Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mt 4:18-22 Fish and Friends

Mt 4:18-22 Fish and Friends

(Click here for readings)

As Jesus was walking by two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.”

The biggest problem with parents is not that they don’t know their kids friends; but rather, they don’t know their kids! Parents always want their kids to have good friends. They want administrators in schools to pair up their child with their best friend. They are as happy as can be when they have recreation together, lunch together and homeroom together. For some strange reason, they think that this will make their child a better child, a healthier child, a stronger child. I think it is a big mistake!

If I could change one thing I did in school, I would change not my school but my friends. A school of fish is very similar to a school of friends. My friends and I tended to follow each other everywhere. We stuck together through thick and thin, and that was our biggest mistake! When one got in trouble, I felt obliged to do the same thing. When my best friend, my cousin, scraped his knee and ripped his pants, I actually did the same thing so that the two of us would get into trouble – together! How ridiculous! How true!

Let’s set aside for a moment the nostalgia of these long lost days. Friends do not help friends. Friends tend to hide their friends problems. Friends tend to consider their friendship above the truth. So often, young people come up to me and ask me what they should do if their friends are involved in drugs and alcohol. It seems as though friendship is above common sense! “Father, my friend has an eating disorder and won’t tell her parents. I’m afraid that if I say something, she will hate me!” I reply, “So, you would prefer a dead friend over an angry friend?” It would appear as if friendship is now above family, love and life!

Who is to blame? Parents! Yes, parents! They allow their children to spend more time with their friends than with their siblings. Why? Because it is easier! “Father, when my child comes home from school she goes to her room, closes the door and only comes out for meals.” Or, “Father, when my child comes home he is immediately on his phone, texting his friends or playing video games.” Or, “My child has no free time…he goes from school to sports to Sammy’s house!” How long will it take for parents to realize that the only reason why their kids have nothing to talk about after school is because their kids tell their friends and not their parents! I would plead with the Principal of my school not to have my child in a classroom full of her friends. School is for learning, not for laughing! I want him/her to learn how to make friends with enemies and how to turn enemies into friends. I would make sure that my kid had a ton of things to talk about with me. They would come home and we would talk about how Sally is a big gossiper or liar, or how Nathan is so spoiled and never likes sharing! Then I would say, “Now you know why mommy and daddy never give you everything you want!” Lesson learned!

If I were a parent, the only sleepovers I would allow are the ones that are for sure to end up in an argument! I would have my cell phone handy, waiting for my daughter’s text begging me to pick her up immediately! Mission accomplished.

Kids are not stupid when they are young. They see everything black and white. But they lose their common sense because parents often confuse them. Too often, parents do not help their kids to reach out to new kids. They get comfortable with the old guard and in so doing, let their guard down.

It appears as though Christ was fond of fishermen. He saw something in their occupation and He tied it in with His: If they could catch all types of fish, then they could catch all types of people. No wonder the first Apostles were former fishermen and gladly accepted the invitation to be fisher’s of men!

I never imaged that friends and fish would have so much in common.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mt 8:5-11 The Wise and Childlike

Mt 8:5-11 The Wise and Childlike

(Click here for readings)

Turning to the disciples in private, Jesus said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

I do it and I shouldn't. I spend way too much time in front of a computer screen and not enough time in front of my window. I spend way too much time working and not enough time reflecting. I spend way too much time using a computer program and not enough time as a human organism. What am I subjecting my eyes and ears to hear all day long?

A while back I took a trip up to Wisconsin to visit a priest friend. On the flight over there I sat next to man that was dabbling on his iPad. I glanced over and saw a very interesting application. He was initiating a kind of GPS program that allowed him to track our flight in real time. Curious, I asked my temporary neighbor why he got that GPS application. He told me that he thought it would be interesting to track our actual flight. He also liked how he could see our flight in relation to the surrounding area.

At first, it was very interesting and I followed along. But I got bored after about five minutes and so I decided to sit back and read once again my book, Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton.

Thirty minutes later, I glanced at my fellow passenger and noticed he had turned off the application and was now watching what looked like a documentary on planes and flying. After about an hour of that, he turned off his iPad and was starring out his window. It seemed to me as though he had had enough of our flight in the virtual world and was more interested in observing our flight in the real world.

Life is much more interesting when lived rather than observed. It is much more interesting to play football than to watch it. It is much more interesting to watch football live rather than to watch it on a flat screen TV. It is very interesting to see a 3D movie. It is remarkable to participate in a 4D movie!

The wise try to imitate reality. The childlike enjoy the real thing. Science classes were much more interesting to me when I had the chance to go outside, touch a tree, pull its bark and lick it! Yes, I had an awesome science teacher who understood children better than the experts!

I don’t think the man sitting next to me would have the guts to tell me, “You know what…I thought this program would interest me. But in the end, it bores me!”

Isn’t this the case with all programs? We buy them. We use them. We get bored of them! Kids do not have a hard time telling their parents or teachers that such-and-such is boring! Yes, they can spend hours and hours watching TV or sitting in front of a computer. But if they were given the chance to go outside and play stickball, they would be out there in a heartbeat.

What I am saying is simple: We have a world. I was born in it (I got through all the barriers my neighbors put in it), and now it is time to enjoy it! Is it so hard to see that God created it? Is that so hard to hear? It shouldn’t be! It should actually be music to my ears and stimulate wonder in my thoughts. It’s not hard to see how exceptional life is. I find the human race more entertaining and more fascinating than the creatures in the movies Super 8 or Battle LA! I find life more thrilling up close and personal than at thirty thousand feet. Life is better than a computer simulation for it is constantly changing along with me.

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see” for all of our imitations cannot compare to the beauty and enormity of the real thing. Blessed are the wise that are childlike.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mt 8:5-11 I Will Come and Cure

Mt 8:5-11 I Will Come and Cure

(Click here for readings)

A centurion approached Jesus and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”

The day after Thanksgiving I had lunch with two High School students. I always enjoy spending time with my students or sharing a meal with them because it seems to me to be the best way to get them to open up and talk about their life as teenagers. I don’t remember how we got on the subject but we started talking about uniforms and private schools. An argument broke out. I was in favor of them and they were not. They told me how nice it would be to be able to express their individuality when going to school, just like kids can do in public schools. I laughed. I couldn’t hold it in. Thank God I didn’t have anything in my mouth.

I told the kids they were mistaken; that public school kids do indeed wear uniforms. They looked very puzzled. They shook their heads and said in one voice, “Father, you don’t have to wear a uniform in public school. One student conceded and said, “Maybe there is a dress code, but you don’t have to wear a uniform.” Again, I disagreed with the two of them. I explained to them that all the kids had to wear a uniform. The only difference was that it was the students and not the administration that decided what it would be. Again, almost simultaneously, they said, “Huh?” I kept going, “You know just as well as I do that you can’t go to school wearing whatever you want. No way! You have to wear what is considered “acceptable” by your friends and peers. If you are a nerd then you have to dress like a nerd. If you are rich, then you have to dress like the rich do. If you are a pothead, then you have to dress like the potties. Am I wrong? Don’t all the girls wear earrings? Don’t all the guys wear them too? Don’t all the jocks were the best sneakers? Don’t all the girls wear the latest jeans? If you don’t, then you don’t belong anywhere.”

One student interrupted me and said, “You’re right!” A few years back, while in middle school, she noticed how certain people would sit together in the cafeteria. It really wasn’t based on friendships. It was actually based upon your “status”. If you were dating, then you would sit next to your boyfriend, regardless if you were the only girl sitting there. It started becoming more and more difficult to break free from any type of categorizing.

I personally remember how the jocks all sat together; the nerds did the same thing; the potheads did it too. Students tend to segregate themselves not so much on the color of their skin but on so many other issues. And we consider this to be “progress”.

The Lord breaks through all our categorizing, all our stereotyping, all our boundaries and borders. He calls me by name and I can’t believe it! I am a sinner and yet, the Lord is not repelled by my status. He invites me to sit with him. He wishes to speak to me. He falls in love with me. He welcomes me and cures me.

The Lord is not scandalized by our unworthiness; he waits for the faith that welcomes his presence.

“Come and save us, Lord our God; let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mk 13:33-37 God Gives Us His Time

Mk 13:33-37 God Gives Us His Time

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come…Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: “Watch!”

God help me!

I call out to the Lord, “Where are you? Why is this happening to me?” The Lord replies, “What has become of you? Why have you strayed so far from me?”

It’s that time of year again. I just recently switched radio stations because my favorite station plays Christmas songs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week until December 25th! I don’t mind Christmas songs – at least most of them – but I cannot stand listening to them all the time. So, I began listening to one of the secular radio stations. I couldn’t believe it! On the air was The Carpenter’s, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.” Even these guys were playing Christmas songs! Before I turned off the radio, I listened and reflected not so much on the song but on the life of Karen Carpenter. Here, on the radio, was her voice. She has been dead now for some time. I asked myself, so what makes her death so much different? We all know that she was one of the first victims of anorexia. Although Anorexia has been around for centuries, only recently has it become like a devastating plague! Anorexia is that horrific eating disorder that sucks the life out of too many of our children today. The experts tell us that this disease has nothing to do with food but with self-esteem. So what causes a child to lose their sense of direction, sense of worth, sense of purpose in life? What causes a child to lose the sparkle in their eye? It might very well be boredom.

I remember a professor in Rome that was not the most enthusiastic professor around. Many of us would fall asleep. One day, he noticed. He made a comment I will not forget. He went over to one young seminarian that had dozed off. He poked him. The seminarian was startled. The professor asked him, “When an animal sniffs around and finds nothing new, what does it do?” The seminarian shook his head, “I don’t know”, he replied, “I don’t have any pets.” The professor nodded his head, “It falls asleep.” Then he addressed the entire classroom, “But a human being, on the other hand, when he finds nothing new, begins to reflect and meditate. I invite all of you to be human!” This professor taught Anthropology.

I never fell asleep in his class.

Be watchful! Be alert! Stay awake! Not with energy drinks or with caffeine or with gum. Rather, stay awake! Be attentive! Reflect. Meditate. Examine your conscience. Examine your lifestyle. Reflect upon your words and works before it is too late! “Where are you? What are you doing?” How can I ask the Lord for His help when I do not follow His Commandments, His example, His Way? “What has become of you? Why have you strayed so far from me?”

Music can be lifting. Lyrics can inspire revolutions; but artists can sometimes hide behind their lyrics and their deaths will always bring us back to reality. Actors and actress can hide behind a script. But they can’t seem to hide the dramas of their life. Bones can hide behind flesh, but the soul cannot hide from sin!

The Lord did not hide behind His words; He lived them! At a certain moment in His life he could no longer follow the script. So instead of living his life as a tragic play, he lived it as the Love Story of all time. He preferred to have His flesh torn rather than to allow his soul to fall from grace.

Throughout history, throughout time, man never seems to have enough time. How often do I say, “I do not have enough time!” I say it way too often! I say it to my spouse. I say it to my children. I say it to my parents. I don’t have time for any of these people because I don’t make time for my Lord.

But make no mistakes about it. The Lord makes time for us! He is the eager friend that comes. He is the jealous friend that never stops hounding us! He comes when we least expect it. He comes when we least want Him. He comes when we most need Him. When is that? Always! He is our heart. He is our brain. He should be our life.

The Lord gives us His time, his peace, his joy, his life. Do all things in the name of the Lord. Make time for Him. Make time for your spouse, your children, your neighbors and friends – this world - is waiting for his second appearance. Make it happen! Give the Lord your time, for he truly has all the time in the world.

God come to my assistance. Lord make haste and rescue me!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lk 21:34-36 Anxiety Busters!

Lk 21:34-36 Anxiety Busters!

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap…Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent.”

I spent seven days in silence leading up to my ordination. As the day drew closer, my heart was filled with anxiety and fear. Would I be a holy priest? Did I make the right decision? Would I be joyful in serving the Lord? I am sure that my thoughts are no different than that of a man or a woman on the night of their wedding? The only obvious advantage I had was that I (along with forty-four others) was ordered to go on a silent retreat for eight days. It ended the morning of my ordination on December 24th, 2003.

What helped me get through the days and nights? What helped calm my anxiety? As each day filled my heart with a little more stress and fear, I decided to do something. Each day I wrote down in my diary a quote on faith, hope and love. It was a miracle how this little act each morning helped get me through the day. For me, quotes on the virtues are like butterflies; they keep me company all day long by gently lingering and fluttering around me.

As you will see below, I took comfort in St. Theresa of Lisieux. From my diary I found the following quotes:

December 16th, 2003: Faith - “Christ throws His seed wherever He wants. Those that do not get involved are looking for guarantees.” Hope - “God cannot inspire unrealizable desires” (St. Theresa of Lisieux). Love - “Love all. Serve all. This is the Christian creed.”

December 17th, 2003: Faith - “There is only one reason why you should believe in something; because it is true.” Hope - “Christ only called sinners to follow Him. The Lord knows me well.” Love - “If I am upset with everyone, then I am upset with God. Forgiveness is the antidote to all of life’s disappointments.”

December 18th, 2003: Faith - “Life is your boat, not your home” (St. Theresa of Lisieux). Hope - “I have no merits, but I trust in Him who is virtue and holiness. God alone will raise me to Himself and make me a Saint, clothing me in His infinite merits” (St. Theresa of Lisieux). Love - “The nature of love is to humble oneself” (St. Theresa of Lisieux).

December 19th, 2003: Faith - “I am about to receive another gift, totally free, from God: to become another Christ.” Hope – “God will never walk away from me unless I walk away from Him.” Love – “Charity covers a multitude of sins” (Proverbs 10:12).

December 20th, 2003: Faith - “Who has been given much, much will be expected.” Hope – “God will never distance himself from me unless I distance myself from Him.” Love – “Where there is no love, put love and you will get love out of it” (St. John of the Cross).

December 21st, 2003: Faith - “I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my life but with the life of Christ who lives in me” (Gal2: 19-20). Hope – Newton said that in Heaven he hoped to find three wonders: those whom he never expected to see; those whom he expected to see; and himself. Love - “If all the Mothers in our world put their love together, it would never contain the love that Mary has for us.”

December 22nd, 2003: Faith - “There is no greater love than this: to give your life for another. A priest gives his life for others.” Hope – “The secret is to live like Christ in prayer, during persecution, in sickness and in suffering.” Love - “All was given to me when I no longer sought them through self-love” (St. Theresa of Lisieux).

December 23rd, 2003: Faith - “What I am about to do for Christ is a response to all that Christ has done for me.” Hope - “What I am about to do you do not understand, but you will one day” (Jn 13:7). Love - “Christ does not look for perfection except in love – a love that keeps on loving.”

December 24th, 2003: Faith - “Go throughout the world and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I will be with you till the end of time.” Hope – “The seed has been sown. Now, all rests in God’s hands.” Love - “Don’t count the difficulties or sacrifices. Love continues regardless of it all.”

When I look back on these quotes, I realize that all I was doing was reminding myself of the truth of who Christ is; who I am; and how amazing and beautiful this mess is!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lk 21:29-33 Stop Bending! Stand Erect!

Lk 21:29-33 Stop Bending! Stand Erect!

(Click here for readings)

Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you…heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Today is “Black Friday”. Hundreds of thousands of shoppers will be looking for and taking advantage of great deals and bargains. Items that were once out of reach may know be available at half the price!

I think this is all good news when deals apply to appliances, gadgets and clothes. But if applied to faith and morals, then I think we would be selling ourselves far too cheap!

The Vatican just published its annual report on the growth of the Church. Over thirty-four thousand new believers are added daily throughout the world. Just fewer than two thousand new believers are added to the ranks of Anglicans, Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons on a daily basis. This surprised me! After all, who would want to be a Catholic today? Isn’t it much harder to get married in the Catholic Church? Aren’t the obligations of being a Catholic much more intense? Yes. And you can see how truth bears fruit!

Last week, the Spanish voters ousted the Socialist Party from power after a humiliating defeat in general elections. The Conservative Popular Party won an absolute majority in parliament. Jose Zapataro, the socialist Prime Minister, spent his years in office bending over backwards to humiliate Catholics in Spain. What the Spaniards did not realize was that he was bending them over backwards by bankrupting their pensions and nation! The nation nearly broke – financially and morally! I would not be surprised if he is held responsible for the devastation he inflicted upon the nation.

In Pakistan, the head of the telecommunications office recommended that the words “Jesus Christ” be banned from texting! He stated that the freedom of Pakistani people is “subjected to limitations stipulated by the law, in the interest of the glory of Islam.” This is one reason (out of many) that I reject Islam. Any religion that resorts to death threats to maintain its members or prohibits the free flow of ideas from other religions must not believe that it can stand on its own truths. Thank God for the bravery of the Minister of Harmony, the Catholic, Akram Gill, who raised the matter in the cabinet of ministers. He did not bend! He stood erect! The proposal was defeated.

How can anyone in their right mind say that all religions are the same? If the vast majority of Americans only knew! If they only knew, and took not for granted their Christian roots!

All the above will one day pass away. Even the Church will pass away. But Christ’s Word, God’s Word, will never pass away. Every day we must renew our resolve to banish evil, not Christ, from the planet. The cute Protestant saying, “Once saved, always saved” does not make any sense to me. After all, we are not God. When God speaks, creation happens. When we speak, it may or may not get done! Once saved, always saved” ignores human nature and seasons. Imagine the pilgrims saying to one another, “If we make it through this one winter, we will make it through all of them!” We all know that one mild winter could easily be followed by a severe one. We all know that one good day could quickly be followed by a horrible one! Our faith will always be tested until we cross the finish line!

We cannot sit back on our laurels or on our morals. Otherwise, we will find ourselves being bent to the breaking point! The Lord reminds his faithful (not the new comers) to “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lk 21:20-28 Signs Of Things To Come

Lk 21:20-28 Signs Of Things To Come

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples, “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning I woke up to a beautiful fog! It is a sign of things to come.

By all accounts, the day will be pleasant. The Lord has blessed us with his fog!

The Lord distances our eyes from the future. He loves to keep us in suspense. All things are gradual with the Lord. Time is measured by the seasons. Time is measured by His reasons. Time is measured by His son. Time is measured by the sun.

This morning I woke up from a beautiful fog. It is a sign of things to come.

I give thanks to the living God, for saving me from the lion’s den! His kingdom and throne shall endure forever. His dominion shall be without end. He is a deliverer and savior, workings signs and wonders in heaven and on earth. (cf. Dan 6:27-28)

The Lord has blessed us with this holy fog. It is a sign of his son to come.

Give glory and eternal praise to Him. Praise and exalt the Lord above all forever. Nights and days, bless the Lord. Light and darkness, bless the Lord. Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord. (cf. Dn 3)

The Lord has blessed us with his wonders. It is a sign of the end to come.

Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. The Son of Man will come to save. The Son of Man will come to our aid. How I long to see the God made man; the Man who saved me from no end.

This morning I woke up from a beautiful fog. It is a sign of opened eyes.

Put on your sackcloth and gird your loins. The first born son has ransomed thee. He is the burnt offering upon the altar. He is the blood-stained lamb that will not falter. The Lord burns the fog with His light - like a child burns a candle in the middle of the night.

The Lord has blessed us with his wonders. It is a sign of thanks that will come.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Luke 21:5-11 Between Terror and Trust

Luke 21:5-11 Between Terror and Trust

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to some people, “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end…Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom… There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”

Why is it that the most beautiful (and most important) moments of our life must be accompanied by terror? Think about when you got married. Wasn’t that day the most beautiful and most terrifying? Or think back to the moment when you gave birth to your first child and how your heart was filled with terror and joy, and all at the same time! Why is it? What is it about life that makes it not only so remarkable, but also so terrifying?

Why is it that we must experience terror while taking the first steps in our life?

I believe there is a sublime law that governs each and every single living creature on earth. It is a law that goes way beyond the instinct to survive. It is the Law of Trust.

In order to survive, we must trust. In order to thrive and to grow we must trust. Without this “trust”, we could never move – forward or back. Without “Trust”, we could never make a point, a dent, a plan or a decision.

Just like our flesh and bones live between earth and sky, our hearts and minds live between terror and trust. But as the body favors the earth more than the sky, so too our hearts and minds must favor trust over terror!

The Lord invites us today to trust in Him, to “not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying ‘I am he’, and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!”

How often do you hear a priest or nun or religious man or woman talk on a talk show regarding life and death, love and marriage, family and friends, right from wrong? Never! So, are we to assume that they know nothing about these issues? Are we to assume that for two thousand years, we have known nothing about anything human, personal and relational? Or maybe the reason why they never appear is because they are never invited! After all, how else will we keep our society secular?

Do we need to hear from priests? I think so! I simply have to laugh when I hear that we are better than ever in tune with ourselves today and that our godless freedoms have opened our hearts to “newer” and “better things”. Take a look for yourself. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that our global economy and savings are falling, divorce rates are climbing and suicides keep rising! You have to wonder if we have not placed our trust in the wrong experts and have been blindsided by our enlightened minds!

There is, within our soul, a deep and calming sense of not only mystery but of familiarity. We are not haunted by daily thoughts of being a speck or a dot in the Universe. Instead, we can admire our neighbors and look forward to enjoying a quiet walk around the neighborhood. I do not have to feel terror that the day will never end. It’s actually nice to know that the sun will set, the rain will come and sleep will occur.

“Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever! You heavens, bless the Lord. All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord! All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord!” (Dn 3)

What must I do then? Trust in the Lord! Trust in His Ways! Trust Him in life and in death. Trust Him in sickness and in health. Trust Him for better or for worse. Trust Him now and forever. Trust Him until death, and he “will give you the crown of life.” Alleluia! Alleluia!

Christ is with us. He is physically and spiritually present among us in the Eucharist. The Father decided long ago, that between heaven and earth (between trust and terror) He would bring His Peace down to earth! We have nothing to fear for Christ’s peace is forever here!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lk 19:45-48 Little Gifts Of Love

Lk 19:45-48 Little Gifts Of Love

(Click here for readings)

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

Some of us live life on high while others live it at half mast. There are some who reach out while others just stretch. Again, there are some who cave in while others carve out; some who dig deep while others dig their own graves.

In today’s Gospel passage we see the theological axiom that it is not works that make us holy, but love. Yes, love and only love is the reason why this woman’s offering does not go unnoticed.

Is the Law of Love the Law of my Life? Have I come to the conclusion that the purpose of life is to give rather than to preserve? That life is best served when it is surrendered? Or that life is not to be restrained but rather delivered? “Lord, make me a generous man!”

Our relationship with Christ should grow every single day. The Lord’s resurrection occurs every morning in my life. I rise to a new day; I should not take it for granted. The day offers me an opportunity to do something great and small, heroic and tiny, temporal and eternal. Yes, I can do something tiny that is great! I can place two small coins and it will not go unnoticed. I can make a difference in the Universe when I make a difference in one person’s life! Mother Theresa wrote, “I do not agree with the big way of doing things. Love needs to start with an individual.” (Simple Path)

What is truly shocking about Love is that it goes beyond our everyday reality. Love promises infinity, eternity – this is a reality that is far greater than our everyday existence.

This morning I passed by many of our school children. I went unnoticed. I didn’t even think about it. Just another Monday morning…just another morning…just another morning routine….But then someone called out to me from the drop-off line. A mom, still in her car, called out to me and gave me a little care package. It was food. It was just what I needed. I hadn’t had breakfast yet. And then a little girl heard my footsteps. She was already down the hallway when she turned around, saw me, ran back to me and gave me a hug. I told her, “Good morning my little gift from God.”

Love, in fact, means leaving yourself behind; giving yourself; not wanting to hold on to yourself, but becoming free from yourself. Love means not getting preoccupied with oneself, asking over and over again, “What will become of me?” It means looking ahead, toward another, toward God and to the people who He sends. It is this principle of love that defines man’s journey… (Pope Benedict XVI)

Give a little love, as the Father did when He gave us His child.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mt 25:31-46 Christ Our King!

Mt 25:31-46 Christ Our King!

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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.”

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe! The Church, in her infinite wisdom, decided that once a year, we, the people of this world, needed a little reminder of who truly governs (rules) our world. And the reminder always seems to come at the right moment!

In the last century, with the rise in modern thought and modern technology came the tidal wave of human pride, modern chaos and total confusion! Mother Church wants us to remember that there exists a Universal Law - unchangeable fact - that will never go away regardless of what planet you come from or what era you live in. It is the fact that Christ is not only the King of the Jews but also the King of the Universe!

Yes, Christ Jesus is more powerful than we are. This is such a hard saying, especially for those who hide their individual pride in the human race! Yes, I know…we have the technology and the intelligence to destroy our planet. But we do not have the technology to raise it from nothingness! The Lord is still King of the Greens! Yes, I know…we can make an artificial heart. But it will never be as dear to us as the original! It will always remain an imitation until we are as intelligent as the original’s Creator. Yes, I know…we can create a virtual world and find a good time by going on-line. But it will never replace the real thing. Yes, I know…we are so connected today like never before! But it will never compare to how the sea connects to the earth and the earth connects to the sky; or how plants connect to the planet and how people connect to pets. Nothing compares to the King of Innovation, the King of the World, the King of Life and the King of Harmony! I know…we can extend our lives, make them longer, more fruitful and more productive. But nothing compares to eternity, nothing compares to everlasting life. Nothing!!! Again, the Lord is King of Life and Death.

Yes, I know…we can be so giving and forgiving. We can build monuments to those who have done our nation good, have knocked down walls and overcome obstacles. But we will never ever come close to the Lord of love, forgiveness and mercy. We will never be able to forgive as He forgives in the confessional; give as He gives in the Eucharistic feast, or love as He loves by laying it all down. We can come close, I guess, but He will always be the King of Love!

It is not fair you say. It is not fair that he has so much power, so much might, so much authority. But I say to you, what is the Lord’s greatest power? What makes him so mighty? What is the secret to his power? Yes, it is true. He can flick us off like a fly and crush us like an ant. Yes, it is true. His presence is crushing. But what is the secret to his power? It is His humility! It is crushing! He crushes His opponents – His enemies – with mercy and love.

I know it is true. Here is an example. Yesterday, I was late for a Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was driving a little too fast and by accident I cut someone off. Immediately, he turned on his high-beams. The driver drove like that, behind me, for at least two minutes. When I had had enough, I changed lanes and slowed down. This upset driver drove right by me. Immediately, I returned to my former lane and drove behind him. Twenty years ago I would have turned my high-beams on him. I did nothing. I am sure I surprised him. I was so proud of myself!!! Then the driver took the same exit I took. We both ended up waiting at a red light, side by side. Last year out of pride I would have shown him my collar and sounded out at him the words, “I forgive you!” This time, I did nothing. I never even looked at him. I know I made a difference. So can you. You can show the world you are a better man and it will make all of us better men!

Could the King not have made this world a better world, a perfect world, where there would be no hunger, no thirst, no war, no poverty, and no illness? I sometimes wonder why it is the way it is. I sometimes wonder why our planet, made in such a way that it attracts life, protects life and nourishes life would also be so harsh to life! I know the answer. The King, out of humility, wished for us to finish it for Him. Out of humility he wants us to do our part. Why? Because we can! We are in His image and likeness.

“Whatever you did for the least brothers of mine, you did for me…I was hunger you gave me food, I was thirty 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.”

Today is the day to realize that the Lord is not only the King of the Universe but that He is also the King of my life!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lk 20:27-40 Like Angels

Lk 20:27-40 Like Angels

Jesus said, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

We can be like angels, but not in this world. In this world we can only be saints, and saints do not live like angels, they live like soldiers. They live heroically. They fight through life, one battle at a time, and sometimes multiple battles on multiple fronts. They never give in to despair and they never give up. They know what to do when they just can’t do it: they fall to the ground and look up. They know how to keep things in perspective.

The Old Testament is a well documented record of a people's history.  It is written through the eyes of believers. Hence, whatever happened happened for a reason. There is no chance, no luck, no bad luck. All is for good. All is from God. All is for a reason.

And so it was for Antiochus (cf. Macc 6:1-13). He died in bitter grief. He saw his entire life efforts, his evil empire, crumbling at the hands of the Jews who had had enough of his abominations. He had captured and pillaged their cities, stolen their gold and silver, taken their wives, killed their elders and butchered their sons. He had set up “the Abomination” upon the altar in Jerusalem. The end was arriving for poor Antiochus and his armies. He would live just long enough to see it all collapse.

What is remarkable about the Jewish people is that they see not only the abominations that were carried out upon them, but their own abominations. When evil falls upon them, it is because they caved in to pressure. When grace falls upon them, it is because they stood steadfast with God. How true. How simple. How obvious.

There are so many abominations that go on in our families, in our Church and in our nation. Of course! Are we surprised? If society collapses it is because the Church has collapsed. And if the Church collapses, then it is because families have collapsed!

Do we expect to find a savior among the non-believers? Do we expect to find an anointed one among the pagans? The Saints followed the Lord even if it meant traveling blind folded! The Saints rise up to harsh conditions. They lead their flock. Saints are those who have had enough! We need more saints. We need more leaders. We need more men and women of courage and determination.

Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel. I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord (Psalm 9:16a).” I will rejoice!

I just finished speaking at an annual pro-life gathering here in Richardson. It was amazing to see so many men and women (and not too few children) willing to be saints. It has never been so easy to be a saint today. All you have to do is save a life and your life will be saved. All you have to do is convince someone not to kill their baby and you shall not be harmed! How easy! How amazingly easy it is.

A priest told me he received an e-mail from a mom whose child just completed his first reconciliation. The boy got in the car and told his mother, “Well, I guess Satan isn’t really happy with me today.” He’s right. Satan is not happy.

Let’s make sure to keep Satan unhappy in this world. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lk 19:45-48 Cleaning House

Lk 19:45-48 Cleaning House

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Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’”

The Lord drove out money exchangers and those who were selling things. He was cleaning His Father’s house. He did not destroy His Father’s house nor did He decide to abandon His Father’s house. What he did was to put His Father’s house back in order; to bring it back from the dead; to raise it up again and make it shine once again.

Over and over again, throughout its two thousand year history, the Lord has swept house and disinfected His home, The Church. He will not allow His Home, His Church to remain stained with sin. Purification is always required before renewal can take place. When bishops and priests began to live like kings and princes, St. Francis of Assisi came in and restored the glamour and beauty of Christ-like simplicity and poverty. He evangelized not by words but by action and the faithful listened and believed. When the bishops and priests began to live and act like politicians and merchants, St. Ignatius of Loyola came in and restored the glamour and beauty of discipline, the kind common to soldiers. He created an army of men dedicated to Christ and in pursuit of heavenly gold – souls. These Jesuits rejected all forms of comfort and their numbers quickly swelled to thousands. Today, millions of people credit their success to this band or society of brothers!

The Catholic Church is the “sacrament” of Christ’s body and the tabernacle is the “sacrament” of His divinity and soul. The Lord, in scourging his temple, was teaching us a lesson: we all need to clean our house - our interior castle - the temple of the Holy Spirit. Can I not say that the Church is a “sacrament” of my body and the tabernacle is a “sacrament” of my soul? Of course it is. It is not the “Church” that sins, it is I who sin and because of my sin I defile the Church! It is not an institution that sins; it is a group of individuals who sin and because of their collective sin, I cause scandal within the Church!

While the Lord was driving out those who were selling, the chief priests, the scribes and the leaders of the people were seeking to put him to death! Because of this unfortunate truth, all Jews have been labeled as the Lord’s murderers! Of course it is not true. It is not true not only because many Jews came to see The Way, The Truth and The Life in Christ Jesus, but because we are all guilty, by our sins, of Christ’s death.

When I sin I defile the body of Christ, the Church, and the Church is stained with filth. Only through Christ’s blood, his suffering, his pain and his death, is the Church cleansed. Only by the lives of the Saints, does Christ shine throughout the world.

Is atheism the way to go when Christians defy God? Is emptiness the solution to a lack of holiness? Hardly! How depressing would that be!

Is Occupy a proper response to the Tea Party? Is a left-wing a proper response to a right-wing? Yes, but only if the body governs both, for the one wing exists for the other only to help the body get home. The body is more than a wing and should never be reduced to one.

Saints are the proper response to sinners. Guards are not. Guards may be needed, but Saints are the necessary requirement to spin the world back to Paradise and away from Alcatraz!

Do I need to do some cleaning? Do I listen to his voice? Do I give glory to God in my words and actions? Am I living not as men live but as men of God live?