Follow Br Jack by Email

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Faith of the Poor

"The body is one, though it has many parts." 1 Cor 12:12

Often I find myself praying in gratitude for the people I have met along the way, especially people who could easily have walked away from faith because their journey was so difficult. Many of these people, especially today in the midst of the sexual abuse crisis, are the cornerstones of our parishes and faith communities, and my privilege has been to meet many in the developing world where their contact with parishes as we know them is limited. Strong in their faith, these powerful and committed believers continue to study, reflect and celebrate the mysteries of faith despite their poverty. They are, for me, contemporary heroes because they understand that the body is one, but has many parts. I not only admire them, try to emulate them.

St Paul regularly boasts about the believers who came to faith through his ministry. Never claiming them for himself, but for Christ, Paul reminds them that they "have the mind of Christ," and it will sustain them. Knowing how difficult it is to live their faith when few support them, Paul holds up the glory of their witness to Christ as an example for all to follow.

Today, boast about someone others ignore.

What helps you endure in faith on a daily basis?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Sts Timothy and Titus

"I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy." 2 Tim 1:4

St Paul's affection and love for Timothy is one of the few instances in the New Testament that allow us to experience the passion present in the first disciples. Paul reminds Timothy that his mother and grandmother were filled with faith and that he can rely on them as examples for his own faith growth

Seeing old friends, especially those who strive to live an integrated faith, is always a joy. While some may have abandoned the practice of the faith, many others have deepened their commitment by daily prayer, reading and reflection, and in all of this, they fill us with joy and hope.

Joy is an important virtue. When people encounter believers whose joy is transparent and authentic, they cannot not be impressed and attracted to the One who gives us joy and proclaims through us the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

Today, seek out an old friend and share your faith and joy.

Who or what brings you joy and hope?

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Conversion of St Paul

“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’" Acts 22:6-8

Most conversions are not as dramatic as St Paul's, but almost all of us have Epiphany moments, times when the light goes on and we see clearly how God has been active in our lives, and most of these events come when we least expect them. At the same time, it is important not to focus too much on any single event or moment in our lives. Conversion moments are intended to give us a direction, not trap us in the past clinging to consolation.

It is important to take time regularly to reflect on our own conversion story. Asking ourselves how God has entered and redirected our lives, though distressing at times, helps us remember that God is always near, inviting us to move more deeply into the mystery of his love. When we do this with others, moreover, we build a community of faith that strengthens all who are willing to share and grow together towards the heart of God.

Today, take a moment to pray in gratitude for your own conversion moments.



What about your own conversion continues to guide your faith journey?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

St Francis de Sales

"He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd." Mk 3:9

Being ready for whatever comes each day is everyone's goal, but often difficult to do. When we are busy with a matter that demands our full attention, it can be irritating to be interrupted, especially when we determine that our time is precious.  This is not the way of Jesus!

Today's scripture suggests that the apostles and disciples should expect to be interrupted. More, they should be ready to respond. The posture of servant demands that Jesus' followers think more about the poor and lowly who are looking to Jesus for nourishment than their own needs or plans.

A stance so simple should not be confusing or awkward for the disciples, but it is. Too often the disciples forget who they are and why Jesus came. Sound familiar? The lesson today is straightforward. Get ready to welcome anyone who comes seeking faith. Nothing is more important than the discipleship to which we have been called. Stay alert to the seekers all around you. They need the fullness of the Gospel.

Today, make the way of the Lord less cluttered for others.

Who helped you when you were lost and in need?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Courage of Jesus

"'Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?' But they remained silent...The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death." Mk 3: 3, 6

The essence of Jesus' message is other centeredness, a virtue that is both difficult and dangerous. It is difficult because it demands that we think of others first, even when they haven't earned our attention or concern, but Jesus is clear when he tells us that it is the sick who need a physician, not the healthy. The gospel demands patience, consistency and compassion, but when the other person ignores our outstretched hand or pushes us away, we can be easily discouraged.

Other centeredness is also dangerous. Too often wanting to please others or being afraid of disappointing them, we worry more about our goodness than the other's need. Anxious to "fix" the sick as a way of proving our fidelity to God, we ignore others in need, even members of our own family. Having a good "soul friend" can help us avoid this danger. All of us need someone to show us how to let go of our pride and will in order to let God do God's work.

Today, pray for the gift of discernment to do God's will not your own.



When is it most difficult for you to be other centered?

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Right to Life

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price,  he goes and sells all that he has and buys it." Mt 13:46

Often great thinkers and saints come along at a time in church history when there is division, even chaos, and rage. St Francis of Assisi changed his society not by being upwardly mobile, but by choosing to live as a poor person among the poorest of the poor in Assisi. Thomas Becket famouly said: "I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace. But in the name of Almighty God, I forbid you to hurt my people whether clerk or lay." And Mother Teresa of Calcutta saw a million people dying on the streets of Calcutta and decided to respond to them with love when no one else wanted to see them. All of them were pearls of great price.

Our task today seems very similar. Sometimes the Catholic church is known more for what it condemns than what it promotes, a comprehensive concern for the human family. While some in the press challenge the church’s condemnation of abortion as limiting a woman's legitimate freedom, the bishops remind us that we must have an “option for the poor and vulnerable," especially unborn children as well as promote workers rights, provide health care for all and welcome refugees fleeing violence and political oppression if we are going to have an authentically formed Catholic conscience. 

Today, practice virtue and justice.

What do you think it means to be a faith filled citizen in the United States today?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

St Agnes

"As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast." Mk 2:20

When people seem to break the law for no apparent reason it is sometimes easier to question their motives than to risk being changed. That is what seems to have happened to Jesus. Rather than celebrate his honesty, integrity and healing power, people suggested that he and his disciples didn't respect the law or the rabbinic interpretation of the law of fasting.

I had the privilege of working with many people who, though labelled "crazy," changed my life. Their kindness, compassion and insight about life and faith forced me to reevaluate my tendency to judge or dismiss them. In retrospect, I think it was my own fear of mental illness that got in the way of my seeing the person behind or inside the illness. Perhaps it was this same kind of fear that got in the way of people seeing Jesus and his disciples for the revolutionaries they were,

Today, think of someone who others dismiss with the eyes and ears of God.

How do you react to people who challenge the law and its interpretation?