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!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Luke 10:1-12 Lambs Among Wolves

Luke 10: 1-12 Lambs Among Wolves

Why is it so hard to be good? I immediately heard this answer: “Because sin perverts goodness.” Sin destroys, period. Rebellion always aims upwards; it shoots towards God, futilely missing its target and falling downwards, causing severe damage against our neighbor, our friends, our loved ones. Sin causes collateral damage that harms and poisons even the most intimate of relationships. A married couple must always take a vow that includes the “bad times” because we all know there will be bad times ahead; most of them caused by those three ugly persons, united in one unholy trinity: Me, myself and I.

The more we have sinned against God, the more we will sin against our neighbor; the more we will never enjoy any type of friendship. We will always seek more; desire more and want more! Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” This is a warning from our Lord. So how do we defend ourselves? What is his solution? Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way…Do not move about from one house to another,…eat and drink what is offered to you.” Seek nothing. Desire nothing. Demand nothing. The Apostle, disciple or friend of God is to give the Good News, freely, without compensation, without reward. Is this not impossible? Yes. “For without me you can do nothing.” An impossible situation can only be resolved by true Love, which includes forgiveness and mercy. God is that true LOVE that must always be added in to all our relationships: husband or wife; sons or daughters; mother and father; mother-in-law or father-in-law; friendship or acquaintance; supplier or customer.

What is the Good News. “You can count on me because I count on Christ.” Or, “You can count on me because I was sent by Christ.” In this world, I might not be able to find a good friend, but I can definitely be one.

Working in a school is not too different than working in an office, which is not too different than working around the world. There is drama! There are conflicts. Here they are: suspicions and doubts, bitterness and frustration, anger and resentment, rejection and manipulation. The list could go on and on. How we and our companions handle difficult moments will always be a good indicator on how we all pray. How we pray will always determine how well we live our lives. The Lamb was necessary to break the cycle of sin. The Lord sends us like sheep among wolves to break the chain into tiny pieces. His words, his promises are all that we need.

We all know that it doesn’t take much to have our spirits crushed or our hearts torn apart on any given day. We also know that it doesn’t take much to break one’s spirits and to ruin their day. The above sentiments are consequences of sin, either my own sin of seeking, desiring or wanting what the Lord does not give; or grabbing and manipulating what the Lord does give. Sin is ugly on both sides of the coin: causing it and receiving it. Dead bodies are found on both sides.

Lord, allow me to “raise you up” in the land of the dead; to speak your words and to live your life. I will give light to those who sin and bring patience to those who seek. I will love those who are deceived and forgiveness to those who deceive. I will be one with You; united to the Cross that brings life everlasting. Amen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

John 1:47-51 Lovers of God and Man

John 1: 47-51 Lovers of God and Man

(Click here for readings)

Recently, I was reading a book from one outstanding Catholic author who states, “We can be bad or good. Nothing else in the universe has that choice.” I thought he was right, until today. Angels can be very good or very bad. They made their choices long ago and stick with it for all eternity. Today, we celebrate the feasts of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. All three are archangels. All three are creatures of God. All three are at the Almighty’s service. What they do, we are called to do. What they accomplished, we are called to accomplish.

St. Michael (Who is like God)

“War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it (Rv. 12-7-9). The Holy Spirit informs us that there will never be peace until the enemy is destroyed. War is necessary for peace. Appeasing an aggressor will only lead to a greater and wider war. St. Michael was there from the very beginning. He was the one who saw the first deserters, the first dissenters; among his own, among the Kingdom’s finest. There can be no rebellion in Heaven because there can be no discord, no division in love. All must love. All must serve. All must bend, including God. This war, fought against God, is unique. The enemies already knew the outcome. They would fall. They would fail. And they did not care. What is done in Heaven is reflected on earth. How often do we read in the newspapers of a lone gunman who kills and maims, and then ends up destroying himself? He is perfectly aware that he will not succeed; he will not escape; he will not survive. And yet, he does it anyways. Evil has no logic. It is the antithesis of logic, of life and of love. “St. Michael, defend us in battle be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.”

St. Gabriel (Strength of God)

“The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.” St. Gabriel is the messenger of the Almighty’s truths, of his promises and of his plans. He is the gentle angel that reveals the mysteries of salvation to the Virgin daughter and Mother of God. How gentle his voice, how powerful his message; how radiant is his presence on earth. He is a beloved servant of the Lord, entrusted with God’s message and dependable to all his plans. His first words are, “Send me!” whenever the Lord wishes to touch the earth with his presence. He would have been the first to go, if it weren’t for the insistence of the Son. He is in love with the earth and all its creatures. He loves us and wishes he could be one of us. But for now, his messages and inspirations are a help to us. Angel of humanity, messenger of God, open our ears for the quiet warnings and calls of the most loving Heart of Jesus! Always be in front of our eyes, we beg you, that we understand the Word of God correctly, that we follow, obey and fulfill that which God wants of us! Amen.”

St. Raphael (Medicine of God)

We know very little of St. Raphael, but we do know he was sent by God to help Tobit along his journey. He healed the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels. He moved the waters of the healing pool so that the blind man could recover his sight. St. Raphael is the bearer of God’s compassion and mercy. He is the Lord’s medic: the mud that cures the blind, the stretcher that carries the paralytic; the oil that heals the Samaritan. Until the Lord came, he was God’s miracle worker. “Angel sent to assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. Grant me the grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

We know how the angels serve God because we know how the Son of God served man. Let us celebrate this day by appreciating all those who fight for us, speak to us and seek to heal us. “In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord!” (Ps. 138:1) We should never feel confused with the roles and duties of the archangels or compare them with the Son of God. Instead, we are reminded today of all God’s creatures, great and small, and how they are in love with us.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lk 9:51-56 He Journeyed On

Luke 9: 51-56 He Journeyed On

The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. For this reason, he journeyed on, determined to go to Jerusalem.

There comes a time in every man’s life where he comes to a crossroad: Shall I love or shall I curse? Shall I give or shall I give in? The more power I have, the easier it is to dominate, to seek control, to consolidate and manipulate. For this reason, the Lord was stripped of his glory and became a meek and humble servant of man. We do not love a powerful God, we love a loving God, and to love means to serve, to sacrifice, and to give. We do not love a boastful God, we love a humble God, and to be humble means to forgive, to understand and to embrace. I must follow the Lord all the way out of love for Him, regardless of victory. Love does not know the final outcome. Love follows. I must prefer to be with the Lord in Hell, than to be with the devil in Heaven. I will follow you wherever you go and wherever you are.

Job experienced true loss, true misery and true, unfiltered, unadulterated death. He had lost all that was dear to him. He even lost the love for life. “Perish the day on which I was born, the night when they said, ‘The child is a boy!’ Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire? Why was I not buried away like an untimely birth, like babes that have never seen the light?” Job had been thrown to the gates of Hell but he refused to hate. He refused to open the gates and enter. He questioned, he asked, he sought and he found. He found God.

Rejection and humiliation are not demons. They are reminders that life on earth is lived in the chaos of sin and evil. Stupid am I if I live my life to preserve it rather than to consume it.

Who am I to call upon the Lord to strike down my enemies or to ask the Lord to hunt them down and take them out! I would be the first to go! “Contradictions, sickness, scruples, spiritual aridity, and all the inner and outward torments are the chisel with which God carves his statues for paradise.” (St. Alphonsus Ligouri) “Don’t worry too much about who is with you or against you. Be sure that God is with you in everything that you do. God will defend you. No evil can occur to you when God is at your side” (The Imitation of Christ). The Saints truly understand God’s language of love and help interpret it for us.

We worry so much about how we feel. Feelings come and go, and if you want to know the truth: we should probably feel miserable most of the time – especially during a retreat or spiritual exercises. The question really is, “What do you want? What are you looking for? What do you want to achieve?” Holiness is the only acceptable answer. Christ means total surrender. Our lives can become very bitter if we forget this. Victory comes with a price: the Cross. The most difficult wars are fought in the will. My mind knows what is right and what is wrong. My heart does not want to offend the Lord. It is the muscle, my will, that needs to be trained. Sacrifice trains the will, prepares the soul for battle.

Lord, give me the grace to give what you want and to take what you give, and journey on. Amen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Luke 9:46-50 Who Is The Greatest?

Luke 9: 46-50 Who Is The Greatest?

(Click here for reading)

Why do I love the Lord? Why do I follow him? Because he is the greatest! His love endures forever. His mercy endures forever. His heart belongs to me. His life was laid down for me. The Lord came into the world for me, he preached for me, he lived for me, was tortured because of me, and he died to save me. I will never fully understand what he did for me until I understand what I did to him.

I am married to Him. The Lord never broke a promise. A promise made is a promise kept. The Lord kept all his promises. “I will be with you till the end of time.” I cannot turn my back on such selfless love. The more I know, the more I love. The more I love the more I wish to be like him. Like Father, like son. Like son, like brother.

The Lord is the greatest because he is meek and humble of heart. He reaches out to the sinner, touches the leper, brings sight to the blind and understanding to the wicked. He goes after the lost sheep and carries them home. He breaks his back to carry the stray. He raises the dead; he saves the dead. He is a friend to all: sinner and saint; friend and enemy; follower and not. He is the lover of all.

Christ died on the Cross because he emptied himself. “It is finished” means “I have given you everything; I have nothing else to give.” This is the only way that God could die: By giving it all. He gave us his words, his deeds, his love and mercy, his compassion and kindness, his inner thoughts, his deepest desires; he revealed the mysteries of his Father’s kingdom. He prepared the mansion, a room for me. And if that were not enough, he personally gave to me His flesh and blood – the bread of life; and His last breath, the breath of life – the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“Whoever receives a child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” The Lord loves me more than life itself, especially the lost, the forgotten, the abandoned, the ridiculed, the scorned, the unpopular, the outcast, the loser, the lonely, the elderly, the bedridden, the child, the innocent, the abused, the ones who look at themselves and cannot help but say, “I am ugly”, “I hate myself”, “I am worthless.” The Lord came into the world to LOVE ME! He gives himself to me and he asks just one thing from me: “Lay down your life for another.” This I gladly do because he did it for me. I choose to love, to forgive and to give. I choose to live like Him for the rest of my life. I choose to give so that I may live.

I will do what he did. I will fight tooth and nail for what is good, right and holy. I will speak the Truth, live the Truth, love the Truth and share the Truth. There is no other god but Christ Jesus. He cannot be replaced. No possession will ever be able to take His place. He is my one possession. He is my life. He is the greatest because he is the Truth and His truth is this: You will never be replaced.

Lord, you humbled yourself to the extreme by dying on the cross for me. May I never take your love for granted; may I never seek what belongs to others. May I love, serve and live in you so that that you can love, serve and live through me. AMEN.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Luke 16:19-31 The Great Chasm

Luke 16: 19-31 A Great Chasm

(Click here for readings)

Heaven is like a beautiful city where the trains are German, the cooks are French, the artists are Italian, the hosts are Mexican, and the police are British. Hell is like a city where the trains are Italian, the cooks are German, the artists are British, the hosts are French, and the police are Mexican.

There could be no greater separation, no wider divide than the one that exists between Heaven and Hell; eternal life with God and eternal life without God. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” The earthly city is an image and reflection of the Divine City. When a city is created, laid out and carefully planned, the last thing the designer wants is a prison. But as time goes by paradise is lost. A crime occurs – a theft, a murder – the end of paradise. A man must be separated from the rest. There is an image of Hell on earth which most people never think about: prison. Where the criminal must pay for his crime, and sometimes pay for the rest of his life – isolated, alone and confined. In a recent poll, many Americans believe in Heaven; few believe in Hell. But opinion polls will never change the truth of what is and what is to come. The philosopher Karl Marx wrote, “Religion is the opium of the masses.” He considered it an escape for those who suffer and for those who perpetuate suffering. Religion must be done away with so that true justice, achieved by revolution, can take its place. Today, the opium of religion has been replaced with new opium: Atheism. That is the belief that there is no Heaven or Hell; you can do whatever you want with no fear of judgment or condemnation. Live your life better than you can!

It is remarkable how children can understand the justice of Hell better than adults can. I still remember, as a child, a comment made from of one of our volunteer CCD teachers that “everyone goes to Heaven.” Of course, the logic back then was, “they are children; we cannot scare them with the reality of Hell, what would that do to their self-esteem, self-confidence and creativity?” I think it would save a lot of lives in our schools today. Maybe the killers would think twice before entering and shooting. My childish mind worked in a frenzy trying to understand the consequences of this statement. I was enlightened by the prospect that I could steal, cheat, hurt others and lie about it and not have anything to worry about. After all, we all go to Heaven. Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa are in the same place today: Heaven or Nowhere. It is hard to say, but I believe that was the beginning of the end of my religious convictions and it all started with an innocent comment, made from volunteer “god” during religious instruction.

Hell exists! And I really believe that it is hard to go to Hell. I mean, you really have to work hard at it. You have to give it your all! Till the last second of your life. This is the tragic life of that unknown thief nailed next to Christ who refused to commend his spirit to the Lord. Hell is an embarrassment for God. He doesn’t like to talk about it much. He’s embarrassed about it, almost ashamed to admit it. He cannot stand it. Can you blame him? It is very embarrassing that souls would prefer darkness to light, hatred to joy, resentment to forgiveness, indifference to love, bread and water to eternal feasts; loneliness to His Presence.

There is Divine Justice. There are consequences to my actions: good and bad. A person with a merciful heart will go to Heaven. A person who does not judge others will not be judged. If I am afraid of judgment, then I still need to be judged. Holy people have so much mercy. They know they are incredible sinners and they offer themselves for the salvation of others. We should always say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Begin it now, so as to not live in judgment later. Better to go to Christ as my Savior, then to appear before him as my judge!

St. Paul tells us to “Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1Tm 6:11-16) Just like Christ, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession. What is this noble confession? It is his declaration to the world. When asked by the Procurator if he was a King, the Lord responded, “I AM”. When a Christian is asked, who is your king? The response should always be “Christ Jesus is my King!” Remember, the worst thing that can happen to you is not that you die, but that you die on the wrong side!

Christ, who was rich, became poor so that we could be rich in the things that lift us up and poor in the things that entrap our hearts. The Lord cannot be replaced by possessions. Let us ask the Lord our God for the grace to be rich in the things that matter, so that he may lift us up to eternal life; and poor in our possessions that continue to weigh us down and nail us to this world.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Luke 9: 43b-45 Pay Attention

Luke 9: 43b-45 Pay Attention

(Click here for reading)

Life is a battle. Every battle has its casualties. In our pacifist mentality of today, many consider the dead the losers, regardless of which side they are on. But every battle is part of a greater war! We are in a great battle because we are in a great war! The sides are being chosen: I can either say “Yes” to God or “No” to him. Maybe is a waste of time. It means that another will decide for me. My Yes means eternal life. My No means eternal death. What battle, what war could be more important, more meaningful and more rewarding than the battle for eternal life!

C.S. Lewis, in the Great Divorce, reminds us that there are only two kind of people in the world: Those who say “Thy Will be done!” and those who say, “My will be done!” There can be no marriage between Heaven and Hell. It is either Light or Darkness; Confusion or Clarity; Freedom or Slavery; Love or Loneliness; Life or Death. The worst thing that could happen to me is not death, but to die on the wrong side.

“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it.” (C.S. Lewis, preface to the Great Divorce)

Qoheleth must have spent hours observing nature and man. He was a wise man, maybe nearing the end of his life. He had eyes to see and ears to hear. But most importantly, he had God to breathe! He understood that life had no taste, no understanding and no endurance if God was not in our midst. For Qoheleth, life is vanity because God is not under the sun, in our midst. This wise man came, he saw, but he could not conquer his words because he lived a few too many years before the Word, the Son of Man, Emmanuel; God in our midst. The Jews were courageous to put a book like this among the sacred writings. This book has just the facts but few answers. Life has no meaning under the sun. But life does have meaning under the Son!

Pay attention to what I say, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” What is good, what is holy, what is beautiful cannot exist on earth. It will eventually be torn down, ripped apart and brutally put to death. The same goes for the Catholic Church. Hell rules the earth. There is no mixing between Heaven and Hell, good and evil, Saints and sinners. “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell” (C.S. Lewis). The Lord told us himself, I called you from the world and you no longer belong to it. The moment we say “Yes” to God, we are an enemy of the State, of the world. The two cannot live together in peace and harmony. The two were meant to be divorced, forever. Evil will always attempt to turn good into evil, and evil into good. The Lord is asking us to draw the line in the sand. Choose Life! Choose me! Life is a battle, it can be brutal. The Lord warns his Apostles. The Lord warns us. We must choose sides today.

Instead of men being handed over to God for judgment, the Lord allows himself to be judged by man. This is the way of the world. It is upside down. “If you put Earth first, you will find Hell. If you put Earth second only to Heaven, you will find the beginning part of Heaven itself.” (C.S. Lewis)

Let go. Cut Loose. Give more. Forgive more. Love more!

Pay attention.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Luke 9:18-22 Praying Forever

Luke 9: 18-22 Praying Forever

(Click here for reading)

The Lord prayed in solitude. His entire life was a lonely, ruthless and unforgiving journey towards the Father. His words were often twisted and misunderstood by friend and enemy; his deeds construed as the devil’s making; his life was a balancing act between heaven and hell. Loved one moment, hated the next. My first thought was, “What a waste of time!”

Is this not the eternal temptation, “The Great Temptation”, away from God? Am I not disgusted by sin and even more by the sinner? What a waste of time to heal the sinners…will they not sin again? Why even bother with the lost sheep. They do not even want to be found! They are not worth my time and effort. All they do is continue to poison the flock. No one wants the lost sheep: Out of sight, out of mind. Why take on the lonely and sick? Why cure them? They are pathetic and sick! They attack the medic; go after the friend. Their lives are in constant turmoil because they live an eternal nightmare. They say, “All are out to get me! I have no friends! No one loves me! Yes, because they have no eyes to see, no ears to hear and no heart to give. Their one companion is damage. They seek pain! They seek an enemy! The fruit of their lives are tears. The greatest deceit of all is that they consider themselves the victim. Sin turns the world upside down and around and around and around. What comes around goes around! Vanity of vanities:

“A time to be born and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to lose and a time to keep; a time to love, and a time to hate;

A time of war, and a time of peace.” (Eccl 3:1-11)

The Lord broke the cycle of pain. He became both criminal and Savior; offering and servant; altar and sacrifice; priest and victim. He became friend and enemy; God and man.

The Lord always prayed during the night and broke the devil’s back. Even the night belongs to the Light! All becomes clear in darkness and solitude for you, my God, are with me always. The world and its allies are sound asleep. Day comes, evening settles, the end of another day. Only God continues to work throughout the night. All creatures great and small need rest. Without it, they cannot see clearly or react lovingly. Jesus did not sleep well. He is not a creature. He continued to work like his Father in creating a better world, a more loving world, a holier world.

Now came the moment to ask the question, Who do you say that I am? How frightening the possibilities. Prayer was absolutely necessary. Should I ask? What will they say? Are they ready for the truth?

Am I ready for the truth? Will I continue to live a life of vanities; a life lived in endless circles: A time for God, a time to run; a time to love my spouse, a time to hate them. A time for Mass; a time for me! A time for Confession and a time to hold on. What a waste of time!

Let us become children of the light: Loving, Forgiving and Giving. This must be the rule of my life because it is the rule of God’s life. There is no longer a time to hate, a time to fight or a time to keep. There is no longer time to lose! Jesus Christ is who He is: The anointed One of God. His enemies are his friends; that is, sinners are his friends; the lost are his friends; the Apostles are his friends. The dead rise, the lost are found and the sick are healed. Now is the time! Now is the time worship Him! FOREVER!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Luke 9:7-9 Herod Looked Perplexed

Luke 9: 7-9 Herod was perplexed!

(Click here for reading)

I remember, back in my seminary days, enjoying two weeks of vacation in Sorrento. It would take us nearly an hour to arrive to our destination as we literally passed by thousands of olive trees bathing in the Mediterranean sun that would eventually produce some of the greatest olive oil the world has seen and tasted. After a long walk starting in the rolling hills of Sorrento, we began our final descent towards the beach. As we invaded our little portion of the Sorrentine beach (there were roughly 200 of us going down the hill at pretty much the same time) we would almost immediately cause a negative reaction among the people who were enjoying that stretch of land. Most of them would simply pick up their belongings and leave. Others would attempt to sunbathe, but with so many people, and so much noise, they too would eventually leave. I recall one encounter with a rough looking man who was fishing. He looked perplexed. I can understand why. All of us were dressed inappropriately for the beach. We all wore white polo shirts and long slacks. How’s it possible? Slacks on the beach? He asked me, “Who are you?” I replied, “Seminarians...Catholic seminarians!” He thought for a moment but still remained perplexed. He wanted to say something, but was a little hesitant. Finally, he said it: So, you will never get married.” I answered back, “Correct.” But he still looked perplexed – even more so. Looking around at all the men, he could hardly believe his eyes. SO he asked, kind of sheepishly, “Why? You are so young!” I asked him, “Are you married?” “Yes I am.” I continued, “Well, didn’t you say no to all the women in the world except for your wife?” He answered, “Yes.” I continued, “Well, I said no to all the women too, including your wife.” He looked at me, smiled, and said, “You did well.” He no longer looked perplexed. In fact, he looked kind of envious.

Herod looked perplexed, surprised, maybe even confused. But deep down, he was envious. His life was a teeter totter of constant pleasures and constant frustration; constant bloating of his ego to fill a constant emptiness in his soul; his days were saturated with on-going - 24 hour - entertainment to fend off his nightmarish loneliness. His life was a mess! He envied the mystery of the Son of Man. Christ was a mystery and he was a well read, worn out textbook. Those around him knew what buttons to push, what words to say and what things to do. King Herod was a robot, a lifeless creature that was little by little, inch by inch, being moved and swayed by his enemies, his family and his darkest thoughts. Herod was your typical party animal! Vanity of vanities (Eccl 1:2-11). He kept trying to see him. But how? There were too many masks on his face.

Hollywood has done an incredible job convincing so many people that to be a saint means to live a boring life. Whereas, if you want some thrill, some excitement, some adventures, then you have to break the rules. After all, that’s what they are there for. Hollywood has done a fantastic job in creating a big lie.

Herod’s life was filled with things: money, sex, alcohol, power and people. Today, it would be pornography, hook-ups, alcohol and drugs, cars and facebook! And yet, all the people were not talking about him. They were all talking about Christ. 7,000,000 people didn’t show up to see a rock star back in 2000. They came to see an old man dressed in white whose name was John Paul II. The Tetrarchs of today ask, Why? What about me? Look at me? Who is this man? What does he want? What can he give to you? The answer given will always refer to Another. I come to bring you Christ! I come to bring you true Love! I come to bring you Hope! I come to bring you Home!

Pope Benedict on his journey to England was asked by a reporter how the Church can appear more attractive. His answer was stunning and shocking. “A Church which seeks above all to be attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for herself, she does not work to increase her numbers and her power. The Church is at the service of Another. She serves not herself, not to become strong; rather, she serves to make the announcement of Jesus Christ: the great truths, the great powers of love and reconciliation which appeared in Him and which always come from the presence of Jesus Christ.”

The reporter looked perplexed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Luke 9:1-6 Take Nothing With You

Luke 9: 1-6 Take Nothing with You

(Click here for reading)

Take nothing with you. This is an invitation by our Lord to begin detaching ourselves from the things that hold us down, and begin attaching ourselves to the things that build us up. You have no need of money, food, stick or sack – commodity or security. The Lord says, I am your only need.

I know. I know what I am saying. I know that it is much easier to say it than to live it. I know that it sounds utterly ridiculous, na├»ve - you name it, radical and extremist. Foxes have dens and birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Lk 9:58).

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...So do not worry. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Mt 6:25-33)

Each day has enough trouble of its own. Amen! Each day is a battle that must be fought and can be won! Evil cannot enter the world unless I allow it to. I may be tempted all day long, but I do not have to succumb to the temptation. The devil is always seeking entry into God’s world – his creation, but he must pass through me. I will not allow myself to be used by him. I will not allow myself to bow down to him. I will heed the advice of Christ to "seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be handed onto you." I am to cloth myself in Christ, nourish myself with Christ, and carry my cross with Christ.

Isn’t it amazing how the only thing that people will ever remember us for is how we loved? That is, how we imitated God who is love? Everything works its way back to Him. He is truly the beginning and the end. He is my beginning and my end – goal, objective, purpose.

The Twelve had to learn the hard way. They had to literally abandon all for the One who is all. Is it any different for us? I don’t think so. I think the Lord wants us to love Him and our neighbor unconditionally. To do so still requires a radical approach, like St. Francis who stripped himself in public and was followed and loved by a multitude. Detachment from worldly goods can only be achieved if there is attachment on what is above! True love can only be given if true Love is received. Who I am is directly related to Who He is to me. The Twelve began to walk, to preach, to cure, to live life because they kneeled, listened and experienced a life that was lived to the full in Christ Jesus.

What will make me happy? Love more. Forgive more. Give More. This is the secret to life. This is the life of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Take nothing more and give nothing less.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Matthew 9:9-13 I Desire Mercy

Matthew 9:-9-13 I desire Mercy

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I desire mercy. This is God speaking! What does God love? Mercy! What does he desire? Mercy! Oh, my goodness! Is this the “message that continues to go out through all the earth?” (Ps 19:5) If we are who we claim to be, then the answer must be a resounding and confident “yes.” The world needs us, even if they don’t realize it. We bring good things to life!

God’s mercy is not some superficial blubbering nonsensical self-affirming affirmation lesson building session or some self-esteem hugging ritual. No! Rather, it is a life-changing radical call from God to depart from our old ways and come follow Him. To begin again! To live! To love! To redeem!

How often do the Saints speak of divine mercy? All the time! How often do the apparitions or messages from Mary refer to her beloved Son’s mercy? Always! Why? “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” He did not come into the world to call the righteous but sinners. For this reason alone, the Lord attracted so much attention: positive and negative. For this very reason, he was very much loved and very much hated. He continues to be a sign of contradiction. “Hate the sin, love the sinner!”

Let me say it now: A sinful man will never be a happy man. Never! When we were children we would think that sins were playful things, adult things, things that were restricted only to adults and their laws. But as we got older, we began to sense a loss of freedom, a sense of hopelessness as our sins took root and began to grow faster, more powerful and more aggressive than I could ever bear. Sin has no limits as it begins to kill its prey, as a parasite begins to starve its host. Who can I turn to? Who can help me?

The crowds began to swell in number when Christ would appear in a village or town. The people knew they had a friend, someone who loved them. For the first time in their lives, they received something that no one had ever given to them: understanding, compassion, mercy and love. They actually felt as if they belonged to the human race! They felt human once again because they were loved once again. The tax collectors and sinners were experiencing a change in heart because the heart of God had touched their hearts. Does God really love me? The answer is a resounding, “yes” and even in my mess because he can see through the messiness of sin and darkness.

Here is the mystery. Why does God even bother? Why not just pass me by, insult me, judge me now and get it over with? Why doesn’t He just be God? The only answer I have to this is…because He loves, and love is crazy! It knows no limits, just like sin, but its effects are everlasting. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His mercy endures forever!”

Could the Lord not have passed up Matthew? He could have. But love is crazy and in some ways, Christ was crazy. He assembled a team of men that were good, bad and ugly. Only a Father could love such a band of brothers. And yet, here we are two thousand years later, heeding the call and calling out the sinners who, in turn, heed the call and call out the sinners. The Lord called sinners and turned them into saints who call sinners to become saints. Who would have imagined us, one day, standing among the Saints?...but only our God.

In Caravaggio's image of Matthew being called by Christ, we see light shining behind the Lord and penetrating the darkness. He points to Matthew who in turn points to himself in disbelief and asking, You mean me? You want me? You love me? Don't you know who I am? The rest is history - salvation history.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Luke 8:16-18 A Request From God

Luke 8:16-18 A Request From God

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What would life be like without God in my life? Impossible! Unbearable! A tunnel with no light at the end of the tunnel!

God is the light at the end of the tunnel because he is the end, the purpose of my life here on earth. When we cannot see God in the midst of darkness, we must power up the generator: Prayer. Prayer, reflection and meditation allow me to see some light while I make my way out of the darkness and into His wonderful light. He truly brings all good things to light!

Suffering makes us cower, roll up, and hide. When I suffer the last thing I want to do is talk to or be around people. But the Lord and the Saints (his brothers and sisters and Mother) think differently. When they suffered, they suffered for the glory of God. They did not suffer in light of their sins. Rather, they suffered in light of the sins of others. This is the cross I must carry. We cannot forget that the only Cross the Lord does not want us to carry is the cross of our own sins. That Cross, He will carry, be nailed to and die for. Being a Christian – like Christ - means I must carry the sins that others place upon my shoulders.

The birth of Christ meant The Light placed in a vessel, a human vessel. When the time came, The Light was placed on a crucifix and continued to burn brightly. Those who saw this light would see The Light. The Roman centurion saw the light and believed, exclaiming, “This man was truly the son of God.” St Paul saw the light, while persecuting Christians, and fell to his knees and asked, “Who are you?” The voice cried out, “I am Jesus, the one whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-9). Gentile and Jew would come to believe.

Christ is the light of the World. Whoever comes to see this light will have the light of faith. Many men and women have come to see the Light while looking at the crucifix. Constantine saw the cross and was converted. Francis listened, as the Lord spoke to him from his Cross, and rebuilt the Church. The Saints came to see The Light while looking at the crucifix. The mystery of the Crucifix is that it reveals the Son of Man as he truly is: the Son of God.

The theology of the Cross is a mystical well of revelation and conversion. The more we study the Cross, the more we understand and come to believe in the Son of God. “For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” Sacrifice brings about suffering, which brings conversion of heart and mind. We believe in God because he sacrificed and suffered for us. In other words, we believe in God because he loves us.

Let us not be afraid to sacrifice for others; suffer for others; to love one another. Let us allow the Lord to remove us from the security that exists from under our bed, and to place us upon a lamp stand, where the Lord will ensure that it is never consumed but burns bright for all eternity and for all the world to see.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Luke 16:1-13 Cheating the Devil

Luke 16:1-13 Cheating The Devil

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Throughout the history of the Chosen People, cheating was an on-going plague. But the prophets of old considered the trampling of justice upon the widows, the orphans, and the poor a downright scandal. How could the children of God be so dishonest? “We will diminish the ephah, add the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating. We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!” But, “the Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob; Never will I forget a thing they have done.” (Am 8:4-7)

We tend to cheat the wrong people or the wrong things. We tend to cheat out life with depression; love with lust; forgiveness with bitterness; sacrifice with sadness. Today, the Lord gives us the parable of the dishonest steward. He lifts him up to the status of a prudent man, an entrepreneurial man! How can this be? What is the Lord asking of us? Simple. Jesus wants the children of the light to be more prudent, more industrious, than the children of this world. He wants us to cheat the devil! Christians are not called to play fair with the devil. They are called to cheat the devil! We do not tango with the devil, we CRUSH the devil. Feelings of fear, frustration, despair, loneliness, emptiness, sadness, bitterness, hatred, resentment and anguish are all sentiments that are brought about by sin. That is, a separation of my life from God’s life; a separation of my will and God’s will. The Lord does not want us to be broken. He wants us to lift up our hearts to Him! The devil tries to crush me and when I allow him to do it, when I fall into his trance, I dance with him. We are not called to dance with the devil, we are called to step on his toes!

Today, crush fear with faith; frustration with patience; despair with hope; loneliness with prayer; emptiness with generosity; sadness with sorrow; bitterness with mercy; hatred with love; resentment with forgiveness; and anguish with sacrifice! We do not play by the devil’s rules, we cheat! This is the one time we are allowed to cheat and the Lord is giving us permission.

Yesterday I was late in hearing confessions. Four parishioners left before I could hear their confession. They lost out. The devil won! He got the last word instead of the Lord. They should have waited. But the devil plays his game and we go along with it. Do not be tempted by the devil to walk away in self-righteousness when the Lord is delayed in arriving. He gave us too many parables in regard to this.

One late evening I was shopping at the local supermarket and as I approached the checkout I noticed that the cashier was a severely deformed man. When I noticed him I gasped. I felt horrible for him. Instead, he began to talk with me, ask me how my day went. He joked with me, laughed and wished me well. I couldn’t believe it. He was happier than I! Instead of feeling self-pity, bitterness or despair for himself, he was enjoying life, and enjoying it to the full. He was cheating the devil and living life worthy of a child of God. The next morning I went to the bank, and as I was waiting in line a man came into the bank. He had no vocal cords and a hole in his esophagus. He was speaking through a hand held “electrolarynx” and he made his presence very much known and heard. While everyone in the bank was in shock, this man walked confidently, greeting everyone, and headed straight for me. I pretended to be occupied. He asked me how my day was going and I responded as naturally as I could, as if there was nothing different about him. Then he asked me if I was a minister. I told him I was a Roman Catholic priest. He told me to keep up the good work and to have a great day. Instead of feeling anguished he was cheating the devil with his enthusiasm and joy!

I could go on and on and on…We Christians are called to never give in to the temptations of the devil which shortens life and tampers with our attitudes. We are called to be children of the light, who cheat suffering and death with forgiveness and love! Just like our Master did, and we can only serve one Master.