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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

"Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Cor 13: 11-12

God is a relationship.  We need to chew on this notion for a while. We might also say that God as Trinity is perfect love. Whatever we say, however, will be inadequate. When we are searching for ways to understand who God is, we can only speak analogously. We can say God is like something we know, a marriage for instance. When a man loves a woman and a woman loves a man unconditionally they create something new, and I don't necessarily mean a child. Whenever anyone loves another unconditionally and receives love unconditionally, something new emerges. In God, that someone new is the Holy Spirit.

Too heady? Perhaps, but we are trying to get our heads around a mystery, and while words will always be inadequate, we must try. The mystery of the Trinity is at the heart of our faith because it calls us as Christians to be communion of persons without subordination or domination. In the mystery of the Trinity, every person is called, despite their limitations and sins, to be in a union of equality with others without a hierarchy that makes one person more important than others.

Simply put, we reflect the Trinity when we look at one another with awe and wonder, not seeking to control the other or be controlled  by them, and when we allow this communion to proclaim the Good News. It is not so much what we say, but how we treat one another because we see each person the finger of God.

Today, pray that all your relationships will speak of God's presence and peace.

Whose love for you has been so unconditional that it led you to believe more deeply in God's unconditional love?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Yes, No!

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

Although it is important to speak carefully and clearly about important matters, we have to avoid becoming disingenuous. Too often, trying to be politically correct, we verbally dance around troubling social issues. More concerned with not making a mistake of offending others, we say nothing, which often results in the needs of the poor being ignored or neglected. People who come to the United States from countries and continents where English is not the first language are especially vulnerable to our failure not to speak clearly about the rights of people to eat, have decent schools, and get adequate medical care.

Years ago, after a meeting in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts where the majority of the people of the parish spoke Spanish, 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.

Who have been the most honest people you have known?


Thursday, June 12, 2014

St Anthony of Padua

“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” 1 Kgs 19:11

Finding God is everywhere is possible, even easy at times, as long as we are willing to let God lead us, but most North Americans are so busy that they often fail to hear, much less, accept God's invitation. Worried, like Martha in the Gospel of of Luke (10:38-42) about too many details, we miss the forest for the trees.

We need to learn to slow down everyday and notice God's finger everywhere. When we fail to breathe the morning air deeply, stretch and look around at what nature is presenting each day, we miss the God hidden in all of creation. When we keep walking when a family member, colleague or friend has a question for us, we tell them without words that we are not prepared to listen deeply to them. When people become objects that we manipulate for our own pleasure or power, we fail to notice God within them and in our relationships.

The prophet Elijah teaches us this lesson powerfully. When God told Elijah to go outside and wait for God who would be passing by, the prophet obeyed and discovered God, not in a fierce wind, an earthquake or a fire, but in the tiny whispering sound. Unless we are willing to let God speak to us in God's voice, we will rush past the God who is everywhere beckoning us, often in a whisper, to come closer.

Today, slow down for ten minutes and see what God says.

Where are the most ordinary places you hear God's voice?




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Righteous

“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven." Mt 5:50

Righteousness is a difficult word to get hold of in American English. Often confused with self righteousness, Americans think of righteous people as arrogant and dismissive of others, especially those they judge to be uneducated or of a lower class. Righteous people smile slyly when others make factual errors or grammatical mistakes in speech. Righteous people don't make great friends.

Righteousness in the bible is a virtue we need to build into our lives. Righteousness can be translated as doing justice, especially in our social relationships. When Jesus tells his disciples that their righteousness must surpass that of the Jewish leaders, he makes clear that no matter how needy they might be, they must not be greedy, but still treat others with compassion, understanding and justice. Cheating anyone, but especially foreigners or the very poor, will result in God's harsh judgement.

Though it would have been understandable for the first disciples to want vengeance against the Scribes and Pharisees because of how poorly they were treated, Jesus wants them to change the social paradigm which led to a society of winners and losers. In Christ all are winners because Christians will always share n justice whatever they have with the needy.

Today, ask God to heal you and heal those oppressed by injustice.

How might we better explain righteousness as a Gospel imperative?






Tuesday, June 10, 2014

St Barnabas

"When Barnabas arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith." Acts 11:22

St Barnabas is best known as a companion to Paul on Paul's missionary journeys, especially to the Gentiles, but it seems fair to presume that Barnabas was more than a companion. Since we know that Paul was not immune to sending weaker companions home when they could not speak or live the Gospel with the fierceness he expected, he needed a Barnabas, someone with whom he could speak intimately, a friend who could help him negotiate the more fiery side of his personality.

A scripture professor of mine used to remind his students that St Paul had enough "shoulds" for everyone, that there was no need to add any more prohibitions and warnings to Christian dogma since Paul's style was so straightforward and agitational. Barnabas would have been the one friend who could calm Paul down and remind him that Jesus was compassionate as well as challenging.

Almost all of us need someone to help us integrate the shadow side of our personality. If we are naturally given to quiet and prayer, we need friends who remind us that the Gospel also calls us to announce the Good News of Justice and Peace. If we tend to be overbearing and judgmental, we need friends who help us soften these natural inclinations. Whenever we are trying to let God open us to the person God needs us to be, it is important to allow others to see us through a different lens and point us in a direction we might naturally resist.

Today, pray to allow a "Barnabas" to enter your life and help you live the whole Gospel.

Who or what has helped you see the fullness of the Gospel life?


Monday, June 9, 2014

A Light in the Dark

"Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house." Mt 5:15

At the time of Jesus, because they were so difficult to light, lamps remained lit throughout the day. At night, they would be put on a lampstand so that everyone could see, but during the day, they would be covered in order that oil would burn very slowly and its value would last longer.

This is an important image for Christians. Whenever we are in the dark, it is important to have a light to help us see, guide us and give us access to the dark spaces of our inner lives. Jesus came into the world as light coming into the dark. A gift from God for all, we have only to stay close to him to see clearly where it is we are, and where it is we need to go.

The primary task of the Christian is to preserve the light, not to use it foolishly during the day when no one needs it to see. Rather, believers seek out the darkest corners of the globe, places where refugees gather, and the poor seek food, employment and housing. Content to help others, like Jesus, see who they are in God's sight and where God needs them to go, as light we do not direct others, but make it possible for them to find their own way. This humble task remains a linchpin of faith for every believer. Not only does it bring us joy, it assures us that we are doing God's work.

Today, be a quiet light for someone who feels lost.

Who has been a light to you in the darkness?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Journey

“The Lord said to Elijah: 'Leave here, go east and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the stream, and I have commanded ravens to feed you there.'” 1 Kings 17:2

There is an enormous difference between hiding from God and hiding with God. Most of our lives, even after we have experienced God's love directly, we hide from God. Aware that God is demanding, we get busy about many things in order to avoid listening to God, and changing our lives. Unfortunately, for those who have been on the Way for a while, there is no hiding from God long term. God will be God and until we accept God's direction on a daily basis, we will be frustrated.

Elijah, on the other hand, listens to God, warns Ahab that no rain will fall upon the land of Israel until the people repent, and then goes East and hides with God. Not only will Elijah have water to drink and food to eat, God will be with him as long as he listens and obeys, and the same promise will be ours as long as we are willing to live the Gospel, and announce it with power.

The journey or the pilgrimage to which every believer is called is simple but difficult. Elijah teaches us to let go of our security, and trust that God will provide us with what we need to live. Trusting God, however, is a great challenge, because so many people seem to live well and happily without the burdens or the challenges of the Gospel. Ahab, believing his power as King was enough to make him prosperous and secure, ignored Elijah, worshiped Baal and exposed all of Israel to God's wrath. Only after Elijah demonstrated that he was God's prophet by challenging the prophets of Baal, was Ahab willing to submit himself to God again.

Today, pray to be open to whatever God asks.

Have you been tested by God and known God's promise as true?