Elijah’s Whisper – My Whisper

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Elijah’s Whisper – My Whisper

Bubbles2 Then the LORD said (to Elijah), “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.”  A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD – but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake – but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire – but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.  When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?” 1 Kings 19:11-13

Why are YOU here, beloved?

Was it to discover magnificent colors? Was it to find colorful music or awesome videos? Was it just curiosity? Was it accidental? Were you really looking for God, for Hope, for true LOVE somewhere in this menagerie we call the web?

silenceOr were you just hiding in a cave, waiting on the Lord to Whisper in your ear – a Word – LIFE! Life, it’s in You! And YOU are beautiful in the Eyes of God, no matter what the world may say or think.

You are Loved!!

Every day the Lord whispers in our ears – Words of HOPE, Words of LOVE, and maybe not even words – just His JOY in our hearts.

Let’s follow the Scriptures of our daily Mass and see if we can catch those Words – simple but beautiful – Whispers to the Wind . . .

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08-14-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 14, 2022
(20th Sunday Ordinary Time, C)
A court official, went there from the palace and said to him (King Zedekiah): “My lord king, these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern. He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food in the city.”   Jer_38:4-6,8-10

Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.  Heb_12:1-4

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;” Lk_12:49-53

“May the Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He look upon you with kindness and give you His peace.”

This blessing, which comes from the 6th Chapter of the Book of Numbers, given to Aaron by his brother Moses, was taken up by St. Francis of Assisi and has become the standard blessing prayer of all Franciscans.

Within the period of one day, brothers and sisters, to how many people do we say the words, “God bless you” (without it following a sneeze)? You know, there should always be AT LEAST one person to whom we give a blessing, every day; be it our spouse, our brothers or sisters, our children, or even, and best yet, a total stranger: people we meet at the store, at work, or just walking the dog . . .

“God bless you!”

And, if a day goes by without our verbally blessing another person, we might just ask ourselves, “Why?” Am I embarrassed by my faith? Am I worried about “their” response? Will I be persecuted because of those words? Will they still like me?

And if our response is “yes” to any of those questions, then maybe we need to be asking ourselves, if we really have any Faith at all within us. Are we just robotically coming to Mass, to Church, without even knowing why? Or, are we simply in some heavy-duty need of a good Spiritual Retreat?

Are we not totally enraptured by God’s immense LOVE for us?

Are we not in complete AWE of the fact that God loves us so incredibly much that he stepped out of Himself to take on our flesh in the incarnation, in order to become one of us, in order to prove His love for us, even to the extreme of enduring horrendous suffering and death, in order to show us our Hope for eternal life in the resurrection, in order to teach us the true meaning of Love!

Are we not SO filled with Joy over that Love, that it’s not bubbling over in our love and caring for one another, and in our Hope for them, as well?

“God bless you – with all His goodness,”
– whether you know it, or not,
– whether you believe it, or not,
– whether you hate me for it, or not,

“God bless YOU!”

Are our hearts not blazing on fire with this Love, with God’s grace, in every breath we take? The Fire of the Holy Spirit should be burning within us, brothers and sisters. God’s Love and Joy pouring out into the world – through us.

And yet, we’re all well aware of the ugliness out there in our world too. The wars, the injustice, the suffering, the innocent deaths, the greed, the immorality, the lies . . . the SIN.

You know, that ugliness, that sin has been around ever since the very beginning of time as we know it. From Adam and Eve to Cain and Abel, from Sodom and Gomorrah to maybe even our own homes.

Sin is pervasive.

And it will likely never go away, unless we take a stand, like Jeremiah and all the prophets, to show one another God’s love, to bless one another with the Joy of God’s salvation that Jesus won for all of us. You see, there is always – Hope for everyone to turn away from sin and to believe in the Gospel of Life and Hope and Joy.

The author of the Book of Hebrews encourages the members of the early Churches, and us, today, to stand firm in our Faith, to “persevere in running the race with our eyes fixed on Jesus,” to keep ourselves free from sin, and to open our hearts to the Joy of Jesus, despite all the opposition we feel and see in our world.

The Prophet Jeremiah would be one of the many, throughout the ages, who would attest to that opposition through his own suffering. The opposition of evil against good, of rebellion against obedience, of hatred against love, of sin against purity, and, as Jesus warns us today, even of family members against one another. We might even see that contention in our own families, between ourselves and some of our closest kin, who refuse to believe in Jesus.

And of course, we all know that Satan’s greatest offensive against God’s awesome gift of free will is division. By our own free will, we can choose selfishness – over life. We can choose debt – over solvency. We can choose hatred – over forgiveness. We can choose apathy – over advocacy for good against evil.

And yet, we can also choose Mercy and Love – over revenge and division.

Jesus is not calling us today to be a cause for further division, but He IS calling us to our own careful discernment of righteousness over sinfulness. To stand firm in the Truth of our Faith, against the evil of Lies. And to patiently, courageously and joyfully share that Faith, that Love of God, that Joy of Jesus, in every word, and smile, and hope we give to others.

It may be as difficult as holding our tempers and opinions at a belligerent comment. And it may be as simple as sharing a 3-word Gesture:  “God Bless you!”

Can we all try that with one person sitting next to us! . . . “God Bless you!”

There we go!  You see, that wasn’t really so hard. And now we’re ready to share it with the world. I think, if we do, we just might be surprised at the Joy, that the response we get in return, will bring!

Almost as awesome as our Blessed Sacrament!

Joy!

08-14-22 jmp

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08-13-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 13, 2022
(St. Pontian, Pope and St. Hippolytus, Priest, both Martyrs)
Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Mt_19:13-15

Obedience, humility and dependence, these were the qualities of children that Jesus wanted to see in all of us.  And yet, we have this innate tendency towards rebellion, independence, self sufficiency and pride.  And it’s not easy to let those go.  But that’s exactly what Jesus is asking of us.

Become like children.  Depend on Him.  Let go of our selfishness.  And humble yourself in the face of God.  When we realize how incredibly perfect God is, God’s love is, then it’s not hard to feel humble in His presence.  And when others belittle us, it’s not time to vindictively strike back, but to place those feelings of pride, of anger, of hurt in the hands of our God, who WILL, we’re assured see that justice is fulfilled in the end of time.  While this is hopeful, beloved, it’s also a warning for us to never do to others what we ourselves dislike.  Heaven is beautiful, but Purgatory and Hell are not the place we would like to end up.  Blessed be God forever!

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08-12-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 12, 2022
(St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious)
Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this ‘reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”   Mt_19:3-12

Popular culture tends to shy away from this quote or else get violently opposed to it.  “Why, it’s OUR choice!”  “But he didn’t have to deal with “THAT” guy or that gal!” . . .  And so from the ‘world’s’ point of view, we won’t even make that covenant binding anymore, as we include lots of escape clauses in our “contract.”  It’s not even a marriage any more, but a contract!  And why don’t we then include man and man and wife and wife marriages.  And why not even our dogs and cats for that matter!

Point is, as we’ll hear Sunday, wherever there is division, that’s not in God’s plan.  God wants us to learn the complimentarity, the unity of the marriage bond, with give and take, with compromise, with sacrifice, with indissolubility, with LOVE.  That’s why in the Catholic Church we require marriage prep, we ask for chastity until the vows are complete, and there is time between the marriage request and the actual Sacrament.  It’s not just a big party.  It’s a Sacramental union – for LIFE – between wife, husband and God!  And once they are married they are ONE flesh!  Flesh that cannot be separated without severe injury or death.  Just ask a divorced person!

If we can’t be faithful in marriage, faithful in driving the speed limit, faithful in respect for others, how can we ever be faithful to God?  As much as God loves us, He’s clearly given us the HOW to keep ourselves from getting hurt.  All we need do is listen!

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08-11-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 11, 2022
(St. Clare, Virgin)
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Mt_18:21–19:1

Jesus tells us that we are to put no limits on our forgiveness, our mercy.  How many times have we heard people say, “I can forgive anything, BUT . . .”  Did you ever notice, that wherever we put our “buts,” that’s exactly where we get kicked.  So, be merciful, just as your Father in heaven is merciful; and you will be blessed in all you say and do, beloved.  It all stems from our love, from God’s love in us.  Blessed may He be, forever!

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08-10-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 10, 2022
(St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.  Jn_12:24-26

Love, hate.  Follow, rebel.  Live, die.  These are some of the attributes of finding God’s kingdom.  And yet, there’s also a bit of irony, controversy and confusion, from the worldly point of view, in these terms.

In the world’s view death is the end to life, not the beginning of life.  And loving life, nurturing it, and preserving it brings with it longevity.  Whereas Jesus tells us that hating our life in this world will preserve it for eternity, because in that hating there is a shift of focus from our worldly selves to God’s heavenly kingdom, which can only be found in serving the ‘other’, in dying for another, in living for an eternal rather than an earthly (temporal) reward.

You see, there is a conversion, a metanoia, a turning around of our thought processes which will lead us to God’s kingdom.  We have to be willing to make that conversion if we ever want to live the Kingdom that Jesus preaches about.  And the heavenly reward we gain is well worth the change!

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08-09-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 9, 2022
(St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr)
The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.  Mt_18:1-5,10,12-14

Not quite the earthly kingship the disciples were looking for, Jesus turned their way of thinking upside down.  Greatness in God’s kingdom is not power and wealth and oppression of subjects, but humility and obedience and trust.  In a culture that downgraded children and women, Jesus spoke in terms of the respect of human dignity for all, especially the children and women, who understood oppression, obedience and servanthood.  It’s always a good reminder of keeping our place, of recognizing God in everyone, especially the downtrodden, and then placing our total reliance, our total trust in the God who created and redeemed us.  And the God who strengthens and guides us through the Holy Spirit dwelling within.

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08-08-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 8, 2022
(St. Dominic, Priest)
Jesus said, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.”  Mt_17:22-27

So, beloved, the logical next question would be, just who are the foreigners and who the subjects in this picture?  If Jesus had to pay the Temple tax, then He apparently was not a subject, but a foreigner.  And you know what, beloved, we’re all foreigners here in this world of money and material, and kings and politicians.  And so we too have to pay the taxes for all those ‘things,’ by the sweat of our brow and the gray hairs of our heads, where material begets material.

And yet, like Jesus we were not created by God for those ‘things,’ but for Him and for one another.  You see, there is something deeper than this material world here.  Something that can bring us treasure, as we heard yesterday, beyond any material ‘thing’ existing in this world. And it is in the ‘Spiritual nature’ of our lives that we are subjects of God and not of the world.  And there is no tax for living in His/our kingdom.  It’s freely offered and we are freely accepted by God when we choose to recognize our true residence in His Kingdom.

Like the coin in the mouth of the very first fish that Peter caught, God will provide us with all the rent, all the tax we need to survive this temporary existence in this foreign, material world, when we trust in Him.  He IS our Truth, and our Home, and our Salvation!

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08-07-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 7, 2022
(19th Sunday Ordinary Time, C)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”  Lk 12:32-48

Will it be heaven or hell, beloved?  Jesus tells us not to worry about it.  For we ARE here!  We love, we care, we give.  This IS His kingdom!  And our Father is pleased to give it to us.  Yes, we’re human.  It still hurts when others hurt us.  It still frustrates us when others don’t understand – the freedom, the love, the peace of living with God.  And it still pains us to see a world so often going in the wrong direction – probably just as much as it pains God.  But we have no more reason to fear death and hell than we have to unconsciously take our very next breath, because these frustrations and pains and disappointments are His as well. We know that Jesus and the Holy Spirit bring us all the wisdom we need, every day, to KNOW, to just know – His love in our hearts.  So what are we to DO, beloved?

Jesus continued, “Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” ibid

And we know that the treasure is in finding God in others.  He’s there, beloved.  In every book of a person’s life there are snippets of realization that it was not them and it was not circumstances and it was not fate that make certain “miracles” happen to everyone.  The trick is finding them and then moving IN them rather than ignoring them.  God wants us all to know Him.  And we’ve got every opportunity to do just that!

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08-06-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 6, 2022
(Transfiguration of the Lord)
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up a mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.  Lk_9:28b-36

The Glory, the Divinity, the Prophesy, the Revelation, the Transfiguration!
This is our Lord and God!

Blessed be His Name!
Jesus!

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My most happy and loving birthday blessings to my awesome Mary Ann,
in Christ’s love always, sweetheart!  Me.

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08-05-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 5, 2022
Jesus said, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”  Mt_16:24-28

Satan certainly tried to make that bargain with Jesus.  But Jesus wouldn’t even nibble, let alone bite.  Life is the greatest of anything we could possibly have.  Life is eternal.  No ‘thing’ else is!  Whatever it takes to gain or keep it, is well worth the cost.  So love, listen, obey, follow and LIVE!  Jesus will show us exactly how!

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08-04-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 4, 2022
(St. John Vianney, Priest)
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  Mt_16:13-23

After Jesus had just told Peter that he is a rock upon which His Church would be built. Here He is teaching Peter his first lesson in actually being that rock.  It would move the focus of Peter to Himself, to Jesus, and away from Peter.  You see, Peter loved Jesus.  And that love expressed itself in ownership.  And owning a dog, or a spouse, or a kid, or a car and calling it love, and willing to die for that love – is NOT the love Jesus wants of us.

And mixed in with it all, will always be Satan, pointing us back to ourselves and not really to the true love of another.  True love means dropping all the ‘me,’ dropping all the thought of ownership and recognizing the “person” of the one we love.  Recognizing their wants and fears and loves and allowing them to BE themselves. Not forcing our own agenda on anyone else just because we “love” them.  We don’t really love them, we love ourselves.

This is “being” the rock that Jesus wanted of Peter.  Getting rid of listening to Satan pointing us to ourselves, and listening to Jesus pointing us to others instead.  Love IS letting go of us and letting our beloved BE themselves because of our love of them!

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08-03-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 3, 2022
A Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”. . . But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.  Mt_15:21-28

When we go to the ‘fringes’ it is the fringes who will come out to meet us.  Even though our plan was originally to bring salvation only to those of our own people who were stuck there, in the fringes, we need to be open to surprises as well.  And it was just those ‘fringes’ who are constantly belittling ‘our own people’ and ourselves.  Sometimes even those fringes will surprise us with their own image of Faith.  An image that may be even more worthy of our offer of salvation than the very ones we came to save.

We need to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Just because we were mistreated by 90% of the people of a certain class, creed, color or religion, it doesn’t mean that they are all that way.  God sprinkles His love on the good and the bad alike.  Some accept it and are converted, while others shirk it off like a wet raincoat.  Our call is not to be the judge, but to offer God’s hospitality and love to all!

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08-02-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 2, 2022
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Mt_14:22-36

Healing the sick.  Feeding the masses.  Walking on water.  Kinda makes us wonder what it would take for them to finally, truly believe in Jesus.  Listened, but didn’t understand.  Saw, but didn’t really recognize.  They walked and ate and lived with Him, but still didn’t know Him.  Does anyone, REALLY know Jesus, beloved?  Does anyone really know us?  “Take courage, it is I!!!” He said.  Who???  ‘If I could feed the masses, cure the sick and walk on water, what could I not do for you, O you of little faith!’

Jesus told them, He tells us, that He is with us always.  So fear not, when the storms of life seem to want to drown us in their fury.  He IS there!  He is HERE.  Trust in Him and Fear NOT!

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08-01-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

August 1, 2022
(St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church)
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.  Mt_14:13-21

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Mt_5:4

You know, beloved, sometimes blessings don’t always come in ice cream and hugs.  Sometimes blessings come in more demand, in more suffering, in more of what we were just trying to get away from.  And yet, how difficult it is to survive unneeded, unwanted and unloved.  Sometimes, our blessings come in ways we can’t even fathom.  And yet looking back, Oh what blessings they are!

Happy August, beloved!
. . . with God’s blessings!

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07-31-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 31, 2022
(18th Sunday Ordinary Time, C)
Jesus told a parable of a rich man who had more “stuff” than could fit in his barns.  “He said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”  Lk_12:13-21

Moral of the story?  Don’t save?  Don’t plan?  Don’t work hard to gain wealth?  No!  The point was not to not be successful in this life.  The point was to make sure everything is in its proper perspective (with God on top).

We don’t know WHEN death will occur, beloved.  So don’t OVER-plan.  Don’t plan everything for ourselves only.  Don’t NOT expect a Covid, or a recession, or an insane president, or an insane dictator to totally obliterate all of our wonderful plans.  ‘Stuff happens.’

But what we COULD plan is how every moment of every breath we have, benefits someone besides ourselves, as well.  What are our longer term plans to help those in greater need than us?  Did we smile and wave to that little child today?  Did we EXCITEDLY say hi to a friend we met at the store, whom we hadn’t seen since before covid started 2-years ago?  Did we say thanks or God bless you to a stranger or store clerk?  Did we not blow our horn back at that #$%&ing impatient speeder on the road, and maybe said a prayer instead for them AND for ourselves?

These are the treasures that God is placing in our heavenly bank accounts!  Does He need a bigger barn for them?  Maybe now is a good time to start working on that account, and to spend maybe a little less time on the ‘me, me, me’!  God will see us through!  Trust in Him!

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07-30-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 30, 2022
(St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church)
Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”  Mt_14:1-12

So, apparently, Herod’s faith in ‘something’ was strong enough to believe in resurrection from the dead and the ability to have “mighty powers.”  The Scriptures tell us that he enjoyed listening to John the Baptist, even though John condemned his marriage to his brother’s wife.  That really frosted the woman, who took every opportunity to see that John was eliminated, which, in the end, she tricked Herod into doing.

Herod himself, had an interesting faith background, which this article, articulates very nicely.  At its conclusion, the author, Evie Gassner, wrote:

“King Herod was a very complex character. From his Idumean roots and his Nabatean mother to his Hellenistic upbringing and the religion forced upon his ancestors, his was a life of contradictions. The evidence garnered above paints a complex portrait of Herod’s Jewish observance. If we look back at the rather confusing and contradictory evidence to the question of Herod’s Jewishness, the most reasonable characterization of his relationship with Judaism is: it’s complicated.” 

https://www.thetorah.com/article/how-jewish-was-herod

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07-29-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 29, 2022
(Ss. Martha, Mary and Lazarus)
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”  Jn_11:19-27

And how strong is our belief, beloved?
Strong enough to say the words, but not really in “real life.”
Or strong enough to raise the dead and walk on water!!

“Oh,” you say, “but only Jesus can do those things!”
Jesus himself said,Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”  Jn_14:12-14

BELIEVE!

Jesus-Mary-Martha-LazarusImage: Painting of the Resurrection of Lazarus scene in the church Chiesa di San Gaetano and the chapel of the Crucifixion by unknown painter from 17th century – via Shutterstock

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07-28-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 28, 2022
Jesus said to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Mt_13:47-53

The ‘good and the bad fish,’ the ‘wheat and the weeds,’ all together.  The ‘rain which falls on the good and the bad alike.’  Within this melting pot we call life, beloved, somehow we need to learn how to live together despite our differences, despite obvious wrongdoings, despite injustice.  And know in our heart of hearts that God’s justice will prevail.  Jesus tells us so!  And Jesus doesn’t lie.  We just want to make sure we’re on that ‘good side’ when the angels of judgment appear.  And for that, we pray to the Lord!  Jesus, save us from ourselves!

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07-27-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 27, 2022
The LORD said to the prophet Jeremiah, “If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand; . . . Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail, For I am with you, to deliver and rescue you, says the LORD. I will free you from the hand of the wicked, and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.”  Jer_15:10,16-21

Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  Mt_13:44-46

Having the LORD at our side is really the best benefit of living in the Kingdom of heaven.  God, protecting us, loving us, caring for us like a mother for her beloved child.  It truly is a treasure worth everything to obtain.  Jesus promised that we truly are His, but it’s up to us to accept that promise.  The Kingdom of Heaven is ours for the acceptance!  And once received, it’s then hard not to share!

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07-26-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 26, 2022
(Ss. Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Jesus said to His disciples, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Mt_13:36-43

Our warning and our hope for salvation.
LISTEN!

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07-25-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 25, 2022
(St. James, Apostle)
Brothers and sisters: We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.  2_Cor_4:7-15

Jesus asked the mother of James and John, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” . . .  Jesus later said, “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   Mt_20:20-28

Ever feel: constrained, in despair, abandoned or destroyed, brothers and sisters? Well, if so, the problem just may be, that we’re suffering this human malady called ‘amnesia;’ because, by our Baptisms, we actually hold within ourselves a “Treasure” that overcomes it all. It’s kind of like sitting at a mountain spring, complaining of thirst. Or, being at a wedding banquet and missing the cake.

Feeling Constrained?  We’ve got a freedom, so far beyond what the world calls freedom, that even in our affliction, even in imprisonment, we are more free than the very birds of the air.

Feeling Despair?  We have a hope, even beyond what the world calls hope, as perplexing as that may seem.  The Hope of eternal life!

Abandoned?  Layed off, lost loves, dismissed, ignored, forgotten?  It may seem so, from the world’s point of view, but never from God’s, because, His light, in our hearts, never goes out, even in our earthly persecutions.  We are Never abandoned!

Destroyed?  We may feel struck down, but our “Treasure,” our hope, our freedom, our Love by God  can never be taken away.

So why then, like James and John, those “Sons of Thunder,” or Boanerges as Jesus calls them, why are we still seeking earthly Glory? Maybe it’s because, like them, we still – just don’t understand God’s Kingdom.

You see, God’s Kingdom is not a Kingdom of ‘firsts and bests,’ of wealth and looks, of reserved seats or pious gestures. It’s not a Kingdom of tongues or hands, of men or women, of Latin or English, of “my way or the highway.” God’s Kingdom is really not about “me” at all. It’s all about – YOU!

When we can understand that God has got the “me” totally covered, and that He really doesn’t need any help from us – at all, it gives us the freedom to concentrate on “them” instead. When we can let go of THEIR influence on us, because we know that God has got us covered, then we can concentrate on allowing ourselves to be USED – by God, to bring Him to “them,” (or them to Him), as well.

Without even using words, we can smile a little more. We can actually shake hands, or even give a hug to our friends and neighbors (without worrying about sexuality or covid). We can heal, and feed, and comfort, and visit, and love, even without being loved in return.

You see, the Apostles who were sitting, and standing, and walking, and sleeping in the presence of  Jesus Himself, were already AT His right and His left. Without even realizing it, they were already living in His Kingdom. And you know what, beloved, so are WE!

Absolutely nothing about Jesus was about Himself, but about His Father. And that’s exactly what He was, and IS, trying to get us to understand. In serving others, we are serving our Father. In loving others, we are loving God. And in giving ourselves, we are giving that Love of Jesus, ‘our very selves,’ to the Glory of God, perpetuating His Kingdom, both in our own lives, and in the world.

St. Paul put it most eloquently today saying: “Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.”  2_Cor_4:7-15

Blessed be God forever!
St. James, pray for us!

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07-24-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 24, 2022
(17th Sunday Ordinary Time C)
Jesus said, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. . . . If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”  Lk_11:1-13

Be persistent in prayer then, beloved.  Not because we have to pester God, nor that He doesn’t hear us the first time around, but that WE are the forgetful ones, and we are the ones who find all kinds of excuses to stop praying, to give up, to lose our trust in God.  Come Holy Spirit!  Fill us with Your love and wisdom!

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07-23-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 23, 2022
(St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious)
Jesus told a parable of a sower, some seeds and some weeds.  The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”  Mt_13:24-30

“Let them grow together.”  The story of our lives.  But the hope is in that final statement.  We will not be burned with them!  You see, beloved, somewhere in the middle of this beautiful field of wheat and weeds, there are weeds that just may be miraculously converted.  Saved from the fires of destruction.  And between now and the harvest, it’s up to us to help in that conversion process.  “Don’t pull them up.”  we don’t want to harm the good in our revenge or in our, mistakenly thoughtful, “good deeds” of eliminating the weeds.  Love them all and pray for their souls!  With Jesus, we can accomplish great things!  TRUST!

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07-22-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 22, 2022
(St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles)
The angels said to Mary Magdalene, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.”  Jn_20:1-2,11-18

If we remember, on Monday we heard the Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign. To which Jesus responded, that they would get no sign, except the three-day sign of Jonah. Today we see that sign revealed. But where, we might ask, were the Pharisees in all this? Well, the Pharisees were so intent on making sure that the sign would be discredited, that they sealed the stone over the tomb, just to make sure. And after it was found empty, they then paid the guards to spin a tale about the disciples stealing the body of Jesus.

Ever try to outwit God, brothers and sisters?
It’s just not possible!

And then, for most of the rest of this week, we heard Jesus striving to get His disciples and His followers to LISTEN. And He did this through some pretty creative extremes, like the shocking question on Tuesday: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?”

On Wednesday Jesus completed His Parable of the Sower with that statement: “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

And then yesterday Jesus complimented His disciples, saying “Blessed are your eyes, because they see and your ears, because they hear.” And yet, when the disciples reach the Resurrection, and even the Ascension of the Lord, we find that – their vision, and their hearing, and their understanding of the whole mission of Jesus was still pretty cloudy; asking Him, just before His Ascension, when the Kingdom of Israel would be restored.

Today, we might say, that the final chapter on ‘Sight and Sound,’ the penultimate sign was revealed, as a surprise character jumped into the scene to become one of the co-heroines of the whole story.

For in the midst of all the evil, all the blood, all the decisive lies, stood ‘the one’ who would unwaveringly remain with Jesus, who would never abandon her beloved, even beyond death.

Mary Magdalene was there at His cross,
– She was there at His entombment,
– and there at the stone-sealed grave,
– She was the first there on Easter morning, and
– she was the first witness of His Resurrected Person.

And in that witness, and on the instruction of the Risen Lord, Mary was the first to tell the disciples of His rising.  “The Apostle to the Apostles,” she is called by the Church.

And yet, her witness of the risen Christ is both profound and enlightening to us, as well. For in the midst of her enormous grief, and in her extreme bewilderment over the empty tomb, Mary was relentless to find the body of her beloved.

And He wasn’t found in the vision of the angels, while she fearlessly interrogated them, as to where her beloved was. And He wasn’t found in the gardener, though her sight of Him was obscured by her tears. But it was there in the calling of her name, like the Good Shepherd calling His own sheep by name, that Mary immediately recognized Jesus, without a second thought.  She heard and she listened!

“Mary.”  “Rabbouni.”

“Like a dry, weary land without water, so is my soul thirsting for you, O Lord my God!”  Ps_63

Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me.” And it was not the clinging to the material, nor the desire of the flesh, that held Mary’s grasp on her beloved. It was in her soul’s refreshment, in her living that Kingdom with Jesus, that Mary knew she would find her nourishment for all eternity.

And that Kingdom just HAD to be shared with her world in order for it to grow like the mustard seed, that Jesus spoke of. For it is: A Kingdom of compassion, a Kingdom of fearlessness, mercy, unity, healing and Love. And not a kingdom of power, or money, or corruption, or materialism.

Mary Magdalene, as Mark, Luke and John cite in their Gospels, was freed in an exorcism by Jesus from seven demons who imprisoned her soul. Pope Gregory the Great, in 591AD, credited those demons with the sin of prostitution on Mary’s part. Yet, freed from her bondage to sin, Mary became one of the most zealous of Jesus’s disciples, bringing along with her many additional women followers.

All four Gospels attest that, Mary was the first to encounter the Risen Christ.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI dismissed the assessment of Mary as a prostitute, in that it was not Scriptural.

Bishop Fulton Sheen was quoted as saying: “Only purity and sinlessness could welcome the all-Holy Son of God into the world: hence, Mary Immaculate met Him at the door of earth, in the city of Bethlehem.  But only a repentant sinner, who had herself risen from the grave of sin to the newness of life-in-God could fittingly understand His triumph over sin.”

In 2016, Pope Francis raised the celebration honoring St. Mary Magdalene from a ‘memorial’ to a ‘feast day,’ placing her at an equal level with the Apostles in the saintly order of the Church.

Our take home, of course, brothers and sisters, is to continue to strive to hear God’s voice calling OUR names, to love our Lord Jesus, just like Mary, beyond all worldly desires, beyond all earthly hopes and fears, and then, to share that love, with Jesus in our communities, with Jesus in the stranger, and with our beloved Jesus in the world.

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07-21-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 21, 2022
(Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church)
Jesus said, “‘Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them.'”   “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”  Mt_13:10-17

The disciples of Jesus were listening to His parables and wondering why Jesus always used this literary form to teach them and the people.  Jesus quoted the prophets, in answer that the parables should have been piquing their interest to listen closer, but instead they closed the eyes and ears to seeing and listening at all.  And even though the disciples didn’t always get the parables either, at least they were listening, as evidenced by their asking questions of Jesus when He was done.

Ever get lost in listening to someone, beloved?  Maybe it’s over our heads.  Maybe we just have too much other stuff that we’re thinking or worrying about at the same time.  Sometimes that’s understandable.  But Jesus wants our FULL attention: Open Eyes and Ears and Hearts!  Then ponder it!  Immerse yourselves in the Scriptures.  Then look up what you don’t know.  It couldn’t be easier in today’s technological world.  And even better yet, discuss it with someone else.  Oh how we begin to fall in love with Jesus! (Like the one we’ll hear about tomorrow – Friday.)

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07-20-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 20, 2022
(St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr)
Having told the parable of the Sower and the Seed that we’re all familiar with, Jesus concluded: “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Mt_13:1-9

Well, we might think that this statement today is pretty obvious.  Why would Jesus say something so absurd, and yet so profound?  Ever know someone with ears who could not or did not hear.  Oh yes, there are those of us, especially us getting on in years who loved loud rock and roll in the 70’s, whose hearing is diminishing.  And there are those whose hearing never was very good to start with (God bless them).

But there are also those who are so centered on their own center that anything, anything coming from outside, unless it’s opposed to their center, will not be heard or seen, even things that are right in front of them.  Did you see that meteor that just flew in front of us?  Did you see that deer that just ran across the field?  Did you hear what I just said???  What?!  “I love you!” . . . Well maybe not.

Even though we all have ears, we don’t all listen.  And compounding our selective hearing, are all the noxious sounds in our culture today that make us not want to listen any more.  All we need do, though, beloved, is widen that selection just a little. Make sure we never miss the Words of God.  Words that may come from our children, our spouses or our neighbors who care for us, sometimes maybe even more than we do for ourselves.  Jesus is reminding us today that if we have ears – we really ought to hear, to listen for the wonders of God’s love all around us.

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07-19-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 19, 2022
Jesus said, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  Mt_12:46-50

And if – His “mother and brothers,” then our mother and brothers and sisters and cousins and FAMILY.  Jesus confirms His Father’s love for all of His created children, for all time eternal (past, present and yet to come).  We are God’s family beloved, all the way back to Adam and Eve.  Maybe some of us don’t realize that fact, but that’s why we have been given all of this Time, to discover it.  And it won’t be discovered if its not told.  And it will not be told if its not experienced.  So, fall in love with Jesus, beloved.  Experience His love and all the rest will fall into place . . love of God, love of neighbor and even love of those who haven’t yet discovered the eternal and emancipating nature of God’s love for us!  Then, GO and let them know too!

familySong link: “These are my mother and brothers”

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07-18-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 18, 2022
(St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest)
Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.”  Mt_12:38-42

We live in a world that’s so filled with information, that sometimes we have to purposely close our eyes and cover our ears just to get a break from it all. Between the tv, the internet, the radio and the newspapers, we’re so bombarded with both lies and truths that it’s sometimes challenging to differentiate between them.

And yet, based on our Christian moral bias, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we often find the difference between Truth and Lie in the media, pretty obvious, especially in today’s culture.

And then, we can go all the way back to the days of the Prophets Micah and Isaiah, Jeremiah and Jonah to see the same thing. They were pleading with the Israelites to come back to the Lord their God. And, all the while, those Israelites would be crying, “Give us a sign,” with their ears covered and their eyes closed.

And the Prophets’ answer would always be the same: “You’ve already had your sign! God saved you from slavery, fed and watered you in the desert, conquered your enemies, and brought you to a land of comfort and food and peace. What more of a sign could you possibly need! If you trust in God and obey His commands, He will continue to feed and to protect you. For He is your Truth in a world of lies!”

And then, when we jump forward another 7-800-years, we see the blind and deaf Pharisees giving Jesus the same silly request: “Show us a sign!” Well, what Jesus did not say was: which ones didn’t count for you? ‘Was it the miraculous healings, raising the dead, walking on water, or feeding the multitudes that you missed?’ . . . ‘Was it the Words of the very same God who saved your ancient forefathers?’ ‘What more of a sign could you possibly need?’

And yet, a sign they would get. But only if they listened like the Ninevites to Jonah, and looked like the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. They would be witness to the Resurrection of Jesus and the Truth of Eternal Life . . . Or, instead, in their blind deafness, they would suffer the judgment of eternal separation from God, just like their ancestors in the Babylonian and Assyrian diasporas.

You know, sometimes the Signs of Truth are all around us. And all we have to do is look and listen.

Maybe it was a Marian vision.
Maybe a Saint who went through the same trials that we’re struggling through.
Maybe a Eucharistic Miracle.
Maybe something as simple as the answer to an unsolvable problem.

– Maybe a Love.
– Maybe a Death.
– Maybe a Light.

Or maybe just that overwhelming feeling of Peace . . .

We don’t need to ask.
Jesus fills us with new Signs with every breath we take,
when we Trust in Him!

St. Camillus pray for us!

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07-17-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 17, 2022
(16th Sunday Ordinary Time, C)
Abraham saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: “Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. . . . Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, “Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls.” He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then Abraham got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before the three men; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.  Gn_18:1-10a

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”  Lk_10:38-42

So, how do we welcome the Lord into our presence, beloved, like Abraham and Mary, going out of our way to listen, to please, to feed, to be fed, or like Martha, complaining, blaming and burdening.

And who is this “Lord” who comes into our lives?  It may be our next customer.  It may be those two young men in white shirts and black pants knocking at our door on a hot summer afternoon.  It may be the poor man standing on the island at the next traffic light wanting some help.  It may be that unruly, poorly dressed person who walks into our Sunday Mass.

Do we ever know when the Lord comes into our presence, what He will look like and how we’ll react?  Maybe it will be an interruption of something important that we’re doing.  Maybe it will be a distraction to how we expect things to look or occur.  Are we always ready to respond by running to our Lord with open arms and gifts galore.  To feed them, to listen to them, to CARE, to Love!

Maybe it’s something we need a little more practice in, beloved.  How to love the Lord in the stranger, or even those close to us!  HOSPITALITY!

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07-16-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 16, 2022
(Our Lady of Mt. Carmel)
Jesus cured many people, but he warned them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.’  Mt_12:14-21

Our hope!  Not shouted on the street corners, but known in our hearts.  Jesus didn’t come to beat religion upon people’s heads.  But He did come to teach them how to live in peace, how to envision justice and how not to show others ‘the Way.’  Not breaking the half broken and not snuffing out those who are nearly dead because of the world.  We are to comfort them in compassion, love even the unlovable and pray for those who refuse to listen.  His Kingdom come and His Will be done!

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07-15-22 Catholic Daily Mass Quotes

July 15, 2022
(St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church)
Jesus said to the nit-picking and condemning Pharisees, I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”  Mt_12:1-8

On Sunday, we heard the story of the Good Samaritan, where we saw a Jewish Priest and a Levite refusing to help a battered man because it would break their religious cleanliness law. In simplest terms, they held the Law, their Temple, and their Bible, the Torah – in a higher priority over compassion and mercy.

Today, again we see the Pharisees nit-picking on the Sabbath laws. And yet, before we flog and crucify all the Pharisees, Scribes and Priests of Jesus’s time, we really should get a little feel for where they were coming from, themselves.

You see, God gave Moses and the Israelites the Ten Commandments, because the people were pretty  stiff-necked and unruly. They needed some order, some guidelines, and the authority, which only God could provide. They also needed some human leadership, which was provided by Moses and the Levite priests.

Now, what the Levites found, was that there was often a fine gray line when making decisions between the absolute obedience or disobedience of those Commandments. Was it really a lie or not? Was it stealing or just borrowing? Is a fetus a baby human or not? Was it really a murder, or did he accidentally fall upon his sword? What about adultery and divorce? And what actually constituted work on a Sabbath?

So, they felt that those ‘simple TEN,’ then, had to be elucidated, further defined and expanded. And expanded they were! Into a whole Book of its own, called Leviticus, the Book of the Law.

In the meantime, even with all those laws, the Israelites, who still couldn’t get along with one another, ended up breaking into two separate nations, lost their faith in God, and were eventually, both, conquered and exiled by foreigners. When they finally got back together in Jerusalem, they found their Temple destroyed, their Levites having to start all over again from scratch, and they were still battling with the Greeks and Romans. The leaders, themselves: paranoid, protective and defensive, put all  their eggs in the basket of their Law and their Temple, just to keep some semblance of order. Nothing out-prioritized these, even the welfare of the people.

The Law, the Temple and their God (in Name only), became their excuses for power, self-protection, laziness and survival against their oppressors.

We see the antagonism between Jesus and these religious leaders throughout the Gospels, because: Jesus was giving the people the attention they were starving for  both, through the action of God, not just in His Name, and with the rationality of mercy and compassion instead of legalism.

Where the Pharisees would contend that: “If one simple Law was broken, then what would keep them ALL from being broken?” . . . Jesus would respond, “Where one person, was healed in body or soul, many more would follow suit, until the whole world was healed.”

In Mark’s Gospel version of this Scripture passage, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” Simply put, all of the commandments and laws were given to us for our own benefit, and not for the sake of punishment or overly strict adherence. Yes, the laws are critically important for morality, order and peace, but respect for human dignity, compassion, and mercy always outranks strict legalism.

In the end, we’ll let God be the final judge where justice is concerned. But, as for we and our households, we will serve the Lord and our neighbor – through our mercy, and in our love, and even in sacrifice, when or if that might be needed.  Because, Jesus is Lord of our hearts!

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