Thursday, February 28, 2013
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? 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.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
You have but one Father in heaven. You have but one master, the Christ. Perhaps it has always been so but now more than ever it seems that modern man, and yes modern woman are absolutely opposed to humbling themselves to anyone or anything. There is no greater opinion than their own. There is no other point of view other than their own. They dismiss anything that they do not understand. There is no greater cause than what they want for themselves and their own family. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Humility is sorely lacking in today's society. No matter how ignorant one is, their opinion is unquestionable. Such is the state of the modern world. Relativism Rules! If we do not humble ourselves we will never come to know the Master. If we never come to know the Master then we can never know our Father. Thus our stomaches become our Master. Thus the Makers and Marketers of diversion become our Master: NFL, American Idol, Audie, Chevy, Dancing with the Stars, Zumba, Oprah, Disney, Discovery, NASCAR, Budweiser, and Grey Goose, and you can name thousands more that come right into the comfort of your living room and computer screen ready to enslave you. Yet so many bow down in homage to these Masters ignorantly thinking they are in control of their own lives. Blind to the slavery they are enduring. Offered Eternal Life and Happiness they recoil in disgust. To give up their freely chosen slavery to humbly submit to the Master, the Christ and follow the teachings of His Bride, the Church is heresy to the religion of relativism. Is it any wonder that the Church offers us the Disciplines of Lent. They are humbling. Giving away our hard earned money is humbling. Not eating what we want when we want as we want is humbling. Kneling down to pray is humbling. This is the only way to come to know the master. This is the only way to the Father. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted Exalted by the Father. Exalted by the Master the Christ who was raised up on our account.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Last week in the Gospel we heard the voice of the the Devil say to Jesus "if you are the Son of God...." seeking to tempt Him. This week we hear the voice of God the Father. The voice of the Living God "This is my Chosen Son,Listen to Him" comes forth from the cloud and darkness that are His raiment. Think for a moment about this stark contrast between these two voices. The Devil's voice no matter how strong or forceful or persistant last week is at last weak. Weak in the face of the Truth of the Father's Love. Weak and impotent are the tactics of the Adversary when faced with the power, authority, and force of Love Itself. Rapped in a cloud as with a robe the Father speaks to us. He speaks to us through His only begotten Son robed in flesh our great High Priest. We are to listen to Him. How little do we understand Love. We must begin to listen again to the Lover of our souls. The Adversary is pushy and persistant, demanding an audience, demanding attention but his voice is impotent, his power an illusion. The psalm today tells us the Truth. The Lord is our Refuge. Even amidst the strongest of temtations, and the greatest of trials we need to listen to Jesus who is our light and our salvation. This is the will of our Father, the Living God, the One God who speaks with such great Power and Authority because He speaks in Love. The endless Love He has for you and me His little children.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
"How much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him." We hear these words in the Gospel today Mt7:7-12. It is amazing how our Lord Jesus is constantly revealing the Father and His Love throughout the Gospel. I wonder if we really are listening. Often times those who seek to dismiss religion and Catholicism in particular claim that our God is of our own making. A necissary pacifier for the weak minded. Although this claim is totally absurd, what is true is that we (believers/Catholics)are often caught up in applying to God: motivations, feelings, and thoughts which are simply of our own making. For instance God is punishing me, or God is angry at me, God couldn't really love me, or forgive what I have done. These and many more claims are false, pure and simple. Not only are they false but they are complete and utter lies. Born of doubts, fears, worries and anxieties that quite simply come from the Devil. These thoughts can in fact be sinful. They deny the Truth. They deny the reavealer of the Truth, that is Jesus. They deny the Truth of the Father who is eager to give good things to those who ask of Him. Cultivating these thoughts are an extreme form of self-pity. They are not from the Holy Spirit, and they do not lead to a good examination of conscience, nor to contrition for our sins. Often they are born of false not TRUE Humility. They are Jansenistic and Heretical. They must be renounced, rejected, and rebuked every time they rear their ugly heads. They have no merit and no place among the children of God, the Father who seeks to give good things to those who ask of Him. Listen again to the prayer of Esther in the first reading. Listen again to the Psalm 138 describing the Love god has for His people. See the Father that Jesus reveals and abandon all your worries, ills, shame, guilt, fears, hurts, wounds, sins, weaknesses, your very self to His Loving Mercy. Ask Him for Mercy. Ask Him for strength. Do not be afraid any longer. He is your Father. He knows all about you. He Loves You!
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
"Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath,so that we shall not perish.” These are the words of the King of Ninevah as he called for a day of repentance in the first reading today. Notice he says "Who Knows". We know. The Church knows. In Christ Jesus we know that God is Merciful. We know in Christ Jesus that God loves us. We belong to Him. We are His beloved children. We must repent. We must turn away from sin. We are called to believe in the Gospel. We are not left wondering. We are not orphans. We do not say "who knows". We know! We know.! His Mercy and His Love endure forever.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Often times people are totally unaware of their need to forgive. When told they need to forgive a person, the first reaction of many is bewilderment. Then they usually ask why. Then they explain that they are not mad or angry at the person. Forgiveness and anger are connected in the minds of many. One does not have to be angry at someone in order to forgive them. Neither does one have to be mad at someone nor be harboring a grudge. Forgiveness is mentioned in the Our Father today by Jesus and then He goes further in explaining the need to forgive. He speaks about forgiving others trespasses and transgressions that we may be forgiven. In other words not forgiving or holding someones trespasses or transgressions against them is an impediment to our own freedom. Perhaps that is why in the Our Father forgiveness preceeds not being led into temptation and deliverance from evil. When we forgive we are free. When we forgive we are free to be led by Jesus in the way of peace. Lack of forgiveness leads us into temptation. How? We feel justified in holding against someone their trespasses or transgressions. Its seems reasonable to do so. However all that is reasonable is not necessarily right. In reality our lack of forgiveness is an act of selfrightousness. Every sin begins in selfrightousness. Holding on to a lack of forgiveness leads us into other temptations because we insist we are right in order to justify ourselves. Thus we can justify just about any sin we commit. Forgiveness and forgiving is a true deliverance from evil. Deliverance from the evil of selfrightousness, and self-justification. Forgiving then is a form of ongoing conversion. It is not about being mad or angry in a certain moment and then no longer being mad at someone. It is about not holding anything against anyone. Thus we all have many to forgive. Many who are known to us and many who are not. This Lent let us pray the Our Father humbly asking that He truely help us to forgive and not hold anything against anyone no matter how reasonable it seems to do so. Thus we will know pardon and true peace.
Friday, February 15, 2013
In Isaiah 58:1-9, we hear of our Lord's disatisfaction with those who claim the practise of religion but who in fact are busy serving themselves. These people complain and wonder why God does not answer their prayers. They are blind to the fact that they are so self serving. Their selfishness is such a part of who they are that they can scarcly believe that all that they want, desire, or think is not in accord with God's Divine Will. In other words they foolishly believe that God is OK with all that they do, with the way they live their lives. Millions of people today are living the same lie. Fallen away Catholics, Part-time Catholics, Cultural Catholics, Christmas and Easter Catholics and the millions of others who claim to be Spiritual not Religious. These could just as easily say "I am selfish not obedient". All are living the same lie, the same deception. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI recently said that those who refuse to listen to the Holy Spirit are foolish to think that they are not being influenced by other spirits. At the very least the spirit of selfishness is oporative in these people who think only of themselves. The beauty of our God is that He constantly is calling us back to Himself. Our God constantly calls us to a deeper more meaningful life. He calls us to live the fullness of life in Christ Jesus His Son. We see in the prophecy of Isaiah that the fullness of life is found clearly in serving the poor, the marginalized, the abandoned, and those who are so in need of liberation. In other words serving others takes us out of ourselves, out of our selfishness. Serving others is an exhausting business. None can do so for very long without help. Help that comes from God alone. Strength that comes from God alone. Living unselfishly puts us then in right relationship with others, and of course with God. The result of this choice to be obedient to God's Will is three fold. Our lives will be illumined with God's Love and Mercy. Our wounds will be healed quickly, and we will come to understand and know that God answers all our prayers. Lent is about choosing to love as God calls us to love. Lent is about living the fullness of life given to us, promised to us in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent is about submiting ourselves to His Holy Will which is Love and Mercy itself. It is about serving others, serving God and not serving ourselves. The spiritual know nothing of this. They know nothing of the deepest longing of their own hearts. Let our obedience be a witness to them this Lent. A witness to the joy that comes in serving. May our service break the bonds of their selfishness. That they may know what we know and share our joy. That their wounds be quickly healed. That they know and believe in the love God has for them and be free.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Although Blessed John Paul II coined the term Culture of Death to describe the culture of the modern world, it is clear from the first reading that the culture of death has existed for quite some time. Moses is speaking to the people of Israel(DT 30:15-20) thousands of years ago but his message is equally appropriate for men and women of the modern world. He sets before them a clear choice between life and death. One leads to prosperity and the other to doom. Choosing life is what leads to prosperity. Death leads to doom. This seems pretty clear, it makes sense. How then can we account for the overwhelming prosperity of the modern world when we have clearly chosen death? We murder our children in the womb by the millions, and we do so in a manner that is so violent(dismembering/cutting them to pieces) and viscious(chemically burning them to death), that we can hardly speak of what is actually being done to these babies and mothers. We have systematically changed the demographics of whole societies by eliminating some forms of life simply because we do not want them: Downs Syndrome children and those with other possible birth defects especially in the West, and Female babies especially in the East. The sick and elderly have become a drain on our so called prosperity, so we choose death for them. By lies and cunning we pressure them to not be such a burden, then we go on pretending it to be their decision when we in fact we have facilitated their suicides. At other times we out right kill them under the polite term euthenasia or under the lie that hospice eased their pain with a leathal dose of a narcotic. Our narcotic loving society loves to get high, to escape. We are constantly assuring one another that we deserve to unwind, relax, decompress. Prescription drugs and our societies addiction to them are ok because a doctor wrote a prescription. Illegal drugs are okay because we get them from a friend and he never hurt anyone, he just sells to his friends. Murder, kidnapping, torture, rape, beatings, violence, slavery, all these exist only in the movies or on cable tv. Those seven evils are only for our entertainment as we get high. We are not complicit. We pretend they had no part in our drug of choice getting to our family room coffee table. Our escape from life has become so important to us that we condone all sorts of behaviors that previously were rightly considered abnormal at the least but in fact are and always have been gravely sinful. Women's liberation has come to mean that women are free to degrade themselves as long as they are getting paid. Porn stars are now main stream. Strip Joints(Not Gentlemens Clubs) and family resturants are found on the same block in nice parts of town. Sexual perversion has become a best seller, in particular perversion that includes violence, pain, bondage and slavery. So called reality tv is our modern form of entertainment. We revel in the public degradation of others, in the devient lifestyle of others, in the sins of others. Websites are set up to arrange adulterous affairs and this is considered mainstream. Apps are sold so that sexual liasons can occure with no strings attached. Whatever escape you desire, society must be tolerant to it, accepting of it, and approving of it. Even when that desire can never transmit life as is the case of same sex unions or marriage, in this culture of death we are required to be tolerant and approve. Many do approve claiming a false compassion because they have Gay friends, co-workers, or family members. Of course many are tolerant and approving of others because they do not want to examine their own choices. Devient sexual practices are rampant in marriage today even in those who consider themselves to be good even holy people. Husbands are guilty of sodomizing their wives in one way or another, often times requesting it as a special treat. Wives are guilty of using sex as a weapon or tool to get their husbands to do what they wish. Husbands hide in the filth and perversion of pornography thinking it has no affect on their marriage or worse ask their wives to watch along with them believing it will enhance their marriage as they collectively enjoy the degradation of the men and women paid to perform. Particularly insidious in the lives of married couples is the grave sin of contraception so widely practised today that people are shocked to find out that it is a grave sin. Many women have even been convinced that birth control pills can be used to treat other health issues they are having. Or worse the health problems their teenage daughters are experiencing. In reality the Pill leads to disease and death. The practise of sterilization in marrige at the spouses request or at the financial planners advise leads to destruction. Yet good people are continuing to choose to undergo these surgeries as if it was a choice for life and a benefit to their marriage. The other side of that selfish choice by some is the selfish choice by others to make their own children through IVF. Having a baby to these couples is a right, an accesory, a privaledge they deserve. They kill any number of their own children in trying to get pregnant, to get what they want. They freeze others as if they were vegetables not human persons. All with a doctors approval. In fact all these sins, all these perversions and there are many more, all of them are performed and commited with the approval of others. The seeming prosperity of the modern world is an illusion, a lie. The Culture of Death is Doomed. We are like a seemingly normal healthy person who is riddled with cancer on the inside. We have placed ourselves and our own approval at the center of our very existance. God does not approve. God does not approve. He is the Lord and Giver of Life. He is the source of all freedom. It is clear then that we must choose Him. We must choose to obey Him in all things. We must choose to love Him. We must choose to walk with Him. In this we choose life and will know true prosperity. This is the choice that Moses gave to the people of Israel, and it the choice he offers us this day. Life and Prosperity. Death and Doom. Lent is a time to choose life. Lent is a time to put God at the center of or lives. A time to taste a see the prosperity that comes from living a well ordered life. It requires obedience. It requires love. It is a journey (a Lenten Journey) in which we can all grow. This is the invitation of Moses and it is the invitation of the Church every year during this Holy Season. As Jesus tells us in the Gospel today (LK 9:22-25) it means bearing our cross, and it will seem like we are losing our lives, our freedom but in Truth we will be embracing the gift of eternal life. For Jesus the world is not enough. He wants to bless us with a heavenly reward. The scribes, chief priests, and elders rejected Him. They chose to put to death the Author of Life. Choose Life then. Take up your cross. Commit yourself to God. Humble yourself and walk with Him. Love Him this Lent as you never have before. This is our call to holiness. Let those who have chosen death and doom see what true prosperity and life look like. That in seeing how good our Father is to us, poor sinners that we are, they may come to know and believe what we know, that is the love and mercy of God given to us in Jesus Christ our Crucified Savior.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
In the Gospel today we hear about our Father who sees in secret when we fast, when we give alms, and when we pray. So many in the world believe God to be angry and judgmental. A God ready to condemn us at a moments notice. This of course is the height and the depth of our selfcenteredness. Our own deep disatisfaction with ourselves and our lives we apply to God or attribute to God. Thus we believe that there is no way we could be pleasing to Him. Therefore if we can never please Him, then why try. We are living a LIE and serving ourselves or some other God, but not the God of Revelation. The God of Revelation is our Father who sees in secret and Loves us so much that He sent His only Son to be our Savior. Lent is a time in which we are called to abandon the LIE by fasting and prayer and almsgiving in order to live in the TRUTH of our Father's LOVE. His LOVE that is revealed in the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the Savior of the world. We are preparing to celebrate the mystery of our Catholic Faith. The very foundation of that Faith is our Father's LOVE. Revealed most clearly in the Paschal Mystery. What a joy it is then to engage in the disciplins of Lent. For by these we enter into intimate union with our Father who sees in secret. In the secret of our hearts He encourages us to gaze upon His Son. To immitate His Son. To meditate upon His Suffering, Crucified Son. To experience the loss of His Son. That we may rejoice in the Resurrection of His Son and the GIFT of Eternal life He offers to us in His Son. In this, in His Son Jesus He is revealed. His Mercy, His Love for each of us is revealed. As Christmas reminds us, when we adore the Christ Child, the visible Son of God, we are caught up in the love of the invisible God, our Father whom we cannot see. So too in Lent as we meditate on the mysteries of the life death and ressurection of Jesus, the Father's Love who sees in secret is manifest in our lives. This Lent open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the intecession of our Lady let us walk with Jesus beneath the gaze of our Father knowing that He sees in secret. Knowing that He Loves us, and that we are pleasing to Him. He is our Father, He is the God of Revelation.