Thursday, March 31, 2016
+ On this Thursday within the Octave of Easter we see two more interrelated readings, one having to do with Pentecost events, and one with the Easter activities of Jesus.
In the first reading we see how the Apostle Peter, in the company of John began to preach to the Jews gathered in Solomon’s Portico of the Temple – who witnessed the curing of the crippled man. They were quick to explain to them that they – Peter and John – did not cure the man – but Jesus, the one who was put to death, but then raised again by God – had cured the man using them as his instruments. Faith in this God has given this man strength and perfect health!
In the presence of such a display of God’s power and indeed the risen Christ himself, Peter then exhorts the Jews to repent and likewise believe in Jesus – who has indeed fulfilled all the prophecies about a coming Messiah and Lord – and be saved – so that all the offspring of all the families of the earth shall be blessed!
In the gospel passage we see Jesus making his second resurrection appearance (the first being the night of Easter when he came to the Apostles in the upper room). The ones who were discussing what had happened to them on the road to Emmaus got a surprise visit by Jesus: he suddenly appeared in their midst – saying to them - “Peace be with you!” They were afraid and thought they were seeing a ghost – but Jesus said, ghosts do not have flesh and bones as I do! It is me! I am back! Do you have anything to eat? He said this to further prove that it was really him and no ghost – although he was now in “risen state,” – a state of enhanced humanity that those who believe in him would share in! And he ate fish with them!
Then he told them, as he told the Apostles he will send out on Pentecost: thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Then he tells them: you are witnesses of these things: therefore, you go and tell everyone about it!
Alleluia! This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it!
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
+ This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.
We have two beautiful readings today! In the first reading we see how the Apostle Peter, with John, offers a lifelong crippled man a gift that is beyond silver or gold: having the man look at them, Peter said: we do not have silver or gold but we do have the amazing and dynamic power of the Risen Jesus to give you: and we give it – and in his name we command you to rise and walk. And the man arose and walked! In fact, he jumped around for joy and then walked into the temple with the two Apostles praising God. All who saw this were amazed because they knew this to be the man who had been handicapped since he was a baby!
The Church offers us the same amazing and dynamic power of the Risen Jesus in its sacraments and activity of self-sacrificial giving and charity – so that we can be healed of what cripples and handicaps us. All we need do is believe in the One whose power is at work: Jesus the Risen Lord of Glory, his Father and their Spirit. There is not enough silver or gold in the whole world that can buy what our simple response of faith can attain for us!
And of course the gospel passage is the beloved story of the walk of Jesus with two dejected disciples on the road to Emmaus on Easter Sunday afternoon. These two are among the vast majority who are scratching their heads and hanging them heavy as it seems that their hopes in Jesus had been dashed to the ground. He said he would rise on the third day. What happened? We do not see anyone! But then Jesus himself – in his Risen presence – comes and walks right along with them – and he engages with them in a dialogue in which he could refresh their memories about the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets that Jesus was supposed to be (still not revealing himself to them as the one to whom they referred); and then when they invited him into their house for supper, and when he took bread and broke it and gave it to them – thus truly revealing who he was – they did recognize him – at which point he vanished from their sight!
Then comes one of the most beautiful lines in all of scripture: Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us? They knew without a doubt that the man who walked and ate with them was Jesus, Risen from the dead. And they left at once and went to Jerusalem to tell everyone what had happened: and how they recognized him in the breaking of the bread! This of course, is the very pattern of our Mass: from that Easter Sunday afternoon we get the framework for what we do here: read and reflect on Jesus (as he is present in the words of the ministers and priest) who opens the Scriptures and interprets them for us; and in the breaking of the bread: where the priest – in the very person of Jesus – once again feeds us with his own risen and real Body and Blood – so that we can grow more and more daily to resemble him, so that the Father will see him in us, and will welcome us to heaven to spend eternity in a forever of joy and glory!
Let us give thanks to the Lord, and invoke his name today; and make known among the nations (including our own) his saving deeds! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
On this Tuesday within the Octave of Easter we continue to relate the Pentecost message with the Easter fact. The “good news” preached by the Apostles from the day of Pentecost, is the historical fact of the resurrection to new life of Jesus Christ – Son of God.
In our first reading today we hear Peter on Pentecost Day telling the crowd of Israelites that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom they crucified. He then told them to repent and be baptized – every one of them – in the name of the risen Lord Jesus – for the forgiveness of their sins – and they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – and their entire lives will never be the same again, here or hereafter. The vitality and persuasive power of the Holy Spirit, fresh fallen on the Apostles was great, for three thousand were baptized that day!
It is up to us – who are also baptized into the Risen Jesus, with the same baptism as those three thousand - to cling to him now because he is both seated at the right hand of his Father, but also very much alive and present within the Church he left behind – to be energized and loved by him – so that we, his hands and feet and heart, can go out and energize and love others in the world around us: at least to offer our energy and love – it is still up to them to freely accept the love of God for themselves or not!
God has delivered us from death – and he has preserved us so that we can praise him unceasingly!
And now the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Alleluia!
Monday, March 28, 2016
+ This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. We celebrate today the first day within the octave of Easter! An octave celebration, we recall, is a continuation of the original celebration as if it were still going on: and so for the Catholic world every day this week will be a re-presentation of Easter Sunday!
If this is the case, then why will all of our first readings this week be of Pentecost Day and the events thereof?
For two reasons: 1) the proclamation of Easter is very short, poignant and earth-shattering: JESUS – who was put to death – HAS BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD! HE LIVES! - NEVERMORE TO DIE AGAIN! and this changes everything!
2) But in his wisdom Jesus took another 50 days to prepare his Apostles – the Eleven (now) - to go out and proclaim this very astounding, powerful, yet simple truth. And PENTECOST was the day when finally they understood it all (when the Spirit came upon them) – and they began to preach and teach this gospel message regarding Jesus – the Risen Lord – who indeed was the long awaited Messiah – to the ends of the earth as they had been instructed by him to do.
This is why, the Easter fact and the Pentecost message are intimately linked; this is also where we come in – we who have responded to the apostolic mission and have chosen to believe in the message, to enter into an interpersonal friendship with Jesus and to be plugged into the life and sacramental system of the Church he established on Pentecost.
And so, we rejoice today that God can truly be our hope, our joy and our peace! – and that he empowers us to bring these to others, all others, for he has poured out upon us the promised gift of the Holy Spirit!
Saturday, March 26, 2016
+ Rejoice! The Lord is risen, just as he said! And he has appeared to Simon!
Today the Church resounds with joy as we celebrate the central fact of our existence as Church: the rising from the dead of Jesus Christ our Lord, our King and our Savior! Jesus has accomplished what no other human being could ever accomplish, and he did it FOR us: He died FOR us! He rose from the dead by the working of the Holy Spirit at the command of God the Father, FOR us! – so that we WITH HIM might give the Father the glory that is His due – by the lives we lead IN HIM, and THROUGH HIM!
JESUS DIED FOR US! He saw his bitter Passion all the way through to the end so that all of the Passion that we are invited to participate in may be meritorious for us! – most especially our last bit that we must endure: physical death. But because Jesus died, he took the sting out of our death, and so we have nothing to fear when our turn comes and we like Jesus will close our eyes in the sleep of peace!
But this death also merited for us the FORGIVENESS OF OUR SINS – and it was our sins which cause in us certain and unrelenting spiritual death: the chief among them being the sin of our first parents. Because of them, we are not free to live completely sinless lives and sometimes we do sin; but Jesus death blotted out the capital offense and all our offenses once and for all time, and so should we sin now, we now have the wonderful Sacrament of Forgiveness to remove our personal sins after baptism.
JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD – FOR US – to a newness of life, the fullness of life that only God could imagine and bring into existence. Just as Jesus was not just resuscitated, taking up again the exact same bodily existence and life that he had three days prior; so now he lives a new and everlasting kind of spiritually enhanced existence which includes his former body, but now transformed, transfigured, in glory – and this he offers to those who want it, those who ask for it, and those who live the rest of their lives like they do in fact want it! This is an astounding fact!
And he did all of these things so that we, WITH HIM, might give his Father - who planned and carried out the whole wonderful love story - the thanks and honor and worship and adoration and glory that most certainly is his due – by the lives we lead, filled with his risen Spirit, and thus IN HIM and THROUGH HIM make an enormous difference both for ourselves and for those people with whom we share this absolutely fantastic story of divine intervention and redeemed mankind!
Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed; [and now everything is different for everyone]; let us then feast with joy in the Lord – and then let us go forth, as the women at the tomb did, and tell everyone about it!
Friday, March 25, 2016
+ Let us reflect for a few minutes tonight on the staggering significance of what we are remembering and celebrating:
· the God who became Man – Jesus Christ – came to earth (on Christmas Day (today being, btw the ordinary Feast of the Annunciation – when he began to exist on earth in the womb of Mary)– we cannot separate the Crib and the Cross)
and he began to live his entire life in the shadow of that Cross – the Cross that would await him at the end of the journey of his life among us.
· no matter who tried to deter him from his heaven-sent mission (the Devil, the Scribes, the Pharisees, unbelieving sight-seers and n'er-do-wells) Jesus always kept he entire focus on that Cross – because it meant our salvation, it meant the forgiveness of our sins, it meant the opening of the gates of heaven to us, which would otherwise remain closed forever
· the mechanism, if you will that would win salvation, was the absolute obedience and trust of a human being (who was also God at the same time) to overturn the disobedience and grave act of mistrust in God displayed by our first parents: this is the SIN OF ADAM.
· and so it happened as it was foretold – all of the prophecies were fulfilled – and Jesus died a human death on that Friday we call Good – because it snatched up all that was bad and cast it away forever.
· and we became free – free to form and use our consciences properly, free to make good and right, helpful and just decisions, free to choose to love Jesus and his Father – and to opt for living with them forever in heaven by accepting their invitation to do so…
· what a wondrous day this is: what an astounding drama that was played out, what a price that was paid for sin, what a cause for our never-ceasing acclamations of thanks, praise, worship and glory to GOD who loves us each so very, very much as to insist that it all be played out this exact way
· O Saving Cross of Christ WE ADORE YOU!
Thursday, March 24, 2016
+ Tonight we begin the solemn Three Day observance of the Passion and Death and Resurrection of the Lord. In this Mass we remember how the Lord Jesus designated his desire for all people of all time to not only remember, but also to be an actual witness of his unspeakable agony and torture and crucifixion, and also his glorious and astounding resurrection to newness of life! He did it by the events of his Last Supper with his closest friends, the Apostles. It was during that highly ritualistic Passover supper that Jesus added something new: he added an extra step to it: he took bread and wine that was already on the table and changes them into his own very real, substantial and tangible Body and Blood – really and truly - a supernatural event that requires faith to make any sense. And then he told the Apostles to do this always in his memory!
What was contained in that new ritual, that new consecration, that new transubstantiation was all of the events that would follow that evening, up to not only his resurrection from the dead three days later, but also his ascension into heaven in forty days’ time, and the sending of the Spirit fifty days hence. Therefore, when anyone attends the Holy Event of the Mass from then on they would not just be a witness, but also a participant in its life-saving, sin-forgiving effects!
And then to punctuate the meaning of tonight’s service, Jesus tells us that it is not only necessary for us to be there at the Cross and Tomb with him, but we must also take the spiritual insight and strength taken from each new participation and allow it to make a difference in the way we live our everyday lives: in this way we resemble him all the more and the Father looks down on us and is very pleased.
For the Baptized Catholic Christian there must be evidence of putting the belief that all of this is real into the action of loving service. This is why Jesus, in the gospel passage tonight, washes the feet of his disciples; thus, demonstrating both the humility required a member of his Body the Church, and also the spirit and activity of service to those in need which is essential to the definition of a Catholic Christian! Christianity without loving service is like a body without a heart!
May our hearts beat with the very love of Jesus whom we will receive adoringly in this most special of all Eucharistic Celebrations – and lead us out into the highways and byways to make that all-inclusive love known everywhere!
I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: love one another as I have loved you.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
+ We are on the threshold of the three holiest days of the church year. Tomorrow we celebrate the Institution of the Priesthood and the Perpetual Memorial of the Lord’s Last Supper which we know of as “The Mass”; on Friday we commemorate his life-giving Passion and Death (which was anticipated at that supper); and Saturday evening (and Easter Sunday) we rejoice with the Church as we proclaim Jesus Risen from the dead, and we welcome new members into the Mystical Body of the Church.
Our attitude ought to be one of solemn yet joyful anticipation and reflection on such a wondrous display of God’s love and mercy and forgiveness. He did not have to create us in the first place; and he did not have to redeem us when we miserably failed the simple test of loyalty that he gave us in the second place: but he did both: BECAUSE HE LOVES US! May we love him back then, and thank him profusely by lives of giving to others, all others, after the example of his own beloved Son, Jesus!
Hail to you Jesus:
Lord, King and Savior of the world!
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
+ Our readings today tell of three things: the glory that awaits Jesus for seeing through his task of redemption for the likes of us; and the two types of potentially redeemed: the kind who betray Jesus (like Judas) in a very cold and calculated sort of way: not seeing past their own selfish vision and who never see the error of their ways; and the kind who deny Jesus (like Peter) but who later recant and are forgiven!
All of us betray and deny Jesus at times: Jesus who came to be a light to the nations and the glory of Israel. This day of Holy Week let us reflect all day on how easy it is to go “another way,” to choose being “children of Adam” rather than children of God, to bask in “self-made counterfeit light,” rather than the glory of the Lord that we are called to live within. And let us choose to go the harder way with Jesus; to be children of the Father, with Jesus; to be filled with the light and glory which is our inheritance!
Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
+ We are now at the end of our Lenten observance and we begin the observance of the holiest week of the Church year. Though we have been here many times before, we are invited to make this year different from the rest because we have a deeper interest in the events, because we have both a better understanding of them and because they pertain to us very personally and really: all of the things that Jesus did, he did for us and for our salvation!
On this day when we recall the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, let us see it for what it was: he was now finished with eluding the crowds of Jews who were out to get him, he is no longer in hiding: he is very much visible, marching into his city, to claim his position as King: King of the Jews; as Lord of all lords and Savior of all mankind.
The crowds of people who lined his route were inspired by the Holy Spirit himself to make a magnificent spectacle out of this entry, waving palm branches – HOSANNA TO THE SON OF DAVID they shouted: BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD – for this is who he truly was.
May we take from this celebration today these three titles of Jesus to ponder during the coming days of Holy Week: 1)JESUS IS LORD, Jesus is Lord (not Caesar, not any governor, not any president, not any prime minister) Jesus is the one and true Lord of lords; 2) JESUS IS KING – Jesus is King of the Jews, he is king of all nations – and his kingdom will have no end – and all – sooner or later – all the kings of the earth will one day obey him; and lastly, 3) JESUS IS SAVIOR. JESUS IS SAVIOR OF THE WORLD – no one else in human history was qualified to do what he did: reconcile God and Man – because he was both God and Man at the same time, in the same Person: everything that Jesus said and did then, he did NOT FOR HIMSELF – but FOR US AND FOR OUR SALVATION!
This is why it is only right and just that we take the time, a lot of time this coming week to think about these things, to reflect on them, and to adore and worship the One to whom they refer: Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Mary, Foster-son of Joseph and Son of God! LORD, KING, SAVIOR!
HOSANNA TO THE SON OF DAVID!
Friday, March 18, 2016
+ The Prophet Jeremiah has in his own life the experience of being denounced and stalked by his own friends: “all those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine; perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him!” This is a sure prophecy of what would happen to Jesus at a later time: in the gospel passage today we see the Jews trying to trip Jesus up because they fail to understand his unique and real relationship with his heavenly Father: the one sent by him into the world to reconcile us, the one who has the right to be called true Son of God (because that is exactly what he is). Jesus tells them then if they do not believe what he says about himself as Son of God – they should at least believe that he is unique and from God because of the quality of the works that he does: his spiritually revolutionary preaching, and his miracles that have no other explanation than originating in God himself.
But these prejudiced and stiff-necked people reject any claim that Jesus makes on being in a special relationship with the very God of their fathers: and they try to arrest him – but as it was not yet his exact hour to finally be handed over, he escaped from their power and went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. There many came to believe in him for they realized that everything John said about this man was true.
We have a unique and special invitation to listen to Jesus speak at this Mass and to witness his greatest sign of all: the changing of bread and wine by the priest into his Real and True Body and Blood as supernatural nourishment for our spiritual lives for which we are responsible for growth and maturity! May we appreciate what happens here to the maximum – for it is astounding as it is breathtaking!
We love you, O Lord, our strength, O Lord, our rock, our fortress, our deliverer.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
+ In the gospel passage today Jesus is trying to make the point that those who keep the covenant and commandments that his Father made with Abraham (and his descendants) are also obeying him because he was also present at the time those covenants and commands were given – and that their reward will be everlasting life. The Jews however are not convinced of his legitimacy and they mock him saying: You are not yet fifty years old, how could you have seen Abraham and been with him when God spoke with him?
Jesus, in an exasperating way, raises his voice and cries out: Listen to me! before Abraham came to be, I AM. I am eternal! I am with God always! I am present in all my Father’s dealings with the human race. So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area: to await his hour when more than stones will be thrown at him.
In the first reading we see the historic covenant made between God and Abram: it was the cause of the changing of his name to Abraham, and it was the cause of many graces and blessings on him and his physical and spiritual descendants; but the other end of the deal must never be overlooked: he would be their God, but they must obey the commands of the covenant – all of them: and thus they would be eligible for countless blessings.
May we the children of Abraham, the children of God be quick to obey with our spiritual fathers: imitate their example, and win the prize that they won for us by their obedience: life on high forever, with God, his Son and the communion of saints!
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
+ The topic of our readings today is an important one: freedom. It seems that Jesus and the Jewish people to whom he spoke were on two different wavelengths again: this time regarding what it truly means to be free! The Jewish people still see freedom as a national condition that is the goal to be striven for: the children of Abraham are free because they are to be the favored nations of God – among other nations and gods!
But Jesus speaks very plainly today: only I can give you true freedom, inner freedom, freedom to be who you are on the inside – and it is from the inside out that you will attain your true status as heirs of Abraham and favored children of God!
Most often, freedom comes at a price: such as the price the three young men faced in the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar! But when one is totally engulfed in faith in God – not even lapping flames of any kind – real or symbolic – can disturb you.
May we today truly be free, enjoying the freedom of the sons and daughters of God: a freedom consisting of informed consent and cooperation with God who wants to be an intimate part of our lives – if we let him!
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever!
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
+ We focus in this Lenten day on the very instrument of our salvation: the cross on which the Lord was hung. In a very real way we must be able to look at the cross and see joy or we are not looking at it in a faith-filled way. Just as the people of the Old Testament were to look at seraph snakes mounted on a pole in order to be saved; so too the New Testament people are to look up at the crucified one hung on a cross and see the “joy of their salvation.” Jesus himself says that when you lift me up, then you will know who I am and what I am, and all of you will be eligible to be saved: you will know that I AM sent me, that the Father and I are one, and that we love you all in an extraordinary sort of way.
There is no one who does not have a very real and feeling reaction to seeing a cross – raised up or otherwise – for it speaks to the heart: those who wear crosses merely for decoration, do so, whether they know it or not, out of some faith-response - whether they would admit it or not; and they also do a favor for those who understand the basic meaning of the cross but need to be reminded of how much God truly loves them, personally, throughout the day!
And lastly, the cross is a great instrument of protection: the devils flee from it, and the angels hover around it; may we respect and even adore it as the instrument of the payment of our sins and the new life that is ours if we want it.
The nations shall revere your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory, when the Lord has rebuilt Zion and appeared in his glory.
Monday, March 14, 2016
+ Today we have the very familiar story of Jesus freeing and forgiving the woman caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses was clear about such matters, but the “law of compassion” and “love” is meant even to supersede it at times. And the case of comparing one sinful person with another is one such time: “let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
We are all sinful people who have no right or business judging, condemning and executing one another—as the golden rule even would also prompt us to do.
If God is willing to forgive, as is demonstrated by Jesus’ own actions in the passage; then who are we to show God his business?
The first reading tells of another woman, Susanna, saved by another young prophet appointed by God, Daniel, who obviously prefigures Jesus who came to save us. Let us today, like the two women, be saved, let us today be pardoned, let us today rejoice that we are so regarded and favored by God – and let us not be so proud as to withhold such mercy and forgiveness to others.
The feast of our redemption is drawing near, let us enter into its mystery with a grateful heart and a willing spirit.
The Lord is kind and merciful!
Sunday, March 13, 2016
+ Today is the Fifth and final Sunday of Lent, the last before Palm Sunday and Holy Week which follows that. The gospel today, which concludes the Lenten Sundays, ends fittingly with the narration of the woman caught in adultery and Jesus’ defense of her, and the forgiveness of her sins by him! This is precisely what his upcoming Death and Resurrection would be all about: the forgiveness of all sins and the opportunity for any who are repentant – of any generation – to have their sins forgiven (through the ministry of the Church) – and to hope for a place in the heavenly homeland – which to that point was blocked off.
In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we see an imagery of water in the desert – an obvious reference to Jesus, whose total reality and message is a life giving drink in the midst of the desert wasteland of secular evils, misgivings, and what is worse, indifference - that many find themselves entangled in. Jesus, in his Church, is meant to be a never-ending fountain, source, of strength, hope and grace!
It is emphatic point of this Holy Year of Mercy that the doors to forgiveness are always open to those who see the light, who repent of their past misdeeds and who turn to the Lord, walk through that door and ask his compassionate love and forgiveness – which he immediately pours out like an ocean of soothing, balming ointment and grace.
May we ourselves be among the repentant, the forgiven and the redeemed, and may we pray earnestly and unceasingly for those who are still astray, who still are grazing in dangerous meadows, who are still away from the true love of their lives. And our prayer for them will make a difference – it will make a difference.
The Lord has done great things for us: we are filled with joy! – May we share that joy with all we meet! oHoHH
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
+ We begin to focus in today on some of the theology of the season: we hear Isaiah speak of restoration done by God for love of his people in the first reading today, and we hear Jesus speak in the gospel passage of resurrection to a fullness of the triune life of God – as he speaks of his own relation to the Father, a relationship that he offers those who believe in him!
We oftentimes take for granted the heart of the mystery of our salvation because we have “heard about it for so long a time,” and we have been members of the Mystical Body for generations – unfortunately it is easy to miss the wonder and the amazing reality that went on and continues to go on for our redemption.
The words spoken so many years and centuries ago are just as meaningful today: GOD [the Triune God] LOVES US! Even if we have gone way off the beaten path and consider ourselves forsaken by God, he says to us: can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? [This seems to be the ultimate impossibility.] Even should she forget, I, your God, will never forget you: for I have carved a home for you in the palm of my hand!
What a comfort this is, what a joy this is to know that no matter what we say or do, God is always ready to renew his covenant with us and to breathe the life of forgiveness and grace back into us! May the rest of our Lenten observance have to do with the recognition of our need to recognize God’s love as he wants to give it to us and to rest simply, vulnerably and trustingly in the palm of the hand of God our Father – we will not be disappointed!
The Lord is gracious and merciful!
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
+ Jesus’ entire mission was to be a healer, a reconciler, a bridge-builder between heaven and earth. And it did not matter on which day of the week he did these things because there is no greater activity than uniting God with men: bringing the broken life of men into the whole and complete life of God Monday through Sunday. The man in the gospel passage was ill for 38 years, and Jesus cured him in a second! In this case it was the man’s unexpressed faith that moved Jesus: he did not directly put his faith in Jesus and ask to be cured, because he didn’t even know it was Jesus who did it (he simply kept coming back again and again looking for a cure); but once he found out it was Jesus who cured him out of compassion and concern, he told everyone about it. Now because Jesus both cured and told the man to do an “act of work,” carry his mat around on the Sabbath, the Jews now begin to persecute him.
This was how it was all meant to play out, so we do not feel sorry for Jesus, but we can feel sorry for ourselves if we do not plug into the healing, mercy and forgiveness that his self-sacrifice for us on Calvary brought about! If we do not carry our mats of right relationship with him about with us at all times, then we are not worthy of him!
As was prophesied in the first reading from the Book of Ezekiel today the water flowing from the side of the pierced heart of Christ is meant to be life giving and salvific as the water that flowed from the temple like a river in the vision of the Prophet. We are meant to live richly and deeply in the love and fruitfulness of God’s sacrifice for us and our salvation. May we turn toward this living fountain and drink long and deeply from it – daily, hourly and moment by moment: for it is our life, our joy and our salvation!
Come! behold the deeds of the Lord, the astounding things
he has wrought on the earth!
Monday, March 7, 2016
+ As we progress more rapidly now in our Lenten observance today we pick up the theme of an increased sense of joy in the readings: the joy that comes from belief, the joy that comes from letting God have his way, the way of saving us. If we ever think that God’s ways would be unacceptable or irksome to us we are sadly mistaken, because all God wants is our happiness and our salvation: our qualification to spend eternity with him in a grand and glorious place.
And so Isaiah speaks of the new heavens and the new earth that God wills to make for his people; and the gospel passage shows how health and well-being will be a part of that creation: and that the entrance key to this magnificent reality is simply faith, belief, trust and consequent loving deeds done to others!
Let us seek what is true, beautiful and good always and not the opposite, so that we may live bountifully and have the Lord always with us!
Saturday, March 5, 2016
+ Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is Laetare “Rejoice” Sunday from the Church’s perspective. The naming of the Sunday comes from the first Latin word of the Entrance Chant (or as it was known: Introit) of the Day “Laetare, Jerusalem” – Rejoice Jerusalem and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning: exult and be satisfied!
This Liturgical year the Church has three reasons to rejoice: the first, Lent is half way over now: the time of repentance and renewal is well underway, and signs of results may be beginning to show forth (this is cause for rejoicing): it may have been a difficult Lent thus far for some, but this is so that the results will be that much more sweet on Easter Sunday.
The second cause for rejoicing comes from the familiar gospel passage: the prodigal son “comes to his senses” in his process of purification and restructuring and he returns to his waiting father who rejoices immensely to see him come and who initiates a very large and jubilant party on his arrival - (the older son, however refuses to join in the festivities because his own process of purification and renewal has not yet been completed - we never do find out if it ever is completed – we pray though that it is, because so many can identify not only with the younger son, but the older one as well.)
The third cause for excitement today is that we will be administering the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick after this homily. Not only does the Father wish to forgive our sins (as we just reflected in the story of the Prodigal Son), he also wants to bind up our wounds (of mind, body and spirit), pour oil on them and infuse the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen, heal and forgive sin. It is a wonderful sacrament that is not reserved for your last breath any longer, but for anyone over age 65, and anyone at all suffering from any infirmities of mind, body or spirit.
Yes, let us rejoice, let us be glad and exult!
The Lord is alive and active in our midst; he loves it when we come to our senses, and when we fully participate in the Sure Anchor that he has provided for us in this life: the Catholic Church: his Treasure, his Jewel, his Bride and his Joy!
My dear friends we are gathered here in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who is present among us. As the gospels relate, the sick came to him for healing: moreover, he loves us so much that he died for our sake. Through the apostle James, he has commanded us: “Are there any who are sick among you? Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; and prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up; and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.” Let us there commend ourselves to the grace and power of Christ, that he may save us and raise us up.
· Laying on of hands in silence.
· Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen. May the Lord who frees you from sin, save you, and raise you up.
Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, by the grace of your Holy Spirit cure the weakness of your servants. Heal their sickness and forgive their sins: expel all afflictions of mind and body; mercifully restore them to full health, and enable them to resume their former duties, for you are Lord forever and ever.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
+ Jesus is telling the people of his own day that being associated with him means safety; and simply, not being with him, means destruction! There is no “just standing around” idly watching the history of salvation being played out. Since the events of redemption affect all people, all people must constantly decide where they stand. In each event and circumstance of their lives they must remember that the one providing the safety, security, and the salvific life of grace can be none other than the Person of Jesus himself!
The power of Jesus to do what he does comes from his identity with the Holy Trinity of God. It is by the power and finger of God that Jesus does what he does! It certainly cannot be from evil sources – because Jesus does nothing on his own – as evil forces do – he does only what he sees the Father doing, and what he tells him to do on our behalf, for our salvation!
The first reading today shows us a people who are motivated by the forces of evil – they see things their own way – and want things their own way – and so they harden their hearts and stiffen their necks against God who has done so much for them in the past – but who is still planning an amazing redemption for them in the future: if they would only turn to him!
The verse before the gospel says it all: to them, and even to us today, with our dealings with forces both good and evil in our lives: even now, says the Lord, “re-turn” to me with your whole heart, for I am gracious and merciful – and you find rest, you will find compassion, mercy, forgiveness and peace.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
+ It is essential for us as Christians – especially because of our Jewish spiritual roots – to be conscious of our participation in the Law of God! While most everyone gets a negative feeling when the word “law” is mentioned: actually, as far as God intended it, “law” is not meant to produce such an effect: in fact, it was meant to produce quite the opposite one. For the Jewish person was meant to understand law not as a restriction, but as a boundary for free positive action! It was not so much to be a restrictive regimen as a framework so that the people could know they were doing right, good and proper things to show their love for God: God gave us this gift, then, so that we would always know how we stood with him!
Because this was the intent of the Law, when Jesus came he made it very clear that he had not come to abolish it, but to fulfill it: to show by his own life and works exactly what it all entails – especially the joy and the peace and the forgiveness that can come from it. He did this by summarizing it all in one word: LOVE! Law is love! Love me! Love my Father! Love one another as we love you! Lay down your lives for one another – in ways great and small as I [will do] for you – and you will not be worried about “rules, regulations and prescriptions” – you will simply be experiencing a fullness of life, and a freedom that you never thought possible!
May we today find happiness in knowing that law leads to life and love and freedom and joy and peace – and that obedience to it (in all its manifestations) is the absolute best way to glorify the Giver of it – the One who loves us all so very, very much! God our heavenly Father!
Your words are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life!
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
+ In our gospel passage today Jesus shows his complete understanding of human nature: he knows that it is a very difficult thing for people to get along with one another; that is, people who are still very much “slaves of the concupiscence of sin” – there just seems to be something inborn that is antagonistic and antisocial. This is exactly the state of being human that Jesus came to redeem, renew and transform (at the price of his own death on a Cross). And so, in the passage, he commands us to be kind to one another, thoughtful of one another and forgiving with one another - as we try to live productive lives. But for us, this must be taken one step further. We are the redeemed, we are the forgiven, we are the transformed and so because of our baptism and sacramental membership in the one body of Christ (the Church) it ought to be really unthinkable for us not to forgive one another and love one another and be the instrumental cause of transforming one another into the very holiness of God!
Jesus says then in the passage forgive your brothers and sisters – from the heart – as many times as they sin against you (just as God forgives you the same way); and then do not hold their transgressions against them (as God does not hold yours against you). This is difficult for humans, because part of the brokenness that still endures in us, is our not-so-envious ability to remember every tiny, insignificant detail – when it pertains to something done against us! But just as God casts our sins into the depths of the ocean and forgets about them; so we must do the same for one another – we must pray for the grace of “forgetting.”
Be patient with us Lord, as we continue to try to deal compassionately and lovingly with one another, after your own example!
Remember your mercies, O Lord.
+ Our readings today are about unity and community, or a more contemporary way of saying it would be: participation . Jesus makes it ...
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+ St. Clare of Assisi became a friend of St. Francis of the same town after hearing him preach. Her father was a count and her mother a coun...