine virtues of faith, hope and charity. God entrusts this grace to His adopted child. Consider this fact in light of Jesus’ words at the end of today’s Gospel passage. God entrusts His own divine life to His adopted children. And of course, the graces received at Baptism are but the “first installment” of our inheritance. As we continue to grow as His children, God continues to bestow grace upon us through the sacraments and prayer.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much”. What will be required of us, then, as sharers in the divine life? Are you a “faithful and prudent steward”? Both of these virtues—fidelity and prudence—are required to be stewards of the graces that God gives us. Both help keep our attention on our Master: the beginning and end of all the graces of our lives.