Follow Br Jack by Email

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Belonging to Christ

“'I belong to Paul,” or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas, or 'I belong to Christ.' Is Christ divided?" 1 Cor 12

To whom do you  belong? This is a critical question in the life of every believer. We may be faithful Catholics and celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday, but unless we belong to Jesus Christ and the lifestyle he set our for us, we find ourselves drifting from one action to another without ever committing ourselves to the Lord .

Belonging means prioritizing Jesus and his teaching as the focus of our lives. Committed to the community of faith, we pray regularly, break bread in memory of the one who has been raised from the dead, continue to learn about and live the Scriptures, and serve those most in need in the name of Jesus. This is a tall order but it should not overly disturb us that we often fail to live the fulness of the Gospel. Jesus only demands that we continue to return to him and his teaching and seek to enter the mysteries of faith with passion and hope.

Today, ask Jesus for the grace to enter more deeply into him and the life to which he has called you.

What most distracts you from the Gospel with passion and hope?

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Conversion of St Paul

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Acts 22:7

The drama of St Paul's conversion is compelling. Travelling to Damascus, determined to capture and persecute more followers of the "way", the gospel of Jesus, Paul is startled by a great light and, unsure of what is happening, falls to the ground. His companions see the light but don't hear the voice of Jesus. Only Paul hears the Lord's question, and frightened, asks what he should do. Jesus' response is cryptic but clear. Paul is to go to Damascus but his mission has been changed. No longer will he persecute Christians, he will join them.

If only faith was this clear for us. Our conversion, which is ongoing but often happens in hidden ways, is essential to our Christian life, but most of us have to read the signs of  times in the light of the Gospel to know the path we should take. While this might sound difficult, and is surely not as dramatic as Paul's conversion, it is easier if we have a spiritual companion and pray regularly. The freedom to speak with another about our own inner journey and our place in the world guides us, through prayer, to make good, thought through and felt through decisions that foster our ongoing conversion.

Today, speak with a soul friend and pray quietly for ten minutes.

What do you need to do to be open to God's ongoing call?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

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?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Jealousy

"Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought: 'They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me. All that remains for him is the kingship.' And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David." 1 Sam 18:8-9

Jealousy is among the most destructive of emotions. Often rooted in our unhealthy need to think of ourselves as better than others, jealousy destroys relationships and can lead to a kind of violence that is both random and overwhelming. When one group, tribe or race in any society has infinitely more opportunities and resources than another, violence is almost inevitable.

Saul's jealousy of David emerges from a seemingly innocuous event. The women of Israel, celebrating David's victory over Goliath, hail David for slaying tens of thousands of their enemies, and although they honor Saul their song only mentions that he killed thousands. Saul is so jealous that he begins to plan David's murder but is undermined by his own son Jonathan, who warns David about his father's intentions.

Jealousy emanates from comparisons between and among us, which always diminish one or more people. Saying someone is stronger than another person or more intelligent, while strengthening one person, slights the other and encourages unhealthy competition. Jesus and the great saints made it a point to celebrate whatever strength a person had. Rather than compare one to the other, they lifted up the gifts God gave each person to build up the body of Christ. We can all avoid the sin of jealousy by doing the same.

Today, pray for the grace to see the gifts each person has.

What situations tempt you to be jealous of others

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Living our Faith

“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 famously 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?

Monday, January 20, 2020

St Agnes

"At this the Pharisees said to him, 'Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?'” Mk 2:24

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?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Weddings and their Promises

"Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?" Mk 2:20

It is no wonder that Jesus uses the image of a wedding to help his critics understand his larger message. Everyone in the ancient world knew how important weddings were. A time for families and tribes to deepen their bonds with one another, weddings lasted at least a week and the entire time was given over to the celebration of the new couple and the promise their marriage contained for their families and their faith community. 

Remembering that the Lord has made a covenant with us, married us, invites us to believe more deeply in the resurrection. At the time of Jesus, after a man was betrothed to his intended bride, he would leave her and return to his father's house, but before departing he would say, I go to prepare a place for you, the same words Jesus uses to assure his disciples that he would return for them after his death and bring them to the bridal chamber he had prepared for them in heaven.

Today, rest in the realization that Christ has betrothed himself to us forever.

What image do you use to help yourself remember Christ's eternal and total love for you?