"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice." Jas 3:16
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021
"The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved." Lk 8:12
Years ago I remember a young mother of six exhorting her second youngest child to let his younger brother play with his toys. The little boy protested, but his mother only smiled and picked him up. If you let Jimmy play with whatever he wants, he will forget about it in a few minutes and you can have it back. Try to be patient and see what happens. The little boy took his mother's advice and learned a great lesson. If he did not cling to his own small possessions, he would be free, and soon enough he would learn that there were enough toys for him and his brother. Indeed, there is enough for all when we learn to let go.
When we allow our possessions, our power or our fear to possess us, it becomes impossible to hear Jesus or anyone else. We build walls and fences to protect what little we have and vow to defend it with our lives. It is clear that the leaders of the Jews saw Jesus as a threat who was stripping them of what little power they had and so plotted to trip him up, not because he was dishonoring God, but because he was threatening their security, and all this in the name of God!
Today, give something away to someone freely, and do not expect it to be returned.
Who is the most generous person you know?
Thursday, September 16, 2021
"Some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources." Lk 8:2-3In the United States, at least, women have almost always carried the burden of keeping our parishes organized, welcoming an functioning smoothly. Where would our parishes be without the women who lead and teach Catechetics, organize celebrations and picnics, and make sure the parish is active in reaching out to the poor and needy? This is not to say that men haven't played key roles in the church, but it is women upon whom falls the daily and weekly tasks that make a parish live and go. They are its face, even more so during the Covid pandemic.
It seems St Paul benefited from the same kind of help from the women of his day. In Luke's Gospel, which scholars suggest tells Paul's story, Mary, Joanna, and Susanna were not only faithful disciples of Jesus, they were also generous in their support of Paul' missionary journeys. Wouldn't it be good to know more about them? Unfortunately, in the ancient world, and too often in our world, women's voices are rarely heard, and their stories seldom told. We should work hard to change that.
Pope Francis continues to move the church in this direction by encouraging what he called,
The indispensable contribution of women in society, in particular with their sensitivity and intuition toward the other, the weak and the unprotected." He also noted that "many women share some pastoral responsibilities with priests in looking after persons, families and groups" and he said he had hoped that "the spaces for a more diffuse and incisive presence in the church be expanded."
What steps can and should the church take to highlight the contributions of women to our faith communities?
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
“He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” Lk 7: 4-5
Today, pray in gratitude for the gift of friends.
Which of your friends are you most grateful for today?
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Jn 19:25Who stands by you compassionately when you are struggling or lost?
In the Office of Readings today, St Bernard of Clairvaux, writing in the 12th century, calls Mary “a martyr in spirit,” because of her compassion, never abandoning her son even on the cross. Bernard writes: “Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.”
Standing with others in their suffering, not taking it away, not offering empty words of consolation, not trying to understand it, is a kind of death, a martyrdom. Helplessness is often the price of compassion and Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother, helps us learn this vital Christian virtue.
Today, pray for those who have no one to stand with them in their suffering.
Have you ever been called to be a companion to someone who is suffering alone?
Monday, September 13, 2021
"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." Jn 3:13
How we read the book of the cross is fundamental to our growth in faith. How, for instance, do we understand or interpret suffering? How should we approach death and dying? What can we expect from God when we carry our own crosses? Martin Luther King, speaking of what he labels unmerited suffering, writes, "Recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue. If only to save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform myself and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains." (MLK)
We should never be turned away from a full Gospel life because it makes others uncomfortable and us suffer. Many younger friends of mine have been discouraged by their friends and families when they decided to leave the United States to minister to the poor overseas. "There are plenty of poor people here in the U.S.," they are told, and, "Why do you have to be so radical in your convictions?" Hearing this, these young people suffer, but often enough, when they read the cross of Jesus, they are comforted, especially when they hear him say: "Take my yoke upon you, for I am gentle and humble of heart." (Mt 11:29)
Today, ask God for the grace not to be afraid of the cross.
What about living a Gospel life causes you the most suffering?
Sunday, September 12, 2021
"I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry." 1 Tim 1:12
Since the close of the Second Vatican Council, which mandated the use of the vernacular in the liturgy, preaching in the Roman Catholic Church has become increasingly important. Encouraged to offer a brief homily each day and to root them in the sacred texts preachers, many priests try to do this, but with mixed results. North Americans want both an insightful and brief homily even on Sunday's, and while this is understandable, it risks missing the primary teaching of the Second Vatican Council which reminds us the Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic life.
When preaching, no matter how lively, profound and articulate, pushes the liturgy of the Eucharist to the background, it needs to be reexamined. Good Catholic preaching ought to break open the sacred scripture, attend to what is happening in society and the world, and lead seamlessly into the breaking of the bread. When the liturgy is planned carefully with the preacher, something wonderful and exciting can happen, but when preaching overwhelms the listener and fails to remember that we are a people of word and sacrament, it fails as Eucharistic preaching.
Today, pray for preachers.
Have you ever heard preaching that helps you enter the liturgy of Eucharist more fully?