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Friday, May 25, 2018

St Philip Neri

"Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy." 1 Pt 2:10

St Philip, a gregarious, funny, and well respected man was committed to humility as an essential value for the Oratorians, the society of Apostolic life which he helped found in the sixteenth century. Begun in a church that was sharply divided by the Protestant Reformation, the Oratorians were committed to being quiet cells of prayer and hope in a church that had lost its way and needed serious internal reformation. One story about Philip in this regard says it all. After hearing one of his brother priest's give a well received homily, he ordered him to give it again six times in a row so that people would think he had only one sermon.  

Though Philip's action might seem cruel to some, many of my brother Capuchins tease one another that the best homilists among us have only three distinct sermons, and most of us have one! At the same time, we acknowledge that the one thought or one homily, rooted in God's power to save rather than our eloquence, helps people more than all our insights.



Today, pray for the gift of humor as you admit your faults.

Who or what keeps you humble?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Be Honest

"Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One.” Mt 5:37

A few years ago, a woman approached me and asked whether I knew her. I hemmed and hawed a little bit, and then said no, I didn't think so. When she told me that she lived across the street, I was deeply embarrassed. I didn't know her, even though she was at mass every Sunday, because she spoke very little English. A doctor and a woman who wanted to help other parishioners, she was invisible to me.

Jesus asks us to be honest. In my case, it would have been better had I simply said, no, I don't know you, and accepted the consequences. Only when we acknowledge our weaknesses do we have the freedom to correct them and say yes to doing Christ's work in every circumstance.

Today, let your yes be yes and your no, no.

How do you avoid being disingenuous? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Drink of Water

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. 'Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.'" Mt 9: 41-42

To live the Gospel and gain its benefits is simple. Give a thirsty person something to drink in the name of the Christ. But it is also simple to break the law.  Anyone who teaches an innocent person to sin, to reject the Gospel, to disparage others, to steal another's reputation, to control others for their own gain rather than announce the Good News, will reap the wrath of God.

Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and caring for the sick and needy is a privilege. It is how the Gospel teaches us to witness to what we have learned. Knowing that faith and all it contains is a gift helps us to remember never to think of our faith as a private possession for our own salvation but as an offering from God that we need to share with the same gracious love God shows us.

Today, offer someone a drink of water.

How would you teach the young not to take faith for granted but to share it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Foolish Competition

"Whoever is not against us is for us.” Mk 9:40

Competition, especially between and among men, is natural and can be fun. Who can find and wear the loudest shirt or jacket, which football team plays the best and the smartest (even if they lose most of the time) or who knows where the least expensive restaurant is are only a few of the ways we compete, but the Gospel challenges us not to be competitive about power.

Newly called as an apostle, John is troubled when others claim they are acting in Jesus' name but do not follow the Lord and asks Jesus how he should respond. Only concerned with helping others, Jesus cautions John not to worry about having control of every situation, but to broaden his perspective. As long as others are not preaching or acting against him, Jesus is content to encourage them to do good, especially on behalf of those who are struggling in life.

Nothing that helps the lost and gives voice to those to whom no one listens should be ignored in the name of Christianity or to prove that we are right. Only when we focus of those in desperate need can we be sure we are following Jesus.

Today, pray for those who work for interfaith cooperation.

How do you avoid unnecessary competition?