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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mk 5:1-20 Man In Chains

Mk 5:1-20 Man In Chains

(Click here for readings)

“…God chose the lowly of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.” (1Cor 1:28)

What beautiful commentary! It is worth mediating on for hours. “Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord” (Ps 31:25). The man in chains had his chains finally broken by the man with the key to life!

Again, it is a call to humility; a call to place your life in the Lord’s hands. Allow him to take possession of it. Allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in you so that He can do great things through you. We have the examples of the ancients from long ago: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, “who by faith conquered Kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders.” (Heb 11:33-34)

The Lord is calling us to holiness through humility. The Beatitudes are the wakeup call, the call to arms, for all those who wish to fall into His arms – to be His followers! He thirsts! He desires! He is dying to configure us into his image and likeness. He wants His Light to radiate through this little candle of mine. The Lord loves the meek and humble of heart. He loves those who love those who do not love. This is how he multiples himself, by going after the lost sheep, the lost son, the possessed, the forgotten, the lowly and despised of the world. He proves over and over again that wealth and power have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with holiness. In fact, they are an obstacle. “Whoever wishes to lose his life for my sake, will gain it.”

We live in a period of time where devotion and church attendance appears low and skepticism and self-love appear to be at an all-time high. But the Gospel message rings loud and clear, and in a way that continues to bewilder society at large. The Lord continues to call men, women and children to holiness, and we bear witness to the birth (and death) of Saints. He continues to do so even in the least likely of places. The call to righteousness continues. The Lord brings to the front the least, the unlikeliest, the last and makes them first.

Where? Where are the meek and humble of heart? Mark Wahlberg, a daily communicant, is not a saint because he is a fighter, and went from rags to riches over night. He is a living testimony of the humility of a simple priest who never gave up on him, even as the one time juvenile delinquent was smirking at him and lying through his teeth! Humility never gives up on anyone and neither do the saints!

Young Jordon Rice of Australia is not a saint because he had to make the toughest decision in his life. He is a saint because he made it! Out of humility he lived the Gospel truth: No greater love has man than to lay down his life for his brother.

No one should ever idolize a young American simply because he sings well, but Chris Medina deserves the title of American Hero because he refuses to walk out on his severely injured fiancé. Chris is worthy of respect and admiration because he broke the chain of selfishness and embraced the ring of commitment. After all, a holy man is someone who imitates our humble God, who bore all our infirmities and iniquities for our sake.

Let us all help those in chains by breaking them and restoring them to life!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mt 5:1-12 Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Mt 5:1-12 Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

(Click here for readings)

The Beatitudes are the distinctive trade mark of Christians. They contain the conditions and promises of discipleship. To be a follower of Christ means to be meek and humble of heart. In essence, humility is the common ingredient contained in all the beatitudes, even those starting with the Blessed Virgin Mary: Blessed are you among women” and “All generations will call me blessed.” Why? Because the Lord has done great things through me!”

Humility, humility, humility! History has demonstrated, over and over again, that only the humble seek the Lord; husbands and wives know, and all too well, that only the humble observe God’s Laws. Moms and dads are well acquainted with the fact that only the humble speak no lies. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Remember: It takes a great man to realize how small he is. In order to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, I must remain small, simple, humble. A child-like heart is necessary in order to enter heaven. After all, we all love a humble person. St. Paul reminds us, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord” (1Cor 1:31).

Kathy Griffin became famous for her tantrum at the Emmy awards. Her famous “cut” speech at the awards ceremony was not aired, but her dark personality shined brightly for the entire world to see. Her “suck it, Jesus” Emmy speech won her very few new friends or fans. But what is remarkable about this young lady is that her antiquated autobiography is now on sale, 50% off, whereas the Bible is never on sale. I guess there is no good reason for it to be on sale since it continues to be the number one best seller ever! When I recently entered a book store, I was more than happy to peel the 50% sticker off Griffin’s book and place it on the Holy Book. Whoever buys her book deserves to pay full price for it! My bad!

Am I humble? Not sure? Let us take the test to find out. Take some time and answer these questions.

· Am I quick to judge? Do I gossip? Do I easily put others down? Do I get easily annoyed with those who do not agree with me?

· Am I quick to anger? “I can’t believe you did this!” Do I hold on to grudges?

· Am I calculating in my prayers? “If this happens, then I will do this…”

· Do I have difficulty asking for forgiveness, saying I’m sorry?

· Do I get angry when others do not thank me? Am I impatient with others? Distant with some?

· Do I think that I am the only one who can do it right? Do I put myself first? Do I have a hard time accepting correction or guidance?

Once you finish answering the following questions, read first Corinthians 1:26-31.

May I never boast in my own success, but in the success of the Lord, who humbled himself for my sake and died on the cross for my sake. May I never forget that I belong to Him.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mk 4:35-41 In The Boat

Mk 4:35-41 In The Boat

(Click here for readings)

Why should I believe in God; after all, what has he done for me? Why did God allow this evil to happen to me? Why does God keep hurting me? Of course our list could grow much longer.

What will it be? Will I live a life of doubt, distrust and sin? Or will I live a life full of faith, hope and love? These are the two paths that appear before me. Both are open to me; but only one is open ended. One leads to eternal life, the other to a dead end. What will it be? You would think that the choice would be so obvious, but it is not. Sin has a strong appeal to me. It gives me the illusion of a way out. But in reality it is, and will always be, the escape route that leads to self-gratification: Love Thyself.

We are all in this together. These are not Christ’s words, they are mine. But I believe they express succinctly what the Apostles and the Lord experienced together in the boat, that frightful evening, as they were making their way to the other side in this mighty storm! There are so many images here to discuss: the storm, the Lord asleep, the boat, the other side.

The storm reminds us of the unexpected twists and turns, up and downs of our life - with or without Christ. The storms hit and the Apostles are with the Lord, and he is asleep. So, what good is it to believe? What’s the difference? I thought that if I got in the boat with the Lord it would be smooth sailing? I guess not. The difference is essential. Better to be with Christ through the storm than to be in the storm without Him. For with Him, I will make it out of the storm alive, better than ever, richer, not poorer. The fool is the one who builds his house on sand. The storms hit, the floods come and washes everything away. But the wise man builds his house on rock. When the storms hit and the floods come – the house still stands!

The sleeping Lord reminds us that the storm is not to be feared but being thrown out of the boat; that is, being far from the Lord, is what must be feared.

The boat reminds us immediately of Noah’s Ark, the ark of salvation, and that there is no salvation outside the boat. The boat exists because of the storm. The Ark was created because of sin. All is lost outside of the boat. St. Peter reminds us of what the Ark prefigured: the salvation of all who are baptized with water and the Holy Spirit - the Church. The Church is the Ark. Sin does not discredit the Church but reminds us of why it exists. Chesterton once wrote, "As for the general view that the Church was discredited by the War - they might as well say that the Ark was discredited by the Flood. When the world goes wrong, it proves rather that the Church is right. The Church is justified, not because her children do not sin, but because they do." All are welcomed into the boat, but not all choose to enter.

The Lord and the Apostles, and all those who choose to travel with Him, will make it to the other side. This is the greatest voyage ever taken - not because it is the greatest distance ever traveled, but because the greatest man got into the boat with me. The Apostles were not perishing. On the contrary, they were surfing the highest waves and living life on high in Christ Jesus! Dude!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mk 4:26-34 God Is Present In Our Hope

Mk 4:26-34 God Is Present In Our Hope

(Click here for readings)

“Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security. Commit to the Lord your way; trust in him, and he will act.” (Ps 37)

Jesus said to the crowds: “A man scatters a seed on the land and would sleep and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.”

The Lord is sowing hope. Is it not the smallest of all the seeds in the garden? Faith can be intellectually nourished. Love can grow quickly – appear suddenly, out of nowhere.

But what about hope? There is so little of it today, since it is always “yet to come.” So this is precisely what hope is: a seed, the anticipation of things to come - the realization of our faith and the long awaited arrival of our love.

Faith believes in the future. Hope sees “the future.” It allows us to catch glimpses, now and then, of things still hidden. The Kingdom of God is truly like a mustard seed that grows in a garden full of mustard seeds – some advanced, others still dormant.

Hope grows slowly but surely and when it is fully grown it will be the largest of all the plants. It is what keeps us going. It allows us to fulfill our promises and live our lives in the Lord. We await to see those who have departed before us; to see the fruits of our hard labor; to rest in peace; to love all things; to be one again with our Creator and King. There is a spiritual reason why, with the advancing of age, we participate more and more in prayer and in the Liturgy and Sacraments of the Church. It is simple to explain: The hope I once had in passing things (people, prestige and possessions) have passed away.

All things pass away, only Heaven remains.

Hope is nourished with the Light of God, his Word. It is the expectation of the promise made and fulfilled. It is a given. It will happen. Therefore, hope in all the gifts and blessings that God has given to you. Hope in all the people that surround you. Hope in all the good you can do. Hope in all the love you can give. Hope in all the difference you can make because united to the Promise Keeper, it will all come true.

“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” Help us to see, as children of the light, the Light you shed upon us now and forever. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mk 4:21-25 Coming To The Light

Mk 4:21-25 Coming To The Light

(Click here for readings)

“There is nothing hidden that will not come to light.” I don’t know about you, but this passage from Scripture has always terrified me! “O Lord, God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence” (Ezra 9:15).

We are all sinners and we are all in need of the Lord’s forgiveness and compassion.

Whom should we fear? It should not be the light, not at all. We should never fear the light, but unfortunately we have a pre-disposed condition to do so. It runs in our veins, it’s in our blood! It is the most obvious consequence of original sin, that as a child of the Light we run and hide from the Light when we have sinned. We should never forget the first words that God said to our ancestors after their fall. They ran and hide from the Lord and God called out, “Where are you?” Is it not similar to a mother and father calling out to their lost child? And yet, we continue to run and take cover. Some do it better than others. The Lord is true to his word: You can run, but you cannot hide. This world belongs to me. It may be run by the evil one, but I know every secret hiding place, every nook and cranny, every mountain top and valley, every single dark secret, every fingerprint. I know it all because I created it all!

The Saints are saints because they stripped themselves of all human fallacies, of human wisdom and follies. They tore themselves free from all inhibitions - their very human limitations, and revealed to all their inner struggles through their prayers, written with humility and many, many tears. The Saints are simple in appearance; simple in relationships – they simply love. They hide no weakness and cover no wounds. They have taken the advice of St. Paul: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2Cor 12:10). They learned the hard lessons of truth, and practice makes perfect. They practice it with love. By doing all of this, they radiate in His glory. The truth is simple: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow me (Mk 8:34). For whoever wishes to be the first will be last (Mk 10:44) and unless the grain of wheat fall to the ground and dies, it cannot bear any fruit (Jn 12:24). Spiritual progress, perfection is made when this simple truth is simply learned and simply practiced out of love.

These are the very conditions of discipleship. There is no way to hiding from them. What has helped me in my life is to never look at another’s sin but only my own. So the question is the same as our God’s: Where are you today? What is going through your veins? What’s on your mind and in your heart? What are you so focused on?

Reject all that is sinful and come to the Light!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mk 4:1-20 Our World

Mk 4:1-20 Our World

(Click here for readings)

I have always had an attraction to science. I guess that is one reason why I became a scientist, an engineer. I have always had questions that were not so conventional such as, Is our planet really a planet? I mean, it is so different from all the other planets in our solar system and unfortunately we love to reduce things to a common denominator rather than what is different, and the earth is very different indeed.

So what is our world? I mean how do you see our world? What words would best describe the earth? What is the earth most like? I think it is like an enormous garden; a garden where living beings are nurtured and brought up. This is our world. This is the world that the Lord has created – young, fresh, vibrant and growing. It is a garden in which beautiful people along with beautiful flowers are raised and then, at the right moment, are plucked and taken to decorate the Master’s mansion.

Christ reminds us, in the parable of the sower, that He, the Lord, has thrown the seed. Did we not all begin as seeds – tiny living beings? Did we not begin to grow when we were planted in our mother’s womb? How beautiful is the Lord’s garden! And yet, there are numerous dangers to these tiny seeds, even from its mother’s womb.

Sins are the many storms and tornados that have caused so much pain and suffering to fall upon our tiny garden. The devil has come to suffocate the Father’s love for us. As time goes by and upon reflection we see this grotesque giant’s footprints throughout history and how he has crushed cultures and nations with bigotry, racism, war and holocausts. Our neighbor too is constantly seeking a better place to grow, striping the goods from a variety of underdeveloped nations in order to feed itself with more and more. This is true on the individual level as much as it is true on the international one.

And yet, there are seeds that fall on good soil: healthy, fertile, and untouched. Yes, there are families that are constantly open to new life; open to love and forgiveness; open to mercy and compassion. Open to the Creator. These are the beautiful plants that grow into Saints, even from the unlikeliest of places - from the ashes of once beautiful forests. It seems as though only the strongest survive. That is, only the one’s whose self-confidence depends not so much on what others think but rather on what God thinks. These are the flowers that continue to grow strong because they do what is right, rather than what is convenient, sufficient or efficient.

Let us ask the Lord God to rain down his graces upon us so that we may grow and become his sons and daughters, grafted of the one born of a Virgin, conceived as true man.

Lord, it appears as though all things grow up – towards you. Help us to touch the Heavens and reach the home you prepared for us from the beginning of time. We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mk 16:15-18 Conversion and the Cross

Mk 16:15-18 Conversion and the Cross

(Click here for readings)

There are many wonders in the world – seven I believe. But none of them compares to the conversion of St. Paul who was ruthless and cold-blooded in his handling of Christians. The one who was persecuting us is now standing beside us! This was the herald’s message from the King of Kings! Could it be? Could it possibly be true? What drives a man to change his life and turn it upside down, which in Christ becomes right side up? What drives a man to change his life - lose his life, lose his friends and family and be received with shouts of doubts from those you have joined? The only possible answer can be truth and grace.

In these current days we have seen miracles take place, especially in England. The headlines have been bold and clear: Anglicans Join Catholic Branch, Seven Anglican Priests and 300 parishioners join Catholic Church, History overturned as Anglican Bishops are ordained as Catholics, etc… Why is this so big? For historical reasons! The Church of England and the nation itself, which endorsed Protestantism and spread it like butter throughout its vast Empire, and persecuted Catholics beyond the realm of horror, is today experiencing a meltdown. Do we need to remind anyone that once upon a time any Catholic priest caught in England was sentenced to death in the most gruesome of ways: hung, drawn and quartered! Although there is now a 5:1 ratio of Anglicans to Catholics, today there are more English Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday than Anglicans. England and its home grown church is experiencing, like St. Paul, a seismic shift of counter-reformation magnitude! May the Lord of peace and unity help the Holy Father see it through to the end.

I will not even begin to imagine why all of this is happening. We will leave this to the Lord to unveil the mystery of why now, why there, why this revolution! Is there anything to boast about? I thoroughly concur with the comments from a Catholic Bishop in England that now is not the time to sound triumphant, but rather it is a good time to do penance. After all, it was scandal that caused the wound to occur in the first place and it will be holiness – penance - that will bring the festering wound to heal. There will be many crosses to carry in the next few years, but conversion and cross remain mysteriously entwined. Salvation comes from the Cross and we must carry it throughout the world. This is our Good News.

Let us ask the Lord to give us the strength and courage to boldly proclaim the Good News to our co-workers, friends and family members that Jesus Christ is capable of revolutionizing our lives by bringing to us the peace and unity we all desire. May the God of love remind us of the greatest and most profound commandment he gave to all his followers: Love one another as I have loved you. This alone is capable of converting the hardest of hearts, the strongest of head-strong individuals, the most militant atheists, and the most love deficient of all! This way alone there will be no turning back.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mk 3:22-30 United

Mk 3:22-30 United

(Click here for readings)

I hope you remember seeing the movie or reading the story of how the heroic passengers of United flight 93 gathered together and prayed the Our Father before storming the pilot’s cockpit and successfully averting another national tragedy. United! They were gathered together in their one belief in Jesus Christ and they died so that others might live. The plane’s appearance is strikingly similar to that of the Cross.

Think for a moment of all the great things we would be able to accomplish if all Christians were united in heart, mind and soul. I do not mean that we all have to lose our identity. No. But if we were all united in truth and love imagine what wonders the world would see!

The Lord came to unite, not divide. He unites his flock. He gathers the wheat! God unites, the devil divides. He uses the sins of pride, vanity and sensuality to create division within us and among ourselves and reinforces it with animosity! I deserve this award more than they do! If I don’t get what he (she) has…Sin entrenches us in our position. There is no progress with sin.

The Pharisees and Scribes could not keep up with Jesus. He’s just too much for them. He’s just too big! So, they resort to fear: “He is possessed by Beelzebul” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Fear is not the fruit of ignorance alone, but rather the result of a dab of pride mixed in there.

There are those who say that religion divides; that religion needs an enemy in order to exist. I would say that the Pharisees and the Scribes picked the wrong enemy and they no longer exist! I would say that an Enemy will always exist because of religion! Sin – not religion - is the root of all evil, and we should not be surprised that Christianity continues to generate and attract so much hatred. After all, Christ is still the center of Christianity! He is the one mediator of a new covenant. His second coming will not take away sin but will bring us salvation!

So the goal must be unity. We need to stick together. We need to stop attacking each other and begin to attack the problem. “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” I used to think that that quote came from Abraham Lincoln. I should have known that a wise man like him would have learned it from a wiser man. If we are wasting time constantly shoring up our own defenses how will we ever overcome the gates of hell? If we are knocking each other down with our petty little differences, how will we ever knock down the walls of Beelzebul? For this reason the Lord spoke out against his Apostles and in favor of the man who was driving out demons in his name but not counted among the Twelve. The Lord said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mk 9:40)

And now for the clincher: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” The Lord and his co-workers gather; whereas the devil and his co-workers scatter. (Mt 12:30)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mk 3:20-21 By My Side

Mk 3:20-21 By My Side

(Click here for readings)

What side are you on?

It is sad, very sad, that even St. Paul and the early Christians experienced divisions within the Church. Right from the very beginning, because of sin, we have a propensity, a tendency, a leaning towards division, separation, of taking sides. (cf. 1Cor 1:10-17)

If I must take a side, then the best side to take is by the side of Christ.

This may come as a surprise to you, but Christians do not take sides. They reach out and cross the lines of division. They break down barriers. They do not really believe in separation of state and religion because the state needs Christ and Christ needs us! There is a big difference between establishing a religion and hiding religion from public view. The Christian, especially the Catholic Christian is trained and programmed by our Lord to knock down any walls of division. After all, what could be more moral or more loving than to help someone cross the abyss of lies, sickness and death, poverty of mind, soul and body - of sin? Is that not what Christ did for me?

Today at Mass, we had the presentation of the candidates for RCIA. I told them how division within the Church is the greatest scandal that ever took place. Divisions within the Church and among our separated Christian brothers and sisters has caused so many wounds in the body of Christ. As I looked at all the candidates I could not help but say, Today, I believe that the Lord is smiling. By being here I want you to know that you are healing a wound in the body of Christ. Or even better, you made his wounds worthwhile. You’ve come back to Him.

The Lord is disgusted by division because it breaks the unity between God and man, and man with his neighbor. What binds all mankind together is love and truth. Both are necessary. How can I love someone if I am not truthful to them? How can I be truthful to someone without love? Believe me, it makes sense. Think about it for a moment.

Love unites. We show our love by expressions of unity: holding hands, hugging – that is, eliminating, reducing, the space between us, or that which separates us from each other. When we make eye contact, we unite two hearts and minds so as to communicate our deepest thoughts and desires. The fruit of that love is unity: two becoming one, which becomes three, which is an image and likeness of the Holy Trinity.

Let us pray to the Father that we stand by His Son’s side, the One who crossed the depths and heights to hold us in the palm of his hand.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mk 3:20-21 Out of Your Mind

Mk 3:20-21 Out of Your Mind

(Click here for readings)

Are you out of your mind?

Was the Lord out of his mind? It appeared to many that he was, including his Apostles. Afterall, he went to Jerusalem even though he knew how that would end. He cured the ill knowing that they would not stay quiet. He preached and traveled to the point of exhaustion. He ate little, prayed much and sacrificed his time and life for his Father's Kingdom. In doing all these things, he revealed the mystery of who He is: The Son of God.

For a couple of weeks now I had on my schedule to celebrate a Mass for a group of scouts out at Purtis Creek State Park. It’s about an hour and a half away from Richardson. On the day of the Mass, I realized that it would conflict with a Confirmation retreat that would be going on over at our church, so I asked them to bump up the Mass to 5:30 pm – actually, change it to a Communion Service - so that I could get back in time for the retreat at 8:00 pm. The head of the group recommended that we just cancel it. Why bother driving out there for just a half hour? I insisted that we do it. After all, I had already told the children that I would be there.

What is remarkable about this true story is that on the same day of the Mass, I had lunch with a great family man and I invited him to come out with me, just to have some company; but he too had a conflict in the evening, and if I could change the time of the celebration, make it a little earlier, then he would be more than willing to drive for me.

Are we both out of our minds? Yes. Are we both in love with the Lord? Yes. I really believe this is how we show our love for others, even little stinky scouts! And this is how the Lord shows his love for us: by giving us all the help we need.

Today, let us show our love by extending ourselves beyond belief! By going the extra 80 miles! By giving when it hurts! By showing the miracles the Lord would love to give and by increasing our faith, hope and love for a world that is so in need.

Today, let us be driven by our love - the Lord's Love, and not so much by our mind. Let us march for the Lord!

Today, let us reveal, by our works of love, the mystery of who we are: We are Christians!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mk 3:13-19 The A Team

Mk 3:13-19 The A Team

(Click here for readings)

Here am I, Lord. How he loves us! Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted.

The Lord went up the mountain for only one reason: to pray. This was the moment he had been waiting for – to share in a very intimate way his divine life with twelve men whom he could call friends. The Lord had been inspired to invite, to call forward, to reach out to these twelve men of Israel. He made no mistakes. Thomas Reid’s Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, 1786, stated what has now become famous, “In every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the weakest link of the chain, whatever may be the strength of the rest.” The names and lives of the Apostles bear witness to the strength of the divine! Reason is trumped only by the cement of the Holy Spirit.

Waiting below, the Apostles must have been anxious to know whether or not they had made the cut, or better, if they had been cut out from the rest of the world. What makes this band of brothers so special is that they did not comprehend the magnitude, the significance of this moment. Little did they know! Little did they even imagine! Their mental or emotional states were not in harmony with the divine estate! In fact maybe some of them, like Thomas perhaps, even dreaded this call into the unknown. What does this all mean? How will things change for me, for you, for the whole world? I find it hard to believe that their faith was any stronger than mine? Were their efforts any greater than mine? And yet, does the Lord not continue to call? Does he not continue to call you and me? Has the Lord not shaken the very foundations of our lives?

I love the song, “How He Loves Us So.” But I do not love it that much! It is not radical enough. The Lord is jealous for me. He loves like a hurricane and I am a tree! Hurricanes only bend when they are far away. The Lord is not far. He is near to me. In fact, he is most near the broken hearted! He uproots me, throws me, and plants me in another planet, galaxy, even Universe! This is what he did to them. This is what he did to me and to you!

With time, the list has been modified, not in names, but in order. Yes, Peter comes first – always. Judas comes last – always. It may not have always been that way though. We would be foolish to think that Judas had been an outcast from the very beginning. I doubt it. I would not be surprised if Judas had been the most zealous in his desire to know, love and serve the Lord. An injection of doubt can easily turn into the poison of envy, jealousy and pride. As it quickly circulates through the system it arrives to the heart and intoxicates the eyes, ears and tongue. Once penetrated, it must have been hard, almost unbearable, for Judas to even bear the sight of Jesus or how sinners would bow down before him, listen to his teachings and keep silent over his expenses.

If the Lord does not call me into an intimate relationship with him, then I have been poisoned by doubt. Look and see for yourself the symptoms. Then call upon the Lord for the remedy and be ready to join the team!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mk 3:7-12 Large Crowds

Mk 3:7-12 Large Crowds

(Click here for readings)

The unclean spirit shouted, “You are the Son of God!” Jesus warned him sternly not to make him known.

The devil knows perfectly well who Jesus is. The devil knows and makes him known to others. Why? So the crowd will worship Him? No. St. James states, “You believe in God, you do well, but even the devil believes.” The problem with the devil is that he does not obey. Whoever does not obey the Will of God is in collusion with the devil. The devil disobeys because he refuses to love. I feel so sorry for those “satanic” worshippers who consider themselves friends of the devil. They do not understand or realize that the devil has no friends. All who work for satan end up being destroyed at the hands of satan. He has no allegiance, no camaraderie - no spirit of unity. It is, to say the least, a dysfunctional relationship. It’s an all for one relationship.

So why does the devil make known the Lord’s true identity? Because he wishes to speed up the process. He wants his hour to begin. Let the controversy begin! Is God not one? Is God not above? How can this man heal on the Sabbath? How can this man forgive sins? Only God can do so. Who does he make himself out to be? The devil wants the pain and suffering, the trial, the death of Christ to begin. He wants us to put God to death! But the moment has not arrived. The hour is fast approaching, but it is not here. The unclean spirit wishes to promote controversy, scandal and division. All the things that we thrive on! Yes. We love a good scandal. We love to read People magazine because we love to know who the stars really are; what they struggle with; what they are stricken with; what demons they possess! How often do we stroke the flames of discord, scandal and division by fomenting speculation that on the surface appear innocent and truthful, but underneath it all are unclean.

Here is the underlying problem: the spirit spewing the truth is the prince of lies. The words are correct but the purity is not there. The truth is spoken but love is absent. For this reason, the Lord wishes to have nothing to do with it. It is not enough to say, Lord, Lord! It is important to fall to our knees, to acknowledge or sin and to ask for mercy and forgiveness. The Lord does not seek the large crowds. In fact, they are at the point of crushing him! No, large crowds are meaningless. It is the person the Lord seeks. It is personal, intimate, conversion the Lord desires. One repentant soul is worth more to the Lord than a million fans!

We have all sinned! We are all in it together! When we make one worse than the other, we sin because we lie. When we glamorize sin, and try to cover over it up, we can rest assured that the truth shall disclose the fruit of sin. We are all ugly in the inside. The Cover Girl is just that - a cover, a cover for the truth that remains within.

“Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” This is what the Lord desires. More than anything else, he wishes that my will be His. “Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.” (Ps 40:6) Let us follow the pattern of the Lord, who climbed upon the highest cross even as the crowd grew smaller and smaller.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mk 3:1-6 Stretch Out Your Hand

Mk 3:1-6 Stretch Out Your Hand

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“Stretch out your hand.” But it is withered? He stretched it out and it was restored.

There is much the Lord can do and there is much I can do. The Lord did not put us on an earth that was already cultivated, groomed and furnished. He wants our participation. He wants only what we can give to him and he will push me to realize what I am capable of giving, achieving and realizing. This is the history of my life. This is the history of the Church! This is the reason why the Lord gave us eyes, legs, ears, hands and a mouth: to live his life over and over again until He comes again. He is the First and the Last. I am the middle.

I once heard the story of a young man who was shot in the eye by his little brother with a bee-bee gun. He was an aspiring athlete – baseball player – but after the accident, he lost his sense of depth (depth perception) and could no longer hit a baseball. He fell into depression and despair. The only thing that seemed to help him was running. Soon, he was running all the time and getting better and faster at it. When he heard about a local competition, to climb to the top of a certain mountain, he went about training for it and set a new world record. He discovered a remarkable life lesson: how to turn a handicap into a success story.

The man with the withered made it in the bible! He was successful because he sought out the Lord to restore his withered hand and came home restored and filled with faith. In contrast, the Pharisees and the scribes saw that the Lord had worked on the Sabbath and, poisoned with envy, set out to destroy the Lord – even though it was the Sabbath! They too had worked on the Sabbath – plotting with the Herodians to plan out their miserable deed. For this reason, Jesus asks the question “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to save life rather than destroy it? He hoped for an answer. He received none. Do I realize that by my words and actions I may be responsible for saving a life or destroying it? Do I answer the call, ignore it, or worse - Do I hang up? Do I make up excuses in order to excuse myself from my Christian duties? Do I fulfill my ministry or do I excuse myself? We can see how easily the Pharisees grabbed on to sophisms in order to have something to accuse Jesus of. Do I do the same?

To walk away from my brother who suffers is to put enmity between God and myself. After all, as I walk away there could be nothing further from the truth! God loves us, which means he sends us. We are his most beloved! He created me and said, “This is very good.” When we are in doubt, when we are not sure how far we should go, the answer comes from an unlikely source: the man with the withered hand.

Jesus says to all of us today, “Stretch out your hand.” And not because we need to be healed, but because we can!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mk 2:23-28 Grow Up!

Mk 2:23-28 Grow Up!

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The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

The Lord would love to open the eyes of the hearts of the Pharisees. To see things the way He sees them. He invites us today to modify our behavior; to change our course of action; to go sane and do something different!

How quickly I judge and am quick to anger, especially when I am out to get someone - when I have a bone to pick. The Pharisees do not allow themselves to see anything other than the obligation of the Sabbath. They live out of love for the Law, and not so much out of love for the Lord. That may be a little harsh of me, a little too judgmental too, but I think I can say it because I have lived it myself! I know what it means to be a Pharisee: to make the other side look evil.

Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, writes, in the opening of her book “Unplanned”, that her story is not at all a comfortable story to read. It’s uncomfortable not because it goes into gruesome detail with regards to abortion, but rather because it does not portray the enemy as “The Enemy.” Instead, it portrays the reality of life on earth. There are good people on both sides of the issue. Yes, the abortion side is dead wrong. But some of them believe, in the most profound aspects of their heart, that what they are doing is good. The same of course is true of the pro-life advocates: they love life. However, I would not be shocked to think that some of them may also be the most grievous of sinners as well.

The Lord, like the Church, is very balanced: Love the sinner, hate the sin. It is a catchy, easily understood phrase which carries a significant punch in the way Christians live in the world. But the practical aspect is hard to do. It takes grace. It takes love. “This is how the world will know that you belong to me.”

As children we learn to see things as black and white. We love to draw lines. They make everything look so neat. Lines help to separate one person, doctrine, belief from the other. Christians are called to walk across the line, to reach out and to listen.

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what the hope that belongs to our call is. Christ loved to speak in parables to turn our lives upside down, right-side up! Our faith is full of paradoxes. It is better to give than to receive. If you wish to find your life you must lose it. These paradoxes, by definition, point to a deeper truth. It takes a big man to know how small he is. Which leads to another paradox: The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Our Lord calls us to be happy, without falling into sin.

The Catholic convert Joseph Pearce states, “Happiness consists in humor and humility; gratitude and humility; wisdom and innocence. They may seem to contradict each other, but there is a deeper truth in all of this. Unless you become child-like, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But St. Paul counters: ‘When I was a child I would talk and think like a child, but I have left all my childish ways.’ The reality is this: We must all remain child-like without being childish. We must remain child-like while ceasing to be childish.”

Let us grow up! The challenge is set before us: Do not lose your innocence in order to advance in wisdom and you do not have to grow in innocence at the expense of becoming naïve. We must learn from Christ who, as he advanced in age, grew more and more into a lamb, sacrificing all, but his innocence.