Friday, August 30, 2013

Oil of Faith

Today's scripture selections leave us with perhaps with a dose of wondering and worrying.  In the first reading St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians about the early teachings that the apostles had given them.  Specifically, Paul points to the lessons on immorality.  The gospel story is the account of the virgins who were charged with having their lamps burning to provide light to the master of the property when he returned home in the darkness.

What can we make of the two readings that helps us in our lives, in our work?  So often in today's world we hear or speak about the immorality that we encounter either in the lives of others or, perhaps, our own moments when we may let ourselves wander from the teaching that have been given to us by Jesus and the directives of our Church.  Is the better word for our consideration "immorality" or "purity."  What does each of these words speak to each of us today?  And does each of these words have a different impact upon each of us?

In the gospel servants of the master and awaiting his return.   What is in the mind of St. Matthew and Jesus who uses the practice of the maiden servants, some standing reading for the master and other not ready because of the lack of oil in their lamps?  What should we understand reading this story?

Often times this story, this event, is used to speak about one's faith, the oil of faith.  How important is our faith to us?  Do we have enough at hand?  And, if this last sentence is a valid question, how do I strengthen my faith?  What is it that God expects of each of us when it comes to the matter or our faith? We God come to me today, how bright would my torch be burning, if the oil represents my faith?

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of the eminent scripture scholar, Cardinal Carlo Martini.
The Jesuit archbishop of Milan, who retired only a short time before he died, composed an "news conference" that was to be published after his death.  One of the questions put forward by the man who many Cardinals had hoped would be elected Pope at the time Cardinal Ratzinger was elected may offer us some thoughts about the two readings today.  These are the late Cardinal's words.  The question  the Cardinal, who publicly told the Cardinals in the conclave that he would not accept the election were it to happen because of health issues he felt would impede his performance as the Bishop of Rome, was this:

What tools do you recommend against the exhaustion of the church?
I recommend three very strong ones. The first is conversion: the church must recognize its errors and follow a radical path of change, beginning with the pope and the bishops. The pedophilia scandals compel us to take up a path of conversion. Questions about sexuality, and all the themes involving the body, are an example. These are important to everyone, sometimes perhaps too important. We have to ask ourselves if people still listen to the advice of the church on sexual matters. Is the church still an authoritative reference in this field, or simply a caricature in the media?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alert! The "Unexpected Hour"

Since "listening" is what spirituality is all about, we need to be alert to the day and the hour as Jesus has mentioned to his disciples.  In St. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, we are give some insight into the need for our being away of the movements of the Holy Spirit in our lives: not on special days, but each day of our lives.

We can become more aware of our time on this earth in a very positive manner if we take some time each day to recall how the Holy Spirit may have impacted our lives that day or the previous day.  It was for this reason that St. Ignatius incorporated the "daily examination of conscience" for his community.  So often we come to that exercise with thought of our sinfulness.  Ignatius pointed out that the "examen" could also help us in our efforts to better know ourselves also be recognizing how the Holy Spirit has given us opportunities to grow in wisdom and grace just as he must has assisted Jesus at different moments in his earthly life.  Reflectively looking for these moments in our daily lives, provides us with the opportunity to give thanks to God.  When we pray each day, do we give thanks to God for all he has granted us?  The daily examen offers us that time to recognize the hand of God in our lives probably in moments far from what we expected.  It is then that we can be more specific in our giving thanks to God for his goodness to me.

Furthermore, attentive to the daily examen, we might quickly and more frequently aware that the Holy Spirit is with us at every moment in our lives.  He is "alive" in our lives always.

Until we move from this life back to the Kingdom of God, there should always be that awareness that reminds us of this one grace, if we can keep it positively situated in our lives:  the unexpected hour, that time when God will call back to himself.  The hour glass can remind us of that moment when God will call us.  If I have remembered the graces God has given me through the actions of the Holy Spirit in my life, then there should be no fear of "THAT" moment when God call us to himself.  We should be joy-filled because we will have learned how great God is and how marvelous his Kingdom must be.  

Like the US Marines, we should be "Semper Paratus" or "Semper Perata"!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hearing God's Word for Us

Today, we honor one of the early saints and teachers in the Church.  Yet, to many, he is a saint of the times.  His writings always seem to have a thrust that helps us in so many of our contemporary situations.

Spirituality, as Augustine learned himself, is all about listening.  Listening to the voice of God, the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts if we but allow ourselves the time and the effort to set aside what seems momentarily so important.

When I allow activities to become foremost in my days and when I don't stop for some moments of quiet reflection ...  not just reading the Breviary or doing some spiritual reading ... I begin to feel differently.  As soon as I feel at odds with myself, I know what has been happening:  I have not been giving God the time to help me, to be with me.  My inner ear, my heart and soul, have been caught in a drought.

Our challenge, as it was for Augustine, is to listen to readings such as the Pauline reading, the first of today's liturgy.  He speaks to us about listening.  Hearing the word that comes to us from God each day, each hour, any moment when we set aside time for God.

God gives us a treasure each day.  The Holy Spirit always wishes to speak to us in ways that help us confront the daily challenges, those moments when we feel up against a wall.  Don't listen to your own voice when praying.  Listen in quiet to the thoughts, the inspirations, the Holy Spirit wishes for you.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Queenship of Mary

“Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints. May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honored with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Savior, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 69).

On this octave day of the Marian feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, we are reminded once again of the unique role that this simple young woman carried following the day that the angel Gabriel visited her during her prayer.  

It is fitting, as Pope Pius XII stated when he proclaimed her to be honored as the Queen of the Universe as well as of God's heavenly kingdom, that we in our Church should have a special Marian feast day to honor the Queenship of Mary.  

In the 1954 encycllical, Pius XII built his thinking her position as Mother of Jesus, Mother of God, she should be honored by the faithful as Queen.  He stated that as the New Eve in heaven, Mary is closely link to the redemptive work of her Son.  As well Pius XII believed that her perfection as a human being, her freedom from any sin, even Original Sin, should be a reminder to us of the special graces God the Father entrusted to her when he chose her from all eternity to be the mother of his Son.  

Furthermore, Pius XII remarked, Mary should be honored as our Queen because she has a privileged position with her Son and the court of God Kingdom to serve as an intercessory individual for all of us and for all eternity.

Let this day when we honor the Mother of Jesus as Queen of Heaven and Earth be a reminder to us of the special gift that has been given to each of us in the person of this most holy woman.  Perhaps in our own times, Mary should become once again a person to whom the Church in its prayers turns with stronger attention to our Queen.

In the period of time between the 11th and 13th centuries, there was the development in our Church of several significant hymns which have been used since their writing to help us lift our hearts and minds to Mary in song.  "Hail, Holy Queen" is one such hymn that is often sung today in many of our churches.

Hail, Holy Queen enthroned above, O Maria.
Hail, Queen of mercy and of love, O Maria.

Triumph, all ye cherubim, Sing with us, ye seraphim,
Heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

Our life, our sweetness, here below, O Maria!
Our hope in sorrow and in woe, O Maria!

Triumph, all ye cherubim, Sing with us, ye seraphim,
Heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Today's reading puts before us the topic of envy.  As I began to reflect on the stories in the gospel and in the first reading, it was envy the spoke out to me.  And  after a few moments I asked myself this question which I place before you:  DO I ever take the time to examine my conscience to determine if there are or have been moments when I allowed myself to fall into any one of the numerous envy traps. "Oh," I thought, "I realize what envy is."  Then I felt that I came to think of the word in rather foggy terms or pictures.  Envy, I believe, is not one of the sins most of us think we can assign to ourselves.  

Here is one definition of the word:  "a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possession, etc.."  It may be true that if we look at someone or others and the positions held, the powers that come from success and the riches that provide possessions, at first thought we might not think of these folks with what we think might be envy.  Yet, do we stop to consider whether in fact and/or deed, we are not content with another person's achievements.  Perhaps we don't think of envy as personal discontent with another person because he/she has achieved something I have not achieved.

How many gave been the times when criticism of another person expresses itself in words or actions which, when examined, can be better understood as envy when we are not happy that the person has gained something we might, down deep in our hearts, like to have had in our own lives.

Is it envy that is driving some nations to fail to see and understand what God truly wants from other nations?  Is it envy the brings about subtle criticisms of others especially when the critics are brought to others rather than the person who is the object of my own scorn, annoyance etc..

Yes, there is much for us to consider if we are serious about removing any signs of envy form our lives.   We need to know what envy it because if we do not, how can we ever remove it form our lives.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Am Because Because We Are

Initially, let me  explain why there have been no postings since Assumption Eve.  Illness and dying have taken up a part of my concerns these last several days.  As well, I have been hosting a longtime friend who is visiting Washington and his friends.

In your prayers this morning, I ask you to remember in your prayers my aunt, Theresa Fisher.  This very simple and genuine lady is dying.  Yesterday I travelled to Frederick, MD to be with her children and her to bring the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist.  Aunt Theresa's body has been taken over by cancer.  We know she is now in the final hours of her earthly life.  What a consolation it was to visit with her just two weeks ago when she was able to set up and carry on a delightful conversation.  Yesterday, as I departed her home and her "brood," I knew what the next visit would be.  How grateful I was that I had been able to be with her and then in these final hours of her life.  The next call, I know, will be to tell me she had died and joined her husband and her parents in God's kingdom.

My second concern for which I need your continued prayers is my oldest brother, Jack, who is the oldest of the four male siblings born after me.  He is seriously ill and is being driven to Annapolis  from his residence in Delaware to be with his doctor .  His health has been a concern for me over the course of this summer.  Hopefully, his physician will send him to the hospital in Annapolis after this mornings office visit.  His call to me before sunrise this morning related his pain, his frustration and, I suspect, his own fears about death and dying.  He is four years younger than I am.  Please remember him in your prayers.  He asked me to meet him with a wheelchair at the doctor's office later this morning because he cannot walk but a very short distance.  And it is my intention not only to push a wheelchair but to push his doctor to hospitalize him.

Now to a reflection related to today's readings.

Early this morning, I came upon a reflection written by a faculty member from the Creighton University College of Nursing.  The writer shared a story that has, according to her words, been on social media for a few years.  There is no authenticity for the story.  However, as the writer noted, it speaks well to today's readings.  

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe.  He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever go there first won the sweet fruits.  When he told them to run, they all too each other's hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats.  When he asked them why they had run like that, as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said: " UBUNTU: how can one of us be hapopy if all the other ones are sad?" 'UBUNTU' in the Xhosa culture means:  "I am because we are."

I suspect there are many circumstances in our lives today to which this story can be applied.   I am grateful for all the prayers you may offer for my family during the next few days.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Assumption Eve Prayer to Mary.

[From Whispers in the Loggia]
No!  She is not doing anykind of needle work!)

Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots

Apparently a favorite of Pope Francis, (SJ!!!)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life. You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the Evil One himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.

[Mention your request here]

I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope. O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. Hear my plea. Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.


Today we can also recall St. Maximilian Kolbe
who offered his life in exchange for a prisoner
a husband a father of several children 
about to be taken to the gas chambers of WOrld War II.

We might remind ourselves that the world and society we live in are rampant with scandals, character assassinations and diminished honesty.  Consider what the consequences or impacts living in such a reality may have on personal integrity.  Surrounded by such evils, we have an extraordinary challenge to live the life that God has entrusted to us.  We should think about what this means for each of us.

While all of the above is "heavy," painful and, perhaps, even hard to believe, what the words of today's gospel call us to answer these challenges by praying to the Holy Spirit for the grace of wisdom and the insight to see if any circumstances may each of our lives are leading me away from the God who created you and me.

What are we willing to sacrifice to be the person God wants each of us to be?  Recall Fr. Kolbe who was willing to sacrifice his own life so that a family could be together.  And, of course, we cannot forget the ultimate sacrifice of our brother, Jesus, made to guarantee each of us entrance to the Kingdom of Our Father.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Willingness to Keep Looking Forward.

Today scripture readings for the liturgy propose what is very important to us.  Important because we live in times when the comfort of the "good old days," the surety of "the way things used to be" seem to have melted in the heat of changes that have come upon us.  There is no doubt that most of us have lived through days of change in the political system, in our Church's structure and practices, and in the societal practices -- all changes that seem at one time or another to be like the walls of overwhelming tsunamis.  So what is St. Paul putting before us in the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11, verses 1-2 and 8-19?

It is a consideration of what we call faith.  It is that simple yet it is so challenging to understand fully.  Paul puts forward the daring of Abraham and Sarah.  Here we examine the impetus of their faith.  Very few people in our society, in our world, would do what these two models of faith did.

They did not receive a letter in the mail giving them instructions as to their faith journey.  No AAA road map.  No GPS to guarantee the correct direction ... not even a final destination point.  What was it that was driving Abraham and Sara to make their journey?  Even for us looking at their history, it can be frightening.  Why did they begin their journey?  This is hard to believe for modern folks, I believe.  They moved out of their comfort zones simply because they heard a voice whispering in their spirits that was telling them to do.

Perhaps many of you share  the same experience I did almost four years ago.  After experiencing the need for emergency heart surgery and subsequent efforts to return to being a pastor of a moderate sized parish with a grammar school attached, together with my doctors, I was forced to conclude it was time to step away from the pressures of parish leadership.  The time to move into retirement when I had always been an active man, a priest assigned to different positions where either my skills or personality were needed, that move was indeed a move somewhat like Abraham's.  At least for me it was.  I was told that retirement would be a move that would help me keep a refreshed heart going for at least another twenty years according to the heart surgeon who told me he had saved my life.  As you can imagine, there have been days when I thought my what had happened to me was a divine joke.  How could I slow down?  How could I live without being challenged a great tsunami?

Surely my faith has been tested.  Indeed there are times when I ask God, "What are you doing with me?  What is it I do not see nor understand?  Even as these few years of retirement have passed on, I question myself and what God is doing.  This is what I have come to believe, to try understanding:  I guess that God is not bound to complete his visions, his timetable according to my calendar, my desires, my wants.

There is a a simple sentence that I read recently that has stopped my mind's meanderings in the fields of doubt and wondering.  It is this:  "God's promises are powerful sure but they can be powerful slow."

St. Paul's words we read or hear today have described faith as the willingness to keep looking forward.  Abraham and Sarah did not allow themselves to get stuck in thinking about what they had or the excitement their lives had been.  They opted to look ahead.  They did not get to see the completion of all that they had hoped during their lifetimes.  As they died, they were living not in the present but in the future, the unknown.  They ended their earthly lives believing the the best was yet to come.  My friends, St. Paul so boldly tell us this is what faith is all about: you keep looking forward.

For those of us who feel that God has called us out onto a journey where the end is not so clearly visible, it is so important that we learn to lean fully in the trust that God is real, that his promises are sure, that his character is pure, depite the reality that there might not be any special delivery letter from "God nor any proof on our earth that our faith is well placed."  As people of faith, we must keep walking forward, keep plodding forward, keep looking ahead.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Canaanite Woman

From today's gospel and the event that occurred in Jesus' life we are encouraged to seek the graces to see where inclusiveness in our Christian communities  is lacking or sadly absent and to determine what each of us can do to assure that the marginalized in society are not ignored or excluded from our Church.  Perhaps the following three points can help us look more deeply into our own hearts.

Jesus offers an example of what might be seen as "racial profiling."  A non-Jewish woman begin to become a nuisance because she, a Canaanite woman, is the mother of a demon-troubled daughter.  Somehow this woman has a genuine faith in Jesus:  "Lord, Son of David" she calls out to him.  On the surface this is a bod step on her part because she would not be Jewish, living in the region of Tyre and Sidon (today's Lebanon) where Judaism was not the common religious practice.  But here we cannot overlook her lack of fear in approaching Jesus.  Obviously she had heard about him.

Jesus tells her and those around that his mission is only to the "house of Israel."  However, her daughter is so important to her that she ignores the several remarks from Jesus' seemingly rejecting her repeated please to help this little child of hers.   Again she persists.  She believes Jesus is a man of graces.  Finally, Jesus accepts her pleas as genuine, faith-driven petitions for help.  "Woman, you have great faith.  Your wish will come to pass."  And Jesus did not disappoint her.

Jesus' action is a signal to the Jewish people as well as to other non-Jewish groups:  to belong to the kingdom of God does not require special membership qualifications!  Living faith in Jesus as our Lord is all that is expected.  So we are being taught by Jesus to consider our personal attitudes toward all the varieties of people marginalized by society at large.  He is challenging how we treat people who are labeled as "different."  How real is the "atmosphere"  in our various communities in being open to those who are "different"?  Is your heart filled with the wonder of God's creations that do not seem to be the same as we are?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Transfiguration Day

Today's Scripture

Yesterday, St. Luke reminded us that Jesus always is with us if we open our hearts to welcome him.

Today, St. Luke brings us with Peter, John and James to the mountain top where he begins to pray.  Apparently the apostles fall asleep and do not realize what is happening until the event is well underway.  Also, note that in Luke's gospel Jesus always goes to the "mountain top" to pray.  Perhaps it is a place in Luke's mind where the praying individual is not disturb by the activities that are ever present when not on high.  Perhaps this is a suggestion that solitude is one of the best places for letting the Holy Spirit into our hearts.

Imagine being with Perter John and James.  How would you express to your family or friends what you  experienced when the moments of Transfiguration took place?  Imagine seeing Moses and Elijah.  What would you think if this happened to you today?  Recently a friend related the experience of Padre Pio appearing to him in his pre-op hospital room and the saints giving him a bible which he has this day!!!!  No trouble with the subsequent heart surgery!!!  Imagine Jesus and the two Old Testament figures being present before you.  It has been known that such appearances do happen.

God the Father reaffirms for us that this Jesus is indeed his Son.  Read the Father's words slowly several times, trying to imagine hearing those words.

Today's reading is yet another invitation to realize how fortunate we are to have the God that is ours.  Furthermore it is a reminder to us that if we seek God's presence, there is a likelihood that he will be present to us ... perhaps not in similar visions as mentioned above.  But he will come to us.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"You Feed Them"

Today's gospel brings us again to a familiar story from the life of Christ.  Within these few verses of the gospel, there are at least three thoughts that may be of assistance to your prayer and reflection.

Jesus, as we read, is impacted by the news of the tragic death of his cousin, John.  Being the human being that he is, Jesus wanted to be alone for a while.  He seeks out a place to be along with the Father. However, a crowd, seeking to be with him, learns of the desolate place and walks there to be with Jesus.  He graciously accepts their presence and starts to teach them.  He is more concerned about them than he is about himself and the loss of his vibrant cousin.  When overwhelmed and another seeks some of your time/talent, what is your reaction?

Jesus continues to teach for some time but as supper time draws near the (perhaps hungry) apostles remind Jesus that the crowd is hungry but they have not come with food for 5000+ people.  Jesus tells the apostles, "You feed them."  In the lives of most of us today there are family/friends who seek our help.  Perhaps Jesus is saying to us, "You feed them."  How do you respond?

Lastly,  imagine yourself as being in the crowd and you witness the almost incredulous action of Jesus. The little food that was available become more than sufficient to give nourishment to the men, women and children who are there with them.  Perhaps Jesus is reminding us, once again, that he is always there with us.  Call to mind a present need, a current problem that faces you or your family.  Have you included Jesus in the resources you have been seeking for a resolution to your needs?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Trapped by Today's Many Things 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

"Father, what can I learn from these words of Jesus?  Can you help me?"  

There is much we can learn and there is truly only one gift given to us that is important.  Jesus is truly being the teacher, the Son of God, offering us the way that we can gain our admittance into the Kingdom of God.  In this parable Jesus is not saying give all that you have to everyone so that you have nothing.  In contemporary parlance, we might translate Jesus' words as "Be careful.  Do not allow all of the possessions you can amass make you a hoarder!  Yes, many of us might well be a true hoarder if we take the time to evaluate our lives and how we live.

His words to a crowd of people who witness a brother demanding that his brother share the inheritance left by the father are as true today as when Jesus was teaching.  Hear Jesus' words to all there watching.

"Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, 
one's life does not consist of possessions." (Verse 15)

Without any doubt, we know that unfortunately there are too many children, women and men who live lives that are desperate.  Many times poverty and joblessness have taken up residence in their homes.  On the other hand, however, we know that most of us today may not be wealthy but there is genuine reason for us to evaluate what impact having possessions and wealth have made in our lives.

We know today that most Americans know that pathway to the a lawyer's office if a "fair share" on an inheritance is not received even if the funds or possessions are not needed in his/her life.

The question we might not overlook is this:  What do we consider the signs of success?  Is it large bank accounts: sums of money that will be in the bank when the owner dies!  Is it any one of the realities beyond money that we determine to be a sign of true success?  A specialty vocation; a speciality academic degree; owning two or three homes; having the newest and most expensive car; having memberships in "the" clubs; having people always acquiescing to you because you are, in their eyes, successful?'

If we are honest with ourselves and our families, we Christians allow the "havings" just mentioned to take precedence over what it means for us to "follow Jesus Christ."  What we should take from these words of the Gospel today is that Jesus is putting before us a genuine challenge, a way of life that will afford us a life of security and happiness.  He teaches us time and again that the avenue to successes and contentment in this life is attained by "sharing."  Yes, since we cannot take "it" with us when we die, Jesus is reminding us that sharing is the way to live.  He calls us, as does St. Paul, to live a life that is identified with God.  That is a life that is presented to us in the life and words of Jesus Christ.

In closing, let me suggest a thought that all of us might consider: real security is not in the future.  Genuine security is in the here and now! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

"And they took offense at him."

Today's Scripture

We are a strange people at time, we Christians.  We are no different than the Jewish people that Jesus confronted when he had the opportunity to preach in the local temple in his hometown.  Of course the folks there thought some of his preaching was magnificent.  However, they were not willing to grant him the grace or respect that he deserved.  His words were "above" the hometown folks.  "Where did he get his wisdom and miraculous powers?"  The worshippers knew his family and realized it could not be from his carpenter father and his humble mother.  The familiarity that the people had with his family and himself created a wall between Jesus and themselves.  Pride?  Jealousy?  What could be the reason that brought them to the obvious failure:  they failed to pursue the question, "Where did he get all of this wisdom ...?"

Are we any different?  Stop to think about all of us in our Church, in our parishes, in our families:  do we encounter priests, bishops, cardinals, popes, brothers, sisters, fellow-parishioners when anyone of these folks presents a notion or idea that seems to very different to the feathers in our nests?

Take, for example, the young adult who returns home with a prized college degree or a Master's degree or a doctorate and who is truly excited about the subjects learned in pursuit of the degree.  Sometimes there excitement and newly gained wisdom become a threat, a challenge to what we know and treasure in our older and "more experienced" world.  This is always the challenge to priests who have been in the vineyard for a number of years when a newly ordained priest arrives in a parish.  Filled with enthusiasm, the young man comes to "save the world."  It is then that the older priest himself has the genuine opportunity to grow, teaching and guiding the powerhouse that is now working in the parish.

So, all of us have reason to examine ourselves in considering how we might have offended someone who presents a "new idea" with all the good intentions in the world, yet we accept the "revelation" with harshness, smugness etc..

Remember what Matthew wrote:  a prophet is not accepted in his homeland!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Net Thrown Into the Sea!


Scripture Today 
(Mt: 13:47-53
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea."

Today's gospel for Thursday in the 17th week of Ordinary Time is a final parable describing the Kingdom.  It is one of the images that Jesus taught during his preaching days.  It is a way he presents the end of the Kingdom here on earth.  In the bottom of the seas there is always more than fish to be gathered up in the nets.  What is pulled into shore or into a fishing boat is not all that is on the bottom of the sea.  What is kept on board once the fishermen begin to sort the catch, is what is found suitable for their mission.  Likewise with the Kingdom of God:  there comes that moment when some sorting takes place when we are called before our God.  Those who belong will not be separated from the Kingdom of heaven.

The question that is often asked "How can I guarantee myself that I will welcomed into God's heavenly Kingdom?  When will that event take place?"  Well, it is clear to us that we never know the "day nor the hour."  So, what is it that we need to do to be ready for that hour and day when it come into our lives?  Let's think for a moment.  Why did Jesus accept his Father's will that he come to live among human beings?  What was the real purpose in his crucifixion?  Surely most Christians do believe that Jesus came among us and died a painful death FOR EACH OF US!  His death was the guarantee to us that the Kingdom of heaven could be ours to have if .........  If what?

To be welcomed into the Kingdom of heaven, we have been taught, we have to be free of sin.  Our souls need to be "washed clean" by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.  And how do we earn this for ourselves?  A hard question, yes, but an easy answer.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION.  So often it is evident to priests hearing confessions that we wonder at the number of saints with whom we live and work.  So few individuals take the time to examine their conscience and then bring themselves to the Sacrament.  And then there are those who ask pardon for "losing my temper, Father, and that is all."  That is all after not seeking reconciliation for six month stretch of time.  Perhaps our congregations are in need of helpful and positive reminders of the ways that we fail in our living the life God asks of us by following the 10 Commandments and the laws of our Church.  

I would ask this of every adult, married or single:  in the last six months have you lost your temper with your spouse or with a friend or colleague?  Have you spoke unkindly about another person?  Have you told "white lies"?  We gain our strength as committed followers of Jesus when we take the time to clear out the "trash" we have allowed to accumulate in our hearts and souls.