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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Accepting Correction

"Love is patient, love is kind." 1 Cor 13:4

Often when a liturgical scriptural reading is from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians our spirits drift to the passage we have heard so many times at weddings. Love is patient, kind, does not hold grudges, and we affirm what we hear, but it hardly reflects the the fullness of what Paul wants to say to the Corinthians. 

In fact, Paul castigates the Corinthians for many of the their practices, the worst of which was the failure of the more affluent Corinthians to share their pre Eucharist meal with the poorer members of their community. Paul is scandalized by their behavior and lets them know it.

It can be difficult for adults to hear or accept correction, even when we need it. Americans can be especially resistive to anyone suggesting that their lives are less than exemplary, but all of us need to reflect upon our behavior. At times we can attack the messenger, a reaction that is both a disservice to someone trying to help us, and decidedly unchristian.

Today, ask someone to help you reflect on your unexamined reactions that injure others.

Can you remember a time that a friend challenged you to change and helped you?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Presentation of the Lord

"Suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire." Mal 3:2

Rituals are important in all our lives. That Jesus, Mary's first born son, would be presented in the Temple and offered to God for service, was ritually important in Jewish law and culture. Parents knew that giving birth to a son was a great blessing that called them to celebrate God's gift to them. To go to the temple in gratitude was as natural as washing their hands before eating. The Torah was clear and observance of the Torah delighted God and brought joy to believers.


Rituals are still important, especially for people of faith. Blessing one self with holy water while making a sign of the cross upon entering a church reminds believers of their baptism and its promises. And the breaking of bread at Mass challenges us to divide our food like Jesus did at the miracle of the loaves and fish so that all might eat. 


Unfortunately, because these powerful rituals have to compete with all the information that comes our way in a modern society, it is easy to forget their meaning and miss their power. Religious rituals ought to help us center ourselves many times each day in the memory of God's saving love, but emails and text messages sometimes take their place. 


Today, bless yourself before each meal and pause to remember the great gift of food.


Which rituals in your life help you remember God's gracious love?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Mustard Seeds

"It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants." Mk 4:31

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, telling them that God's reign is like a mustard seed. When someone from the crowd, exultant and full of himself, proclaims that he will follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus reminds him that he has no place to lay his head. Is the fellow from the crowd willing to become a nomad and follow Jesus into  the wilderness? Challenge after challenge faces the Apostles and disciples.

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?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

St John Bosco

"The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,
and still more will be given to you." Mk 4:24

When when St. John Bosco was only nine years old, he had a dream in which he rushed into a group of children who were cursing and tried to stop their misbehavior by fighting with them. Failing to help them he looked up and saw a man clothed in white who told him that the only way to change the children was through kindness and gentleness. John resisted the message for as long as he could, but the dreams kept coming.

Though many told him to ignore his dreams and others tried to have him committed to an institution for the mentally ill, John listened and began to develop skills like juggling and and magic in order to draw young troubled young boys to God. Kindness and gentleness, he learned, were much more effective than harsh words. Eventually, his dreams, confirmed by Pope Pius IX, led him to found the Salesians who continue to minister to wayward boys all over the world.

Today, listen to your dreams.

Have you had dreams that shaped your life?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Strong Roots

"Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots." Mk 4: 5-6

There is rocky ground in all our lives, and while we have to acknowledge it and accept it, we should not obsess about it. Rather, we need to find a way not to let our dark days dissuade us from living with joy and hope. Our parents, our friends, our church or our country may disappoint us, but God cannot abandon us, and faith demands that we ask God to be the ground of our lives. Only then can we be sure that no matter how rocky life is or might become, God's love will sustain us.

Letting God find the good ground in our lives where we can establish strong roots, and asking for the grace to let go of our failures is an important step on our spiritual journey. If we worry too much about the rocky ground, we will miss the good God is already doing within and through us.

Today, be grateful for the God has done in you. Let go of failure.

How has God surprised you on your pilgrim journey?






Monday, January 28, 2019

We are the Family of Jesus

"Who are my mother and my brothers?"k 3:33

We are the family of Jesus. It is that simple and that clear. It is also important. While some might be unnerved when Jesus stretches his followers to think of anyone who listens to and tries to live God's word as his family, it is not a rejection of his own family.

Jesus loved his mother and family deeply. That he wanted everyone listening to him with an open heart to see themselves as his brothers and sisters did not diminish his respect for and love of his immediate family, but was a way to break down the artificial and unnecessary barriers between and among people.

Jesus' love for all people is a lesson for us. We are called to love everyone as He did. We are not free to reject anyone for reasons of race, religion, culture or ethnicity. While it is obvious that there are some people who will be more difficult to love than others, if we want to call ourselves Christians, we must put aside every prejudice to love as Jesus did.

Today, love someone to whom you are not attracted.

What kind of people are most difficult for you to love?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

St Thomas Aquinas

"Christ is mediator of a new Covenant." Heb 9:15



No one in the history of the Christian west has been more influential in shaping theological thought than Thomas Aquinas. A prolific writer whose works include the Summa Theologica, his thought also helped Christians probe the wisdom of the Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle, as a path to new insights about the Gospels.

There is a wonderful lesson in Thomas' willingness to study Aristotle for all of us. As the 21st century unfolds we need to find new and probing ways of helping the Gospel live in this age, and while the wisdom of the past will always be an aid in this regard, it must be supplemented by tools contemporary believers recognize and use. How the Internet and other social media will open up paths to a new Evangelization is still to be seen, but surely needed.

Today, be wise. Say nothing. Just listen.

What thinker or social media has helped you enter the Gospel message more deeply?