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, May 31, 2012

Luke 1:39-56 When the Lowly Meet the Great

Luke 1:39-56 When the Lowly Meet the Great
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” 
She never thought she would get married.  A few months ago, I celebrated her marriage.  When I asked her how she met her future husband, she laughed. 
“I was being set up on a blind date by one of my friends.  I was given my blind dates phone number so we could talk before we met.  We instantly clicked and it wasn’t until I mentioned our date later that I noticed I had dialed the wrong number!  I dialed a 7 instead of a 4.  He said that he didn’t know what I was talking about or who my friends were.  I was so embarrassed I had the wrong number that I apologized and quickly ended the conversation.    Remembering how much I enjoyed talking with him, a few days later I sent him a text message.  He immediately responded and we spent the next eleven hours talking to each other.”
Mary set out and traveled.  Isn’t it remarkable, that after the astonishing events surrounding the Word of God becoming flesh, Mary set out on foot and in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth?  The simplicity of Mary’s journey is breathtaking when you consider the extraordinary personalities that came to visit her and the great distances they traveled to be with her.  Isn’t it breathtaking…how “the simple one” met “The Almighty One”?  How the two became one? 
It all brings me back to how the laws of the Universe can regulate and order all things great and small; the galaxies and my home and life.  As a ray of light comes from Heaven to earth, the angel of the Lord came to Mary.  His warmth filled Mary with the warmth of the Holy Spirit.  All that is beautiful and all that is true brings warmth to all who embrace it.  As electrical forces hold atoms together, the Son of God embraced His mother in a love that could never be separated.  How spectacular it all is when the Laws of the Universe can be translated into something other than numbers!  How amazing it is that a simple virgin could care for, watch over and love the Son of God!  And, as opposite forces attract one another, how the Son of God could care for, watch over and love a world full of sinners. 
Something just doesn’t seem right here.  And yet, it is perfectly right. 
She entered the house.  Today, we celebrate the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  A visitation is not just a superficial encounter or a casual “visit”.  A visitation brings with it a purpose, a reason.  Mary’s purpose is to bring Love, the Lord, into the world; into the life of another.  Her visit reveals our mission. 
The world is not perfect.  And yet, it should be.  The only reason why it isn’t is because He isn’t in the world.  Now He is.  And now we know why we are too:  to bring Him into the world.   
The womb isn’t safe.  And yet, it should be, for it is blessed to be born humble and small.  The Lord has made it known, through his incarnation and death, that all stages of life, great and small, are blessed; from the womb and the tomb he made a difference and so can we.    
Mary traveled from her home to another.  Her Son would travel from one home to another.  His disciples would travel from one continent to the other.  Throughout the world and throughout the centuries, one woman’s simple journey has been repeated millions and millions of times over.  The Lord continues to call the meek ones to humble the proud ones; to do what He did to make love sincere.
“Brothers and sisters:  Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor…Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer”  (Rm 12:9-16).
All those who surround us, all that revolves around us, all that exists, needs God’s presence and ours too. For when the “lowly one” meets the Great One, all Hell breaks loose and crumbles and fall. 
What is left is simple love.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mk 11:11-26 Give Us What We Want!

Mk 11:11-26  Give Us What We Want!
(Click here for readings)
The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them.  They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
I knew a young man that often called me when he needed some help.  Often it meant just a word or two of encouragement.  It was good to hear his voice, even if it was out of need.  He was like a son to me and I was like a Father to him.  What I mean by that is he would often ignore the good advice I gave him and proceed to following his own path.  While he was in college, he experienced some pretty intense anxiety attacks and I would remind him, over and over again, “Place your trust in the Lord.  There is no glory without sacrifice.” 
Then the day of his glory arrived.  Right before college graduation, he received a phone call to work at a major company.  He was thrilled and delighted.  Immediately, his status turned from poor college student to wealthy young business man.  With that, the phone calls came to an abrupt end.  Eventually, I learned he was living with his girlfriend (or she was living with him), and that he was spending his money like a wild man.  I found out from his family that he wasn’t going to Church.  He was just enjoying his life; the life he had earned all by himself.  It was all going great, like a fairy tale, until it all came tumbling down, like a Scripture quote.  I never heard from him again until recently. 
It is perfectly fine and right to party, especially when someone’s earned it.  What’s wrong is to forget; to forget reality; to forget who threw the party.  Those who remember are remembered and those who quickly forget are soon forgotten.
Give us what we want.  James and John came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  Wow!  Moms and dads, imagine for a moment your precious teenage child coming to you and making this request!  What would you say?  We know what the Lord said.  He bit his tongue and said, “What do you wish me to do for you?”  He knew what they wanted.  It’s what we all want:  Heaven without the Passion; glory without sacrifice.  These were two very confused disciples.  They wanted pure gold without purification; without passing through fire.
We hear it ad infinitum, ad nauseam: “Follow your dreams”, “Be faithful to your heart.” “Just do it.”  Blah, blah, blah. 
If we followed our hearts and were faithful to our deepest desires, we would be three hundred pounds overweight and living in the living room sitting on the sofa.  Who wouldn’t want to hear from their doctor:  “Look, you need to sit down more often, watch more TV, eat more desserts, and enjoy more chocolates if you want to stay fit and healthy.”  Wouldn’t it be great if to exercise meant to sit down; to work meant to relax?  How amazing would that be?  Who wouldn’t love it?  It would be so easy.   It would be like vacationing 48 weeks out of the year and only working for four weeks!
But reality is not what we want; reality is what God has determined for us.  We all want a Christ without a Cross.  We all want Heaven without the Passion.  But the truth is:  The Cross comes with Christ.  Or better, Christ carries his cross. 
Why must everything be a challenge? 
Jesus went ahead of them.  Have I forgotten that the world is fallen?  Have I forgotten that not everything makes sense?  Jesus went ahead of his disciples to show them what doesn’t come natural:  confrontation with evil.  We can’t turn back.  We can’t sit still.  There is only one thing left to do:  GO ON!  MOVE FORWARD!  Going to Jerusalem is the Lord’s way of saying keep moving.  The human person was made to move; to keep moving.  It is not necessarily what our hearts desire.  It’s not even what our hands and feet are itching for.  Most of us do not crave to run a marathon.  But it is not a bad thing to do.  None of us are itching for a splinter, but a Cross to carry is not a bad thing to bear.  Most of us are not begging to serve, but to serve is a reminder of the One who served.  The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. 
The world is made up of two types of people:  those who serve and those who do not.  But earthy and heavenly glory is only given to the first.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mk 10:28-31 The Haves and the Have Nots

Mk 10:28-31  The Haves and the Have Nots
Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.”  Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, with persecutions, for my sake who will not receive a hundred times more now and eternal life in the age to come.”
We have given up everything to follow you.  I love Peter because he shoots from the hip.  He reminds me of myself; at least, when he is talking like that. 
This comment (which is really a disguised question) is long overdue.  I’m sure it wasn’t just on Peter’s mind.  I’m more than certain it was on the minds of the Apostles from the very beginning, or at least, when things started taking a turn for the worst.  Do you remember the conversation John had with the other Apostles regarding who was the greatest?  Do you recall when James and John asked the Lord to have the privilege to sit next to him when He entered His glory? 
Well, finally, someone spoke up.  Finally, Peter said the unthinkable.  Finally, someone admitted to being “human” and asking “What’s in it for us?”  Is this on your mind as well?  It shouldn’t be! For we already know the answer.
Well that isn’t Christian!  We shouldn’t be asking these types of questions or making these types of calculations!!!  We should be kind and loving and considerate to others simply because it is the right thing to do.  It’s just not right (or Christian) to be asking for something in return. 
What a bunch of nonsense!  What’s not right?  To ask and to receive?  To seek and to find?  To knock and be allowed to enter?  What’s not Christian? To go to Heaven?  To receive an amazing grace?  To follow the Lord who came down from Heaven and made it back up?
What’s wrong with that?  Really!  I’m not embarrassed to say that I want to go to Heaven.  I’m not even embarrassed to say that I forgive only because the Lord forgives me.  I’m not ashamed to say that I’m being kind to someone because I would like to make it to Heaven one day. 
Notice the response the Lord gives to all his Apostles.  He doesn’t tell them to go fly a kite!  He doesn’t even tell them to stop asking these types of questions.  He tells them the truth; that is, that doing what is right is also good, and what is good is always blessed, and what is blessed is to give and receive.
How far are you willing to go?  How much are you willing to let go of?  When I left for the seminary, I really thought that I had given it all away.  But I hadn’t.  I actually shoved quite a few items in my pockets.  I kept my front pockets full of doubts and fears.  I kept my back pockets full of excuses and calculations.  And it has taken a long time to remove most of these things.  It is amazing how they can create so much suffering!
While I was in Italy, I met a wonderful old lady that went to Church every morning.  She was holy except for the fact that she never really believed in God or in Heaven.  As if to encourage me, she would often come up to me and say, “God, if he exists, must really love you!” or “Heaven, if it exists, is just waiting for you!”  I didn’t know what to tell her.  What could I tell her? “Yes…I hope it all exists.” 
What has the Lord revealed to his little ones?  I think it is this:  You get what you deserve and a ton more.  Of course, no one can earn their way to Heaven, but we have to try as if we could.  “Be holy because I am holy, says the Lord and writes St. Peter (Pt 1:16). 
We have given up everything to follow you.  In response to Peter’s “question”, the Lord could have said to him, “And I have given up everything to be with you.” 
Although God created us with beautiful eyes, Christ’s prayer for all of us is that we start observing the world – His Creation - through His eyes.  The world is not made up of the haves and have nots.  The world is made up of those who give and do not.     

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mark 10:17-27 Do Not Go Away Sad

Mark 10:17-27  Do Not Go Away Sad
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 
Setting out on a journey.  And what a journey it is to live the adventure of life; to live free from doubts and hesitations; to live for a higher purpose; to give it your all and give it quickly; to live each day of your life like a mission given to you, a goal set clearly in your sight, and a purpose driven into your heart; to go and serve; to go and do the Father’s Will for the glory of His name.   
Are you waking up each morning and setting out on a journey like this?
The Lord died.  The Lord rose.  The Lord ascended to Heaven.  The Lord sent the Holy Spirit upon His Apostles.  And now, He is waiting for your reply.  So much has been done.  So much has been given.  So much is expected.  What will be the very specific and unique fruit of the Holy Spirit produced from your life?  How will you make Salvation history?
Sell what you have.  It is not uncommon to die for a cause.  People have been doing that for centuries.  And far too many have done it for fool’s gold.  What is uncommon is to give up fool’s gold – material wealth - in order to die to this world and conquer it. 
Today, we celebrate the men and women of our armed forces.  We don’t honor the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the Fuhrer, or Il Duce, or for Islamic terror.  We honor our men and women who served our country well and in the good our country did and continues to do. 
I know a young man who shocked his multi-millionaire dad the day after his graduation from Georgetown University.  He told his father that he was going to enlist in the Marines.  His father could not believe it; and though he failed to change his son’s mind, he at least convinced him to join the officer’s training program which he did.  To everyone’s surprise, this young cadet scored in the 60percentile.  In other words, 40 percent of the young men in the program scored higher than he did!  Amazing, considering the fact that he graduated from Georgetown with nearly a 4.0 GPA.
Why are we surprised to hear such valor and bravery among young men?  Don't they have the most to lose?  Why are we surprised to hear of young men and women willing to lay it all down just for ajust cause?  Why in today's world does it still matter?  Because regardless of the times and what politicians say, uncommon valor and uncommon bravery still retain their definition of old. 
Some things never change.  Some things will never change.  Some things must never change. 
Over the years, I have had the grace (but not necessarily the pleasure) to experience a sort of divine confirmation in the vows I made before the Lord.  What apparently seemed so crazy so long ago and to so many has been confirmed, time and time again, as supernatural.  Teens have helped me to see more clearly and more dearly.  Like finding a needle in a haystack, I can find beauty in hidden little things which are overlooked by teens but not out of their reach.  I know how to laugh at myself; something few adults would dare do to themselves.  Why?  It’s obvious.  If you wish to be great, then you must climb.  But with the Lord, we know,  if you wish to be great; you must descend. 
The rich will become poor.  The poor shall become rich.  Through the vows, I know how to find wealth while others play bluff.  I can perceive beauty where no eye has ever conceived.  I find relief and a deep sense of approval when the elderly reaffirm the decision I made that came forth from outside of me.  Their simple nod on their sick bed is confirmation, “You did well in your state of life. All things turn to dust.  Only heaven remains. Well done.” 
 Believe me when I tell you:  It is not crazy to be poor, chaste and obedient.  It is not.  In fact, it is crazy to not be poor, chaste and obedient to God and/or your spouse.  It is crazy, absolutely crazy, to be rich and miserable.  It is crazy, absolutely crazy, to be poor and miserable.  What is not crazy is to be fulfilled; and the best way to be fulfilled is to be rich in the Lord (to live for the Lord) and poor to material things (to give rather than receive). 
He went away sad.  I want only what I need: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.  What do all men and women need?  God.  What can all men and women do without?  Sin.  Live life like this and you shall not go away sad as the rich young prince did; rather, you will go away from this world as the Apostles (and brave young soldiers) did:  with honor, joy and at peace.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

John 20:19-23 Pentecost

John 20:19-23 Pentecost
(Click here for readings)
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you…As the Father has sent me, so I send you…Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
“I’ve done more now with one hand than I ever did with two.”  These are the words of a wounded Iraqi veteran.  They make no sense, no sense at all, unless you take into account the human spirit. 
“I’ve forgiven the person who harmed me the most.”  These words make no sense, no sense at all, unless you take into account the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday morning, I scanned through the DaMN (Dallas Morning News) and was surprised to see a beautiful photograph, in the Metro section, of a Euless student with cerebral palsy.  This year is a very special year in this young man’s life.  This year, he will achieve a goal he set out to accomplish.  This year, he will graduate from Trinity High School. 
But what struck me more than his goal was the smile on his face and the contagiousness of his laughter.  The photograph, on the front page of the Metro section, brilliantly captured the moment; not the moment that he graduated, but the moment of his laughter and smile, a smile and laughter that makes no sense, no sense at all, especially to so many high school teenagers.
You would be amazed if I told you how infrequently teenagers smile and laugh.  This young man’s smile was the biggest and brightest smile I have seen this entire year.  Congratulations to him!  Not for achieving a once in a lifetime goal, but for achieving a life time of smiles!
Oh, how the wise are fooled; and fooled to the point of embarrassment.  I work with teenagers all the time.  When they are not asked to the prom, they wish they were dead.  When they don’t get the car of their choice, they consider themselves the most unfortunate.  Although I’m surrounded by teens all day long, I almost never see them smile. 
It seems to me that it is simple to graduate from High School.  And it is.  It’s easier now than ever before.  But what seems to be so complicated, so difficult, and nearly impossible for a teenager to do is achieve a smile on their face.  It makes no sense, no sense at all, if they have so much, and yet no smiles to show.
Lord Jesus, you appeared before your unfaithful apostles hidden in a locked room out of fear of torture and death, and said to them, “Peace be with you…As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  These words make no sense, no sense at all, unless you take into account the Holy Spirit and Salvation History.  We know what they did.  We know how they did it.  And we are amazed!
I’d like to teach the world to sing… Well, I hate to say it, but it already knows how to sing.  In fact, the world sings quite beautifully without me.  For this reason, it sings in perfect harmony.  But what song are we supposed to sing in perfect harmony?  Why don't they tell us?  Why keep us all in suspense?  The reason is:  they don't know. 

The Lord has a song he would like us all to learn to sing:  “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people and enkindle in them a fire of your love.” 
“No!  No!  No!”  You say.  Let’s instead write a song about teaching the world to sing.  Let’s go round and round in a lunatic’s circle without being specific about anything.  Let’s use cheap thoughts and cheap talk to keep the world chattering while it’s faltering.
Let’s tell people, “You can be whoever you want!”  but let’s never tell them how to go about doing just that.  Let’s tell the world that we can be free!  But let’s not tell them exactly what we mean by that.  Let’s tell them that we can be free from Commandments, morals, values, religion, but let’s not tell them that they will destroy their lives, their families, their reputation and dignity.  Let's not tell them that they will lose their freedom to the slavery of sin.   
Last night I saw a commercial featuring an anchor woman advertising her own TV program for Memorial Day.  It’s all about recycling and it’s all about how “I can save the planet”.  I thought to myself, “How can we save the planet when most American’s don’t even know the name of their next door neighbor?"  How are we going to save the planet when we haven't even solved the problems St. Paul mentions in Galatians:  "immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like" (Gal 5:16-25). The commercial ended by saying, “This program will change your life.” 
I’m sorry.  But do actors and actresses, anchors and anchoress really think that we are that na├»ve?  I guess they do.  Is the billion dollar business of “saving the Planet” secularism’s way to give us something to live for? 
Our schools across the contrary have carried the “Save the Planet” banner for years now.  I think it is just a distraction, a distraction to us from them.  I think what they are trying to say is this:  “We may be near the bottom of the world’s list when it comes to math, science and reading scores, but at least we are the first in self-esteem and saving the planet.”  So am I to think that the more ignorant we are, the better we will be at saving our planet?  I don’t get it.  I’m not buying it.  These ridiculous campaigns brought to us by Exxon and Chevron that “WE AGREE!”, etc… to “Save the Planet” is a sort of “plan D” to make us feel better about ourselves after having failed miserably to “Save children”, “Saving families”, “Saving our country”, “Saving our school system”, “Save our souls.”
Lord, breathe on us so that we may receive your Spirit! 
What songs should we be singing?  What words should we be saying?  Today, at Mass, we sang “America, The Beautiful!” by Katharine Lee Bates (1913).  I was struck by the words from the third verse: 
O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life! 
America!  America! 
May God thy gold refine
till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!
We don’t ever seem to get to this verse.  We don’t ever seem to get to the very bottom of things.  You would almost think that it was a conspiracy. 
What does the world really need?  The world needs songs and prayers with words of forgiveness and giving; songs and prayers about humility and patience; songs and prayers about family and respect; songs about life and mystery; songs about lives won and lives lost.  What the world really needs is songs and prayers to God.
Come Holy Spirit!  May our songs of praise and words of prayer have the weight of meaning and be directed towards The Father and The Son.  May the world be enriched by the gift of your Spirit of love.  May the world learn to sing a song and smile along.  We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

John 21:20-25 What About Them?

John 21:20-25  What About Them?
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved and said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
What concerns me?  What creates anxiety or suspicion in my soul?  What drives me to compare my life to others?  Don't I know that the Lord wishes that I follow him, and him alone? 

“Lord, what about him?”  What exactly drove Peter to ask?  Was it curiosity?  Maybe.  Was it doubt?  Probably.  And doubt comes from pride.  No wonder Christ’s curt response, “What concern is it of yours?  Follow me.” 

We have but one mission in life:  to be a Saint; to be holy; to be more like Him.
We see others as we are and so we are constantly comparing ourselves to others.  And we constantly come up short.  And wait, it gets worse when it comes to things that are not like me.  I see an apple as a fruit only because it is to me.  I never see it as the ground sees it: a placenta with a seed.  I see a flower as a gift when it is for me.  But what is a flower if I am a weed?  Is it not something that needs to be choked and displaced to make space for me?  So, how can I see anything for what it truly is if I am constantly comparing it back to me? 
Why do we keep trying to change or manipulate God’s creation?  Why do we keep trying to redefine God’s creation?  Why do we keep on messing up God's creation?  Because we think we know it all.  And we don’t, not at all.

This is our problem.  We believe we can know it all.  And our biggest problems happen when we act as if we know it all.  Yes, I may be able to manipulate people and things, but I will never know people or any thing.  I will never be able to swallow the the depth, the height, the breadth, the width of God's creation without God.  I will never be able to fully know the future or understand the past without the Alpha and Omega.  Now I finally get it!  If I wish to find the true meaning of any thing, then I must start with the Lord who thinks and lives inside and outside of me. 

Follow me.  Peter’s feelings of guilt, uneasiness or unworthiness came about due to his denials.  He never imagined carrying such guilt in his life.  He thought for sure he knew the Lord.  He thought he could define him with his own lips as he confessed, “You are the messiah, the Son of the living God.”  He thought he knew himself when the Lord spoke and said, “You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church.”   It all comes to a head with Christ’s threefold question; “Peter, do you love me?  It took Peter three times before he understood and said, “Lord you know everything; you know I love you.”  To love means to carry out your mission in life; to truly love means to unconditionally follow.  It’s not impossible.  Soldiers do it all the time.  They know their mission; they trust in their mission; they may even understand their mission.  But try as hard as they can, they cannot guarantee the results of their mission.  No man can.  God can.  And with God, nothing is impossible, not even His mission for us. 
Since nothing is impossible for the Lord, it is possible for Him to search the just and the wicked.  And search he does; not to destroy but to seek and love, for love does not compare; it fulfills.  The Lord knows me yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He knows me for who I truly am.  He knows me in my oneness and in my totality.  I am not an animal nor am I a human to him.  No man made language is taught or learned in heaven; only the language of love is given and received.  Who am I?   His son.  His daughter.  He knows me and for this simple reason he calls me to follow. 
To follow the Lord means to imitate the Lord, and to imitate the Lord means to follow his example in his thoughts, his words, his actions and even in his reactions.  By His ways we will know the Lord better, know ourselves better and fulfill our mission better. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

John 21:15-19 Where You Want To Go

John 21:15-19  Where You Want To Go
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
Isn’t this the history of our lives; to be led or taken where we do not want to go?  How often have people taken me to the gates of Hell?  How many have opened the gate for me?  How often have friends and neighbor led me to anger, hatred, bitterness, and vengeful thoughts?  How often have people led me to sin?
Even Christ was led; actually, he was dragged by the neck, throughout the streets of Jerusalem, to a place he did not want to go but was proud to go.  The Lord’s passion was a moment of high drama.  All eyes were upon Him.  Would He or would He not bow down before the prince of darkness?  Would He be like all the rest, like all of us?  The answer could only come from His passion.  The whole affair became even more dramatic than anyone could ever imagine, for the Lord did not have to be dragged; He did not a push from behind.  He was, in fact, a willing victim; a victim like no other.
Just like many of His own, even the Romans assumed too much.  They assumed that this Jesus of Nazareth would resist His cross.  They never imagined that he would embrace it.  His captors were convinced He would curse from the Cross.  Never did they expect to be pardoned at the foot of the Cross.  They thought he would refuse to cooperate in death as he did in life.  Little did they know the Lord.  Little did they know His heart.  Yes, the Lord was whipped to move, stripped of dignity (and flesh) and beaten by sinners.  But!  He refused to be mastered by sin. He refused to sin and be owned by the devil.  Yes, He allowed the devil to have his body; his hands and feet, even his life; but he refused to give the devil his love.  And it is love, more than anything else, that drives us closer to someone; someone like the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
The execution of any innocent man reveals much about a man and much about those who judged him, condemned him and executed him.  It must have been a spectacle to watch Jesus bear the Cross.  But what must have been even more spectacular was the glory and shame it bared:  Glory for the one who carried it and shame to those who insisted he carry it.  It literally meant the death of one group of beings and the resurrection of another group of beings.  Love conquers all.  Evil destroys itself.

For this reason the Lord asked Peter three times:  “Do you love me?”  Notice how the Lord did not ask Peter, “Will you obey me?” three times.  Nor did he ask Peter, “Will you bow down before me?”   No.  He asked Peter, “Will you love me?” This is the question because this is all that matters.  And Christ knows from personal experience that this is all that matters.  They will tie your hands and your feet.  They may pull every limb apart.  They may even rip your heart while it still beats.  But if they do not have your love, then they have nothing.  And if they do not have your love, then we can replace all that has been lost.
The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Love - taught them everything they would need to remember.  “Do not forget love” was the first commandment.   All the great Saints of the Church, from martyrs to confessors to virgins to converts, have shared one common virtue:  they refused to forget about love.  In other words, they refused to hate.  The Lord says, “The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said and done for you.”  We need reminders occasionally.  We need reminders especially when we are being challenged in our love, in our style of love, in our brand of love.
Love is lighter than hate.  Love lifts the soul from the tomb and brings it home.  Like laugher, love brings people to tears.  Like Christ, love reminds us of where we want to go?”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

John 17:20-26 Being One In Christ

John 17:20-26  Being One In Christ
Jesus prayed saying:  “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you…that the world may believe that you sent me.” 
The Lord prayed not only for his Apostles, but for us.  His love for us is undeniable.  His prayers are always answered by the Father.  But, when his prayer comes to us (or when his disciples comes to us), do we accept the word of God?
Division among Christians is a scandal.  The Lord did not pray that his followers worship in different churches.  He prayed specifically that we all be one in Lord, in faith and in baptism.  Sure, we come together on many social issues such as abortion, marriage, Christian persecution and the very real threat of secularism.  But when it comes to being of one heart, one mind, one body…wow, we couldn’t be getting further from the Truth! 
For years we have had the very familiar and very unfortunate infighting among Catholics.  It is a scandal.  It is especially a scandal when nuns and priests openly dissent against their vows, their promises and the moral teachings of the Church.  The Lord trusted them, and they broke their promises.  It is even more of a scandal when dissenting faculty members drive faithful faculty members out. 
It is a scandal when religious remain silent, absolutely silent, on issues of abortion and contraceptives, yet will speak up (and rightly so) on issues such as war, famine, women’s rights and the environment.  One priest recently tried to convince me by telling me, “Well, we have enough people to talk about those other issues.”  Hogwash!  Yes, all these issues are important, not just some of them.  All of these issues are important, yet some are more important than others and there are very good reasons for saying so.  Abortion is the number one issue right now because it is striking dead millions of innocent human beings a year; more than the environment, the war, or famine combined in our country.  Being silent on this issue is tantamount to being silent on genocide.  Why would anyone do that? 
It is a scandal when a Catholic institution such as Georgetown University thumbs its nose at the Bishops of the Church; those whom the Apostles appointed as their legitimate successors.  That doesn’t mean the Bishops don’t make mistakes.  Of course they do.  But when it comes to faith and morals, the teachings of the Church are one with Christ, and will always be one with Christ.  That is the guarantee of the Holy Spirit upon Peter and His Successors.
A few weeks ago the President of the United States came out in favor of gay marriage.  He used and quoted Sacred Scripture to back his claim; and yet, he apparently could not find in Scripture the obvious references defending traditional marriage or the abominations that twist marriage.  How scandalous.  It is one thing to be a sinner; it is quite another to teach others to sin.  God forbid we take the President’s word of approval as more accepting and loving than the Savior’s word or Scripture’s word or the Apostles word that says, “He joined them male and female”.  God forbid we take this year’s testimonies as more righteous and meaningful than the testimonies given to us since the dawn of man.
I pray that the President will one day find in Scripture the even more obvious reference to the sanctity of life.
May your Spirit, O Lord, we pray, imbue us powerfully with spiritual gifts, that he may give us a mind pleasing to you and graciously conform us to your will.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

John 17:11-19 Keep Them One

John 17:11-19  Keep Them One
(Click here for readings)
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:  “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one…I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”
Oneness as totality.  I just came back from breakfast with a good solid Catholic whom I have known for years.  During our conversation, he repeated to me a conversation he had with a work associate and how he finds it hard to talk to him about God.  Apparently, his co-worker does not have God in his life; that is, “God is not even on his radar”.  And although this co-worker is financially successful, he apparently is not successful in relationships.  He has been in one bad relationship after another.  This individual made the following comment, “I see the world in one way:  war.  We are constantly at war with one another; constantly battling each other to get above the other.  We don’t work together.  We don’t care about each other, etc.” 
As my friend was describing his conversation, I interrupted him and said, “Yes, this is all true, if your friend sees the world with only one eye or a black eye. 
Who could possibly live alone in this world? We need each other! We were made for one another.  Why?  Because we need a little bit of everyone in our lives.  We need a little bit of soldier in our life; a little bit of a comedian in our life; a little bit of Man vs. Wild in our life.  Others help me to be what I can be; in my oneness and in its totality.  What I don't need is sin.  But even there, I can deal with it the way that Christ dealt with it and be a greater man. 
The Lord of All invites us to see others through His eyes; through His experiences.  He invites us to see life through him.  He gave us others to put it into practice.  The Lord knew how to be humble, tough, compassionate, loving and merciful.  He also knew how to be downright mighty, powerful and witty.  He was perfectly one and total.  “One”, for there was no sin in Him.  “Total”, because He was truly God and truly man.  
We don’t see UV or Infrared radiation, but they’ve always been there.  We don’t see microwaves or radio waves, but their presence today is definitely noticed and utilized. Let's be honest, without God in our life, we are missing a very big chunk of our “totalness”; the “all that is seen and unseen” piece.  Without God I will reduce my life to my state of being.  It is no surprise whatsoever that I will see the world as “one gigantic struggle” if I am going through struggles myself.  I will see the world as “one lost planet”, if I am struggling with loss, despair and sadness.  But the world is not lost and neither am I.  It’s not unnoticed and neither am I, even if I and my planet do not occupy the center of the solar system. 
Christ went through struggle and loss and yet, he was able to say, and say it convincingly, “Be at peace.  I have conquered the world.”  I find it amazing that the Lord would pray to his Father with the following words:  “The world hated them [the Apostles], because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”
See the irony?  Of course the Father and the Son belong to this world; but not a fallen world.  And we don’t belong to it either.  Our enemies do, and for this reason we are considered a threat, a danger to them.  Do you not know that the world fears us?  Christians have been known to smile at their death sentence; to sing right before their execution.  And this scares them.  Christians have been known to never give in or give up.  Eternity is on our side.  We live and work the totality of time:  timelessness.  We live and work in the oneness of Christ.  If we work [together] with the Lord, we will suffer [together] with the Lord, but we shall also rise [together] with the glory of the Lord.  All at once.  All for One. 
Keep them one as we are one.  This means far more than we could ever define or even imagine.  This “oneness” between the Father and the Son goes beyond comprehension.  But, let’s not forget, we were created in the image and likeness of our God, and so, there is something solid to hold on to.  Let’s see if we can figure it out together.
When we were young, we grew up with Darwin’s paradigm of the world:  “survival-of-the-fittest”.  But there is a new paradigm that is emerging in the scientific community:  support-for-one-another.”  Instead of seeing the world as simply fight and flight, others are seeing it in its totality:  synergism.  The obvious is beginning to emerge.  Isn’t it obvious that we need each other?  Isn’t it obvious that there is a synergism among creatures?  We really do need each other in order to survive and flourish. 
God doesn't need us, but He does want us.  The Father loved the world so much that he sent his only Son into the world, not to condemn the world but to save the world.  The Father loves His Son.  The Father sends the Son.  The Son loves a sinful world. The Son loves his own in the world.  The Apostles make disciples.  The disciples love the Church.  The Church loves its own and reaches out in love to the unchurched. 
We cry, we shed blood, we sweat, and for what?  Not just for ourselves, but for each other!  Yes, enemy and friend.  And by doing so, we give a powerful witness of meaning to one another.  At Miletus, Paul gave his final words to the presbyters [priests] knowing full well that he would never see them again.  They embraced him and wept bitterly.  Why?  Because He loved them in life and in death.  Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the Church of God that he acquired with his own Blood.  Remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears…I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing…I just want you to love God and others. 
Yes, the Lord shed his blood for the Church!  And invites us to shed our blood for Him and for others!  We live for Him and for others.  We die for Him and for others.  We can be one in His Oneness.  We can be made whole.   

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

John 17:1-11 Father, Glorify Us

John 17:1-11  Father, Glorify Us
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come.  Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you.” 
There comes a time in your life when you have to fight the good fight.  You don’t ask to fight any fight.  But sometimes you are forced to fight for your life.  The moment has arrived.  The hour has come.  Everything inside of us is telling us, “Enough is enough”.  It is time to give glory to God. 
On Sunday, someone came up to me and told me that they didn’t like my blog.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was about to say, “Then why do you read it?”  Then I thought to myself, “Are they telling me this so that I stop writing or that I change my ideas and opinions?  Oh my goodness!  How wrong could they be?” 
I don’t write what I write because I want to be popular.  Heavens!  I would be more popular if I wrote the opposite of what I write.  I write what I write because it is right.  I take pride in what I read, how I think and what I write.  I take pride in defending my faith like so many take pride in attacking it.  
All over the world, you can be thrown in jail if you give testimony that is only half-truths or partial truths.  When one testifies, they swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  There is a very good reason for it.  Half truths are not the truth at all.
Why do people tell only half-truths?  Because they can get away with it! 
The headline in this morning’s Dallas Morning News (DaMN) states:  Health Insurance.  Birth Control Lawsuits Expand.
Why don’t they tell the American people the truth?  If they wanted to share the truth with their readers, then the headline should have read Lawsuits Against Federal Mandate Expand. Why do they prefer to tell half-truths?  I am sure that most people who read this morning’s news did not even realize the flaw.  Although the DaMN can get away from the truth in its headline, it obviously cannot get away with it in its article.  “Roman Catholic dioceses…sued the Obama administration Monday…over a federal mandate…”
What is the issue? A federal mandate that violates the free exercise of religion.  Contraceptives are not the issue!  Contraceptives are the trigger.  The mandate is the bullet.  HHS is the gun.  Kathleen Sibelius is the hit man.  The Administration is the owner.
Fact:  For the first time in the history of America, the federal government is attempting to curtail the free exercise of religion in America.  Fact:  For the first time in the history of America, the government is attempting to define what “Catholic” is and what it is not.  To them, Catholic means a house of worship but Catholic schools, hospitals, and other important works of charity do not.  Fact: For the first time in the history of America, the government is not allowing the Catholic Church to practice what it preaches!
The hour has come.  The hour has come to dispel and destroy the half-truths of the supporters of this unconstitutional mandate.  This newspaper insists on carrying forth arguments in favor of the mandate for reasons that have nothing to do with the lawsuits.  They inform us, that “an advisory panel from the Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government, recommended including birth control on the list of covered services, partly because it promotes maternal and child health by allowing women to space their pregnancies.” 
Did you notice the word, “partly”?  It says it all.  Let’s make something very clear.  You don’t make something right by doing something wrong.  People in this country can take contraceptives for whatever reason they want:  good and bad.  To ignore this simple fact is a disgrace.  To ignore this simple truth is a lie.  To ignore the fact that the Catholic Church must pay for any reason whatsoever is simply being biased.
With tremendous joy, I read last night that forty-three Catholic institutions filed federal lawsuits against the federal government.  I know the number will continue to rise.  With pleasure I heard that the law firm Jones Day will be handling the lawsuits pro bono nationally. Not a single penny will have to be taken away from the work our charities do. 
I was surprised to hear that the University of Notre Dame was one of the institutions that filed a suit.  I was not surprised that Georgetown University didn't.  Its President recently defended Kathleen Sibelius by stating that her office is providing insurance for over 35 million uninsured Americans.  Wow!  Are we supposed to be impressed by that?  Would you be impressed if I told you that Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin provided a job for nearly every citizen their country?  Would you be amazed that they cut down unemployment and inflation to nearly zero?  Would you be impressed if I only told you the good news and withheld the bad? 
Georgetown and BC (Boston College or “Barely Catholic” as some students call it) are shortsighted.   “What is it worth to gain the whole world and lose your soul?” 
Do you really think that free contraceptive coverage could not be given to all without offending the Catholic Church and other churches?  Do you really think that this is the only way to solve this issue?  This unprecedented attack on religious liberty is an affront to our intelligence and liberties.   

Glorify your son.   What a scary request.  But I know this is what I should be asking the Father as well:  “Father, glorify me.”  And we know what the answer will be:  “You got it son!”  “You got it my daughter!” 
We know why the request is scary.  We know that before you can bask in glory you have to be baked in mud; before you can receive a standing ovation, you have to be kicked to the ground.  That is the proper order in a fallen and twisted world.  The good get kicked, the bad get a kick at the good being kicked. 
Father, glorify your Church!  Let’s start preparing ourselves for glory.