Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sts Peter and Paull

"I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith." 2 Tim 4:6

St Paul uses sports metaphors regularly, urging his disciples to follow him in the race, and not to be afraid to compete with anyone who might be distracting God's people from their goal of unity with Christ. Most of us can relate to Paul in this regard, but we need to be careful. Competition has its pitfalls. Too often, when we are trying to be better than others, we diminish their efforts in order to exalt our own, and this is not Jesus' or Paul's intent.

Believers cannot measure their effectiveness in proclaiming the Gospel because the results of our efforts are God's work, and unless we can let go of our need to be right, we miss the point of Jesus' message. The Lord wants us to be passionate about the Gospel but reminds us that once we have done what we know is right, we must leave the rest up to God.

This simple rule of thumb is also good advice for leaders and parents. While we have an obligation to teach the fullness of our faith to all, especially our children, we must also allow them to interpret the Gospel and live it in a way that frees them to do God's work and not simply please us.

Today, live the Word boldly and let God work.

Who has been your best and most effective teacher in the ways of faith?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Immaculate Heart of Mary

"Remember your flock which you built up of old, the tribe you redeemed as your inheritance, Mount Zion, where you took up your abode." Ps 74:2

The psalmist often calls on God to remember how much he loves his people, and the psalmist's cry is strong, demanding and passionate. Knowing that God is forgiving and generous, the psalmist begs God to forget the sins we all commit, and to remember only the good people do and intend.

In many ways, Mary does the same for us from her Immaculate Heart. Knowing how much God loves her and how impossible it is for God to turn away from her, Mary acts as our primary intercessor before the throne of God, and we can and ought to seek her help regularly and without fear.

A mother above all, Mary is alert to the needs, fears and strengths of her children. Because Mary had to endure the stares and questions of the people from her home village when she first became pregnant, and accompany her son on his way to Golgotha, she knows suffering from the inside and is called the mother of compassion for a good reason. Mary's Immaculate heart is always open to us. We have only to approach her with confidence to know that she wants to accompany us in order that we might trust her son with our entire lives.

Today, ask Mary to help you accept yourself as you are.

Do you have the heart of a compassionate mother?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

"It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the LORD loved you and because of his fidelity to the oath he had sworn your fathers." Dt 7:7

Although the feast of the Sacred Heart is less than two centuries old, the love we receive from the heart of God has existed from the beginning. We hear of it so loudly and plainly in the book of Deuteronomy when Adonai tells the Jews that he did not choose them as his own because of their size or military power, but because he could never renege on his promise to be faithful to them forever.

In Jesus, we celebrate the new Covenant that God makes with us. Wanting to complete and fulfill the promise he made to the Jews, he sent us his son Jesus as an incarnate word to dwell among us and save us because God's heart and God's love are limitless. The heart of Jesus, furthermore, completely united to his Father's, is big enough and generous enough to carry us all home.

The feast of the Sacred Heart is an intensely human and fleshy celebration. Because the heart is the symbol of love and the source of our ongoing life, we kneel before the Lord and ask him to make our hearts as generous and giving as his.

Today, open you heart to someone who has hurt you.

Have you ever experienced someone giving their heart to you without limit?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More than Words

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." Mt 7:21

Words, after all, are just words. All of us have been promised something by a friend, family member or spouse and been bitterly disappointed. Likewise, we have forgotten or neglected promises we made to others, and though we meant the words when we spoke them, something or someone else got in the way of our keeping our promise.Jesus is hard in this regard. Words freely given must be more than something we casually offer to others and then promptly ignore. 

Unfortunately, the leaders of the Jews and his own disciples were guilty of this fault, and while Jesus promises everyone a second chance, we need to take his offer of reconciliation and live it, and this is sometimes very difficult. We have only to remember the awful response of Jesus' friends when he asks them to pray for him in the hour of his suffering. Not only do they fall asleep in the garden of Gethsemane, they are nowhere to be found as he hangs on a cross for their sake and ours. 

Today, take a moment to review the promises you have made and ask for the courage to renew them in faith.

What was it like for you to be discarded by good friend or spouse?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Fruits of our Life

"A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” Mt 7: 19-20

Every person has faults, makes mistakes and loses focus. To do anything else would not be human, but we must never measure our life only by our failures; we must also celebrate its fruits. Jesus is clear about this, and though we sometimes are tempted to dismiss the good we have done, we need to listen to his guidance.

In 12 step spirituality, like Alcoholics Anonymous, program people are encouraged to work through the twelve steps and make a searching and fearless inventory of themselves (4th step). For those who do this with a sponsor, it is also important not just to acknowledge one's faults but to record one's successes as well. For most addicts it is easier to list their faults than to name their strengths, and I often think this is true for all of us. Looking at ourselves with the eyes of those who have always loved us despite our weaknesses can be a startling exercise and revelation. 

It is very clear in the scriptures that God is always willing to look past our sins and focus on our gifts, and this is true throughout the Bible. Very few people would forgive David his lust for Bathesheba and his willingness to put her husband Uriah in a position where he would surely be killed. But God does. Even more remarkable is the story of the forgiving father who embraces his younger son who has squandered his inheritance. God wants us to succeed and be reborn.

Today, accept the good God has done through you.

When was the last time you took the opportunity to praise someone for their good qualities?

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Birth of St John the Baptist

"John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’"

Knowing who we are and what our roles are as disciples is an essential element of our Gospel vocation. Like John the Baptist, we know we are not the Messiah and that our role is not to control others or the flow of the Good News. Rather, we are followers of the Risen Christ who take every opportunity to live in a such a way that allows others to know the God who has entered and transformed our lives. 

John the Baptist is always simple and clear, and in this he becomes our model. John's first role was to preach repentance. John knew the Jewish community hds lost its way. Somehow they had forgotten the purpose of the law and the message of the prophets. Because the leaders wanted only to preserve their power, they ignored John and his radical call to repentance so that when John pointed to Jesus as the Messiah, rather than listen, they ridiculed him.

The lesson for us is clear. No matter who speaks the truth or how different they might seem from our perspective, we need to listen and if necessary change for the sake of the Gospel. 

Today, pray to know your unique role as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Who do you most admire for their humility in accepting their role in proclaiming the Gospel?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Facing the Truth about Ourslves

"And though the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and seer, 'Give up your evil ways and  keep my commandments and statutes,'... they did not listen" 2 Kgs 17: 13.14

When we are full of ourselves, we somehow believe that our lives are immune from error and even suffering, and what a mistake this is. Arrogant, argumentative and patronizing, especially towards those we consider beneath us socially, we can be racist and elitist without even knowing it, and although the Lord warns against these attitudes, we rarely listen as long as our lives appear happy and successful to others.

When the Jewish people felt it was no longer necessary to observe the statutes and laws the Lord had given them for their own protection and safety, they rejected the Covenant and decided to walk a path of their own choosing. Forgetting the great gifts of God given to their ancestors, they built two molten calves, worshiped Baal, and dared God to reject and punish them.

Upon reflection, most of us realize that, like the Jews, it is our pride and apparent success that gets us in more trouble than anything else. We want what we want when we want it, and too often blame others for the problems we have created ourselves. Gratefully, God's direction to us is simple but not always easy. If we put aside our self centeredness and turn to God again, God will accept us into his heart.

Today, examine your conscience with openness of spirit.

What is your biggest fault or sin?