“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mk 6:31
Saturday, July 17, 2021
Friday, July 16, 2021
"Many people followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known." Mt 12:15
Often in the Gospels Jesus warns his disciples not to speak about his mighty powers and miracles. Fearing that people will be drawn to him for the wrong reasons, Jesus wants his followers to announce God's love for them whether they are healed or not. His message is not about power but poverty. Even those with nothing will know the glory of God because God loves each and all of us without distinction. God's love is unconditional. We have only to respond.
When people hear this message, it often falls on deaf ears. If God loves us so much, why do we suffer? Why isn't life sweet and simple for all? That God promises to accompany us through every trial is little consolation for many. Is this true for you, us? Do we want a life free of stress and struggle?
Today, acknowledge that life is a journey through light and dark and pray for the grace to accept and embrace life as it unfolds not as we dream about it.
Who helped you realize that the struggles in life mold your character and form you in compassion?
Thursday, July 15, 2021
"He shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth." Is 42 2-3
Pope Francis startled us a few years ago with an announcement about the Sacred Triduum. Rather than celebrate the Holy Thursday mass of the Last Supper at St Peter's in Rome, he presided at mass in a Roman youth prison. Amazing. Of course, his action makes perfect sense, since the liturgy of Holy Thursday celebrates Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, but is so different from anything we have come to expect, even from someone as charismatic and independent as Pope St. John Paul II, that we are left with our mouths hanging open.
Isaiah reminds us that God will bring forth justice for all, not by crying out or shouting, but my offering himself as servant of those most in need. On Thursday of this week, when Pope Francis washes the feet of young men in prison, he will challenge us to do think again, like his namesake St Francis, about how we treat the lepers in our society. Are we servants of the broken, people of faith unwilling to break the bruised reed? Do we reduce people in prison to objects, men and women to be feared or pitied? Are they people in prison or prisoners? Anytime we can find the correct questions to ask on our faith journey, we are on the right path.
Today, re-imagine how you want to celebrate the Triduum.
What are your biggest Gospel challenges?
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
"Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple–amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” Mt 10:37Sometimes, the Gospel is very simple. Feed the hungry. Give a drop of water to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. At other times, the discernment we need to make about how to live the Gospel in the spirit in which it was written, it is not so easy.
St Bonaventure, who some call the second founder of the Franciscan movement, knew this struggle well. Charged with settling the differences between and among Francis' followers especially with regard to their vow of poverty, Bonaventure succeeded where others failed. A theologian, Bonaventure employed Greek philosophy together with the Gospel to intellectually ground the pursuit of God without pretending one could ever fully understand God and God's ways. This wisdom allowed him to bring his great learning to the struggles of the early Franciscans. Always seeing the middle way, a path that honored everyone on it, Bonaventure proved to be an inspired leader and healer. Minister General of the friars for seventeen years, he led the Franciscan community to a place of honor and humility by his willingness to stand at the center of every controversy as an agent of peace and good. In a society like the United States that is so divided, we are challenged to do the same.
Today, seek peace with someone with whom you disagree.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
"The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level." Is 26:7Isaiah regularly offers the people of Israel a path of return to God and God's ways. As long as they do justice and make restitution to those people and nations from whom they have stolen and against whom they have warred, God will remember them and welcome them home.
This simple lesson should not be lost on us. When we honestly assess our behavior, we realize how often we have lusted after what others have, and whether it is their property, their influence or their reputation does not matter. When we have allowed ourselves the freedom not to work for others on behalf of God, but to struggle against them for our own gain, we must confront and address this sin.
At the same time, this is never easy. When someone unjustly tries to take from us our good name, we have the right to resist, but never violently. Only when we insist with a peaceful heart that others allow us the same dignity we offer them, will we be doing God's work. Those who willingly admit their own wrongs and respond in justice to those they have ill treated are always more successful in the pursuit of God's desire for the world.
Today, pray for your enemies.
Who do you most admire for their honesty and willingness to step in the shoes of another?
Monday, July 12, 2021
"Pharaoh’s daughter,...adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, 'I drew him out of the water.'” Ex 2:10
Sunday, July 11, 2021
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword." Mt 10:34Faith is often hot, uncomfortably so. Like walking across sand at the beach in the middle of summer, we jump and hop around, trying to avoid faith's scorching demands, but there is no way around it, faith burns. Unfortunately, we too often think of the so called hot button issues in the church of North America when we speak of faith's demands: abortion, same sex marriage and divorce, but the heat of faith is much more than these controversial issues.
Faith is hot because it demands that we listen when we are ready to explode with anger at those who disagree with us. Faith burns when it requires us to love our enemies and do good to those who harm us. Faith stings when it challenges us to let go of power that dominates others economically, militarily and socially, and all of this is what Jesus is referring to in today's gospel.
When the Lord tells us that he has not come to bring peace at any price and that the gospel will divide fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, he is not suggesting that division is good, but inevitable when we fail to care for the poor, the broken, the sick and immigrants.
The gospel does not permit easy answers, but insists that we search beyond selfishness to see the needy with God's eyes and remember that it was the poor who first listened to him because they were desperate for hope. Only when we acknowledge our own weaknesses can we look at others with compassion and understanding.
Today, don't run away from the fire of faith.
When have faith's demands burned you?