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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Be a Light in the Darkness

"Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!" NM 11:29

The law can only go so far. Moses knew this, and so did Jesus. In the book of Numbers we read about Moses seeking help to do all the works of God. Overwhelmed with too much to do (sound familiar?), Moses empowers seventy elders to help him do God's work and to prophesy. When two men, Eldad and Medad, who were not among the seventy Moses commissioned, start prophysying, Joshua is alarmed that the words of God will be muddied and tells Moses to stop them. Moses doesn't hesitate at all. Let Eldad and Medad be, he insists,  because they are believers and good men. But Moses goes furthe, encouraging all God's people to speak on behalf of God. How else, he must have wondered, would the Word of God spread and all people learn of God's meciful love.

Today, especially in the light of the secual abuse scandal, it once again seems necessary for all Christain people to preach, not only in word but with their lives, about the saving love of God in Jesus Christ. When bishops and priests fail to announce the Good News with power, even distort it because they are afaid they will lose their influence and prestige, something new has to emerge. Jesus spoke of this clearly especially when he told the people listening to him not to live like the Pharisees and Sadducees who only laid heavy burdens of people and did nothing to life them up in hope. Clearly, we need prophetic voices in our church to make sure the Gospel is heard and lived. We should not worry overly much about who preaches it.

Today, take a moment to be grateful for your faith life and tell someone about it.

Who has helped you deepen your faith life in dark times?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Sts Michael, Gabriel, Raphael

"In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord." Ps 138

In our information saturated culture, it is easy to forget how important messengers are. In many parts of the world, there are women and men who write letters for those in their families or villages who are illiterate. Many of these scribes, knowing how desperate their clients are to speak of their love or concern, try not just to communicate a message in a literal way, but seek to put tone and feeling into their writing.

In the ancient world, angels were messengers. Their primary task was to speak on behalf of God to people God wanted to address directly. Gabriel comes to Mary asking her to be the mother of God's son; Michael reminds the church that God will always guard us; and Raphael assures us that God will be our loving guide.

All of us are called to be angels to one another. Not only are we challenged to speak the Good News, we must be the Good News especially for those who are lost and broken, and this happens every time we let the word of God live in and through us. 

Today, be an angel to someone starving for a word of comfort.

Who has been an angel of God to you?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Announcing Jesus

"Who do the crowds say that I am?" Lk 9:19

All of us have experienced times and people about whom we feel compelled to speak. When Moses saw a burning bush, approached it and learned that God wanted to speak to him, he had to tell other about his experience. Elijah hears God, not in a strong wind or an earthquake, but in a tiny whisper, and realizes in the middle of his fear, that God is calling him. He cannot resist. Again, when Isaiah, hearing God wonder who to send, responds: Here I am, send me!

The great figures of the Hebrew bible announce God's presence and love whenever they encounter it, and so does Jesus. Not only does the Lord speak of God, he is God's Word enfleshed, the one about whom we cannot be silent, and this is the essence of Peter's response. You are "the Christ of God<" Peter proclaims. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter becomes, despite great personal danger and many faults, a new Proophet, recognizing Jesus for who he is. We must do the same.

Today, don't let yourself get too far into the day before you stop and recognize Jesus in every person you meet.

Who do you say Jesus is?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

St Vincent de Paul

"It is only for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them." St Vincent de Paul (1)

St Vincent de Paul has always been one of my favorite saints. His words are clear, direct and uncompromising. Two of his more noteworthy sayings are: “Extend mercy towards others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His mercy from us?” And, "Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances."

But no saying of Vincent has impacted me more than his demand that we love the poor, not just feed them. In truth, one can only know the power of this directive by experiencing it. Of all the ministries to which I have been called, it is my encounters with the poor, the homeless and the bed ridden that have been most life changing. They were and are a gift. If you have had the privilege of working with and serving the poor, you know exactly what I mean. If you have never had the opportunity, consider volunteering among those who are so close to God's heart and let their generosity impact your faith.

Today, ask God for the grace of merciful eyes and a forgiving heart.

Have you known poor people whose faith challenged and changed you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Two by Two

"Take nothing for the journey." Lk 9:2

Over the centuries much has been written about why Jesus sends his disciples two by two. Some commentators remind us that in the ancient world when anyone testified in court there had to be two corroborating witnesses in order to avoid having someone accuse another of a crime to hurt the other. Only when two people concur about a misdeed could their testimony be trusted. From this perspective the disciples were more believable when two witnessed to what happened to them when Jesus entered their lives.

Even more important according to other commentators was the quality of the relationship of the disciples had with one another. Their love for one another in Christ would be a great sign of the "truth" of Jesus message and life. That the disciples asked nothing of those to whom they were sent, nor carried anything to demonstrate their wealth or power was also important.

Knowing how difficult it can be to love one another consistently, and to live with little material wealth, the first hearers of the disciples had to be impressed. When people are willing to move beyond self absorption and share everything in common, they speak of a world beyond what we see and a promise of salvation that it is a gift to us not because of what we own or know, but because of God's gracious love.

Today, love another disciple not for what you gain, but because of the Gospel.

What draws you to a deeper belief in Christ?

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Cry of the Poor

"He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard." Prov 21:13

The early church struggled mightily with its relationship to the Gentiles. Not sure whether Jesus wanted them to impose the entire Torah on newly converted Gentiles, the apostles and disciples were deeply divided. After 14 years of insisting that there was no need for Gentiles to observe the entire Torah, Paul was anxious to settle the matter. His letter to the Gentles (Acts 21:25) is one of his many responses. Reminding his readers that there was a matter more fundamental than circumcision or dietary laws, Paul highlights the concern every Christian should have.

Unless the first Christians attended to the needs of the poor, the message of Jesus would fall on deaf ears. With the contemporary church struggling with diminishing attendance, and the continued fallout from the sexual abuse crisis, Catholics need to remember, no matter what divides them, if they remain attentive to and responsive to the poor, the Gospel will continue to be preached and God's reign built. Nothing is more important.

Today, let go of arguments. Care for the poor.

How do you settle disagreements in your family?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Be a Light for Others

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.” (Lk 8:16)

Today we have an opportunity to reflect on one of the most accessible images in the entire gospel. The word Light appears almost 100 times in the New Testament. Not only are we encouraged to light a lamp and put it someplace so that others can see, the gospel also calls Jesus the light of the world and reminds us that John the Baptist was the light who prepared the world for Jesus' coming.

Electricity has become so natural and so accessible to life as we know it that we often take it for granted. Recently, I was preaching at a convent that was without electricity for several days. Living without light, especially for the older sisters, was not only difficult, it was dangerous. Not able to see where they were going or get out of their rooms easily, they felt frightened and trapped. When Jesus tells his contemporaries to light a light and put in on a lampstand so that people can see, anyone who has lived without light for a few days knows exactly what he meant.

Today, take a moment to thank God for all those who have been light for you, especially when the dark threatened to overwhelm you.

How can you be a light for others today?