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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Reject Entitlement

"When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'" Lk 17:10

Attitude is everything and nothing gets in the way of having an authentic Christian attitude more than a sense of entitlement. When we begin to think that we have earned everything we have, even if we have worked hard all our lives, we forget how blessed we have been.

I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood. People shared freely the little they had. Our parents did everything they could to send us to Catholic schools and colleges where we would have an opportunity for a better life. They did not expect much from us in return. They were happy to give us everything they had, but they did demand that we work hard, and that we be grateful, and never take for granted what came to us because of the generosity of others.

This is especially true of faith. Our attitude about faith, about what we can contribute to the building up of the body of Christ, about others who think differently than us must be one of gratitude. In fact, our faith reminds us continually that all is gift. Life is gift, creation is gift, friendship is gift, prayer is gift, and all are gifts to be given away. When Jesus sends the disciples out to proclaim good news he is clear: "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give."(Mt 10:8)

Today, check your attitude and be grateful for your faith.

How do you avoid a sense of entitlement?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Let Children teach Us

“I give praise to you, 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

What is it about children that causes Jesus to hold them up as icons? Surely, they are charming and innocent, but there is more. Children live in awe and wonder. They see without blinders. They don't interpret what they see as much as delight in it, and in all of this, they teach us. Unlike the leaders of the Jewish community who are looking for ways to undermine Jesus, they don't care if he claims to be the Messiah. They only want to be close to him.

It should not surprise us that children are naturally contemplative, able to play or work at a project for hours without noticing the time. So fascinated are they by what is right in front of them, they are not easily distracted and teach us how to live fully each day. Jesus' praise for children is well founded and natural when we take time to reflect upon it.

Today, let your spirit be distracted by the awesome beauty of the world.

What most distracts you from living each day with joy and delight?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

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 remains in the forefront of the news these days. Pope Francis has made it so, but it is not always laudatory. 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 especially with his call to Care for all Creation. 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.

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?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

God's Harvest

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Lk 10:2

Too often this passage is reduced to a commentary on religious or priestly vocations, and that is a shame. It is clear to anyone who reads the scriptures regularly that Jesus is much more concerned with all people hearing the Good News and living it than with reforming the lives of the community's leaders. While a hierarchy will develop in Christianity over time, the role of leaders is not first to govern, but to create an environment that frees people to enter the mysteries of faith.

At the same time, Jesus is concerned that so few people seem ready to risk their lives to follow the Gospel. Most of us have an attitude that suggests we should leave well enough alone, but this stance does not advance our own lives or the lives of the community. Jesus invites us to make monumental changes in life, and while this prospect is daunting, we need to ask for the faith to pray with Jesus to make us laborers who are willing to stretch our imaginations and dreams to conform to Jesus' vision.

The Gospel really is Good News, although its demands may not always feel comfortable. Jesus challenges his followers to look again at the poor, the broken, the sick and all that is in it in order to see with God's eyes. All that God creates is good and beautiful, and its fruits belong to all as a gift from God. Our only task is to share its bounty with all people in order that all might know God's justice, have God's peace and believe that its wonders are a promise of  another Kingdom

Today, be one of God's laborers.

Whose efforts on behalf of the Gospel most moved you to belief in God?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

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?

Monday, September 30, 2019

St Therese of the Child Jesus

“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?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

St Jerome

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St. Jerome

St Jerome is one of the most important scripture scholars in the history of the church. His translation of the bible into Latin, completed in the 4th century, was the basis of every translation into modern languages until the middle of the 20th century. His brilliance and discipline were such that he was able to produce not only a translation of the bible that continues to be a resource for contemporary students of scripture, he also wrote dozens of commentaries on the bible, and more than a hundred letters.

This being said, Jerome was a volatile, tempestuous and driven man. Reading a few of his letters makes you glad you were not in his sights. Jerome lived at a time and in a church that badly needed reform and his answer was a rigid asceticism. In what many consider his most famous letter, he warns St. Eustochium about every possible threat to her virginity while also acknowledging that even when he went to the desert to escape the insanity of the Rome of his day, he was tormented by fantasies of Roman dancing girls.

Jerome because is a powerful example of how God works with us as we are and uses even our faults for the good of others. Jerome’s life reminds us that when we submit ourselves to God, great things happen, and that God and history remember all the good Jerome did and underplay his shortcomings. What a wonderful lesson for us.

Today, ask for forgiveness of your sins, but don’t forget to be grateful for the gifts God has given you.

Have you experienced God dismissing your faults but using your strengths?