Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In the Gospel today a person asks Jesus "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" The response that Jesus gives can teach us a lot about our spiritual lives. "Strive to enter through the narrow gate..." Jesus goes on to describe how it will be at the end times for those who do not take to heart what he is saying. This first phrase though is Jesus' basic response. "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" "Strive to enter through the narrow gate...!" The response given by Jesus is to call the person to holiness. That is the answer to the question. Be holy! Do not trouble yourself with numbers. You be holy! So often we ask our Lord questions that really have no bearing on our daily life or our salvation. We think they are so important. We think that if we knew the response then we could do so much, or be so much, or at least be at peace. Like the person in the Gospel today; what does the number of people who will be saved have to do with him or her? Nothing! He or she is called to be holy. Yes, in seeing the good that we do we hope others will give glory to God, but fundamentally we are called to live holy lives in response to God's Loving Mercy. For example many parents worry and worry about their children's and grand children's faith or lack there of. With all the time they spend worrying they in effect are ignoring their own spiritual lives. They ignore their own call to grow in holiness because they want the Lord to answer their good and pious desire that their children practise the faith. Trust that the Lord hears and responds to your prayers and "strive to enter through the narrow gate." Your children and grand children will see you entering and eventually will want to follow. Our Lord has taken good care of you. Why is it that you think he will abandon those that you love? This is just one of many examples. The response that Jesus gives to the person in the Gospel today is really the solution to many of the struggles in our spiritual lives. You yourself be holy. Strive for holiness in your daily life. Be obedient and faithful to Jesus' call and trust in his Loving Mercy. This is the way of a true disciple. Why? Because it is Blessed Mothers way, and we as good children should follow her beautiful example. Blessed Mother did not have all the answers. She pondered things in her Immaculate Heart and trusted in the Loving Mercy of her Son. Mary was obedient and faithful to the call of God the Father and to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Why not imitate Our Mother who is full of grace? For all our questions, all our anxieties Jesus has one response. Trust in me. Do not be afraid. Be Holy. "Strive to enter the narrow gate.." Follow my Mother whom I have given to you, she will show you the way.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
At the Last Supper St. Jude asked Jesus if he were going to reveal the Father only to the Apostles and not the whole world.(Jn 14:22-23) Jesus responds "Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him." This is a great gift. Our Lord in responding to Jude reveals not only the Father's Love, which is what Jude asked about, but also reveals the deeper truth. The truth that the Father and Jesus in loving us begin to dwell in us. They take up residence in our hearts. This is a profound truth. God's dwelling is in the hearts of men who love Him and strive to follow His Word. If you look at the image of St. Jude he is always depicted with the face of Christ on his chest in either a scapular or a medal. This image reveals the truth of the Gospel. The Father and Christ Jesus in Love take possession of Jude's heart. The image of Christ's face upon Jude's chest reveal to whom Jude belongs. It reveals his identity as God's own son by adoption. St. Jude is the patron of the hopeless precisely for this reason. His life reveals that no one is beyond hope. He asked a very innocent question during the Last Supper and received a response that brings Hope to all humanity. If we love the Lord and try to keep His commandments, the Father and He will come into our hearts and begin to dwell in us. St. Jude calls us today to not only know the truth of our lives but to have the courage to begin to live in the truth. He calls us to allow the Lord to place His seal upon our hearts. He challenges us to invite the Father and our Lord to take possession of our hearts and dwell within them. St. Jude teaches us to not be afraid of God but instead to be secure in the knowledge that we are loved. Secure in this knowledge we can live our lives and our faith filled with Hope.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The psalm response today is "Behave like God as his very dear children." In other words we are encouraged to always be mindful of our identity. We are God's very dear children. This is such a magnificent truth. In many ways the truth of being a child of God can simply blow your mind if you but meditate upon it, and allow the Lord to speak to your heart. More often than not though we listen to other voices. Voices that tell us we should be worried about things we cannot control. Voices that tell us we should take care of ourselves. Voices that encourage us to sin. Voices that tell us we do not deserve whats happening in our life. Voices that tell us to seize control of our life and intimidate others. Voices that degrade us and make us feel unworthy of love. Voices of selfishness, and voices of deceit that try to destroy in us the knowledge of our true identity. In our weakness and sinfulness we all too often listen to these voices. Thus today's Psalm and Response are so important because they clearly call us to listen and act upon the truth. To act according to our true identity and to allow God's Grace to work in us according to our state in life. We do not have to take control or be in charge. Our Father will take good care of us. We are called to trust in Him once again. To live as a beloved child and not as a slave to our passions or our fears. Trusting in God the fruit of our fidelity to the truth will blossom and ripen bringing joy to our life and to our families. It seems so simple and it is. You are God's very dear child. Your are loved. Trust in this your true identity and be free. You are not your sins. You are not your past. You are not your wounds. You are not your fears. You are the very dear child of God Our Father. You are Loved. Now let that Love yield it's fruit: forgiveness, healing, comfort, mercy, and peace. Nothing can separate you from the Father's Loving Mercy. You are his beloved child do not be afraid to live as such.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Today Jesus reveals to us the greatest commandment. "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Jesus also reveals the second greatest commandment. "You must love your neighbor as yourself." Everyone knows this. This commandment to love is the very foundation of our faith. But it is too much. It is nearly impossible to love in this way. If not, then why is it that we so often fall short? Or if we succeed in loving God we hate our neighbor. Sometimes the opposite is true; we ignore God and have a good time with our neighbor, claiming to love them. I find that I cannot keep this commandment to love and I do not think that many of you do either. Why? Because I only have so much love to give and then I run out. I run out of patience. I run out of energy. I run out of time. I run out of resources, and then I need to take care of myself and I forget about God, he does not seem to be helping me anyway. I also begin to ignore others because they are a distraction to me. I only have so much love. Jesus must have been mistaken when he told us these were the greatest commandments. Why would he require us to do something that we are seemingly incapable of doing? The answer is because he loves us. He knows that we are incapable of loving as he asks, and so he loves us. Remember his love is merciful, and so in his mercy he loves us. He makes up for our lack of love by loving us. Thus we can begin to love with his love. It is so difficult to love; in fact it is nearly impossible to love if you do not know that you are loved. Thus in his mercy Jesus loves us. Think of your own life, how hard you have tried to love one another but hurts and pain and fears keep us apart. This happens even within marriages. We become afraid to love. We are so hurt that we choose not to love rather than risking getting hurt yet again. In his mercy Jesus loves us and in his love we can take the risk to love. The same is true in our relationship with God. We are so ready for God to condemn us that we act as if he already has. But this is a lie. God loves us, and when we know we are loved by him we can begin to love him. Why? Because in knowing he loves us we will no longer be afraid of him. The greatest way in which we can experience this love is in the Sacraments, specifically in the Eucharist and Confession. In Confession his love is so clear. No matter what we have done Jesus' response is "I love you and I forgive you." There is not a single sin that any of you have committed, or will commit, or could commit that could keep Jesus from loving you, and forgiving you. In knowing we are loved through the sacrament of Confession we can begin to love and thus turn away from our sins. In the Eucharist we are strengthened in love every Sunday and every time we receive the Body of Christ. Strengthened in being loved by God in the gift us his Body and Blood. Strengthened by the Eucharist we can love God and even our neighbors because it is His love that sustains us. It his love that makes up for our lack of love. How can this commandment to love God and our neighbor be fulfilled? Knowing we are loved by God. How do we receive this love most clearly? By living a sacramental life, in confessing our sins, and faithfully attending the mass and receiving Holy Communion
Thursday, October 23, 2008
St. Paul prays that the Ephesians come to know the Love of Christ and "are filled with the utter fullness of God." In a certain sense St. Paul is praying that the Ephesians and the whole Church become like their Mother who is Full of Grace. If we are to come to know the Love of Christ then we must turn to Mary. Our Blessed Mother speaks to our little hearts about the love of her Son especially when we pray the Rosary. Mary explains to us that each event of salvation history that we meditate upon is an expression of her Son's Love for us. This is not a general grace given indiscriminately. In praying the Rosary Mary speaks to the heart of each of her children. Mary knows the utter fullness of God. From our Mother's hand the grace that filled her flows to her children, that we might know the Love of Christ. Jesus speaks today of a fire that He wishes to see set ablaze on earth.(LK 12:49-53) The Rosary is the kindling. The Rosary makes our hearts and our lives flammable. Our lives begin to burn with the love of God and our hearts begin to yearn for more. Our Mother teaches us that the Love of her Son will not destroy us, but instead it will consume us. We are set ablaze and the fire does not lose its intensity. The Rosary constantly adds fuels to the fire burning in our hearts. In good times and bad, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow our Mother's love stirs our hearts with love for her Son. She teaches us to trust in His Merciful Love, and to not be afraid. In praying the Rosary Mary reveals that Jesus her Son desires this consummation, that is our soul being filled with the utter fullness of His Love. Mary in her person is the living icon of this consummation of Love. This consummation is communion. The Rosary draws us deeply into this communion whose power working in us St Paul says will do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
In the Gospel Jesus tells us that when we are prepared to receive Him or to greet Him it is then that He comes and serves us. Therefore we are called to live in humble anticipation of His entering into our lives. In other words we should expect that He will enter our lives. What is required of us is that we be ready to simply open the door. Often this is the hardest thing to do. Behind the door it is a mess. Behind the door is where all our fears reside. Behind the door is where our shame and guilt still remain over all we have done and all that has been done to us. Behind the door we find our shattered dreams and expectations. Behind the door is kept all the judgments that keep us from knowing God's Love. Because if someone, or anyone saw all that is kept behind the door of our heart there is no way they could love us. They would see what a disgrace we really are. What a hypocrite we are. How little we really are and they would be right in rejecting us and in ridiculing us. So, it is better to keep the door to our heart closed. But this is not what Jesus asks of us today. In fact He wants the exact opposite. He tells us that if we are ready to open the door of our hearts He will come and enter. Upon entering Jesus tells us that He will then begin to serve us. How will He do this? By bringing healing to all our hidden wounds. By bringing comfort to our memories and our minds. By taking away our guilt and shame in His Loving Mercy. By forgiving us. By telling us who we really are in His sight. By telling us that we are indeed loved. By revealing our true identity as His beloved. He tells us that He may come in the second or third watch. In other words it may take awhile but He will come. We should not lose hope. He will come at the perfect time, and bring healing to our souls. He loves us and desires to serve us in this way. Finally Jesus tells us the result of all this is that we will be happy. We will be happy with a happiness that is beyond compare because we will truly know that we are loved. But first we must be prepared to open the door of our hearts to Him who loves us. In the we have recourse to our Mother Mary. In praying the Rosary and listening to Mary speak to us of Her Son's Merciful Love we will be unafraid to let Jesus in when He comes knocking at door of our wounded heart.
Monday, October 20, 2008
"I will say to my soul: my soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time." Many would look at the Gospel today and think that this man was selfish in that he did not think to share with the poor the abundant riches he had from his harvest. This is not true. When we look at the Gospel from that perspective, we often excuse ourselves and our own selfish behavior. We give money to the Church. We give money to charities. We give money to the poor. We donate our old clothes and our old furnishings. We are not like the man in the Gospel at all. The selfishness of the man in the Gospel is not that he did not give to the poor. His selfishness is in the fact that he takes counsel from himself and only himself and those who would agree with his selfish plans. For example the contractors who are building the new barn. "I will say to my soul: my soul," this selfishness is much harder to excuse ourselves from. All of us like to take counsel from ourselves and those who would agree with us. We forget that we belong to God. "The Lord made us we belong to Him"this is the responsorial psalm today. This simple phrase should ever be on our lips and on our hearts. In love God made us and it is for love that God made us, therefore in all things we should turn to Him who loves us. The generosity that our Lord seeks from us is that we be generous in turning to Him in all things. This is so that he may shower down upon us His many Blessings, His Mercy, and His Love. If we generously give our souls to Him we will have no need to fear anything in this life. We can rest secure in true peace and enjoy the abundant blessings of Our Father's Loving Mercy. Trusting in Him we will become rich in His sight building up treasure in Heaven and leaving selfishness and worry behind.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
In the Gospel today Jesus tells us to give to God what belongs to God. You belong to God. In Baptism we become children of God. We belong to him. Often in life we forget this fact. Often we are lonely and distract ourselves with our thoughts and actions. Most often our distractions become our sins. It is easy to sin when you think that you do not matter to anyone. It is easy to sin when you have low self esteem. It is easy to sin when you think that no one really cares about you or loves you. It is easy to forget that we belong to God and that he really does love us. He does love you. What often happens after we distract ourselves with our sins is that we feel so guilty and ashamed that we think God could not possibly love us after what we did. But God does love you. Gods love is merciful. You belong to him and he will never abandon you. This is the great gift of our faith, that the Father loved us so much that he gave us his only Son that we may be healed and forgiven. You do matter. You are loved. You belong to him. Give him your life today and trust in his loving mercy.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch. He was the third Bishop of Antioch, the city in which followers of Jesus were first called Christians. He lived in the first century and under the Roman Emperor Trajen and was condemned to death. He was brought to Rome and in the amphitheater he was fed to two lions. On his journey to Rome he wrote 6 letters to various local churches and one to St. Polycarp. In his letter to he begged the Church to not try and get his death sentence pardoned but to let him die a martyrs death for Christ. He knew he was going to be fed to the lions yet he was unafraid. This could be for us today a nice and even heroic story from our history. It is a beautiful example of the strong faith of the early Church but has no bearing on our lives today. In thinking this we are wrong. No we are not being dragged to Rome to be eaten by lions, but we can look more closely at St. Ignatius to understand how he could be so heroic and strong in his faith. He wrote these words in one of his letters, "I hunger for the bread of God, the flesh of Jesus Christ, born of David's seed; I long to drink of his blood, the gift of his unending love." It is in the Eucharist that he found his strength to live his life as a Christian and to die a martyrs death. A death that was ferocious in its violence and vulgar in its aftermath. He was not only killed by lions but then eaten by them. Yet he was unafraid for he knew the unending love of Jesus in the Eucharist. This then is how his martyrdom can impact our lives today. It should draw us closer to the Eucharist that we too may enter into and know the Unending Love of Our Lord Jesus. That we too may be strengthened and sustained in our lives as Christians. That we too can know deep in our hearts There Is No Need To Be Afraid.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
In the Gospel today Jesus reprimands the Pharisees and tells them that they pay no attention to the love of God. The Pharisees say they love God, but then they proceed to pay no attention to this love. The are caught up in their own selfish love and claim they are doing God's will. Jesus points out today how self deceived they are. Others are shocked at this. The scholar of the law has the courage to tell Jesus that he is lumping them all together and Jesus says "that's right". Then he proceeds to show how self deceived the scholars are with themselves. Why? Because while both groups claim to love God they pay no attention to this love. In speaking to the Galatians today St Paul is addressing the same issue. He tells them to live in the Spirit and follow the Spirit. In other words pay attention to Love. Do not just say "oh I know God loves me". That is not enough for the pharisees and the scholars claimed to know God. They just refused to pay attention to him. They did not follow the Spirit. We often do the same. We are often self deceived claiming to know God and then paying attention only to ourselves and our selfish desires. Mind you the scholars and pharisees ignored God's love while doing good. They studied and lived the law of God to what they considered perfection. But they ignored the love of God. Paying attention to the love of God and following the Spirit requires us to take off the blinders of self deception. Paying attention and following the Spirit requires us to abandon ourselves to the Loving Mercy of God and Trust in Him and not ourselves. We should not be surprised that God demands our attention. HE LOVES US ! Who doesn't want this love or its fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Christ freed you and he meant you to remain free. Free from the yoke of fear. Free from the yoke of anxiety. Free from the yoke of worry. Free to live your life as his son or daughter. These yokes are from the evil one, the slave master who wants you to live in bondage with no hope of escape or resolution. Fear, anxiety and worry all have to deal with the unknown, and with what we do not have power over. In turning to them we are willingly placing the yoke of slavery upon ourselves and upon those we love. What is most disgraceful about this is that we feel justified in doing so. We claim that worrying is our right as a parent. We claim that we would be negligent if we did not fear what was out there in the world. We see anxiety as a good thing that can keep us safe from all harm. All these justifications and the ones you tell yourself are lies. Christ freed you and he meant you to remain free. The evil generation in the Gospel today was demanding a sign. Do you want to be like them? Then take a moment to gaze upon the Crucifix in your home. This is the only sign at which you should look. You should look upon it frequently. It is a sign of the great love that Jesus has for you. It is the sign that tells you that in His Love you are free. It is the sign that says He is Merciful. It is the sign that everything will be alright because He Loves you. The yokes of the evil one bring no peace. In fact they lead to a number of other sins. No one keeps their fear or worries to themselves. Gossip and idle talk compound the sin and spread it to others. These lead to a loss of faith, and even a loss of hope. What do you suppose is the result of all this fear? It is a loss of love. Why? Because if you are ruled by fear, anxiety, and worry, you better take care of yourself. You can trust nobody. Something bad may happen. Pervasive selfishness takes root in our live and just as the evil one desires we become isolated. How very different from the invitation of our Lord in which we are called into communion where we find true peace and true freedom. As his sons and daughters we are required to bring anything that disturbs us to Him, to Jesus. Notice I say required, not invited, not requested, not asked, but REQUIRED. Trusting His Loving Mercy we are required to bring everything to to Jesus. In giving it to Him we are free. This is so difficult for us but it is a necessity. Even the most embarrassing sins and weaknesses are to be brought to Him. He has already judged you worthy of His Mercy. Just look at the Cross and believe He Loves you. Submit to His Loving Mercy and Be Free. Come into Communion with Him and leave your isolation and loneliness behind. Throw off the evil ones yoke and live as a son or daughter of God. Christ freed you and he meant you to remain free.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
"There is nothing that I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength" During this year of St. Paul we would do well to listen to these words. Jesus gives us strength. It is in knowing His love that Paul finds strength. Where do you find your strength? Often times we look to ourselves and our own abilities. We think that we should know better. We think that we should be able to handle things. We think that we should be able to get over things. Paul's example shows us that those thoughts could not be further from the truth. Paul relies upon the love of Jesus. Paul is sustained by the love of Jesus. He does not and he cannot rely only upon himself. These days all of us are infected with a terrible illness of the modern world. We are so self centered. We want to heal ourselves. We want to better ourselves. We want to fix ourselves and those we love. We want to understand ourselves. We want to glorify ourselves. We want to pleasure ourselves. In pursuing this self-centered lifestyle we find only isolation and misery. We are so isolated and alone that instead of loving others and living in community, we use others and destroy community. This leads to death. If you do not believe me look at our society. Pornography, Casual Sex, Abortion, Contraception, Divorce and Suicide are now all common place. They all take place in our homes and in our families. This infection is tearing at our very souls. We are not like the people in the first reading today who say "See, this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation, the Lord is the one in whom we hoped." We do not look to God for help or hope. We look to ourselves. In doing so we are like the people in the Gospel. We refuse the Lord's invitation. But our Lord does not give up hope. Our Lord does not abandon us. The invitation is again offered. Trust in me. Let me be your strength. Imitate Paul and let me sustain you. How do we do this? The readings today speak about a banquet. This clearly refers to the Eucharist but also to all the Sacraments. This is where we can find true strength. In preparing for the Sacraments we must have a prayer life. This includes reading the Bible and praying the Rosary. We must begin the practice of going to Confession regularly. All in preparation to receive Jesus our strength each week in the Eucharist. These practices are simple and each one of you has the ability to do them. In prayer and the Sacramental life the sickness of isolation will be destroyed. This is because you will begin to live in communion with your Lord, and not just go to communion on Sundays. However this is not enough. For we are not called to simply do this on our own. Husbands should pray with their wives and wives with their husbands. Fathers and mothers should pray with their children. Families should come not only to Church together but also to confession together. Children can pray with their friends. Boyfriend and girlfriends as well. In all things, like the people in the first reading we should look to the Lord. We need to begin living like St. Paul and constantly look to our Lord for strength. In doing so we will no longer be isolated, but not only that, in trusting in the love of Jesus we will be comforted and strengthened in all our struggles. We will not have to be afraid of the future for we will live in our Lord's Loving Mercy each day of our life.