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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Jesus' Wisdom

"I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking." Lk 21:15

Several years ago a friend insisted that wisdom is o.k. but he agreed with Sophie Tucker's famous maxim, "I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better." Humorous, but scary. Many, if not most people who identify as Christians, subscribe to sayings like this even when Oxfam reports that the 85 richest people in the world have more wealth than the 3.5 billion poorest. More important for Americans, Oxfam also tells us that in the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

Imagine what these statistics would look like if Christians chose the wisdom of Jesus rather than wealth and power over others. Wise believers would seek a path to justice for all, a way to use the earth's resources to address the the ISIS crisis, the ongoing AIDS pandemic, and a world that attacks poverty instead of people. Why not dream? Jesus did and changed how we view the world and our place in it.

Today, pray for the wisdom to be the Christian God needs you to be.

What gift would you ask of God?

Friday, November 11, 2016

St Josaphat

"Pray always without becoming weary." Lk 18:1

In the 17th chapter of St. John's gospel, Jesus prays that his disciples may be one, but even a cursory glance at the history of the church reminds us that unity is not uniformity. There are 13 rites, many of which have multiple subdivisions. In the Roman Catholic Church each of these rites, "possess their own hierarchy, differ in liturgical and ecclesiastical discipline, and possess their own spiritual heritage." l In other words, while the liturgy, language, law and spirituality may differ markedly, the Christ who is their center is the same. It is this unity that St. Josapha worked so hard to attain.

Josaphat, working to heal the Great Schism (1054) between Eastern and Western churches, spent his entire life in pursuit of the unity for which Jesus prayed. At Vatican II, the Council fathers made it clear that Christian unity remained one of it's principal concerns.2 How very important then to listen to Jesus' command to pray always without becoming weary. No matter how painful and frustrating our divisions might be, we must continue to pray and work for Christian unity.

Today, quietly examine the issues that divide your family and/or your parish and ask God for a path of unity and peace.

What do you think are the marks of unity in the Church?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

St Martin of Tours

 "Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it," Lk 17:33

Two incidents in the life of St Martin of Tours, both recorded by his disciple and biographer, Sulpicius Severus, capture our attention. In the first, Martin meets an almost naked beggar outside the city of Amiens in present day France. Moved by the man's desperate need, Martin cuts his own cloak in half and gives it to the beggar. That night, in a dream, Martin sees Jesus dressed in the cloak he had given the beggar and hears Jesus say: "This is Martin, the unbaptized one, who has clad me." Sulpicius says that after the dream Martin "rushed to be baptized."

The second story is about Martin's "conscientious objection." Conscripted into the Roman army against his will at 15 , Martin was discharged 8 years later after refusing a bonus given to soldiers on the eve of battle. Severus quotes Martin's response to his commanding officer. "I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight."(1) Imprisoned for his refusal to take up arms, Martin offers to stand unarmed at the front of the troops as they ready themselves for battle, but when the two armies forged a peace, his gesture was never needed and Martin was discharged from the army. These stories were so compelling in the early church that Martin became and remains one of our church's most popular saints.

Today, let go of a worn out thought that troubles you.

What about saints makes them attractive to you?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

St Leo the Great

"I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me." Phil 4:13

St Leo the Great, better known to most as the Pope whose eloquence convinced Attila the Hun not to destroy Rome, must have had a big dose of the strength St. Paul talks about in today's his letter to the Phillipians. An authentic relationship with Christ can do this. When we enter the mystery of the Jesus as truly God and truly human, his power becomes ours and enables us to live in ways we could never imagine.

St Leo's faith was such that, while on a mission to Gaul, he was elected by the people to be bishop of Rome and Pope. It was everyday people who recognized in Leo the kind of faith they knew was necessary to direct the church at a very turbulent time. Leo not only effectively moved the church to recognize the importance of Rome as the seat of church authority, he did it peacefully, an effort that effectively won for him the title Great.

Today, ask God for the strength to live your baptismal vocation with peace and power.

What believers do you think of as Great?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

"Do this in memory of me." Lk 22:19

One of the most important words in the Catholic tradition is remember.  When we pause to remember the Dedication of a church, we do so, not first to admire the building, no matter how beautiful, but to offer a prayer of gratitude for all those who gathered there over the centuries. We remember the people who put brick upon brick; we remember the joy generations of people felt to be free enough to gather in faith for small and great feasts and, in the case of St. John Lateran, we remember that it is the parish of the Pope, the community to which the Holy Father belongs, the people given to him as pastor so that he might be renewed in his own faith.

Each day for many of us at the Eucharist, and at least once a week for all of us, we are called together to remember our baptism, that we are church. We gather for the celebration of the "breaking of the bread" with other believers as members of Christ's body knowing that when we are together in Christ, faith comes alive in a visual way. We gather to be re-membered, bonded to one another in hope. Some of us are hands, others feet, but all have a role and function in the living body of Christ and together we proclaim the Glory of God and the power of the Good News of Jesus Christ. That is what it means for us to be church.

Today, pray in gratitude for your parish community.

How do you understand the word "church?"


Monday, November 7, 2016

Entitlement

"When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'" Lk 17:10

Attitude is everything and nothing gets in the way of having an authentic Christian attitude more than a sense of entitlement. When we begin to think that we have earned everything we have, even if we have worked hard all our lives, we forget how blessed we have been.

I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood. People shared freely the little they had. Our parents did everything they could to send us to Catholic schools and colleges where we would have an opportunity for a better life. They did not expect much from us in return. They were happy to give us everything they had, but they did demand that we work hard, and that we be grateful, and never take for granted what came to us because of the generosity of others.

This is especially true of faith. Our attitude about faith, about what we can contribute to the building up of the body of Christ, about others who think differently than us must be one of gratitude. In fact, our faith reminds us continually that all is gift. Life is gift, creation is gift, friendship is gift, prayer is gift, and all are gifts to be given away. When Jesus sends the disciples out to proclaim good news he is clear: "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give."(Mt 10:8)

Today, check your attitude and be grateful for your faith.

How do you avoid a sense of entitlement?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Miracles

"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you." Lk 17:6

As children this text was confusing and exciting. Was it possible to have so much faith that one could perform miracles, and if so what did you have to do to learn this skill? Of course, the passage is not about power and extraordinary signs and wonders, but gratitude.

When we are grateful for the faith we have and remember that it is an unearned gift, everything changes. We may not be able to perform miracles, but we realize more and more deeply that our life is a miracle, and that God is not a hovering presence waiting for us to make a mistake, but a loving father who wants us to be ourselves and to celebrate his love in our lives. Jesus is trying to help his listeners understand and appreciate that they are much stronger than they realize if only they live their faith on a daily basis.

Today, let go of a mountain you have been trying to conquer.

What have been the ordinary miracles in your life?