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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July 31, 2017
(St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest)
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’” Mt_13:31-35
Somewhere in the past, beloved, someone planted a seed in our hearts. It may have been sitting there infertile for years or it may have immediately begun growing. But whenever it started, there developed a thirst in us to feed it. And we fed it by going to Mass. We fed it by reading the Bible. We fed it in many and varied ways that brought us closer to God and closer in relationship with Jesus and one another.
THAT is the Kingdom of heaven growing within us, just like the mustard seed that Jesus spoke of today. If you feel like the mustard bush within you is wilting or thirsty, beloved, maybe it’s time to feed it again. Come into community with like-minded believers and watch it grow again! And there you will find that Kingdom that your soul is so searching for!
The Kingdom of God’s love!
And then let’s see if we can plant some seeds of our own for God!
July 30, 2017
(17th Sunday Ordinary Time, A)
Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” Mt_13:44-52
Notice, beloved, that in this case, Jesus didn’t say that the Kingdom was like the pearl. It’s like the merchant! We might say the merchant could be Jesus (God) Himself. And the fine pearls that He’s searching for are us. For those who are worth it, and it could be any or all of us, Jesus sold his whole humanity in order to buy us. So in this case, Jesus IS the Kingdom!
Next question is: what is it that could make us “worth it” in His eyes? Well, it begins with believing in Him. In our baptism, either we or our parents made that choice: to believe. Then it continues with allowing the Holy Spirit to take possession of our hearts and minds. This again, is our free will choice. Then we live that commandment that Jesus taught: to Love God and our neighbor! We become that pearl that is so valuable in God’s eyes, that Jesus died just for us! And OH what a beautiful pearl that would be!
We are all God’s children, beloved! Question is, do we understand that, and are we living like we truly are?
July 29, 2017
Jesus said to Martha, “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.” Jn_11:19-27
Do YOU believe this, beloved?
If we truly believe this, we are, as Jesus said, “not far from the Kingdom of God.” Mk_12:34
Keep on believing!
July 28, 2017
In those days: God delivered all these commandments:
“I, the LORD, am your God, . . . You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them.”
“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. . . .”
“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. . . . “
“Honor your father and your mother, . . . “
“You shall not kill.”
“You shall not commit adultery.”
“You shall not steal.”
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.” Ex_20:1-17
This IS the definition of
Love of God, Love of neighbor, the basics.
Then we can go into more of the specifics, the how to, in the Beatitudes, Mt_5:3-12.
July 27, 2017
Jesus said to His disciples, This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’ . . . “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
To hear the Word of God straight from His own mouth! Do the parables make sense to you, beloved? Are they clear as day or as obscure as fog at night. God gives us the ability to understand through the Holy Spirit within us. If we are not living right with God, maybe that’s why Jesus’ parables don’t make any sense. Once we clear out the cobwebs of our hearts, get rid of any hatred or animosity we have toward others, and learn to love, everything that Jesus said will make perfect sense. This was the rich soil that He was speaking about yesterday. Don’t let the world steal His Truth from your hearts, and His Word will bear fruit many times over. That is the Kingdom of His love! And it’s just waiting there for you and for me!
July 26, 2017
(Ss. Joachim and Anne)
Jesus spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. . . . But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Mt_13:1-9
“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Yesterday I had a “sick day.” And even though I have ears, that sinus pressure gave me such a headache that I had a hard time hearing and a hard time even thinking. So yes, if we have ears, we ought to hear. But there are lots of things in life that can cause us not to.
Some of them we have no control over, like sicknesses, or our age, or accidents to our hearing, or all the extraneous noise around us. And yet, sometimes, we’re just not listening, by our own choice.
Jesus gave the people and us a parable about listening and all the obstacles to hearing. Maybe we’ve hardened our hearts by the 10-billion telemarketing calls we get each day and we don’t even answer that phone any more.
Maybe before we fully understand what was said, there are thirty people complaining about it . . . and we never really got to know if it was something good or not; like the grumbling Israelites in the desert and like our own grumbling liberal media.
It’s funny, because it didn’t take long before those same complaining Israelites were grumbling about God’s gifts of the manna and the quail.
Sometimes in order to truly hear, we have to shut out all that other noise around us and concentrate on the Truth.
Today we celebrate the memorial of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tradition, as gleaned from an early Church document (that’s not in the Bible), tells us that the names of Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anne (Ann or Anna).
That writing, which is sometimes referred to as the Infancy Gospel of James, and was written around 145 AD, tells us that the parents of Mary, like Abraham and Sarah and like Elizabeth and Zechariah, also had a hard time having children.
And in their old age, Joachim and Anne also heard the Voice of God through a messenger. A messenger who foretold the birth of someone who would be a key player in the Salvation of the world, according to God’s Plan. And that ‘birth’ would be theirs, and that ‘someone’ would be named Mary!
And just like Elizabeth and Zechariah, Joachim and Anne were also ostracized by their neighbors for not having children. Yet, beyond the grumbling and beyond their embarrassment, they listened, and they heard, and they believed.
And this beautiful and miraculous and Immaculately Conceived child, named Mary, even as a consecrated virgin, would become the Mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Mother of us all.
You see, God is not yet done with us either, brothers and sisters in Christ. For we never know when that Voice will reach OUR hearts. It may be through Christ’s Words, right here in the Scriptures. It may be through the Blessed Sacrament. It may be through a neighbor or even through someone we despise. Or it just may be in the next sunrise, or beautiful dove, or even through our own sickness and suffering.
God is not done with us.
So we keep our soil rich and we never stop listening!
July 25, 2017
(St. James (Greater), 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
Hmmm, ever consider this body of ours, beloved, as “an earthen vessel,” like a piece of pottery, or a little ship, or an ARK, where the greatest value in us is not the vessel itself, but the “treasure” that’s held within. And that doesn’t mean that we can abuse the vessel because it holds no value. Because by abusing the vessel we may just as well abuse the treasure. But it does means that the vessel itself is not the treasure. We know that one day the vessel will degrade and fall apart. And that may even happen prematurely through an accident or weakness in defending itself from disease, or even through the actions of others.
But recognizing that treasure within us also gives us a different viewpoint on the vessels and treasures of other people. Some may not even realize that they have such a treasure within them. And not realizing there IS a treasure within every one of us, they may set out to abuse others and their treasures. So in response, we try to teach, we try to “evangelize” others about this treasure, about their treasure. Unfortunately, not all will listen.
God, in Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is our internal treasure. He gives us the strength of endurance, the patience of Job, the wisdom of discernment, the knowledge to grow, the compassion to love, the fear to respect and the faith to persist. And we know that He IS our eternal life. He is our hope and our purpose!
So when that vessel starts bothering you, beloved, too much pain, not enough attention, at a loss for meaningful work, Hang On! Because deep within there IS a light! The light of Jesus that gives us hope, gives us peace, gives us comfort and leads us forward.
So, keep the faith, beloved, and God WILL deliver us – for all eternity!
July 24, 2017
Jesus said, “At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.” Mt_12:38-42
On Friday, Jesus told the Pharisees: “I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.” Mt_12:1-8
Sometimes, beloved, when we focus on the past. When we focus on what we think is the most important thing in the world, we miss what is right in front of our eyes. The Pharisees were focusing on a building and on superficial laws. They were focusing on the heroes of the past and missing the one true God who truly had the power to save them.
Jesus straight out told them that He is greater than the building, the laws and the old heroes. And yet, they still needed more proof (beyond what was already seen). In the end it really didn’t matter how much proof Jesus gave them, they would still not believe. Do we believe deep enough beloved, not to need any more signs and wonders. Jesus is the only One who will save us. Not money, not jobs, not relationships, not pets, not fame! Only Jesus! Trust in Him!
July 23, 2017
(16th Sunday Ordinary Time, A)
Jesus told a parable about the interaction between good and evil: After a farmer sowed perfectly good wheat seed in his field and found weeds among the plants, his workers wanted to pull the weeds out. But the farmer replied, “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_13:24-43
Life is full of weeds, beloved. Be it other people’s actions, illnesses, accidents, financial struggles, war, nature, attitudes, temptations . . . And sometimes there’s not a whole lot we can do about some of those weeds. Sometimes we just have to deal with them, carry our cross and follow Jesus (because trying to eliminate them might hurt us more than we can ever hurt them). But in carrying that cross, Jesus will strengthen us. He will protect us. And the hope and the promise is, that in the end, all those weeds will be destroyed and all that will be left is GOODNESS.
In the meantime, beloved, we must be very careful not to let the world turn us into just another weed in someone else’s garden! If we could be and remain the Good Seed that God planted, we will one day be reunited with Him in ways that we can’t even imagine. But we do know that it will all be GOOD!
July 22, 2017
(St. Mary Magdalene)
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” Jn_20:1-2,11-18
Why are you looking for me? Did you not know that I am right here beside you all along? Jesus is there, beloved! Just speak with Him any time and all the time. He’s listening to YOU!
July 21, 2017
(St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church)
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “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
You know, beloved, when we think about that statement, “I desire mercy not sacrifice,” it could be a little puzzling, because when we think of sacrifice, we tend to picture something really hard to do, like going to an opera instead of a ballgame. Like giving up chocolates, or anything else for that matter, that we enjoy – for the sake of some other purpose: like losing weight or because we love our spouse more than a ballgame. We love her enough to sacrifice sitting through the hours of an opera without complaining or falling asleep.
And so we sacrifice!
(to fulfill our own self-fulfilling prophesy or desire)
In the days of Jesus, people would sacrifice an animal for the sake of appeasing God and the Temple leaders. They would sacrifice not picking grain or saving a hurt animal on a Sabbath, for the sake of the not breaking the Sabbath Law.
And if we went all the way back to Moses, we’d see that Moses himself sacrificed his own reputation by making outrageous demands of the Egyptian Pharaoh (in obedience and fear of the God who gave him that order). He sacrificed his safety and actually risked his life in going back to Egypt, trusting that this ‘unseen God’ would stand by all of his promises.
And yet, with all that said about sacrifice, Jesus still insisted that God desires mercy more.
You see, even though we might think that sacrifice is hard, it’s not nearly as difficult as the mercy, the forgiveness of someone who has done us wrong, because sacrifice has a reason, a cause and effect, a cost and a benefit. But the reason for mercy is much more difficult for us to picture.
God desires mercy not only because it is the greatest sacrifice that anyone can possibly offer, but because its unseen effect is a world with more love. And a world with more love is a world with less hate. And a world with less hate is a whole lot more like God’s Kingdom, as Jesus described it.
If you were God: How would you convince a world, whose primary focus is internal, is self, that the answer to all of their woes is not found through self-preservation, or revenge, or defamation of others, or hatred, or greed? But it’s found through mercy!
Well, instead of just trying to explain it to deaf ears, you would show that world, by your own example, that even You, as God, are merciful enough to forgive them; even though they still keep hurting You by their sins.
And to prove the point, you would even be willing to sacrifice “a part” of your own self to the very evil that’s the greatest enemy of everything You stand for; all because that world thinks that they understand sacrifice and not mercy.
Jesus, as “that part” of God, in human form, sacrificed His own flesh and blood to prove to us that God is Merciful!
And Mercy trumps Sacrifice
The question is: Who is it in our lives – who needs our mercy and prayers today?
Who is it that we need to dump our hatred for, and maybe start forgiving and understanding?
Can we sit through that boring opera because our Love for God is greater than any self-centered ballgame? Who knows, in the process, we might even develop an appreciation for opera!
But just imagine the Kingdom that we COULD live in – without hatred in our own lives!
That’s the Kingdom, that’s the promise – of Mercy!
July 20, 2017
Well, Moses was kind of dumbstruck in having this conversation with God! And with the charge to go back to the land where they wanted his death, he sought every possible excuse he could think of to get out of it. (Sometimes don’t you just wish that you never answered that phone!)
So Moses began with the obvious, saying: “When I go to the children of Israel 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 children of Israel: I AM sent me to you.” Ex_3:13-20
Well! If it was Bob or George or Henry or even Irving, the natural follow-up would have been “Irving WHO?” But this one really smashed that excuse! God certainly doesn’t mess around! And they’ll be pondering that Name for the next 3500-years! As a matter of fact, 1500-years later, when Jesus used that same Name, they were ready to stone Him, because nobody except God could have that Name! Well, duhhhhh!
Sorry, beloved, just couldn’t help it! Funny though, no matter how hard we try to avoid God’s call, He’ll win every time!
Just reminds me of my first and last attempt to fight “City Hall” on a traffic ticket. After having taken photographs to prove my point. After the ticketing police officer described my car with the wrong make and color, I still lost! Just goes to show – you can’t fight city hall, nor God! He IS the Great I AM! Always was and always will be!
July 19, 2017
God said to Moses, out of the burning bush, “Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Ex_3:1-6,9-12
Saved, fed and raised like a prince, now it was Moses’ turn to save others. And God was on his side. Sometimes, beloved, that “call” just may not be one of our favorite things to do. And balk as we may, life will be a lot tougher if we DON’T follow God’s call! So, buck up, pick up that cross and move on!
July 18, 2017
Between the lines of death and disaster. Escaped from the fury of slavery and evil. Out of the waters of safety and compassion, a child is found. Is found by the only one who could possibly save him, the very daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh who decreed his death. And unknowingly, he was consigned by the princess to be nursed by his own mother.
When the child grew, she (his mother) brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, “I drew him out of the water.” Ex_2:1-15a
Little did she know that he would be the savior of a Nation!
Some 1500-years later another child would be born under equally unlikely circumstances. And escaping the fury of death and disaster, He would find shelter in the very same nation from which Moses and the Israelites escaped, Egypt. And out of the waters of His baptism and through the water of His pierced side, little did they know that He would be the Savior of the World!
July 17, 2017
Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects, “Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews,” Ex_1:8-14,22
They always talk about the light at the end of the tunnel, the blue skies beyond the cloudy days. But what about the next tunnel? What about next storm? Do we truly appreciate every moment of the light, every second of the blue skies when we have them, knowing that the only thing that will last forever is God’s love?
The Israelites enjoyed a reprieve from famine. They came into the very best of new lands, out of the desert. And they had the favor of Pharaoh, since Joseph was the second in command. But now Joseph was long gone. Pharaoh was dead as well. And the new Pharaoh didn’t know anything about all that Joseph had done to save them all.
So the Hebrews, as they became known, seemed to be more of a nuisance to the native Egyptians than they were a blessing. So control was the new name of the game. Funny, though not really, it’s the same game that’s played all over our globe still today.
The Love that Jesus spoke of didn’t mean that all the evil of hatred and genocide would disappear. It meant, rather, that instead of his believers initiating and propagating that behavior, they would, to the contrary, peacefully fight for cooperation and understanding and coexistence and compassion. They would place their greatest Love in Jesus and share it with others.
They would not stand by and allow their own demise, but when forcefully put to the sword as opposed to striking in retaliation they would take up their cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus, making known that their salvation is not in revenge but in love!
Jesus told His disciples that it was possible that not even their own parents, brothers and sisters would believe in Him. But they were to love them anyway and always keep Jesus as number one in every thought and deed. And that number one means Love!
July 16, 2017
(15th Sunday Ordinary Time, A)
Jesus said to His disciples: “Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” Mt_13:1-23
How rich, how clean of weeds and rocks, how open are we, beloved, to hear God’s word and allow it to grow in us? It WILL grow, beloved, if we just let it and ask Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to protect us from everyone and everything that wants to prevent it.
Ask and it will be granted you. Mt 7:7
July 15, 2017
(St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church)
Jesus said, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” Mt_10:24-33
Hmmmmm. The old saying goes, ‘If you were to die in the middle of the sidewalk in the middle of the day, would anyone know you are a Christian?” Do we acknowledge Jesus, beloved, in how we act, in what we say, in what we wear? Are we embarrassed to pray in public? Is there some sign on our person, a rosary, a prayer card, a crucifix necklace, that lets the world know of our commitment to Jesus, our love for God? Hmmmmm, something to think about!
July 14, 2017
(St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin)
Jesus said, “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Mt_10:16-23
The Words of your heavenly Father speaking through you.
Ever find words coming from your own mouth, beloved, that you asked yourself, “Where did that come from?” And I don’t mean curses! Blessings, wisdom and knowledge that you didn’t even know you had! Well, you didn’t! It was your Father speaking through you.
Ever have someone say to you, “Where did you get that from?” And you just had no answer. That’s your Father! Let Him speak through you, beloved and don’t worry!
Jesus will take care of you, if you just let Him!
July 13, 2017
(St. Teresa of the Andes)
Jesus said to his disciples as He was sending them off on their first missionary trip, “As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.” Mt_10:7-15
This truly was a giving of themselves to those they would accept them with hospitality. And when they were not accepted, it was not a call to get angry or to get back. Jesus said, “let your peace return to you.” End it in peace!!!!
How well can we keep the peace in ourselves, beloved? Don’t allow any evil to steal your peace. It’s not worth it. When we can learn to keep the peace, to offer the peace and to bounce back when it’s not accepted, that’s when we’re living that Kingdom of God that Jesus promised!
A most blessed and peace-filled birthday prayer
for our son, Fr. James today.
July 12, 2017
The sons of Jacob, the brothers of Joseph said, “Alas, we are being punished because of our brother. We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us, yet we paid no heed; that is why this anguish has now come upon us.” Gn_41:55-57;42:5-7a,17-24a
Jesus instructed His Apostles: “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Mt_10:1-7
Quickly moving from Jacob’s wrestling match with God, yesterday, to the story of his sons, today we see how Joseph, like his father Jacob, had the wonderful Gift of prophesy, through his ability to interpret dreams.
Joseph was also a gifted mathematician, which proved itself in his calculation of how much food he needed to store and ration in order to survive a seven-year, world-wide famine.
Yet, not unlike the prophets and dreamers who would succeed Joseph, we see that prophesy can be a pretty dangerous undertaking. People usually don’t want to hear about the future, especially when it has to do with them and it’s not good.
And despite all his giftedness, Joseph was not endowed with the art of subtle persuasion. He was blunt and to the point. And he could actually be rather callous and insulting with some of his outbursts. It was that bluntness that got Joseph into so much trouble with his brothers, that they sold him off into slavery.
Ironically, in Egypt, it was that same wit and wisdom, with a little more subtlety, that prompted the Pharaoh to make Joseph the second in command of the entire nation.
Then, some 20-years later, we see that his brothers were still carrying the burden of guilt for what they had done to Joseph. And Joseph had a field day with it! Between his extraordinary authority, his brothers’ desperate need for the food – that HE controlled, and their blindness to recognize him, Joseph took full advantage of the situation.
You see, the sons of Jacob, those 12-tribes of Israel, were clearly not living in the Kingdom of Heaven that Jacob envisioned with a ladder connected to the earth, nor that Jesus proclaimed to the lost sheep of Israel, because the darkness of their sin blinded them from ever recognizing that Kingdom, right there in their own brother, Joseph.
In the end, he WAS their most valuable Gift all along. He was the ladder that brought them food, and wealth, and power in the middle of a world-wide famine. He was their connection to the God who loved them, despite all their past failures.
Sometimes, beloved, the challenges, the struggles, the illnesses, the demons that we battle with, can actually be our own stairway to God’s Kingdom as well: when we keep our eyes open, when we trust in Jesus and when we hold firm to God’s commandments.
Because it’s not jealousy nor hatred, it’s not selfishness nor revenge, that bring us the greatest reward. It’s compassion and love. It’s mercy and forgiveness. It’s seeing God in the Gifts of our neighbors, despite their shortcomings.
And when we can truly grasp that fact, beloved, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand for us as well!
July 11, 2017
(St. Benedict, Abbot)
Jacob wrestled with “a man,” as he escaped the bondage of his kinfolk. The man asked, “What is your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” Gn_32:23-33
Sometimes, we too, wrestle with God, beloved. In those times when we just don’t understand, when we can’t see the same big picture that God sees, we wrestle with understanding. Maybe it’s a suffering we’re going through that never seems to end. Maybe it’s a goal in life that we just can’t seem to be able to reach. Maybe we’re in a rut and the walls are just too slippery for us to climb out by ourselves. Have faith, beloved. God knows all of our challenges. Rely on Him. Pray for answers. And never give up. We WILL prevail, with the help of God, who never leaves us. God who always loves us. Jesus, who died for our salvation!
July 10, 2017
Jesus said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” Mt_9:18-26
A man who believes in the power of a dream; A man who believes that Jesus can actually raise his dead daughter to life; And a woman who believes that just touching the edge of Jesus’ clothes could heal her of a lifetime of illness. All three had the FAITH to be saved.
Jacob, in exile, believed in the protecting power of God. The hemorrhaging woman believed in the healing power of God in Jesus. And the “official” believed in the miraculous power of Jesus to raise the dead.
What are we struggling with, beloved? Is our faith strong enough to believe that Jesus, that God has the power to help us too?
July 9, 2017
(14th Sunday Ordinary Time A)
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Mt_11:25-30
One to hang on your office wall or over your kitchen sink. One to place on your dashboard and on your bed’s headboard. One to never forget. Jesus is our rest and our peace and our hope. Trust in Him always!
July 8, 2017
Jesus said, “People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” Mt_9:14-17
OH, what are we to do with these “old wineskins” beloved? The new culture, the new order of things seems to be so wrong, so evil, so biased, so UN-Christian. I’m sure our parents felt the same way about us!
But, you know what? The world will continue going on and on. The young will get old and they will be opposed to whatever it is their own children decide is hip or pop or whatever they want to call their own culture. Somehow we must continue as well, fermenting in our own, old wineskins. But maybe instead of being so totally opposed to the new ones, we just come to understand them. And above it all, we love them: tattoos and nose rings and raunchy music, and short skirts and droopy pants and finger gestures and phones glued to their heads and all!!!
We gotta love ’em anyway!
July 7, 2017
Abraham’s servant asked him: “What if the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I then take your son back to the land from which you migrated?”
Abraham replied, “Never take my son back there for any reason,” Gn_23:1-4,19;24:1-8,62-67
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” Mt_9:9-13
If you ever went to a restaurant, beloved, and got some bad food, you might never want to go back to that restaurant again. Or if it was bad enough, you might not even want to eat that particular food again! We kinda learn through our experiences.
And if we ever trusted someone with a private matter, and then came to find out that the whole town knew, we’d begin to get a little more picky with whom we trusted and whom we didn’t.
Both Abraham and Jesus had to make some pretty important selections of people today: Abraham, in a wife for his son Isaac and Jesus in a strong disciple and follower.
Abraham knew that the stock that came from his lineage were good people. But he also knew that, if Isaac, who was God’s chosen son, was to go back to those people, they would definitely not have a very good influence on him. Maybe they would try to keep him from returning to his father. Maybe they would turn him away from God, to worship false deities and idols.
But either way, Abraham would absolutely not allow Isaac to return to his homeland. So he had his servant and messenger take an oath. And he trusted God to make it all work out. And work out it did.
But we still might wonder: if the people were not trustworthy enough to have Isaac sent there, how trustworthy could this woman, Rebekah, be? And the answer was: trustworthy enough for God.
The Pharisees wondered the same thing about Jesus’ selection of friends. Here, they considered themselves to be the “Holy Ones,” at least compared to the tax collectors and prostitutes. And there was Jesus, hanging around with those riff-raff and not them.
But maybe, just like God’s selection of Rebekah, Jesus saw something special in Matthew and Mary Magdalene that the Pharisees didn’t. Maybe Jesus saw the openness of their hearts, as opposed to the hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts.
Maybe Jesus saw their need for God as opposed to the Pharisees’ having God as their “job.”
Funny how much more fulfilling a hobby is, because it fills a need, compared to a job whose sole purpose is just to make more money. We should never allow God to become our job, brothers and sisters. But He should always be there: in the fun of taking a clean, fresh breath, in the delicacy of perfect meal, in the enchanting sound of an aria, in the beauty of forgiveness and in the refreshment of healing.
Jesus didn’t come to puff up overfilled balloons. But he did come to bring hope to broken hearts and life to the lifeless lost.
And now it’s our turn to do likewise.
July 6, 2017
(St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr)
God called, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering on a height that I will point out to you.”
Before the sacrifice, the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing–all this because you obeyed my command.” Gn_22:1b-19
Because of Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience, all the nations of the earth will find blessing. We are that blessing, beloved, because God loves us so incredibly much. SO incredibly much, that HE did the same thing for us. And through the sacrifice of Jesus we are not only blessed, but we are saved as well. Saved from eternal damnation. Saved from hopelessness. Saved from the error of sin. ALL because of that immeasurable Love of God!!
That’s something to shout about!
July 5, 2017
(St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest)
God said to Abraham: “Do not be distressed about the boy (Ishmael) or about your slave woman (Hagar). Heed the demands of Sarah, no matter what she is asking of you; for it is through Isaac that descendants shall bear your name. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a great nation of him also, since he too is your offspring.” Gn_21:5,8-20a
The birth of conflict between the descendants of Abraham began at the birth of those very descendants. The offspring of the slave woman came about because of a lack of faith on the part of Sarah, that she would have the children that God promised, even at an old age. But after the birth of Ishmael, Sarah bore jealousy in her heart and Hagar, pride! From a faith-filled friendship between the women came heated mistrust. And thus the children were separated, not only in motherhood, but in blessing as well. Isaac became the patriarch of the Israelites, the Jews, and Ishmael the patriarch of the Arabs, the Islamists. And the conflict continues even today. And yet, God loves all! In the end, it’s not about hatred and killing, beloved. It’s about Love! And wherever there is not love, there is not God either!
Jesus said, we are to love EVEN our enemies.
Even IF they don’t believe as we do!
July 4, 2017
(St. Elizabeth of Portugal, OFS)
As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. Mt_8:23-27
When the waves of stress or hurt, the waves of temptation or failure, the waves of fear and anxiety are sweeping over us, beloved, what is our response? Do we cower and hide? Do we turn to drink or drugs? Or do we turn to Jesus?
Jesus has the power to calm us. All we need is the faith to believe He will! Ever experience that calm, beloved? Sometimes it’s so incredible, we can just walk on water. Trust in Jesus! And His calm will fill you with the strength, the fearlessness, the courage to accomplish just about anything! Maybe even walking on water!
July 3, 2017
(St. Thomas, Apostle)
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Jn_20:24-29
Again, that’s us, beloved. BLESSED! For we have NOT seen Jesus, except maybe in pictures imagined by artists. We have not touched, but we are touched by Him constantly! We are touched by inspiring pictures, by heart wrenching movies, by friend’s kindness and even by our own kindness to others. That’s where Jesus is for us, beloved. And Jesus says, ‘Blessed are we,’ because we believe!
Never forget all those moments of closeness to Jesus. And one day we WILL see Him as He truly is: Love!
July 2, 2017
(13th Sunday Ordinary Time A)
Jesus said, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Mt_10:37-42
Are we selective in who we receive, beloved? Then, we might wonder, how many times are we rejecting Jesus?
One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. . . .
Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?” His servant Gehazi answered, “Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.” Elisha said, “Call her.” When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.” 2_Kgs_4:8-11,14-16a
We seem to have many, many miraculous stories of conception and birth throughout the Bible, all the way back to Abraham and Sarah. Today’s story shows Elisha’s gratitude for the hospitality given him by a very generous woman who recognized and received him as a Holy Man of God.
Jesus said, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,” Mt_10:37-42
Just makes us think, beloved. Who will that next prophet be, that enters into my life? And will I be as receptive as this ‘influential woman?’
Link to today’s Homily . . . Postscript
July 1, 2017
. . the LORD said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?’ Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.” Gn_18:1-15
God had made a promise, a covenant with Abraham and now it was about to be fulfilled. So why was Sarah and Abraham so surprised? Are we surprised, beloved, when awesome things happen to us? The Lord can do ANYTHING. Just have faith!
Happy July, beloved!
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