Whispers – Daily Mass Quotes begins after this Intro.
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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?
You are Loved!!
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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February 29, 2016
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. . . . When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away. Lk_4:24-30
Nice way to end a month. Maybe all month they’ve been trying to hurl us down headlong. But with Jesus at our side, beloved, we have passed through the midst of them. Enter March . . . Holy Spirit, help us to stay with Jesus for the next one! And NEVER forget that through Him we can conquer all things!
February 28, 2016
(Third Sunday of Lent C)
Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:
I AM sent me to you.” Ex_3:1-8a,13-15
It’s funny how we can come up with some of the silliest questions when we are motivated to escape an assignment. Moses really didn’t want to have to go back to Egypt and face all those people who hated him, let alone try to convince an old friend and arch-enemy (Pharoah) to let go of something he held close (all his slaves).
But God had a ready reply. I’m not Bob or Tom. I’m not Abe or Isaac. I’m not Sally or Sue. I AM. Wow! What an answer. God’s not I was, nor I will be. God just IS. He is with us here and now. Whenever we turn to Him, there He is. The trick is, beloved, never to forget! The more we remember that God IS always here with us, the more often we will fail to find ourselves all alone and flailing about trying to find the answers – by ourselves. God just IS! And that’s more than enough!
Link to today’s Homily –
“Hope, Mercy and Challenge”
February 27, 2016
Jesus told a parable about two sons and their father. The younger son took off with his premature inheritance and found life on his own to be pretty tough, as he fell into poverty and hunger . . . Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.’ So he humbly returned, begging mercy from his father. His father’s response . . . his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Lk_15:1-32
Sometimes we don’t know what we’ve got til it’s gone! (hmmm, sounds like a song) But it’s really true. And what we’ve got is a VERY loving Father, God. And then on top of that we have a Son, Jesus who loves us so much, that He gave his very life to teach us, to show us, to guide us to Eternal Life. We have the Holy Spirit to be with us for comfort, wisdom and strength! We really don’t need anything else! And yet, God has showered us with a purple robe, a house, a family, a loving community, and we can go on and on and on. Oh praise the Lord in thanksgiving. We have been and are – VERY blessed, beloved! Praise the LORD!
February 26, 2016
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?’ Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” Mt_21:33-46
Both Scripture readings today talk about a son who is rejected. The rejection can come out of jealousy or greed. The sons of Jacob were jealous and scornful of their brother Joseph because he was favored and doted upon by their father. Joseph was also a little boastful of his father’s favoritism and unwisely reported his dreams to his brothers, which had them bowing down to Him. Interestingly the dreams were actually prophesies of the future, where that’s exactly what did happen years later. But it didn’t make his standing with his brothers at the time any better, so they rejected and eliminated him from their lives.
Jesus’ parable of the death of the landowner’s son was similar but motivated by the greed of the vineyard’s tenants. They rationed that if the heir to the vineyard was dead, they would be rightful owners. Unfortunately for them, the owner was still alive himself, which made matters even worse for them – their own deaths.
All of this prefigured Jesus’ own persecution and death, caused by the jealous and greedy religious leaders of Jerusalem. Bottom line, of course, being both, that God the Father of Jesus was still alive to condemn them for their action. And, that Jesus himself would come back to life to prove their action meaningless to them. However to us, the resurrection of Jesus brings us hope and life. And it does that for all who believe!
February 25, 2016
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds. Jer_17:5-10
Jesus told a story to the Pharisees to emphasize the importance of our good works during life. To the rich man of Jesus’ story, Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ Lk_16:19-31
Sometimes the gaps are bigger than just communication. If we wait too long to change our hearts; to love others more than ourselves; to give and not just receive; to trust in God, it just may be too late to ever bridge that gap. It takes listening, believing, trusting, even in what we cannot see. Jesus is the bridge for us now! Cross over to life. Cross over to love!
February 24, 2016
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “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.” Mt_20:17-28
Sometimes, it seems, there are gaps in communication that just cannot be bridged. Jesus was sharing His deepest thoughts with His disciples, about His passion, death and resurrection. He did this, both, so that they would not be blind-sighted when it all happened, and, in order to help them understand the gravity of their situation and the urgency of listening very closely to what He was trying to tell them.
We might have expected their response to be one of disbelief, or else their need and desire to figure out some way to help Jesus, some way to prevent this terrible thing from ever happening (which Peter actually did in another Gospel account). But instead of caring about what Jesus said, the response of the disciples here was one of total self-centeredness. It was as though, they never heard a word that Jesus said, because they were so lost in their own thoughts and concerns – about fame and glory.
Instead of thinking, “What can I do for you,” they were worried about “What’s in it for me?”
Have you ever had that happen to you, brothers and sisters? You finally think you have someone you can totally confide in with all your deepest secrets and needs, someone who would actually care. And when you truly opened-up to them, all you got in response was babble about their own problems. By the time they were done, you ended up feeling even worse than you did before you said anything, because, inside you felt that you’d been fooled by the insincerity of their friendship, and it seemed they really didn’t care at all.
We hear the same thing happening to the Prophet Jeremiah today. Here were these people who Jeremiah was defending against God’s wrath, and they were the very ones who were trying to have HIM killed. Jeremiah’s defensive response was to pray to God, since he knew that God is always faithful to His devoted children. And the gap in communication between Jeremiah and his unfaithful friends would never be bridged, save for the intervention of God.
Jesus’ response to the uncaring request of his disciples was a little different. Instead of pressing His point or getting upset at their insensitivity, Jesus used the communication gap, as a teaching moment. He used it to teach His disciples, and us, about Servant Leadership.
He said in God’s Kingdom, it’s not about how great we are, but it’s about how much we can do for the other fellow, for our neighbor, because of our love for them. And then, with another very cunning twist of topics, Jesus brought the conversation all the way back to how He, being the model, would even go as far – in His Servant Leadership – to give His very Life for that ‘other fellow,’ for all of us!
And with that delicate twist in communication, Jesus answered their insensitive request, without even hurting feelings very much. And by bringing the topic back to His passion and death, Jesus bridged the communication gap in a very subtle way!
Somewhere, a long, long time ago, humanity created a huge gap between themselves and God. And God knew that the gap could only be bridged with a subtle twist in teaching methods.
You see, God could have, just as well eliminated all the insensitive, and non-listening people on the earth. But that’s not God’s way. There is just too much Love in God, to harm even the worst of us.
So instead of shouting with fire and sword, God sent us Jesus, His subtle answer to bridging our communication gap . . .
Jesus, who looked just like us.
Jesus, who lived just like us.
And Jesus who, without even breaking a bent reed, would show
us what God’s Love really is, and how we too, can bridge all gaps, in communication, through the sincerity of our Love for one another.
February 23, 2016
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen.” Mt_23:1-12
Well, we don’t want to get political here, but does this not sound familiar, from our corporations to our government! Yes, we are to follow the laws to the letter – but DO NOT follow their example!
Jesus IS the ONLY example we should be following!
February 22, 2016
(The Chair of St. Peter)
Jesus said, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Mt_16:13-19
The Church of Jesus, built upon the rock of St. Peter. And years and years and years have passed and God’s Church continues to “Rock” for all who believe! Come beloved! Come stand on the firmest foundation there ever was and ever will be!
February 21, 2016
(2nd Sunday of Lent C)
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. Phil_3:17-4:1
Change, transformation, transfiguration. In the blink of an eye, all things will be new. So be prepared brothers and sisters. Jesus WILL come. And we will be Citizens of Heaven!
February 20, 2016
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Mt_5:43-48
Probably the toughest command Jesus ever made. Yes we can love. We can love our families and friends. We can force ourselves to love those who are different from us. But to love those who hurt us. To love those who purposely attack us – our enemies, that’s tough. Jesus never said we have to love their actions. We can even hate their sin, the evil within them. But if we love them, we pray that they can change. Everyone can change. And loving them doesn’t mean that we allow ourselves to be subjected to their evil. Even Jesus slid away from those who would harm him (until it was His time, when he allowed it). The point was, the less we can allow hatred to control our lives, the happier, the more peaceful our lives will be. And loving one’s enemies is clearly not the starting point, it’s the culmination of years and years of conditioning to love everyone. Keep working on it, beloved. God’s Kingdom will come!
February 19, 2016
Thus says the Lord GOD: If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Ez_18:21-28
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” Mt_5:20-26
It seems, as we go through life, that we find ourselves constantly judged by others. From that very first breath we take, they’re asking “What’s our height” and “What’s our weight”, so they can place us on some chart of normalcy. And that was followed by the timing of our first tooth, our first word, and our first step. When we finally got to school age, it was all about how smart or how pretty we were, in comparison to our classmates and teachers. And if we didn’t quite fit their mold, it seemed there were a thousand other ways we could be labeled a failure or an outcast.
And the working world was no different; where the cost of being too unique, or a little too creative, or a little slower than all the others was much greater than just a label.
Then on the flip-side of all that, there was our faith life. And they told us that “God loves us no matter what.” That was until we got to Lent. And all of a sudden we start hearing about Sodom and Gomorrah, about Jonah and the great fish, about the Prophets and the Pharisees, and about Life and Death. And it was judgment all over again.
Only this time, the price, the cost, was even greater than losing our job. It was life itself. And we’d wonder if there was ever any end to it all!
And yet, there really IS something extraordinarily different between God’s judgment and the world’s. Because God truly is on OUR side. And when we actually think about Lent, we might even ask ourselves, “Just WHO is the Judge?”
And when it really gets down to it, what we find, is that – it is WE who are the worst judges of ourselves. It’s all the “I shouldn’t haves” and “I should haves” that wear us down. And in the end, we can literally guilt ourselves to Death.
Thus we get to exactly what the Prophet Ezekiel and Jesus were talking about today. You see, God really does love us no matter what. The problem is: DO WE? And if we don’t, how do we fix it?
Well, that too, is exactly what God wants for us. He wants for us to fix ourselves, so that we DON’T die of Guilt. And in order to do that, God gave us a whole bunch of Should’s and Shouldn’ts that can totally eliminate our Guilt. And maybe thinking it was just a little much for us, God then sent Jesus to show us precisely how it is done.
And Jesus condensed all those Shoulds and Shouldn’ts into one simple word – LOVE!
IF in whatever we do and in everything we do, we can find the purpose, the goal, the reason for that thought or action to be Love, then, BAM, we just got rid of some guilt.
Can we love those who judge us? (Well maybe, just not hate them.) Bam, there goes some more guilt.
Can we love those who hurt us? (Well maybe, just not hate them.) Bam, there goes even more guilt.
And can we even love our enemies? (Well maybe, just not hate them.) Bam, here comes the Kingdom of Heaven.
You see, brothers and sisters, God really does love us, and He wants nothing greater than to see us all reach that Goal, that heavenly reward – forever.
And Jesus calls it LIFE!
February 18, 2016
Queen Esther prayed to the LORD: “Save us from the hand of our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.” Est_C:12,14-16,23-25
Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Mt_7:7-12
Esther found and received the exact results that she prayed for. The LORD delivered her and her people. He turned the king to listening and accepting who she really was. And a harsh punishment was dealt to those who sought to harm her.
When we place our full and devoted trust in the LORD, He will answer us. Jesus is our intercessor for God the Father. And whatever we ask of Jesus, He will see that only the very best comes back to us. And maybe that’s not always life vs death, but it IS always eternal salvation vs condemnation. We ARE His children, and He will always watch over us!
February 17, 2016
Jesus said, “At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.” Lk_11:29-32
Jesus tells us that just as Jonah was a sign to the people of Nineveh to turn away from their evil, so is Jesus to us. Jesus is our warning. Jesus is our hope, that when we repent of our sinfulness, God will relent and shower us with His grace. And in reality, by living in our sin, we simply become blinded to God’s grace all around us. Want to live a better life, beloved? Then let’s use this Lent to clean out the sin in our closets, in our lives, and live the grace that abounds. Open up our eyes to the beauty and not the evil surrounding us. Oh, there is such beauty!!!
February 16, 2016
Jesus said, “This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.” Mt_6:7-15
Today we call it The Lord’s Prayer.
The LORD said through the Prophet Isaiah, “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” Is_55:10-11
Pray always, beloved! For even though God knows all our needs before we ask, we need to affirm them to ourselves and be certain, in our hearts, that God will answer in His time and in His way – a way that is only the very best of ways for us!
February 15, 2016
Jesus told a parable about the final judgment . . .
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Mt_25:31-46
We call these the corporal works of mercy. If we truly love our brothers and sisters (all of them), then these are the things we should be doing every day of our lives. When was the last time we gave a heart-felt thank you to the grocery clerk? When was the last time we offered food to the homeless on our street corners? When was the last time we stood up for the imprisoned on death row, or the baby about to be aborted? Maybe even greeted a coworker with a blessing? Little things, beloved, that all help build God’s kingdom and done for our Lord, Jesus Christ! It may not seem like it now, but God is counting each of them and God is counting on us!
February 14, 2016
(First Sunday of Lent C)
Brothers and sisters: What does Scripture say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ – that is, the word of faith that we preach, for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom_10:8-13
So, fall in love with the Word. Fall in love with Jesus. And know that through Him and Him alone, you will be saved – for eternity!
Happy Valentine’s Day, beloved!
February 13, 2016
Thus says the LORD: If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. Is_58:9b-14
There’s nothing as wonderful as direct instruction and a definite outcome: If – Then. Don’t you just love it, beloved! Sounds so simple. Are we lost in the darkness and gloom of life? All we need do is clean up our own act, as the LORD instructs, and our inner spirit will be renewed. We may still see the gloom and darkness out there, and it may even surround us, but INSIDE there WILL be peace. There will be strength to endure, and God, Jesus will be our hope, our light, our eternity! And that’s comforting!
February 12, 2016
Through the Prophet Isaiah, the LORD spoke these words about true fasting and its reward: This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! Is_58:1-9a
So there’s more to true fasting than just giving up chocolates.
As we become adults, we finally realize that God is not looking for our self sacrifice just for the sake of self discipline. He is looking for the sacrifice that helps grow His Kingdom. That means going of outside our selves in sacrifice to others. Can I be more kind in my relationships with others? Can I be more patient on the roads? Can I take that chocolate money and give it to the man with the cardboard sign on the street corner? Can I give some of my time to volunteer (that means no-pay, no reward), to help spread God’s love to those less fortunate than me? It may not mean, going into prisons or risking our safety in the slums. But there are ways we can help. We just need to look for them . . . or stop refusing to answer their call.
February 11, 2016
(Our Lady of Lourdes)
Moses said, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.” Dt_30:15-20
Ever notice, beloved, how incredibly beautiful people are, who truly believe in God, and as Moses said, choose LIFE. There’s just something about them. And it’s not their physical looks, though it does have an impact on that too. It’s a sense of peace with everyone and everything they come in contact with. It’s a lack of worry, and anger, and competition, and hatred.
It’s Lent, beloved. This Lent, let’s work on becoming one of those beautiful people. We might be almost there, and we might need a little work to get there. One by one, let’s get rid of those things or attitudes within ourselves that are keeping us back. God is here to help us, if we just ask. Peace is just a mindset away.
Jesus said, “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Lk_9:22-25
Jesus, please send your Holy Spirit to help us get there.
We trust in YOU!
February 10, 2016
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Jl_2:12-18
Ever wonder, beloved, just who is this God for whom we are to do all this sacrificing? And then we might ask, are we really sacrificing for God or is it for ourselves? Does God benefit from our sacrifice? OR do we???
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” Mt_6:1-6,16-18
If we look at an athlete who wants to win the big prize; the prize of notoriety, or cash, or team standing, we’ll see them practice day after day to make that ‘better time’, to perform flawlessly, or to improve their endurance. And all of that practice takes sacrifice. It may even be pretty painful. But in the end, they know that the reward they seek will be worth it. And sometimes the odds of actually winning that prize could be quite astronomical. Yet they persist, because they also know that the sacrifice is not just for the prize, but it’s for their own benefit as well.
And yet! And yet we know that the notoriety will eventually disappear or be won by someone better in the future. We know that the cash will all be spent in the blink of an eye. And even the strength, the dexterity, the speed, the sharpness of our own bodies and minds will eventually turn into flab. So why the sacrifice? Why the pain? Is it all just for one glorious moment?
Suppose, however, that there really was more to life than this physical existence that we now experience. Suppose there was a reward that could never be beaten. And suppose the “high,” the glorious moment of our accomplishment would never go away . . . We Christians call this perfect reward, eternal life. And the odds for winning it make it so easily attainable, that all it takes is a simple decision on our part: I will it so!
Unfortunately, just as perfect physical fitness is always at odds against gravity and laziness, our decision to believe in God, to believe in Jesus and follow His way, is always at odds against the “way” of the world and sinfulness. Thus, we have to work as hard at staying in Spiritual shape as we do at staying in Physical shape. And that means sacrifice!
If we told a ‘couch potato’ that they had to run a mile, it would be as unimaginable to them, as telling an war-craving atheist to love their enemy. And yet, loving your enemy would seem pretty hard for most of us as well. It would be equivalent to being that runner who could run the 26-miles of a marathon, versus the couch potato gasping out a walking lap around the track field for a benefit. Before we can love our enemies, we first have to learn how to love our friends, our family and our neighbors. We have to get into the mode of practice, of preparation.
This is what Lent is all about. This is why we sacrifice. It’s our Spiritual practice for the “Big Game.”
You see, Jesus showed us ‘the Way’ to reach eternal life. It’s our decision as to whether we really want it or not. And when we say we do, we can’t just sit around and hope to be able to run the 26-miles, without the preparation. We need to prepare.
And if we think we don’t need preparation, all we need to do is ask ourselves a few basic questions, like: How well can we control our worldly passions? Can we not hate those whose views are different from ours? Can we offer a hungry beggar the food that we would have eaten for lunch, and pass-over a meal? Can we go without coffee, or TV, or internet, or air conditioning, or cell phones for any more than a couple of hours, and still be pleasant to our neighbor? Can we love, even our enemies?
Jesus said, what we are sacrificing is not for the show of it. What we are sacrificing is for the benefit of the world. It’s for the benefit God’s kingdom. It’s for the reward of eternal life.
And how can we possibly say no to that!
February 9, 2016
In refuting the Pharisees for their overly strict adherence to Jewish law, at the cost of respect for parents and neighbors, Jesus quoted Isaiah saying, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ Mk_7:1-13
Good point! Sometimes we can be a little too ‘religious’ at the cost of respect for others, too. It reminds me of people who complain about children at Mass. It reminds me of people who come to Mass and never say a word to another soul. Jesus said that God wants us to love neighbor as ourselves. Beyond loving God, that should always take priority over any religious activity we may be involved in. Love MUST come first!
February 8, 2016
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people. Mt 4:23
The Gospel is the Good News that Peace can be found within ourselves, when we place our trust in Jesus. That’s living in God’s Kingdom and in itself, it has the power of healing. Trust in Jesus!
February 7, 2016
(Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time C)
In a vision of the LORD, the prophet Isaiah tells us: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!” Is_6:1-2a,3-8
You can just picture that young kid in the back of the classroom, jumping up and down – “Ou, Ou, Pick me, Pick me” Here I am LORD! Send me! And shouldn’t that just as well be us, beloved? Shouldn’t that be us! Doing your will LORD is my greatest desire!
Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” . . . By the time they were done with what had transpired and brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. Lk_5:1-11
Then again, sometimes it’s not our greatest desire to follow God’s will. Sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense to us. But God knows – BEST. And Simon was wise enough at that point to just listen and obey. And the result was something he could never have imagined. It was so spectacular, in fact, that he “left everything and followed” Jesus.
Doing God’s will should BE our greatest desire – even when it doesn’t make any sense! Maybe we just don’t want to go any deeper in our faith, in our knowledge of God, in our relationships. Maybe we’re afraid it will be TOO deep and we might drown. But remember – God will never let any harm come to us that will not lead to something better. Jesus says “put out into deep water.” That’s where our greatest growth will occur, beloved. Seek Him out in the deep! And get ready to be surprised!
February 6, 2016
(St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs)
. . . the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” . . . Solomon answered, “I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?” 1_Kgs_3:4-13
Wisdom. How many of us are wise enough to even think about asking for wisdom? And yet, it’s through wisdom that we receive and give love. It’s through wisdom that we gain friendships. And it’s through wisdom that we receive wealth. Solomon received all and was esteemed, not only by his own nation, but by rulers of far distant countries as well.
So seek always, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beloved. And all will go well for you. And praise our Lord, Jesus for the gift!
February 5, 2016
(Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr)
Yeshua Ben Sira writes about David . . . As a youth he slew the giant and wiped out the people’s disgrace, . . . With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise. With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung; Sir_47:2-11
With our whole being, beloved, we are to love, worship and praise our God. We give Him thanks for every breath we take. And we use each breath to give Him thanks for another moment to raise up His children, our neighbors, those who suffer, those who struggle with life, those who have lost their way, those who refuse to believe. In Him, we live and move and have our being. Through Him we can defeat even the giant who would love nothing more than to lop off our heads. But these heads are precious in the eyes of God. And even in death we have – Life Eternal!
Praise be to Jesus, God our Father and the Holy Spirit!
Nursing Home Homily:
In the last beatitude, Jesus said, Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Mt 5:10 Today we venerate three blessed martyrs who were canonized for that same Beatitude: St. John the Baptist, St. Agatha and St. Blaise, whose feast day was Wednesday.
When we think about it, these were just a few of the millions of people, throughout the ages, who have allowed or offered their lives to be taken for the love of their God – just like Jesus did.
And we can think about it, and we can read about it, and we can watch it in movies, but we really have no idea what that kind of persecution is really like, here in our free and prosperous country.
We might even say that John the Baptist had it easy compared to some of the others. For though he was imprisoned, his death came quickly. It’s sad, but funny, that John’s death was caused by the fickleness of a child, directed by the devious, vindictive and evil nature of a Queen, and a King with no backbone. John did die for God. Though his death was really caused by evil versus good. It was caused by sin versus righteousness, and not for
the sake of his ‘standing for God.’ Yet, later on, that ‘standing for God’ would become the reason for the deaths of many other saints.
St. Agatha and St. Blaise, for example, were imprisoned and brutally tortured because of their faith in God, their faith in Jesus.
Which makes us wonder, just what is it about this God of ours that would enable us with the strength to allow someone to take our lives like that? What is it that could possibly cause us to allow someone to set us on fire, to cut off our breasts, or to scrape our skin off with an iron rake, before they cut our heads off?
Sirach hints on the answer to that question with the character of King David. He says that, “With his every deed, David offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise.”
So to start with, we have to recognize that our very existence is all and only because of God. And in that recognition, we give God thanks for every breath we are able take. And then we understand, that every breath we are able to take – is all and only given to us – FOR God, for His purpose . . .
That with every breath we take, we are called to raise up God’s children, our neighbors (to build God’s Kingdom) . . .
And in our continual gift of thanksgiving, we slowly begin to Fall in Love with this God. This God who is our Creator and our Savior; Our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier.
We come to understand Paul’s comment that “In Him, we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:28
We come to understand that – through Him we can defeat even that giant who would love nothing more than to lop off our heads.
You see, in our thanksgiving, we begin to fall so deeply in love with this God, that we would even give the skin off our backs for Him – just as Jesus did for us.
And in our love for God, we also come to understand that these very heads of ours, and every hair on them, are precious in His eyes. Not just nice, but Precious! – just as our own children are so very precious to us!
And we come to understand that even in death, God gives us – Life Eternal!
Sirach tells us, that “With his whole being David loved his Maker.” With their whole beings, John and Agatha and Blaise loved their God so boundlessly, that they were willing to suffer greatly for a little while, knowing that their reward from God would last forever.
Jesus said, Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Mt 5:1
And how very blessed are those who love their God so boundlessly, that they are WILLING to be persecuted for His sake!
For Bible References today,
go to USCCB site for Readings of 2-5-16: LINK
February 4, 2016
The inspiration of St. Francis: Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. Mk_6:7-13
Heal the sick. Feed the hungry. Comfort those who suffer. And in doing so, the Kingdom of God will be shining from your heart. Demons will flee and illnesses will be cured, both in those you help and in yourself! Praise be to Jesus!
February 3, 2016
(St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr)
By trying to take possession of God’s people through a census, David recognized his error and pleaded for God’s mercy. But there would be recompense. And not only David, but the whole nation would have to pay. When David saw the angel who was striking the people, he said to the LORD: “It is I who have sinned; it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong. But these are sheep; what have they done? Punish me and my kindred.” 2_Sm_24:2,9-17
It’s called taking responsibility for our own actions. Something that is difficult to find in today’s world. We all make mistakes and our God is merciful. But sometimes we just have to pay the piper. And we don’t always recognize the harm our actions have on others. Pray with me, beloved, that God will help us to recognize the paths to our errors, before we begin to walk down those paths. And if we do err, help us Lord, to withstand, to endure whatever sacrifice we must offer to reconcile ourselves with You. But please don’t punish Your sheep in the process!
February 2, 2016
(The Presentation of the Lord)
Since the children share in blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. Heb_2:14-18
Is death holding us captive, beloved? We see it in the news, we watch it in our movies and read about it in our books. We are devastated when one of our loved ones face it in cancer or other diseases. And rightly so, as we will surely miss them when they depart through that doorway.
But Jesus frees us of the fear of going through that door, because He did Himself, and then showed us that there really IS more. There is LIFE eternal! And in that life, we will be reunited with all those who have gone before us. So fear not, beloved, but have hope. God is waiting for us just beyond that door – and the kingdom awaiting us is GLORIOUS!