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!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mt 4:18-22 Come After Me

Mt 4:18-22  Come After Me

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother, Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. 

A few days ago I celebrated Mass for some Middle School kids.  I felt so sorry for them.  They looked so sad, so very sad.  Poor children.   Poor babies.  If they only knew.  If they only knew that they were living the easiest years of their life; and that over time, the drama of life only gets tougher and much more difficult to understand.  Unfortunately, most of them have been inoculated by a shot or a pill to this bitter fact of life.

Ah, who will break it to them? For goodness sake, who will tell them the truth???  Who will challenge them for God’s sake?  Who will burst their little bubble; the one just big enough to cover their sacred head?  Better yet, to suffocate their sacredness?

I can’t take it anymore!  I can’t stand watching these self-absorbed children suffer as they do.  No wonder the Lord told the little children, “Come to me, all you who labor and I will give you rest!”  Oh, how they suffer!  They wake up in the morning without a care in the world.  They go to school and know not why or what to do.  They have so much to cover and so little time.  When they do muster enough courage to ask a question, they typically ask what should never be asked.  For example, “Will this be on the test tomorrow?”  

How can anyone fail in life?  This is one of the greatest tragedies I have witnessed as a priest.  I have seen far too many kids get straight A’s in school only to later fail in life.  Nothing in the universe can do that.  Only man can do that.  Only man can fail at being a man.  No one else has that option.  Animals do not fail at being who they are, but man can fail at being who he is by being something he was never meant to be.  Only man can fail at being a Saint. 

I think I know why.  I think I know how it all began.  It began the day they began going through the motions. 

People go through the motions for various reasons:  to be cautious, to fit in, to be comfortable.  But the real reason why we go through the motions is so that we can avoid asking the tough questions.  For example:  “What am I doing here?” or “What am I supposed to do with my life?” 

We are all philosophers.  We are!  We were born not only to run free but to run questions freely through our mind.  It’s in our blood!  It’s in our soul.  We were made to ask questions.  We all philosophize.  Even infants philosophize when they ask, “What dat?” One of my favorite, as a teenager, was “Why?” It remains a favorite among teens even to this day!  And the only reason why we go through a midlife crisis is because we ask the question:  “What have I done with my life?” 

As challenging as questions may be, they are not the source of our problems.  They are the first steps to solving our problems.  Questions are never bad.  It’s the answers that some people give that cause the problems!  And it is the answers we give to our children’s questions that are causing all their problems.  They are horribly efficient.  For example:  “Because I told you so” is a very efficient answer, but it is not the best answer.  “That’s the way it is” is another one.  “This will help make your life more comfortable.”  But is a comfortable life what anyone really seeks in their life?  Is the purpose of school to make our life more comfortable...or more meaningful?

How pathetic!  How pathetic it is to just be efficient.  It is as pathetic as living life by going through the motions.  It’s like having e-mail so that you can write more e-mails or wearing clothes so that you can buy more clothes.  Being efficient is as romantic as writing an e-mail; it’s as tasty as plain yogurt; it’s as beautiful as cubicles; it’s as inspiring as an assembly line.

No wonder why our kids are failing in life.  It’s clear to all that they are not lacking in things, but in meaningful things; that is, questions, and honest answers to their questions.  But what is lacking most, what strips the smile off a child's face is the lack of purpose to their life.  So their life becomes more of a chore rather than an adventure.  It is no longer full of surprises; it has been scheduled to the minutest detail.  It is no longer to be discovered.  It is to be researched. 

Come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.  

Come after me.  Today is the feast day of St. Andrew.  He was going through the motions, just like his ancestors had taught him to do.  He was mending his fishing net when, surprisingly, the Lord invited him to chase after him and be a fisher of men.  He got up and left behind everything and everyone.  All that he knew and all that he expected to follow the Lord.  He must have been asking himself some pretty tough questions for a while.  Maybe he was just waiting for the right answers. 

Christ is the answer to going through the motions.  The Lord is personally inviting us to chase after him; to come after him. 

Who am I?  Another Christ.  What am I here for?  To live and die for someone meaningful.  Well, there’s nothing more meaningful to life than to live and die for the One who is, who was, and who is to come.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Luke 21:20-28 Standing Tall And Alone.

Luke 21:20-28  Standing Tall And Alone

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples:  “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.  People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

I believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God.  But I also believe all that we see and do inspire us towards God and neighbor.  History and poetry go hand in hand like science and faith.  All are honest, real, rich and necessary for a proper understanding of our beginnings and of our end.    

For example, an atheist will think of himself (and others) as just a bunch of atoms put together.  I agree.  But although I may be a bunch of atoms put together, I get excited for reasons that are significantly different than why atoms get excited.   I am more than just the sum of my atoms.  

Last night, around 6:00 pm, I was with a family riding a bike around the neighborhood.  As I was struggling my way up a hill, I lifted up my head to catch more air.  That’s when I saw it:  the moon. 

I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.  Bright.  Huge.  Inspiring.  I love the moon, but I am not a lunatic!  I love the moon, even though I can’t feel its presence.  I love it because I can capture it with my naked eye and wrap it around my brain.  I can size it up and take it as well.  It’s mine and no one can take it away from me.  For me, the moon is not only a heavenly body; it is so much like a human body; that is, another person.  The closest object to the earth is the moon.  People are the only creatures I will ever get close to.  Know.  But just like the moon, most of us will only get to see one side of it:  the “nicer”, “warmer”, “not-so-harsh” side.  The side exposed to the sun.  

Isn’t that how people are?  They only want us to see their good side; the side exposed to the Son.

Scientists believe that our moon was the result of a collision between a proto-planet and infant earth.  I believe it, but for another reason as well:  like most of our relationships, one always seems to get the better part of the deal.   

There is one thing we know for sure:  the moon and the earth are both satellites of the sun.  That’s right; we are all satellites of the Son.    

What I can say about the moon, I can’t say about the sun.  I know it’s there.  I can even feel its presence.  When my back is up against it, I know it is behind me.  When it is dark out, I know we have hidden ourselves from it.  Of course I know it’s always there.  But I just can’t seem to get a really good look at it.  When the day gets clearer, it only gets brighter!  Sometimes, it’s easier to see it when the day is overcast.  But although the sun lights up everything around me, I can’t get a glimpse of the rays of light that surround me. 

Like the sun, the Son always makes his presence felt - even seen – if only for a brief moment in time and even when I turn my back on Him.  Of course I can turn my back on the Lord, as I often do, regardless of how omnipresent and omnipotent He may be. And every time I do, without fail, I will end up cold, hidden and afraid, a victim of predators.  Interestingly enough, like an overcast day, when the fog in my life has not been lifted, I may actually see the Son of God clearer than ever before, like never before.

The sun is not only comparable to the Son of God; it is also similar to a man’s soul.  Yes, a man’s soul is similar to the sun's rays of light and heat.  It sheds light on who he is better than any of his external features.  Love makes a man's presence much more meaningful than just his physical presence.  Due to his soul and regardless of his neighbor, he is more than the sum of his body parts.  He may be cut to pieces by his neighbor, but he will remain a giant in the eyes of his fellow man.   Like the sun, the soul is hard to define.  It is that side of man that no one can see but can definitely feel.  And just like our sun, our soul gets the least amount of our attention as well.

Far too often, we give far too much credit to our body and our accomplishments; that is, the fleshy or the glamorous.  The Quarterback or running back typically gets the Heisman.  The astronaut always lands on the moon.  The President and Generals get all the credit for winning the wars.  This is not right.  It is a lack of reflection. Even more credit should be given to the unseen people who made it all possible: the line men, the technicians, the Unknown Soldier.  But it will never be.  It is far too expensive.

The moon, the Earth and the Sun are giants!  They stand tall...and alone, just like the Saints; just like God and the human soul.  They all stand tall and alone.  I believe they are the unsung and unknown heroes of it all. 
Blessed are they who have the eyes of faith and the gift of Holy Spirit to understand and give thanks to the Lord. 
Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Luke 21:12-19 Sing A New Song

Luke 21:12-19  Sing A New Song

Jesus said to the crowd:  “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.”

Who needs it!  Really.  Who needs persecution!  Why fight for others when they are not interested in being saved; or worse, when they are actively fighting against being saved!  Why fight if the world is destined to be destroyed?  Why go through all that personal pain, misery and suffering?  For what???  To be led to the slaughter??? 

Why do you even care?

I’m not having a bad day, or even a bad year.  Believe me.  I’m serious.  But what I’m noticing more and more is that people who care about Christ (and His Church) are constantly getting hurt for doing so.  People who put in their two cents are getting two rocks thrown back at them!  Why even bother when there is so much antagonism towards holiness!  Who needs it!

What will it take for the Catholic Church to not get slapped in the face anymore?  What will it take for the “tolerant” to be “tolerant” of Christians who hold firm to Christ’s Gospel?  I know.  Let’s start preaching that at the end of our lives we all go to heaven.  Why not?  What do we have to lose?  No more arguing.  No more fighting.  No more high expectations.  Just live your life!  That’s plenty enough reason to make it to heaven. 

Let’s start teaching that everything is acceptable.  Or better yet, “Whatever makes you happy makes Jesus happy!”  Why not?  Let’s start believing that every excuse is a good excuse.  Why not?  Life would be so much easier.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church would be so much thinner!!!  Religion would be so much easier to understand.  We could all be spiritualists rather than religious.

What do you think would happen to our Church if we opened the doors wide open to just about everything?  I will tell you.  Based on the latest statistics of mainstream protestant denominations, it would eventually end up…empty.  Surprised? 

It is not uncommon to find Catholic Churches half full for Mass.  The reason should be clear.  If you are only going to preach half truths, then expect to find half the people.  But if you are willing to preach the full truth, then expect to find a lot of people.

No one loves to be challenged.  It doesn’t come easy for any of us.  But great coaches challenge their athletes.  Great teachers motivate their students.  Awesome parents question their kid’s decisions.  Great pastors strive to challenge their congregations.  God loves to challenge people!  Why?  Remarkably, for all the same reasons:  challenges make us better! 

Yesterday, I challenged the kids at Mass to tell their parents that they are proud of them.  Parents could use an encouraging word, especially given all the complaining they hear.  After Mass, someone commented to me that they would probably forget to do so.  That’s true.  But if one student remembered, then it would be worth it.  They won’t forget when they become a parent.

Sing a new song.  Aren’t we all victims nowadays?  Aren’t we all offended by whatever people say, even when they say the truth?  Everyone’s a victim today.  Everyone gets so easily offended by the truth. 

Yesterday, as I was leaving Zale Lipshy (the hospital), a man walked up to my car.  He was decently dressed.  He wanted to tell me something so I lowered the window.  He started off by telling me that he was not a bum.  Then he proceeded to tell me how his car had just broken down, three blocks from the hospital, and that he had forgotten his wallet, “just like a man his age would do”.  He told me that he wasn’t asking for much.  At that moment, I stopped him and told him that his story had not convinced me at all; that it was too well rehearsed.  There wasn’t a single “um” or “ah” or anything.  Before I could finish, the man took offense at me.  He began to insult me with some pretty foul language.  I then told him that that was much better.  That that was what I would expect from a dishonest man who preys on priests at hospitals and is literally surrounded by police, phone lines and hundreds of workers in the area that could help. 

Sing a new song!  Spare the Lord the pity party, please!

The Lord is asking us to sing a new song.  Change your tune.  Being persecuted is not the same as being a victim.  It means being a Savior!  The only victims are the sinners; those who end up nailing the Lord on a Cross; those who end up slaves to their passions and following their will rather than God’s will and his commandments.  Christians are not victims.  We are liberators.  Christ was not a victim.  He was our Savior. 

Sing to the Lord a new song.  The Lord has made his salvation known.  He has also made it known what it will take:  crucifixion, dying to oneself.

Get over it.  Life will be tough if you choose to follow Him every step of the way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Luke 21:5-11 Preparing For The Unexpected

Luke 21:5-11  Preparing For The Unexpected

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here, the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

One late night, I was working alone and hard on the computer in my office (I think I was the only living soul in the building at the time), when all of a sudden I heard a loud bang on the glass window in front of my desk.  I jumped, scared out of my mind.  I only felt at peace when I could see, behind the window, a couple of kids I knew laughing their heads off.

I learned many lessons that day.  And as a sign of gratitude, I repeat the lesson as often as I can to the kids.  From outside, I will sneak up to one of their class windows and bang on it.  Or, I will walk up to their class door and kick it.  Now, you are probably asking yourself, “What is there to learn from this?”  Oh, my dear friend, so much. 

First, life is full of unexpected events.  This morning I nearly lost my life.  Yes, I nearly lost my life.  You see, for those who do not live in Texas, there is something unusual in Texas called “alleys”.  I never grew up with “alleys”; that is, a special passage way behind homes that is used primarily by garbage trucks to pick up residential trash bins.  In New York, we simply leave our trash out in the front of our home.  But in Texas, we have “alleys”.  This morning, as I was heading to Church, I opened the back gate of my backyard and right before I took my next step out into the alley, a car went past me.  It must have been going at least 40 mph!  I think I was less than twelve inches from certain death.

Life is full of unexpected events and it is important to remind our children of this fact, especially since they live in a world that tries to give the impression that you can plan everything, including the number of children you have (but not how long they live).

Second, the thought of the unexpected can be very scary, especially in the very sanitized world we live in.  We hide the sick in hospitals and the dying in hospices.  That aspect of life can be very scary and unwelcomed.  The prospect of death can be even scarier.  But what is even scarier than life and death is what happens after death:  judgment.

Yes, there is only one thing scarier than death:  judgment.  But it doesn’t have to be, for the face that will stand before me, and judge me, should be an old familiar face, a friendly face, like a child’s face:  Jesus Christ.  But only if I have remained faithful until death!

“The Lord comes to judge the earth” (Psalm 96:13b).  Although the scene may be severe, judgment need not be. 

Death not only brings an end to life as we know it, it also gives meaning to life as we assume it.  It allows us to cash in on God’s mercy and grace.  Judgment need not be scary, just “remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life”. 

This shouldn’t be earth shattering.  Everyone should know this by now.  Just not everyone accepts it.

Earthquakes.  Do you remember how you felt the very first time you were called to the Principal’s office?  Or when you had to give your first public speech?  Were your legs shaking like the earth does during an earthquake?   

The Lord said, “Nations will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place…” 

Everything the Lord said is not only objectively true for the earthly world but also applicable for the personal – subjective – world as well.  We all know there will come a time when the world is no more.  But I am certain that I will go before the world goes.  When?  I do not know.  But as the world will come to an end, so will my life come to an end.   How often do I experience what the world experiences?  How often do I experience earthquakes; not those movements of tons of earth, but rather those life shattering and leg shaking moments when I feel like my life is fall apart.  That’s not only relative; that’s not only subjective; that’s absolutely real!

How can I get through the unwelcomed and unexpected moments in my life?  By following doctor’s orders. 

What’s the best way to stay healthy?  Last week I wasn’t feeling so well, so I asked a doctor what I should do.  He said to me, “Father, you may not have heard this before (he was being sarcastic), but let me tell you what works better than any medicine that exists today:  Rest, exercise and eat right.”

This shouldn’t be earth shattering.  Everyone should know this by now.  Just not everyone accepts it.

What’s the best way to stay holy?  There are so many options, but here are three:  Forgive and you will be forgiven; love God above all things and your neighbor as Christ loves us; believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.

This shouldn’t be earth shattering.  Everyone should know this by now.  Just not everyone accepts it.   But if you do, then you won’t be frightened of the unwelcomed.  You will accept it as a beautiful end.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Luke 21:1-4 Giving vs. Selling

Luke 21:1-4  Giving vs. Selling

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 those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth…”

Not too long ago, at a football game, I sat behind a young girl with the most beautiful eyes.  Her mom was sitting next to me and introduced herself to me.  When I commented on how beautiful her eyes were the mom nearly broke down. 

Her daughter has been cancer free for nearly one year now. 

She had the “good” type of cancer, but it was still very serious.  There was a moment when they thought they were going to lose her.  But the child fought back and eventually responded well to the treatment.  While she was receiving chemotherapy, she began to lose her hair.  The child’s mother immediately began looking into wigs.  When the little girl was ready to go back to school, the mother showed her a wig she could wear.  It matched her old hair perfectly.  But the child refused to wear it.  The mother told her, “But what if your friends don’t understand?”  “Then I will explain it to them”, the little girl replied.  “But what if they make fun of you?”  “Then they were never my friends.  This is who I am.”

The mom told me, “I realized that it was all about me.  It was all about my fears…What people would think.  My daughter taught me a great lesson.”

Due to our prime time television programs, we have grown used to thinking that people are perfect all the time; that they can drink all the time and never get addicted; that they can have all the sex they want and never get sick; that they can spend and spend and spend and never fall into debt.

Due to our “commercially” driven society, we have grown accustomed to selling ourselves to others rather than giving ourselves to others.  How do I know the difference?  When we give from our surplus, we sell ourselves.  But when we give from the depths of our heart, we give ourselves.  That’s the difference!

Divorced parents often fight over their children by showering their children with gifts.  When a man leaves his wife and moves into an apartment, he often becomes the awesome daddy, the cool daddy who takes his kids out once a week to see a movie or eat at a fancy restaurant or get drunk with them, leaving mommy at home the rest of the week to feed the children, bathe them, wash their clothes, and pay the house bills.  Duty has never been glamorous; it’s always been noble.    

Recently, a young athlete mentioned to me that his high school coach was very abusive, very rude and very demeaning to his players.  I asked him if he told his coach.  He told me, “No Father.  If I do, I may lose my scholarship.”  I understood.  And I would probably do the same thing.  But now that I am older, I know better.  And so I told him, “So what?  Do what’s right.  Stand up for yourself even if you take a beating for it!  You’ll be respected in the end.” 

When in the world did we learn to sell our soul and trade in our human rights for surplus items?  When did we begin to think that our hair or eyes or body is who we are?  When did we begin to think that our awards define who we are?  Don't you know you can lose all these things but never lose yourself? 

When the Lord told the chief priest who he was, he knew what would happen next.  He would be crucified.  But what the chief priest never expected happened next:  He disappeared while the Lord reappeared!  That’s what you get when you learn to stand up for yourself! You rise above all the pipsqueaks of this world!

The Lord was willing to give his life up, not sell it. He allowed his clothes to be stripped away, but not the truth.

This is the difference between laying it all down and "surplus" giving. 

Giving yourself has always meant dying to thyself.  Selling yourself is just an old fashion tactic at getting more for thyself.

This poor widow gave all that she had.  She did what was right and the only One that matters noticed it.  That’s all she cared about. 

We all can learn from her example.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

John 18:33-37 A King Like No Other

John 18:33-37  A King Like No Other

Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”  Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?”

I have always found it a bit bizarre that for the solemnity of Christ the King, this Gospel passage, of Christ’s interrogation and crucifixion, would be used.  After all, is this not the Lord’s lowest moment?

A King should be defined not by the crowd, but by how he handles himself at all times.  A King’s supremacy should not be measured just at its peak; it should also be measured at its lowest moment as well.  In all moments, Christ our King and Lord remained absolutely the same:  above all things and above all others.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  No man changed him.  No condition changed him.  No sentence changed him.  No man controlled him.  No man ever usurped him in authority, dignity, prestige and power.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty” (Rev. 1:8)

Yesterday evening, I spent some time at a birthday party.  A little boy was celebrating his third birthday.  The mother has three children, all from the same man, but no husband.  The child’s father refuses to make a commitment to her (More and more young men seem to have this problem).  Although the mother of the child did not invite the father, she did invite his parents who decided to attend.  They were shocked at how well they were treated.  No bitterness.  No hatred.  No hard feelings were expressed.  As they left, the child’s grandfather told his mother, “You have done a great job with the kids.  I am proud of you.”  This young mother showed remarkable restraint, courage and love in face of real hardship and hurt.  She took it upon herself to define who she was and what she was made of.  And she did a great job of it.

Going through hell.  Going through hell can leave us feeling cold, bitter, pragmatic, uncaring, and devoid of empathy.  The very thought of being crucified could easily annihilate who we are; change us into a deformed creature or monster we never wanted to be.  Christ is King.  Though He was whipped and disfigured, He never changed.  While his body was left twisted, his thoughts never turned dark or sinister.    Hatred can easily convert a wise man into a fiend.  Love sustains all things, endures all things, hopes all things.  Love never fails because it never changes.  God is love.  He never changes.    

While in exile on the island of Patmos and while the Christian community was experiencing horrific persecution and hardship, St. John received a vision (the Book of Revelation) from an angel of the Lord.  It was a vision for the faithful to raise their arms in prayer and not against their persecutors.  It was a call to imitate the slain lamb, not to seek His revenge.  The Lord was calling all Christians to trust in Him, to keep His commandments, to imitate Him at all cost so as to receive the crown of victory.  Victory would not be achieved through sin or through negotiations.  It would not be achieved with anger, resentment, bitterness, or even the slightest hint of revenge.  It would only be achieved through fidelity.  Remain in me as I remain in you. 

This is what separates kings from The King.  This is how Christianity conquered the Roman Empire.

How?  By showing pity for the pitiless and compassion for the remorseless.  The Lord, fully conscious yet from the cross, gave the command in a clear voice with his disciple listening:  Forgive them for they know not what they do.  What a King!  The Lord remained not only in charge of his disciples, but also in his persecutors.  He was still giving out commands while being nailed to the Cross.  As the Pharisees and Romans tried to erase him from their memory, He called out to them in a memorial way.    

From that moment on, the Christians showed warmth, care and humility towards those who had crucified their Lord.  They reached out to them as they were being hunted down by them!  By defining for themselves who they were (often with blood and love), they unmasked their persecutors. 

Sin deforms only if it is given the opportunity to entrench itself, to take root.  The early Christians forbade it.  They would not allow their demise to dictate their every word or actions.  They knew the story line well:  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.  They would not create a new identity for themselves or take on a new form or shape.  They would remain with what they knew worked extremely well. Though it may happen slowly, for God has all the time in the world, they knew (and believed) that "love conquers all things". 

My dear friends:  though enemies abound and sin often prevails, we know with time and great reflection, that those who disgrace eventually become disgraced, and those who were once disgraced for righteous sake, eventually become heroes.  Herod was not a hero.  He was a disgrace.  Pilate was not a King.  He was a puppet.

I have the power to crucify you.  No one has the power to crucify you, my friend.  No one.  No one has the power to strip you of your dignity.  For by attempting to do so, they strip their own away!  By crucifying you, they crucify themselves.  Yes, the crowd shouts today, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  But the next day, they mourn and say, What have we done!  We have crucified our Lord, our friend! 

The know-it-alls actually know nothing at all.
That's when the King appears, not to seek revenge, but to seek sinners.  The victim becomes the rescuer!  His followers become the rescuers of the so-called “rescuers”! 

Now that’s a King for you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Luke 19:45-48 A Timely Reflection

Luke 19:45-48 A Timely Reflection

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things.

T’is the season for…selling???

That is the question.  What are these so-called “season greetings” all about?  Shopping?  Buying?  Selling more and more stuff?  Let's drive all of these things (and them) out of our life, please!

T'is the season for...?  It’s that time of year when we need to ask this question.  It’s nothing new.  It’s actually been going on for quite some time now.  And it’s a good thing.  Before there was Wal-Mart and Black Friday, there was Thanksgiving.  Before Frosty and Rudolph appeared on the scene, there was the child Jesus and the Nativity scene.  Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks to God and family, two rare commodities in today’s “Give me, give me” society. 
Sacred and Profane.    I, John heard a voice from heaven speak to me.  Then the voice spoke to me and said, ‘Go, take the scroll that lies open…and swallow it.  It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey’” (Rev 10:8-11).

Thanksgiving is a sweet moment.  Life is precious.  Marriage is beautiful.  Christmas is wonderful.  These are sweet moments in our lives that have turned sour over time.  Instead of being special moments for reflecting on God and resting with friends and family, they have turned into all-night shopping sprees, with workers striking and shoppers waiting anxiously for hours outside the bitter cold for bargains and steals! 

Ho, ho ho, what we will do for a steal!!!  And oh, what we will not do for the Lord!

These are sacred moments that have turned profane.   And we have only ourselves to blame. 

These moments belong to Christianity!  We own them!  And over the course of centuries, we have allowed their purpose and meaning to be stolen - hijacked - by opportunists, politicians and secularists, and turned into commercials and sales.  While they did it, we didn’t put up a fight.  In fact, we joined in…merrily, merrily, merrily, for life is but a dream.  

It’s not even easy for Christ to compete with Christians!  It’s not easy at all.    It’s not easy to convince parents that their child’s first communion outfit is not as important as the Eucharist.  It’s not easy to convince brides and grooms that their vows are more important than their reception!  It’s not easy at all.  Even baptisms have become a very expensive affair.  It seems to me the only sacrament that has not yet been commercialized (and therefore is not in high demand) is the Sacrament of Confession.  Yes, humility is not very stylish.  Remorse is not something you can wear.  Gossip Girls sells better than silence and contrition.  How can you commercialize that?  After all, for a child’s first Holy Communion, you can publicize it by dressing them up for it.  The same goes for baptism and marriage.  But how many kids do you know wear their “First Reconciliation” outfit?  How many parties have you attended to celebrate First Confession?  That’s okay.  That's actually very good and I prefer it that way.  But no wonder it’s hard to get children and parents to go to confession.  We need to do a market study on it (Just kidding).

What can we do?  Simple things.  Nothing complicated.  For example, set up a nativity scene outside your home.  Put Christ in the center and Frosty and Rudolph on the side.  Wouldn’t it be beautiful if all Christians, one way or another, identified themselves with the season? 

Greet people by saying “Merry Christmas” or “Hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family”.    Refuse to waste hours and hours a day shopping.  Buy simple gifts this Christmas.  Give holy cards to children.  Make room for the marginalized.  Let your children and grandchildren remember how you never commercialized the Holy Days. Don’t ever feel guilty about that.  Don’t let a secularist or atheist or opportunist manipulate you or the season.  Don’t let their religion (shopping and money) become your religion. 

Finally, read to your children true and authentic Christmas stories.  Watch movies that are rich in virtue, respectful of family and faith filled with the Christmas spirit.  Not the sacrilegious and dehumanizing anti-family, anti-faith and anti-virtue movies that seem to pop up between Thanksgiving and Christmas.    

Let’s keep Christ in Christmas and the beauty and sweetness of God and life from ever becoming spoiled, rotten and sour.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Luke 19:11-28 Faith, A Small Gold Coin

Luke 19:11-28  Faith, A Small Gold Coin

Jesus said to the people:  “I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

As the Lord approached Jerusalem, the people began to think that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately.  So what did the Lord do?  He told them a parable, a parable about a nobleman who “went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.  He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’”

The Kingdom of God is not about to appear.  On the contrary, it’s about to disappear. 

Yes, Christ will be departing very soon.  But he is promising to return.  In the meantime, he has given his servants something to do:  Trade.  That is, to give what they have received; to give more so that they can receive even more.    To everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

What must I do?  What can I do? 

Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.  The fact that we can even ask these questions is something that is very unique to man.  Only man is expected to accomplish something.  No animal is expected to accomplish anything, except to be itself.  But with man, life is not so simple. We are not just expected to do something; we are expected to do what is right, good and holy.  We are expected not to do what is easy or what makes us feel good, but to do what is right and to be good.  And since we can choose not to, we can sin.  We can choose not to be right with our self. 

What can I do?   I can do something that no other creature can do:  I can worship the Lord.  No other creature can raise their heads to give thanks and praise to God.  No other creature on earth can acknowledge the Lord’s presence.  It’s not their fault.  Actually, it’s not a fault.  All creatures on earth were created by God to help us acknowledge and marvel God’s love and creation.  But as easily as I can give thanks to God, I can also reject him, and all with the same small coin.  With my hands I can build or I can destroy.  With my tongue I can give praise to God or I can reject him.  With my heart I can forgive sins or I can hold on to them till the bitter end.   

What can I do?  I can build.  And since I can build, I can also build upon what I have received.  An animal will take what it has received and keep it.  For example, bees build their hives in the exact same way they have built them for millennium.  Beavers build damns the exact same way their ancestors built them.  Birds build their nests using the same raw materials.  Nothing has changed.  Nothing is expected to change.  No credit is given to the past.  One small gold coin was given and returned.

Now we have received one small coin as well, but it is not our hands or our feet or our mind, it is our faith.  Only man can believe.  And since only man can believe, only we can build what has never been seen before.  With the eyes of faith only we can worship what eye has not seen or ear has not heard.  With faith, only we can make life more romantic and more dramatic than sinful or prideful man has ever experienced before.  With faith, we can build something beautiful and everlasting.     

Faith is that small gold coin that should never be hidden.  It must be shared with others.  And the more I give, the more I receive.  Faith in God yields high returns for man.  We all benefit.  Those who believe in God invest in man.  They never give up.  They lay it all down.