Monday, August 15, 2022

The Danger of Wealth

  "“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven." Mt 19:23

When social standing, wealth and power lead to blindness of spirit, they become impediments to knowing and loving God, and must be avoided or rejected. Only those, rich and poor alike, who see with the eyes of God and respond in justice to the poor deserve to be remembered, named and imitated. Every person, no matter how poor, has a dignity and importance in the reign of God. This is a great obstacle to many.

People of every generation, social class, race and culture need to remember that it is not our accomplishments or wealth that lead us to God, but our humility and love of all creation which save us. Jesus expresses this bluntly in today's Gospel. "It is easier for a camel to pass through [the] eye of [a] needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mk 10;24) When wealth blinds us to God's will and others' need, we are from the reign of God. Only a change of heart can help us.

Today, pray for anyone you may have dismissed because of their weakness, race or poverty.

How do you understand Jesus when he says that it is terribly hard for rich people to get into heaven?

Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Assumption of Mary

 "A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth." Rev 12: 1-2

In recent years it is clear to me that the worst thing we can do to Sts Francis and Clare is to rob them of their humanity. The same is true of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Anxious to tame a strong, courageous woman, we make her in our image rather than God's, and when we do this, we strip her of her greatness and power. Listening to the Magnificat can help us avoid this travesty.

When Mary cries: "The Lord has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty," she reminds us to be humble and remember that there is only one God. Our task is not to control the world but to serve those most in need, and Mary demonstrates this early in John's gospel when she demands that Jesus help a young newly married couple who are running out of wine. Not only does Jesus respond, he makes enough wine to quench the thirst of an entire village.

The feast of the Assumption is the culmination of Mary's journey. Faithful her entire life to the Lord to whom she gave birth, she is exalted for living her life with absolute integrity, for suffering, for enduring, for celebrating all that God is. Mary is a model for us, not because she lacks passion or humanity, but because she listened to God despite the cost to her reputation and standing in the community. Mary feared nothing because she knew she was living a life of faith and love for all. More important, if we listen, she continues to teach us these lessons today.

Today, ask God to help you live the Gospel despite the cost.

What about Mary most moves you to live the Gospel without fear?

Saturday, August 13, 2022

A Fiery Gospel

  "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." Lk 12:51

Fire in the bible, always a sign of God's presence, often purifies and cleanses. Sometimes the lesson is simple. When we get distracted by concerns that we can do little about, like the weather on a day we are flying, we need to be cleansed and purified. We need to let go, enjoy the day as it unfolds and remember the wisdom of an old saying: Things that are important are rarely urgent and things are urgent are rarely important.

But our need for cleansing and purification can cut much more deeply. When we hold grudges for months or years, expecting the other person to ask for forgiveness, when we ridicule the weak and take advantage of the poor, we need to be cleansed. In the film, The King’s Speech, the Duke of York is a terrible stutterer. Though born to nobility, the man who would eventually be known as King George VI, cannot even read a speech on the radio. Battered by his father to try harder, and to speak more slowly, his stammer only gets worse, but what is most difficult for him is the ridicule he is subjected to, even as an adult, by his own brother.

Exhausted and ashamed by his struggles, the future king submits himself to the “cleansing” and “purifying” skill and friendship of a commoner. Slowly he gains some control of his stammer and emerges humble and grateful, and able to play a key role in leading England through the Second World War. This is, of course, exactly what the Lord did for his first disciples and continues to do for us today.

Today, ask not to be afraid of the fire of God.

Has the Gospel felt like "fire" to you? Did it cleanse you?

Friday, August 12, 2022

Like Children

 “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Mk 10: 14-15

Today's Gospel offers us a great challenge. Like children we need to be open spirited, engaged, and contemplative. Faith is Jesus in not a set of rules we need to obey, but a new way of living that demands we be open spirited and engaged with life as it is, not as we want it to be.

Believing in a God who is always with us, something that is very natural for a child, allows us to believe that faith well lived can change the world. When people encounter Christians who have a zest for life and a commitment to all people, especially those without a voice, they listen. Some even want to know more.

Today, let your imagination, like a child playing a game, roam with delight.

What about children most speaks to you of the Gospel?

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Divorce

 “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." Mt 19:8

Divorce is always difficult and painful, but sometimes it is necessary. When there is physical or emotional abuse, the spouse being abused has little choice. The Gospel never demands that a person submit to abuse for the sake of any relationship, and while many married people struggle to stay in relationships that are empty, there are times when a spouse must leave a marriage.

That being said, the gospel is clear that divorce should be a last resort, and that all of us need to address our hard hearts. It is not only the married, but clergy and religious, too, who too often take life for granted, think too much about what is not working in their lives and become hyper critical of the people with whom they live. Jesus had it right. When our hearts get hard, we can justify anything we do and demonize others. Finding scapegoats rather than looking at ourselves is convenient but robs us of the opportunity for growth as persons and Christians committed by vow to a particular way of life.

Jesus wants the married to succeed, to be faithful, to forgive, forget and work through their difficulties. When marriage or religious life becomes something we can abandon or easily put aside when it hurts to take the next step, we deny God's power to heal and to shine a light on the dark path that we all must sometimes take. Learning from those who accept life as it unfolds because of their faith is a gift we should all treasure.

Today, recommit yourself to your baptismal vows, and pray for those struggling in marriage.

Whose commitment to marriage most enhanced your faith?

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

St Clare of Assisi

 "(Ezekiel said) I did as I was told. During the day I brought out my baggage as though it were that of an exile, and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness, shouldering my burden." Ez 12:7

Like St Francis, her friend and mentor, St Clare was born into wealth, and although her mother was generous towards the poor and had a deep spirituality, Clare knew that the power which her family's wealth gave her was an obstacle to a full Gospel life.

Because she wanted. like Jesus and Ezekiel, to sell everything she had and give the proceeds to the poor, Clare petitioned Rome to live what she called the "privilege of poverty." Anxious to demonstrate her total dependence on God and the church, Clare wanted both to live within the enclosure and without a dowry, something unheard of in the middle ages. Because women within the enclosure had no means of supporting themselves, the church insisted that nuns have the security of a dowry to protect them from destitution.

Although it took almost to the end of her life, St Clare's desire to live with nothing of her own was finally accepted by Rome when her Rule was approved in 1253 just a day before her death, and this profound breakthrough continues to inspire women of the 21st century to live the Gospel simply and without guile.

Today, ask yourself whether you need everything you have.

What spiritual practice might help you live the Gospel more simply and fully?

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

St Lawrence, Deacon

  "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." Jn 12:24

St Lawrence reputedly said while being grilled on an open fire as punishment for his failure to obey the the Roman Prefect : Turn me over. Like so many other stories, it misses the point.

St. Lawrence should be known for something very different. When the Roman Prefect demanded Lawrence bring him the treasures of the church, Lawrence went throughout the city and gathered all the poor and sick declaring: These are the riches of the church. The Roman Prefect, embarrassed and enraged, demanded that Lawrence be burned like an animal and Lawrence accepted his punishment for telling the truth. Indeed, the poor and sick are our greatest treasure.

We must all, like Lawrence, fall to the earth and die if we want to witness to the the gospel in an authentic way. Unless we have the faith and courage to let go of our narrow and limited world views, we cannot bear the fruit of God, the fruit that will last forever.

Today, ask not to be afraid of the daily dying demanded by the Gospel.

Who has died so that you might live?

Monday, August 8, 2022

Children can Teach Us

 “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them." Mt 19:13

Unfortunately, for priests and religious these days, this passage has an edge of fear to it. Most of us who minister full time are anxious around children and are very cautious in our relationships with them. How awful!  Jesus wants us to see in children an example who we must become, not a group of people we should avoid. With that said, the passage remains very powerful.

Jesus holds up a child's innocence as an example of what his disciples need to become. Open spirited, engaged, naturally contemplative and without guile, children, who had no voice or rights at the time of Jesus, teach us how God wants us to go about in the world. The Good News is a new way of living, not a set of rules we have to obey.

Jesus asks us to hold onto the freshness and vitality of children as a way to proclaim the depth of God's love. Believing in a God who is always with us must change everything about us if it is to have an effect in the world. Unless people can find in us a zest for life and a commitment to all people, especially those without a voice, our witness will be empty. Like children, we continue to live with joy because of what God has done for and among us.

Today, let your imagination, like a child playing a game, roam with delight.

What about children most speaks to you of the Gospel?

Sunday, August 7, 2022

St Dominic

 "Dominic was a man of great equanimity, except when moved to compassion and mercy." Office of Readings for the Feast of St Dominic


The feast of St Dominic is an important one for Franciscans like me. Dominic, like Francis himself, is called Holy Father by Franciscans in order to help the friars minor understand that anyone who professes poverty and itinerancy is indeed a Father to us. More helpful, perhaps, in understanding this custom, is the short biography of St. Dominic from today's Office of Readings.

Most of us strive to have a peaceful spirit, to live with "great equanimity" but often enough this desire fulfills our hopes and understanding of holiness, not necessarily God's desire for us. When Dominic is described as a man of "great equanimity" his biographer is clearly talking about a God given gift since he reminds us that Dominic lived a life of equanimity "except when moved to compassion and mercy." In other words, there are moments when it is important to be quiet, reserved and outwardly peaceful, but there are others times, especially when someone is suffering and in need of God's companionship, that we need to let go of all restraints in order to give ourselves totally, like God, to the person in need.

Today, let go of self concern and reach out for anyone in great need.

Who has shown you unconditional concern in your confusion and suffering?

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Readying Ourselves for the Master's Return

 “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks." Lk 12 35-36

Getting ready for a lifestyle change can be both unnerving and exciting. Seventeen young men recently entered the Capuchin novitiate in California. Reading their names, I immediately started praying for them. While I am sure they are excited, I also know they will have some butterflies, especially if they have never lived in the mountains or the desert.

Praying helped me remember that whenever I have the privilege of helping someone ready themselves for marriage, many of the same concerns emerge. Has the couple spent enough time learning about one another? Do they have good communication skills? And most important for believers, are the thinking of marriage as a faith commitment, an opportunity to grow in the love of God through marriage?

These questions, and the answers they imply, when altered slightly are good ones for the candidates to our Order. Life doesn't happen in a day, but unfolds a day at a time. Taking enough time to focus of goals rather than accomplishments makes it possible for religious life and marriage to be a wonderful time of transformation and hope.

Today, thank God for those who helped you make difficult transitions in your life.

What most helps you make transitions in your faith life?

Friday, August 5, 2022

The Transfiguration of the Lord

 "While he was praying Jesus' face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white." Lk 9:29

While change is necessary in all our lives, it always implies a struggle. Because we are comfortable in a particular circumstance despite its difficulties, we often choose to make excuses for not changing. Friends of mine, older now and needing to think about moving to a smaller home or condo, express a thousand reasons for staying exactly where they are. Despite the fact that their home presents some physical dangers for older people, they prefer to adjust and be careful not to hurt themselves rather than move, and while all of their friends understand their reluctance, it does make us wonder.

Jesus experienced resistance in his apostles as he headed for Jerusalem, the seat of Jewish life and power. His followers, delighted by their master's healing power and message of liberation for the poor, wanted to stay in the Northern part of Palestine and go from town to town gathering new disciples, thinking they would strengthen their hand when eventually they would arrive in Jerusalem. But Jesus would have none of it.

Determined to move towards Jerusalem, and his death, Jesus reveals himself to his disciples on the mountain of the Transfiguration. Showing himself as the successor to Moses and Elijah, Jesus lets his friends know that he is more than they think and more than they bargained for. He is the Messiah of God, and his message and purpose go far beyond the liberation of the Jewish nation from Roman domination. Though it will be frightening and confusing, if Jesus' disciples want to continue to follow him, they must accompany him to Jerusalem and all that it implies. So must we.

Today, let the Lord show himself to you as he is.

What are your most challenging resistances to change?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Crosses

 “Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Mt 16:24

Crosses come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, none of them easy but all of them real and important. Some carry a paralyzing fear, others an impenetrable darkness. Still others suffer addictions that terrorize them and their families, but most of us have simpler, if not less heavy, crosses. We talk or eat too much, we don't listen to our friends or God and we wonder whether our lives have impacted anyone or anything. These are heavy crosses indeed.

Following Jesus means accepting who we are, what we've done and what we have failed to do, while at the same time praying to be free of our self absorption and fear. Knowing the Lord will guide and lead us to places, situations and people that will allow him to be known and loved makes this possible and desirable.

Discipleship, Lent teaches us, is not first of all about doing penance or growing in faith, but about following Jesus. The Lord is more concerned about our willingness to repent and begin again each day than about our faults. When our humility deepens we begin to realize that Jesus can even use our weaknesses for the good of others and the announcement of the Gospel.

Today, carry the first cross you encounter without grumbling.

What are your most difficult crosses?








Wednesday, August 3, 2022

St John Vianney

 "Strive for unity, for there is nothing better. Help all, as the Lord also helps you; suffer all in love (indeed, you are doing this). Pray unceasingly. Beg for wisdom greater than you already have, be watchful and keep the spirit from slumbering. Speak to each person individually, just like God himself, and like a perfect champion bear the infirmities of all. The greater the toil, the greater the gain." St Ignatius of Antioch to Bishop Polycarp 1st century C.E.

The sentiments of Ignatius of Antioch challenge all of us called to leadership in the church, and whether we experience it actively or not, we are all called to leadership. The documents of the Second Vatican Council are clear about this. So is Jesus. We are called to be servants. We are, like Jesus, to kneel and wash the feet of others and to discern how best we can help build the reign of God on earth.  As Thomas Sweetser, S.J. and Carol Holden argue, Christian leaders need to develop skills in "information gathering, decision making, community building, conflict management, and evaluation," (Cf Sweetser and Holden) if we hope to empower everyone around us to live and function well in the 21st century church.

There is no doubt that St John Vianney did this in his life. More than anything else he listened and responded to people where they were, and while he did this in the confessional, we all need to learn this art if we want to help others take their rightful place in a church that increasingly depends of lay leadership for its survival.

Today, listen to someone without defensiveness or feeling pressured to answer?

Who or what has been most helpful to you in your understanding and call to leadership?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

God's Scraps

 “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Mt 15:27

The Canaanite woman in today's gospel who asks Jesus to free her daughter of a demon is a remarkable example of someone who, despite overwhelming odds. refuses to be put off by Jesus' insistence that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Far from allowing herself to be distracted by the rejection of Jesus and his disciples, she continues to advocate for her daughter. That she compares herself to a dog eating scraps from its master's table finally gets Jesus to look at her and acknowledge her faith. 

Giving into discouragement or despair is not an option for Christians when they advocate for the poor. No matter the cost, believers must continue to follow the example of the Canaanite woman and work together with other people of faith for a just life for all in our society and around the world. While we might not be successful all the time, the justice of our cause will surely move the hearts and minds of other believers to work for a society that refuses to allow some to live in destitution while others hoard resources.

Today, ask he Lord to teach you how to help the poor.

What aspects of life make you feel most powerless?


Monday, August 1, 2022

Courage in the Face of Danger

 "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid." Mt 14:27

One of the dangers in being called to ministry is that we very often encounter people when they are in acute distress. Their children are addicted and acting out, their parents are in jail, a sister is seriously mentally ill or a brother is unable to tell the truth, and they look to us for insight and wisdom. The list of woes goes on and on, and often skews our worldview. Life feels like a very dark place and unless we are careful we begin to believe that the entire world is a mess.

Because Jesus understood that life would be difficult for his disciples, especially if they continued to proclaim the Good News, he offered them a way to understand and interpret their ministerial efforts through the experience of a woman giving birth. While the pain of child birth is intense, the result is pure joy. A child is born, a new life begins and hope replaces despair. Such would be the life of those who remained faithful to the gospel. Darkness can become light, and sadness can be transformed into hope, but we must pause each day to remember that we are not alone, that we are accompanied by a body of believers who, while they suffer, also know great joy.

Today, remember that your life has already produced great gifts for God.

How do you manage to remain centered in God in a world full of heartache?

Sunday, July 31, 2022

St Alphonsus Liguori

 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

One of the most remarkable phenomenon in the Judeo-Christian tradition is how God uses the weakness of people to confound the wise. Not only is this uncomfortable for us, it often pushes away those who think of themselves as sane, centered and grounded. Christopher Hitchens, who in his last years was a loud and acerbic critic of religion, asserted that the dark night of the soul was nothing more than depression, a view that is shared by many who call themselves atheists.

Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, is a powerful counterbalance to this view. Well educated, he finished his doctoral studies in canon and civil law before he was twenty, but his spirit was not fed by the law. Pursuing a different path, he sought ordination, despite the opposition of his family, because of his desire to share the good news in simple ways. Badly bent physically by rheumatism, and unable to stand erect, he managed to preach popular missions for 26 years. Though a renowned theologian, it was not his learning and fame that touched the hearts of ordinary believers most deeply, but his humility and kindness

Today, ask for the grace of not knowing everything.

What experiences have taught you the value of humility?

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Greed

 “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Lk 12:15

Greed has been a constant theme in the United States in recent years. The discrepancy in income between the super rich and the everyday poor is growing and a cause for deep concern. Jesus had more than a little to say about this, and it is still valuable advice. Money, property and power accumulation are not in themselves the problem. Greed is. The desperate clinging to what we have suggests there is no other world but the one in which we live, and faith challenges this view over and over.

Jesus did not come to straighten out the world but to set its people free, and while some will deny or ignore this gift, it is ours for the taking. When we live generously and with deep regard for those most in need, relationships blossom and the Good News becomes powerful and transforming. It is virtually impossible to turn away from someone we know who is in real need. It is only when the poor remain faceless that our greed overwhelms our beliefs. Opening our eyes to everyone in front of us not only changes us, it can change the world.

Today, ask yourself how much you need to live.

Has your own or another's greed ever impacted your life?

Friday, July 29, 2022

Our Prisons Within

 “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” Mk 6:25

Each time we read Mark's gospel about the party Herod threw for his friends, we wonder if John had an inkling of what might be his fate. A critic of Herod for marrying his brother's wife, John was in prison awaiting he knew not what. Would he rot, be beaten, escape or be sprung from prison by his followers? Though we have no direct evidence of how John reacted when he was about to be beheaded, it must have been awful.

Women and men in prison are among the most isolated people in the world. Often forgotten even by their friends and family, they have little to do but endure and hope for their freedom. For those who study or learn to pray in prison, life can have new meaning, but the strength needed to survive the emptiness and segregation is often lacking. Many become chronically depressed and often think of suicide.

All of us have or make prisons for ourselves from time to time. Call it what you will, but our unwillingness to let go of a job, a lifestyle, a home or an idea can trap us in a place that once served us well on our earthly pilgrimage, but is now very much like a prison. Unless we seek the grace to live in Christ each day, we will be unable to see God wherever we are or hear God directing us to a new path.

Today, ask God to free you from prisons of your own making.

How can the witness of John the Baptist help contemporary Christians?

Thursday, July 28, 2022

St Martha, Mary and Lazarus

 "When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to him, 'Sir, come and see.' And Jesus wept." Jn 11: 33-35

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is confusing at best and impossible at worst. If Jesus is such a good friend of Lazarus and knows Lazarus is sick, why does he wait two days before going to him? It seems to most of us that Jesus' delay is unnecessary, even cruel. No wonder Lazarus' sisters complain when Jesus finally appears in Bethany. Convinced Jesus was the Messiah, Martha and Mary wonder aloud to Jesus: If you had been hear, our brother would not have died. Are they accusing Jesus of not caring about them or Lazarus?

The story of Lazarus is curious for other reasons as well. The L'Arche community, a group that works and lives with persons who have intellectual and other disabilities, thinks there is evidence in the scripture that Lazarus was disabled. The Greek word used to describe Lazarus' sickness is asthenes  and can be translated without strength or feeble. Moreover, the gospel calls Martha not Lazarus the head of the household, further suggesting that Lazarus' illness or disability made it impossible for him as a man to take responsibility for his family home.

In any case, when Jesus finally speaks with Martha, she and those grieving with her are weeping. Distraught and upset by his friends' sorrow, Jesus weeps and proceeds, even though Lazarus has been in the tomb four days to raise him from the dead. Jesus' power over death calls us to a new level of faith. We must trust the Lord no matter how sick or disabled we might be and how often he seems to be absent, because he is Lord of the living and the dead.

Today, don't be afraid to weep about your own unbelief. Submit yourself to the Lord and ask him to raise you up.

In what ways are you drawn to the humanity of Jesus?

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Remembering we are Clay

"Then the word of the LORD came to me: Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done? says the LORD. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel." Jer 18:6

Do you ever think of God as a potter, someone who can and will rebuild us as often as we fail to be the person God needs us to be? I love this image, perhaps because I know a few potters who seem infinitely patient and always willing to forgive us and begin again.

While images and metaphors like the potter can be very consoling, they are also very challenging because they remind us that, made in God's image, we must also forgive those who hurt us and begin again. This does not mean we have to be punching bags, but it does mean we need often to take a deep breath, think about how often God has forgiven us and ask for the help to start over.

Today, take a few minutes to let go of hurt and ask God for the grace to begin again.

Has anyone ever let go of a hurt they experienced and shown you God's face?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Fine Pearls

 “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 is to do the same. Even at a time of great turmoil in our nation and church, there are great pearls to be found. Everyday people see and respond to the hungry, homeless and sick with compassion, patience and zeal. They know the needy are pearls and they realize and celebrate from a great privilege it is to help them

Today, practice virtue and justice.

What do you think it means to be a faith filled citizen in the United States today?

Monday, July 25, 2022

Sts Joachim and Anne

  "Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest." Jer 14:17

Although the names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, only come to us from a late first century legend, it must have been wonderful  for them to give birth to Mary, and one wonders whether they saw in their daughter the special qualities that would help Mary say yes to God in all things and endure the horror of her son’s crucifixion and death. Only common criminals were beaten and led out of the city of Jerusalem to die on a garbage heap like Jesus was, and though it had to be awful, the image of Mary holding Jesus as he was taken dead from the cross is one of the most moving and comforting of icons in our faith tradition. Surely, Joachim and Anne would have been immensely proud of their daughter as she accepted the horror of her only son’s death.

Today, is a good day to be grateful for our own history, no matter how clouded. Our parents, often with limited resources, did the best they could by us. They fed us, made sure we had access to education and loved us as they knew how. Indeed, we can say this about all our ancestors.  They loved us in the manner than was acceptable in their families and cultures. It does us no good to berate or deny our personal and family history. Rather, we must be grateful for what is and ask God to help us, like Joachim and Anne, to pass on the best of our faith to the generation that follows us.

Today, be grateful for your family, no matter how broken.

What do you most treasure about your own family and faith?

Sunday, July 24, 2022

St James, Apostle

 "We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body." 2 Cor 4:8-10

St James, the Apostle, is mentioned often in the gospels as a close companion of Jesus. Perhaps most importantly he is present at the Transfiguration when Jesus reveals himself as a prophet and patriarch with Moses and Elijah. A close friend of Jesus, James and his brother John were nicknamed "sons of thunder" by Jesus because of their fierce commitment to the Gospel, even if some of it was misplaced, but his zeal for the Gospel gave him the strength to endure martyrdom.

The Patron of Spain, James's fame increased over time as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims make their way to Compestela, where tradition suggests his relics are preserved. Believing that James had the courage to leave Jerusalem in order to announce the Good News in Spain, pilgrims today stream to his shrine hoping to let go of life patterns that steal their humanity and their faith.

The boldness of St James both in his ministry with Jesus and in bringing the Gospel to Spain is a wonderful example for contemporary Christians. In a society obsessed with stability, security and power, we would do well to listen to the example of James to let go of what seems permanent in order to discover the God who lives within and among people everywhere as guides on their journeys.

Today, be bold in living the Gospel.

What in your life calls you to live the Gospel boldly?

Saturday, July 23, 2022

God Wants to Forgive Us

 "If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake." Gen 18

Most of us are familiar with Abraham's willingness to wager with God in the book of Genesis. Intimate with God, Abraham is unafraid to approach God, even push God, to forget our sins and embrace us anew. Aware that God is thinking about destroying the wicked city of Sodom, Abraham first asks God whether 50 innocent and good people would change God's mind about destroying the city. When God says yes, Abraham keeps lowering the number until God is willing to forgive the entire city of Sodom if Abraham can produce 10 good people. 

The God we meet in the book of Genesis is tender, compassionate and merciful but often for reasons of guilt and shame we are unable to accept this God. Thinking we are deserving of punishment and retribution, we resist allowing the God of Genesis to come near us for fear we will have to offer others the same solicitous love God shows us, but God is bigger than our fears. While God wants us to forgive our enemies, God's love is not conditional. As long as we ask for help, God is there, trusting that the reception of this kind of mercy will help us see others as God seems them.

Today, imagine God waiting for you with open arms.

What keeps you from believing in the all forgiving God that Abraham encounters

Friday, July 22, 2022

Patience

 "No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, 'First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Mt 13: 29-30

All of us have faults and most of us have determined to rid ourselves of them without success. If our words get us in trouble regularly, we decide to be quieter. For a while it works, but as soon as we lose our focus, we find ourselves talking too much about ourselves or others. These are the weeds that grow in our life.  We can try to blame someone else for planting them, but they are ours and we need to be responsible for them. Thank God Jesus recognizes us despite our faults and suggests a response.

The Lord tells us to stop worrying too much about our sins and concentrate instead on doing good. It is remarkable when we think about it that when we have lots of good to do, there is little time for faults and sins. While we might talk too much, spend too much, worry too much or try too hard, when we are focused on living well with and for others, our faults don't bother us as much and neither do they last as long.

Today, let the weeds grow together with the wheat in your life.

Which of your own faults or sins bothers you the most?

Thursday, July 21, 2022

St Mary Magdalene

 "Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbouni,' which means Teacher." Jn 20:16

Neither the disciples on the road to Emmaus, nor Mary Magdalene, recognized Jesus immediately after the resurrection. Why this was is not clear. The disciples may have been too angry or hurt by Jesus' death, and Mary's grief may have blinded her. Only after the Lord calls her by name does Mary recognize him.

Most of us have experienced this in everyday life. If we are waiting for someone at an airport or bus station and they don't appear with the other arriving travelers, we find ourselves wondering whether we missed the person for whom we are waiting or whether they are on a different flight. We scan the crowds, ask others if they were on the same flight for bus, and sometimes check to see if they are at other exits. Only when the person calls our name or we see them sitting in a corner of the station do we realize that our anxiety blinded us to the obvious.

It is clear that the gospels want to teach us about the resurrected Jesus through signs and sounds. We have only to quiet ourselves and pay attention to see the risen Jesus among us. Every time we gather for the Eucharist the Lord is among us in the breaking of the bread. Every time we pause to listen to him in prayer, he lives within us. When we open our hearts to hear the word as a call to change, we encounter the Christ who is always active, but when are hearts are troubled or distracted by large or small concerns, we miss the presence of the One who is always looking for us.

Today, remember the times the Lord called you by name.

What concerns most often blind you to the presence of God in the world?

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Letting Ourselves See

 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear." Mt 13:16

Seeing is a wonderful gift, one we can easily take for granted. Only an injury to the eye, even a slight one, makes us sit up and take notice. That we can see and appreciate the beauty of all creation is remarkable, and while it seems simple it really is very complex. So many parts of our body have to work together for us to see, and Jesus uses this very basic faculty to teach us about sensing beyond what our eyes and ears and brain working together offer us.

Some of the Jewish leaders, who could have worked with Jesus to proclaim God's reign, did not want to see, hear or admit that Jesus had remarkable powers and insight, that he understood and interpreted the Torah in a way that freed people to live the Law more fully and deeply. Because they feared their power was being challenged and undermined, they chose to be blind and confronted Jesus at every turn but were never able to dissuade or distract ordinary people from acknowledging what they experienced.  We all need to learn that seeing with the mind and heart is as important as seeing with our eyes alone, otherwise we will miss the transforming power of the Gospel.

Today, open your eyes slowly and look around at the glory of God's creation.

Have you had an experience that helped you see God's action in your life more clearly?

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

God's Word in our Mouths

 See, I place my words in your mouth!

This day I set you
over nations and over kingdoms,
To root up and to tear down,
to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant. (Jer 1:9-10)

It can be difficult for us to be as humble as Jeremiah, and let God put the words we must say to announce the Good News directly into our mouths, and this can be even more arduous if we think of ourselves as reasonably articulate. God's assurance to Jeremiah really is an astounding promise and challenge. As long as Jeremiah lets go of his anxiety about being too young, and remains still and welcoming to God, God will give him the words he needs to be a prophet.

Jesus makes a similar pledge to his disciples in Luke's Gospel. "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." Although most of us will never suffer the same threats as Jesus' first disciples and be dragged before the civil authorities for preaching the Good News, Jesus' promise remains because, in some ways, our challenge is more difficult. 

How often do we find ourselves trying to be too polite or careful so as not to offend those with power, money or political office? St Paul is clear: "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." (2 Tim 4:2) In other words, don't be afraid, God still puts the words we need into our mouths if only we trust.

Today, speak simply and without pretense about God's desire for the world.

Who has been the clearest proponent of a Gospel life for you?

Monday, July 18, 2022

Discipleship

 "And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.'" Mt 12: 49-50

There are some who might get upset with this passage from Matthew. When the crowd tells Jesus that his mother, brothers and sisters are looking for him,  Jesus reacts. A person’s life is not of value, he says, because of her parents or relatives, but by her willingness to listen and live the good news. The Jesus of the gospels would never disparage his own mother’s goodness, but he does remind his listeners that being born a Jew guarantees nothing. Were he alive today, he might well say that being born a Catholic means little unless one lives one’s religious faith and tradition.

Jesus was trying to remind his Jewish brothers and sisters that they were not better than others simply because of their religious clothing, roots or heritage. Rather, he wanted them to live their faith with integrity and a deep sense of justice not by lording it over others but by always remembering their own slavery in Egypt and their times of exile from the Promised Land.

Today ask God for the grace to go beyond the essentials of religious practice and the courage to make your faith the foundation of your life.

What does it mean to you to be a disciple of Jesus?

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Everyday Epiphanies

 “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah."

How we miss the everyday Epiphanies in our life is always a mystery. The wonders of creation, the gift of faithful and faith filled friends, and the power of common worship all offer us opportunities each day to celebrate God's presence within and among us, but we fail. Admitting these faults allows us to begin again, but Jesus is angered with those who fail to see God all around them and have the gall to ask for new signs. Until we learn to slow down enough to celebrate the presence of God is so many people and places, we cheat ourselves and God of being grateful.

The saints are those who recognize their faults, ask for help to overcome them and are humble enough to begin their pilgrimage over again each day. King David took God for granted, lusted after his friend's wife and when she became pregnant by him, arranged to put her husband in the front lines of battle knowing he would be killed. But David repented and after God punished him, God gave him a second change.

Today, open your eyes and let them slowly move around wherever you are to discover God's presence and promise.

What distracts you most from the presence of God within and around you?

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Martha's Faith

 "Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?'"

Because she is sometimes sneered at for complaining that her sister Mary is not helping prepare a meal for Jesus, Martha can be easily dismissed as a second class saint, but she deserves our praise and admiration. Because she is straightforward with Jesus, Martha helps free us from treating the Lord like a plastic amulet whose only purpose is to protect us from harm. Honest and direct, Martha reminds us not to be afraid of the Lord, but to pour out our hearts to him like we would to a treasured friend.

In responding to Martha, Jesus teaches his disciples and all those who were following him that he is their hope and their life, and that through him all will be raised up on the last day. For those who accept this message and acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior, Jesus' promise is the foundation of our faith. As Paul reminds us, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (1 Cor 15:14)

Today, ask Jesus to help you better understand his message of salvation.



Are you able to question and challenge the Lord without fear?

Friday, July 15, 2022

Bruised Reeds

 "A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory." Mt 12:20

All of us are bruised, either by our own families, churches, religious communities or ourselves and our environment. When we fail to listen to our bodies, which never fail to tell us in advance what is happening within us, or our spirits, which we often rush, it is impossible to hear the God who is always present within us and among us. That God promises not to break us when we are bruised assures us of God's patience and compassion. 

When we remember that God is always near and anxious to support us when we break or feel like the flame of faith is going out, listen again to the Gospel of Matthew which reminds that is God is closer than we can imagine and wants only what is good for us.

Today, support someone who thinks they are completely broken by sin.

Who or what helped you most when you thought you could not go on?

Thursday, July 14, 2022

St Bonaventure

 "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 10:37

Sometimes, 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.  Alwasy 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.

What most inspires you about St Francis and the Franciscans?

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

St Kateri Tekawitha

 "'Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am," I said; "send me!'" Is 6:8

The few writings we have from Kateri Tekawitha are remarkable. How a woman with so little formal catechesis developed such a sophisticated understanding of what it meant to live an heroic life in Christ is astounding.

Struck down by smallpox as a young girl that left her skin pockmarked, she was also partially blind, not a great candidate for marriage in the Native American world into which she was born. Kateri seemed not to care about this, even as a girl, after she discovered  Christ and began to learn about his life and promises. Having lost her parents in the same  smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured, she ran away from her uncle's home and attached herself to a village near Montreal where a group of Jesuits had established a church and small community of believers. There she grew in faith in more traditional ways. She committed herself to prayer, fasting and service of others.

Kateri's life reminds us that having everything we desire or think we need is not as important as knowing Christ intimately. Whether like Kateri we bear with physical limitations or carry the emotional scars of a difficult childhood matters little if we accept who we are in Christ and see ourselves in God's eyes. When Kateri discovered this great path to faith, she never wavered and remains a model for us in challenging times and circumstances. Life is not first of all about health, wealth and security in this world. It is about commitment, acceptance and joy in the knowledge of God's love and care for us.

Today, ask to accept yourself as you are and see where God takes you.

What do you think it takes to live an heroic life in Christ in our day?

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Children Teach Us

 “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike."  Mt 11:25

What is it about children that causes Jesus to hold them up as icons? Surely, they are charming and innocent, but there is more. Children live in awe and wonder. They see without blinders. They don't interpret what they see as much as delight in it, and in all of this, they teach us. Unlike the leaders of the Jewish community who are looking for ways to best Jesus, they don't care if he claims to be the Messiah. They only want to be close to him.

It is important not to forget that children, though treasured in the ancient world, had little value in themselves. Until they could work and produce something valuable for their families, they were educated by their mothers and tolerated, but they would not be protected in an emergency. Jesus, as he often did, challenged his own disciples when they tried to keep children away from him because he was an important rabbi.

It should not surprise us that children are naturally contemplative, able to play or work at a project for hours without noticing the time. So fascinated are they by what is right in front of them, they are not easily distracted and teach us how to live fully each day. Jesus' praise for children is well founded and natural when we take time to reflect upon it.

Today, let your spirit be distracted by the awesome beauty of the world.

What most distracts you from living each day with joy and delight?

Monday, July 11, 2022

The All Forgiving God

 "But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” Mt 11:24

Most of us are familiar with Abraham's willingness to wager with God in the book of Genesis. Intimate with God, Abraham is unafraid to approach God, even push God, to forget our sins and embrace us anew. Aware that God is thinking about destroying the wicked city of Sodom, Abraham first asks God whether 50 innocent and good people would change God's mind about destroying the city. When God says yes, Abraham keep lowering the number until God is willing to forgive the entire city of Sodom if Abraham can produce 10 good people. 

The God we meet in the book of Genesis is tender, compassionate and merciful but often for reasons of guilt and shame we are unable to accept this God. Thinking we are deserving of punishment and retribution, we resist allowing the God of Genesis to come near us for fear we will have to offer others the same solicitous love God shows us, but God is bigger than our fears. While God wants us to forgive our enemies, God's love is not conditional. As long as we ask for help, God is there, trusting that the reception of this kind of mercy will help us see others as God seems them.

Today, imagine God waiting for you with open arms.

What keeps you from believing in the all forgiving God that Abraham encounters?

Sunday, July 10, 2022

St Benedict, Abbott

 “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves." Mt 10:16

St Benedict, who is widely credited with founding the monastic movement in the Christian West, is a fascinating character. Like John the Baptist and so many others who found greed and all kinds of vice in their societies, Benedict felt like a sheep in the midst of wolves. Knowing he could not live the Gospel in a society that was so lost, he fled to a cave near Mt Subiaco to pray and to grow closer to God, but after three years, when a group of monks asked him to lead them, he left his cave only to be undermined by the monks themselves who objected to his strict rule of life and leadership style.

Soon after returning to the caves, other monks, who were more open to disciplining their lives, came to Benedict for guidance and before long there were so many that Benedict organized them into groups of twelve and wrote his now famous Rule of Life. Emphasizing work and prayer, Benedict's simple directives continue to guide men and women monks and nuns around the world, and can help everyone who is willing to allow the Spirit to direct their lives.

Today, examine your conscience in order to evaluate your lifestyle.

Have you ever been challenged to be as shrewd as a serpent but as simple as a dove?

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Carrying out God's Will

 “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes... it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” Dt 30: 10,14

Moses' command to his people is clear. Examine your hearts and minds. God and God's law already reside there. We have only to attend to what has been planted in our hearts to know God more deeply and love God more completely.

Theologians often speak of conscience as the "still, small voice," within our hearts, but Moses' challenge is more extensive than this. While conscience can help us discern and decipher what God wants for us, Moses pushes us to act  and live with passion when we discover the God who dwells within us. Faith is not simply about making just and other centered choices that resonate with the voice within us. Faith is a commitment to rest in and rely on God everyday. Even more, faith demands that we let God seek and do with us what promotes God's ways and will for all.

Because we most often see only what is directly in front of us, we can easily err when trying to live a faith filled life.  When a friend is ill,  or people in the next town have been flooded out, or our children are struggling to stay in a difficult marriage, we pause and pray naturally, but God wants more of us. Only when we take time to fly at 30,000 ft can we begin to emerge from our own world, needs and family concerns, and think and pray more systemically with and for God. How, we ask, can we live in and help create a more just world? How can we adjust our life and life styles to be in solidarity with our sisters and brothers around the world?

Today, step back in prayer and listen to the cries and groans of people and the earth far from your home.

How can you become more aware of and responsive to the God who is already living within you and among us?

Friday, July 8, 2022

Mobilizing Fear

  "What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." Mt 10: 27-28

Fear is an incredible motivator. Threatened with losing our life or reputation, we might do anything. Some run away; others start a fight. Jesus asks us to transform our fear into action for good. Recognizing how natural it is to be afraid when faced with doing something new or agitating to others, we ask for the grace to discern how best to speak and live the gospel despite the consequences.

Trying to avoid fear or deny it will never be a successful strategy in the long run. Either we confront our fears in an effort to discover where they might be leading us in faith, or we are haunted by them our entire lives. Jesus gives us an option by promising always to be with us, but it is up to us to accept his help and trust that the result will be for the good of all.

Today, face one fear and see where it leads.

What fears most immobilize you?

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Shrewd as Serpents

 "Be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves." Mt 10:16

Sometimes Jesus' advice to his disciples startles us. Most of us understand the call of the gospel to simplicity and transparency.  Although it might be uncomfortable, we realize there is a challenge in the good news not to worry about how we appear before others, not to try to impress others with our insight or wisdom. If we embody God's wisdom, God will do what God needs to do in and through us.

Shrewdness, on the other hand, is not something we usually associate with gospel living. Shrewd people make deals, compromise their ideals and work a crowd to get their way. It does not sound like a stance the followers of Jesus should take.

While it is clear that Jesus does not want his disciples to take advantage of others, he does want them to protect themselves from manipulation. Shrewdness means not allowing oneself to be trapped by false praise or individual honor. The shrewd person listens with the heart and discerns well what it is God wants, not to enhance his or her personal reputation or prestige, but to enliven and build up the entire community of faith.

Today, listen deeply to who it is God would have you be, and act upon it discreetly.

Have you known shrewd people of faith?

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

No one is Entitled

 "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give." Mt 10:9

Attitude is everything and nothing gets in the way of having an authentic Christian attitude more than a sense of entitlement. When we begin to think that we have earned everything we have, even if we have worked hard all our lives, we forget how blessed we have been.

I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood. People shared freely the little they had. Our parents did everything they could to send us to Catholic schools and colleges where we would have an opportunity for a better life. They did not expect much from us in return. They were happy to give us everything they had, but they did demand that we work hard, be grateful, and never take for granted what came to us because of the generosity of others.

This is especially true of faith. Our attitude about faith, about what we can contribute to the building up of the body of Christ, about others who think differently than us must be one of gratitude. In fact, our faith reminds us continually that all is gift. Life is gift, creation is gift, friendship is gift, prayer is gift, and all are gifts to be given away. When Jesus sends the disciples out to proclaim good news he is clear: "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give."(Mt 10:8)

Today, check your attitude and be grateful for your faith.

How do you avoid a sense of entitlement?

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Know your Audience

  “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Mt 10:6

The Jesus of Matthew's gospel is clear about his intentions. A Jew who has been sent to the Jews, Jesus wants his disciples to be careful to live the Torah and its Rabbinic interpretations narrowly. They should avoid Samaria altogether in order that every Jew who hears them can trust that they are observant Jews who want only to introduce their hearers to Jesus, the Messiah who God has been promised to his people.

Matthew's perspective makes perfect sense in context. It was important that Jesus' disciples remember their audience while not changing Jesus' message. Luke's gospel, because it was addressed primarily to Gentiles, was not concerned with connecting Jesus' teaching to the Torah. Quoting Jesus warning his first followers to avoid Samaria would make no sense to Gentiles who knew nothing about Palestinian geography or the quarrels among Jews.

How important it is to learn to announce the Good News to the people of the 21st century in a form they can understand. For those who have never lived without a computer or a cell phone, images and metaphors that were helpful to the people of the 20th century make little sense. In order to follow the powerful example of the early church, we need to be more sophisticated about social media, the music they enjoy and how they interact with the world.

Today, live the Gospel in a way that speaks to the those born in the 21st century.

Who or what helps you make sense of your faith?

A

Monday, July 4, 2022

Sheep without a Shepherd

  "At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." Mt 9:36

Jesus seems always able to summon mercy and understanding when meeting the poor and broken. Somehow he sees those most in need with compassionate eyes and heart, and responds to them without judgement. While Jesus can be hard on those who should know better, he seems never to dismiss the struggling. In fact, the scripture tells us that he sees them as sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus' mercy can easily be taken advantage of, but only those trying to control the world worry about this. While some of us will surely risk living an unfocused life thinking they have nothing about which to worry since Jesus promises undying love to all even the biggest sinner, Jesus continually seeks out sinners, inviting them to reconciliation and new life.

As C.S. Lewis reminds us in An Examined Life, "God was the hunter and I was the deer. He stalked me, . . . took unerring aim and fired,"(1). Captured by God's love, we find ourselves spending more time being grateful than worrying about our past faults, and discover, to our delight and God's, that we have very little time for wrong doing and sin. Filled with gratitude for all that God is and does, our joyful and free spirits shout Good News.

Today, ask forgiveness of God and move forward.

Which of your faults and sins do you find most difficult to avoid?

Sunday, July 3, 2022

God Our Spouse

 "I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD." Hos 2:22

Hosea's prophecy is stunning in its directness and imagery. God is a bridegroom, newly in love with his Bride, and anxious to commit himself to his people forever without measuring the cost. God's love for us, his holy people, is full of justice and mercy and assures us that we shall always know him in this manner.

There is, however, a danger we must avoid. Knowing that God's love is unconditional and forever can cause us to take God for granted. Knowing God will always be near, waiting like a Bridegroom for us to respond, we can fail to discipline ourselves at prayer or ignore the needs of the poor, both practices demanded by the Bridegroom. When we do this, we cheat ourselves and God's beloved of the fruits of God's love.

Today, pay extra attention to someone you have been taking for granted.

What image of God is most strengthening to your faith?





Saturday, July 2, 2022

An Abundant Harvest

 "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." Mt 9:38

What owner of a farm would not want to gather up a rich harvest?  Having spent hundreds of hours, preparing, sowing, weeding and watering, the harvest is a time for farmers to collect the "wages" of their work.  Moreover, because in most cases there are only a few days to accomplish this, farmers rush to gather up what they have sown as soon as the crop is ready.

Nevertheless, some of us are so busy with other matters that we lose sight of our priorities, and fail to respond to fields overflowing with produce. When we do this, our delay can cost us everything. Paying attention to all that God is doing among us is essential for believers. We cannot afford to dwell too long on our diminishment and losses. Though we may have failed to respond fully in the past to Jesus' call to discipleship, the call is repeated today for everyone who has ears to hear and eyes to see.

Today, invite someone to help you spread the Good News.

Who is the most convincing "harvester" you know?

Friday, July 1, 2022

Christ Our Bridegroom

 “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?" Mt 9:15

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, tribes and faith communities. No one would suggest that a wedding feast was a time to fast!  That is why Jesus uses the idea of wedding to help his disciples understand his commitment to them. He was their bridegroom and they were his bride.

Another aspect of weddings at the time of Jesus gives us even more insight. 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 forever 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?

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Kindness

  "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do." Mt 7:12

Jesus' answer to the Pharisees who are complaining about his eating with tax collectors and other sinners seems so obvious, we wonder how the Pharisees could be so blind and deaf. They must have known that the law not only allowed conversations with sinners but demanded it. Like us, the Pharisees often heard and saw what they wanted to see and hear. Secure in their knowledge of the Torah and satisfied with their modest power, they wanted only to find something to criticize in Jesus' behavior in order not to listen to him, but when Jesus responds to their resistance and dullness, he teaches all of us.

Change is always difficult, and it is easier to criticize someone than to search for their goodness and compassion. Jesus sees past the sins of the tax collectors. Inviting them to supper and building a relationship with them makes it possible for him eventually to speak with them about changing their lives and turning away from their sin. Rather than attack their profession, he sits at table with them in the hope that they will be able to see the error of their ways and change.

Today, praise someone whose behavior often irritates you.

Have you ever been changed by someone's kindness and understanding?

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Listening

"Rise, pick up your stretcher and go home." Mt 9:7

Jesus is forever in a contentious dialog with the Jewish leaders of his time. The Pharisees and Sadducees, feeling threatened by Jesus' popularity, are always looking for a reason to undermine his influence on everyday Jews. Afraid their relationship with the Roman authorities will be in danger if they cannot demonstrate that they can control their "people," they confront Jesus about his interpretation of Sabbath, dietary laws and healing, but Jesus will have none of it. Rather, he forces the Jewish leaders to look at themselves and their own fears.

Although it is often uncomfortable, when anyone challenges us, we can also be resistive. The key is not to act hastily. When we learn to take a minute or three to discern whether our nose is out of joint because we've been challenged, we are much less likely to speak defensively or aggressively towards those who might be able to help us take another step on our spiritual journey.

Today, listen from your heart and try not to defend yourself.

Who do you most admire for listening without resistance to everyone?

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Sts Peter and Paul

 "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?

Monday, June 27, 2022

St Irenaeus

  "When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." Mt 7:29

What are the great and wonderful works of God that move you most forcefully to contemplation and transformation?

For some creation itself fills us with wonder and awe. St. Francis of Assisi might be the patron saint of these believers. Francis not only praises sun, moon, fire and water, he calls them his sisters and brothers. Gratitude for creation is the ground of Francis' unique spiritual path while disregard of God's creation is the root of sin.

Others focus their awe on the human person. Both the complexity and simplicity of people stretch us to wonder. We can think, feel, respond to others, love and laugh, and the ease with which we do all these complex actions is amazing. St Irenaeus, whose feast we celebrate today, says it this way, "The human person fully alive is the glory of God."(Irenaeus)

Taking time each day to thank God for all God has done and does can help us grow in the spiritual life. Grateful people exude a joy that both lifts others' spirits and gently challenges them to conversion.

Today, praise God for God's wonderful works.

What most moves you to wonder and awe?

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Following Christ Always

 "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."  Mt 8:20

Jesus' answer to the scribe who assures Jesus that he will follow him anywhere is telling.  Following Jesus is demanding. There is no way around it. His promises are not attractive to most. "I will be with you always," is a strong commitment, but contains no magic bullet. Jesus does not promise us success or renown. Neither does he promise us a fine home or a large family. Rather, he reminds the scribe and us that the only wealth he has to share with us is his relationship with his Father.

The question before us all, of course, is whether this is enough. Are we satisfied to be a part of his body, to be members of a community of faith that, though broken, is of God and for God? The prophet Amos assures us that God will not abandon us even though "son and father go to the same prostitute," (Amos 2:7) but again the question remains: Is this enough? Will this sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith?

Today, ask for an increase of faith.

What aspect of Gospel life do you find most demanding?

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Jesus the Pilgrim

 "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." Mt 8:19

Jesus continually surprises his disciples. Just as they get comfortable with the direction he is taking, he turns a corner and turns their world upside down. When someone from the crowd, exultant and full of himself, proclaims that he will follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus reminds him that he has no place to lay his head. Is the fellow from the crowd willing to become a nomad and follow Jesus into  the wilderness? What a challenge?

In claiming his identity as a pilgrim and an itinerant preacher, Jesus promises us that like the God of the Hebrew scriptures he will follow his flock anywhere and everywhere. Though he makes few demands, he is always imploring us to live like him, without family or wealth, but full of hope and compassion. God will guide us and care for us, he insists, but we have to trust. The emptiness of having nothing in Christ is a fullness beyond compare. Clinging to nothing, we have everything. The faith to believe this is the test we all face.

Today, empty yourself of everything that gets in the way of loving God and neighbor.

Have you known the glory of feeling rich even when you have nothing?

Friday, June 24, 2022

The 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?

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

 "You are a people sacred to the LORD, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own." Dt 7:6

The feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that we are embodied, that our faith celebrates not just the salvation of our souls, but our entire person. Like the feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the feast of the Sacred Heart counters any tendency in the Christian community to forget that God sent his son among us as a fully human person and through him reminded us that God wants to be us with us body and soul forever. How our resurrected bodies might look is not the issue. That we will be with God in our bodies is.

The scriptures are forever reminding us of this, but in a world where so many live in large cities, we can forget the importance of creation, all of which manifests the glory and face of God in marvelous ways. The Canticle of Daniel even reminds creation itself to praise and bless the Lord. Listen:
Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. All you winds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Dew and rain, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
Today's feast calls us to come closer to the heart of Jesus where we will find mercy, consolation and hope. What else could we desire.

Whose loving heart has most formed you in faith?

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Nativity of John the Baptist

 His mother replied: "He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." Lk I:59

What's in a name?  In the ancient world, everything. Names were given to children by their fathers to honor his ancestors and elders. Mothers had no role in this ritual, but Elizabeth does. Only when Zechariah writes the name John on a tablet is his "mouth opened and his tongue freed." Clearly, Elizabeth's child John would play an important role in salvation history. John, whose name means God is gracious, would usher in a new order and a new way of being in the world.

Unlike so many, John would have no doubts about his role. He knew he was not the Messiah, despite the desire of so many who accepted his baptism. Rather, his entire life would consist in pointing to Jesus, and announcing the coming of the Messiah. Admitting that he was not worthy to untie Jesus' sandal strap and that he needed to decrease and Christ increase, John becomes a symbol for every Christian. Our task as believers is not to posture or pretend that we are important, but to be grateful for the name Christian, recognize Christ in every person and prepare others to receive his Good News. 

Today, help someone find Christ.

What are the biggest obstacles we face in announcing the Good News?

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Bearing Good Fruit

  "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.

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 20, 2022

St Aloysius Gonzaga

 "Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. To my shame I say that we were too weak!"  2 Cor 11:18

More than once St Paul brags about his weakness, and for those especially who have been humbled in any way, his boast is a consolation. Weakness can be a strength if it leads us to the acceptance of our faults and weaknesses and encourages us to work with others whose strengths make up for our failings.

There is a temptation for some who recognize a serious weakness to seek out others who struggle in the same way they do, and this is almost always a mistake. While we console one another, we also subtly suggest that there is nothing we can do or anyway we can change, and this results in a kind of stagnation. The recognition and acceptance of weakness only becomes a strength when we enter more deeply into the life of the faith community and depend for strength on our oneness in Christ.

Aloysius Gonzaga is a good example of someone who recognized that despite his family's wealth and desire for him to seek power over others, he could only fulfill his destiny by renouncing his family's affluence and join the Jesuits in the pursuit of God. Freed by the Society of Jesus to honor God totally, Aloysius plunged into the care of plague victims only to succumb himself to the disease.

Today, embrace your weakness. Cling to the body of Christ.

Which of your weaknesses most disturbs you?


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Listening for God's Voice

 "The LORD put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left." 2 Kgs 17-18

Letting go of our work and its success or failure is never easy, but the gospel and the Old Testament are clear, otherwise we risk God's wrath. It is our obligation to preach the Good News in word and deed and leave the results to God. Gospel spirituality is demanding. Called to be pilgrims going from place to place and taking nothing for the journey, we strive to live and speak the Gospel in such a way that God's direction can be clearly seen and experienced by those to whom we are sent.  

Demanding a radical humility, a total putting aside of everything that is not of God, we need always to remember that the Gospel is God's good news, not ours. Our task, like John the Baptist's and the people of Israel, is to clear the ground before the Lord and make his path straight. Everything else is superfluous. 

This is not to say that we cannot be good instruments in God's orchestra. Each of us is gifted and our talents are the means God uses to invite people to know and love the Lord. Our insights, compassion, and thirst of justice can be wonderful signs of God's love for the world, but unless they always point towards the Lord, they can get in the way of God's glory. 

Today, let God's light shine and get out of the way.

What blocks you from being Good News?

Saturday, June 18, 2022

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 17, 2022

Serving Two Masters

 "No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Mt 6:24

We know the Gospel tells us that can't serve two masters. How about three or four or ten?  When we think about our lives it often becomes obvious that we are trying to do too much for too many people and this can lead to resentment of all those we intended to serve. Time becomes our master, or security or accomplishment or power, but when we stop to reflect upon these matters we know that the Gospel challenge to have one master is spot on and powerful.

We need to commit ourselves on a daily basis to serving God alone. Only God can be our master and the task of the believer is to discern how best to serve this master each day. When we take time to pray about this we often reach a counter intuitive conclusion. Serving God alone does not mean saying yes to every needy person or important cause, but learning to ask God each day how to go forward, how to help, how to serve and how to announce the Good News.

Today, ask God how best to live the Good News.

Which of your concerns most often gets in the way of serving God?

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Knowing what Matters

 "For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." Mt 6:20

Often, we read the lives of the saints written by others. Although these books tell us something, it is far more compelling when we can read their own words. Although St. Thomas More lived in the sixteenth century, we have some of his letters, the most famous of which was written to his daughter Margaret while he was in prison awaiting his execution.

In a remarkable testimony of faith, Thomas writes," And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best."

Every year as I read this letter I am moved. Knowing he would soon die, Thomas' faith demanded that he understand everything that happened to him through God's eyes. The same is true for us. When we can let go of our need to control life and allow God to work in us, everything is different. Though we might not understand how God is working, we accept that God has a plan, and that it will advance God's reign. Surely, this is true for St. Thomas More. How powerful his letter is even today. Thomas trusted God unto death and remains an icon of hope for us.

Today, let God run the world.

When do you find it most difficult to accept God's direction?

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Living a Simple and Transparent Life

"Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word." Sir 48:12

Being seen is often important for celebrities. Living in the New York area, there are always reports about actors, business people and athletes at this or that event, with photographers recording their every move and word. Although many claim not to enjoy this part of celebrity, I am not so sure. Without all the photos, radio and TV appearances, their name and image would slip from public consciousness and their fame, which is already fleeting, might disappear completely. Celebrities need a kind of notoriety to get work and demand high salaries.

This is not the way Jesus envisions the lives of his disciples. In fact, he is clear: Do not let your right hand know what your left is doing. Don't prance about in public in order to be noticed. Do the right thing for the right reason, not to be seen but to promote God's reign.

Elisha remembered to wear the mantle of Elijah because it was Elijah's spirit that empowered him. When we remember that we are to wear the mantle of Jesus Christ, we will not worry about how we appear. Rather, we will live the gospel transparently, not for personal gain or even our salvation, but so that all might see in us the power of Jesus Christ. 

Today, avoid the spotlight.

Whose life of simple, transparent faith most moves you to live the Gospel without concern for personal gain?

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Walking with the Needy

 "Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge." Ps 16

Taking refuge in God is no an escape but a safe haven. It does us little good to ask God to rescue us every time we are uncomfortable. Rather, we ask God to be with us, to listen to us, to show us the light which we need to follow. Living a spiritual life is not magic but a challenge to live each day as it unfolds and let God show us what we need to do and be.

Hospice workers remind me of this all the time. Their job is be with the dying and to help them move towards acceptance of what all of us face. While hospice workers can work with medical personnel to help the dying not endure unnecessary pain, they cannot stop death's inevitable visit. Neither can we but we can accompany those most in need with compassion and hope.

Today, walk with someone needs a companion and listen

Who has been the most helpful person to you on your spiritual journey?

 


Monday, June 13, 2022

Be a Light

 "I am the Light of the World." Jn 8:12

Every year I have an opportunity to spend time with the Capuchin postulants of North America, who are always a remarkably diverse group of young men. I love meeting them and being among them. Some are Hispanic, others Asian, still others are Middle Eastern or Caucasian. The light of Christ is very bright indeed and these young men are not putting their lights under a bushel basket.

The gospel today reminds us that like Christ, we must be lights in the world, bringing healing and hope to the world. Gathering with such a diverse group of committed and joyful young men is always a wonderful reminder that God continues to do God's work even in a church as hurt and broken as ours.

Being a light in the world is simple, but often difficult. It means discerning when to speak or be quiet in difficult circumstances. It means doing the right thing even when it is unpopular. It means remembering that it is not our own light but Christ's that we put on the mountain top so that all can see.

Today, be a light to others.

What or who brings the light of Christ into your life?

Sunday, June 12, 2022

St Anthony of Padua

 "Keep me safe O God, you are my hope." Ps 16

For most of our best known saints there is a moment that defines their lives. St Anthony had two. The first happened when he witnessed the funeral procession of the first Franciscan martyrs. Because he had served them as guest master for the Augustinians as they prepared to leave Portugal for Africa, he was convinced their death was a sign from God to leave the Augustinians and join the Franciscans in order to take up their mission in converting the Moors. When his health would not allow him this privilege, he accepted his limitations and moved to Italy where he committed himself to a life of prayer, study, and simple living, a lifestyle that led him to his second defining moment.

Called to be a substitute preacher at an ordination when no one else was prepared to speak, he was expected by everyone to stumble and stammer, but his eloquence and learning stunned his hearers. His life as a renowned preacher had begun and it would lead him to be the first theology teacher in the Franciscan reform, a remarkable turnabout for a community that so deeply distrusted theology. It was Anthony's great sanctity that convinced  St Francis that Anthony could both teach theology and holiness at the same time.

Today, let God lead you in a path of God's choosing.

What moments in your faith life have been life defining?

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Most Holy Trinity

 "You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear." Rom 8:14

Fear follows all of us, whether it is onto an airplane or into a marriage. Even if we are sure we are doing God's will, the spirit of slavery, that is isolation, sometimes drives us back into fear, a fear we must renounce and put aside.

The feast of the Holy Trinity tells us God that is "a free communion of persons without domination or deprivation,"(1) into which we are called. There is no isolation in God. God is one and three, so too must we be.  Our identity is in community. Alone we are isolated and left to our own devices to survive and prosper. Together, we hold hands and hearts in hope.

We are never alone. We are always in the God who is a communion of persons, and in and with one another in the Body of Christ.  Woven into one body by the love of God, we celebrate the unity that is ours as God's gift. Each of us by ourselves can be a shining light of God, but together we become a community of hope and life. None of can be the body of Christ by ourselves. It is only the free gift of God's grace that makes us into a tapestry of love.

Today, remember into whom you have been woven as a wonderful sign of God's enduring love.

How would you explain the Trinity to a nonbeliever? 

Friday, June 10, 2022

St Barnabas

 "When Barnabas arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith." Acts 11:22

It is often obvious when someone is "filled with the Holy Spirit." They are calm and internally quiet. They listen and respond with few words. They are joyful about their faith and they are unafraid to announce the Gospel in season and out.

That the early church chose to tell us that Barnabas was filled with the Spirit and faith tells us much about him from the perspective of spirituality but little about his personality. A companion of St Paul, we know he returned to Jerusalem with Paul to try to settle the dispute about which rites of the Jewish faith Gentiles would have to accept and celebrate. This could not have been an easy task, but Barnabas had living experience of Gentiles coming to faith in Jesus and his testimony, even without words, would have been powerful.  

There are moments in all our lives when we have to stand up for others, even when our friends and family oppose them. Because our experience tells us that no one should be reduced to his or her faults, like Barnabas, we can remind anyone who will listen that we have seen and been impressed with the willingness of those being challenged to live with as much integrity as possible, and this can make an enormous difference in the lives of those for whom we speak.

Today, ask the Spirit to fill you with faith.

What makes you think someone is full of the Holy Spirit?