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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June 30, 2019
(13th Sunday Ordinary Time, C)
St. Paul said, “live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Gal_5:1,13-18
Ever notice, beloved, how comfortable we are in our habits. Some may be good habits, like eating for nourishment. Some may be bad habits, like eating just for the sake of our insatiable desires. And we can go on and on with our nasty, flesh-satisfying habits. St. Paul tells us that we need not be controlled by the flesh, when we allow the Spirit to lead us. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help us overcome those worldly habitual desires. All we need do is allow Him!
June 29, 2019
(Ss. Peter and Paul, Apostles)
Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Mt_16:13-19
And who do YOU say that Jesus is, beloved? Is He a distant historical figure? Is He a far away God, only approached when we’re in dire need? Or is He a best friend? The one we talk to on the way home from work. The One we love with all our heart and soul. The big brother who knows a whole lot more than we will ever know, and has all the answers – IF we just ask. Ponder Jesus, beloved, as often as you can in your day. Speak with Him and love Him. And remember, if it wasn’t for the Apostles and evangelists, we would never know Him as well as we do today. And now it’s up to us to point the way to Him for others. The Apostles will show us how! And our hearts will teach us why!
June 28, 2019
(Most Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Brothers and sisters: The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Rom_5:5b-11
No greater love exists, beloved! And in THAT love, the love of God for us, how can WE not love the least of our brothers and sisters as well!
June 27, 2019
Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” Mt_7:21-29
The question is, beloved, how are we utilizing the Gifts God has given us – our time and money and talents? Are we spending them on the “show” of what we think God wants us to do, and internally, actually doing them for our own benefit? Or are we spending them, using them, offering them out of our love for others? God knows the difference! And what our message is – is to LOVE first, then act on that love. Only then will we hear that most awesome of responses, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” Only then, will our house (our lives) be built on rock!
June 26, 2019
The LORD said to Abram, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.” “O Lord GOD,” he asked, “how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He answered him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Abram brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; . . . When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.” Gn_15:1-12,17-18
Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.” Mt_7:15-20
There is a fine line between Faith, Discernment, Skepticism and Mistrust.
Faith says, “I believe you,” regardless of the inconceivability of what you claim. Faith is the epitome of Trust.
Discernment, then, is what we tend to do, and what Jesus says we should do, before we trust in anyone or anything. It is the careful evaluation of Credibility.
Take, for example, the weather forecasts. If the forecast says it’s supposed to rain at a particular time, do we automatically believe it? Well, our experience has shown us that at least 50% of the time, those predictions are wrong. And that leads to skepticism.
Skepticism is what happens when, time after time, we’re confronted with untruth. We’re skeptical of the news media because, what used to be an objective source of information, has become subjective, opinionated and even outright lies, given in order to propagate a particular bias or agenda. And all of that leads to total Mistrust, which is just the opposite of Faith.
So when we look at the story of Abram and God, we see how God was constantly making all kinds of offers to Abram. He said, Abram would have lots of land, and children, and blessings. And yet, Abram, in waiting and waiting for those offers to come true, never witnessed the realization of any of them, or at least, the time it took for their realization was beyond what Abram was willing to wait.
So in today’s First Reading, we see Abram cautiously and skeptically discerning whether or not to actually believe God. “How am I going to actually know?” he asked the LORD.
So God did something that was very common in those days. Whereas, today, we would write up a legally binding contract, in the time of Abram, the contracts were literally written in blood. By walking, or passing through the carcasses of dead animals, the two parties vowed that if either one of them ever broke that covenant (contract, promise), they would be subject to the same fate as those dead animals. It was quite an intense and graphic image.
And it was a common practice, for example, in marriage vows, where both fathers walked the ‘blood-path,’ vowing fidelity for their children, even at the cost of their own lives, if that vow was ever broken.
In the case of Abram, God promised land to Abram, while Abram promised his Faith, his total Trust in, and Fidelity to – God. And God ALWAYS came through!
Jesus tells us that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. When we place our Faith, our trust, in God, God will always respond according to His promise.
And two things are promised. First, that we will all mortally die. And Second, IF we keep our Faith in God, and believe in Jesus, we will experience Eternal Salvation, that is, a continuation of Life, after mortal death, in God’s Kingdom, forever.
That promise of God was validated and confirmed through the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to live with us, at Pentecost. If we faithfully rely upon the Holy Spirit in our lives, NOW, before death, we can actually experience a foretaste of Heaven – right here and now, on earth. And the physical sign of that foretaste of heaven is right here in our blessed Sacrament of Holy Eucharist – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, here in our own mortal bodies.
When we place our Trust in Jesus and when we carefully Discern everything else, as He instructed us, then we will Live in the joy of the Holy Spirit. For, as Jesus tells us, by their fruits we will truly know our God: who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Who IS all Life and all Love!
Blessed be the Lord our God, forever!
June 25, 2019
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord. Response to Psalm 15
Jesus said, “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.” “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” Mt_7:6,12-14
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
So, why is it, beloved, that we have Religions? And why are there so many religions? Well, we might say that ‘human nature,’ or temptation, or the devil keeps us from living the life that Jesus professed is possible for everyone. And living that life is not something that can be forced upon people, as the Mohammedans feel. And it’s not exactly isolating ourselves from the rest of humanity, as do the monks in high mountains of Tibet. And it’s not observing trivial differences in liturgy or theology, as do all the different Christian denominations.
Living that life is dependent upon our interactions with one another. It is having no guilt from our actions or our thoughts. It is respecting all life with no prejudice or hatred. It is forgiving others and ourselves when those temptations, those times of human weakness come, and when the devil prompts us do stray from the narrow path to follow a crowd of his disciples.
Jesus tells us that this life is not easy. But when we can keep the perspective of others always in mind. When we can see life from their point of view and place ourselves in their shoes. Then, just maybe, this “golden rule” might make a little more sense and maybe then we can find the joy of living in the presence of the Lord.
And that’s why we have religions, in all their different forms; to constantly point us back to the better path, narrow as it may be! It is a path of communal LOVE!
June 24, 2019
(The Nativity of St. John the Baptist)
Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Is_49:1-6
God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’ Acts_13:22-26
At John’s birth, All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel. Lk_1:57-66,80
We are all “called” from birth, beloved. John answered! And the call was to point the way to Jesus. Is our life, beloved, pointing the way to Christ? We don’t have to be a billboard. But in the every-day actions of our lives we can point the way to a better life for all. Jesus shows us and teaches us and leads us. Today, let’s see how we just might be like John, unworthy to stoop, but worthy to shout! JESUS IS the WAY!
June 23, 2019
(Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ)
What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne’er to cease:
And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.
This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:
Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow’r divine.
Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:
Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.
Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:
Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.
(an excerpt from the) Sequence Lauda Sion
God’s LOVE in over-abundance!!
June 22, 2019
(Ss. Thomas More, John Fisher and Paulinus of Nola)
St. Paul wrote, “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 2_Cor_12:1-10
We say “stuff” happens. Point is, it may not have anything to do with what you did or didn’t do. And yet if you did do something you shouldn’t have, it just may have everything to do with that! That’s just the consequence of wrong-doing. But rather than blaming God or yourself, either way, take heart, beloved, God loves you. Ask His forgiveness out of true repentance and He will give you the strength to carry on!
Jesus said, “do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” Mt_6:24-34
June 21, 2019
(St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” “The lamp of the body is the eye.” Mt_6:19-23
Two friends were walking home at sunset and one said the other, “Can you see that beautiful orange sunset, and the full moon, and the bright-early stars? Aren’t they just spectacular!” And the other replied, “Yeah, I hear it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.”
Two people were driving in a crowded city, and one raved about the diversity of cultures and race, the poor and the rich, and how everyone seemed to get along so well together. While the other complained about the traffic, the crime and the bigotry.
Two people were on their way to church, and one complained about the parking, and the preaching, and the boring music. While the other couldn’t wait to see the friends they missed, to tickle the cute little babies, to hear the relaxing music, and to find out how the preaching might transform their life in some new way today.
Jesus tells us that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be. It just reminds us, beloved, how, in every moment of our day, we have the choice to open the eyes of our hearts and to see all of God’s goodness, like St. Paul, even through shipwreck and imprisonment, even through theft and beatings, even through our own pains and illnesses, our decrepit and aged bodies, and even in death itself, there is a new sunrise, a singing bird, a cooing child and the Glory of God to raise us up.
When our eye is a lamp and not a blackout;
When our hearts are aflame in the Holy Spirit;
When we can savor the resurrection over the crucifixion and the coming of the Holy Spirit over the loss of Jesus in His ascension; then that heavenly peace that Jesus promised will be ours. And we, ourselves, will ascend, even from the deepest canyons of life, because, there in our hearts – has been our treasure all along!
June 20, 2019
Jesus told His disciples to pray saying, “. . . forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;. . .” He continued, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Mt_6:7-15
Sounds like a living mirror, beloved, doesn’t it? The me I see looking back at me is as if God were looking at me. And what does He see? And the me I see is also me looking back at me, along with every other person who sees me as well. Am I worthy to be looked at by others? Am I worthy to be looked at by God? Or is there some unforgiveness in me that God and everyone else can see? The next time we look in that mirror, beloved, what do WE see? And if it’s through the glass darkly, or through a mask glumly, what can we do about it! Jesus can help!
June 19, 2019
Brothers and sisters, consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2_Cor_9:6-11
And this giving is done out of love. Not because of requirement, not recompense, not vow, not guilt and not for appearances sake.
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. . . . And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Mt_6:1-6,16-18
Jesus wants us to love so deeply that we are willing to give for no repayment. We are willing to give, even to the undeserving, even to the guilty. That’s the grace that God gives to us every day and with every breath we take. And it all stems from LOVE!
“Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mt_5:48
_ _ _ _ _
(A very blessed and happy 43rd wedding anniversary to my beloved wife, Mary Ann! I love you always, honey!)
June 18, 2019
Jesus said, “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. . . . So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mt_5:43-48
If the Creator of the universe and of all mankind, who knows us to the very core of our being, could ask of us to make a choice that we may feel is impossible, then why should we not believe Him? How can we not take that leap of faith, believing that God knows exactly what He’s asking of us? And how can we not believe that it is only for our own good that He asks it. “Love your enemies.” It’s not impossible! And beyond the actual doing of it, there is the reward of heavenly perfection, the reward of eternal glory!
June 17, 2019
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” Mt_5:38-42
Human nature tells us to protect and defend. Divine nature tells us to love. Human nature tells us to preserve and hoard. Divine nature tells us to give and give until all is gone. Human nature tells us to climb and climb until we’re on top. Divine nature tells us to give the ladder to someone else, because we really don’t need it when God is our launching pad. The former leads us to mortal death, while the latter leads us to eternal life. Which would you prefer, beloved? Which do you choose?
June 16, 2019
(Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity)
Jesus said, “when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” Jn_16:12-15
Father, Son and Holy Spirit – ONE! Three persons, One God. Inexplicable unity. Incomprehensible entity. Believed in, only by FAITH, in which we entrust all our hope!
St. Paul wrote, “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Rom_5:1-5
One faith, one hope, one baptism, one Lord of all, who is in all and through all and with all, in love! Our Trinitarian God!
June 15, 2019
Jesus said, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.” Mt_5:33-37
That cuts out lying, cheating, broken promises, bad feelings, guilt and a huge source of our lack of joy! Good advice! Thank you Jesus!
June 14, 2019
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
Not us, not me, but God! . . .
When we allow His dwelling within
and share that treasure about!
June 13, 2019
(St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church)
Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,” Mt_5:20-26
The condition of our hearts, beloved, is often dependent upon the condition of our relationships. Where there is hatred, there is no peace (in us). And where there is jealousy, there is no compassion. And where there is unmerited love, there is a kingdom that no hatred or revenge can ever compare. For that kingdom is our internal life with God. It is the ultimate ahhhhh!
June 12, 2019
Brothers and sisters: Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God, who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life. 2_Cor_3:4-11
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” Mt 5:17-19
Imagine someone having a long and complicated discussion, and you happen to walk in right in the middle of it all. You might recognize a few words like “letter” and “glory,” but even that can be pretty confusing. Is it an alphabet letter, or a personal communication letter, or are they the letters of a “qualification,” like an MD or an RN?
Paul has them all covered in this little piece of his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians.
Then, in the Gospel, we find Jesus also talking about “letters” today. And we all know what it means when someone says the “Letter of the Law.” But this little piece of Jesus’ discussion with His disciples can be just as confusing.
So, how can we make any sense of it?
Well, let’s first, put both readings in perspective. And the perspective IS, that both readings are Responses to problems.
Paul’s problem was that, being a good distance away from his infant Church in Corinth, he came to learn that some of the non-believing Jews there, were discrediting his credentials to preach and were discouraging the new Christians.
You see Paul didn’t have those big fancy “letters” after his name. And his only means of communication with the Corinthians was by “letter.” So, like Jesus, Paul defended himself by referring to the “letters carved in stone,” those 10-Commandments, that the non-believing and “lettered” Jews held in such great esteem.
As a reference, Paul made the comparison of the “fading glory” that one receives by the simple act of obedience to those laws, versus the “eternal glory” we receive from the Holy Spirit, through our belief in Jesus. The fading glory disappears with the very next sin, while the eternal glory remains, despite our setbacks, because the Spirit is always there to lift us back up.
Then, Jesus’ problem, as always, was the misinterpretation of the Law and the misunderstanding of who Jesus was, by the Pharisees. You see, the Pharisees went so far beyond the “Letter of the Law,” those same 10-Commandments, that they insisted on following some 600-additional laws. There were so many laws, that they lost sight of what the original-10 were all about. And keeping a law at the cost of hurting, or even killing a neighbor – was not what God originally had in mind with Moses.
So when Jesus said that the most important laws were to “Love God and to Love our neighbor,” that didn’t override the 10-Commandments, it actually reinforced them.
And then Jesus said that our obedience to those 2-simple rules of Love, which were supposed to be the whole basis for the other 600+, would certainly gain us all the credentials we need for living in God’s Kingdom. Those credentials, those “letters” are exactly what we gain through our Life in the Spirit.
They are the letters of: Love, Joy and Peace; of Patience, Kindness and Goodness; of Faithfulness, Humility and Self-Control. And it’s in them that the Glory of God radiates from our faces and makes even the most confusing of Letters as clear and as simple as:
I Love You.
June 11, 2019
(St. Barnabas, Apostle)
In those days a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Acts_11:21b-26;13:1-3
Barnabas knew that challenges to the faith would eventually befall everyone. It happened 2000-years ago and it happens today, as well. What is it beloved that will get you turned away from the Lord? Yes, the Church is fully composed of normal mortal beings. We have our personalities, our quirks, our errors and our goodness. And those will not always be agreeable to everyone. But our God is a loving and merciful God and he forgives us all. Keep that forgiveness in mind beloved, when the next Church person you run into is not quite of your mindset and liking. Then, know that the Lord, whom we worship, would want nothing less than our love for them. And in that love, as Barnabas tells the faithful of Antioch, we are to never lose our faith! For our Faith is, in the end, what will lead us to the Salvation that Jesus gained for us at such a mighty cost. All out of Love.
June 10, 2019
(Mary, Mother of the Church)
O happy Virgin, you gave birth to the Lord;
O blessed mother of the Church,
you warm our hearts with the Spirit of your Son Jesus Christ.
(Mary, Mother of our Lord and our Church), help our faith! Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call. Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise. Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith. Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. Remind us that those who believe are never alone. Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!
Encyclical Lumen Fidei (29 June 2013), Pope Francis
© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana
June 9, 2019
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts_2:1-11
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Jn_20:19-23
When I was a kid, my dad had a keen fascination with Time. Maybe it came out of his love for science fiction books. Maybe it was because we lived in that early age of great technological change: from Einstein’ new theories, to nuclear power; from quantum physics to the infant space program. Or maybe it was just because, like all of us, he simply didn’t have enough of that thing we call Time.
But whatever the reason, dad’s greatest wish was for me to invent a time machine. So, he was probably quite disappointed when I decided to study chemistry instead of physics. And I know, that was one sin of mine that he did not “retain,” because in those days, just going to college was a big deal.
It’s funny because after all these years, I now find myself pretty fascinated with that same topic of Time. It’s also funny how the subject of time machines and time travel has coincidentally, become quite the fad in today’s movies, books and TV shows.
So, OK, Deacon Joe, what does any of this have to do with reconciliation, Pentecost or the Holy Spirit? . . . Well, actually, it has everything to do with it. And it all began when I came across the word: anachronism.
An anachronism is a chronological inconsistency over different periods of time. It may have to do with people, events, objects, or even customs.
So, if I were to tell you that when I was a kid I dropped my smartphone in the bathtub, that would be an anachronism, because, of course, the only phones we had back in the 60’s, had large dials, and the only smartness might have come from the voice on the other side of the line, if we were lucky.
And likewise, if we interpret Jesus saying “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained,” as specifically referring to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as we know it today, then that’s an anachronism as well, because, in the time of John’s Gospel, the term, ‘forgiveness of sins’ was considered Baptismal language.
And the statement Jesus made about ‘forgiving or retaining’ would more likely refer to giving or withholding Baptism based on a person’s belief or refusal to believe in the Gospel message that the Apostles were sent out to share.
You see, it all had to do with time. And recognizing that, we have to be very careful when we interpret the events in someone else’s time-period with our own customs and knowledge.
Now, it was through all this stuff about anachronisms, that the Holy Spirit gave me a very interesting revelation. Here, after all these years, my dad and I had that proverbial “time machine” right there in our own hands, all along. And so do you, brothers and sisters! We call it: our Bible and our Church.
You see, there’s the OLD (Testament), where we can go all the way back to the very beginning of time. And then there’s the NEW (Testament), where everything was REcreated by that Pascal Mystery of the Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ; all culminating in this glorious descent of the Holy Spirit. And of course, there’s the FUTURE where, in Faith, we believe in our own eternal salvation and our eventual, heavenly dwelling with God, as we were promised by Jesus.
Past, Present and Future . . .
You see, it’s the Perfect Time Machine!
But you really don’t have to – just take my word for it. Let’s look at Pentecost. We tend to understand that Pentecost is simply 50-days after Easter and 10-days after the Ascension of Jesus. It’s the day that we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary.
But actually, that’s just one little snippit in the BIG picture of Time, because Pentecost and the Holy Spirit both existed, long before this event ever happened in the time Jesus. And they continue, and will continue to exist, long after, as well . . .
You see, the Apostles did not invent the name Pentecost for their own special day of wind and fire and Spirit. It was originally a Jewish, wheat harvest, Feast Day that went all the way back to the time of Moses (Lv_23:15-22, Nu_28:26-31, Ex_23:16). Seven weeks or 50-days after the Passover, Pentecost was first called the Feast of Weeks. Then, a little later in time, the Israelites added the celebration of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on that very same day, Pentecost.
So Pentecost was not only a day of thanksgiving for God’s blessings of food. It was also a day of remembrance of God’s Law and the Jewish responsibility to keep it. And it was no coincidence then, that 50-days after the Jewish Passover, and our Easter, in the time of Jesus, God would again remind the world that neither wind nor fire can harm us, when we accept the Holy Spirit’s dwelling within our hearts.
Yet that very symbolism of wind and fire meant more than just the destructive tornadoes and wildfires that we envision them to be. And there’s another anachronism. The wind and the fire again go all the way back to the time of the Exodus, where God protected the Israelites with a column of wind-blown cloud by day, and a column of fire by night (Ex_13:21,22).
It went all the way back to God’s Creation, where a “mighty wind swept over the waters” to bring order out of chaos and light out of darkness (Gn_1:1-2). And shortly after this, that wind became the very breath of life that was breathed into Adam, who became the first man (Gn_2:7). It extended to Elijah who prayed that God would breathe life back into a dead child (1_Ki_17:17-22). And so it was done. And later, God’s breath of life would reconstitute a whole valley of dry bones into living people, through the Prophet Ezekiel (Ez_37:1-9).
You see, THIS Breath of life, this Sacred Wind IS the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus breathed out upon the Apostles, as He sent them into the world – to Baptize and to build this beautiful community we call Church, on this, its birthday!
IF we were to send our own beloved child off to a distant college, we would make sure that they would have all the tools and the knowledge, they would need to survive and thrive.
And if we were to send a husband or a wife into the battlefield of an army, we would make sure that they would have a token or reminder of our love and our prayers, to give them strength and encouragement in their battles.
And if we were to travel, ourselves, to a distant place, that we’ve never been to before, we would make sure we had our GPS, or at least a map of the area, right there next to us, to keep us from getting lost.
You see, it’s in that same way, that Jesus prepared His disciples and us, to be able to survive and thrive in this world, through the wisdom of His Word.
He then offered us reminders of His love and prayers, through the Sacraments of Unity (Eucharist) and Forgiveness (Reconciliation), in order to give us all the strength we need in our battles against evil. St. Paul reminds us that it is IN our One Lord, that we are: One Body and One Spirit, when we believe.
And finally, in order to keep us from ever getting lost, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit. She is the Spirit of wisdom and courage, the Spirit of justice and understanding. She is the Spirit of respect and unity. And most wonderfully, She IS the Spirit who occupies all space and it is She who fills all time with the Breath of Her love and Her life.
To Her we pray, this day and always:
COME Holy Spirit!
June 8, 2019
St. John the evangelist wrote, “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.” Jn_21:20-25
And our closest references to the actual events that occurred during Jesus’ short tenure here with us are right there in those four books we call the Gospels. Volumes and libraries have been published based upon our interpretations of those writings. And from them, men an women throughout the ages have devoted their lives in love with this man we call our God.
And why would we not! Jesus taught us the meaning of love. Jesus taught us the meaning of hope. And He offered His life to reunite us with God our Father. Unlike any earthly hero, Jesus didn’t abandon us to photos and stories. Jesus came back Himself as the Holy Spirit to tug on our hearts, to continue to teach and guide and love us all the way back to our heavenly home. All we need do, beloved, is make that simple choice to believe and trust in Him. And God will handle the rest!
June 7, 2019
King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea on a visit to Festus. Since they spent several days there, Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying, “There is a man here left in custody by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation. . . . Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges. And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.” Acts_25:13b-21
After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jn_21:15-19
Imagine driving down the road, and you’re on a mission. You’re a little late in picking up your daughter at school, and you know that she’ll be impatiently waiting for you. How’s that saying go? “Hell hath no fury like a daughter scorned.” You love her so much, and you don’t want to disappoint her, so you push that gas pedal down a little further than the road sign says you should.
Three-quarters the way there, you suddenly see that dreaded flashing red light in your rear view mirror. “Oh no,” you gasp, “Now I’m going to be even later!” When you roll down the window, the stern-faced officer, in a low, monotone voice asks you, “Mr. Jones, son of the governor, Are you a good citizen?” You say “Absolutely!” He says, “Be a good example.“ (And that was only for the first 5-miles over the limit).
Then he asks you again, “Mr. Jones, son of the governor, Are you a good citizen?” You say, “Sir, You know my father, you know that I am a good citizen.” He says, “Drive responsibly.”
And finally after hearing the question the third time, and knowing that you were 15-miles-an-hour over the speed limit, you finally say, “OK, you know that I was 15-miles over the speed limit, but I’m late in picking up my daughter and I really need to get there . . . Otherwise, I truly am a good citizen.“
Then he warns you, “You know, Mr. Jones, if you keep driving like this, even if you are a good citizen, you’re going to end up in a wreck. And what do you think that wreck will say to our State about you? I know that you are a good citizen. And I also know that you love your children. But sometimes you just have to prioritize. And being in a wreck will make you a whole lot later than even getting this ticket. So in your great love, be a good citizen too, and everyone will be a whole lot safer and happier!“
St. Peter was also three-times over the limit, in his triple-denial of Jesus. All for his own self-preservation. You see, even after 3-years of following Jesus, Peter still didn’t have enough Faith to trust. To trust that the Lord would take care of him, no matter how stressful a situation he was in.
And, as great – a surrogate-apostle – as St. Paul was, he wasn’t 100% on target either, as we heard today. In this third trial over his faith in the Lord, Paul was finally put to the true test. The test of deciding to go back to Jerusalem to face a murderous mob, just as Jesus did, or to pull out his ultimate trump card of appealing to the Roman Emperor – who just happened to be the infamous Christian enemy, Nero.
Unfortunately, Paul trusted in his trump card, over His Lord, in order to save his own skin. And in the end, King Agrippa told Festus that IF Paul had not appealed to the Emperor, he could have been set free!
It just makes us ponder, brothers and sisters. Is our Faith in the Lord strong enough to risk taking that seemingly easy escape route – to lie, deny or reply, when our trust in the Lord would have unquestionably offered us the greater, the greatest reward, even at the risk of a little suffering?
Both Peter and Paul learned well that lesson. By their example, then, are we willing to put 100% of our faith and our love in Jesus?
This is exactly why we “practice” our faith! So that when the real trials come, we WILL be ready – in faith, to trust in the Lord!
June 6, 2019
(St. Norbert, Bishop)
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” Jn_17:20-26
There it is, beloved. Jesus’ prayer for us! We are ONE! Now let’s bring the world with us!
June 5, 2019
(St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr)
Jesus continued His prayer to the Father for His disciples: “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.” Jn_17:11b-19
Jesus prays for us too, beloved. And He consecrates us (makes us holy) as well. When you begin to get disgusted with what you see and hear in the world around you, then you know that you no longer belong to it. We become a part of that Kingdom that Jesus so often spoke of. It’s a kingdom of understanding, it’s a kingdom of Truth.
And yet, we do still live here. So Jesus gave us all a mission in our baptisms. It is a mission of sharing God’s love with everyone we meet, whether they are lost in their immersion with the world or anxious for the next life. We are to share the Joy that Jesus gives to us through the Holy Spirit. That joy IS the Truth, beloved. And we are to rely upon the Holy Spirit to keep us from ever losing that joy, especially to the wiles of the world.
Jesus said “Go forth!”
And there’s our mission!
June 4, 2019
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come.” . . . “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” . . . “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them.” Jn_17:1-11a
If ever there was a love letter, this 17th Chapter of John, in Jesus’ passionate discourse to His Father, just prior to His arrest and passion, is the most magnificent! For in it we see the most extraordinary love of Son for Father, of Master for disciples, of God for all living Creation. And in it we also see the answer to our Faith. Eternal life is knowing God! And we know God when we truly get to know Jesus. His Words bring us life and light and hope. Trust in Him, beloved. And know that He is with us always!
June 3, 2019
(St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs)
Paul said to the Ephesian disciples, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.” Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Acts_19:1-8
Jesus said to His disciples, “Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” Jn_16:29-33
It’s through the Holy Spirit, beloved, that we receive the strength we need to survive every challenge the world puts us through. Is it money, power, fame, persecution, illness, poverty or hunger that we are suffering with? Trust in the Holy Spirit, for Jesus has “conquered the world” and we have nothing to fear. We may not speak in tongues or prophesy as did the Ephesians, but we do have that strength of the Holy Spirit, the strength of Jesus within us to overcome anything that, at the moment, seems so overbearing. Seek Jesus, for He is right there all along!
June 2, 2019
(The Ascension of the Lord – transferred from Thursday)
Jesus said, “behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God. Lk_24:46-53
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, Eph_1:17-23
What better reason, beloved, to be CONTINUALLY praising God in these, His Temples, our bodies!!!
June 1, 2019
(St. Justin, Martyr)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. . . . The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God.” Jn_16:23b-28
Notice, beloved, that Jesus didn’t say to pray to me so that I can ask the Father. He said, ASK the Father directly in my name. Our belief in Jesus will be enough for the Father, for He knows that we love and believe in Jesus and He loves us as much! What an awesome gift Jesus has given us. If we only believed, fully believed! ASK!
Happy June, beloved!
God’s blessings always!
Please stop by and visit May’s Daily Mass Quotes too…
EARLIER MONTH’S QUOTES can be found
in monthly subcategories of – “Whispers“
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