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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March 31, 2019
(4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday)
After entering their “Promised Land,” the Israelites: On the day after the Passover, they ate of the produce of the land in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain. On that same day after the Passover, on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. Jos_5:9a,10-12
Brothers and sisters: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 2_Cor_5:17-21
After Jesus was chastised for fraternizing with sinners in a meal, Jesus told them a parable that had to do with His Father’s love and mercy for his two sinful sons. The younger son (the Gentiles), longing for independence, departed from His father, while the older son (the Jewish leaders) was seethed with jealousy, anger and hatred for both the younger son and the father.
And interspersed within the whole story, Jesus weaved the thread of food. The rebellious son, having squandered all his money, “longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed.” Lk_15:1-3,11-32 He was so desperate in his hunger that he would even return to his father in full repentance for his scandalous action. (He would settle for the “manna,” having left the banquet he never realized he had in the first place.)
The father, meanwhile, never stopped loving his son, despite the harm that son did to him. So when the son returned, the father REJOICED and held no limits on the banquet he would give to celebrate this “new creation.” (No more manna, now a Feast!)
And yet, the supposedly faithful older son now hit the limit of his endurance with this merciful and loving father. His jealousy was revealed when he refused to participate in the banquet, saying, after “all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders.” To which the father answered, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”
When Jesus came among us, we were freed from our slavery to sin. And now, as we wander this temporary “tent,” as St. Paul calls our worldly life, in anxious expectation for the true banquet of eternal life with God, we gladly, and even joyously consume the manna (our Eucharist) until the day when we will feast in the Banquet of heaven. And we don’t do it rebelliously. And we don’t do it enviously (of those who still live in sin, yet may one day repent themselves and discover God’s boundless mercy.) We keep our focus on God our Father, on Jesus our model, and with all the help the Holy Spirit has to offer us, we persevere. And one day we will ALL rejoice for the great love and mercy of our God, (that we had all along!)
March 30, 2019
Jesus said, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk_18:9-14
If we say that Lent is about one thing. We might say that it’s about humbling ourselves. Are we sinners? We’re sorry. Are we selfish? We learn to give more. Are we indulgent? We learn to fast and abstain. Do we recognize our own exaltation of ourselves? We learn to become humble. And we learn these things, not for a future exaltation, but just because that is what pleases our God! He’s the God who humbled Himself in becoming like us, as Jesus. He’s the God who allowed himself to be sacrificed for us, for our salvation. And He’s the God who wants all of us to be with Him for eternity, when we can follow His lead!
Ours is not to seek out His Glory for ourselves, but to seek out and offer His humility, His mercy and His generosity in our every thought and action. This is what pleases our God, a loving, humble and all-giving heart!
March 29, 2019
Thus says the LORD: Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the LORD; . . . Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the LORD, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them. Hos_14:2-10
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mk_12:28-34
“Let him/her who is wise understand!”
March 28, 2019
Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” . . . “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Lk_11:14-23
Come beloved, listen, follow, unite, gather and LIVE
in Jesus Christ!
March 27, 2019
Jesus said, “whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” Mt_5:17-19
When we were kids, our parents taught us the rules of the house. And when we broke those rules, we either hurt ourselves, or others, and usually got in all-kinds of trouble besides. When we got older there were new rules: rules for driving, rules for voting and rules for behavior in public. And when we broke those rules we found ourselves with either, great monetary penalties, or else time in jail.
Today’s Scriptures talk about rules that go all the way back to the time of Moses. You see, just like a caring parent who didn’t want her child hurt by doing something that they might not have even realized could hurt them; And just like the parent who needed their child to know – that their parent had a lot more experience in life, and so required that child’s respect and listening ear; And just like the parent who didn’t want their child hurting other children or the property that belonged to someone else; God gave His children, the Israelites, ten simple rules to guide their lives . . .
There were rules to show their respect for Him, there were rules to keep them from getting hurt themselves, and there were rules for not hurting others and their property.
And God told them that IF they carefully observed ALL those rules, Life for them – would go pretty well. Of course we know that there always were, and always will be – those rule-breakers who spoil it for everyone else. Unfortunately what their rule-breaking causes are more and more rules. And eventually the world is so full of rules that we can barely breathe any more.
Some of them are important for safety and for the protection of property. But some rules were just created out of greed or even created to allow the evils of the world to have their free rein.
Jesus told the people of His time that all of those rules could be simply broken down into TWO: Love your God and Love your neighbor.
If we, beloved, can boil down every thought and every action we do TO or FOR others – into those two loves, then every other rule in life will simply fall into place. Hatred will stop. There will be no more revenge, no more jealousy, and no more anger.
This is the kingdom that Jesus promises us. We may never see it, to the full, in this life, but it IS guaranteed in the next.
And that’s something to hope for!
March 26, 2019
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” Mt_18:21-35
Unjustly persecuted? Hurt by evil? Abused, misused, tormented? Yes, beloved it hurts. But it doesn’t give us excuse to do the same to others. God is filled with mercy and He calls us to be the same. And when we become those evils in the world that we dislike ourselves, then, knowing better we have no excuse but to be reprimanded until we pay back the last penny! Pray for strength, beloved, because none of this is easy. But it IS a part of life! The Holy Spirit will give us that strength and Jesus gave us the model to follow!
March 25, 2019
(The Annunciation of the Lord)
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.” Lk_1:26-38
Oh that we could be as trusting, obedient and faithful to God, beloved, as was Mary. Today, let’s look at the areas in our lives where our desire for control of the good and the bad might blind us to the love and the works that God has in store for us.
You, beloved, are in my prayers always, as I hope I am in yours!
March 24, 2019
(3rd Sunday of Lent, Yr C)
Jesus told the people a parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’” Lk_13:1-9
One last chance! Sometimes, beloved, we only have one last chance to get right with God. Maybe tomorrow will be the tornado or the flood, or accident or illness that will call us to that final judgment. Was He fruitful or not? Was she compassionate to all, non-judgmentally? Were they neighbors or aliens to one another? What will our last day say of us? Be reconciled with God and neighbor, beloved, now and always, for He will only give us so many last chances!
March 23, 2019
The decadent, runaway son came back home after all his wealth was exhausted. And bowing in humility said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But 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. Lk_15:1-3,11-32
What is the condition of our relationship with our heavenly Father, beloved? Do we recognize our errors in morality, our shortage in giving, our lack of compassion, our sin? God is anxiously awaiting our return. And when we do, in repentance, and humility, and respect, He will shower us with His mercy and love, just as the father of the Prodigal Son did in Jesus’ parable.
Come home beloved.
He is waiting!
March 22, 2019
Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him. Gn_37:3-4,12-13a,17b-28a
Does jealousy and hatred scare us away, beloved, from being the best us we can be; from doing the absolute best jobs we can, at whatever it is we are called to do? Yes, some will reward us with kindness, kudos and even a new coat for our effort and honesty! But there will always be many, many more who hate us for it. Let them go, beloved, and keep on doing what God credits us for. In the end it will all be worth it!
Jesus referring to Himself said, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” Mt_21:33-43,45-46
There is nothing keeping all of those bitter ones from doing the same things we do, beloved. Unfortunately, for them, they want the same glory for doing nothing. And our Father knows the thoughts and actions of all. Their deception and envy will show through it all.
Have faith and fear not.
God is with us!
(Happy BD dad!)
March 21, 2019
Jesus told the Pharisees a parable about heaven and hell, about an impenetrable barrier between the two, and how nothing can convince the stubborn blind that light is just a “faith’s blink” away. It was a direct assault on those same characteristics of the Pharisees. And we can see that same stubborn blindness all around us today. If they can’t even understand common sense, how could we possibly teach them about the supernatural, for our God is both!
Jesus said, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” Lk_16:19-31
. . . which is exactly what He DID and they were still not persuaded!
But, we’ll keep on trying, beloved, just because we don’t want to see ANYONE have to endure that kind of suffering, even our worst enemies!
March 20, 2019
Jesus said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mt_20:17-28
The disciples were plotting who would be the greatest in the Kingdom that Jesus so often spoke of. They were looking for a worldly kingdom. But Jesus told them that the Kingdom He spoke of was nothing like the kingdoms we envision here. God’s Kingdom would be a state of being where there will be no greater and lesser. There will be no tyrant authorities nor suffering slaves. God’s Kingdom would be a place of peace and love. Thus, Jesus didn’t come to exhibit Kingly stature, but to show through His leadership as a servant, how all people should be equal and caring and giving to one another, even their kings! It’s an upside down view of the cutthroat world we live in, beloved. And OH what hope that leaves us! Blessed be God forever!
March 19, 2019
(St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Joseph her (Mary’s) husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, (over her unexpected pregnancy) decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Mt_1:16,18-21,24a
You’ve got to just love this guy! Virtuous to a fault! God could not have chosen anyone better. A hard worker. A model and mentor for Jesus. A loving husband for Mary. And the perfect namesake for his ancestor Joseph, the son of Jacob (Israel), the dreamer par excellence. Joseph listened. Joseph believed. And Joseph remained always faithful to his God and his family. Today we remember Joseph, Mary’s husband, and we extol him as the perfect model for all fathers!
March 18, 2019
Jesus said, “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Lk_6:36-38
The Law of Reciprocity!
Or, “The Golden Rule!”
March 17, 2019
(2nd Sunday of Lent, C)
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Lk_9:28b-36
. . . The new exodus, the new Covenant with Everyone!
On the mountain top, out of a burning bush, the LORD said to Moses: I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry against their taskmasters, so I know well what they are suffering. . . . Now, go! I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. Ex_3:7-10
. . . The Exodus, the old Covenant with the Israelites.
God offers the Law!
Elijah got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the LORD came to him: Why are you here, Elijah? He answered: “I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.”
Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. 1_Ki_19:8-13
. . . God’s calling of Elijah to prophesy to Israel.
In this Transfiguration of Jesus we see the fulfillment of both the Law and the Prophets, as Jesus offers the world a new covenant. A covenant sealed in His own flesh and blood. A covenant of freedom for all who believe. No longer slaves to sin, we, beloved, are the recipients of that Covenant of God’s love.
And if you’re struggling with any aspect of your faith, beloved, try climbing that mountain. God is waiting for you there!
And, P.S. Happy – Lenten, St. Patrick’s Day!
March 16, 2019
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
We pray, O Lord, that You make this possible for us. For we are not capable, in our weak humanity, to do such an impossible thing. Yes, we witnessed Jesus praying for those who mistreated, abused and executed Him. We can do that, but love them?? Only the Holy Spirit within us can make that possible. Help us to let go of our own emotions, our humanity, and love as You have loved!
March 15, 2019
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Ez_18:21-28
Jesus said, “Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” Mt_5:20-26
Jesus gave us a couple of parables about debtors who were placed in prisons until they paid off their debts. My common sense always seemed to tell me that if a person didn’t pay their debt, it was most likely because they didn’t have enough money to pay it.
So, I often wondered where they would get the money to pay that debt if they were in prison. It just didn’t make any sense. Unless, of course, they got paid or credited for some job or work that they did while they were in prison.
And yet, then I realized that evil doesn’t always have to make sense.
Maybe those debtors, actually had lots of money; money that they were hoarding or hiding. And their not making payment was just a matter of their freewill refusal to pay.
Maybe, instead of having to earn the money to make payment, all these people had to do, was let go of some of what they were privately hoarding.
It was all a matter of will-power.
And the point of putting them in prison, then, was to break their will, so that they would finally let go of some of their actual possessions in order to pay their debts.
But then, isn’t that the whole story of life?
God has given us all, from our birth, these wonderful gifts of Life, and Talents, and Choice. From a philosophical point of view, you might say that “we OWE Him.” We owe God the use of those gifts of arms and legs, of heart and mind, of choice and wisdom, and even the money that we earn, for making the world a better place for everyone to live, not just ourselves.
And when we hoard it, just for ourselves, we actually become those truant debtors, who need a little will-breaking to remember the source of everything we have and are.
You see, in giving to the poor, we’ve made a little payment on our debt.
In helping the elderly or sharing our wisdom with the youth, we’ve made a little payment on our debt.
In sharing beautiful music; in helping others with their accounting; in offering our time, sometimes just sitting with another lonely soul in silence, we’re paying our debt to God for all the grace we’ve received in this life.
And yet, if we look at everything we do for others in life – as payment, it’s most likely that at some point in time we’re going to get tired of it all and just want to sit back and relax…
To retire from debt.
And that’s where our First Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel comes into play.
If we’ve done good all our lives and finally decide to get bad. Well, we might as well have been bad all our lives, because none of the good we’ve done will count!
And if we’ve been bad all our lives and just before death decide to something good, then we will have just seemed to have cheated the whole system. And where’s the fairness in either case?
You see, the point is, that there is no fairness.
Was it fair that Jesus was killed for pointing out the reality of good and bad in a corrupt system?
Was it fair that the apostles were killed for agreeing with Jesus?
Is anything in life really fair?
And thus we have religion. That Jesus paid our debt to God, doesn’t give us a free pass to sin. That we recognize that our being good, isn’t a guarantee that we’ll never slip up again and risk losing it all.
But if, instead of living a life of debt, a life of hardship against what we’d rather do, sin; we live a life of Love as a motive, a life of Faith in Jesus, who already paid that debt, then there will never come a time when we’ll want to retire from Love. Because Love IS all we’ll ever want and everything we’ll ever need to offer!
And THAT, for God, is enough!
March 14, 2019
Jesus said, “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.” Mt_7:7-12
No comment necessary!
March 13, 2019
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. Lk_11:29-32
Many people in the time of Jesus were skeptical about who Jesus said He was. And we have to wonder what their problem was; because through His works, Jesus pretty clearly proved His Divinity. He healed the incurable, He exorcised evil spirits from people and He even performed supernatural miracles that no ordinary man had ever done before, like walking on water and raising the dead to life.
And even after all that, people were still pestering Jesus to give them Signs.
We can tell from today’s Gospel that Jesus was getting pretty frustrated with their lack of faith. And so He gave them the examples of Jonah and the Queen of Sheba to ponder.
Jonah’s story showed how a nation, lost in sinfulness, could regain God’s mercy through their Faith, through their belief in the words of Jonah and their show of repentance. For the Ninevites, the Sign of Jonah was sufficient for their conversion.
The Queen of Sheba, already had the Faith to believe – that what she had heard about the wisdom of King Solomon was really true. And after a long journey to meet Solomon, what the Queen found was even greater than she ever expected.
Jesus told the unbelieving Jews, that if the people of Nineveh could change their ways, just based on the word of Jonah, and if the Queen of Sheba would travel all those miles just based on the hearsay of the Wisdom of Solomon, then they would certainly be condemned for not believing what their very own eyes had seen in Jesus. Jesus, who was even greater than Jonah, and Solomon, and the Queen.
You see, through his Paschal Mystery, His Death, Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus gave every living person after Him the ultimate Sign of God’s Love.
He also left us with a Sign of God’s warning, just like Jonah, to turn away from our sins and follow His example.
And finally, Jesus left us with the Sign of God’s promise of everlasting life for anyone who would believe and listen.
And THAT, beloved, is US!
March 12, 2019
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. . . . “If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Mt_6:7-15
Jesus made quite a point of the importance of how we treat other people. And today shows the extreme. We say that our God loves us no matter what. But that doesn’t give us the excuse to do whatever we want – especially when it comes to our dealings with others. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” has a whole clearer meaning when we place God in the picture. We will be forgiven as we forgive! When we feed the poor we are feeding Jesus. And when we listen to Jesus, we are listening to God, the Father. “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. O . . .”
March 11, 2019
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
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.’ Mt_25:31-46
When we wonder, beloved, what the word ‘righteousness’ really means, here is the definition. We call them “works of mercy!” When we act out of our heart’s calling, these are the types of acts we will perform, without even thinking about it. They become 2nd nature to us. And we’ll even do them at the sacrifice of our own self-preservation. This is righteousness and Jesus tells us, blessed are they who live in this manner. They will gain life eternal!
March 10, 2019
(1st Sunday of Lent, C)
Moses spoke to the people, saying: Our forefathers became a nation great, strong, and numerous. When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us, imposing hard labor upon us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and he heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. He brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders; and bringing us into this country, he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. Dt_26:4-10
St. Paul wrote: . . . 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
Jesus responded to the devil’s temptations saying: One does not live on bread alone.” “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Lk_4:1-13
If we are willing to sacrifice anything this Lent; is our Faith strong enough to endure the temptations that will inevitably come? And it won’t be with pitchforks and horns and tails. It will come as chocolate cheesecake with ice cream. It will come as tight pockets
and short tempers. It will come as excuses and rationale.
If we are willing to sacrifice, we have to, at the same time, be willing to surrender to God’s will, and not ours.
It all gets down to Jesus, to what we believe, to what we don’t believe and to keeping promises . . .
Can I tell you a secret? In my younger days, with little-ones in tow, with 60-hour work weeks, and struggling to make ends meet, the LAST thing I ever wanted to hear in a Sunday Homily was all the financial woes of our suburban, Philadelphia parish.
YES, I could understand that it was the parishioners who kept the Parish alive, financially, but we didn’t need to be beat-over-the-head with it – EVERY week.
And the other thing I didn’t want to hear EVERY Sunday was what terrible sinners we all were; especially, because we didn’t give them enough money! I think you can get the gist of their focus. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face; we were being squeezed and stepped on at the same time.
And YES, I also fully understood that according to God’s stipulations, none of us are perfect. We’re all sinners in one way or another. But again, we didn’t need that fact pounded into our brains – EVERY Sunday, especially when the preceding weekdays at work, were barely enough to withstand, as it was.
At the end of those Masses, I would ask myself why anyone in their right mind would voluntarily subject themselves to that kind of lashing, when they could, just as well, have read the Bible or slept-in at home, instead.
You see, as we have been made painfully aware in this past year, NO-ONE is perfect where mankind is involved, save for Jesus. But knowing that, doesn’t make EVERYONE ugly. It doesn’t give us cause to place ourselves above or below anyone else. And it doesn’t excuse atrocities either. But it does make ALL of us more understanding of our own faults, and of the equality of Humanity.
And maybe instead of breaking down what is already broken within our Church and ourselves; maybe instead of throwing away, in our “throw-away society,” that which can be revived, with a little pruning; maybe with a little encouragement, instead of fire and brimstone, we can become BETTER than we ever were before; better than we ever imagined we could be!
You see, that’s just ONE of the reasons that I love OUR Parish and OUR Community, here at Our Lady of Lourdes, so much. Now, you can let that be ‘our little secret,’ because that’s what I believe, and what I don’t believe; and I hope that you DO too.
And in light of my own imperfections, I apologize if I’ve ever dwelt too heavily on those negatives; although money and sin, really ARE – facts of life too.
And thus, we have this Season of Lent, with its Prayer, and its Fasting and its Almsgiving, all of which defined the very Life of Jesus; that Perfect Life – that helps us to define our own lives.
Now, we might be thinking, “Boy, life is tough enough, without adding three more Jobs to our, overextended ‘To-Do Lists’.” But these three practices, these “Pillars of Lent,” as they’re called, really do add more benefit to our lives than they actually cost.
– For example:
Prayer will bring us strength and wisdom against all kinds of Spiritual Temptations. Prayer allows God to see our gratitude for all that He has and will bless us with in this life. Prayer keeps us in worship of God and not in our worldly distractions. And Prayer also allows us, we ourselves, to be Intercessors for other people in need of God’s help.
So, while Prayer strengthens us spiritually, Fasting, strengthens our discipline against worldly temptations. Fasting, just like exercise, may hurt a little in the beginning, but in the long-run, we become even stronger through it. Which always prompts the question: Why? And that’s a good question! Because through Fasting, we might, then, ask ourselves: “Do I actually have the ability to say NO to anything that sounds, maybe, too good to be true?” like certain foods, or TV programs, or too much Internet, or some of those other vices that seem to get away from us.
You see, instead of “Why?”, the real question we should be asking is: “Why NOT?” because Fasting can help us by developing our self-discipline! And self-discipline helps us when those truly big tragedies and temptations hit us by surprise. Why would we not want the strength of endurance that Fasting brings?
And then there’s Almsgiving. Oh, there’s that money thing again! But maybe, Almsgiving, doesn’t necessarily have to BE defined as giving money. Maybe Almsgiving can be accomplished through Works of Mercy – for others in need. It may be as simple as a smile; or as difficult, but rewarding, as making a hospital or nursing home visit – to cheer up a sick soul.
Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.
You see, Lent really IS a time of strengthening and encouragement. We might call it Penance, but it’s actually how you look at it. I like to look at Lent as a time to lighten our burdens of sin and to raise our hearts and minds to ALL that is Good in Life, beginning with God.
So, where do we begin? Well, we can begin by reflecting on all that was Good in our past; because it was in that past that God truly revealed His Love for us, despite our setbacks and our shortcomings.
Despite the Israelite’s constant complaining about slavery, God gave them Freedom. Despite their murmuring about hunger and thirst in the desert, God offered them manna from the sky for food and water from a rock. And even despite their insincerity and moral corruption by worshiping a golden calf, after all that God had done for them; God still gave them rules for justice and morality, because of His love for them and, what should have been, their love for Him, and for one another.
Those Rules, those Ten Commandments marked a Covenant Promise between God and His people. You see, their “Salvation” from Egyptian slavery, BY God was a constant, yearly, reminder for the Jews, of all the Goodness and Love that God had shown TO them. It kept them both thankful to God, and giving to one another. And it was THAT story, the Passover story, that truly became their Confession of Faith.
In the years and the centuries that would follow, they would still be tested; and they would still be tempted. And they would FALL, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden, just as Satan did before that, and just as WE, brothers and sisters, constantly DO, every day!
But, thanks be to God, through Jesus, we know that all of Satan’s temptations CAN be overcome. We CAN survive hunger, even without complaining. We CAN survive the temptations of power and wealth, of greed and the amnesia of forgetting who our true God is, and what He has done for us. And we CAN survive the pride of thinking that WE are the center of our lives, and not God.
And if we ever get to feeling like we’re beginning to forget, we can always come back to our own Confession of Faith to remind us. This is the Creed that we recite every week. And it brings us HOPE, not guilt and not shame, but HOPE.
We believe in God. And out of our love for God, we promise faithfulness. And knowing what Jesus had done for us we DON’T believe in the falsehood, the lie of DEATH in whatever form or threat it may take. Because right here in our Blessed Sacrament, and right here in our hearts, We have Jesus to prove it!
And THAT – is our Salvation!
March 9, 2019
(St. Frances of Rome, Religious)
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. Is_58:9b-14
The promises of righteousness. Just as a parent wants nothing more than to see his child thrive and flourish in everything he or she does, so God wants us to flourish as well. And how do we do that? We bridle our tongue, we help the needy among us and we always keep in our hearts positive thoughts and words. When our lives can be filled with the joy of the Lord, then we will reflect God’s Joy into every encounter we make. And our Father WILL be pleased with us! For that is His will!
March 8, 2019
(St. John of God, Religious)
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. Is_58:1-9a
These are our Works of Mercy.
And they are what bring Glory to God!
March 7, 2019
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. Moses in Dt_30:15-20
Choose Life, beloved.
Always choose life and you WILL be blessed!
March 6, 2019
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.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Lent . . .
A time for deep, internal reflection.
How have I given thanks to my God?
How have I shown kindness to my fellow-man?
How have I kept from doing those things that would make our God not be very proud of me.
He is our life and our salvation.
He is behind the windows of every eye we peer into.
He is the One, like a good father, like a good shepherd, like the very best of bosses, who drives our desire to please, in every way we possibly can.
It’s time to be honest with ourselves, beloved! Time to give thanks, show kindness and drop any disdain in our hearts. Time for sanctification!
He IS waiting for us and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are right here to give us all the help and support we need! Trust in Him!
March 5, 2019
Peter began to say to Jesus, ‘We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” Mk_10:28-31
As our Scriptures have been preparing us for the beginning of the Season of Lent, tomorrow, we reflect on how and what we have given up for the Lord. And yet, we always have to be very careful when we talk about sacrifice. Sacrifice is not necessarily the uncontrollable loss of something or someone we love. And it’s not masochism for some unknown reason. But it is how we deal with those unforeseen circumstances. And it is making offerings for the good of those in need. Are we hurting others in the process of our grieving, of our giving, or are we showing the Lord’s care for us, even in the loss, and the Lord’s care for others through our hands and by our own will?
We all know that life is no bed of roses! Of course, there are the thorns, the bees and the dirt to deal with – even in that bed. But the true bed, even better than roses, is the bed of eternal life. Jesus promises that when we can always keep the goal of eternal life foremost in our thoughts, then not even loss and persecution can harm us. We KNOW that God has only the very best destiny waiting for us. And Lent is our reminder!
March 4, 2019
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!” Mk_10:17-27
Those who are self-sufficient, those who are wealthy, those who believe they have no need for God, will never find Him. It is when we are in need that we truly learn to depend on God. When we discover for ourselves that God will truly provide for us, even when we are in dire straits, then we become like those children whom Jesus said will inherit God’s Kingdom. It doesn’t mean that we have to be poor. It doesn’t mean that we have to be dying or hurt or depressed. But it does mean that sometimes that is what it takes to kick us back to remembering our dependence on God. And that dependence leads to love. Love of God, then love of our neighbor. Recognizing our imperfections and depending on others to help us in our need. And then helping them with their needs. This is the love that God wants us to have. And sometimes it’s really hard to recognize when we feel we are in total control of everything – when we’re too overly “rich.”
March 3, 2019
(8th Sunday Ordinary Time, C)
Jesus said, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.” Lk_6:39-45
Today we’re reminded, beloved, of our own imperfections. Try as we might to be good, to be perfect, to be all those things that Jesus teaches us, we’re never quite there. And that gives us all the more reason not to judge others.
March 2, 2019
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them. Mk_10:13-16
And “like a child” means having full faith that God will lead, protect and nourish us in everything we need. And on our part, we live for God, knowing that if we disappoint Him, we may need to fear any consequence of that failure to follow, trust and accept His lead, His protection and His nourishment. And that’s a healthy fear, just like a child! Trust in Him, beloved! And follow the lead of Jesus! And He will be ALL we ever need!
March 1, 2019
Keep away from your enemies; be on your guard with your friends. A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds; For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself. Sir_6:5-17
Happy March, beloved!
God’s blessings always!
Please stop by and visit February’s Daily Mass Quotes too…
EARLIER MONTH’S QUOTES can be found
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