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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Serving God Alone

"No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Lk 16:13

We know the Gospel tells us that can't serve two masters. How about three or four or ten?  When we think about our lives it often becomes obvious that we are trying to do too much for too many people and this can lead to resentment of all those we intended to serve. Time becomes our master, or security or accomplishment or power, but when we stop to reflect upon these matters we know that the Gospel challenge to have one master is spot on and powerful.

We need to commit ourselves on a daily basis to serving God alone. Only God can be our master and the task of the believer is to discern how best to serve this master each day. When we take time to pray about this we often reach a counter intuitive conclusion. Serving God alone does not mean saying yes to every needy person or important cause, but learning to ask God each day how to go forward, how to help, how to serve and how to announce the Good News.

Today, ask God how best to live the Good News.

Which of your concerns most often gets in the way of serving God?

Friday, September 20, 2019

St Matthew, Apostle

"Follow me." Mt 9:10

Matthew must have been amazed and delighted when Jesus called him to follow. Amazed because he was a tax collector, a man despised for what he did and who he was. Tax collectors were most often Jews who worked for the Romans. Upfront, they would pay the Romans the taxes of those from who they collected taxes and then charge Jews whatever they could, and this would often be exorbitant and excruciating.

Matthew also would have been delighted. Here was Jesus, a prominent Jew and rabbi, calling him, accepting him, sitting down at table with him when everyone else in the community was shunning him. Matthew knew that he was being given a second chance and he was anxious to take it.

The message of the gospel is clear. All of us will get a second chance and it is up to us to take it, to follow the Lord and let go of behaviors and practices that oppose God's law and God's desire for us. As long as we are willing to admit that we are in need of a physician, the Lord will come to us like a doctor who sees only that we are in need. The Lord wants to heal us. How wonderful.

Today, acknowledge your weakness.

Who looked at you with love when you could not accept or love yourself?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs

"Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources." Lk 8:2-3

Of the 98 Korean martyrs who St John Paul II canonized in 1984, more than half were lay women, among them Anna Park Agi. Abandoned in prison by her husband and son who could not endure the torture imposed on them, Anna was steadfast. Even when her husband and son visited her, imploring her to remember her children and family, Anna refused to renounce her faith and begged her son and husband to return to the faith even if it meant a new imprisonment.

Women like Anna, even if they are not as well known or celebrated as Andrew Kim and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, who wrote and preached publicly in defense of the faith, continue to offer us a great challenge. How many people, especially women without the freedom to peach, continue to offer us an example of fidelity and courage despite the limitations imposed on them by the society and the church!

Today, thank of and pray in gratitude for a woman who has encouraged you in faith.

Who are the people without loud voices to whom you need to listen more?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

God's Merciful Eyes

"Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears." Lk 7:37

Jesus is forever pushing us to look beyond people's past to see how they are behaving in the present. The woman who wipes his feet with her hair becomes an icon of what it means to be a Christian, But because most of us see sin in others first, especially in the powerful, it is difficult to see her with God's eyes. If an athlete or a politician is caught in an adulterous relationship or using public monies for his or her private gain, we pounce. See, we say, why do we trust people like this? When we do this, we ignore the mercy of God.

No doubt the leaders of the Jewish community were doing the same with the woman who is "wasting" money anointing Jesus' feet with costly perfume. That Jesus does not pull away or correct her annoys the Phasisees. They impose their judgmental eyes on Jesus and try to undermine him and his authority by suggesting that his inability to recognize that she is a sinner ought to condemn him. But Jesus turns the tables. He asks: Do you see this woman? The answer of course is "no". They have reduced her to her sin and do not value her humility or recognize her tears.  We need to avoid this error in our own lives.

Today, look at all people with God's eyes and don't get lost in their past.

Have you know people who turned their lives around and helped you?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Living the Truths of Our Faith

"Beloved: I am writing you, although I hope to visit you soon." 1 Tim 3:14

Sometimes it is better to speak about very important matters face to face. When we sit down with friends or enemies, look them in the eye, get to know them a little bit and share about our lives, new growth becomes possible. St Paul wants to visit Timothy but because he cannot do so immediately, Paul wants to assure his companion and disciple that everything said about Jesus is true.

Jesus came to the world in the flesh, was confirmed by the Holy Spirit throughout the Gospels, was accepted by the Gentiles and people everywhere believed in Him. As long as Timothy upholds these truths, Paul assures him, the faith will grow. The same remains true for us, but people have to see and experience us living these truth in our daily lives. As is often said, we can talk the good talk but if we don't walk the walk, our testimony will fall flat.

Today, ask yourself what more you can do to witness to the truth of the Gospel as you have learned it and experienced it.

Whose life of faith most influenced you?

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Compassion of Jesus

"As Jesus drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow." Lk 17:11

Jesus is forever startling us. Walking along, he comes upon a funeral cortege and learns that they young man being carried to his burial place is "the only son of his mother." Moved with compassion because he realizes that the boy's mother will be unbearably vulnerable because her only son has died, Jesus raises the young man from the dead. Knowing that a woman without a husband or son would have no rights, no property, no one to care for her, Jesus steps in and steps up, perhaps  anticipating his one mother's vulnerability after his death. All of this because he watches, he notices and let's his heart speak.

Today, pay attention. Don't close your eyes to those most in need. Do something simple. Even if you can't help directly, pray for them and work together with others for justice.

What makes you feel most vulnerable in life?


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sts Cornelius and Cyprian

“He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” Lk 7: 4-5

Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian were friends, and when the church was under enormous pressure in the third century, their friendship became an important tool for reconciliation and healing. When Novatian insisted that anyone who denied faith, along with murderers and adulterers, could not be reconciled under any circumstances, Cyprian interceded with his friend Pope Cornelius, and Novatian's position was condemned. The fragile nascent church, with only 50,000 believers and 50 priests, was sustained because of the friendship of Cornelius and Cyprian.

Not infrequently, like Cyprian and Cornelius, we do things for friends who ask a favor on their own or their family's behalf. It is not difficult to be gracious, especially when the request is something we do easily or naturally. Jesus is able to hear and respond to the request of the Jewish elders to heal the centurion's sick slave because they asked him to do something as a friend of the Jewish nation.  In the long run, however, while loyalty and friendship captured Jesus' attention, it was the faith of the centurion that moved Jesus to act. 

Not wanting to trouble Jesus with a visit to his home and being very aware of the differences between them, the centurion insists that he is not worthy of Jesus' care. When the centurion further suggests that a word from Jesus will be enough to heal his slave, Jesus uses the centurion's faith to teach the Jews saying, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Faith, like the centurion's, and friendship and faith, like Cyprian and Cornelius shared, can forge a church of great power and strength.

Today, be grateful for a faith filled friend.

How can a friendship, strengthened by faith, help us live the Gospel more powerfully?