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!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Luke 9:51-62 Thanks For The Memories

Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem…On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him…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.
We've come a long way since then, right?  WRONG!
The Church really doesn't face new challenges.  Instead, she faces old challenges with new faces!
We think of our modern society as being so much more tolerant, compassionate, understanding and forgiving then that of the Romans and Pharisees.  Well, the Paula Deen incident brings us back to reality, to earth, to the olden days, when people were stoned to death for committing grave sins!
Of course Ms. Deen isn’t physically getting stoned to death, like in the olden days.  No, we’ve come a long way since then.  We don’t guillotine people anymore; we electrocute them!  And in keeping with the times, we don't throw stones anymore; we electronically throw them with our anonymous tweets and comments. 
Yes, we can be very bruising to those we disagree with.  And these bruises sticks forever! 
The horrors of the Internet are really the horrors of our very own weaknesses; and more than ever before, more people can become well acquainted with these horrors.
Yesterday, I wrote on my twitter:  “The dumping of Paula Deen by so many companies highlights the fact that they are as unforgiving as the Pharisees and Scribes of yore.  God forbid that any of us show how human we are!”  BEWARE OF THY HUMANITY!
Now here is a twist for you:  The very institution that is often cited for being the most intolerant and unforgiving of all, is actually the only institution on the face of the earth that is truly the most tolerant and forgiving of all!  And that institution is the Roman Catholic Church.
Like so many of us, Paula Deen made some serious mistakes in her past.  As a result, many institutions, that once promoted her, have cut their ties with her.  Did anyone from the Confessional ever tell you to stop coming to Church?  No. 
Just recently she apologized for her mistakes.  Guess what?  Her apology was not accepted.  So not only is our “culture” and “society” hostile and condemning to those who err, but it is also extremely comfortable - confident - in judging someone’s apology as insincere. 
I don’t know about you, but I have never questioned in the Confessional someone’s apology.  Why?  Because I’m not qualified to do so.  I’m only human!  Of course we have to make judgment calls all the time, but to judge someone’s apology?  Well, that is truly judging someone the WRONG WAY!  Who am I to judge someone’s apology?  Who am I to be able to enter into someone’s heart and mind?  I am just a “somebody;” or better yet, a “nobody.”
I love you, but…  Lord, I will follow you, but let me say farewell to my family at home.  The reason why we have such a hard time forgiving is because we do a very bad job at reflecting - re-living - our past.  No regrets, just happiness!

Isn't this the latest quirky saying?  Ah yes, “no regrets, only happiness!”  

But remembering the past allows us to respond better to the challenges of the present!  To say “no regrets” is to close our life to cross-examination and self-examination.  It’s a defense mechanism that's based on fear.  If we do not occasionally reflect on the past, then we will most likely repeat the errors of the past; we will continue to devour and bite one another (cf. Gal 5:13-18). 
Then and Now.  At a certain moment during the Oscar awards ceremony, “Hollywood” paid tribute to the song writer Marvin Hamlisch, who passed away last year.  Soon after that, Barbara Streisand came out on stage.  I couldn’t believe it!  I can’t stand watching her or listening to her.  As she began to sing the song “Memories”, it was as if I had been transported to another time and another place:  my home.
I remember playing this song on the piano with all my cousins around me singing along.  It was a very welcomed memory, full of youthfulness and funniness.   
Memories are a gift from God to man.  They keep us going.  They keep our marriage going.  They keep romance in motion.  They remind us of what we should remember.  They give us a reason (actually, no apparent reason) to laugh, to cry and to smile.  What are you smiling at?  Oh, nothing…
I find it interesting how certain illnesses do not allow us to remember the “now” in our lives but only the past.  I don’t know, maybe this means something.  Maybe it means that we can live without the now, but we could never live without a past. 
The Jews were constantly reflecting on their past, and learning a great deal from it.  Many times, their toughest questions were answered based on past experiences. 
Our past is a great resource.  It is subject to constant re-interpretation.  To reflect on the past is not an escape from reality; to live in it is!  Hey teenagers:  The worst name you could ever give your band is “New Kids On The Block!” 
Animals do not have memories.  They simply recall certain things and sounds.  We have memories.  We can actually relive certain moments, even tough moments, in our lives. 
The least memories I have of all the years of my life are the years that I worked at Kodak.  They are like lost years.  I don’t even remember the names of the people I worked with.  I only remember a young Jewish lady that worked there and that refused to date me because I wasn’t Jewish!
Many times I find myself going back to my seminary days in order to strengthen my resolve for the day.  All of us need to do that, especially for our marriage and for our children.  Remember my dear couples when you used to hold your future spouse's hand, even while you were driving, and driving a standard car???  Remember when you always sat next to them at parties and dances?  Remember when you used to go on a date?  Remember, moms and dads, when your teen was only five-years-old.  Believe me, it's much easier  to love your teen when you remember them being five! 

Our memories can help strengthen our most meaningful relationships. 
 Thank you St. Monica for the memories.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mt 8:1-4 I Will Do It

Friday of the Twelfth Week In Ordinary Time
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.  And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Lord, if you wish.  What a ridiculous statement.  Of course the Lord wants us to be clean.  He is God.  He is our Creator and Father.  Of course He wants us to be free from sin.  What Father wouldn’t want the very best for their children?  Com’on now.  Really?  Oh, how I try to place blame on someone other than myself! 
The question really isn’t whether or not God wants to make me clean.  The question is whether or not I want to be made clean! Lord, you wish to make me clean.  Help me pick up the bar of soap and start lathering up!
The leper approached Jesus.  Don’t you dare come close to me!  What this leper did, I need to do.  What he did took a lot of faith, strength and courage.  I need to approach Jesus in good faith.  I need to muster enough faith, strength and courage to approach the Lord in times of trial.  I need to pick up the pieces of my life and offer them to God.  Not only that:  I must also allow others to approach me!  I, the sick one, must allow others to take me by the hand and heal me.    
But most of all:  I need to be humble.  Yes, humility takes me all the way to God!  Humility is the direct path that leads me to the Lord. 
Show yourself…that will be proof enough.    How will we help others to follow the Lord?  What will it take?  Will it be our words?  Yes and no.  Will it be the Word of God?  Yes and no.  What will it be?  It will be our lives.  Show yourself…that will be proof enough.”
Burden of proof:  I finally realized something about non-believers.  They have double-standards:  one for them and another for God.  They demand “scientific” proofs of God’s existence, miracles and the human soul while never demanding scientific proofs of, say, paternity, good intentions, and friendships.  Their understanding of God must be entirely intellectual, from the brain.  But with their friends, it has to be nearly entirely from the heart.  I know you by heart. 
In order for God to gain their respect, His actions must be entirely beneficial and to their liking.  But with friends, respect is given to them due to the goodness of their heart, even if their actions were entirely unhelpful! 
How funny!    Oh, the double standards of a non-believer!
With God, they must see Him in order to believe Him.  But with a boyfriend or girlfriend, they’re presence is always felt, even if they are a million miles away!
Is friendship simply rational?  Is love purely chemical?  They insist on cold facts for God’s love and friendship but they don’t insist on it for anyone else!
They can explain to their neighbor, by means of physics and chemistry, how the sun helps their yard to grow.  But what they can never explain, by means of physics and chemistry, is why their neighbor’s son volunteers to mow it.  Which of the two is most impressive?  I would say all of the above; that is, everything big and small is a miracle! 

Fortunately, these individuals see the magnitude of the sun.  Unfortunately, they fail to see the magnanimity of the soul. 

They see life “objectively” while living it “subjectively.” 
They think the Creator must first be a scientist.  They can't imagine Him as an artist, and with art being the source ("Father") of all sciences.

The leper was a believer.  And though his body was falling apart, his faith, heart and mind remained strong.  This might explain why this leper became clean.  This might explain why others did not.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mt 7:15-20 Bruised Washington Apples

Wedneday of the Twelfth Week In Ordinary Time

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.  By their fruits you will know them…Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.”

Over the years, I have come to the same conclusion that Christ and the Church came to long ago:  namely, that people are good. 

I can honestly say that I have never met an evil person.  What I have met are good people with some bruises.  And some have more bruises than others. 

We have all fallen.  We are all bruised up a bit.  Some more than others, but there is still a good deal of good that remains in each of us.  Ask the Lord.

Yesterday was a zoo in the Texas Senate Hall.  Abortion rights advocates, present above the Senate floor, shouted and screamed hysterically to prevent our duly elected officials from voting on an issue they did not like.  They succeeded.  They got away with it…for now.   But for me, it became just another clear case example of the hypocrisy of the Pro-Choice movement and their inconsistencies of thought.  Are they not for the rule of law?  Are they not for democracy?  From the pictures taken last night, you would think (foolishly) that they represented the will of the people of Texas better than their elected representatives.  They did not.  They prohibited them. 

For years now we have heard from the mouths of abortion rights advocates that they want abortions to be rare, safe and legal.  Well, the bill that failed to become law would have made abortions rarer, safer and still legal.  So do they really mean what they say?  If so, then why were they so vehemently against it? 

Oh, the on-going hypocrisy of the Pro-Choice movement!  It would be all so comical, if it weren’t all so barbarian! 

Their own rhetoric has caught up to them.  Their very own words shame them.

State Senator Wendy Davis (D), who filibustered the bill, and occasionally had tears in her eyes, spoke for hours on the Senate floor about women and abortion.  Now I, along with so many others, could have done the same.  I could have spoken for hours, and with tears in my eyes, about what abortion does to a woman and to her child.  I could have mentioned to the Senate how almost every woman that did it felt as if they had no choice.  I could have mentioned how every woman who didn’t do it lived not to regret it their decision.  But it would have done me no good, for my opponents and their supporters, instead of judging me according to my arguments, would have judged me for being a man.  Oh, the hypocrisy of far too many women in the Pro-Choice movement.  When it comes to abortion, they go back to old-fashioned antics of stereotyping people, especially men.  But when it comes to everything else, they fight hard to stop stereotyping, insisting that they are as good as men, and as bad as them as well.     
Slogans and propaganda are their substance.  Rhetoric and screams represent their depth.  Oh, the hypocrisy of double standards!  The hypocrisy of the Pro-Choice movement.

Today, the Supreme Court justices ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. 

Well, given today’s decision, I am sure that someone right now, a “trailblazer” in “human rights” and a person with “great vision,” is drawing up plans for a new bumper sticker, one that will inaugurate the next social battle.  I’m not an artist, but I think they may consider something like this:     

This is no joke.  In fact, this is probably more biblical than the current battle for marriage "equality."  But I am sure this is next…not now; but in the future, and with more to come!

Let me just reiterate what I said at the very beginning.  No one is perfect.  No one is perfectly good.  We all have our bruises.  But the idea is to get rid of them, not (let Washington) add more of them. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mt 7:6-14 Slow But Steady

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week In Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces…Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.”
Have you heard?  The Catholic Church is fast becoming a “museum piece.”  Now that may be true in many parts of the country, but the same can be said of the traditional family, marriage, un-medicated children, safe neighborhoods, manners, and the period of time known as “childhood”.
Yes, many wholesome aspects of society are quickly becoming museum pieces; things of the past.
Given these facts, is there any wonder that religious observance and the number of vocations to the priesthood or religious life would be in decline? No!  After all, a society that produces very few priests is a society that is in desperate need of priests. 
This may sound very obvious, and if it does, then it may very well mean you missed the point, a very logical one at that; namely, fewer numbers of religious people in America is not so much a sign the Church is stumbling, but that family life and elevated culture are tumbling!
Enter through the narrow gate for the gate is wide that leads to destruction.  Our society is bent on breaking!  Everyone is in such a hurry these days to tear down just about everything and build up just about anything.  The gate that leads to destruction has become very narrow due to a tremendous flow of people wanting to get through it, and all at the same time!  No wonder why zombies are so popular these days, we can relate to them! 
Everyone is in a hurry to tear down the most fundamental traditions known to man.  If you’re not for homosexual marriage, then people will tell you to go back to the Middle Ages.  You mean go back fifty years ago? 
Everyone is in such a hurry for the Boy Scouts to accept gay children.  Why the rush?  After all, when did something so confusing become so convincing?  Not too long ago, a comment, from an anonymous writer, declared that “homosexuality is perfectly natural and normal and that study after study has confirmed it.”
Really?  So why did we need to study it in the first place?  When was the last time anyone researched if heterosexuality was perfectly natural and normal?  Oh boy, don’t get me started.
After reading today’s readings, I kept thinking of an AESOP fairy tale I learned long ago.
The Hare was once boasting of his speed before the other animals. "I have never yet been beaten," said he, "when I put forth my full speed. I challenge any one here to race with me."
     The Tortoise said quietly, "I accept your challenge."
     "That is a good joke," said the Hare; "I could dance round you all the way."
     "Keep your boasting till you've won," answered the Tortoise. "Shall we race?"
     So a course was fixed and a start was made. The Hare darted almost out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race.
     Then the Tortoise said: "Slow but steady progress wins the race."

The Catholic Church has existed for over two thousand years.  It has seen empires once boastful, crumble.  It has seen nations once powerful, disintegrate.  It has seen enemies once mighty, be brought to their knees.  It has witnessed thousands of people jump ship and jump on bandwagons, only to fall head first on their faces.  It has seen ideologies come and go.  Today’s victories are tomorrow’s horrific defeats.  For every action there is a reaction. 

"Slow but steady progress wins the race."

Parents:  teach your children well.  They don’t need to grow up as fast as they can.  Let them know what happened to you every time you rushed into things.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Luke 1:57-66,80 Be Heralds Of The Lord

Luke 1:57-66,80  Be Heralds Of The Lord
(Click here for readings)
The child [John The Baptist] grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
What, then, will this child be?  Fear came upon the neighbors of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea.  All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”  The answer would be made clear in God’s time.  John would become the greatest prophet of all time.  He would become the herald of the Son of God. 
We all need an introduction.  We all need a cheerleader.  John was both herald and cheerleader to the Lord.  He introduced Him to his very own disciples.  He said to them, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”  Follow Him.
Today, we celebrate the nativity of John the Baptist, the last of the great prophets who ushered in the Messiah.  We need to learn from him.  We need to imitate him.  For what he did, we must do.  We too must usher in the Lord in our world.  We too must be His cheerleaders and heralds.
What a tremendous responsibility Christians have in the world today!  If we do not sing of His praises, then who will? 
I’m not exaggerating when I say the name of Jesus should come up in our conversations at least once a day.  Why not?  What’s wrong with that?   His name should be as familiar to us (and to our friends) as our children!  His name should be at the tip of our tongue.  Why not?  Why not bring up His name in a cheerful way?  Why not even in a boastful way?  After all, if His name is used daily in a blasphemous way, then why not in a loving way???
There is always something to give thanks to the Lord for.  Let’s not forget the obvious!  Everything we are is due to Him.  “I praise you Lord, for I am wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
A few days ago I received the latest edition of the Texas Catholic.  I was thrilled to see the special insert dedicated to our Catholic School graduates, especially our valedictorians and salutatorians.  It took me a while to do it but I finally read their speeches.  I have to tell you that I was a bit surprised (and saddened) that very few of them mentioned God or Jesus in their speeches. 
Was there nothing to directly thank Him for? 
This morning I went to the hospital to baptize a child who will most likely not make it through the night.  As I left the hospital, I couldn't help but thank God for His blessings of life and love; and what an honor it is to experience both; and what a tremendous responsibility we all have in sharing it with others

In an era where religious freedom is severely curtailed, speeches are routinely censored, and valedictorians are threatened by shadowy school administrators if they even mention the word “God,” I can take pride that our Catholic school children’s mics are left alone and that their speeches are only corrected for spelling and grammatical errors. 
So why the silence regarding God?  What’s going on?  This may not be so much a question for our kids as it is for our families, schools and society in general. 
We must give thanks to God at all times and in all places.  Have we forgotten that our purpose in life is to serve Jesus Christ?  And that a very big part of our joy comes from bearing witness to the Good News?  I hope not, for almost everything else about life is simply dust in the wind.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Luke 9:18-24 What Do You Say?

Twelfth Week In Ordinary Time
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”  Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter said in reply, “the Christ of God.”  He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
Who do the crowds say that I am?  Well Lord, it all depends on who you ask.  If you ask a communist, they will say you were a revolutionary.  If you ask a green, they will say you were an environmentalist.  If you ask a materialist, they will say you were just a man.  If you ask an atheist, they will say you never existed!
Who do you say that I am?  Oh Lord, that’s an entirely different question!  When I was young, I didn’t know what to think of you.  At first I thought you were someone like the tooth fairy, the sandman, even sometimes the boogey man.  But even at an early age, I knew you weren’t Batman, Superman, Ironman, Spiderman or The Hulk.  In fact, all the kids know that, even today!
But later on, I thought you were money and power and sex.  Then, I thought you were a figment of my imagination or of constipation.  When I turned to you I only did so out of desperation, in times of distress, when all else (or everyone else) failed me.  While I attended college, I thought that math had outgrown you and science had outsmarted you and so I began to believe that the Universe was you and the earth was Mother Nature. 
Never in a million years did I ever think I would return to you.
But I did.  I finally found you and was reminded of you in the least likely of people:  among honest-to-God non-believers; those who held little to no value for human life, especially the weakest of them all, the unborn.  I found you when I observed the arrogant and prideful (those who spoke highly of themselves) cast you aside.  I found you in my history books when we talked about Hitler, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.  I found you when we talked about corruption inside the Church and outside the Church.  I found you when my professors, who knew one particular subject but thought they knew it all, ridiculed you and stepped all over you.  I found you in my first class of philosophy!  Yes, I will never forget when I walked into my first class of philosophy (Introduction to Philosophy) and was handed a book entitled:  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I didn’t know it was a snow job back then, but I knew something was wrong, very wrong with this.  After all, when in the world did philosophy begin with a book written in 1974 and not in 300BC; with morals and not with ‘being’; with Pirsing and not with Plato?  I soon discovered that it was not philosophy that was being taught but propaganda that was being bought! 
I discovered you, O Lord, when I tried to understand the arguments made against you, and how one atheist contradicted the other…after the other, after the other.  Weren’t they supposed to be the scientific ones?  Weren’t their arguments supposed to be as clear as day?  The real doozy came to me when I learned that even scientific theories needed to garner enough votes in order to be approved!  How strange!  The more I looked into it, the more I was amazed.  It turns out that life was defined by vote, and that the question of when life began was settled by vote.  It turns out that homosexuality was removed from the list of illness by vote.  And now, just recently, The American Medical Association will decide, by vote, to call obesity a disease!
When in the world did scientists and doctors become politicians and voters? 
Oh, Lord, I tried to get away from you with data, but then I saw how data was used (and manipulated) to prove only what others wished to prove!
As all these superior beings began to fail me, you began to impress me even more and more.
He rebuked them and told them not to tell anyone.  Why, Lord?  Why keep it all hidden?  I understand.  I finally get it.  Anyone can tell me who you are, but no one can reveal to me who you are.  This can only be done by you and The Father. 
But how?  What must I do?  Pray!  Pray and learn to be obedient. 
Yes Lord, you have revealed your true identity to me through my vow of obedience.  When I was weak, you made me strong.  When I feared, you kept me in battle.  When I did not want to move, you moved me.  When I did not want to do what you asked me to do, I did it.  By obedience, I learned to trust in you; I learned to love you.  But most importantly, I learned that you were God.
I would never have known that Jesus is Lord unless I had pledged my obedience to Him.  This constitutes a serious dilemma for atheists and presents a powerful argument (revelation) for all humanity. 
 Throughout the world belief (allegiance) in God remains strong, even though belief (allegiance) in one’s nation, news outlets, political party, and representatives is at an all time low.  People believe in very little, but they almost unanimously believe in God.  And that belief is strong.     
Get up and start walking.  Start walking the walk that leads to Him.  No one can do this for you.  You will never see what Peter saw unless you see it for yourself.  You will never come to the same conclusion he came to simply because the Bible tells you so (just like you will never be able to come to the conclusion that God loves you “because the bible tells me so”). 
I must experience His life in my life.  That’s how Peter did it.  He knew Jesus as the Messiah because He knew what the Messiah had done for him.  He saved him.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mt 6:24-34 Mammon vs. God

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples:  “No one can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.”
What the heck is Mammon? 
Well, very early on it simply meant “wealth” and “greed.”  Later on, it took on the form of a deity.  In the Middle Ages Mammon was portrayed as a full blown demon. 
It is safe to say that this word has never meant anything good.  It has never lost its significance or meaning, not even in our modern era, for as long as modern man yearns to take more and more from the little guy, a big deal known as Mammon will be alive and well and affecting all of our lives.
O you of little faith.  This is where all our problems begin.  “O you [yeah YOU!] of little faith.” 
Lord, increase my faith!  Allow me to have faith in you: in all that is true, good and beautiful.  Allow me to trust in your ways at all times.  Allow me to trust in your commands. 
Those who tend to have little faith in Jesus Christ tend towards Mammon.  It doesn’t matter what position you hold or who you are.  It doesn’t matter if you are a priest, bishop, Apostle, disciple, preacher or minister.  It doesn’t matter.  Those who tend to have little faith in Jesus Christ tend towards sins and sinners.  And not only that:  they also tend to get increasingly bitter towards Jesus Christ.
All these things the pagans seek.  Jesus said to his disciples:  “So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’  All these things the pagans seek.”  Wow!  Talk about God being relevant and up-to-date with our problems.  God doesn’t need to change.  The Church doesn’t need to change.  Why? Because we haven’t changed!  We’re still suffering from the same-old sins our ancestors suffered from.
What are we to eat?  Every time I turn on the T.V. I see more weight loss advertisements than any other advertisements (except for gold) combined.  We are definitely obsessed with food.  We are definitely worrywarts about what we eat, and we should be.  We are an obese nation.  But what I worry about more than obesity is the negative impact weight loss has on people:  they become arrogant!  They become foolhardy.  They become selfish, superficial and downright flirty!  They think they own the pool only because they can finally feel good about themselves. They think they deserve everybody’s glances and stares because they can finally fit in their swimsuit!  Give me a break.
What we wear?  I take it all back!  It’s not that we are obsessed with food.  We are not!  In fact, we could care less about what we eat (isn’t that the reason why there are so many weight loss programs out there???)  No, the problem isn’t that we want to eat right.  The problem is that we are obsessed with looking great!  And we are obsessed with looking great because we really believe that this will make us happy.
But the data shows otherwise.  By all accounts, we are off the charts when it comes to choices in clothes, drink and food…and yet…we are far below the charts when it comes to personal happiness and peace. 

Now the problem with Christianity is that it isn't filled with quick fixes or  gimmicks, but with honest-to-God goodness.  And we all know that good things don't always come in beautiful packages.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good, feel good and be good.  But diet programs and AA will always fail us unless there is a real change of heart and mind in each of us.   
Maybe we should take stock in what Christ said:   Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mt 6:19-23 Faith, Family and Friends

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.”
What do you focus on?  What are you storing up for yourself?  The Lord encourages us today to focus on the things that matter the most; that is, where moth and decay can never destroy and thieves can never steal. 
Today, I would like to focus on three things:  faith, family and friends. 
A few years ago, some parents asked me to give a series of talks on Fatherhood.  To prepare for it, I read some great books by some wonderful Christian authors.  One book, entitled “King Me”, by Steve Farrar, became very useful for my talks. It was filled with great (and true) stories that anyone could relate to.  The very first story in the book struck a chord with me and with my audience of men.
He was an evangelist who preached the Word with the Holy Spirit’s authority and power.  He was the most sought-after evangelist in his denomination.  If you wanted him to preach in your church, you had to get in line and wait at least four years…
The numerous invitations were always a pull away from his family.  But he and his wife had settled on a formula that worked well…The formula was simple:  He would go out and preach for two weeks and then come home for two weeks…Everything was working and God was blessing.  His marriage was strong.  His boy, now a teenager, was doing well in school and athletics.  His ministry was taking off like a rocket.
And then the phone rang…It was his wife…She had had enough with their sixteen-year-old son.  She couldn’t do it anymore.  He was becoming increasingly rebellious.  She was losing all authority.  She told her husband, “I need you.”
The boy’s father arrived home and within days a For Sale sign was in the front yard.  He cancelled all future speaking engagements and accepted the pastorate of a small church in another state…Until his son graduated from high school and went off to college, he pastured the small church and mentored his growing son. 
With his son headed off to college, he was ready to return to evangelism.  But in those few years away from the preaching circuit, many of the older pastors had retired and been replaced by younger men.  He was no longer in demand…The decision to go home had come at a great price.
But because he had made the tough decision and went home to focus on his family, years later his son would begin a ministry known as Focus on the Family.
James Dobson is the product of his father, James Dobson Sr.
Although Father’s Day has passed, we should not forget what a treasure our family and friends are in our lives.
Faith, Family and friends.  These three are our greatest treasures.  To be blessed with them is worth more than all the gold and silver.  I really believe this.  They are the source of so much of our joy.  They are also the cause of so much pain and suffering; which only reaffirms what I just said, for if neither really mattered to us, then neither could ever produce so much distress in our lives! 
Faith, Family and friends are our greatest investments and natural resources.  They are well worth our time and effort.  They are our roots and wings.  They give us a sense of stability and security in a cold, unforgiving and ever changing (and passing) world (check out 2Cor 11:21-30 to know what I mean). 
Without them we would be more than lost.  We would be irrelevant. 
God bless you all!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mt 6:7-15 An Eye and A Prayer

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples:  “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them.  Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Instead of praying, we wish.  I wish my life were better…  I wish my spouse were dead…  I wish my job would pay better…
Instead of praying too much, we imagine way too much.   I wonder what my life will be like in five years…  I wonder what I will be doing in the future…  I wonder what I will look like in… 100,000 years?
Recently, I read a scientific article entitled, “What Will Humans look like in 100,000 years?”  The author is Dr. Alan Kwan, a PhD in Computational Genomics from Washington University.  The artist in the study, Nickolay Lamm, told the Daily News that this is “speculation based on reason.”  Wow!   Isn’t it amazing what reason can do for you, and how it can take you to your very own conclusions? 
Below are some pictures the so-called experts provided for us.  From what I can see, our eyes will change significantly in 100,000 years. 
[Lt] This is what most of us look like today.  [Rt] This is what we will look like in 100,000 years.
I don’t know about you, but aren’t you wondering why our brilliant scientists stopped at 100,000 years?  Why didn’t they show us what we will look like in say…200,000 years?  Are they concerned we will look something like the following:

Well, after reading this article, it’s clear to me that if religion is considered a “competitor” of science, then art must be as well.  After all, both God and artists keep taking us well into the future, and well before any scientist ever did!  Like God, artists are honest, creative and highly skilled and imaginative.  They go where no man has ever gone before!
Good humor aside, what will be important for man is that he keeps praying well into the future.  For if he wishes to celebrate his future it will take much more than big eyes to get there.  It will take big hearts (humility) and God’s grace!  It will take prayer, lots of it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mt 6:1-18 You’re Gonna Like The Way You Look

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples:  “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”
I find it amazing how people change over time.  It appears as though some bad people, a long time ago, performed good deeds so that others could see them and reward them.  Now, it seems as though some good people perform bad deeds so that others can see them and reward them. 
According to Christ, they are all hypocrites, for what they do in public does not correspond to their inner heart.
Are you a hypocrite?
Take care.  One of the biggest challenges we all face in our lives is to be authentic, to be true.  God is not at all interested in making an impression.  Can you tell?  He lived in a poor, unimpressive village.  He came from a poor and unimpressive family.  He traveled around a poor and unimpressive nation.  By the looks of it, Christ should have gone down in history as being unimpressive and irrelevant.
But looks can be deceiving, and that’s why he was so critical of the Pharisees and scribes.  They looked great.  They seemed so perfect.  They appeared to be so holy.
I’m not holy.  I’m not perfect.  I’m not great.  That is a good start.  But it isn’t enough for the Lord.  He wants us to be holy, to be perfect and to be great as our heavenly Father is.  The Lord doesn’t want us to be “true to ourselves.”  He wants us to be “true to our Creator.”
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.  If St. Paul had been true to himself, he would have never changed himself.  The secret to his success was not that he wanted to be a better “he”, but that he wanted to be a better “Him.”  “It is no longer I who live in me, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, consider this:  whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9:6-11).
Face yourself.  Embrace reality.  Embrace God.
It’s okay for us to be poor and to look rich.  It’s okay for us to make big sacrifices and still have a smile on our face.  It’s okay.  In fact, it’s better than okay.  It’s great!  It’s holy and perfect.  God loves a cheerful giver, and a cheerful giver tells the world that they are happy in their giving!
Let’s do it.  Let’s try it.  Let’s see what happens next.  You’re gonna like the way you look.  I guarantee it.