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!

Monday, April 30, 2012

John 10:1-10 Opening or Jumping

John 10:1-10  Opening or Jumping

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said, “I am the gate.  Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” 

We don't often think of religious vows as being something practical.  But they are.  Think about it. What stops someone from speaking their mind or standing up for someone or something they strongly believe in?  What stops them from being totally honest with another?   Unfortunately, it is the fact that we all have to make a living.  We all need a job, and we fear losing it if we speak out.  We all need money.  We all have needs.

I could be wrong in my assessment, but far too often I ask people, “Well, why don’t you say something about this?” or “Why don’t you do something about it?” And the answer keeps coming back, “Father, I need my job” or “I need money to feed my family” or “I need a good grade in this class.” This problem causes the 'thief' (the bad guy) in today's parable  to come at night, jump over the gate and steal, slaughter and destroy.

The more and more I run into this issue, the more and more I begin to understand the profound wisdom of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  They are not at all easy, but Christ demanded this from his Apostles and for very good reasons. 

Religious sisters and priests (and those influenced by Christian principles) have always been at the forefront of controversial yet peaceful movements.  They have always been there because they had nothing to lose, except their lives.  And of course it was always their lives that they risked losing because there was no other way for their enemies to stop them.  Who can stop the excitement and depth that Christian principles, Christian ideals, Christian figures bring to the world? Nothing!  When Christians speak, they speak to the human heart and overwhelm it with beauty.  So how can they be stopped?  Would death threats against their children do it?  No.  Oh, the wisdom of chastity!  Would the loss of a promotion do it?  What is there to look forward to when you take a vow of obedience?  Would it be the loss of a job?  There is tremendous job security in the priesthood.  No wonder why they are feared. John Paul II led the freedom call in Poland.  He took on the entire Communist establishment.  His enemies knew perfectly well what it would take to stop him.  His murder.  They failed.  And mankind won.      

Those that do not live the Christian life will always have a hard time speaking up or standing out from the crowd.  Why?  Because in order to live, you need to make a living.  But for a Christian, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).

Today, so many movements are filled with young people who are short sighted and short tempered.  The G8 protest movements, the environmental movements, the Occupy Wall Street movements are fueled by half truths, demands, class warfare, terror, revenge and/or anger.  Why?  Because they are short of ideas, and when you are short of ideas you take short cuts.  Threats are a shortcut to speeches.  Vandalism is justified as a shortcut to peace. Demands are a shortcut to dialogue. Revenge is a short cut to conflict resolution.  Destruction is a short cut to construction.  “If we can scare you long enough, then maybe we can get what we want.”  They think that the knife speaks louder than words. But the protestor’s mask reveals his/her lack of commitment.  Show your face, like real believers do!  Reveal your true identity and live and die for your beliefs.    Stop trying to jump the fence and steal, slaughter and destroy.

The Lord came.  He came into our lives.  The only thing He destroyed was sin and death.  He emptied both of their meaning.  How did he do it?  He revealed himself.  He went through the front gate.  He called out to us.  We killed him.  Christ revealed his true identity in the Resurrection.  We revealed our true identity in His crucifixion.   This is a good start.  At least we know where we stand for better or for worse.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

John 10:11-18 Wolves and Sheep

John 10:11-18  Wolves and Sheep
(Click here for readings)
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.”
Fashions come and go, but being fashionable does not.  Music artists come and go, but the Sound of Music lingers on.  Empires and emperors of great lands come and go, but the land doesn’t. Like so many things in life, faith in God may come and go but God does not go away.  Christ’s faith in us remains solid, like a rock, even when ours is blasted and scattered.
Fortunately, the Catholic Church has never gone out of style; the reason being it has never been in style.  The music artists singing her praises with so much beauty may come and go, but her tune has never changed.   She remains forever out of tune; off key; off beat.  The goose stepping soldiers marching from the East as well as the West (unified only by their opposition to her) thought they had what it took to knock The Church off her feet.  But two feet on the ground are better than one swinging in the air.  It turns out they never had the lasting power that Mother Church has commanded; and that is a great mystery considering she has always been, at worst, out of step with everyone; lagging far behind the times, and at best, stepping on powerful men’s and women’s toes. 
The Good Shepherd defends his own, his flock.  He knows what exactly lies ahead of them:  Wolves.  So He speaks and we listen.  But not all do.  He directs and we follow.  But not all do.  Yes, Emperors come and go, enemies come and go and even lambs come and go.  But wolves seem to be different.  They always seem to be around us.  I forgot to mention that there is one more thing that never seems to change and that is wolves; wolves dressed in Shepherd’s clothing. 
All wolves, like some people, will do anything to survive.
The world is an open stage and everyone is competing for Christ’s role.  The field is open and everyone is competing to be the Good Shepherd.  But they are all frauds.  They are all wolves in Christ’s clothing. 
Recently, Dan Savage, an active homosexual and a self-described “cultural Catholic”, was the keynote speaker for a large group of young American journalists attending a convention on the subject of bullying.  Mr. Savage was invited to be a good shepherd to this flock of high school students.  But for most of his talk, this Crusader for bullies behaved just like a true bully.  He divided his classmates (audience) and bullied a certain group; in this case, the Christians.  This modern day Lord of the Flies hurled insult upon insult upon an innocent group of kids.  He insulted their Sacred Scriptures.  He insulted, using profanity and vulgarity, their beliefs.  He created such a hostile division among the students that some cheered while others walked out.  Isn’t that what bullies do?  Not only did he ruin these kids day, but he insulted their parents and educators that invited him; that hoped he would have been a good shepherd of these souls.  He insulted intellectuals by taking a “fundamentalist Christians” point of view of homosexuality and placing that label on all Christians.  Could we not do the same with homosexuals?  Could we not take the nun-dressing homosexuals or stone throwing homosexuals in California and label them all like that?
Of course, Mr. Savage apologized, just in the nick of time.  But he did not apologize to Christians.  Instead, he apologized to the feeble minded organizers of this event.   I say feeble minded because these weak minded organizers, instead of calling him out for his bigoted comments, decided to put a convenient spin on them.  They said that this wolf in sheep’s clothing had given the students “an educational opportunity” to be journalists. 
There you have it!  Here’s a real life difference between “a good shepherd” and “a hired man”.  The organizers, like too many educators today, are not at all interested in shepherding.  Rather, they are in it for the money.  Christ said, “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf and runs away.”  
This reminds me of another recent episode.  A middle school science teacher was dismissed after it was learned that she starred in a pornographic movie.  The school dismissed her from teaching not for moral or ethical reasons, but because “she might be a distraction for her students.”  Oh the things we will say when our very own children are not in danger of corruption.
When I used to work at Kodak, we were told to attack issues (ideas), not individuals.  But what happens if you don’t even bother attacking the issues?  The answer is pretty obvious now at Kodak:  Bankruptcy.  And that is exactly the state of our families, schools, cities, states and nation.  We are a bankrupt society.
“Tolerant” people insist that they only attack issues.  But they don’t.  They attack people.  And they attack people because they really don’t want to talk about the issues. 
That’s what happened to Jesus.  That’s exactly what is happening to Christians today.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

John 6:60-69 This is Hard

John 6:60-69  This is Hard
Many of the disciples of Jesus were listening and said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
There are many things in life that are shocking and true.  There are many things people say that are hard to accept yet are true. 

Recently, I went on a three day vacation with another priest.  I took a cut-rate airline to keep my vacation cheap.  Little did I know that it would end up being the most expensive trip of my life.   They told me that my flight would be delayed until the next day; that I wouldn't make it back to Dallas until the next evening.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing!  They told me that there was nothing they could do; that I was stuck here.  Hard to believe!  When I protested they left me high and dry.  Hard to believe, yet true.  I will never fly with SPIRIT airline again!  Stuck, I went to American Airlines and bought a brand new ticket.  They were more than helpful...for five hundred dollars.  I had to pay it.  I had no choice.  I needed to get back before Saturday.  I had two weddings and three Masses to celebrate.  Hard to believe.  When we finally began to taxi away, I thought all my worries were gone.  But then when we taxied back to the gate, because of a mechanical problem, I couldn't believe it.  I wanted to cry.  When they told us that we needed to get off the plane I wanted to curse and yell.  Hard to believe, yet true.  When I finally made it home late Friday night I wanted to kiss the ground.  Hard to believe.
It must have come as a surprise to his disciples to hear their Master speak of his impending doom.  It must not have been easy for any of them to hear the conditions to follow Him:  “Leave all behind and pick up your cross.”    It must have come as a shock when the Lord told them, “Love your enemies” and “Forgive seven times seventy times”, etc.  Hard to believe
“Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you”.  Arguably, none of the above examples compare to the shock of the Lord’s latest revelation. But isn’t the Lord ‘the line’ that connects all the dots to Him since the very beginning of time?  Isn’t he the Alpha and the Omega?  Isn’t He the reason for some of the most bizarre personalities, behaviors and commands found in the Old Testament, especially Moses and Exodus?  Isn’t true slavery the slavery of sin?  Isn’t the “Promised Land” really Heaven?  Is Jesus not the real Moses?  Is the Lord not the true Lamb of God?  Is the Lord not the sacrificial offering, the holocaust that must be consumed before we are declared free?  Is the Lord not the unblemished Lamb that must be eaten before we depart?
He is…and much more.  The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, soul and divinity of our Lord.  Is this so hard to believe?  It is, if you are annoyed with Jesus. 

Everything is hard to accept if the heart is hard and the brain is dead.  When husbands complain about what their wives do, aren't they really complaining about their wives?  When Judas complains about what Christ teaches and commands, isn't he really complaining about God? 

Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.”  He knew who he was talking about.  The Lord knew that one disciple was already lost, yet still remained.  Judas betrayed the Lord because He was annoyed at the Lord.  He didn’t like what he heard because he didn’t hear what he wanted to hear.  He couldn’t stand the Lord because He couldn’t stand for what Judas stood for.  The Eucharist is the climax of our faith, but it is also the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.    Judas had a problem:  Jesus Christ.  And He is our problem too.
I would love to believe in Jesus Christ.  Really!  But he said something that bothers me.  If only He were just a little bit more  I wouldn't have a problem with the Catholic Church.  Really!  If only she thought a little bit more   Yes, all of us would follow her if she appeared to be a bit more like us, like me rather than like Him.  All of us would love the Lord if only he appeared to be a bit more like us, like me rather than like the Father.
The problem with us isn’t that the Eucharist is hard to believe.  That’s not the problem.  We all have had our share of hard-to-believe-yet-true experiences.  That's not our problem.  Our problem is our lack of faith in the Lord.  That’s our problem!  That’s been the historical problem with Christians.  That’s been the historical problem with non-Christians too.  We all have a problem with God like we all have a bone to pick with our parents.
Martin Luther’s problem wasn’t that the Pope was a sinful man.  For crying out loud, everyone in Rome knew that he was a sinful man, including himself.  The Pope’s problem wasn’t that Luther was a sinful man, even Martin Luther admitted to being a sinful man.  Luther’s problem was the same as the Pope’s:  it was with the Lord.  And both men took out their frustrations on the Lord in the way they lived out their vows.  This is the shocking truth.  Martin Luther felt as if he had been duped by the Lord when he took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  He felt as if the Lord had fooled him that stormy night when he asked to be saved.  He was saved, but forgot the part about dying to oneself.  So instead of taking his frustration out on the Lord, he chose to take it out on the Church; to take himself out of the Church.
Is that not our problem?  Do we not start a fight with our Bishops because their a softer target than the Lord?  Is it not easier to say I disagree with the Church than to say I disagree with Christ?
The Church, like the Eucharist, is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  He is the true ‘grain of wheat’ that falls to the ground and dies; but once it dies it bears much fruit.  Our problem with the Eucharist (with Jesus) is the part about being small and insignificant; the part about falling, appearing weak; the part about dying and surrendering; and the part about giving by sacrificing.  Our problem is kind of big, as big as our pride.
It’s no wonder we have a hard time believing in the Eucharist.  But the reason why we have a hard time believing in it is because we all have a hard time living it; doing it.  

The Psalmist asks, How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?  Peter, the Pope, responds, "Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

John 6: 44-51  Teaching and Chewing

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to the crowds:  “It is written in the prophets:  ‘They shall all be taught by God’…I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Since we have only one life to live and only one chance to live it, I want to make the most out of it, and I have come to realize that the only place I can find the love, the wisdom and the food I seek is if I lose my life in His life, and the only Church that provides all that the Lord gives is the Catholic Church.
There are three things that feed the hungry man:  God (love), wisdom (truth) and food (Eucharist).  I believe the Catholic Church supplies them all (and always) and in every single possible, imaginable and real way.  Of course, our critics can say or do whatever they want.  But ever since they have attempted to replace or destroy the Church with a myriad of their own institutions, the end result has been simply amazing:  the Church stands taller, more obvious and more stunning than ever before.  The line in the sand that Christ drew long ago only keeps getting longer, deeper and more defined.

For example, the Church and her institutions do not fear teaching morals and truth; that is, something meatier, solider and more meaningful than the shifting and constricting principles of ‘civic duty’ and ‘citizenship’.  Is this the most I can get out of my life; to be patriotic, to pay my taxes on time and be law abiding; to love my country right or wrong?  Without the Church what else would there be?  I hate that word:  ‘citizen’.  I hate what it means.  Actually, what does it mean?  Does it mean I fall in line, now…today?  Isn’t there more to life than just being a good citizen; like….being a Good Samaritan?  ‘Citizen’, like ‘Comrade’, makes me feel like a character out of some George Orwell novel.  I don’t want citizenship; I want son-ship.  I want to own my heritage as much as I want to know my duty.  So, I need to know right from wrong, something now and always; not now and fleeting.  Where can I go to find morals and truth?  Where can I go to find my true identity so that I can live my life and help those live it with me?  I want an identity that goes beyond and is not limited to my ‘nationality’ or ‘era’?  Where can I find words and duty that are both eternal and real; that continue to be both obvious and challenging?  The Government wants to make life easy for me, but always at a price.  Schools want me to think freely, but always at the expense of truth.  The family wants me to be successful, but always with the mighty dollar in mind. 

I don’t want to waste my time reinventing the wheel.  I don’t want to live my life like a Ferris Wheel.  Who can break the cycle and turn it straight again?  Who can break the cycle of ignorance, of shame, of guilt and of misery?  Who can break the chains of pride and the poverty of love?  I don’t want to relive what made the dinosaurs extinct or can make us go wild again.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to know all things, but I don’t want to experience them for myself.  I don’t want to draw my own line and I don’t want to start all over again every single time we have a new generation, a new war, or a new ‘cause’.  It appears as though civil disobedience works, but only when there is a clear and solid morality behind it.  I want to build off of that.  I don’t want to draw a new line in the sand.  I want the line that has already been drawn by the Artist since the dawn of man that respects man and woman for who they are and not what others want them to be.  I want to start off where we last met.  I want to continue the line that Christ drew.  I don’t want to be reborn, redefined and redrawn from below and over and over again. How many “new beginnings” have there been?  Have we not learned that every time we “rebuild” it’s because we have re-destroyed?  The French thought they had something going with their revolution.  They said, “Now year one begins.” The Germans thought they had it with their thousand year Reich, but that lasted only a few years.  I don't want myself or others to define me.  I want to be born, defined and drawn by the One who created me. 

Must we start over again?  Always?  The hippies thought they had found the fountain of happiness with decadence.  Must we start all over again? The past wars were to end all wars.  Again, must we start all over again? 
Jesus said, “I am the Way, the truth and the life.”  His words live on forever.  His life is meaningful forever.  His love is contagious forever.  His food brings life forever. 

Here’s something for all of us to think about and chew on at the same time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mk 16:15-20  Go The Way.  Not Away.
(Click here for readings)
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:  “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.  These signs will accompany those who believe:  in my name you will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.  They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
There isn’t a “this way” or “that way”.  There is only “The Way” that does not go away but goes out of His way and in all directions.
Go and proclaim the Gospel.  Everybody has something to share.  What do you have to share?  The Gospel is not something that is read.  The Gospel is something that is lived.  So, it is not something but rather someone:  Jesus Christ.  Go into the whole world and proclaim me to everyone.”    
But is that enough?  Yes and no.  Yes, Jesus our Lord is enough.  What he said is more than enough.  What he did is more than enough.  But it is also not enough.  There is still something (or rather someone) missing.  And that is YOU.  He must have you.  He will not rest until he has you.  He died for all.  He wants to save all.  And those who truly believe will do amazing things.
Drive out demons.  Those who believe will drive out demons.  “Peace be with you.  My peace I give to you.”  Those who accept Jesus entomb the devil.  They give him no chance to put his ugly hands or feet or tongue in this world.  The devil cannot enter our world unless he enters through us.  He has no tongue to speak his ugly words.  He has no hands to hurt us.  He has no feet to stalk us.  Christians are the front line in the defense and offense of the human race.  We stand between the devil destroying our world and the world destroying itself.  We stand alone.  Religions are not the same.  People do not think alike.  Christianity is insanely different.  Love of neighbor is sanely boring.  Love of enemy is insanely exciting.  Oh, the possibilities if we would just be who we claim to be.  The Lord invites us to work on it; to leave the comfort of our neighborhood and to go throughout the world, baptizing in His name.  We know it works because others have gone before us.  You can go just about anywhere in the world and find a Church.  You can go just about anywhere in the world and find a Christian community.  Now, the Lord asks us to go to work and make disciples in His name.  Spread the wealth.  Spread the truth.  Spread his peace; his joy.
Pick up serpents.  Don’t be foolish to think that the Lord meant this in a literal way.  Of course not!  That would be too small.  The Lord invites us to do what Moses did; to do what he did.  He picked up the ancient serpent and held it over his head in victory.  Moses did it with a bronze serpent.  Jesus did it with a piece of wood.  Go!  Pick up the ancient serpent by swallowing your pride.  Place him above your head and declare victory.  The last is first.  The greatest is the servant (The Master is the Minister).  St. Peter the rock tells us, “Beloved:  Clothe yourself with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’  So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exult you in due time” (1Pt 5:5b-6).
Before Christ’s resurrection, the Lord told his followers, “Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened, ask and you shall receive.”  Now, after His resurrection, he is talking to them as if they were graduates.  Today, like yesteryear, he tells us to seek and love, knock and surprise, ask and deliver.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jn 6:30-35 What Sign Can You Give?

Jn 6:30-35  What Sign Can You Give?
(Click here for readings)
The crowd said to Jesus:  “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?  What can you do?”

I have received some complaints about my comments regarding the novel and movie, “The Hunger Games”.  Some people did not agree with me at all.  They said that author Suzanne Collins never once mentions God in her novels.  I noticed that too.  But I immediately assumed that this Roman Catholic author wanted to illustrate what a futuristic world without God would look like.  And what exactly does it look like?  Bleak.  Ms. Collins does a fantastic job in illustrating this point.  No one in the movie or novel ever appears happy, truly happy, not even the bubbly Effie Trinket.  No one in the movie ever feels very secure, not even President Snow.  There is no real peace or justice or compassion, that’s obvious.  There is no end to poverty, sickness and disease, famines and killings.  The last war that was fought was not over religion; it was over power, again.  And it was brutally suppressed with toxic bombs. 

What does a real world look like where there is no God?  Take a look at a nation like Russia, the former communist (atheist) Soviet Union, where suicide and abortion rates are among the highest in the world; where child pornography is mass produced; where alcoholism, depression and pessimism is decimating the male population.  Did you know that the average life expectancy of a Russian male is around fifty-five? 

When the crowd asked Jesus, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you”, I truly think they were asking this without ever really expecting an answer.  What the Lord gave them was better than an answer.  What he gave them was His Life.  And then he gave them a sign.  Actually, he gave them a mirror. Look at yourselves.  What do you see? 

The answer is obvious: we see ourselves.  And what exactly do we see but the only alternative to God:  ourselves.  That the world is not in favor of Jesus can clearly be seen by the absence of Christianity on all major media productions.  Not because they want to show a world without God, but because they want a world without God.  They want to show themselves.  They want a show!  Give the people a show!  Sound familiar? 

There is no sign of Jesus on TV because those in power do not want to promote him, embrace him, encourage him or live with him.  They want to ignore Him.  And if they can’t ignore Him, then they create shows that mock Him, like “Good Christian Bitches”.  This is where Hollywood ends its embargo on Christianity and opens a door for us only to slam the door back in our face.  

What do you see without me?  Well, on our quest for an alternative to God, we run into a lot of interesting alternatives.  What has the age of Enlightenment and reason and logic given to us?  Entertainment!  But not the brain stimulating and thought provoking entertainment you would expect from a first world.  Not the type you would expect from a modern society but rather the type you would expect from a more decadent society (or futuristic society without God).

Our cameras turn to ourselves on the big screen not because we search for the golden calf but because we seek the cash cow:  the money maker.  And the god of money speaks louder and clearer than any other; regardless of how people suffer. Just like in The Hungar Games where we make entertainment out of people who are in misery, today, we bring you “My Strange Addiction”, where you can follow a young girl who drinks her own urine or another young lady that daily sips some gasoline.  I don't expect to ever find homosexuals on this program, but I do predict that the urine drinkers and gasoline sippers will be off it some day.  After all, all the “brave” and “courageous” that come out of the closet are eventually accepted for being who they are.  There are many other programs similiar to this one: the Hoarders, the overweight, etc…  But it is always the same “gospel”, just different producers.

Jesus asked the crowd, “Look at me; what do you see?”  The answer is obvious.  The answer is powerful.  The answer is thought provoking and heart wrenching.  The answer is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The answer is:  someone not like us.

John 6:22-29 Believe in the One sent

John 6:22-29  Believe in the One sent

(Click here for reading)

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

To be a parent today is a thankless job.  In most teen movies parents appear as imbeciles, while their children are busy saving the world from terrorists, dictators or even aliens. Children are cast as superheroes that stop wars, stop discrimination and stop misunderstandings.  But the brutal truth casts children in a very different light.  They are best known around the world as world class bullies of their peers and parents, and thereby encouraging world classroom and homegrown massacres.

A son recently accused his father of being a “perfectionist”.  He asked him what he meant by that.  He said, “Well, you want me to do everything perfectly.  If I make a mistake you tell me to repeat it over and over again until I get it right.”  I thought the father’s response was genial.  He said to his son, “You’re right.  I ask too much from you and from myself.  After all, everything I do for you, I try to do perfectly. So from now on I will not ask so much from myself.  When I drive you to school, I will drop you off one mile away. I won’t go all the way for you.  I won’t go the extra mile.  When it’s time to get a new car, I won’t pay all of it for you." 

What must I do to get to Heaven?  This is the billion dollar question.  I must look for Christ, the one the Father sent, and believe in Him.  Is this all?  Yes.  That's what happens when someone is perfect.  That's what happens when God loves us.  Does He not answer all of life’s questions?  Does he not explain everything; that is, why we exist, why we think, why we love and why we live?  The Lord has gone all the way for me.  The Lord has paid the price for me.  All I need to do is believe in Him and I will be made perfect, as my Father in Heaven is perfect.

A few years ago I spent an evening with a wonderful family at their lake house.  As we ate an evening dinner outside in the cool breeze, I thought to myself, “Could anyone ever get sick and tired of this?”  Before I could say anything, the gentleman of the house, who had worked for years to build it, said, “Father, do you like this place?”  I said, “I love it.”  He said, “Even after a while, you can get sick and tired of this place.”   I was amazed, but not surprised.  He was right.  Eventually, after a while, you could get sick and tired of anything in this place (earth).  Anything!  But what brought him joy in this place was the fact that he could give it to his children and they could give it to their children. 

What brings us to Him is that we were made like Him.  By doing what he did, we bring people closer to us.  By believing in the one the Father sent for you, for me, for all generations to come, we get closer to Home.  Amen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lk 24:35-48 Joy

Lk 24:35-48  Joy
(Click here for readings)
Jesus said to his Apostles, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.”
It couldn’t be any clearer.  The Lord said it himself.  We are to proclaim Christ crucified and risen from the dead.  Surprise!  We are to encourage repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Surprise!  We are to preach in his name to all the nations, starting with the capital that put the Lord to death and would love to put his followers to death.  Surprise!  This is not good news.  This is GREAT news!  Surprise! 
The saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is an old saying; old people know it well.  It is what keeps them young of heart and soul.  It has taken me a while to believe it myself.  But I have finally come to realize the wisdom and Christianity of this expression.  Christians are called to be honey.  We bring people together so that we can bring them to Christ.  We are called to give joy to the world.  Who could argue with that?  We are called to give hope to the world.  Who could argue with that?  We are called to give Jesus to the world?  Unfortunately, far too many will argue with that! 
Can’t I be good and can’t I do good without being a Christian?  I don't think so.  Is it possible to plow a field without a plow?  Yes.  Is it possible to hammer a nail without a hammer?  Yes.  But is it possible to love without love?  No. Is it possible to forgive without the grace of forgiveness?  No.  Is it possible to be a Christian without The Christ?  No.  How do I know?  Because I think we can all say that we have all tried it before.  We have all tried to love without real love.  We have all tried to forgive without true forgiveness.  Yes, I can forgive someone pretty easily the first time he/she offends me.  But eventually I will hit my limit, I will finally say, “Enough!  That’s it!  I’m done!  No more chances.  I’m through with you!”  What Christ teaches us, by his very own life, is that there is no limit, not even death, and death on a cross.  There is no limit to giving and forgiving.   There is no enemy that cannot be loved.
On April 5th, it was reported that Patrick Greene, a lifelong atheist, converted to Christianity.  Mr. Greene made himself known to the Christian community down in Henderson County, Texas, when he threatened to sue the county for allowing a Nativity scene to be displayed on public land.  Not too long after his complaint, his doctor informed him that he was losing his sight and that he would eventually go blind.  To his surprise, the Christian community came together, prayed and collected money for him.  And to his greater surprise, the response was very generous.  Surprise! 
“Love your enemies.”  I know what you are thinking.  We can’t do this!  Not today!  Not in our world filled with terror!  We can’t live in this world like that!  I admit…to think like this is a very strong temptation.  It is so logical.  But we must also admit that we have never really tried it either.  How far can we go?  That is the question that has yet to be answered.  How far did Christ go?  We know the answer.  All the way.
There is nothing more beautiful than a smile, and there is nothing more surprising than a smile when there is not a glimmer of hope.  There is nothing more beautiful than to rise from the dead.  And there is nothing more surprising than to surprise those who put us to death!   Jesus said, "You are witnesses to these things."   
“May your people exult for ever, O God, in renewed youthfulness of spirit…”  Today’s opening prayer is a beautiful reminder that although Christians may grow old physically, we never grow old spiritually.  Later in life we may have difficulty walking and talking, but we have no excuse to love less, give less or forgive less.   Our founder does not permit this to happen.  The resurrection never grows old.  Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His message, his words, his life, his mission does not grow old.  He is our fountain of youth.   The resurrection is our source of joy.  The resurrection keeps us forever young.  We have so much to offer and so little time to do it.  We have something that the world desperately seeks:  JOY.  We have joy, a supernatural resource that is in short supply. 
Heavenly Father, you fill us with the joy of your presence.  May we be a source of joy to those around us.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Jn 6:16-21 It is I

Jn 6:16-21  It is I
When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid.  But he said to them, “It is I.  Do not be afraid.” 
Instead of being relieved, the disciples of the Lord were afraid.  Why?  Was it because He could walk on water; do something they could not do?  Or was it the reality that He was unlike them.
This morning I read an article regarding the LEGO Company.  It turns out that even they have their enemies.  Yes, Lego has enemies.  A feminist organization, SPARK, has decided to wage war on the company after it released a female Lego that loves to sit in the hot tube, have her hair and finger nails done in a beauty salon, etc.  A spokeswoman (of course) for SPARK is calling for a boycott.  She is concerned that little girls will think that this is all they can do.  After all, the feminist movement has worked for years in advancing the careers of women across America.  Unfortunately, during the same time period, women have been degraded as never before. 
I am sure SPARK would not agree with me, but I believe this organization is promoting that little girls grow up in the shadow of men!  Yes.  They define successful women as successful men.  They say that if a man can do it, then a woman should too.  That is, women living in the shadow of men.  They say, “If a man can wear pants, so can a woman!”  Again… women are to follow the example of men.  Is this a good strategy?  It is if you want to ensure your continual existence.  So SPARK will always exist as long as there are men…but in their shadow.
But if you are interested in promoting women strictly, then stop comparing women to men. In fact, let women be women and men be men.  And maybe, just maybe, men will take notice and wash their clothes.  Maybe, just maybe, men will decide to finally wash their hair and groom themselves.  It’s not impossible.  We already have men that wear earrings and put on make-up.
The founder of SPARK is concerned that women only represent less than 10% of the highest positions in corporate America.  She is concerned about POWER.  But she doesn’t seem to be concerned that more and more women are leaving the workforce at home because their husbands can’t or won’t find a job!  She doesn’t seem concerned that women’s influence, among future leaders, is diminishing at an astonishing rate.
I have never heard of SPARK before, and I am guessing that many women have not heard of them either.  Why does SPARK have so little influence on women today?  Because their concerns do not concern women.  Women can do whatever they want today.  And if there are few women as CEO’s than it is because there are not many women that want to be CEO’s.  There are plenty of women (as with men) that believe that these activities are scandalous, useless, a waste of time and insignificant compared to relaxing and enjoying life.  SPARK does not realize that if a woman is getting her nails done then it may very well mean that she is in a financial position to do so.  After all, we are not talking about a career here; we are talking about an activity!  Who knows, LEGO may very well be supporting the very real statistic that more women go to college then men; that women are better educated than men, and therefore have earned the right to such relaxing and enjoyable activities such as getting men to do their nails and hair.  After all, they too deserve to relax and be pampered after a hard day at home or in the office.
I am here to say that women can be women; unlike men.  They deserve to be women; to get out of the shadow of men.  They deserve to do what is best for them: to be themselves. 
The Lord said to his disciples, “It is I.  Do not be afraid.”  He walked on water.  They did not.  He is God.  They are not.  Were they offended?  Did they constantly compare themselves to God?  Yes, but the Lord set them straight many times.  He said, “If you want to be great, then serve!”  He said, “With me, all things are possible.”  The women movements that mimic men have been a colossal failure for women.  Women should not try to be men.  Men should not try to be women.  Men and women should be what they were created to be: an image and likeness of God. 
The quest for POWER is an illusion when compared to the life of the Saints.
The quest for POSITION is degrading when compared to the life of Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jn 6:1-15 Adding Him

Jn 6:1-15  Adding Him
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One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”
The Lord takes what we have and multiples it.  He takes who we are and adds himself to it. 

Five loaves of bread.  Bread comes from wheat.  We take wheat, add water to it and a bit of yeast and violà…bread!  The Lord takes bread and “adds” himself to it and violà…The Eucharist.  What we do with wheat is almost as surprising as what He does with bread.  Both bread and Eucharist give life, though differently.  Both nourish.  Both are taken and eaten.  Both are taken for granted.  Both are pretty much understandable (and nonetheless surprising).  The only difference between our Bread and His Eucharist is that the first is made by human hands; the other by heavenly hands.

How can we ignore the obvious?  Why do we ignore the miraculous?  Why do we turn our heads and ignore the obvious and miraculous fact that the Lord wishes to add himself to us?  Is he not constantly taking who we are and adding himself to it?  He is.  He is constantly taking what we do (or have) and multiplying it.  He seeks and wishes to reveal His Divine presence in so many ways.  Here are just a few examples that I have come up with thus far.  Does the Lord not add himself to our instinct to survive?  Does He not take this raw product and refine it?  You know, similar to what we do with the coco bean and the soy bean.  Do we not take our “mammal-ity” and turn it into humanity?   Does the Lord not take our humanity and turn it into Christianity?  Does he not make us more valuable, useful and exciting in giving than in receiving; in dying for one’s friend rather than surviving at any cost?  Does he not take our instinct-to-survive and turn it into an instinct-to-forgive?

Information comes from what we see, taste, smell, hear and feel.  Our brains enable us to gather intelligence, collect information, and finally make right judgments.  But where do ideas come from?  Where did the idea of God come from?  If God cannot be seen, touched or felt (although He was in the person of Jesus Christ), then how on earth did “God” come to be?  Where did this idea, found in all cultures and at all times, come from?  An atheist once told me, “In the beginning man created God.”  How?  How in the world could Jews create a loving, forgiving, caring and peaceful God from their unloving, unforgiving, uncaring and violent surroundings?  Maybe it was more like, “In the beginning man acknowledged God.”  Violà!  How did he do it?  Maybe the same way all ideas come from.  Maybe the same way the idea of a car or radio came to be.  Take for example a horse.  We can all see a horse.  But only Henry Ford saw horsepower.  And he was right.  We can all talk.  But only Guglielmo Marconi saw the radio.  And he was right.  We can all see Jesus.  But only Christians saw the Lord.  And they were right!  Maybe God saw man…and he was good.

From His revelation and our reflection we find God and our true selves:  who we are and who we were meant to be.  We can get the right ideas of who He is when we make ourselves more like Him. 

Let’s take what we have and multiply it.  Let’s take who we are and add Him to it.  Let’s take our hormones and add His morals to them.  Let’s take our hormones and add His love to them.  Let’s take our strange addictions and, instead of publicizing them (or supporting them), have Him remove them.   Let’s take our mistakes and add His blessing upon blessing to them.  Let’s take earth and add Our Father to it.  Let’s take our touches and add His touch to them.  Let’s take our hands, designed to grasp and handle, and offer His beautiful sacrifice through them.  Let’s take our simple meal and turn it into His banquet for five thousand!  Let’s take our five loaves and two fish and let the Lord take it from there.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jn 3:31-36 Above All

Jn 3:31-36 Above All

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The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.

You would think that if you were an atheist, you would know much about atheism. You would think that if you are a Christian, you would know much about Christianity. In a recent debate, the formidable self- described atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins, stated that most Christians do not know the New Testament. In fact, when self-described British Christians were asked to name the first book in the New Testament, only 35% could identify Matthew as the correct answer. Dawkins thus concluded that these individuals were “not really Christian at all.” He might have a point.

But when Dawkins was asked in a recent debate to give the full title of “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin he was confident he could. His Christian opponent then said, “Go on then.” Richard Dawkins then said, “On the Origin of Species…Uh. With, Oh God, On The Origin of Species. There is a subtitle to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.”

To the amazement of the audience, this formidable debater and high pope of Darwinism could not answer the question. His opponent then said, “If you asked people who believed in evolution that question and you came back and said 2% got it right, it would be terribly easy for me to go “they don’t believe it after all.”

Well done! But the truth is: Prof. Richard Dawkins has always had the tendency to make himself big by making others feel small. And this time, it backfired! Which may actually help him in the long run.

To believe in God means to open oneself to God. If science were the sole avenue to the Creator, then Jesus Christ would have appeared at Oxford, and as a scientist. But he didn’t. If philosophy were the sole means to God, then the Lord would have appeared in Athens; as a philosopher, the likes of Plato or Aristotle. But he didn’t. If music were the venue to God, then the Song of Songs would have started Graceland. But he didn’t. He chose to write no music and chose to play no instrument. He and his Apostles were no Paul Lennon or Beatles in the middle of the desert.

I think the Lord chose none of the above because he knew we would do them better. Instead, what he chose to do was something that had never been seen before, done before or thought of before. He chose to do something remarkable, the likes of which we still marvel at every single time we witness it, hear about it and think about it. He chose to be small.

All our lives we look to be big. We want to grow up. We want to have a bigger home, a bigger role, a bigger impact. There is something inside of us that drives us to be BIGGER AND BETTER. And guess what? That’s good. But how? That’s the question. Christ answers the question: be small. Be humble and you will be great! Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground it cannot bear any fruit. The Kingdom of God may be likened to a mustard seed that grew and became a tree.

There is nothing wrong with being big, that is the goal. But if you want to be really big, then make yourself really small.

Too many of the great modern philosophers are great among themselves, but not among us. They tend to spend all their time arguing among themselves which doesn't really leave much room for us. They seem to care more about their theories then care about us.

The great scientists are great because they discover things for us. But they never invented a single thing they ever discovered. They write books that include detailed explanations, diagrams and drawings of Heavens and humans as if they were plans of things to come! They take awards for plagiarism! They never give credit to God who did it all and without any known drawings.

Art no longer impresses us because (contemporary) art doesn’t seem to reflect us. It is no longer the image or reflection of the inner soul. Instead, it is the image of a lost and dark soul.

The great schools have failed us. In their ignorance and/or arrogance they either encouraged or failed to stop the terror of European Enlightenment, Fascism, Communism and Nazism. But the Church, in its meekness sent forth the terror of Communists and Fascists: Bl. John Paul II. Schools can take no credit for the Mother to fallen human nature: Mother Theresa. No great school ever educated the heart of St. Francis of Assisi. And not a single school was willing to accept Montreal’s architect of miracles: St. Andre Bessette. This is to name just a few.

From our vantage point, everything on earth looks big. From our vantage point, everything in the Heavens looks small. That’s a good hint that we have a bad point of view!

God is very big and made himself very small. Those who wish to be big must think big (eternally) but not act big (as if they were God). To know the Lord requires an exterior as well as an interior microscope and telescope. To serve the Lord requires tenacity as well as humility. To love the Lord requires a heart as well as a brain.

The one who comes from above is above all, including me. That makes a lot of sense, given the fact that The who comes from above came down to me.