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, September 30, 2011

Lk 10:13-16 Will You Be Exalted In Heaven?

Lk 10:13-16 Will You Be Exalted In Heaven?

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to them, “Will you be exalted to heaven?...Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

Rejection. No one likes to be rejected. Not even the Lord. And yet, there are many times throughout the week (and maybe throughout the day!) that my love runs dry or near empty. What would the Lord say? I think he would tell me, “You haven’t given to the point of no return.”

Yesterday I celebrated the funeral of a good friend, Richard Stanford. He worked as a salesman. From what he told me he was pretty successful. I have no doubts of this. But I do believe that he was extremely successful as a salesman for the Lord. Our Church was packed yesterday afternoon. There must have been close to six hundred mourners and well wishers at Richard’s funeral. He was loved because he loved, period. He was not loved because he sold playgrounds. He was not loved because he made money. He was loved because he loved. And his first love was to the Lord.

He suffered for some time in the dark clouds of skepticism. But when he asked a good friend why she was always happy, he found a gigantic piece that was missing from the puzzle of his life. That’s when he re-discovered his faith. But first he had to fall down on his knees and ask for forgiveness. First he had to suffer before he could recover!

From that moment on, this man became a Catholic evangelist! He preached the truth without fear but with great mercy and love. He did not insult the Lord by insulting others. Rather, he knew how to mix truth, mercy and giving all in one holy trinity of love. He would even evangelize me! And I’m a priest! He would always want to go to see some religious movie. We went to see “Of God and Men” and “There Will Be Dragons.” He thought they were great. I thought they were boring! They were too religious for me!!! I wanted to see more action, blood, war and death. He was more interested in the philosophical and theological meanings behind the words. I’m sure I got on his nerves because he definitely got on my nerves! We had some great laughs and discussions!

It is apparent that many listened to this fine young man because many saw an authentic man and friend; someone who cared more for their soul than for their account. And for this reason alone, he received both. The Lord had followers not because they were feed, but because they were cared.

I will begin to authentically witness to those around me when I give a reason for my faith, hope and love; when I begin to proclaim to all the Good News of Jesus Christ and what he has done for me. And what is this Good News? It is the news of finally finding the piece of my puzzle that was lost. It is the story of finding the buried treasure that was outside of my prideful life. It is the news of finding that love that I allowed to go astray. It is the story of connecting the dots and finding the image and likeness of Jesus in my life. It is the story of finding this treasure and fighting and slaying demons that would love to take it away from me. It is the story of never giving it up or getting used to it or taking it for granted, or God forbid, rejecting it!

That’s probably the reason why Richard loved those two movies.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lk 10:1-12 The Laborer Deserves His Payment

Lk 10:1-12 The Laborer Deserves His Payment

Into whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this household.” If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him.”

“Why?” is the most difficult question for a priest to answer upon the death of young child’s father. But when I think about it, The "why of anything" is a difficult question to answer, period.

We are accustomed to thinking that the question “Why?” is the same as “What causes this to happen?” They are not. “What causes the sky to be blue?” is an easy question to answer. “Why is the sky blue?” is a totally different question. The question can only be answered if we go back to the very beginning.

I mentioned a while back a gentleman that began a conversation with me on a flight. He asked me why I believed in God. I asked him why he didn’t. He told me because he believed the Universe began out of an explosion of energy. I told him I believed that it began out of an explosion of love.

Why did the Egyptians leave utensils and practical items in a dead man’s grave? Was it an expression of a man’s journey to the afterlife or was it an expression of care and devotion? Why do we place flowers upon a coffin? Is it to decorate the coffin or is it an expression of love? Why do we give fruits and bake cakes and make soups for a dead man’s family? Is it because we need to eat or is it because we love to show our love? The answer is obvious: it is both. All these serve a purpose. It is not one or the other. It is both.

Why do we have to die? We really can't answer this question until we answer the question “Why do we live?” Do we live so that we can die or is it so that we can love and be loved? Was I created from an explosion of cells or from an explosion of love? The answer is simple: It is both. Love given and love returned. Life is an expression of God’s love for us. As a worker in the Lord’s vineyard, I see things so differently. Every time I meet someone, I see them as a gift from God. A family I meet is a love bouquet from God. A young man and woman, a child, is like a flower that has been hand delivered to me.

Why do we have to die? Is it out of necessity or is it out of love? The answer is both. “Jesus said, ‘Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.’ Then he cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” (John 11:38-44)

Why did Christ have to die? Was it out of necessity or was it out of love? The answer is both. The Lord had to die to ransom us from our sins. He also died to show us His unconditional love for us.

If we could only see this in every one we meet! How differently we would live. How beautifully we would live. How lovingly we would live. Peace would reign in every single household! This is the reason why the disciples entered a village, stayed in someone’s home and preached the Good News. Did they do this because they were told to? Yes. Did they do this because they wanted to? Yes. Did they do this because they loved to? Yes. They knew what they were sent to do: To love and be loved. This is the reason for the Universe. This is the reason for life on earth. This is the reason for my life and death. This is the reason for everlasting life!

So do we kiss someone because we want to taste them? Maybe. But if we begin to kiss someone because we love them (and not because we wish to betray them!), then we will start living a more profound and deeper existence, and we shall receive a just payment!

To love and be loved. This is the why we are who we are and why we do what we do. We learned it from Him who loved us first. When we start doing what we were meant to do, we will answer all life’s difficult questions.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lk 9:57-62 It’s Easy To Do What Is Easy!

Lk 9:57-62 It’s Easy To Do What Is Easy!

(Click here for readings)

Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

What I am about to say is very old news. Our nation is in financial crisis. Our families are dealing with many serious financial issues. We get them every day at our Parish. Families that have been thrown out of their apartments, their homes, and even their cars!

We see it all. You have the sincere. You have the insincere.

Just a few days ago I had an individual call me on the emergency line asking for help. He reportedly received a call from CPS asking that he pick up his children from their mother’s home. She had somehow or another lost the right to have the children live with her. I don’t know the details, but he was desperate for money so that he could get over there. He asked for some gas money. That was this past weekend. I was able to help him with the help of some parishioners. On Monday he called me and told me that he wasn’t able to get them because of some technicality. I told him to start asking family and friends for money. I politely told him I could no longer help him. I began to sense some insincerity on his part.

Another was looking to get to South America and needed some money for the trip. I told this person that due to the economic crisis, St. Vincent de Paul Society was first and foremost helping families stay in their homes and pay their bills, especially food bills. Of course the individual was shocked that I could not help. I asked, “What’s the purpose of your trip?” The answer was to visit a dying brother in the hospital. Again, I asked them, “Do you not have any brothers or sisters, friends or neighbors, or children that could help you?” This person replied, “No…No one speaks to me.” I then realized that this person’s problem was not so much getting to her destination but rather getting to her Final Destination!

My experience is this: The people who need help never ask for help. You have to force it out of them. You have to pull their teeth to get it out of them. My experience is also this: Our associations, like Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul, do excellent work shifting through the poor, the needy and the greedy. They do a better job than any of us, period. They are very well trained and have seen it all!

The Lord saw it all too! He came into contact with many men and women seeking to follow Him. Some hoped to follow for the obvious reasons; others for not so obvious reasons. Even the Lord had to shift through the opportunists, the attention seekers, the insincere, and the lunatics. How did he do it? By setting the bar high! “Let the dead bury their dead…Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” The Lord sought only those who could say, "I consider all things so much rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him." (Phil 3:8)

And still, with the bar set high, one got through: Judas.

Recently, I briefly watched with disgust and horror some televangelist with dyed hair, a super expensive suit, and a dog sitting on his lap (I really though the dog was drugged…it never moved) selling “miracle water” in order for people to reduce their debts. His wife, sitting by him, simply nodded her head every five or ten seconds in agreement or on cue. It was a simple reminder to me why priests vow poverty, chastity and obedience.

Before the Protestant Reformation, it was a scandal when a priest broke his vows. Today, it is a scandal that he has to keep them! Let us not forget that it was rebel priests that started the Reformation and it is rebel priests, especially in Ireland and Austria, that are calling for an end to the vows! History repeats itself over and over again. Those who are pushing for reforms within the Church ignore the results of the reforms already made in the Protestant mainstream denominations. They are ignoring the fact that they are collapsing. Obviously, a break in the vows is not an answer to evangelization!

It all goes back to what is important or what is more important: God or Mammon? The debt that most of us are experiencing can best be explained as an unwillingness to give up what is less important or essential. The Lord reminds us that the worst debt is the imbalance created when our material attention, focus and desires outweigh or spiritual attention, focus and desires. It is also created when we forget the debt owed to the Lord who saved us from our sins and called us to follow Him and to be like Him.

Finally, my experience has been this: When we lose what we value most, we begin to search for what is truly of value. These are the moments that test men's souls, and the moments that bring men's souls closer to Him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lk 9:51-56 Entering Enemy Territory

Lk 9:51-56 Entering Enemy Territory

(Click here for readings)

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

What would be today’s Samaritan village? Would it be public buildings or public property? Would it be our public schools? Are their places in our nation where there is no freedom to exercise your belief or faith? Yes!

Of course we all know that Congress cannot establish any religion. That’s never been the problem in our history. The problem has been just the opposite; that is, Congress prohibiting the free expression of religion in the public square. And I feel that this on-going attack on our freedom will be much more devastating than the attacks on September 11th. After all, it is home grown!

I don’t want to sound negative. But…do you not get the feeling that our nation is sinking? That our leaders are failing? That our nation desperately needs a rebirth of freedom and God? Has the Lord ever failed America? Never! Then why do our TV broadcasters and Hollywood actors and political leaders wish that we would just turn our back on Him?

The Lord’s response to the Samaritan’s rejection is striking. Rather than strike them with lightning, as his Apostles recommended, the Lord will strike them with his passing in the night. The Lord does not need to send lightning to decimate them. They will decimate themselves. Today, there is no such nation (Samaria). Today, there are no such people (Samaritans). Where did they all go? They all disappeared.

Evil destroys itself. Evil cannot endure for long. Power does not sustain. Wealth corrupts. Godless men commit evil acts. Even priests who go bad are godless men. After all, they do not believe in Judgment Day!

A few weeks ago I was invited by an elementary school student - that attends public school - to accompany him for a day at school. It is “Bring a Friend Day” and the kids are allowed to bring any friend they want. Of course I am excited! I am thrilled to have this singular opportunity to walk into a public school, with my full clerical uniform, and stand tall and proud to be a friend of the family and a Catholic priest! I am sure some of the kids won’t know what or who I am. Given the fact that Halloween is fast approaching, some kids may actually think that I am “Darth Vader!” Others may correct them and confidently say, “No, he’s a vampire!” Regardless, I am so happy to have this invitation, this honor and privilege to bring a little bit of Christ to school and to share Him in a very public and private way. I hope to sneak in a little blessing before our meal (if we have one) and a few words of God, love and mercy (if I have a chance).

“God is with us” regardless of whether or not we know it or not; accept it or not; love it or not. But if we choose to know Him, accept Him and Love Him then I am confident He will bless us. Otherwise, he will give us exactly what we ask for. He will leave us alone.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lk 9:46-50 A Beautiful Girl Walking In His Footsteps

Lk 9:46-50 A Beautiful Girl Walking In His Footsteps

(Click here for readings)

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this 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.”

I don’t care how old you are, you are a child in God’s eyes. I don’t care how many people you lead, how many books you have written, how many talents you may have; in the eyes of God you are a child.

I love this ancient Gospel passage for today because it is so relevant for our day! Who doesn’t want to be great? Who would not want their opinion to be considered? Who among us, would not want to be recognized for our awesomeness! Take it from me; these temptations can consume us to the bone! But once again, the Lord provides an escape route. First he lets us know what we are thinking. Then, he lets us know what he is thinking. He knows us by heart and shares his heart with us.

Simplicity brings forth elegance. Innocence produces radiance. Humility brings us to our knees! There is nothing more exquisite, more beautiful or lovelier than a faith filled conversation, a warm smile, a generous hand and a pure heart. For many children, these truths require no reminders. For adults, we must be constantly reminded, for we do have a certain amount of power, position and play to lead others astray rather than towards the Ray.

Where do I fit in? Do I waste my time trying to better my position for some vainglory or for some pitiful recognition?

Once again, the converts help us to understand the power of God and the power of the meek and humble of heart.

Recently, a supermodel and TV presenter left the world of glitzy celebrity for Medjugorje. It sent shock waves throughout the pagan world! Their heads went spinning. Their minds kept asking, “How is it possible that a young and beautiful woman, at the top of her game, accustomed to dozens of photographers accompanying her, would ever leave it all behind for silence and obscurity?” Who in their right mind would sign a multi-million dollar contract and terminate it at the last moment? Someone filled with drugs? Maybe. Someone filled with Christ? Always!

Super model Ania went from being photographed on a daily basis to peeling potatoes once a day. She wrote a book, "With Childlike Eyes", about her conversion. She now spends her days in silence, prayer and cleaning bathrooms in a cloistered monastery in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her boyfriend had a hard time with it. After all, he is the Italian Prime Minister’s nephew and one of the most eligible bachelors in Italy! They dated for three years and maintained a pure relationship! Men will follow a pure woman to their death. Now we must convince young women of that truth!

Blessed are the meek and humble of heart. Blessed are those who walk in the way of the Lord. They have understood that if you want to be great, then you must be small!

Yes, a pure heart brings forth an outpouring of respect, admiration, power, prestige and playfulness!

Ania models herself after the Lord. She gave up Chanel for Christ. I hope many more young women and men will follow in her footsteps; steps first taken by Christ and his disciples.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mt 21:28-32 Lead Me, Guide Me

Mt 21:28-32 Lead Me, Guide Me

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, “Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.” He said in reply, “I will not,” but afterwards changed his mind and went... Amen I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.

“Lead me; guide me, along the way…” That’s how the song goes. And every time I look out at the congregation singing it, I marvel at how easily these words flow from their lips. But the reality is quite different. Do I realize what I am saying? If I did, I might begin to pull back and complain, saying, “Wait a minute…wait a minute…Where are you taking me, Lord? I don’t want to go there!!!”

By now we should all know where the Lord would love to lead us and take us. He wants us to go with Him to Calvary! Now, are you ready to sing that song?

This week has been a very tough week for me. On Saturday morning I buried an eight year old child who lost his life to cancer. I first met him one year ago at the hospital. The doctors had decided to remove his leg. The child told me all about it, but then he asked me, “Father, how will they put it back on?” I was devastated. On Wednesday, I lost a great friend from St. Joseph. He was a husband and a father of four. I was devastated. Elementary school children are not supposed to bury their father! Parents are not supposed to bury their children!

The first reading for today shocked me. It spoke perfectly to me and to what I am currently living. Ezekiel told the Lord, “Your ways are not fair!” (Ez. 18:25) The Lord knows it. We know it too. Life is not fair. If life were fair there would be plenty of it all around us – surrounding us. All the planets in our solar system would have life. They don’t! If life were fair we would find it throughout the Universe. Guess what? It’s nowhere to be found. Life is not fair; life is a privilege! It is a tremendous outlier. It is a remarkable gift! God’s ways are fair. Life would be meaningless if death did not occur. We would never appreciate this gift, this privilege, this enormous blessing if we never had to say goodbye. We would never appreciate anyone in our life if we never feared losing them.

How long will it take us to figure this out? To come to this conclusion! Life must be lived passionately! To all the parents out there, I have only one thing to say to you: “Love your children passionately, before you have to bury them.” To all the children out there, I have something to say to you: “Love your parents passionately before you bury them!” To all those who are married, “Love you spouse passionately!”

Some time ago I celebrated a wedding and I was shocked at what I saw! At the end of the ceremony, after I had introduced the two as husband and wife, I was shocked at how the young man kissed his wife. He kissed her like I would have kissed my grandmother. He gave her a quick kiss on the lips. I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked! I accidently blurted out, “What is your problem?” He told me, “Father, what did you want me to do? Wrap my arms around her and embrace her? [Like Jackie Gleason did to Audrey Meadows on “The Honeymooners”] I looked at him and said, “YES!” It’s kind of sad when a priest has to tell a young man how to kiss his bride! Ah! This World! We have forgotten how to be romantic, passionate and loving!

Live your life! Show your love! Go over the top! Go out of your way! Allow yourself to overflow with love! Do not sin! “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.” (Phil 2:1-5)

Do not strive to be popular but rather holy. Not all people who are popular are holy. But all people who are holy are popular!

The Apostles asked many questions, but they neglected an important one. The Lord asked it for them. He also answered it for them. The night he was betrayed, he asked his apostles, “How will people know that you belong to me?” He gave his answer immediately. He said, “By the way you love!”

Life is not fair; it is remarkable! We don't graze; we love! That's what makes death so devastating! Let us not waste our life anymore. Let us live our lives passionately - in the service to God and to others. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to no longer waste our lives by saying yes and doing nothing! Let us ask the Lord to lead us, guide us, along the path that takes us to greater heights and greater love than we could ever imagine! Let us live by dying to ourselves and rising with He who stripped himself of everything (all power, all glory, and all majesty) except LOVE. This is how the world will know who we belong to.

Whatever your hang up is get rid of it! Love conquers all! The Native Americans in South America never accepted the Spanish Conquerors, but they did accept the Franciscans.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lk 9: 43b-45 Hidden Meanings

Lk 9: 43b-45 Hidden Meanings

(Click here for readings)

While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

The Apostles were on a high! They were shining in Christ’s rays of glory! They had gone from unknown (and unsuccessful) fishermen to Chosen Ones – The Twelve. This period of salvation history is not known as the finest moment or the peak moment; it is better known as the set up. Christ’s popularity was soaring; his ministry was picking up speed; his name and deeds were well known all across Israel. The only thing missing was to own a stadium in Houston and, of course, marry a woman that would be his associate.

Of course they were not ready for what Jesus had to tell them. They were not ready for the reality of sin; of the enormous role they would one day play in the on-going physical and even greater spiritual battle for the salvation of one soul. The Lord knew this. He knew his men were ill-equipped and not yet ready for this battle. They still needed time, grace and guts.

There are some things that are better left unsaid and unexplained. But little by little, the Lord was preparing himself and his apostles for the inevitable. He would be rejected, arrested and put to death by men, powerful men, under the influence of Satan. He knew that they would have to learn how to swim against the current! He did not go into details with them not because he did not know, but because his apostles were not ready for this talk.

Pay attention to what I am telling you, says the Lord. You will die. Your life will come to an end. The slave is not greater than the Master. Does it matter at all if it is tomorrow or in ten, twenty or thirty years? It recently dawned on me that in twenty-five years I will be seventy years old! Just in twenty-five years!

I know that my life on earth will come to an end. I have lived over and over again the day I will die. I don’t want to know how my life will end. I am not ready for this revelation. Most of us are not. Only the Lord knows and he gradually lets us in on his little secret. He sends us hints and hidden meanings. He gives us a few things to nibble on like aches and pains, bifocals and wrinkles, bad knees and hip replacements to remind us and prepare us for the inevitable. He does this so that we don’t get too nervous. He also sends us people along our way. He sends us guardian angels from heaven and earth. He opens our hearts to say the right things at the right moment. Now, if we would only listen to good solid Christian teachings!

How often I wonder why things happen the way they do? How often have I said, “Why? Why? Why?” Just recently a tragedy hit our parish. I don’t even want to talk about it right now, but it has truly been a time of cross and grace. I can only replace the “Why…why…why” with Jesus, I trust in you! Jesus I trust in you! Jesus I trust in you! Only He can break the cycle of despair. Now I know why we pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

“The Son of man is to be handed over to men.” Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.” But you must know! We all must know! There will come a time when we must pick up our cross and carry it, faithfully and courageously, to completion.

Do not be afraid to ask him about this saying. It will save our life!

“Our Savior Christ Jesus destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lk 9:18-22 Who Am I?

Lk 9:18-22 Who Am I?

(Click here for readings)

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ, of God.”

Often I wonder if what I do makes any difference. I am sure that I am not alone in this. I know many moms struggle and wonder. Many dads go through their mid-life crisis because they struggle with the meaning of their life or with their own identity. Who am I?” is not a question that can be answered fully or meaningfully in general terms. I want to know who I am specifically, and if what I am doing is what I should be doing. Asking "Who am I?" and "What should I be doing?" is not a bad thing. It can actually help lead us to not only some surprising answers but to some surprising conclusions.

“The Son of man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Christ is the Son of God, and the Son of God came to serve and lay down his life out of love for us. Did he do it out of vain? No. He succeeded in doing not only what he had to do, but in allowing me to see its benefits. I love the Lord. I recognize His immense love in my life all day long. I took off the sunglasses long ago and bathe in the light all day long. I know who I am. I know what I want to be. I cannot ever see my life ever changing paths.

Now, the question is, “Does it even matter to anyone?”

This is what we all wonder. Did I make it to the top and find myself alone? Did I forget to bring someone with me? Am I standing at the top of the mountain with no one to take my picture? Does a falling tree make any noise if there is no one there to witness it? Does my stunning life make any difference if I did not do it out of love of God and of others?

Writing my meditations on a daily basis helps me to live my life better. Reflecting on God’s word helps me to put it into practice. But you always wonder…does it even matter? I know I am not alone in asking this question. So often when I do ask, I do receive an answer.

Yesterday, I went to visit two families that live far away from me. To make a long story short…I went to visit the first family to drop off something they had left at our school. I said to myself, “Here is my chance to do something unexpected and beautiful.” So, instead of leaving the items in front of the rectory as they requested, I made a visit to their home at 6:30 am. I woke up early in the morning so that I could do it. It was exactly what I had hoped for. It was a complete surprise, except for their daughter who said to me, “I knew you would do this.” It wasn’t a surprise for her. But it was a surprise for me that she would say that. They were grateful not for the delivery but for the surprised bundle of love. Other than the Mass, it was the best thing I did that day and I am eternally grateful to God for having inspired my heart.

But as I mentioned above, I ended up visiting two families. The second family I went to visit lived next to the other. It had been well over six months since I last saw them. At 7:00 am I rang the door bell and of course they were shocked. I told mom and the kids I just wanted to say hello. Little did I know that one daughter wasn’t feeling so well. Mom had insisted that they at least go to the school Mass and then they would decide what to do. Her child didn’t even want to go to Mass because she first needed to go to confession. That’s when the door bell rang. God even makes house visits! The children were in shock as well as I, for I knew nothing about the drama that was taking place at home. I, as well as they, are eternally grateful to all-mighty God for this little bundle of joy as well.

Who am I? Who do people say that I am? Does it even matter to anyone?

Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened. Like everything in our life, the Lord will reveal all in good time. But if we don’t even bother to ask, then we will never begin to think. And if we are not thinking, then we will never really start doing. Man was not made to live for long, like the trees. Man was made to love and be loved, unlike trees. This is who we are and this is what we all can do best.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lk 9:7-9 Rising From The Dead

Lk 9:7-9 Rising From The Dead

(Click here for readings)

Herod the Tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead.”

Throughout history, tyrants and boastful men have tried to behead God. And since they cannot behead God, they go after God’s Church. And since they are unable to behead God’s Church, they go after God’s men and women. How? By highlighting our sinfulness, which, by the way, plays right into God’s hands, for if we ever forgot our sinful state, we would be playing into the devil’s hands, and God will never allow that to happen. All sinners are sinners. All sins are sins.

For some individuals it is perfectly reasonable for Kate Perry to encourage teenagers to live out their teenage dreams and to drink every Friday night. However, God forbid that a High School teacher, or a coach or a priest would do the same! That would be considered “unprofessional.” The same illogic holds us hostage when we read in the newspaper that a High School female teacher had “sex” with a fourteen year old boy. So it’s sex for a High School female teacher and “rape” for a nun. Of course we all know it is the later, regardless of consent.

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Herod was curious about Jesus. We’re always curious about those who do not believe or act like we do. It’s not always a bad thing. It can actually be a good thing. It’s good to scrutinize others as long as we are honest with ourselves! Herod should have asked himself, “Why is everyone following Him?” Or, “Why are those who follow Him so loving to Him?” “Why is it that Jesus needs no body guards or weapons when he travels from one place to another and I need an entire division of soldiers to accompany me wherever I go?” Is it because he is insignificant or is it because he does not fear death? Do I fear death? Do I fear the people? Is he more of a king than I am?

Why do atheists, secularists and skeptics attack God? Why do they work so hard in beheading someone who (supposedly) does not exist? It is very clear that they are envious of those who do believe. After all, they would not be continually demanding an end to prayers at public school events or at professional sporting events, military funerals, or on the television and radio? It is increasingly clear that the only ones that are offended by prayer are atheists. Muslims, Christians, Jews are not offended by another’s prayers. They actually appreciate them!

So why do atheists attack believers? Why did Herod do it? I believe it has to do with fear. Yes, fear! For evil to be liberated there can be no standard to compare it to; no finger to point to. When a Christian commits an evil act, he separates himself from the community. When an atheist sins; he joins the community. The atheist loves to point his finger at the Christian sinner. A Christian sinner is more than willing to point his finger at himself. So as long as there are Christians; there will always be atheists. In fact, as long as there is God, there will always be atheists.

Herod beheaded John. But he did not behead God, and in his attempt to behead God, he ended up raising Him from the dead and multiplying Him throughout the world!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lk 8:19-21 Listen and Act on God’s Word

Lk 8:19-21 Listen and Act on God’s Word

(Click here for readings)

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Meditation is a wonderful means to allow God to speak to you, to listen to Him and to live a life where He, and only He, is the great navigator. It will not be a crowd that convinces me, nor a storm that influences me. It will be Christ that navigates me throughout my entire life. Life is short and I have only one chance to live it right. It is the Lord that allows me to do it right the first and only time. I know of no one, absolutely no one that placed their trust, their love and their life in His hands and did not come home to a hero’s welcome! Today is the feast day of St. Andrew Kim, a Korean martyr who suffered brutal tortures at the hands of a King. The King is a memory; the Saint lives on forever!

The Jews are the oldest people in the world that have suffered so much and so often and are still around today. Throughout their history they have been exiled and banished, only to resurface and rebuild again. Today’s passage from Ezekiel is a perfect reminder of what we must do when we are under the gun: we must build, and build to worship. Persecution is not a sign of God’s forgetfulness; it is a sign of fidelity. The Lord never forgets His people. We do! I know far too many Catholics who are constantly ridiculed or beaten down for their orthodoxy. It does not take a courageous person to be a heretic today. In fact, they often win the applause of the secular media and the awards of the music and movie industry. Today, in our modern world, only those who wish to know the Lord, love the Lord and serve the Lord run the risk of being put to death because of the Lord.

If you think you can live a good life without prayer, I want you to think again.

We can live without prayer, but it won’t be a good one, a surprised filled one, a holy one, a fully lived life! I am here to tell you the success stories of those who pray! This is what I hear all the time: “Father, I always feel better when I pray in the morning.” Or, “Father, I always seem to have a better day when I take the time to meditate on God’s word.”

The problem is not with starting. The problem is with starting over every single day! Prayer, like faith, must be renewed constantly. It can never be taken for granted. I must constantly remind myself of the consequences when I do not pray. How quickly I fall into temptation. How quickly I fall into despair. How quickly I fail to live up to my expectations. How quickly I lose my temper, my energy, my enthusiasm and my cheer. How quickly I run in the wrong direction.

Speaking to God is not difficult; listening to God is. We don’t like it when He speaks to us! How does He speak to us? Through sign language.

The Lord speaks to most of us through signs: painful experiences due to sin is one way the Lord grabs our attention. Witnessing sin or being the victim of sin is another way. Of course, the Lord speaks to us best through Scripture. It is remarkable how the Gospel speaks to me on a daily basis! It would be the same for you if you would do the same!

Just think for a moment how impossible life would be without air, water, food or love. Now you have an idea of what life is like for those who have no faith, no hope or love. This is what it means to live life without Jesus Christ.

The universe knew what to provide, it was designed by a great Designer!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Luke 8:16-18 How Did We Get Here!

Luke 8:16-18 How Did We Get Here!

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to the crowd: “No one lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.”

So, what happened? How did we get to this point? How did the West turn so anti-Christian, especially anti- Catholic? Whatever happened to the artistic world? It was once in love with God? Whatever happened to the music industry? Once upon a time a composer would dedicate his opus to God! Whatever happened to the literary world? At the beginning of the twentieth century, hundreds of British authors converted to Catholicism! Today, you would hardly notice it!

How did we get here?

Pope Benedict recently admitted what we must all admit. He said to a group of old friends and former students, “My generation did not evangelize enough!” It takes a humble man to admit the truth. It’s too true! But it’s not totally true. I would have added “our generation” as well!

That’s how we got here. And we must change it. We can no longer hide our faith! We can no longer hide our joy, our uniqueness or our true love. The World depends on the Son, like the earth depends on the Sun. If we do not begin to evangelize we will repent by repeating the darkest moments of history.

My dear friends, you cannot fight a war with one hand tied behind your back and have no doubts: we are fighting a war for hearts and minds. If won, it will truly end all wars!

Let us break the shackles that tie our hands. Those who hate God have tied both our hands behind our backs by giving us rules that fly in the face of the very freedoms we are supposed to cherish: Freedom of speech. We are currently living off of the fumes of our ancestors. Our nation, like it or not, was built on solid Christian principles. Those who came to this great nation did so in order to escape religious persecution. We all know what they sought: The right to worship freely and the right to speak one’s mind (the right to criticize).

Little by little we are losing our rights. Already we are not free to speak our mind for we may very well be labeled with a made-up mental label as homophobic! (By the way, this word exists in Microsoft’s dictionary, but the word Christophobic does not!)

We now we are not free to exercise our faith, for if we do not fall in line, then we may summarily be executed (fired) or “highly encouraged” to leave our job! We all know that the new key word of our Land is not “freedom” but “correctness”, like political correctness. This is a very dangerous thing, and we have done very little to demolish it. Far too often, we hide our light to save our life!

Our nation was built on good ground - solid Christian ground. Our young are our top soil and we have begun to lose our top soil. You can see it in our children’s test scores; the lowest SAT scores ever! You can see it in our children’s eyes. They come tired, weary, depressed and full of despair. So many are suffering from the chaos of broken families, dysfunctional families and/or irregular families. Some call it “the modern family” or “the new family.” There is nothing modern or new about broken! (Except that it has become institutionalized and given a stamp of approval)

Those who push the secular agenda are clever. If we cannot show “progress” by passing the test, then we will have to change the test. But human nature can never change. What is done in the dark always comes out in the light. Regardless of the century or millennium, children still need food and water in order to think. They still need light in order to see. They still need a mom and dad in order to live.

If left alone, humanity tends towards (progresses towards) decay and destruction. There is only One that stands in the way of progress and we know who that is. Let’s give the West what we all need: faith, hope and love. Let’s give them God!

There is no reason left to hide. It’s already dark!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mt 18:21-35 It’s Not Fair!

Mt 18:21-35 It’s Not Fair!

(Click here for readings)

The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard…“Are you envious because I am generous?”

A married woman of five recently told me, “Father, if I have another child, my mother will disown me!” I told the young lady to tell her mother, “Are you envious of me because I am generous?

A young married College graduate came up to me and told me that her family thinks she is nuts for staying home and raising and homeschooling her kids. I told her to tell her family, “Are you envious of me because I am generous with my family?”

The Lord said to me, “When will you start working for me? When will you start giving me your time and talents? Invest your 1% of faith in me and watch it grow! When will you stop being so idle, useless and boring towards me and my Kingdom? Come work for me! Give me a hand! Follow me and you’ll be living your life in a way you never dreamed of living, for my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways! What I give, no one else could ever give.

The landowner went out five times during the day to hire workers. Five times he sought out workers to come follow him. What is worth noting in today’s Gospel passage are the following ideas.

I AM Insistent and Persistent. The Lord goes out of his way looking for me. Yes, for me! He is not looking for the best workers. He is looking for me! The kingdom of heaven is God hounding me…looking for me! He wants me to work for him. He will not stop. He will not hesitate, and He will not be unjust. He will be generous, merciful, compassionate and loving. How many times during the day does he call me to accept his hand, his offering? How have I conducted myself? Have I come to accept His generous offer? Those who confess their sins know the answer! They know that in this world, there is no one like the Lord! We don’t find anyone like this. Three strikes and you’re still no out! But this is what we know; this is what we have grown accustomed to hearing: “Get out of my house!” “Get out of my life!” “I don’t want anything to do with you.” “I hate you!” “I don’t love you anymore.”

I Take The Initiative. It is all God’s doing. He takes the initiative. God himself stripped himself to come down to us, to be with us and to share his words and life with us in order to convince us that His kingdom is not made of stone, but made of human flesh. It is made of us! We, who were fashioned out of his hands and out of his love, are what his kingdom is made of.

I AM Generous. The Lord pays generously, regardless of the number of years spent in service to him. This is a very hard saying. Who can accept this? If this is the case, then it is so tempting to say, “I will wait until the last moment to serve the Lord.” But take it from me, as a priest, I have no problem showing mercy and compassion to the convert, to the revert, to the sinner who wishes to be a Saint! Those who have received God’s mercy understand these words! Of course this will always be a scandal for the self-righteous, the hard hearted, and appear foolishness to the skeptics and doubters. But it is all true! And those who have experienced God’s mercy will be the first to testify to it and to their unworthiness. They will also testify that the nightmares of their rebellion haunted them for years! What they were waiting for was a Holy God, and what they got was what they sought: Christ Jesus!

Say Yes! The problem with those who knock God, Heaven, Forgiveness, etc…is an old problem. It is the dilemma of trying to understand something before trying it! Those who insist that we cannot live life like this are measuring things according to their standard, and not of the other. It is very Christian to show mercy and compassion. The problem is that it is still very rare! But when we see it, when we witness it, it is powerful – all powerful! It is amazing – all-mighty! It is life-changing – like rising from the dead! Recently, a funeral home director told me her mother was taking care of her bedridden father. I told her, “Oh, how nice.” She looked at me and told me, “Father, my dad left my mom twenty years ago for a woman half his age. He broke my mother’s heart. But when he got sick, there was no one there to take care of him, so she decided to do it herself. She has always served the Lord. She is truly a Saint.”

Indeed she is, and for many of us, this would be ridiculous. But the answer is clear for all to see: I am jealous of her generosity!

Follow the Lord always and in all his Ways!