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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

"You are a people sacred to the LORD, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own." Dt 7:6

The feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that we are embodied, that our faith celebrates not just the salvation of our souls, but our entire person. Like the feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the feast of the Sacred Heart counters any tendency in the Christian community to forget the God sent his son among us as a fully human person and through him reminded us that God wants to be us with us body and soul forever. How our resurrected bodies might look is not the issue. That we will be with God in our bodies is.

The scriptures are forever reminding us of this, but in a world where so many live in large cities, we can forget the importance of creation, all of which manifests the glory and face of God in marvelous ways. The Canticle of Daniel even reminds creation itself to praise and bless the Lord. Listen:
Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. All you winds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Dew and rain, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
Today's feast calls us to come closer to the heart of Jesus where we will find mercy, consolation and hope. What else could we desire.

Whose loving heart has most formed you in faith?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Lord's Prayer

"Our Father who are in heaven, hallowed be they name." Mt 6:9

For believers, the first task each day is to acknowledge God and God's place in our lives. The Lord's Prayer both helps us remember this fundamental stance and teaches us how to do it. More often than not, most of us are ready to tell God our story, enumerate our needs and ask for help, but the Our Father reminds us that for the believer recognizing our dependence on God must always be first desire and duty.

Muslims, though using a different name for God, take a very similar stance when they pray the Shahada, "There is no God but God, and Mohammad is the Prophet." Some Muslim scholars suggest that when Muslims pray they are seeking the same blessings that Catholics desire and experience in the Eucharist. Learning to bow our heads at the name of God is another way of accepting God's presence and power in our lives, and is something that would help believers to live more fully in the presence of God.

It is so easy in a world full of information and internet web access to think of ourselves in powerful terms. After all, we can ask Mr Google almost anything and receive 100 million possible answers within two or three seconds. Doesn't this indicate the growing control we have over the world as we know it?  While we do have access to more information than we could every process or interpret, knowledge without gratitude for the One who is all knowing does the believer little good.

Today, say the Lord's Prayer slowly and reverently.

If you, like the Apostles, could ask Jesus how to pray what would you expect him to teach you?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Avoiding the Spotlight

"Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may seem them." Mt 6:1

Being seen is often important for celebrities. Living in the New York area, there are always reports about actors, business people and athletes at this or that event, with photographers recording their every move and word. Although many claim not to enjoy this part of celebrity, I am not so sure. Without all the photos, radio and TV appearances, their name and image would slip from public consciousness and their fame, which is already fleeting, might disappear completely. Celebrities need a kind of notoriety to get work and demand high salaries.

This is not the way Jesus envisions the lives of his disciples. In fact, he is clear: Do not let your right hand know what your left is doing. Don't prance about in public in order to be noticed. Do the right thing for the right reason, not to be seen but to promote God's reign.

Today, avoid the spotlight.

Whose life of simple, transparent faith most moves you to live the Gospel without concern for personal gain?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Doing Justice, Loving our Enemies

"Love your enemies." Mt 5:44

Doing justice is rarely pretty or without agitation for the just person and the society in which she lives. Insisting that everyone has a right to life, food, housing, education, medical care and speech will always upset some, especially if the just person speaks on behalf of people in prisons or others who we blithely say should be deprived of their human rights because of a crime.  While it might be necessary to imprison people for serious offenses against the society, we must never forget that they are human persons, beloved by God and worthy of our respect.

God promises never to forget our just actions, despite the cost to us or our faith communities. Doing what is right no matter how difficult the circumstances is always a challenge, but one we must accept if we are to claim God as our unconditionally loving Lord.

Today, ask God for the eyes to see your enemies with God's eyes.

Have you experienced God's love as unconditional?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

All is Gift

"We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain." 2 Cor 5:1

All that is, is for us. Our first task is to stand in awe and gratitude before the God who loves us so. Too often we take for granted the wonders of creation. Trapped in teeming cities or lost in the wilderness, we scratch and claw competitively for our little piece of creation. What a shame. Clearly, the earth can produce enough food for all to eat, but too often we lack a commitment to share it.

St Francis of Assisi offers us a wonderful example of this in his treatment of lepers. Fearful of contracting leprosy which in the 13th century was thought to be contagious, Francis and his contemporaries avoided lepers and isolated them socially. Relegated to the margins of every town and village, lepers were instructed to ring a bell or call out "unclean" if anyone came too close to them.

After God graced Francis with the courage to confront his fears and kiss a leper, everything changed. Francis so identified with lepers that he lived among them on the outskirts of Assisi, and went about proclaiming God's special love for the voiceless and forgotten. His message of peace and the dignity of every creature not only moved the people of his day, it continues to challenge us to see all creation as God's gift.

Today, pray for and speak with a "leper" in your world.

How do you understand and appreciate all creation as a gift of God?