Thursday, March 7, 2013


Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.  This is crystal clear.  There is no ambiguity about what the Lord is telling us to do.  The ways He commands us to walk in are found clearly in the teaching, the dogma, the doctrine of the Catholic Church.  Yet so many claim ambiguity in teaching.  These claim that Church teaching is up to interpretation.  These are the people who desire to prosper  by their own hands.  When it comes to abandoning themselves to God's Providence, or humbly submitting to the authority of the Church, these people claim that the Church is out of touch with today's society.  These same ones can be heard telling priests and religious to live in the real world.  By which they mean their world, according to their values, and their judgements as opposed to God's ways.  It is not surprising then to see that supposed prosperity fashioned by the hard work of men has lead to the total degradation of the human person.  Our present prosperity is no prosperity at all.  Only by doing what God commands can we prosper.  In the West we have banished God from society, from school, and from government.  This is the recipe for disaster not prosperity.  It has led to sin, slavery, vice, and death.  It is impossible to recognize the wonder and the beauty of creation if one does not recognize the Creator.  Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in our refusal to recognize the true dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God.  Because we believe that dignity is based upon ones ability to produce, in other words to prosper, those who cannot produce have nothing to offer to our prosperity.  In fact many are seen as a drain on our prosperity.  Many prospering at their own hands believe in trimming the fat.  They believe in eliminating those who drain our society of wealth, opportunities, and resources, and allowing others to be harnessed that the engines of prosperity and progress may be kept spinning.  Thus what we have produced is a culture of death.  This is the work of our hands:  a land that revels in cheap goods, even religious goods, made by what amounts to slave labor, a land that has elevated sexual depravity to a human right, a land that murders infants in the womb and outside as well, a land where none take responsibility for their own actions, a land where the most sought after counsel is from a lawyer, a land that claims to be spiritual but is devoid of compassion, a land built by immigration that seeks to keep people out, a land where politicians on every level lie cheat and steal with reckless abandon, a land that ignores the elderly and despises the disabled, a land that exploits it children, that abuses its children, and often drugs it children, a land that wages war and forsakes collateral damage believing our ends justify our means, a land that exports vice and death, a land steeped in innocent blood.  This is our land.  This is supposed prosperity.  Still we do not listen.  Still we think we know better than God.  Still He calls us to repentance.  He gives us His Bride the Church to teach us, and guide us in the way of True Peace and Prosperity.  He gives us this holy season of Lent.  This time to turn from sin and once again walk in His ways.  We are not free of blame.  We have contributed to this land, this society with all of its ills.  We have enjoyed this supposed prosperity, the good life, but that is not our calling.  We are called, each and every one of us are called to live holy lives.  This is the life of the Church.  This is the calling of our Lord.  We must listen to the voice of the Lord.  We must walk in His ways.  Then we will prosper, and in seeing true prosperity our brothers and sisters may come to know and believe what we already know and live.  That the Lord is kind and merciful.   

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Heart, The Beginning and The End

For your name’s sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever, or make void your covenant.  Do not take away your mercy from us.  This is the beginning of the the prayer of  Azariah from the middle of the fiery furnace, from which he was delivered.    He acknowledges God's Mercy.  He affirms the fact that he is in a covenant with the Lord as part of His people Israel.  He asks to be delivered from his present suffering.  Azariah's situation is acute, he is being put to death.  Thus he is praying when it matters most.  The beginning of his prayer is a good model for us to follow no matter in what situation we find ourselves praying.  His example is clear and is four fold.  Before looking at the first part, to better understand it, we should begin by looking at the second, third, and fourth part.  In the second part of this prayer Azariah clearly offers up his petition to the Lord. Thirdly he expresses his desire to remain always in relationship with the Lord.  Finally he relies on the Mercy of the Lord that remains with His people.  If only we prayed all of our own prayers with such confidence.  If only we could tell the Lord we trust in His solution.  Azariah simply asks to be delivered.  He does not tell the Lord how to deliver him.  He presents his need trusting in the Lord to answer in the most fitting way, The Lord's Way.  We are often busy in our prayers telling the Lord how things should work instead of abandoning ourselves and our prayers to His Loving Mercy and Providence.  If we could acknowledge, cultivate, and live in this relationship with our Lord on a daily basis, how much easier it would be to pray and trust.  But instead we run around living our lives and barely think of the Lord.  Often we see God as a Judge waiting to condemn us rather than save us.  We look to God only in our need, when we want something. We ignore the Truth of His Love that sustains us at every moment of every day.  Finally we are not mindful of His Mercy.  We expect condemnation and judgement because that's what the world has to offer.  We follow the ways of the world and its culture, the dominant culture, the culture of death.  Thus we know little of Mercy and Life.  Not so Azariah, not so.  He was placed in the fiery furnace specifically because he refused to participate in the worldly, dominant culture of death that existed in his day.  So what makes us different from Azariah?  The beginning and the end of Azariah's prayer is God.  He begins:  For your name’s sake, O Lord.  He ends: bring glory to your name, O Lord.  God is the center of Azariah's daily life.  God is the heart of his life.  His relationship to God  informs all that he does.  Thus he acknowledges the greatness of God first and foremost in his prayer.  God in His goodness, God in His Mercy, God in His Love, for His own sake, for His own Glory, for His own Beauty and Magnificence delivers Azariah.  Because of His own Greatness He calls His people into being and sustains them,  This is the order of All Things.  Azariah sees the beauty and wonder of this order with God at the Heart but also at the Beginning and the End of all things.  His prayer reflects this understanding.  Our prayers usually have ourselves at the beginning and the end.  Our wants, our desires, our wishes, our way, always take precedence.  We would do well to follow Azariah's example in life and in prayer, making God the Heart, the Beginning, and the End of all that we do.

Monday, March 4, 2013


The general Naaman in the first reading today is offended that the prophet Elisha gave him such a simple task to perform in order to be healed of his leprosy.  That was to wash seven times in the river Jordan.  Yet he was completely healed.  Many people today long to be healed.  They look for all sorts of elaborate cures, and even elaborate prayers.  There is nothing that cannot be healed or endured by the simple recitation of the Rosary.  That is it. Pray the Rosary.  Pray it simply.  You will be okay.  It will be okay.  Is Mary not our Mother?  Is she not with us in all our trials?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Fire of Divine Love

He was surprised to see that the bush,though on fire, was not consumed.

But I tell you, if you do not repent,you will all perish as they did!

The fire of God's Love does not consume the bush.  In other words the bush does not perish in the flames of God's Love.  Certainly this is a miraculous experience we witness in the call of Moses.  But if we look deeper into the mystery of the Burning Bush, we can recognize the mystery of the Divine Love that burns in the hearts of the faithful.  This Love has the power to illumine our hearts, our minds, our lives, even our very souls.  But it is not a consuming fire.  It will not devour us.  We are not reduced to ash.  We are enlivened.  We are enlightened.  We are renewed.  We are healed.  We are called.  We are affirmed.  We are strengthened..We are nourished,   And we are sent on a mission.  In the fire of God's Love we know our true identity and what we are capable of doing.  All in His Love.  All in His Love.  The  liberation of Moses in this encounter with Divine Love leads to the liberation of the people of Israel.  Our own encounter with Divine Love leads to our own liberation and the liberation of others as well. So great a mystery is this that it is hard to accept.  Even though the graces and blessings are manifold, we are often slow to approach because we are always counting the cost or trying to calculate what it will cost.  How are we going to have to change?  What will our friends, or co-workers, or family think?  What will I have to give up?  These doubts, these questions are all born from a false belief that if we draw close to the flame of Divine Love we will be burnt or consumed, turned to ash.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Evidence of this is clearly heard in the words of Jesus in the Gospel,  If You Do Not Repent, You Will All Perish!  In other words, if we do not turn back to God, if we do not draw near to the fire of Divine Love, then we will perish.  In our fears we shall perish, consumed not by fire but by our own sins born of selfishness, we shall be turned to dust and ash.  Trampled under foot.  Yet we rush headlong into sin, temptation, and perversion of every sort.  By perversion I mean that our relationship to everything in life is disordered.  Disordered are our thoughts and opinions.  Disordered is our relationship to nature and the benefits of creation.  Disordered are our appetites.  Disordered are our affections.  Even our self understanding is disordered.  Thus family relationships, relations with friends, and even strangers, all are perverted, all are disordered in some way, shape, or form.  WHY?  Because we are not in right relationship with God.  Again, in other words, since we draw back from being in relationship with God in His Divine Love for us, it is impossible to know the Truth of our lives.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  By refusing to approach Him we are left to our own devices.  As sinful, weak and fallible as we are it is impossible for us to comprehend and live in the Truth without the help of our Father's Divine Love. We are called to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel during Lent.  Let us not be afraid to approach the flame of Divine Love that we may be illumined with the tender Loving Mercy of our Father who Loved us so much that He sent His only Son to be our Savior.  In Him we are free.  In Jesus we have come to know and believe in the Love God has for us.  May our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls be set aflame in the wonder of His Love. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rejecting the Stone

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.

The builders reject the stone.  But the Lord takes that rejection and uses it.  Not to His own benefit, but to the benefit of those who rejected Him.  He becomes the cornerstone through his acceptance of the rejection, and his offering of himself.  Indeed this is wonderful to behold.  Wonderful indeed because his salvific action is totally bound to his eternal love for his creation.  His boundless love for us is his love and his alone.  His to give and his to receive.  No merit is involved on our part. None!  It is his love alone.  It is his self donation alone.  It is his victory alone.  It is his place alone.  He is the Cornerstone!  What wonder and awe this truely inspires in the hearts of the faithful.  To see what love God has for us.  That he would totally empty himself out that we may be filled.  That we may be healed.  That we may be forgiven.  That we may have eternal life.  That we may become that living temple of which he is the cornerstone.  We rejected him.  All the while he was choosing to love us to the very end.  To the bitter end for we went far beyond simply rejecting him.  He loved us as we judged him.  He loved us as we beytrayed him.  He loved us as we bound him.  He loved us as we struck him.  He loved us as spat upon him.  He loved us as we whipped him, and kicked him.  He loved us as we pierced him and cursed him.  He loved us as we stripped him and quit him.  He loved us as we nailed him and mocked him.  He loved us as we killed him.  Thus rejected so totally and completely he has become the Cornerstone. What wondrous love is this.  It is wonderful in our eyes how Jesus chose us, loved us, healed us, reconciled us, and freed us.  He is worthy of all praise and adoration.  His mercy is almost unfathomable.  The mystery is too deep to perceive, and even here he has allowed our eyes to see and our ears to hear so that we may no longer disbelieve but believe and share our Father's Joy.      

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Stark Choice

Today the readings really do present us a stark choice.  Both the first reading and the psalm remind us of the contrast of those who live according to their own whims and those of others versus those that live according to the Will of God.  The latter are vibrant and verdant, bearing fruit and having deep roots.  The former barren and dead, a waste, like chaff blown in the wind.  A stark choice indeed, but one that is also well hidden from the eyes of many who claim themselves to be their own master and are confirmed in their self centered choice by others who have made the same choice. This is clearly seen in the parable Jesus tells of the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus.  All the while he was enjoying himself devouring sumptuous meals and dressing in fine clothing the Rich Man never thought of God nor his fellow man.  Meanwhile Lazarus would  be licked by the dogs, but men, society, totally ignored him.  He could depend only on God.  God was his only hope for he had been abandoned by men.  In the end Lazarus went to Heaven because of his hope in God.  Not because he was poor.  The rich man went to Hell because he abandoned God while reveling or better yet wallowing in what God had created.  Being rich does not gain one eternal life.  Power does not gain one eternal life.  Nor does beauty, fame, or any of the other things that people are caught up chasing in this world.  There is a stark choice everyone is called to make in this life.  Pursue your own wants and desires in a selfish, and egotistical way spurred on by the culture of death and its many proponents, or pursue virtue and holiness according to the teaching of Christ and His Bride the Church which is in fact the Will of God our Father. In the end the Rich Man wants his brothers to be told about what awaits them.  He wants Lazarus to tell them by returning from the dead. For they like him refused to listen to their own culture and religion that comes from the Law and the Prophets.  Abrahams response is frightening   ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’  Why frightening?  Jesus is telling this parable.  He will suffer and die and rise again knowing that some will not listen to the Good News.  What great love He has for us.  Paying the cost even for those who would not listen, who will not listen.  The choice is stark.  We are free to chose now.  We may not recognize how sweet the yoke of obedience is now.  We may not realize how vibrent and joyful a life of faith really is to those who live it.  But their will be a day, when we die or at the end of time, when the veil will be lifted and we will expeience our just reward. We will reap what we have sown.  Selfishness and pride are hard things to shake,  Obedience and virtue are hard things to practise.  Lent calls us to turn form the former and diligently practice the latter.  The disciplines of Lent show us the way.  The choice is ours as stark as it is.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Must Good Be Repaid With Evil?

Must good be repaid with evil? This is the question at the heart of Jeremiah's prayer in the first reading today. The answer we all know is no good does not have to be repaid with evil. We also all know that good is very often times repaid with evil. Jesus reveals this very clearly as He tells the Apostles that He will be mocked, scourged, and crucified by the Gentiles after the Chief Priests and the Scribes condemn Him and hand Him over to the Romans. He who looked upon all and loved them, will be looked upon and mocked. He who touched so many, so gently and healed them, will have His flesh torn with the violent scourge of the lash. He who is the fount of Life, the well spring of Salvation, will be beaten nearly to death then revived to suffer the most grueling and humiliating execution the ancient world could offer. So yes Good is often repaid with Evil. In the midst of our own sufferings we are often left wondering or even complaining like Jeremiah "Must good be repaid with evil?". Our Lord's example is very different. It is Jesus whom we are called to imitate. He does not selfishly cry out.  He instead is selfless.  At His arrest He heals Malchus the High Priest's servant.  At His trial before the High Priest and at His condemnation before Pilate He remains silent instead of refuting the lies sworn against Him and manifesting His Authority which would have condemned the Human Race.  On the Way of the Cross He tells the Women of Jerusalem not to pray for Him but for themselves and their children.  Hanging on the Cross He forgives and grants eternal life to St. Dismus, the Good Thief.  He gives Mary His Beloved Mother to all humanity to be our own Mother.  Even in the confirmation of His Death at the end of a lance he heals the Centurian by the blood and water that gushed forth as a fount of Mercy upon St. Longinius. Prior to His death Jesus says " It is finished".  He has completed the Father's Holy Will.  He who taught us to pray the Our Father, THY WILL BE DONE, has indeed allowed it to be done by wicked and evil men.  All for our sake.  All because of the Father's Love of us.  He was not preoccupied with the evil that He was being repaid with unless it would turn His executioners to the Truth, as He questioned those who interogated Him before the High Priest, or in His dialogue with Pilate.  So we should imitate Him even as we are repaid evil for the good we do.  We should not harbor resentment nor ill will against those who hurt us.  Instead we should examine our own conscience when we are hurt.  We should examine our own motivations in doing the good that we do.  Is it to be rewarded by those whom are the beneficiaries of our good works, or is to do the Father's Will?  To Love as He Loves.  To serve as He serves.  This is in fact a very sore point for many.  Many refuse this invitation to walk with Jesus this way of selflessness and suffering thinking they do not deserve to be treated so badly.  Jesus Did Not Deserve to be Mocked, Scourged, and Crucified. But He offered all of it up, even His very Life to the Father for Love of you and me.  In order to complete the Father's Will.  Our Salvation.  The least we could do then is repent this Lent and Believe the Good News even if we cannot totally let go of the hurt and resentment we feel towards those who have repaid us evil for the good we have done.