Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Mar 27 - 3rd Week of Lent - Wednesday

+ 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 26, 2019

Mar 26 - 3rd Week of Lent - Tuesday

+ 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.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Mar 24 - Third Sunday of Lent

+ Today we read of God’s patience and his kindness towards the people that he is trying to form into a people we identified recently as “peculiarly his own.” We must remember that he knows them perfectly as the injured and wounded people who lost a great deal of the strength of their human capabilities as a result of the sin of the first parents; but he is still seen as often times frustrated with this squirming bunch of ungrateful souls who have very short term memories, who can’t remember what he does for them, and who just won’t take the time to let the natural law within them guide them the way it is designed to do.

Moses finds himself in a leadership position with this on-again-off-again lot of people – because at least his faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob seems to be strong; in fact, God likes Moses, in his simplicity and humility, so much that he has conversations with him on a mountain, and uses him to communicate to this would-be unified group of faithful family members of God a message of fidelity and compassion.

In time, Moses is put in a very precarious position when God tells him to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let “his people” go! – and to say that “I AM” is the one demanding this: I AM being God, of course. This Moses does – and we will see what happens with all that later.

The second reading today also talks of unification, brought about by God – this same unification of God’s special people, which resembles very closely the unification of God’s new family in the Mystical Body of Christ; Christ the Rock – just as the rock of flowing water followed God’s people in the desert, so the Rock of Christ’s presence and spiritual graces are always present to those who ask for them even now.

And so this Lent, we continue to take heed of the subtle message that you can’t help but notice – perhaps this is a good time, a very good time to repent as we never have during Lent because the end of the ages is here (although it has been coming for a very long time), and may within the not too distant future will conclude as it is foretold – the gospel tells us that God is kind and patient, and gives even an unblossoming fig tree chance after chance – but when the time has arrived for no more chances – there will be no more – and the barren tree will be cut down. Take care NOW to be sure that that barren tree is not you – let your life blossom forth with good works spawned from faith in and love of God – and you will have nothing to fear!

Repent, says the Lord; the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Mar 22 - 2nd Week of Lent - Friday

+ Today we begin the magnificent tale of “what goes around comes around!”  this indeed is both “karma” and an unflinching spiritual principle, based on supernatural law: which comes from the mouth of God.

Be very careful with your words and deeds, because you will indeed get eventually what you give immediately.

Joseph, in the first reading, was the favorite son of Israel, but the sibling rivalry and jealously of his older brothers led to him almost being killed by them, but the with divine intervention – a good angel whispering into the ear of one of them – he was sold to a bunch of Ishmaelites who just happened to be passing by. It reflected the 30 pieces of silver that Judas sold Jesus for.

But, stay tuned to this story – at a later date Joseph turned the tables – and, hmmm wait and see what happens.

Jesus in the gospel passage tells us that even the most beloved son of all: Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man – would be killed – the stone rejected would become the cornerstone, but not until he was murdered by the very people he came to save – and who consented to go through with it.

The bottom line here is: the fruit that God intends to produce for the good of others will indeed be produced, but woe to those who try to trip up the plan of God: theirs will be a sorry lot or will it? stay tuned to find out more!

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son; so that everyone who believe in him might have eternal life.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mar 20 - 2nd Week of Lent - Wednesday

+ Our gospel passage today challenges us all quite a bit: first, Jesus tells the Twelve that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer much and then to die by crucifixion and then be raised again on the third day. [Usually when Jesus says this: they hear the suffering part, but just don’t quite understand what this “resurrection” is all about – but they will learn – they will learn!]

In the next paragraph however, Jesus makes it clear to the mother of James and John that if suffering and even death was a part of his lot, so too would it be for those chosen to be his best friends and emissaries in the world! In fact, James would be the first of the Twelve to die a martyr’s death as a witness to the new-born faith! But as for sitting next to Jesus in the kingdom – that was not even up to Jesus to assign – but his heavenly Father: who is in charge of everything anyway!

This all means that we, as members of Christ’s Body, the Church, need to be willing to suffer and even to die for him as well, in many ways, small and great: because it is the way modeled by Jesus, it is the way recommended by Jesus, it is the way that has truth and life-everlasting attached securely to it!

My trust is in you, O Lord: I say, “You are my God.” In your hands is my destiny; rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Mar 16 - 1st Week of Lent - Saturday

+ Our readings today on this Lenten Saturday are about the magnitude of the promises of the LORD GOD to not only enter into a deep and personal relationship with his chosen people – the Israelites of old – but also the quality of life that he is offering because of it as a free gift: the amazing gift of “perfection” – and not on a earthly human plane, but an eternal heavenly one.

WOW! Jesus tells his disciples in the gospel passage to surpass merely earthbound expectations and niceties and to “go beyond” what seems “the limit” – so long as the welfare and human helpfulness that we are all capable of is adhered to and practiced – on a daily basis.

LOVE EVEN YOUR ENEMY, THEN! Love those who do not give you the time of day! Greet everyone with a friendly, soulful joyful greeting – for they are your bothers and sisters in the human family.

The first reading relates how they got to be your brothers and sisters: those who observe the commandments that I have given (through Moses) and do so with all their hearts and souls and energies will be my people and I will be their God -with whom they may enter into a special relationship  – and they will be raised high when all is said and done. You will be a people sacred to the LORD, your God, as he promised!

Another wow! God himself in an intimate and personal relationship with me!

May our thoughts, words and actions today reflect this Divine Intercommunion and may our outward-bound motivation, mission and message be to be instruments in the hands of the LORD GOD, for the temporal and eternal welfare of all we will meet this day – those purposely put there by God himself, moment by moment!

Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mar 14 - !st Week of Lent - Thursday

+ Our readings today are like a giant mirror set in front of our total selves: what do we see when the smoke and cheers are gone, and we are confronted with our true selves? If we do not see ourselves as dependent, fragile yet willing persons, then we are not seeing ourselves correctly, and we are not poised to live a happy and productive life.

If we lack humility, if we fail to find the need to ask for help, if we fail to go out of ourselves and put ourselves in the shoes of others: then we are that much less than human, less than God intended us to be, less than we can ask of ourselves.

That this applies to everyone, no matter birthright or ranking, no matter social status or political standing is seen in our first reading from the Book of Esther. As regent, Esther knew she was up against it, she was baffled as to how to deal with her enemies in order to protect and defend the people in her charge that she loved so dearly, truly and honestly: and so she turned to the primary tool God gave us, each and every one: the instinct to ask, seek, knock, the instinct to pray.

And so Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the Lord, she and her “cabinet” – her handmaids, lay prostrate upon the ground, from morning to night: imploring, beseeching and simply asking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… to save us from the hands of our enemies, turning our mourning into gladness, and our sorrows into wholeness.

What a powerful and persuasive image this is: an earthly potentate seeing herself in right perspective before the Potentate of Potentates: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And God heard her prayer and answered it: and gladness and wholeness was restored to Queen Esther and her people!

And so, when Jesus tells us to “ask, seek and knock,” he appeals to the innate mechanism we have inside us “to watch out and provide for the welfare of our children” – to ask, seek, knock and find what will sustain and nourish them: fish of some kind and sort.

We know how to pray for our children, in other words, and so we know how we should pray for other, equally important matters in our lives, like the running of our family, our institutions, our governments and in due process, our Church.

The posture of humility will always be rewarded with a swift answer when the concerns of others is at stake.

The question I pose now, today, is this: are we, all of us, including leaders, presidents, potentates of all kinds, and hierarchs, including me, are we humble enough to be heard by God, are we even self-less enough to engage the internal mechanism of praying – or are we too stuck on ourselves, our own agendas, and our own sense of righteousness.

A clean heart create for us, O God, a truly self-less and loving heart; give us back the joy of your salvation, your saving help because we ask it in all humility.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Mar 13 - 1st Week of Lent - Wednesday

+ Our readings today on this Lenten Wednesday are about the power of words, words of warning, words of admonition, words of Truth, with a capital “T.” Despite the fallen conclusion and notion that “reality is what I think it is, my truth is all there is, everything is illusion” is a very risky position to take, risky as it pertains to our eternal salvation and placement.

God’s intent, purpose and law are irrevocable, (which means they will operate as he created them to), these are the immovable, impenetrable, and immediate Truths of Faith, Science, Art, Beauty, Goodness, Justice and LOVE! These all operate not as we “think” they do, they operate as they really are. And the greatest of these is LOVE!

The arrogant and self-adoring, ungodly words and ways of the Ninevites, in both readings today prompted God to send the Prophet (spokesman on his behalf) Jonah to parade through the streets of this enormously large city and by the sheer power of his “right on target” the target of the heart, words of preaching, moved the hearts and minds of his hearers, including the King – and they were afraid, afraid of the wrath of God, afraid of the just punishment for their abandoning the true dictates of their hearts and souls, afraid of eternal wrath and judgment of God – and the “changed their course,” changed their minds, changed their hearts and repented, both externally by actions of rending their garments and sitting in ashes – and internally by turning wholeheartedly to the God they knew was faithful in his love, faithful in his promises, faithful in the care.

The world today makes Nineveh look like a “saintly city” – the arrogance, the nerve, the deceptive attitudes, the cutting every corner there is to be cut to the maximum, the selfish, self-centered, self-aggrandizing spirit in the air is putrid, stifling and suffocating – and these evils have even spread to the hierarchs who govern us in the Church – and unless a new Jonah stands up and pronounces loudly and clearly the just revenge, justice and punishment of God for willfully choosing the creature over the Creator – one day hell will be paid – and this is a fact, and this is a choice – to be made – do I and my family and friends wake up, and smell the fires of Haedesl, and do something about it – TURN WHOLEHEARTLY, TRUSTINGLY and OBEDIENTLY to God – or not?

It seems like the end of earthly road as we know it is fast approaching – can you afford not to believe this; can you afford not to know this!?

Let this day of Lent be a day of deep self-reflection, self-assessment, and self-reorientation. Why because God does not desire the death of the sinner – but that he/she returns, rejoices and be filled with his JOY!


Friday, March 8, 2019

Mar 8 - Friday after Ash Wednesday

+ On this Friday after Ash Wednesday, we pause and reflect on the notion and reality of “fasting.” What is fasting, and what can it do for us? Why did Jesus himself fast, and why does he encourage his followers to do so?

We know that it is a medical fact that deprivation of food heightens the sense of activity and awareness of the senses in the body. And we know there is a point beyond which this beneficial experience can be pushed to its limits – and then we are elevated into a deep sense of deprivation, loss and starvation.

And so, a reasonable program of fasting can be beneficial and spiritually useful, because not only the physical senses are heightened with moderate food deprivation but also, the spiritual senses, activities and functions as well.

Fasting, then, can be used to get closer to God, to have a deeper awareness and experience of his reality and nearness – this coupled with moment by moment refreshing of the desire to be near to and in a relationship with God so we can do his will always in each new NOW. So, when, questioned by the disciples of John about why his disciples did not fast, Jesus basically tells them that he is the food that sustains his disciples, - their minute by minute, active, curious interaction with him: He is the goal and reason for all fasting, so, therefore, his disciples need not fast, because he is in their presence to meet their every need.

But he also tells them that there will come a time when he is taken away from them – to endure a bitter and cruel passion, death and resurrection: and then the disciples will fast, they will use all the tools necessary, the tools that he has given them including prayer, fasting and almsgiving, as well as the Sacrament of Eucharist, to stay in close contact with him, to commune with him, to be nourished, fed and strengthened to carry on his mission and works of mercy as enumerated in the first reading today: “releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting freed the oppressed, breaking every yoke, sharing bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked, and not turning our backs on our own.

These things done are the supernatural result of God-centered prayer and fasting.

May we this Lenten season engage more truly and deeply in these spiritual aids and exercises so that by the time Easter arrives, the quantity and quality of our almsgiving and human helpfulness will indeed be elevated to a sublime divine level: and we will be able to be the instruments of peace, hope and joy for others that God invites, calls and empowers us to be.

Let us seek God, day by day, let us desire to know – moment by moment - his ways!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Mar 3 - 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ Our readings today are about speech, speaking, communication. Jesus makes it clear that what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and not essentially from the mind, although the mind must interact with the heart to make its final proclamation. This sounds kind of illogical, but it is very true. We speak from the fullness of the heart, the overflowing well-spring of either good or bad intention and will. Things, situations, circumstances, propositions, ideas are either basically good or bad, productive of goodness and truth, or of badness and deceit and lies.

Yes, it seems more logical to believe what Jesus says.

And so, St. Paul in the second reading from the letter to the Corinthians tells them and us to be firm, steadfast, and always devoted to the good works of the Lord, knowing that in the end we will indeed be rewarded after the test and struggle of earthly life is over for us.

The first reading from the Book of Sirach tells us to be word-wise and wait for the speaker to speak before we praise him, for in his presentation he will reveal his true heart and mind.

It is so easy at times to spot the one whose heart is very lax, very confused, very cunning, very deceitful and very malicious at the core. We must pray for these souls, so that they can have their outside match their inside, if not for the smooth running of a family, a workplace, a school, a church community, a sports team. Enterprises must run on truth and good and beauty and justice.

Jesus is all these things in the flesh! Let us call on him who knows what it is like to live in a human body, to help us live in ours, while we are always vigilant to help others live in theirs, for the love of God and his ultimate plan for our astounding and unimagined happiness.

The just one shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Mar 1 - 7th Week in OT - Friday

+ Today we have two readings that are certainly complementary.   The first is about friendship and the second is about marriage. In theory and in practice only friends should marry, for friendship is the golden thread that ties the marriage bond together and the essence which will last forever in heaven. In heaven there will remain deep and abiding friendship, but not marriage, as the purpose of marriage, the salvation of the couple and the procreation of new members of heaven whom God wanted there from all eternity will be complete.

And so, in the second reading, the gospel passage, we see Jesus putting in place of prominence the unbreakable marriage vows – which are another golden bond that is meant to hold the marriage together – and he decries divorce – even though Moses allowed it in certain situations in which the parties were simply unteachable, stubborn and selfishly uncompromising.

Marriage and family life is the true vocation of most – and the marriage partner is really the one chosen by God to be mate for life. Others he chooses to be faithful shepherds and ministers of his Church – one who gets the fact that his primary purpose is to help get “Jesus’ Bride: the Church” ready for the great ceremony when he will indeed marry this Bride (marry us) in the Kingdom to Come. And then, the great, grand and glorious wedding reception and banquet and entertainment will begin and will last forever! And what a feast it will be!

All are invited – have you sent in your RSVP yet?

A faithful friend (and God given marriage partner) is a rare treasure and is found by one who preliminarily “fears the Lord” – fears to do anything that will disappoint him, and thus cause his disinvitation to the Feast of Feasts!

Sep 13 - St John Chrysostom

+ St John Chrysostom was born in 347 in Antioch, Asia Minor. His father died when he was young and he was raised by a very pious mother. ...