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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Marriage

"What God has joined together no human being must separate." Mk 10:9

Marriage is a sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church, and like all sacraments, an enduring sign of God's love for us. The love of wife and husband for one another in faith is a witness to God's unquenchable and total love for us, and the fundamental reason for the church's prohibition against divorce. Since Christ cannot stop loving us, married couples are challenged to love one another through every trial. St. Paul says it most simply.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church... husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. :..."For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. Eph 5: 25-26
The challenge of Paul's sentiments can seem overwhelming to married couples, especially when they are struggling with their commitment to one another. Nevertheless, the vision and hope of Paul remain. There is no clearer sign of Christ's love for the church than a married couple trying to heal one another, push past infidelities great and small, and build their relationship into a transparent witness to Christ's love for the church.

Today, pray for those struggling in marriage.

How important do you think marriage is in and for the church?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Humility

"I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.: Lk 10:20

Knowing exactly what Jesus means by childlike is not easy. In the ancient world,  because children had little economic value until they could work, it was counter intuitive to imitate them. Nevertheless, Jesus holds them up for us as a model of faith life. Unless we are as vulnerable as children were in Jesus' day, we will think too highly of ourselves and the haughtiness that can accompany education, power and wealth get in the way of our witness to the Gospel.

Jesus does not want us to follow him for its social value. Otherwise, he would have told us to wear multiple tunics, carry money and wear fine sandals so that those who met us would be impressed with what following Jesus did for us. Rather, he tells us to take nothing for the journey so that all will see in us people whose only task is to announce the Good News. Like John the Baptist, we go before the Lord to prepare the way.

When we think about people who have humbled themselves for us, we are always moved. On a recent trip to Africa, I was met at the airport like a Hollywood personality, and although it was embarrassing, I knew it is not about me, but about what those welcoming me hoped I could help them do for their communities of faith. For those who are public figures announcing the Good News, this Gospel is especially important. It is not a big head that gets us into heaven, but a big heart.

Today, listen to others like a child listening to a bedtime story.

Whose childlike faith helped shape yours?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Taking the Long View

"The LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said: Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place For taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are shaken from its surface?" Job 38:1

When God questions and challenges Job, we cringe. God is just, loving and merciful but sometimes it seems God is none of these things. When Job wondered about God's justice and mercy, God answers him and us. Don't be shortsighted, Job. Sometimes you have to take the long view, fly at 30,000 feet and trust that what is happening in the moment is not the entire story. Job struggles to hear this message. So do we, but being just is an attitude, a way of looking at the world. It does not begin with wondering whether someone deserves our care, but with fulfilling God's challenge to help those in need without regard to social class, race, religion or culture. What a great challenge Job and we receive.

People without a voice, a job or a position of power need to know that God cares about and for them, and we, God's people, are the way God shows this to the them and to the world. We are God's face, ears and hands, gazing upon, listening to and reaching out for anyone, but especially for those bound unjustly. Hearing God's challenge and responding is not the work of a single day, week or month, but of a lifetime. When we make time and take time to listen to the world as it is, we cannot not hear and see those in need. More important, over time we learn to respond with compassion and humility. Most of us are only two paychecks a way from poverty.

Today, pray for the homeless wherever they live, but especially for those in your own city or town.



What is your attitude towards the chronically needy?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Our Holy Father St Francis

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes." Lk 10:13

The name Francis is in the forefront of the news these days. Pope Francis has made it so. Humble, honest, and unafraid to speak his mind, our Pope has challenged us to face the sexual abuse crisis head on and captivated the imagination of many around the world. Calling the church to return to its foundations, Pope Francis is living up to his name, and although, like St Francis, he is making some Catholics nervous, he is doing what he promised when first elected. When asked why he chose the name Francis, he was clear, “The poor, the poor. When he (Cardinal Hummes of Brazil) spoke about the poor, I thought of St. Francis of Assisi,” said the pope, who took the name of Francis, “Then, I thought of the wars,” and our mother the earth, and the voiceless.

St Francis of Assisi not only thought about the poor, he became poor and allowed God to turn his life upside down. Like the 3rd century martyr, St Maximilian, who said "I am a solder of Christ, I cannot fight," Francis fought not for dominance over his neighbors but for Gospel purity. Wanting to live so poorly that he and his brothers would have nothing to defend, he directed the friars to own nothing, eventually convincing the Roman hierarchy to approve their way of life. Francis' example continues to inspire thousands of women and men today.

Today, live simply so that others can live.

What should be our response to the poor?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Following Jesus Despite the Cost

"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." Lk 9:58

Jesus continually surprises his disciples. Just as they get comfortable with the direction he is taking, he turns a corner and turns their world upside down. When someone from the crowd, exultant and full of himself, proclaims that he will follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus reminds him that he himself has no place to lay his head. Is the fellow from the crowd willing to become a nomad and follow Jesus into the wilderness? What a challenge?

In claiming his identity as a pilgrim and an itinerant preacher, Jesus promises us, that like the God of the Hebrew scriptures, he will follow his flock anywhere and everywhere. Though he makes few demands, he is always imploring us to live like him, without family or wealth, but full of hope and compassion. God will guide us and care for us, he insists, but we have to trust. The emptiness of having nothing in Christ is a fullness beyond compare. Clinging to nothing, we have everything. The faith to believe this is the test we all face.

Today, empty yourself of everything that gets in the way of loving God and neighbor.

Have you known the glory of feeling rich even when you have nothing?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Guardian Angels

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” Mt 18:10

Most of us work diligently not to despise anyone or anything, trying always to think of all creation as a gift from God. Nevertheless, we slip, we sin, we fail. In recent days, the actions of our Congress have led many to despise the intransigence of those we have elected to serve, but whose behavior too often seems self protective and rigid. Because we so need our representatives to remember all the people of this nation, especially the poor, we expect them to have the comprehensive and inclusive view of what a stoppage in government service might mean for the neediest of our citizens.

When Jesus wants his disciples and opponents to understand fully his attitude towards them and his expectations of them, he reminds them to look at children as icons of humility. Children, he insists, can teach all what it means to understand greatness. We are not called to dominate or manipulate others, but to serve one another like children and slaves, and to be innocent, vulnerable and alert to everything and everyone around us, especially the poor.

Today, remember that there are angels around us to protect us.

How do you counter arrogance in yourself and others?

Sunday, September 30, 2018

St Therese the Little Flower

“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” (Lk 10:21)

Therese of Lisieux, who came to prominence at a time when the world was experiencing two world wars and violence of a kind never before seen, was one of the most popular saints of the 20th century. Therese’s “little way” made sense to the people of the United States who were overwhelmed by the loss of husbands, children, brothers and friends in wars fought far from home. Living each day with simplicity, handing one’s life over to God, and offering “every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love,” helped people who were being bombarded with painful news on a daily basis.

In recent days, the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Syria, which seem endless, call for deep discernment and prayer  .  We cannot help but wonder where the violence will end, and whether there isn't another way of responding to those whose tactics are so overwhelmingly violent. Unless we search for new responses to those with whom we disagree, we will surely become numb and unable to to respond with a Gospel heart to those with whom we differ.

Perhaps Therese’s little way can still help us. If we commit ourselves anew to a simple path of prayer, conversation and patience, without denying the horrors of war, famine, disease and hunger, we might discover a God who is only too anxious to help us.

Today, live simply so that others can simply live.



How do you respond to violence against you in your own life?