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Saturday, June 5, 2021

The body and Blood of the Lord

 "This is my body....this is my blood." Mk 14:22


When friends or family die, we often grieve and mourn them in powerful ways. Some will visit the cemetery, even if it is at a distance, every day for weeks or months. Others, leave a chair empty at the table at the dinner table in order to remember their dead. Early in the mourning process, these rituals often lead to tears and groaning, but after a while they help us gently remember all the good the dead brought to our lives. Our rituals bring us comfort and hope, and that is Jesus' intent at the Last Supper.

The Eucharist is the central mystery of our faith. In it and through it we remember the life, suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord. By celebrating the great gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord, especially on Sunday's, we keep alive all that God has done for us, from the creation of the world, to the making of the Covenants, the sending of the prophets and the gift of Jesus in a form that allows us to grieve our own sins and celebrate the unwavering love of God. In eating the Body and Blood of the Lord, we are nourished both as individuals and communities, and we are challenged to feed others as God continues to feed us.

The mystery of the Eucharist is something that deserves our daily gratitude. There is no fuller way to honor God than in the breaking of the bread, and there is no more fitting way to remember Jesus than to proclaim his love in service of the hungry and poor.

Today, be grateful for all the gifts of God, especially the gift of his Son.

What helps you remember to live your faith each day?

Friday, June 4, 2021

St Boniface

 "Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation." 2 Pt 3:17

Being a missionary has always been difficult. One must leave the comfort and security of a culture, family and religious system that one knows, and enter a totally different world asking God to show you the path to integration and transformation. The best missionaries have always been the most attentive listeners, people who sense the goodness of the people to whom they have been sent. Knowing they are called, like St Paul, to discover the God who is already present in every culture and people, women and men missionaries live in gratitude and awe because of the God they encounter in the people to whom they have been sent.

St Boniface knew these challenges in spades. Sent to the German church that had lost its way, Boniface had to minister with compassion to an uneducated clergy and a community that was more interested in its own interpretation of the Gospel than the word preached by Jesus. Preaching reform and renewal, Boniface's influence was deep because he not only called people to reexamine their values, he also established houses of prayer throughout Germany. The church only prospers when it builds its catechesis and worship on a foundation of prayer.

Today, pray for those who face a daily martyrdom in their own homes.

Have you experienced faith in another cultural context? What was it like?

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Really seeing

"When Tobit saw his son, he threw his arms around him and wept. He exclaimed, “I can see you, son, the light of my eyes!”

How wonderful it is to see a friend, a parent or a child who has been away for a long time, especially when we were not sure we would ever see them again. When Tobiah was struck blind, he never thought he would see his son Tobit again but Tobit returns, smears fish gall on his father's eyes enabling him to see, and Tobiah is overwhelmed with joy. 

In some ways, all of us are blind. Sometimes it is blindness to the suffering of others. At other times, we are blind to their goodness. When Jesus encounters a blind fellow by the side of the road, he asks him what he wants, a strange question at first blush. But Jesus does not want simply to return sight to the blind man, he wants to know if he really wants to see the world as it is and whether he is ready to respond, especially to those most in need. He asks us the same question.

Do we really want to see the world as it is?

Who has helped you see the world and others with open and compassionate eyes?

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

St Charles Lwanga and Companions

"Last of all the woman also died. At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her." Mk 12:23

When the Sadducees, who denied the Resurrection, tried to trap Jesus in a silly argument about which of a woman's seven husbands would be her husband in the afterlife, Jesus refuses to take the bait. The Sadducees are stuck trying to be right and use logic to reinforce their argument, but Jesus insists that the after life is not about marrying or giving in marriage, but in accepting the gift of living with God forever. Failing to appreciate this free gift of God, the Sadducees walked away thinking they won the argument while the crowd who listened to Jesus drew even closer to him.

Not infrequently, we are like the Sadducees. Insisting that we are right in an argument in order to win, we jeopardize our relationship with both friends and foes, making it very difficult to find common ground in the next go round. Without a relationship, even simple conversations become problematic and awkward. and that is what happens to the Sadducees. Embarrassed and confused by Jesus they look for other opportunities to prove their point and lose any chance to hear the transforming word of God. Unless we listen to the Lord with an open spirit, the same can happen to us.

Today, ask God for the gift of listening with an open heart.

When has your pride interfered with your ability to hear the truth?

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Silly Arguments

 "Last of all the woman also died. At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her." Mk 12:23

When the Sadducees, who denied the Resurrection, tried to trap Jesus in a silly argument about which of a woman's seven husbands would be her husband in the afterlife, Jesus refuses to take the bait. The Sadducees are stuck trying to be right and use logic to reinforce their argument, but Jesus insists that the after life is not about marrying or giving in marriage, but in accepting the gift of living with God forever. Failing to appreciate this free gift of God, the Sadducees walked away thinking they won the argument while the crowd who listened to Jesus drew even closer to him.

Not infrequently, we are like the Sadducees. Insisting that we are right in an argument in order to win, we jeopardize our relationship with both friends and foes, making it very difficult to find common ground in the next go round. Without a relationship, even simple conversations become problematic and awkward. and that is what happens to the Sadducees. Embarrassed and confused by Jesus they look for other opportunities to prove their point and lose any chance to hear the transforming word of God. Unless we listen to the Lord with an open spirit, the same can happen to us.

Today, ask God for the gift of listening with an open heart.

When has your pride interfered with your ability to hear the truth?

Immaculate Heart of Mary

 "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." Lk. 2:48

The honesty of Mary's response to Jesus' staying behind in Jerusalem to converse with the teachers in the temple tells us much about prayer. Sometimes only worried and troubled thoughts come to us when we look at the world, our church and families.

The horror of Isis slaughtering Christians, the ongoing effects of the sexual abuse scandal, and the failure of many to raise their families with faith and religious practice leave us speechless, and like Mary we are filled with great anxiety. Unable to escape these realities, we often seek outlets that free us from our obsessions, but do little to acknowledge the helplessness we feel. Mary's response can guide us.

When  we learn to make our anxiety our prayer, everything changes. Though the anxiety does not leave us, it throws us speechless into the heart of God, and this very act becomes our prayer. Confused and hurt, we join Mary in asking Jesus, "Why have you done this to us?" Even in posing the question, we realize that while God has done nothing to us directly, acknowledging our helplessness frees us to accept the sovereignty of God in all matters, and teaches us to live with unanswered questions.

Today, with Mary, make your anxiety your prayer.

What does your prayer sound like when you feel lost, anxious and helpless?

Monday, May 31, 2021

St Justin, Martyr

 "I thank the Lord and I praise him. I bless the name of the Lord." Sir 51:12

Justin, Martyr must have been a great help to his contemporaries. A philosopher who found the Gospel to be compelling and true, he was an apologist, someone whose intelligence and insight allowed him both to explain and defend the teachings of Jesus, even in the face of persecution.

People like Justin are prized in every age, especially by those committed to a Gospel life but who feel inadequate to defend their choices themselves. Apologists free us from trying to comprehend something that in the end is a mystery by assuring us that our commitments are rooted in something more real than our own needs.

Of course, Justin is not honored today solely because he was a good or insightful teacher and mentor to the early Christian community. We prize Justin's memory because his commitment to the Lord was so deep and lasting, he was willing to die for it, and while all of us hope for this kind of faith, few of us have it. Justin's faith was more than careful reasoning and deep inquiry. It was his way of being in the world and being saved. So it is for all of us when we submit to the gift of faith.

Today, thank God for the inestimable gift of faith.

What aspect or teaching of the Gospel is most difficult for you to understand or accept?

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Visitation of Mary

 "Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!" Zep 3:14



The Visitation of Mary is another of the gospel scenes that has fascinated and challenged Christians forever. A young woman, newly pregnant, visits her newly pregnant older relative, and spends three months with her.

What was their first meeting like? How did they spend most days? What kinds of conversations did they have? Because we have no answers to these questions, we supply the ones our reflection and prayer generate. This is good, something all of us ought to do regularly with the mysteries of faith. 

How we imagine Mary and Elizabeth together not only gives us insight into their relationship, it tells us much about where we are in life and faith. Are we joyful about being "pregnant" with the living God? Are we anxious to let others know about how being the "bearer of Good News" affects us and changes our life on a daily basis? 

Listening to and reading the reflections of newly pregnant women teaches us that everything changes in a woman's life when she knows she is pregnant. Not only do her eating habits change, she becomes very conscious of getting extra rest when possible, and is more careful driving a car. Simply put, a pregnant woman starts to live, not solely for herself but for the child she is carrying, and in this she teaches us one of the most fundamental truths of the Gospel. 

Believers in Jesus, knowing they have been saved, live for others, and while this attitude and conversion is tested everyday, there is no doubt about our call. We are disciples challenged to announce Good News by the way we live for others.

Today, visit someone struggling with life, even in your own home.

What have been the joys of being Christian in your life?