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, January 31, 2014

Mk 4:26-34 Heaven's seeds

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus said, "To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it?  It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.  But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."

The seeds from hell.  King David had it all.  He was wealthy, powerful and good looking.  From humble beginnings he became the leader of God's chosen people.  His story is well known.  He started off small, became an incredible warrior, worked his way to the top, and earned the highest reward imaginable:  King of the Jews.

This ruddy son of a shepherd - a tiny seed born from Heaven - turned out to become something quite remarkable and amazing, the stuff of fairy tales. 

But there are also seeds born from hell.  The smallest and most vile being the sins of pride, vanity and sensuality.

Although David had it all, it apparently wasn't enough for him.  While he rose through the ranks, so to did his pride and passions.  Who on earth would dare to tell him, "No!" 

One day while strolling about on the roof of his palace, he saw a woman bathing who was very beautiful.  It turned out to be Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.  Using his "presidential" powers he called upon her and had relations with her. 

From a tiny seed of pride and biology something horrible and devastating grew from it:  lies, betrayal, and murder.

The seeds of pride can quickly grow and spread into all shades of death and destruction, leaving no stone unturned, no life untouched, no soul unscathed.

The seeds from heaven.  The Lord said to his Apostles, "The Kingdom of like a mustard seed that...springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."  

Faith, hope and love are seeds that come down heaven, and the greatest of these is love.

Love endures all things, believes all things, hopes all things.  Love never fails.  It is a seed that, once planted in the human heart, spreads like wild blue bonnets, creating a shade for peace and serenity and a resting place for weary souls.

Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.   

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mk 4:1-20 The Rock and the Rocker

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus began to teach by the sea.  A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.  He said to them, "Hear this!  A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path..."

The Lord always takes the initiative.  Contrary to popular belief, faith in God is not an initiative I take.  It is a response I make.  It is my personal response to God's amazing initiative: his grace.  Hence, faith is simply an act of justice.  It is giving the giver his just recognition.  But faith is also an act of love because he loved us first (cf. 1Jn 4:19).

Seeing the Lord with new eyes.  Faith in God does not require a suspension of our intellect.  It requires a change in attitude.  The best example of this comes from teenagers.  I marvel at how teenagers can be so disrespectful to their loving and sacrificial parents.  I know parents who drive their children once a week to the doctor, and all they get from them is a lot of grief.  I know parents who pay for their children's private education, and all they get from them is a lot of headaches.  I know parents who stay up late and wake up early for their children and they can't even get them to do a simple chore. 

Do they not know better?  Of course they do!  Do they not see the light?  Of course!  Do they even care?  Of course not! 

But time is a big component in growing up.  No wonder most people who attend mass are in their fifties and sixties.  They have come to the light and have seen the folly of their errors.

This morning I read an article about a famous punk rocker's return to Catholicism.   

In his autobiography, The Strange Case of Doctor Terry and Mr Chimes, baptised Catholic Terry Chimes, who drummed on The Clash’s eponymous debut album and toured with the band in the early 1980s, writes about his journey back to the Catholic faith.

Chimes said: “There was a chapter entitled The Great Sin. The great sin is pride, the tendency we all have to think we are better than someone else. I had always known that pride existed but wondered why it’s referred to as the great sin. That was until I realised the significance of pride as an obstacle to spiritual growth.

“The problem with pride is that those who have the most see it the least. CS Lewis said that if you have done some good works, read some spiritual books, perhaps practiced meditation or given up drinking and you take pride in that, thinking that you are more spiritual than someone else, then Satan will rub his hands with glee, because he will have caught you in a spiritual trap from which escape is very difficult.”

He continued: “As I read those words I had the chilling awareness that I have been in just such a trap for twenty years. I put the book down and went to sit on the sofa. I was reeling from the realisation that I’d been in a trap for all of that time. Within minutes I was having the most extraordinary experience of my life.”

The 57-year-old goes on to describe the ‘extraordinary experience’ which followed as a presence coming through him “in strong waves.” He said: “At that moment, everything material and concrete seemed like nothing compared to the power and majesty of this presence. Everything in my world seemed to be instantly shattered, leaving me feeling tiny, naked and exposed. At the same time I felt the most extraordinarily powerful love. This presence knew everything about me and yet still loved me.”

He continued: “There were many tears, but also the most profound feeling that I would always be loved until the end of time and beyond. I also realised at that moment that my life could never be the same again. There was the feeling that all of the hairs on my head were standing on end and tingling, a feeling that has stayed with me on and off ever since.

After his time with The Clash, Chimes went on tour briefly with the rock band Black Sabbath, in the late 1980s. He subsequently began to distance himself from his rebel, rock image when he became a teetotal vegetarian and trained as a chiropractor in 1994.

When Jesus was alone with the Twelve, they questioned him about the meaning of the parable of the sower.  He answered them, "The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you...The sower sows the word." 

The Lord is the sower.  He throws seeds of love - grace - everywhere.  Some seeds fall on hardened or prideful souls, while other seeds fall on fertile or humble souls.  There is nothing wrong with the Sowers seeds, they all have the power to achieve great things, if we only open ourselves up to them and Him. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mk 3:31-35 God's Will

Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.  Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him.  A crowd seated around him told him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking for you."  But he said to them in reply, "Who are my mother and my brothers?..."

And David danced.   The Lord answered his own question.  "For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

When the ark of God arrived to the City of David, King David threw a party that only a King could throw.  There was dancing and singing and, most likely, drinking, all night long.   The people were overwhelmed with joy.  Even King David let himself go.  In fact, we read he put on a linen apron and came out dancing before the Lord with "abandon."  Wow!  Talk about letting yourself go wild. 

"King David Gone Wild", a likely headline from the Jerusalem Post the very next day. 

But why were the people so happy?  Why were they dancing themselves into a frenzy?  What exactly did the Ark of God contain?  Do you remember? 

The Ten Commandments.   The Ark of the Covenant contained the two tablets with the ten commandments written on them.  In other words, the ark contained the Word of God, the Law of God.

Thou shalt not steal.  Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Thou shalt not bear false witness. 

And the people were celebrating.   

Who is my brother and sister?  We know who they are:  all of humanity.  And just like so many of our siblings, some are closer to us than others.  Everyone is my brother and sister and mother.  But some are closer than others.  Those who do God's will are closer.  It's a no brainer.

The beauty of the Ten commandments is that they tie our hands together, and hopefully together in prayer.  There is nothing that succeeds more than prayer, for at a minimum, it forces people to lay down their weapons!

The Will of God binds us, it ties our hands together.  I can't do whatever I feel like doing.  I can't do whatever I want.  Thank God!  The will of God forces me to treat others like the Lord has treated me, which is much better than how I want to be treated.  God's commandments expelled our commandments:  "Do whatever you feel like doing?"  "No regrets.  Just love." 

Does anybody out there actually see love oozing all around us?  Of course not! 

The Will of God forces us to fight the good fight in a way we don't necessarily want to fight:  the way the Lord fought.  Turn the other cheek.  Lay down your life.  Forgive seven times seventy times.  Love your enemies.     

So why did the people cheer?  Because they felt secure.  King David could never be a Kim Jong-un.  He could try, but he would no longer be serving the Lord.  

Sure, nobody likes discipline.  Nobody likes to be told what they have to do.  So some rebel.  They look for ways to get around God's Will.  They search far and wide for euphemisms that will help them codify their own disturbed tendencies.  They find artists that will put a pretty and sympathetic face on it all.  But as hard as they try to sell their own brand of commandments to the general public, and not God's, the truth always (eventually) comes out:  Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Who are my mother and my brothers?  Everyone.  But not everyone would agree.  For many, to be their sibling requires total submission to their will, not God's will.

God's Will is based on authentic love and we know love never fails.  It actually conquers all things (cf. 1Cor 13:8). 

Now that's worth a song and a dance.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mt 4:12-23 Better Dangerous Than Sorry

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Click here for readings)

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.  He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."

They left everything behind.  Peter, Andrew, James and John left behind their boat and father to follow the Lord.  They did not follow Him because they were looking for a more difficult life.  No one does that. And neither would it be fair to say they looking for an easier life.     

They followed the Lord because they were looking for a more meaningful life. 

Meaning is what makes life worth living.  Finding meaning to existence is what life is all about.  Man does not live on fish alone, nor does he live on comfort alone.  He lives on meaning.  Why am I here?  What am I supposed to do? 

Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.  Yesterday, I saw a television show called "Mighty Planes."  I thought it would be about fighter planes and bombers.  It wasn't.  It was all about Donald Trump's personal 737 airplane and the people who operate and manage it.  

Yes, Donald Trump owns his very own Boeing 737 jet plane, and I think he likes to show it off.  Wouldn't you?  Wouldn't I? 

There's no doubt.  Trump's personality is seductive.  His millions are attractive.  His plane is very impressive.  But what I found most destructive was how Donald "owns" the people around him.  He really has them wrapped around his little finger! 

Staff and crew; that is, the adult men and women around him, acted like little puppies in his presence.  Now I know it's a show - for him and for them - but wow, was this a wakeup call to the power of money and how it can change even people's personalities. 

As I continued watching, surprisingly, I found myself a bit envious of Trump.  How nice it must be to tell someone to do something and they actually do it.  How relaxing.  How nice it must feel to be able to change your mind at the very last minute and no one  - NO ONE - says a negative thing about it.  How sweet.

But there is something seriously wrong with this.  It is all too human.

Come Follow Me.  No one wants to make sacrifices in their life.  No one seeks a difficult relationship.  But sacrifices and difficulties often help us to mature, and there is nothing wrong with growing up. 

Christ came down from heaven to earth to face fallen humanity.  He faced daunting difficulties with his own people.  He embraced horrible pains for them.  And it is precisely for these reasons we feel so loved by Him.  Sacrifices are never desired; they are chosen, and they are chosen to bring more meaning into life.  Christ's life, his sacrifices and challenges, has helped all mankind to mature; that is, to become more like Him.  To become better Christians.

The Pope is at the top of his game.  He is the big cheese.  But he doesn't lord it over his people.  Instead, he prefers to be the servant of servants: the servant of God's people.  And we love him dearly because of it.

Those who say they love the Pope because he is "more human" are ignoring the facts.  He is not more human. He is more Christian.  He is more divine.  In all honesty, he is more Christian than most of us. 

All those who say they love the Pope because he is "down to earth" have their heads in the sand.  He is not down to earth.  He is up in the heavens.  

If you want to see someone who is more human and down to earth, then watch the nightly news. 

The Pope is who he is because he has accepted Christ as He is:  human and divine. 

Are you ready to accept the Lord's amazing call and challenge?  Remember:  It isn't a call for a more comfortable life.  It is a call for a more meaningful life. 

If you think you are ready to accept His call, then come after Him.  Come follow him, and allow Him to make you a fisher of men. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mk 16:15-18 Go Out To All The World

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature…
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they 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
Saint Paul is one of my favorite saints. I love the saints with a messy past, the ones that didn’t always walk the straight and narrow road. They give all of us hope. They remind us of the infinite power of Gods great love and mercy. After all, if the Lord chose a man like Saul who was “breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord” to preach His gospel, certainly He can make great saints out of sinners like us.
 They will lay hands on the sick
Yesterday started off as a pretty normal day at work, if there is such a thing as a normal day at a crisis pregnancy center. I was expecting an appointment with a woman who was considering an abortion, at 15 weeks. I waited and waited, but I thought she wasn’t going to show up because she was more than thirty minutes late. Then, by the grace of God she walked in the door. She looked so tired, like she was carrying the weight of the world rather than a previous gift from God.
I knew I had to help her, somehow some way. So I silently prayed that the Lord would give me the right words to say and that He would show her His kindness and compassion through me.
After we had talked for a little while, I finally asked her why she wanted to have an abortion and she said “it just isn’t the right time for me to have another baby, this wasn’t in my plans, and the father wants nothing to do with me or the baby”. In that moment, although I didn’t agree with her decision, I understood her desperation. Again, I prayed silently, but nothing seemed to be working. Nothing I was saying to her seemed to be making a difference. Her heart was hardened. So after trying everything I knew how to do, I left the room so that the nurse could begin the sonogram.
About fifteen minutes later I went to go check on her. I don’t normally do that because our nurses take such great care of our clients, but something was telling me I should go back there with her. When I walked in the room she was laying on the table facing the sonogram screen, and streams of tears were falling from her face. Then she turned to look at me, and in the most unexpected moment she held out her hand for me to hold.
I couldn’t believe it! I was totally surprised. But I smiled at her and I went to take her hand. And we just stared at the screen. The 3d sonogram revealed a beautiful baby girl with her mother’s nose. The sonogram also revealed that she was actually nineteen weeks and four days pregnant, not fifteen like we initially thought. This means that she only had three days left to legally get an abortion here in Texas.
I was hoping and praying that she had changed her mind but I wasn’t sure. So I asked her what she was thinking and she said, “I’m going to keep my baby. She looks just like me!”
Sweet relief.
 Proclaim the Gospel to every creature
It’s so easy to get discouraged and to give up on another. It’s so tempting to think that someone will never change. Yet time and time again God reveals to us in the most surprising ways that there is hope for everyone. Whether it’s a woman considering abortion, a teen with an addiction, or an faithful spouse. We all have hope, because we are all made in the image and likeness of God.
Yes, that means there is even hope for the Justin Beibers of the world. St. Paul was once young and arrogant too, remember?
And there’s also hope for every young girl like Miley Cyrus who thinks she has to bare everything she has in order to get a little bit of attention. Just think of the Samaritan woman who lived with six men before encountering Jesus at the well (cf. John 4:1-26). And what about the women caught in adultery? Jesus did not condemn her but he did tell her to leave her life of sin (cf. John 8:11).
Let’s imitate His way. Let’s hate all sins and love all sinners. Let’s have compassion for one another, especially those who hate us and those who hate the One who sent us.
Let us remember that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) yet we must all put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12) towards one another, forgiving each other more than seven times seventy times (Matthew 18:22).
This mediation was written by Stephanie Juarez. She is a pro-life advocate in Dallas, TX and serves as confirmation catechist at St. Monica church. For more of her writings please visit her blog Lover of the Light.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mk 3:13-19 Nearer My God To Thee

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.  He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles...

The Twelve.  Their names are well known to us:  Simon, whom the Lord named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. 

So what where they thinking?  Were they all giggly and silly?  Did they think they had just won the biggest lottery in the world? 

I think so.  I really do.  I remember how I felt the moment I got ordained.  I felt like I was in heaven!  And I wasn't alone.  All my companions felt the same way.  We were laughing and hugging and smiling.  We felt like we had beaten the odds and conquered the world.  All our fears suddenly vanished.  I must say it was the most amazing moment of my life. 

Is this any different from how newlyweds feel or Navy SEALS feel after having completed BUD/S training?  I don't think so.

But things happen.  Over time you see couples divorce, spouses betray and buddies die.  You quickly realize it is not so much about you conquering the world as it is surviving it, and/or not allowing it to crush you.    

Careful examination of Scripture reveals how the Lord, once inflating the Twelve, quickly deflated them.  It was not uncommon for Him to plant them in dung and prune them like a tree.  How else would they grow up on earth and get to heaven? 

The one who would betray Him.  Did the Apostles think they were going to sail or glide through life?   Not at all.  They were under no illusions.  Most, if not all, were well equipped, and except for one, all of the Lord's men remained faithful till the end to their King. 

When it comes to Judas, the Evangelists did a superb job keeping his awful betrayal fresh in the memories of countless generations of Christians.  Whenever one reads his name, he is immediately and always reminded of his betrayal.  Judas Iscariot will forever be remembered as the one who "betrayed Him." 

This is not an insult to Judas.  It is a blunt warning to all of us.  This can happen to the best of us.  This can happen regardless of how close we feel we are to God.

For this reason we say, "Have mercy on me, God, have mercy" (Ps. 57:2a).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mk 3:7-12 Going Back To The Essentials

Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

(Click here for readings)

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.  A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.

Why Jesus?  What was so special about Jesus?  What was it about Him that attracted so many people to Him?  Here are just two simple concepts to reflect on. 

Loving the unlovable.  Not too long ago I read an article entitled:  "Father who wanted to abort down syndrome daughter finds joy pushing her across finish line."  [Warning:  This article will bring tears of joy to your eyes.]  At first glance you would think this was the story of the "perfect" man who gradually came to love his "not-so-perfect" daughter.  It is not.  It is the story of the "not-so-perfect" man who came to the humbling conclusion that his "not-so-perfect" daughter had made him a better man. 

When the Lord touched lepers and forgave sinners, these simple acts "made" him a more perfect man.  Can they do the same for us as well?  I think so.  It simply takes the right people to help us along the way. 

This might sound strange, but the Lord actually "needed" the sick to show us, the healthy, compassion.  He needed sinners to show us, the righteous, the mercy.  And believe it or not, the Lord also needed enemies to impress upon us, His friends, forgiveness.

Love is heavenly blessed and best expressed when it comes in contact with the "unlovable." 

Instead of us shying away from the unlovable, the untouchable and the unreachable, we must throw ourselves into their lives.  It's true what the Lord said:  "Without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5).  But it's equally true that without the right kind of people to "experiment" our faith on, we can do nothing. 

These types of experiments have led to so many great experiences.      

Forgiving the unforgivable.  "In God I trust; I shall not fear" (Ps. 56:5b). 

Just a few days ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made some very unpleasant remarks on the radio

"...The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE-ACT. It was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate. Their problem is not me and the Democrats, their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are "right to life," "pro assault weapon" "anti-gay"? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that's not who New Yorkers are. If they're moderate Republicans, like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate -- moderate Republicans have a place in this state..."

For anyone to call Pro-lifers "extremists;" well, they must be extremists themselves; and to throw them into the same basket as those who are in favor of guns or discrimination; well, they must simply be ignorant.  If anyone is an extremist, it is Gov. Cuomo, who claims to know who New Yorkers are and who they should be, and has come out in favor of partial-birth abortions, and has made a conscientious effort to belittle millions of fellow New Yorkers who disagree with him.

He should apologize for his mistake.  And if he does, his apology should be accepted immediately.

Christ knew how to forgive people.  He knew how to restore broken relationships.  He knew what it took:  forgiving the unforgiveable. This was His strength.  This remains His strength.  This is what makes Christianity so beautiful, so strong and so appealing.  Forgetting this would be like taking Christ out of Christianity.

It is essential.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mk 3:1-6 Marching For God and Life

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus entered the synagogue.  There was a man there who had a withered hand.  They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him...  He said to the Pharisees, "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?"  But they remained silent.

They remained silent.  We cannot remain silent.  We can't.  No one can.  Since Roe, there have been over 55 million abortions.  I know what you are thinking.  What would America look like with 55 million more people?  Would it be bankrupt?  Isn't it already - morally, physically, financially and family wise?

Have mercy on us, have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Moms have mercy.  Daughters have mercy.  Boyfriends have mercy.  Husbands have mercy.  Fathers have mercy.  We all need to have more mercy on others, especially on those younger and more vulnerable. 

Some time ago, I had lunch with a wonderful family.  The couple love their two children.  They attend Mass on a weekly basis.  They are committed to Catholic education and denote time, talent and wealth to their parish.  So I was somewhat surprised when they told me how devastated they were when they found out their oldest daughter was pregnant.  I interrupted them and said, "Wait a minute.  Isn't your daughter married?" 

"She is!  But they're both so young and we're too young to be a grandparents!," they said.  We all had a good laugh at that.  

I understand their fears.  I  understand they want what is best for their children. Most parents do not want their children to go through the same struggles and sufferings they experienced.  But not everything about suffering is bad.  In fact, it tends to help us grow up.   

Do good.  Save life.  Faith, hope and love make room for good to enter into a world that has forgotten what good looks like.  They make room for God to enter a that has tried to squash Him from it.  

We can never go wrong when we do good and save life; when we protect God's property from Cesar's grasp! 

Let's keep in our prayers the young men and women who are marching for life in Washington, D.C. and  braving the harsh weather and people surrounding them. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mk 2:23-28 Law and Love

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the Sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.  At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" He said to them, "...The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." 

Lord of all hopefulness.   God is for us; He is not against us.  He wants to help us, not hurt us.  His laws were not given to us to make life more difficult for us; they were given to make life more meaningful to us.  The Pharisees used the law to point people out.  The Lord used the law to help people out.  "I did not come to save the righteous but sinners" (Lk 5:32).    

Love one another as I have loved you.  Christ gave His greatest commandment when He begged his Apostles to "love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34).  He said these words near the end of His life, when temperatures were running high and persecution lurked around the corner.  He knew what His Apostles were thinking.  He knew what was lacking in their hearts.  He knew their fears.  He knew their lack of faith. 

Brothers.  Do not forget love.   Remember to keep loving as I have loved you.  Remember...because it is so easy to forget.  Remember...because it is so easy to lash out.  Remember...because it is so easy to turn a blind eye.

Eric Kunkel is being called a hero.  What did he do?  Nothing special. 

Shanell Mouland and her 3-yr-old daughter Kate had a wonderful time in Florida at Disney World.  The flight back home would not be so wonderful, though.  You see Kate has autism, and she can be a bit of a challenge on long flights.  In the past, passengers, who sat next to her, have not always been very kind to her or her mother.  So Shanell was concerned, very concerned that they would have an unpleasant experience.  In fact, she was dreading the flight back home.

Sitting next to Kate was Eric Kunkel, a young business man with a laptop in hand and a lot of work to do.  He was planning on getting it all done during the flight.  But that idea went out the window when little Kate sat next to him.  As soon as the plane took off Kate began a "conversation" with Eric... and she kept going on and on and on.  At one moment, young Kate called Eric "Daddy!"  So what did Eric do?  He put away his laptop and turned on his ipad, and he and Kate had a wonderful time chitchatting and talking about very important things.  They went at it all the way home.   

Ms. Mouland was so impressed with Eric's kindness that she wrote about the experience on her blog.

What did Eric do?  Nothing special, really.  But, then again, love becomes special when it becomes increasingly rare.  The same is true of marriage and family.  Two things we take for granted. 
Christ took free love and turned it into a commandment.  He did well.  It is a strong reminder for all of us during very disturbing times.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Jn 1:29-34 The Pwn Age

Sunday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  He is the one of whom I said, 'A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me,'...Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."

I did not know him.  How could John not know Christ?  Weren't they cousins?  Didn't they spend time together as teenagers? 

Yes, John the Baptist knew his cousin.  He knew Jesus of Nazareth.  But only gradually did he come to know Jesus, the Son of God.  He came to know him not because he was told, but because he could tell. 

Do you know who Jesus is?  Do you know who He is because you were told or because you can tell?

Come to know the Lord by His words and actions.  Experience Him through His words and actions.  Do you need to increase your faith?  Then take a leap of faith.  Do as the Lord has commanded you to do:  love one another as I have loved you.  

This morning I gave a talk to a bunch of 1st graders.  Believe me, it's not easy as you think.  When I asked the teacher what she wanted me to talk about, she said, "Well, our topic for today is 'Saying yes to God.'" 

You gotta be kidding me, I thought.  How do a bunch of 1st graders say 'yes' to God???  Well, almost immediately the words "Christ on my mind, on my lips and in my heart" came to my heart, mind and lips.

He ranks ahead of me.  In order to know Christ and say yes to Him, I need to acknowledge something very important and quite humbling:  that he ranks ahead of me; that he knows better than me

After forty-eight years of life and twenty years in the religious life, I have finally come to terms with my arrogance and ignorance.  Instead of constantly trying to reinvent the wheel and say and do things my way, I wish I had said and did what Christ wanted me to say and do. Oh, how I would be the better person for it.

The Lord truly ranks ahead of me!  He knows so much better than me.  

How foolish of me not to have realized this sooner.  How ridiculous of me to have even questioned it.  All of my mistakes are because I wanted to do it my way.  All of my sins are because I wanted to be ahead of Him, get in front of Him and "pwn" Him.  Oh, how silly of me.  How silly of us!

John got it right, and so quickly:  "He must increase; I must decrease" (Jn 3:30).  Why didn't I get this?  How could I have missed this!  Did I think the sun shined because of me?  Oh, how the prophets understood this "servant" stuff all so well.

"No longer shall the sun be your light by day, nor the brightness of the moon shine upon you at night.  The Lord shall be your light forever, your God shall be your glory." Amen!  Amen!  The Son does not shine because of me.  He shines for me.  He enlightens my mind.  He opens my lips.  He inspires my heart. 

"All the earth shall bow down before you, O God, and shall sing to you, shall sing to your name, O Most High" (Ps. 66:4). 

"Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will" (Ps. 40:8a,9a).

My Pro-Life Homily (Written Form)

Dallas Convention Center
January 18th, 2014

A few weeks ago I was asked to give the homily for this year's Pro-Life Mass.  I was honored.  Yesterday, I got a little nervous when I saw thousands of people in attendance at the Dallas Convention Center.  I asked the Lord to strengthen my heart and to speak his words of wisdom.  This is what I said.

"I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Mk 2:17).  No one likes to be called a sinner.  And no one likes to think of themselves as a sinner.  This is a problem.  It's a big problem.

But today, we can say something good about being called a sinner.  It means there is someone who is reaching out for us, for all of us.  Jesus said to some scribes and Pharisees, "I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." 

This is not Good News.  This is Great News!  I no longer need to be afraid of my sinfulness or hide my shame or run away from my Lord.  Only when we are no longer afraid to expose our frailties can we begin to reveal our Christ. 

Preparing for this day.  In times past, the Lord would place his hand over another's hand and inspire them to write his thoughts.  Today, the Lord often places his hand over another's hand and inspires them to flip to the proper channel.  For the very first time in my life I watched CNN's Piers Morgan.  He was interviewing Barbara Walters.  I wasn't really impressed with his interview, but that suddenly changed when he asked her one last question. 

"Final question. It's kinda not a best or worst, it's more like you've had such an extraordinary life and career and it's continuing on until your retirement, and I'm sure it will carry on after that. If you could relive one moment in your life, the moment that brought you the greatest satisfaction, thrill, sadness perhaps, what is, you think, the moment?” Morgan asked the 84-year old Walters.

“Can I tell you what I regret when you're talking that way? I regret not having more children,” interjected Walters. “I regret, I would have loved to have had a bigger family. I have one daughter. I don't have brothers and sisters. I had a sister that I loved and she was developmentally challenged, I guess is how they put it. I wish I had a bigger family." 

In just a few brief seconds my esteem for Barbara Walters shot through the roof.  Why? Because she was brutally honest.  No matter what some people may think, TV personalities have a lot of sway in what common folks think.  And what Barbara Walters thinks means a lot to a lot of people! 

"I regret not having more children."  How moving and touching this confession is.  Only when we are no longer afraid to expose our frailties can we begin to reveal our Christ. 

Apology not accepted!  In the past couple of months we have heard a lot of apologies.  Chris Christie has apologized.  Melissa Harris-Perry has apologized.  Alec Baldwin has apologized.  Martin Bashir has apologized.  Dennis Rodman has apologized.  Even companies like Cracker Barrel and Victoria Secrets have had to apologize.  But do you know what?  Very few people have accepted their apologies.  In fact, now a days, people make fun of people who apologize.  

Apologies are no longer being accepted!  This is scary!  This is really scary.  

But in Confession all apologies are accepted!  It doesn't matter what people may think.  It doesn't even matter what you or I think.  The truth of the matter is:  "You're forgiven."  When it comes to Reconciliation and God's mercy, the sinner is always given the benefit of the doubt.  Who am I to judge?   

But not in our world.  Not in the frightful new world we are constructing.  For this reason, more and more people are hiding their sins.  They are afraid to admit their humanity.  They have seen close-up what happens to those who are all too human, only human!  So they go into hiding or cover their skin (or try shed it).  They hide their faces behind a fake name and try to act perfect, look perfect and be perfect.  This is scary.  This is really scary.

Three recent blessings from God.    The Lord has recently blessed our Church with three amazing blessings:  Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

For John Paul II, the Gospel was the Gospel of Life.  During his tenure the Catholic Pro-Life movement proliferated throughout the world.  It gathered strength.  It gathered momentum.  It picked up steam.  It battled Goliath and many times won.  For John Paul II, the Gospel is Life.

For Pope Benedict XVI, the Gospel was the Gospel of Truth.  I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.  We are all sinners.  And we are all in need of a Savior.  Christ saves.  He does not wish to see the death of the sinner.  During Pope Benedict's tenure, the Catholic Pro-Life movement concentrated on shedding light on the abortion industry, on Dr. Gosnell; but most importantly it shed light on the womb.  Ultrasound technology is a life saver.  And the Pro-Life movement is concentrating her forces on bringing good things to light.  For Pope Benedict, the Gospel is Truth.

For Pope Francis, the Gospel is the Gospel of Compassion.  People have complained that the Pope does not speak enough on abortion.  This is true, and it is intentional. "Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words."  That's his motto.  The Pro-Life movement must always be known as The Movement of Compassion.  Moms and dads, have mercy on your sons and daughters.  Sons and Daughters, have mercy on your children!

Who among us can forget the moment the Pope embraced a disfigured man and the reaction it stirred in the hearts of millions of people?  Do you realize what he did?  He was embracing life inside the womb.  He was embracing a disfigured child, an abnormal child, a frightened and lonely child.  Have mercy on me.  Have mercy on me.  

All life is precious.  All life is worthy of the utmost respect and love.  No one is perfect.  No one is near perfect.  But life is what distinguishes our planet from all other planets.  It is life and love that best describes who God is.

I wish to thank the Catholic Pro-Life Committee for organizing this yearly event.  God bless you and the great work you do for Christ and his children.

Addendum:  This morning I searched and searched the Dallas Morning News, hoping to find an article about yesterday's Pro-Life rally.  Eventually, I found what appeared to be the remains of an article:  a couple of pictures and some scraps of information.  I found it all on the second-to-last page of the Metro section (pg. 14B)...among the obituaries! 

This is very disturbing.  And I think it is big news in and of itself!

Let's be honest.  Unfortunately, far too much of the Dallas Morning News (DMN) is not "news." It is simply the Dallas Morning News' news.  I thought I had seen it all with them.  I stand corrected.

To place this "article" among the dead is an insult to millions of Pro-Lifers.  To show their faces alongside the dead is an outrageously sick and infantile attempt to "bury" alive Pro-lifers.  To share this story side-by-side obituaries is a childish and futile attempt to put to "rest" the Pro-Life Movement.  Well, I have one thing to say:  WE WILL NOT DIE!  WE WILL NOT GO AWAY!  Pro-Lifers and the Catholic Pro-Life Movement are here to stay.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mk 2:13-17 Come Sit With Me

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"  Jesus heard this and said to them, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.  I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."
During my Christmas break, I flipped through the TV one night, stumbling upon "The Bible" TV series.  One scene in particular jumped out at me.
Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane looking up at the full moon.  He knew He had only a few hours left.  He knew what was coming.  He called out to His Father.
"If you will it, Father, pass this cup from me."  He said.  the camera then flashed to the moon.  Dramatic music began.

"If you will it..." Jesus repeated.  Once again, a shot of the bright moon.  God was listening.  What would He say...?  The music reached a climax.  The suspense...

 Jesus looked up.  His accusers had arrived.

This is not the happily ever after Hollywood classics have trained us to expect.  In our version, Jesus would have looked up at the moon.  The dramatic music would build up the scene, and then suddenly, after all that anticipation, something miraculous would happen.  Perhaps Jesus would float into the sky, a bright light shining on Him.  Then He would strike down His enemies.  He would save the day.  He would avoid suffering.

But that's not the way it happened.  Jesus accepted it.  He drank the cup that was meant for us.  Jesus, the holiest One humankind will ever know, bore the weight of our sins on the Cross.

Why?  Why did Christ stoop so low as to suffer for us?  Why would the King of Glory eat with sinners and tax collectors?  Doesn't He realize we are nothing in comparison to His splendor?

He does.  Jesus knows we are weak.  He knows that we falter and fall and fail time and time again.  For this very reason, He draws near to us.  He knows we can't do it alone.  He offers us His hand always, regardless of the fact that we will undoubtedly reject it at times.

We are all sick.  By the nature of our very humanity, we are imperfect.  However, this fact should not discourage us.  Yes, we are broken.  Yes, we are weak.  But we find consolation in the knowledge that we have a Savior so loving and so merciful that He would not only associate with us, but DIE for us, too.

 Jesus is not afraid of your mess.  He's not afraid to get His hands dirty.  He proved this each time he sat with sinners, reached out to lepers, and loved the unlovable.  By his incarnation alone, He humbled Himself to share in our humanity.  And if that's not proof enough, He took on the weight of our sins, accepting His cup and drinking the grave so we would not have to.

Christ could have commanded angel armies to rush in from the heavens that night in Gethsemane.  In a single instant, He could have crushed His enemies.  He could have avoided the Cross, avoided all the pain.  But He didn't.  The King of Kings endured ridicule, torture, suffering, and death through a sacrificed so full of profound love that we cannot even begin to fully comprehend its significance.

We lead lives full of twists and turns, trials and failures, mess-ups and redoes.  But we have a Savior who's not afraid of our mess.  With Christ beside us, the twists and turns will not prevail.  And that glorious ending...Well, I'd pick that over a Hollywood happily-ever-after any day.

This meditation was written by Faith.  She is a Senior at Ursuline Academy and a frequent guest writer on this blog.  You can find her at Heavens Boulevard. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mk 2:1-12 Let The Son In

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home.  Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them.  They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  Unable to get near Jesus...they opened up the roof above him.

When Jesus saw their faith.  Unable to get near Jesus, they opened up the roof!  Here's a group of men with no human respect; that is, they could care less what anybody thought.

Are you always worried about what others may think of you?  Don't be.  Smash through this terrible barrier and make your life worth living.  Start living your life.  Make it very simple and exciting.  The first thing is to not "Just do it!" but to do it right.  Do what is right, good and holy! 

He was carried by four men.  Through the grace of God, and four very good friends, this poor sick man broke through some very tough barriers.  The first being his fear.  The second being the crowd.  The third being the roof!  

Carried by faith.  Throughout our lives we will have to learn how to navigate through tough times and very negative people.  Our faith in the Lord will help us every step of the way.  And He will notice it: "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, "Child, your sins are forgiven." 

Perseverance is a fruit of faith.  The more faith you have, the more you will persevere. 

Carried by hope.  If faith is the virtue that allows us to see more than eye can see, then hope is the virtue that takes us beyond the moment.  Not only did this poor man believe he would be saved, he could also envision being healed.  He just needed a little bit of help.  Hope is our help.  It keeps us going.  It is a healthy reminder of what eyes have seen and ears have heard.  "I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."

Carried by love.  When all else fails, put on love.  Love conquers all things, endures all things...Love never fails (cf. 1Cor 13:7).  Perseverance is not only a visible sign of unwavering faith and hope, but also of unending love.  Love can do incredible things.  It can carry a sick man to the Lord and bring him to His feet.  It can work its way through the crowd and move people to move.  Yes, Love can open a hole in the roof and lower a man to the ground.  Love can move mountains! 

It is Love that can heal a broken man with a broken heart.

Carried by courage.   Nothing good will ever happen or change without courage.  There can be no faith without courage; no hope without courage; no love without courage.  There can be no humility without courage; no sacrifice without courage; no forgiving without courage. 

So much of our life is bottled up in fear.  So many of our strongest and most admirable desires are contained in fear.  Courage is required in order to shatter our fears and live our lives in the image and likeness of God.  Fear of doing what is right, good and holy is a result of original sin.  It works against the progress of man.  It works against our relationship with God.  It prevents us from becoming neighbors.  It hinders us from a world that is full of wonder. 

"He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone.  they were all astounded and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this." 

It's time to break a hole in our fears and let the Son in. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mk 1:40-45 The Leper and A Catholic Hater

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean."  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, "I do will it.  Be made clean."

This morning I spoke to our Church's Youth Minister, Paul. He told me a story that happened to him a few days ago.

A while back I downloaded an app called "Quiz Up."  It's a game you can play on your smartphone.  One of the topics includes "The Bible."  The app is pretty neat because it allows you to compete against people from all over the world.  I selected it and began competing against someone called "Catholic Hater."  We played a few games and I won every single one of them.  Finally, in the middle of our third game, Catholic Hater quit.  "Hey, did you quit because I was Catholic?" I asked.  The person wrote back and said, "I thoroughly hate Catholics." 

Well, after a lot of cussing and downright nastiness (all on Catholic Hater's part), I wrote "I'm praying for you."  Some time later, the person changed their troll name to "Catholic disliker."

Mission accomplished?  Maybe. 

Paul is a great Youth Minister.  He knows his stuff; but most importantly, he knows how to live this stuff. 

If you wish.  That's the key!  "If you wish," you can make a huge difference in someone's life. 

Today's Gospel passage retells the story of a man suffering from leprosy.  In my estimation, he had every right to be downright nasty and upset at God; but he wasn't.  Surprisingly, he fell to the ground, knelt down and begged the Lord to have mercy on him.  The Lord did: Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, "Be made clean".

Mission accomplished?  Maybe. 

G.K. Chesterton once wrote:  "To love means loving the unlovable.  To forgive means to pardon that which is unpardonable.  Faith means believing the unbelievable.  Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.  It is either this or there no virtue at all."

This must have been "the creed" of every single missionary sent to mission territory. 

The Internet is a great place to evangelize, but it takes great faith the size of a mustard seed; hope that never gives up; and tremendous love that endures forever.  Now this may sound impossible, and indeed it is.  That's the reason why we must continue to pray.  

"Without me, you can do nothing"  (Jn 15:5).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mk 1:29-39 Starting A New Tradition

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.  Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." 

Everyone is looking for you.  Unfortunately, this is not true.  There may have been a lot of people searching for the Lord, but not "everyone."  Don't tell me there were no people back then, who, no matter what great things Jesus did, weren't highly skeptical - if not downright critical - of Him. 

Let's be safe and say a lot of people were looking for the Lord, and when they found Him they found Him praying. 

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.  Soon after praying her eyes out before the Lord, Hannah conceived and bore a son and named him Samuel.  He grew to be a strong minister of the Lord.  But as today's first reading points out, "a revelation of the Lord was uncommon and vision infrequent" (Sam 3:1) during those days.  So when the Lord called out to Samuel in his sleep, the young man didn't recognize the Lord's voice.  Twice Samuel went to his mentor, Eli, and twice his mentor told him to go back to sleep.  Finally, after the third try, Eli understood it was the Lord who was calling Samuel.  He instructed the lad to say, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening" (cf. Sam 3:1-10).

Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.  I need to take time to pray.  The Lord prayed, even if it meant waking up very early in the morning.  Hannah prayed, even if it meant praying through her suffering and tears.  Samuel prayed, even if he heard absolutely nothing. 

Prayer is essential in order to fulfill the heart's greatest desire:  to do the Father's will. 

How glorious it would be for all of us to wake up every morning and say, "Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will." 

Let's make this a new year's resolution.  Let's start doing it today. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mk 1:21-28 Hungry For Humility?

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

Having authority.  If you think you need to hold a high position to have some authority, then you need to think again.  The Lord did not live in a mansion.  He did not attend an Ivy League school.  He was not a millionaire and He definitely did not have any direct role in military or governmental matters.  So where did His authority come from?  From His morality. 

Sure, Jesus is the Son of God, His Father has his back.  But you would never know it by the way His Father allowed others to treat Him!  From the Gospels, one could easily think that if the Lord's almighty power came from on high, then it surely got dissipated way before it ever touched the ground.  And if His titles came from high above as well, then they either got lost in the translation or they were too lofty for anyone to care. 

As Christians we know Christ's authority came from His Father.  But like a good son, he made a name for himself. 

Like Father, like son.  Kim Jong-un, the atheist dictator of North Korea, leads his country by intimidation and repression.  He leads like his father.  And like all "good" dictators, he kills his opponents without skipping a beat, even if they happen to be close relatives.  But fear does not make for very good followers, nor does it make for very good advisors.  Those who follow do so because they have to.  And while Jong's authority might appear to be rock solid, it is as fragile and frail as they get.  And things that are fragile and frail don't last long.

God the Father made sure His Son did not enjoy any special privileges.  As we all know, the Lord worked his way down and back up again.  Christ lived during humble times, in a humble setting and among humble people.  He lived as the servant of servants. Because of this, we honor Him today as the King of kings.

Authority does not come from others.  It comes from personhood.  "People will follow you because of who you are and what you represent.  In other words, they respect you and the reason why they respect you is because you are a man of integrity"  (John Maxwell, The 360 Leader).

If a person relies solely on their position to influence others, it won't be long until they are replaced with someone else.  Therefore, you do not have to be the CEO or President of an organization in order to lead effectively.  You simply need to learn how to lead up, lead down and lead across. 

The Lord's most effective moment in leadership came when he allowed himself to be nailed to the Cross for his people...for all of us.

We know that true authority always comes from above.  But have we forgotten that it leads from behind?  The secret to success isn't to be hungry for more power.  It's to be hungry for more humility!  The Lord empowered us to become children of God.  Let's follow His example.

This morning I celebrated Mass at a very prestigious all-girls Catholic high school.  I told them our greatest hope for them was to see them land senior leadership positions throughout society, including the media, politics and business.  But I also reminded them of our greatest fear:  that their success would go to their brain, not their heart.  "We have seen what happens to people who let power go to their brain.  We have seen this throughout history.  Our greatest hope is that you imitate our Lord and lead by His example; that you become a servant of servants."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mk 1:14-20 A Sacrifice of Praise

First Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.  Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."  Then they left their nets and followed him.

Last night I went to see "Lone Survivor."  I have to admit I enjoyed the book more than the movie, but the movie hit home the tremendous sacrifice these fine young men were willing to make for each other. 

Like so many of our own personal stories, their begins with a very hard choice that must be made.  

Between heaven and hell.  What will I do?  There are times in our lives when we have to make some pretty tough decision.  What will I do?  What choice will I make? 

Often times, our choices are between good and bad; between being selfless or selfish; between not sinning and sinning.  Will I keep my baby?  Will I move in with my boyfriend or girlfriend?  Will I break my promise?  Will I lie about what happened? 

This wasn't the case for the Apostles Simon and Andrew.  Both men had an honest occupation:  they were fishermen.  They weren't working at a bar or casino or at Hooters! They had respectable jobs and were law abiding citizens and Jews.  They were not looking for trouble.  Instead, "trouble" found them!  Jesus of Nazareth came to town. 

All their problems began when the Lord invited them to follow Him.  Now, they found themselves in a difficult situation.  What will we do?   What would you do?  And unlike so many other times, the decision wasn't between sinning and not sinning, but between living and sacrificing. 

Let's not fool ourselves.  It's a sacrifice to follow the Lord more dearly and more nearly.  As fishermen, these men used to put in long hours.  Now, they were going to put in even longer hours and for a lot less pay!  They used to live among friends and family.  Now, they were going to travel all over the world and live in the midst of strangers, vultures and enemies.  They used to see the immediate fruits of their labor.  Now, they would wonder if they ever made any difference at all.  The catch used to be so easy.  Now, they would have to pray for others, debate others, show mercy and patience and love towards others.   Why in the world would anyone ever want to do something like this?  Was this a gain or a loss?  Why isn't this a no brainer?

Often in life we will be challenged to choose between two good things.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), one of them may be easier than the other.  Choose the way Christ would choose.  Choose the one which demands more sacrifice or more love.  This is our challenge and this is Christ's challenge to us.

"To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise" (Ps. 116:17a).


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mt 3:13-17 The Baptism Of Our Lord

The Baptism of the Lord
(Click here for readings)

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  John tried to prevent him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?"  Jesus said to him in reply, "Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

Life begins at 40!  We've all heard this before.  But it's not true.  Life really begins at baptism.   

Baptism is an extremely important sacrament.  It should never be put off.  Its importance comes directly from Jesus Christ, who said:  "Unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven" (Jn 3:5).  It's that important!  It even makes up an essential ingredient in the Lord's final command to his disciples:  "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  After Pentecost, St. Peter's first words to new believers were:  "Repent, and be baptized..." (Acts 2:38).

Baptism is important.

The Lord's baptism.  Even the Lord got baptized!  How incredible is that?  In fact, it constituted His very first public act.  As soon as the Lord left home, He went straight to John, got in line and got baptized.  But why?  Because the Lord is desperate to be with us.  He wants to be close to us.  He wants to be united to us.  He wants to identify himself with us.  But the ultimate reason is because He loves us.  And He wants us to know that.  He wants us to know we are never alone, not even when we full of sins. 

This simple gesture is proof enough of God's amazingly shocking humility.  It wasn't enough for Him to become a man.  He even had to become a "sinner."  Of course he wasn't.  But who would have known, except the Father?

Our baptism.   Our baptism is not just a cute sacrament; it is also a rite of passage.  It can never be just a pretty little ceremony.  It should be the mark of something  (someone) new.  The beginning of an exciting journey. On your mark, get set, go!  

Those who are getting baptized, including babies, should be prepared to pass through this rite of passage.  That is, there must be a conversion that has taken place beforehand, for to get baptized into Christ means to have accepted His plan, His role, and made it their very own.  I must take up my cross and follow Him.  He must increase.  I must decrease. 

Every time this happens the heavens will open and we will hear the words our Lord heard:  "This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased."

Audio of my homily is available here