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Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Body and Blood of the Lord

"Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt,...and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers." Dt 8: 14b, 15

Nourishing food is as necessary for the spirit as it is for the body. When we do not have access to good and fresh food, our bodies become more vulnerable to illness and our souls have little to satisfy them. How insightful and natural for Jesus to give himself to us as food that recognizes the importance of our bodies and our souls.

The feast of Corpus Christi further reminds us that we are the Body of Christ, living food for all, and while none of us has to be the entire body, we must cooperate with all the members of Christ's body to help create a world where all eat and all have the freedom to pray and worship. Whether we are called to be an eye, a foot or an ear, each of us has a particular role, and when we live it well, everyone benefits. Corpus Christi is a good day to remember never to take food for granted and to celebrate the great gift of God's invitation to be his body in the world.

Today, be food for someone who is hungry.

Have you had the privilege of feeding others with food and/or faith?

Friday, June 21, 2019

Embracing our Weaknesses

"About myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses." 2 Cor 12:5

St Paul  often brags about his weakness, and for those especially who have been humbled in any way, his boast is a consolation. Weakness can be a strength if it leads us to the acceptance of our faults and weaknesses and encourages us to work with others whose strengths make up for our failings.

There is a temptation for some who recognize a serious weakness to seek out others who struggle in the same way they do, and this is almost always a mistake. While we console one another, we also subtly suggest that there is nothing we can do or anyway we can change, and this results in a kind of stagnation. The recognition and acceptance of weakness only becomes a strength when we enter more deeply into the life of the faith community, seek out others who have faced and even overcome serious faults and depend for strength on our oneness in Christ.

Today, embrace your weakness. Cling to the body of Christ.

Which of your weaknesses most disturbs you?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

St Aloysius Gonzaga

"Forgive us our trespasses" Mt 6:12

The Lord's prayer reminds us to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for our sins. For those especially who have been humbled in any way, the Our Father is a consolation. Sin can be a strength if it leads us to the acceptance of our faults and encourages us to work with others to overcome them.

But we need to be cautious. There is a temptation for some who recognize a serious weakness to seek out others who struggle in the same way they do, and this is almost always a mistake. While we console one another, we also subtly suggest that there is nothing we can do to change, and this results in a kind of stagnation. The recognition and acceptance of our sinfulness only becomes a strength when we enter more deeply into the life of the faith community and depend for strength on our oneness in Christ.

Aloysius Gonzaga is a good example of someone who recognized that despite his family's wealth and desire for him to seek power over others, he could only fulfill his destiny by renouncing his family's affluence and join the Jesuits in the pursuit of God. Freed by the Society of Jesus to honor God totally, Aloysius plunged into the care of plague victims only to succumb himself to the disease.

Today, embrace your weakness. Cling to the body of Christ.

Which of your weaknesses most disturbs you?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Learning to Pray

"Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name." Mt 6:8

Praying always can seem like an impossible challenge. For most, when we try to pray, distractions fill our minds and hearts almost as soon as we begin. Even when we pray the rosary or other devotional prayers, we find ourselves thinking about everything but the prayer! Just the same, our willingness to put everything and everyone in God's hands each day is a very powerful prayer although it is often difficult to manage. Trusting God completely is something most of us aspire to, but rarely accomplish. That is why the practice of prayer is so important.

Get in the habit of asking Jesus to help you pray. When Jesus taught his apostles how to pray there were two parts. Think of God as your dad, he suggested, honor him and ask for what you need. Prayer is very simple. Make yourself available to God for God's desire for the world and see what happens.

Today, set your watch to say the Our Father in the morning, around noon and in the evening. See what happens.

Who taught you to pray? Be grateful!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sowing Generously

"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2 Cor 9:6

There is an old saying: You can't win it unless your in it, and this is especially true when trying to live the Gospel.  Unless we are committed to live the Gospel with integrity everyday, we can never hope to know its joys. Summer in the Northeast United States teaches this lesson especially well.

Gardeners who are willing to put only one tomato plant in the ground can hope all they want for a treasure trove of tomatoes but one plant can only produce so much fruit. Only those who are willing to risk many plants and have the energy to water them everyday can hope for a large crop.

The same is true for our good deeds. While one generous act a day is good, we must be willing to sow many seeds of God's love every day to announce the reign of God, especially to those without faith. When we do this, the reward is more than we can imgaine. Trust God. Try Giving.

Today, speak with someone who looks lost.

Who has reached out for you when you were struggling? Thank them!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Love Your Enemies

"I say to you, love your enemies." Mt 5:44

The command of Jesus to love our enemies was not a theoretical challenge to the earliest community of disciples. It was a visceral and demanding trial. When we read the Gospels it becomes very clear that Jesus' message is upsetting to the Jewish leaders who very much wanted both to pacify their Roman rulers and control the behavior of everyday Jews. Concerned that they would lose their moral authority to Jesus and his band of fisherman and shepherds, the Scribes and Pharisees tried to trip Jesus up at every turn, and while some of the disciples wanted Jesus to fight, the Lord acted like any Rabbi, debating with his protagonists but loving them all the while.

How to offer people and institutions a critique of their ideas without criticizing them personally is an important and difficult task, especially for Christians. While we have core values about which there is little debate, there is and ought to be healthy conversation about how to proclaim these values is a world obsessed with instant communication. From texting to Instagram and so much more in between, we need to learn how to say and live what we believe without angry and dismissive pronouncements. Christians on the right and the left can be fiercely judgmental when upset by another's opinion and perspective. Nonetheless, Jesus' command to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us prevails and remains the heart of the Good News.

Today,  pause before you respond to someone with whom you disagree.

How do you understand Jesus' challenge to love your enemies?


Sunday, June 16, 2019

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?