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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Corpus Christi

"Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt,...and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers." Dt 8: 14b, 15

Nourishing food is as necessary for the spirit as it is for the body. When we do not have access to good and fresh food, our bodies become more vulnerable to illness and our souls have little to satisfy them. How insightful and natural for Jesus to give himself to us as food that recognizes the importance of our bodies and our souls.

The feast of Corpus Christi further reminds us that we are the Body of Christ, living food for all, and while none of us has to be the entire body, we must cooperate with all the members of Christ's body to help create a world where all eat and all have the freedom to pray and worship. Whether we are called to be an eye, a foot or an ear, each of us has a particular role, and when we live it well, everyone benefits. Corpus Christi is a good day to remember never to take food for granted and to celebrate the great gift of God's invitation to be his body in the world.

Today, be food for someone who is hungry.

Have you had the privilege of feeding others with food and/or faith?

Friday, June 20, 2014

St Aloysius Gonzaga

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them." Mt 6: 25=26

Worry rarely gets us anywhere, but we often can't stop obsessing about things that we know are not important but concern us nonetheless. Whether because our pride gets in the way or our self image is threatened, we find ourselves unsettled and perturbed over matters that we can't control.

Jesus warns his disciples and us about this. The leaders of the Jewish community, like so many people with a little bit of power, cling stubbornly to their interpretation of the law for fear they will lose their influence over their people. Forgetting that the Law's purpose is to remind Jews of God's largess, they argue among themselves about how to maintain control of the community. When Jesus' followers argued about who was the greatest, he challenged them to be like children and take the lowest place. Only in this way would they be able to demonstrate that they were his disciples.

Today, ask for the gift of true humility.

What do you think are the qualities of a Christian leader?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Gift of Our Bodies

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light." Mt 6:22

It is easy to take our bodies for granted. Young people are especially vulnerable to this fault, and sometimes even take risks that are foolish and dangerous. Who doesn't remember climbing in a car and driving too fast just for the fun of it, never thinking about our own safety or the threat to others. Feeling invulnerable as young people, we take chances that, as we age, we put aside as crazy.

Jesus focuses on our senses to help us realize what great gifts our bodies and our faith are. Our eyes for instance, when used properly, allow us to see and appreciate the glory of God in so many ways. Who does not love a sunset or a double rainbow? Who is not touched when we see kindness between and among people, especially when it is shown to the most vulnerable. To those willing to see, the entire world is aflame with the glory of God.

All our senses can help us grow in faith. When we offer or receive a simple touch of affirmation, we experience the goodness of God in the other and know that people are basically good. How important it is to develop positive attitudes towards others, especially those who are different from us.

Today, take a moment to breathe deeply and thank God for the gift of your body.

When have been most grateful for the gift of sight?




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Gift of Faith

"During his lifetime Elijah feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will." Sir 48:13

The strength we have as believers is not our own. It is a gift from God, and though it usually is a fuller expression of the gifts we have naturally, faith gives us the courage to live in a way that highlights the work of God is us. Faith becomes not something we possess but a way of life, and when it does, wonderful things are possible.

Elijah is a powerful example of a faith filled man. A prophet who seemed to come out of nowhere, his faith was so strong that his life and ministry were compared to a flaming furnace and a fire that scorched the earth. More important, his faith was so deep that he feared no one because he knew that God was the source of his power and would be his voice.

Faith is not something that we should ever take for granted. Rather, we need to work everyday to build it up and practice it, otherwise we will forget its power and possibility. Some form of daily prayer and reflection, the weekly Eucharist and regular service to those in need help us both to grow in faith and spread it by the witness of our lives.

Today, ask God to deepen your faith.

What practices most help you live your faith?


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hope

"Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord." Ps 31

Hope is an essential quality for Christians. Because we know, although we do not always feel it, that God is near, our faith calls us to be full of hope. Assured by Jesus that he will always accompany his people through his Spirit, we live surrounded by God's promise.

A priest friend of mine insisted that every difficulty we face in life is at the same time an opportunity, and he lived his conviction. Bill had the ability to see every glass as half full. Although a priest of Boston where he could have lived a comfortable life, he was deeply involved in Haiti, a country that has been struggling forever, but Bill never focused on the poverty of the people, but on their faith. He also had no doubt that the struggles of the church in the 21st century, especially of his home church of Boston, were simply a prelude TO a powerful renewal that the Holy Spirit was engineering.

People like Bill challenge us to believe and hope, no matter how difficult the circumstances of our life. Taking the natural gifts of a positive personality, he wove them into his faith life. As a pastor he not only gently accompanied the poor, he encouraged people of means to share their bounty with others. Bill's witness was contagious, and whenever I find myself moving into a dark place, I think of him and remember to hope in the God who lives within and among us as a ground upon which to stand and dream.

Today, speak hopefully to someone struggling in life.

What helps you to keep hope alive when you face difficult problems?




Monday, June 16, 2014

Enemies

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.'" Mt 5: 43-44

No passage in the Gospel tells us more about the radical demands of the Gospel than Jesus' command that we love our enemies. The laws of hospitality which the rabbis taught were strict. Because Israel was a desert land populated by nomads, travelers and strangers had to be welcomed, and this custom was rooted in memory. Jews had been strangers themselves and depended on the hospitality of others as they sought the promised land. The prophet Isaiah also reminds his readers to feed the hungry lavishly. Jews could have not doubts that the Torah wanted them to care for others as God had cared for them in their wanderings.

Nevertheless, Jesus' demand that we love our enemies interprets the Torah in a much more radical way and pushes Christians even further. It is one thing to welcome strangers and offer them a bit of bread, it is another altogether to love those who attack you or with whom you have been at war. If God's love for us is going to be announced clearly and dramatically, then Christians have to go the extra mile and let go of our resentments and desire for vengeance in order that God can be known.

Today, love someone who has hurt you.

Who has lived the Gospel most powerfully for you?


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Generosity

"Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” Mt 5:42

Years ago I remember a young mother of six exhorting her second youngest child to let his younger brother play with his toys. The little boy protested, but his mother only smiled and picked him up. If you let Jimmy play with whatever he wants, he will forget about it in a few minutes and you can have it back. Try to be patient and see what happens. The little boy took his mother's advice and learned a great lesson. If he did not cling to his own small possessions, he would be free, and soon enough he would learn that there were enough toys for him and his brother. Indeed, there is enough for all when we learn to let go.

Jesus teaches this same lesson often to his disciples. Remember what Jesus says to the elder son whose brother has returned after wasting his inheritance: "'Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'" (Lk 15:31-32) 

When we allow our possessions, our power or our fear to possess us, it becomes impossible to hear Jesus or anyone else. We build walls and fences to protect what little we have and vow to defend it with our lives. It is clear that the leaders of the Jews saw Jesus as a threat who was stripping them of what little power they had and so plotted to trip him up, not because he was dishonoring God, but because he was threatening their security, and all this in the name of God!

Today, give something away to someone freely, and do not expect it to be returned.

Who is the most generous person you know?