The Word of God

Only So Many Tomorrows

earth on fire Apocalypse end of world

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 14, 2022

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus…” From time to time, as the Cycle of Readings manifests deep and insightful themes for our spiritual lives, we hear more and more about the final things, the last days. Our fulfillment of the time we have spent here on the earth trying to follow Jesus, find our way with all the Saints, all the Holy Souls, and live forever in Heaven with Jesus: “The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.” Hopefully, our waiting time should not be something of fear or fright but rather the anticipation of waiting to see someone we truly love and miss.

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Still, the end of anything as wonderful and full as life itself is almost, by definition, a little traumatic. Questions and tears abound, so we are in little need of being convinced to be vigilant. We can always be better, and we can always keep asking for forgiveness and forgiving, especially members of our own families. It then becomes overwhelmingly apparent that we must live our lives in the present moment, always knowing that this could be our last day. But why is it so sad? So much more is waiting for us than we can ever imagine! How are we going to die? We will die the same way we live, so today is the day we live to the fullest and make each minute count.

“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” St. Pope Paul VI

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The Heart Has Reason

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 12, 2022

“I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you; you became mine, says the Lord GOD .” This passage from the Book of Ezra clearly reveals the truth that humanity is lost without the covenant that was extended to us and ratified in the Gospel. And yet, Christians cannot hide behind precepts and regulations and mount some kind of superior plane or landing from which to judge people and forget that we, that is, all of humanity, are in the same boat. I heard someone say quite directly to another: “Don’t judge other people just because they don’t sin like you do.” The Scriptures explain that the final judgment will be a review of performance, not of privilege. From this perspective, all the promises we make in this life must be honored, and none more profound than the commitment of love and life that marriage so eloquently capsulizes and expresses. God does not go back on His promises, nor are we to doubt the beauty of promise and commitment.

“Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?'” St. Matthew completes this thought for us by ensuring that the Pharisees know that mere possession of laws is no evidence of virtue. Mark Twain once responded to a man going to the Holy Land to see where the Ten Commandments were given with, “Why don’t you just stay home and live them? “Good point, Mr. Clemens. “The worst prison,” St. John Paul wrote, “would be a closed heart,” and this is precisely why you must know that the Word of God has everything to do with keeping promises and the commitments of love: “Receive the word of God, not as the word of men, but, as it truly is, the word of God.”

“Never close your lips to those with whom you have already opened your heart.”  Charles Dickens

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Big And Small Forgiveness

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 11, 2022

“I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; as captives they shall go into exile.” The Readings today are shouting out to us to FORGIVE and forgive. No, this is not a misprint: You read it correctly. FORGIVE and forgive. What does it mean? Summer is a magnificent time to come with a child-like heart and soul to all the challenges the rest of the year presents to us. The lack of forgiveness in our hearts and our vocabulary too often blocks us from truly experiencing the joy of life every year.

Let’s change that:
FORGIVE the BIG names, the estranged family members, the ex-spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, the harsh bosses, the crafty co-workers, literally anyone that has hurt you tremendously. Probably the very people you were thinking about as you read that last sentence. What a great summer gift for Jesus this year:
We Forgave! Take it slowly, talk with someone you trust, and then ask the Father to help you “forgive those who have really trespassed against you.” It is real freedom.

“So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” And, forgive the little infractions that occur every day, you know, like the one who cut you off on the freeway, the one who took your parking space (yes, the one with your name on it), the person who forgot your birthday, anniversary or something like that, and that one person who seems to have the real talent of finding your last nerve and getting on it. No doubt, this will probably happen more often than not, which means many more opportunities for grace and growth in the Lord. I have heard from others that it is a good idea to ask God to forgive everybody who will pull the wrong chain that day, even before you get out of bed. That means you will always be one step ahead. (And please remember that We are also “the one person” for someone else who will need to forgive us. It does balance out. Trust me.

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Generous Genes

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 10, 2022

“Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Have you ever noticed that generosity makes people happier, even if they are only a little generous? Many people would agree. “Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” Generous people tend to be happy, more relaxed, willing to work hard, kind, free, and have better quality relationships and exude confidence: “The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” Here is the wonderful irony of this comforting mid-week Wednesday to help us move into the weekend and the week ahead: The more you give, the more you have. Dying to selfishness brings forth an immense flow of love and real life that knows no rival. All this is because of Jesus. He died to set us free and give us true freedom, which is beyond measure or value, especially in a very selfish world.

However, there is a catch and a warning, severe in every way! We must be super-careful that we do not become generous just to receive something in return, even if that is recognition. We must learn to give as Jesus did. Parents are uniquely exposed to this challenge more than most, but we all can and should have a share in this deep call to experience generosity from both sides of the equation. “…but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

What do we receive in this life in exchange for generosity? We witness happiness, reach a deeper understanding of life, feel the love of Jesus, and receive what money could never buy; a world made more beautiful. Isn’t that the point of living here?

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” John Wesley

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Do You Want To Be Great?

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 9, 2022

“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” Do you want to be the greatest at anything? I can only imagine that in this highly competitive yet entitlement-minded society, people are either trying to get ahead or exist and coast. Both are extreme ways of living. Some would call this “all-or-nothing” thinking which has traditionally led many down a dark and lonely path. Jesus changes all that: “Do you want to be great?” He asks. And before answering, Our Lord places right in front of all the readers of the Gospel throughout the centuries a child. An innocent, loving, trusting child cries when he or she is angry or has acted selfishly.

Trust the Lord; He loves you! And if you need a little more help, guess what? It will be there: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” Did you catch that? Every child has their angel constantly in touch with the Father. You and I were all once children, so we still have them. That is what the Scripture says, and that is what the Church teaches about Angels. Name you, Angel. Take a deep breath and move forward. Trust Jesus. Now, that’s great.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this night/day, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide.

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Pay The Piper

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 8, 2022

Some of our readers have no doubt heard the phrase, “it’s time to pay the piper,” or something to close that. Many have long thought that it has something to do with the legendary story of the Pied Piper, who played tunes for children in a small town, but when he asked for payment and was not offered anything for his talent, he led the children out of the town where they were never seen again. Rather, the idea is much simpler. Musicians traditionally and to this day are paid at the end of a performance, so the idea is that if people have been dancing to the music all night, in the end, it is time to pay up. In our Scripture Readings of today, there are two examples of having to settle accounts. The first is this from Ezekiel’s vision: “As I looked, a stormwind came from the North, a huge cloud with flashing fire enveloped in brightness, from the midst of which (the midst of the fire) something gleamed like electrum.” This becomes a foretaste of the Second Coming of the Lord in all its splendor and glory. Certainly, it is a graphic and dramatic time to give an account of all we have been given and what we have given in return.

The second is as mundane as our first example is sublime: “Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?” In this passage, Jesus almost seems dismissive about the question and gives a strange set of instructions on how to obtain the coin to pay the tax. What are we to make of this, and how are the examples related? First, about the mundane: Jesus desires all people to be free to live their lives to the fullest of all providence. Our prayer must always include petitions to free us from the fixations, irritations, and trivialities that distract us from the fundamental task of growing in love and building the Kingdom of God. Our desire to remove silly and artificial obstacles to our salvation helps us understand, appreciate, and even embrace our suffering. Suffering disorients us. We cannot understand it fully. Jesus brings meaning from it at a profound level that we cannot grasp, except through a lively and genuine faith that is lived every day. That is why we must pray for a greater appreciation of the sufferings of Christ. Paying our taxes and putting up with frustrations and disappointments helps us be ready for the great conclusion of our lives, which is a vision of glory and justice which is beyond all our understanding: “God has called you through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“I can be poor, I can lose a job, I can have a hospital bill that I don’t know how to pay, for I can do all these things through Him who strengthens me.” John Piper

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When Much Is Given

thief on city street killed man with bat

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 7, 2022

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” There comes the point in every believer’s life where all the prayers, worship, and thoughts about who God is and what is truly expected of us come into remarkable and troubling disguise. For many, it is an earth-shattering crisis; for others, it is the death of someone close and beloved. No matter the circumstance, these “moments of truth” become focal points when our faith is tested, made stronger, and clarity becomes ours.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” These specific references can help us realize several things about living the Christian Life, being a disciple and a follower of Jesus Christ: We have been marked in this life and claimed for someone or something. Our choice now is to determine for whom by how we live. As Christians today, we can expect to be punished as was Our Savior, in the court of popularity, greed, hatred, and the godless. Remaining faithful to the end, which comes secretly or unexpectedly and without being seen, “like a thief in the night,” we are promised to take our place with the Lamb who has been slain and led to the “springs of life-giving water.” (Rev 7:17) Because the Victory is so great. The reward is eternal; to those to whom much is given, much is expected.

“You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” John Bunyan

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Dress Rehearsal For Heaven

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 6, 2022

Do you realize that you and I have been placed on this earth for a specific reason and purpose? Every day becomes an opportunity to strive and realize that reality, especially when things look dark and bleak. If I have a purpose in life, and I do, then everything happening around me today is a part of that reality. I should stay focused on its messages and lessons, or it is keeping me from my purpose and direction, and therefore I should move on as quickly as possible. This is certainly one very important way we can understand transformation and transfiguration. In our First Reading, the vision was more than remarkable: “His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; his throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire.”

“We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain.” Jesus becomes transfigured to prepare the disciples and all of us for His Resurrection, which in turn prepares us for our Resurrection, our ultimate transfiguration. “And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.” This complete transformative moment when we see Jesus as He exists in total glory in Heaven is an inspiration and goal while we walk and continue our spiritual journeys. We must find true happiness in this world to make a suitable place in our souls and hearts for the message of the Gospel of Jesus.

The most unhappy people in the world have made it their mission to make as many people around them as miserable as they are with every ounce of strength they can muster. Surely, this can’t be news to us. Remember, only wounded people wound people. Our best stories will come from our struggles. The seeds of our successes are in our failures. Keep standing. Seasons change. There is no such thing as a storm that lasts forever. On this Feast of the Transfiguration, let us all ask God to help every one of us continue to uncover and discover our purpose in this great adventure we call life. He proclaimed as much today in the Gospel: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso

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Carry Not Drag

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 5, 2022

“See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace!” As simple as it sounds, the real way to face all of life’s troubles lies squarely and assuredly in the total awareness that God is in complete control of our lives and has provided for every eventuality that will befall us. One of the most memorable homilies I have ever heard was the same one our pastor preached every New Year’s Eve and Day. He reminded us that in the upcoming year, we would have our worst and best days, and the good news for all of us was that God is already there for both!

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” All this is great news for us who wish to follow Christ to Heaven. It also addresses the quality of carrying the cross we have assessed and given. Some of us like to complain or make things worse when we suffer, which is not usually a good witness to the Gospel. When we face powerlessness in this life, perhaps reviewing a few possible approaches to our walk with the Lord in hopes of making our Christian journey the best it can be:

Calm Down: The appearance of powerlessness almost always creates a ripe breeding ground for anger. We can’t do anything about a certain situation, so we turn to the only things we control, our emotions. Anger is volatile and perhaps the most destructive of all vices. Unbridled, it can destroy us.
Discover Your Real Motivations: Why do we want justice? Is it really revenge? Justice is a virtue; revenge is a perversion of justice.

Consider the Source: Who lied about us? Who has besmirched our reputation? We must first consider its source when we hear praise or harsh criticism. What someone says about us is never more important than the one who said it.

Weigh Carefully the Consequences: This is where prudence rallies into our discussion. Will I bring more attention to myself and my emotional spasm?

Wait: Remember, Jesus waited three days after His brutal murder to set things straight. Waiting and watching are deep spiritual exercises that separate us from the beasts of this world. My Italian friends put it best when they say, “Let God handle the need for revenge. He is much better at it.”

“We all have a cross to carry. I have to carry my own cross. if we don’t carry our crosses, we are going to be crushed under the weight of it.” Jim Caviezel

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You Are A Small Mirror

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 4, 2022

Today is the Feast Day of St. John Vianney, a remarkable priest and confessor who was imbued with the Holy Spirit and brought great hope and vision to the people of his small parish in the south of France in the mid-19th Century. He once wrote that we must courageously accept our crosses because if we do, “it will carry you to Heaven.” This is perfect for our devotions this brand new month of August to consider the desire and thirst for Eternal Life in Heaven. Our First Reading also points us in that stunning direction: “The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.”

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?'” This profound and crucial question that Jesus places upon St. Peter clearly shows us that miracles can happen; we must be aware of their Source and the accompanying bright promise of immortality. In other words, how we view the person of Jesus in our lives determines how we look upon eternity, shaping how we see the present moment. Today, let us pray for the joy that comes from knowing and believing that Heaven is for real and waiting for us who believe in what Jesus has done and keeps doing for us.

“We are each of us like a small mirror in which God searches for His reflection.” St. John Vianney

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The Triumph Of The Steadfast Heart

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 3, 2022

“With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.” When we think about people’s response to God’s love for us, we might say that there are at least two main groups: those who almost casually assume that God loves them and then give it very little thought and those who actually doubt His love. Both of these camps base their assertions on their own lives and their particular circumstances. We can also safely ascertain that these two different approaches produce two very different kinds of people. More often than not, people raised in homes of tremendous love and acceptance have a little problem believing and experiencing God’s love and mercy for most of their lives. These people exude confidence, peace, and acceptance for others. They clearly believe the following: “The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.” Even in times of trouble, these people can find joy and blessings everywhere they look. There is always God’s loving presence and beauty in ordinary things even when they hit rock bottom because, after all, it is rock.

“Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Can you imagine the very different outcome if the woman to whom Jesus addressed His mysterious comments about scraps had been a person of the second group of people who are somehow predisposed to doubt God’s love? Disastrous. And yet, we probably know people who never see the silver lining and only expect the darkness. This teaches us a very important life lesson: always be patient with those whose faith is weak and precarious. Invite people to see the Lord in everything and never criticize or condemn them. Look what Jesus did for the one who never gave up and never gave in to her doubts: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” Trust in the miracle that is within you. God loves you forever. He sent His most cherished and powerful messenger who took that message to the cross and beyond.

“Doubts and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer and the large mind transcend.” Helen Keller

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The Power Of Doubt

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 2, 2022

“Why cry out over your wound? Your pain is without relief.” What happens when we cry, exactly? A salty fluid full of protein, water, mucus, and oil is released from a gland in the upper, outer region of the eye. This fluid is what we call tears. According to most researchers, tears start in the cerebrum, where sadness is registered and causes us to cry. Emotional tears are common among us when we see something terribly sad or suffer a personal loss. The phrase “having a good cry” suggests that crying can actually make us feel physically and emotionally better, which many believe. Some scientists agree with this theory, asserting that chemicals build up in the body during elevated stress. These researchers believe that emotional crying is the body’s way of ridding itself of these toxins and waste products. “I will free you from the hand of the wicked, and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.” We broached the subject of tears and crying because there seems to be quite a bit of them in our First Reading today. This should signal a deep sigh of relief for all of us attempting to keep the Lord Jesus right in front of our eyes, especially as we begin a brand new month of our journey toward Heaven. It is clear that we suffer, and it also is a great effort to lift those groans towards the only One who can help us in our moments of crisis, sadness, and pain.

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” When we suffer, cry, or have that nagging anxiety that seems to eat away at the very lining of our soul, we truly need Jesus. It is also quite normal and expected that we would, in fact, experience when all seems lost. Problems can and often engulf us, taking away the joy we need to get through this world. And while doubt is natural, we have a supernatural remedy right here, right now. Call out to Jesus no matter how you feel.

“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” Honore de Balzac

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Nothing Small About Kindness

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 1, 2022

“He said to them in reply, ‘Give them some food yourselves.'” It is perhaps some of the greatest Scriptural advice we can receive in this brave new month, which we have presented in the Readings today when we are invited to look around our lives and see those in need and who are literally calling out for help and sustenance. “Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all.” The Lord’s promise to every one of us today is complete with His desire to all be fed and comforted. His wonderful invitation also includes a personal guarantee: I will be there among you when you act in My Name.

“One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Love is everything. It drove the Son of Man from Heaven to earth to suffer, die and rise on the Third Day for all our sins. It is what moves the wheels of history and our own lives to the great, bright promise of immortality. We are hence convinced and motivated by the truth that we all have a mission and the power from the Holy Spirit to accomplish it. Today and every day, we will encounter a large field of life filled with opportunities to serve and be the Light of Christ to others. This is how we feed each other. Let us all be that “movable feast” for others to meet the Lord Jesus.

“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” Harold S. Kushner

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The Great Disaster Of Greed

man with cards at a poker game with others

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 31, 2022

“For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun?” Several famous people have been quoted saying that too many people today know the price of everything and the value of nothing. These people would be classified as cynics. The idea that anyone in the “real world” should even consider ethical, moral, philosophical, or cultural values to be on a par with financial or economic ‘value’ appears whimsical, sentimental, and even romantic. Hard-nosed, sensible, rational, practical people know otherwise. It’s all about money, “they” say…But is it really? The words of the Gospel make it very clear to us that God will have the first and last word. “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”

The spiritually dead are all around us. They may look alive and have plenty of possessions, even looks and money, but this does not ensure life, especially eternal life. The “age of this world” promotes that misguided philosophy that you are what you have. We do not belong to things. We do not essentially consist of material realities because, in the end, all we will have could never be measured, touched, or counted. Our soul is what is of supreme value. “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”

Greed makes us servants of possessions. We could easily remember this by the quote that “we can’t be possessed by our possessions.” Yet it happens all around us precisely because people have already decided which God they will serve. Greed makes the false and empty promise that things and possessions can save and bring us eternal happiness and peace. The best way to avoid all this is to pray in thanksgiving to the One who gives us everything we have. If we keep remembering that all I have comes from God, I cannot and will not forget how wonderfully generous my God is to me. Ask the Lord to free you from all the needless and dangerous attachments you have right now.

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” Socrates

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Love Changes Everything

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 30, 2022

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” This is truly an amazing Gospel that we have today. It describes the death and martyrdom of John the Baptist, who occupies a number of wonderful categories, including cousin to Jesus, the Last Prophet, and an outstanding voice that calls us all to listen and be ready for the greatest news we could ever receive. The Readings make this an even more thought-provoking Saturday and the first day of the month as we recall how great it is to love the Lord and follow Him with every fiber of our being. John would later express this very same desire when he stated that he should decrease while Jesus must increase. Once we realize and accept our purpose here on earth, our lives are much simpler and potential for even greater holiness.

“Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.” The place of John the Baptist could never be overplayed or misunderstood. He forms one of the most significant members of the cloud of witnesses that helps us all look intently at Jesus and never let that focus stray. For the many of us who are giving all we have to be the best we can be and please the Lord, we are heartened by the fact that God always prepares the way for us to find Jesus and stay ever-so-close to Him in this life and the next. Our call is to let Jesus increase our lives and decrease our selfishness. With the help of the Holy Spirit and the wonderful Eucharist, success in this field is within our reach. The death of John the Baptist reminds us that following the Lord also has a deep price that sometimes people are unwilling to consider or offer. But in the final analysis, we want to be counted among those who are faithful, loving, and true to our calling. Nothing else will do: “Rescue me out of the mire; may I not sink! may I be rescued from my foes, and from the watery depths.”

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” Erma Bombeck

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A Promising Future

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 29, 2022

“…whatever I command you, tell them, and omit nothing. Perhaps they will listen and turn back.” There seems to be a growing number of people, at times, very loud ones, who do not want to hear correction, solid advice, or the truth about life and love. In the end, there is nothing but disaster waiting for those who throw off the weight of wisdom especially offered by those who lived the life and walked by faith. The courage to take a leap of faith is needed, especially in our day and time.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” The benefits of this leap of faith are crystal-clear and even more desirable in the Gospel today. The scene there is similar to the many experiences that we have had when someone once close to us has died. There is sorrow, there is doubt, and sometimes there is darkness. This is certainly true today in the Gospel with the two famous sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha begins with Jesus suggesting that somehow all of the present tragedy in their lives could have been avoided if the Lord had just planned his schedule a little differently. However, before Jesus has a chance to respond to that statement, Martha quickly adds that no matter what the reason or course of events, she is ready to make that leap of faith and trust with all her heart and mind as to the outcome. Then Jesus reveals why the trusting moment is pivotal for all of us: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Without faith, hope and trust, there is no promise for the future, and without a promising future, life has no direction, no meaning, and no justification.” Adlin Sinclair

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Feet Of Clay

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 28, 2022

“Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.” Have you ever heard someone say someone has “feet of clay”? It is not very popular in present-day media usage; however, it is quite full of meaning and can shed some light, although indirectly, as we approach the end of the month tomorrow. The phrase refers to weakness or a hidden flaw in a greatly admired and respected character. People are said to have “feet of clay” if they are revealed to have blemishes or defects that most people were unaware of. We see this in the revelations of heroes and otherwise notable people about whom we may have had a too grandiose and over-qualified opinion. We wanted to believe in someone greater than ourselves. But you see, here is the problem. The more we expect unrealistic expectations about a person, the more we will be disappointed. Understandably, it seems as if we are made completely of clay and not just our feet: Yes, the only stainless One among us is the One for whom we wait.

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets.” All of life is a dress rehearsal for the last day of our lives. More than a handful of people say they know how we will die: “You are going to die the same way you lived.” Although there is much truth, we must not forget that every day presents an opportunity to grow in holiness and happiness and share that wealth with all people. Specifically, dear readers, this means that we approach every hurdle, struggle, and all internal or external conflicts and apply the message of love found in the Gospel and the heart of our merciful Savior Jesus.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Antoine de Saint Exupery

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Essential Needs

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 27, 2022

“For I am with you, to deliver and rescue you, says the LORD. I will free you from the hand of the wicked, and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.” Today is a special day, especially for those who remember our grandparents: it is the Feast Day of Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and thus the grandparents of Jesus. Although we do not know for sure if they could meet the Child Jesus, we do know the impact they made on the mother of the Lord and how wonderful that influence was passed on to the life of Jesus. As was the case with Moses, all of us have been given a responsibility to those who follow us, that is, the younger generations. And with that directive, there will always be help from all those under the command of our God. Grandparents truly embody the hopes and dreams of life as it goes on, even in the later years of one’s life and that much closer to eternal life.

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” God places key people in our lives at different times to nourish and guide us, especially when we need it the most. He also puts each one of us in similar situations to do the same thing: plant the seeds of faith, hope, and love and build the Kingdom. That is exactly what the Grandparents of Christ, Joachim, and Anna, accomplished, and it is why we can all rejoice and be glad for today and the blessings that this special Feast Day holds.

“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, and lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.” Rudolph Giuliani

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Planting Good Seed

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 26, 2022

“Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound.” The great sadness which opens our Readings today from the Prophet Jeremiah stems from the aftermath of great disobedience on the part of the people God has chosen and so loved. The word “obedience” originates from the same word that indicates passionate listening. We use the adjective “passionate” because today, just because someone may hear you, they may NOT be listening or internalizing the thoughts or meaning. This could be said of us and listening to God. By obeying His call to take care of the people we have been given, we learn more about Him and can grow in understanding of His heart and desires for our lives.

“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” In today’s Gospel, many people were “out for a walk” and had the opportunity to meet Jesus during this time. He told them a great, meaningful story about yet another person who went out on a walk, this time to sow seeds, depending on where the seed landed determined the outcome. Here again, is yet another wonderful image of life itself. We are all walking through many different situations and circumstances. What we do during these “life-walks” and what we plant will determine not only how the day will end but also how each life will finish and be judged: “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.” Humility and fidelity also lead to personal growth. When we stay connected to the Great Sower, Jesus Christ, through a strong prayer life and total trust, especially when enduring a personal and spiritual test, we grow holiness and experience clarity in our lives. This is what is meant by success.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson

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We Hold A Treasure

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 25, 2022

In just one short month from now, it will be 83 years to the date (August 25) that one of the most famous movies ever produced was initially released to its first of many millions of movie-goers. This is, of course, the musical fantasy film of The Wizard of Oz, and according to the Library of Congress, it is the most seen film in movie history. Believing that most, if not all of our readers know the basic plot, it is not necessary to review the unfolding scenes of this timeless wonder but suffice to say, for our spiritual purposes here, that there is a lot to learn from the famous journey to Oz, and back. The basic premise is quite simple: all that you need for this life you already have. “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.”

“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” The treasure map, if you will, will be read much easier and more clearly with the attitude of service and generosity to each other while we walk this path together. Inviting and cultivating the disposition of service to each other brings about the transformation in the human spirit that readily and specifically finds the great treasure of Jesus present within us and is willing to share that happiness with those we have been given. This is so because this is precisely why Jesus was sent to us, as true God and true man, to begin the total transformation of our society and world. However, this work must continue with us and invigorate our desire to get up every morning and go forth: “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.” Albert Einstein

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Knock, Knock

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 24, 2022

“If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Our Scriptures open today with a dramatic scene in the life of Abraham, a most remarkable Biblical figure in the Old Testament, who, at a serious moment in his life, had only the recourse to serious and complete self-emptying prayer that would move anyone to tears to save the loss of innocent life in a sin-ravaged city. This becomes a great image for us to factor in how we lift our prayers to God. Do we rattle off words? Do we think about what we are saying? Does the level of faith reach deep within our souls? Abraham would certainly answer easily.

“For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Prayer is the life of the new heart (CCC 2697). Christians throughout the centuries have maintained three main expressions of prayer: Vocal, Meditation, and Contemplation. Together, they make a phenomenal path to peace and holiness, not to mention sanity: Vocal: We are body and spirit, so it is important to express our spiritual feelings outwardly [we speak]. Meditation: The mind searches to understand what God is saying [we think, imagine, desire and feel]. Contemplation: “We are alone with the One who loves us.” [God speaks, we listen and experience] The one who asks through vocal prayer, receives; the one who seeks through meditation finds; and the one who knocks at the door of contemplation can change the world one soul at a time.

“In the confrontation between water and the rock the water always wins. Not through strength but through persistence.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Obedience 2.0

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 23, 2022

“Reform your ways and your deeds, so that I may remain with you in this place.” The word “obedience” originates from the same word that indicates passionate listening. We use the adjective “passionate” because today, just because someone may hear you, they may NOT be listening or internalizing the thoughts or meaning. This could be said of us and listening to God. By obeying His call to take care of the people we have been given, we learn more about Him and can grow in understanding of His heart and desires for our lives.

“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.” Obedience also leads to personal growth. Every command God asks of us isn’t just for His sake but for ours. The call to obedience is for our benefit. When we stay connected through a strong prayer life and total trust, especially when enduring a personal and spiritual test, we grow holiness and experience clarity in our lives. This is what is meant by success.

“Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked.” Ellen G. White

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Looking For Love In All The Right Places

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 22, 2022

“I sought him but I did not find him. I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek Him whom my heart loves.” I have often wondered what significance there might be between the incident in St. Luke’s Gospel when Joseph and Mary “lost” Jesus and later “found” Him in the Temple—and the experience of St. Mary Magdalene in the Gospel today. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:41-51) Mary Magdalene: “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”

What the two Scriptural references clearly have in common is the simple fact that finding Jesus has everything to do with where you look for Him. Mary and Joseph thought that their Son was among all the crowds with whom they were travelling and only at the end of their frenetic search did they actually find him in the Temple. St. Mary Magdalene thought only to look in the tomb for her Risen Lord when it would have been the very last place to find Him, that is, among the dead.

On today which is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, you and I have been presented with the opportunity to experience, if just in a spiritual or even symbolic way, the search for God that has been chronicled throughout the Old Testament, right through the Gospels and all the way to the outstanding hopeful days that followed the Resurrection of Christ. That search goes on right here, right now.

All the great Saints are great precisely because they have longed for Christ more than for life itself, continued their search even though at times it may have come up empty, and found Him because they looked in the right place. May you be great in your search! Let us pray:

Saint Mary Magdalene,
woman of many sins, who by conversion
became the beloved of Jesus,
thank you for your witness
that Jesus forgives
through the miracle of love.

You, who already possess eternal happiness
in His glorious presence,
please intercede for me, so that some day
I may share in the same everlasting joy.



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Marked For God

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 21, 2022

“They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.” What did slaves, servants, and thieves have in common in Roman Antiquity? They were often branded on the forehead with a mark, called a stigma, and thereby said to have been “engraved” like a coin or a medal. Both types of individuals were certainly known to the culture of the time when today’s Scriptures were written. They also shared common punishments: lashes and beatings, forced to carry a piece of wood around their necks, and in some cases, crucifixion. Of course, these are the same afflictions endured by Jesus as an integral part of the Paschal Mystery by which we are justified, redeemed, and saved for a great future in Heaven. That is why failure in our spiritual life is critical. If we live a full life but have no faith, we are, as we read in the First Reading, wells without water.

“To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” These specific references can help us realize several things about living the Christian Life, being a disciple and a follower of Jesus Christ: We have been marked in this life and claimed for someone or something. Our choice now is to determine for whom by how we live. As Christians today, we can expect to be punished as was Our Savior, in the court of popularity, greed, hatred, and the Godless. Remaining faithful to the end, which comes secretly or unexpectedly and without being seen, “like a thief in the night,” we are promised to take our place with the Lamb who has been slain and led to the “springs of life-giving water.” (Rev 7:17) Because the Victory is so great. The reward is eternal. To those to whom much is given, much is expected.

“Talent is God-given: Be humble. Fame is man-given: Be grateful. Conceit is self-given: Be careful.” Caro Vanni

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Preparing To Meet God

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 20, 2022

“To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak.” There is probably no other document as famous and historically significant as the Ten Commandments. They have helped shape the character of the early Jewish people and all Christians today. God helps us in many different ways to live a moral life and gives us grace, which awakens in us the desire to say no to temptation and sin and to choose only that which is good.

“Hear the parable of the sower.” He gives us the Theological and Cardinal Virtues and the grace to practice human virtues so that we can grow stronger in them. God gives us help and grace through the Church and our reception of the Sacraments. He also teaches us how we should live. He does this by giving us laws to guide our actions. The Ten Commandments are laws that God has revealed to us. Heeding the guidance God gives us in the Commandments will help us know how to serve God and how we should live with each other. It also helps us to be open to the grace of the Holy Spirit and what God can accomplish in us and through us by that grace.

“Teach faith to keep all the commandments of God, knowing that they are given to bless His children and bring them joy. Warn them that they will encounter people who pick which commandments they will keep and ignore others that they choose to break. I call this the cafeteria approach to obedience. This practice of picking and choosing will not work. It will lead to misery. To prepare to meet God, one keeps all of His commandments. It takes faith to obey them, and keeping His commandments will strengthen that faith.” Russell M. Nelson

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I Love, We Belong

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 19, 2022

From the beginning of the Revelation, received in the Old Testament, we encounter the notion and the nature of the kind of deep and lasting relationship the Lord has always wanted for us. Like a good earthly father who wants to give his family all he has for love and survival, we look to our Heavenly Father, Who does the same. When we realize and accept this truth, we can easily join the Psalmist in the moment of pure joy: “Lord, show us your mercy and love!”

Today’s Gospel brings closer to us the moment Jesus makes this intimate relationship so much clearer and more meaningful: “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus was not minimizing His relationship with His mother through these words. He was expanding it. He hungers, through Divine Love, to include all of us in the “family circle” of God. In doing so, He invites us on the journey home. In this exchange, Jesus really opens up the interior importance and meaning of the motherhood of Mary – and through that relationship – the interior meaning of all family relationships. The Church is a family. Understanding this insight, and living it, is a key to a deep and wonderful spiritual life. Our vocation is fundamentally about relationships and communion. All who are incorporated into the Body of Jesus Christ through Baptism begin even now to experience the intimacy (expressed in family relationships) that is the essence of the very life of the Most Holy Trinity. Through His life, death, and Resurrection, Jesus opens a way for every man, woman, and child, who chooses to do the will of His Father to enter into the very family circle of God through truly living our lives in Him.

My friends, we are His Family, and He is Ours! Think about it for a minute, especially when the day gets a little tough and lonely. Be loved.

“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.” Brene Brown

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Trusting The Future

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 18, 2022

“Hear, O mountains, the plea of the LORD, pay attention, O foundations of the earth!” The Scriptures are full of examples of the literally a hundred situations whereby trusting God with something unknown and overwhelming is the only valid response. Many, if not most of us, can easily attest that anxiety, worry, and fear are useless and even harmful to our souls and those around us. Imagine the challenge presented to all of us in the First Reading! No doubt there were some among them who truly needed to trust God with everything, and they did!

“Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” Much like the original Chosen People of the Old Testament and Jonah the Prophet in the whale’s belly, trust in God; even the deepest and lasting confidence must be ours. Again, imagine the thoughts and feelings of those around Jesus at the time of His Crucifixion. Total trust led to total victory. It still does.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom

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The Irony Of Hospitality

tray of ancient coffee server and dessert cakes

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 17, 2022

“The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot.” Hospitality brings remarkable blessings upon all those who dip their finger into the water of generosity towards others, especially strangers. Abraham and Sarah were primary beneficiaries of these blessings in our First Reading. In front of this all-encompassing mercy of God that marvels as well as redeems, we can understand and agree with the Psalmist who is so insistent with the only recourse we have when we have made that tumultuous leap of complete trust: “He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.”

The benefits of this leap of faith are crystal-clear and even more desirable in the Gospel today. The scene there is similar to the many experiences that we have had when we become anxious and worried about too many things. There is sometimes sorrow, then doubt, and sometimes there is darkness. This is certainly true today in the Gospel with the two famous sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha begins with Jesus, suggesting that somehow Jesus doesn’t really care or have any interest in her plight: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?” Although the answer Jesus gives her may seem even more distant and detached, it is full of wisdom and understanding and a call for more courage and faith. “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” This will be overwhelmingly critical when later in their lives, they experience the tragic death of their brother Lazarus and the next conversation Martha has with the Lord takes a bizarre turn when she suggests that all of the tragedy in their lives could have been avoided if the Lord had just planned his schedule a little differently. However, before Jesus had a chance to respond to that statement, Martha quickly added that no matter what the reason or course of events, she was ready to make that leap of faith and trust Him with all her heart and mind as to the outcome. Then Jesus reveals why the trusting moment is pivotal for all of us: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

The irony of hospitality seems to depend not so much on the person who receives our love but rather on the quality of love in our hearts. A hospitable person loves all kinds of people and wants to be sure that no one in the room feels like a stranger. Indeed, the great irony of a hospitable man is that people say of him, “He’s never met a stranger.” It sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?

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Bruised Reeds And Egos

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 16, 2022

“The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.” From time to time, we are given a unique perspective on the disputes Jesus faced while He walked the earth. Today in the Gospel, we find Him in the midst of several disputes with the Pharisees. These men were part of a movement of spiritual renewal among the Jews at the time of Christ. The Pharisees were very concerned about the national identity of Israel, rooted in the Covenant between God and the Chosen People. The Torah (or Law), contained in the first five books of the Old Testament, gave concrete instructions on how to live the Covenant faithfully. Although they seemed to have meant well, the problem with their position was that their teaching actually robbed the Law – the Word of God, after all – of its dynamism and life-giving power. “Blind guides,” Jesus calls them (see Matthew 15:14; 23:16, 24). The Pharisees’ attitude compromised their capacity to grasp Jesus’ teaching on the liberating power of the Law: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

How should we understand Jesus’ reference to a bruised reed and a smoldering wick? We can safely agree with many biblical scholars that this does not mean we should be harsh, demanding, or manipulative with weak and wounded people. Jesus uses this image to teach us about the new Covenant he inaugurated. You see, a complete and total conversion is necessary to live in the Kingdom and to maintain the level of fidelity and love of God to move forward in life. Without proper care, our souls can become like “those who plan iniquity and work out evil on their couches,” as we heard in our First reading of today. The great news today is that the Lord is always at hand, offering us his grace through the sacraments to repair what is broken, strengthen what is weak, and fortify what is healthy.

“A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself but a spiritual person is easy on others and hard on himself.” Caro Vanni

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The Best Preparation

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 15, 2022

“Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.” While it is true that none of us have much control over the exact time and date when we have to leave the earth and face Jesus face to face, we do have a remarkable amount of say and sway over how we leave and what impact we wish to have on our families and those we held dear in this life. The First Reading soberly reminds us as the Lord tried to remind King Hezekiah that now is the best time to place our house in order before it is too late. No one wants to think about the end and how overwhelming or frightening it might be. Still, it is clear from the wisdom of the Scriptures that facing our mortal departure helps us face the daily crosses that we must carry to make it to the Promised Land after our death. But how do we accomplish this in this life? Perhaps we could consider some very poignant and solid ways to be at least thinking about ways we can begin this type of life management.

“Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.” As responsible people, we must be careful about managing our spending and especially how we take care of and feed those in our immediate family. This also means ensuring our finances are in order, having sufficient instructions about the event of catastrophic illness and the subsequent funeral plans, and making amends with family who may have been estranged or at odds. “You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die.” Practice this daily: every morning is a gift ready to open, so thank God for that awesome gift. At the end of each day, count the good things and the happy memories and avoid becoming sad-faced about any regrets. Keep your house and life in order because you never know when Jesus, our special guest, will make His last appearance.

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” H. Jackson, Jr.

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We Are Never Alone

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 14, 2022

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Today we readers of the Scriptures are treated to a lesson in word usage and phrasing that will hopefully help us remember the great wisdom that is contained for our use on our spiritual journey. If you were just listening to the Word proclaimed today, you might think the word “yolk” was meant instead of “yoke.” Most people know that yolk is that soft, yellow center of an egg that comes to our plates in myriad uses and presentations. However, a yoke, as mentioned in the Gospel today, is a very large piece of word or even a metal composition placed on the top of the necks of beasts of burden in order to drag and complete the unearthing of the land to plant and sometimes harvest. But this does present even more issues as to why this large, obstructive tool could be easy or even light. There must be something more to this.

“My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you.” Many of our tests in our spiritual life have to do with carrying a heavy cross or a burden of some kind, usually physical or emotional. When you think of the yoke, there is always room for two. When Christ offers his yoke, what is clear about the invitation is both simple and stunning. It is as if the Lord is saying to us, I am asking you to carry this heavy load, but I will be one side of the yoke while you are on the other. We will do this together. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord.” This is truly great news! No matter what I have to carry today, no matter how great or small, this will pale in comparison if I had to carry this cross alone. We are never alone, and this promise Jesus always completes and answers. This is why the daily regimen of the Scriptures linked with solid prayer and devoted reception of the Eucharist is necessary if we are going to make it to Heaven. When we put our problems in His hands, He puts peace in our hearts. This is a test that you pray for before, during, and after!

“The one who prays is never alone.” Pope Benedict XVI

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Today, We Smile And Rejoice

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 13, 2022

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” There is a popular little story that has been circulating around for quite a while now. The plot is relatively simple: A little boy walks up to his mother in the kitchen as she is preparing supper and is a little annoyed that her son can’t seem to wait until everything is ready. Well, he hands her an invoice! Exactly. He is basically charging the family for things like cutting the grass, cleaning his room, babysitting, etc. And there he was, waiting for payment with hand outstretched. The reflection continues with his mother recalling her son’s memories from the day she told her husband that she was pregnant to the day they brought home to this very moment in time. Her response was not only brilliant, poetic, and moving but also laced with pure truth. She took his “bill,” turned it over, and then wrote the following:

For the nine months, I carried you in my womb, NO CHARGE.
For all the times you were sick, and I took care of you, NO CHARGE.
For all the hours I worried about you, NO CHARGE.
For everything we ever bought for you, NO CHARGE.
For all the meals we served you, NO CHARGE.
For a nice home, good parents, and happy life, NO CHARGE.

The story ends beautifully with the little boy crying a bit, telling his mom how much he loves her, and then takes the pen, X’s out the bill and writes in big, bold letters, PAID IN FULL. The Lord is calling out to you and me to recapture the joy and innocence of being a child. So carefree, loved, and yet so small-minded at times. Let us move forward as His children and love being loved by the One who is Love!

Let us pray: I am God’s precious child and have been bought at a price. There is no reason to lose hope because God will never fail me. May I remember this and smile and rejoice. Amen.

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Woe Is You, Maybe

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 12, 2022

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” So how does Jesus respond to those living in these New Testament lake towns which should have known better and acted differently? Well, it wasn’t pretty. Why the harshness of reaction? That’s what happens when we won’t see how incredibly God is working in our life or the lives of others. It is the expected consequence when we hide behind the Law and miss the Law-giver in our midst. The people who understand this always rejoice, but the ones who judge and criticize and try to “fix” everyone else except themselves are almost always humiliated. It all depends on the quality of our relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Today, let us first give thanks that Our Lord loves us so much that we are constantly being exposed to the truth in our lives, ugly at times but always liberating. Second, let us ask again for the courage to see Jesus in others as we look for Him in our souls. This is the recipe for true happiness.

“Sometimes, you will go through awful trials in your life and then a miracle happens–God heals you. Don’t be disheartened when the people you love don’t see things as you do. There will be Pharisees in your life that will laugh it off, deny that it happened, or will mock your experience based on righteousness they think you don’t possess. God won’t deny you a spiritual experience because you are not a spiritual leader. He loves everyone equally. The only people that really matter in life are the people that can “see” your heart and rejoice with you.” Shannon L. Alder

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Be Careful How You Live

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 11, 2022

Living the Christian life in this world at this very time in history is nothing short of monumental. It takes such a strong and daily dose of grace and quality time with the Lord that without it, we will certainly drown in the anxiety and fear that seems to pervade most of the news. How can we take all this apart and take hold of our lives? Let’s look at a few instances of life:

Conflicts: Every last one of us must face conflicts practically every day of our lives, even if they surface from within us. Therefore, it is not an indication or measurement of how much we are loved when we have issues or problems, but rather what we will do with them.

Choices: When Jesus calls a person to follow Him, it necessarily involves the fundamental option of whether to accept or reject him; the world is always divided into those who have accepted Christ and those who have not. Everyone makes choices every day. This choice, however, affects eternity, and forever is a very, very long time.

A Cross. The original audience of Jesus experienced tremendous suffering and loss. They knew very well what a cross was. The Jewish historian Josephus mentions the swift & cruel action of Publius Quinctilius Varus, a Roman General under Emperor Augustus who crushed a revolt in Judea in 4 BC. After occupying Jerusalem, he crucified 2000 Jewish rebels and placed the crosses by the wayside along the roads to Galilee. This is why Jesus had tremendous compassion for His people, then and now.
Our daily dose of the Word leads us to understand and fully engage the conflicts, choices, and crosses in our lives. When we are worried, we try to do things ourselves. When we are at peace, it is because we remember that God is in control.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” So what are we to do next? The Gospel fills in that blank quite eloquently. Live and witness your life, always remembering from whence it came. Several times we have mentioned in these reflections that how we live our lives, especially through our actions over any given day, profoundly impacts those we meet and encounter. This is no more powerful and so overwhelmingly true and applicable as when it comes to our children and students. You see, it is true that we can preach a much better sermon with our lives than just our words. Whether or not we are aware of it, someone is looking up to us or at least waiting for us to act and, yes, seeing how long it takes to forgive. We influence people every minute, and it is clear that they need to see God’s love expressed through us who say that we believe and love God with all of our hearts. This is how we actually proclaim the Kingdom of God: by living it joyfully.

“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.” William J. Toms

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Could You Be My Neighbor?

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 10, 2022

“No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” It would be more than just a simple sadness if we allowed another summer to come and go and were not in possession with just a little more desire and ease when confronted with the need and call to love, forgive and create a community in our troubled world. And yet, if we were to speak realistically, the lack of ability may equal the desire to even approach any semblance of being generous to anyone because of horrible selfishness that never allows a person to grow in healthy maturity.

In a sincere and hopeful attempt to avoid any sadness as we move forward this year, the Scriptures provide us with an even better reason to continue to work toward a generous, giving heart and a life dedicated to the mercy of our loving Father. And this is wonderfully found in such delightful and poignant details that are wedged gently within the phrases of the parable Christ presents to us in the Gospel: That is important when we ask who the Good Samaritan is? Let’s look at the story: “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” The words, a man, in Hebrew are the same for humanity. That changes things, doesn’t it? So if the story is about humanity that has been jumped by the evil one, then it is Jesus who is the only One who can help, seeing how the Old Priesthood (the unhelpful cleric) and the Old Law (the Levite) cannot help by themselves. So He approaches the victim, coming down as He did from Heaven in Bethlehem (Christmas), pours wine and oil into the wound (Sacramental Life), lifts the wounded, lifts him upon His animal (becomes Human through the Incarnation), takes him to an inn (The Church), leaves two coins, (Scripture and Tradition) and then utters those immortal words by promising that He’ll take care of everything “on my way back” (The End of the World, or Apocalypse). So in a phrase, what does this all mean? The Psalm gives us the words for the prayer that will lead us to lasting joy: “Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.”

Jesus gifted us with the parable of the Good Samaritan in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Look around everyone at work, school, and in your immediate and not-so-immediate circle of friends and family. There they are. Those who are near to you (nigh) are your neighbors. Be the Good Samaritan to them. Be Jesus!

“The world needs a sense of worth and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.” Mr. Fred Rogers.

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Outlook And Outcome

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 9, 2022

“See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” One of the more obvious reasons that God tests us is the result. Nothing succeeds like success. The Lord God, throughout our long historical and universal relationship with Him as a human race, has shown time and time again that He knows just how to bring tremendous good out of the most dismal and horrible of events. Just check out the Resurrection in the face of the Crucifixion. Israel, Joseph, and his brothers experienced this firsthand, as the words from the Old Testament make clear.

“Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” In the New Testament Reading, we have yet another indication of how everything works out in the end. It is plain and simple: sooner or later, the truth always surfaces. It finds its way to the surface in remarkable and mysterious ways. Following Jesus means being men and women of integrity who expect to be believed and trust that time will prove them right and, because of Jesus, are willing to wait. What is waiting for us is specifically spectacular: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.”

“Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change. We need to remind ourselves that God can change things. Outlook determines outcome. If we see only the problems, we will be defeated; but if we see the possibilities in the problems, we can have victory.” Warren Wiersbe

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One Step Beyond

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 8, 2022

“Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the LORD, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.” Our First Reading from the Old Testament today gives us such a unique insight into the fruits of:
1) Trusting God
2) Believing without seeing, and
3) Patiently waiting for Him to act.

Doesn’t this describe our journey to Heaven every day? If it sounds familiar, give thanks to God!

“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” God wants to know our hearts. He doesn’t test us to punish us. His tests are not unlike those we use with each other in human relationships. Testing is how we determine where we are with whomever we are attempting to build a relationship. It’s how we know what “trusting God” really means. Today we are made aware of how difficult these moments can be. There are the wolves of the world who make it harder and harder to pass the test of life but make no mistake; we must pass. Failure is not an option.

“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” Napoleon Hill

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The Unknown Prisoner

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 7, 2022

“My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger.” Forgiveness is not always easy as important and absolutely necessary as it is. It often feels more painful than the wound we originally suffered to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Remembering all the opportunities we have to practice forgiveness, we could say that these are also daily tests in many ways. You see, it is one thing to “say” that we are going to forgive or even that we “want” to do so, but when it actually comes right down to it, what do we do?

“Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.” The test of forgiveness, when passed, yields remarkable fruits. It begins to shape and form us into magnificent spiritual human beings that actually glow with wisdom, holiness, and patience. It is as if the test is administered here to grow with those elements of our personality. Just think about it for a while. Who are the most wonderful and amazing people you know? What do they have in common? They passed this test!

So can you.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes

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Best Form Of Love

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 6, 2022

“Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.” Perhaps there are many of us who at times ask ourselves, “How can I be holy?” It is certainly a fair and crucial question to ask if we are serious about going to Heaven. One of the more obvious, frequent, and difficult opportunities to grow in holiness is practicing forgiveness as often and with as many as possible. With each one we forgive and practice patience, we grow closer to the person of Jesus Christ. This is great news.

“Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” The other good news for all of today is these forgiveness tests that we seem to endure with amazing regularity are exactly why God loves us so much and precisely why He sent His only Son. The even better news is that we can pass these tests easily by asking God for the courage and strength to forgive even the most difficult and horrible of people. We then will truly understand the best form of love.

“Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say they are sorry and an even stronger person to forgive.” Yolanda Hadid

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Scar Strength

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 5, 2022

“Though they offer sacrifice, immolate flesh and eat it, the LORD is not pleased with them. He shall still remember their guilt and punish their sins.” Throughout human history, people have been severely weakened by the unholy, unhealthy, and inhuman practices that have been introduced by pure evil. This is precisely why the New and Old Testaments’ Scriptures are clear and direct about avoiding all kinds of evil no matter where they lurk. These cause the deepest and darkest harm to humanity.

Spiritually and psychologically speaking, nothing can harm us when we are on a spiritual high and feel strong and committed to our higher calling, that is, when we keep God right in front of us, face to face. But then there are times when we may feel overwhelmed by the struggle for material survival, overcome by material pressures, and spiritually disconnected. In times like this, we are vulnerable and prone to be wounded in the process of the struggle. “I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.” These are when we feel we are being tested most emphatically and even dramatically.

“A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke.” Therefore, we must acknowledge this weak spot, this exposed nerve, by recognizing and remembering false gods and the cure of the demoniac. The beginning of all healing is awareness of the problem. We are sensitive to the fact that our mindless immersion in material existence touches a nerve that leaves us wounded. Perhaps we are being tested to make us stronger. Jesus would most likely agree with that!

“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” Unknown

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Find Your Freedom

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 4, 2022

Freedom is a Right. We celebrate freedom today from the very depths of each of our hearts. On the most outward and national level, we commemorate the historical proceedings that led us today. Not everyone reviewing this commentary is American, but the values for which this country stands may and should serve as a beacon of life and hope for a better tomorrow. I want to share with you today the peace and joy that is in my heart. Knowing what this day means historically and intellectually, I still want to take it a step further. “When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. And news of this spread throughout all that land.”

Bottom line: there are real, tangible, and ongoing miracles around us. Just think for a minute about your life and those precious to you. For some, the miracle began when they gave their heart to Jesus early on, while for others, the turning point came when a person welcomed the Holy Spirit and allowed that Spirit to work within them.

Independence is a Choice. Today, this is what I witness: we are free. We’ve tasted the slavery of dysfunction and co-dependence and have chosen freedom. We’ve struggled to survive financially, and we have chosen hope. We’ve tasted lust and selfishness and have chosen love. We know we are the person we are when no one looks. We have chosen integrity.
Can we abuse this freedom? Can we ever forget what has brought us to this moment? Can we become yet another statistic? Yes, we can–—but—-we won’t because we have spiritual freedom, and nothing in life can adequately replace that.

Let us Pray: Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me. AMEN.

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It Is Time For Us To Shine

man in wheat field harvest time

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 3, 2022

“When you see this, your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass; the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.” At some point in our lives, we come to a point where we truly realize what the Lord Jesus has done for us in dying for our sins and opening the gates of Heaven. There has to be an uncontrollable joy that fills our hearts and minds and radiates to all we meet.

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Here is the central issue and main concern of the meaning of the Scriptures today. Be like Christ! Whenever possible, find someone to save and save them. Pass on to them what you have received and ask for nothing in return but the knowledge and satisfaction that you are doing the work of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. What a profound idea to consider when we realize how much the Good Shepherd has blessed us. With all the world who truly need guidance and vision, now is the time to shepherd those whom God has given us to love.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” St. Teresa d’Avila

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Spiritual Wardrobe

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 2, 2022

“The Lord speaks of peace to his people.” From time to time, we are given a unique perspective into how Jesus truly wants us to understand what it means to follow Him. What is clear time and time again is how much God wants us to be happy in this life and how He wants us to be fulfilled to live the life He set us here to live.

St. Matthew illustrates an example of that fulfillment. “People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined.” As we have seen so many times, Jesus often uses concrete and dynamic images to illustrate his point. He was certainly the Master Teacher who constantly made teaching memorable and easily understandable. Likewise, by drawing from examples of everyday life, Jesus, even today, helps his hearers to connect the Gospel with their ordinary experiences.

How should we understand Jesus’ reference to wineskins? We are used to buying and storing wine in bottles. In the time of Christ, this was possible but impractical. Glass was a precious material and was usually produced in small quantities. Bottles could not be transported easily and, being a costly material, would have required too much care for the average home. At the time of Christ, liquids would be stored in clay jars or containers made of animal skin. The latter was particularly convenient for transportation, as they could be carried easily, were lightweight, and would occupy less and less space as the liquid was consumed.

Jesus uses this image to teach us about the new covenant that he inaugurates. You see, a complete and total conversion is necessary to “drink the new wine” of salvation and to maintain the level of fidelity and love of God to move forward in life. Without proper care, our souls, too, can become like old, thin wineskins, weakened by sin and spiritual sloth. What would be the point of taking a nice, hot shower after a full day of outdoor labor only to put on the same clothes? Sounds impractical. The same is true with our souls. They require vigilance and care. The great news today is that the Lord is always at hand, offering us his grace through the sacraments to repair what is broken, strengthen what is weak, and fortify what is healthy.

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When Evil Triumphs

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 1, 2022

“Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!” The urgency for all of us who follow the Lord Jesus to be just and fair, especially when treating the poor, can never be underestimated. It is real to assume that the way we treat the most vulnerable, the weakest, and the most innocent in this life will go a long way in how we will arrive intact at our destiny after our earthly pilgrimage has ended.

“Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” We live in a very damaged, frail, and unjust world. History has recorded millennia of evidence to this effect. Our goal, while alive and spirited by the Gospel, is how we imitate and follow the great example of Jesus while He walked our planet. He wants us to be merciful, kind, and just in all our dealings. Only then will we find true peace in this life.

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie

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Something Evil This Way Comes

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 30, 2022

“They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.” The Gadara was a pagan-infested area east of the sea of Galilee where evil was everywhere and deeply entrenched in the people’s lives. This was because God was not mentioned, worshipped, or loved. Don’t miss the interesting detail that tells us from where they were coming: the graveyard! (tombs) What on earth were they doing there? (Nothing earthly is the clue.) The ancient world believed that the air was thickly populated with evil spirits seeking entry into everyone. Often they did enter through food or drink. They caused all illnesses. The Egyptians believed there were thirty-six different parts of the human body, and any of them could be entered and controlled by one of these evil spirits. There were spirits of deafness, dumbness, and fever; spirits that took a man’s sanity and wits away; spirits of lying, deceit, and uncleanness. It was such demonic spirits that Jesus exorcised here. “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”

However dramatic or dark, this topic of confronting evil and evil spirits is good for everyone: every day is a challenge, and struggles to live this life and walk this walk. Keep in mind from reading the Scriptures today, especially the Gospel of today, that Jesus truly intended to confront these evil spirits; that is to say, it was no accident. We live in a world of darkness and terror, and unless we hold the Light of Christ within us, we will be swallowed up in despair. We also learn from this passage that the envious and godless people in this world are tormented at the sight of generosity, as were the possessed grave dwellers in the Gospel. This is yet another sobering lesson for all of us. You see, the battle of light and darkness is not just outside us; it is also within us, as in every human being who grows, and we have Jesus, especially in the Eucharist, to help us move forward in faith. Evil is not sustainable because it has already been defeated. It is now up to us to join the winning, victorious team.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, free from me all that is not of You and cleanse my soul from all deceit, worry, and shame. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

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Peter And Paul

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 29, 2022

“Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.” (St. Peter) “The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.” (Responsorial Psalm) “And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.” (Second Reading) It should not be of any surprise that the Lord seeks and wants to rescue us all. However, what is interesting is the nature of the word rescue. It is derived from the word meaning “to shake,” which suggests getting rid of something, as it were, to shake something free that is dangerously affixed or stuck to a person or animal.

We have that suggestion explained in the Gospel of today: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Today we celebrate the great Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul with the promise that we as the People of God, the Church, are to be rescued literally from here to eternity. These two great Saints were initially responsible for evangelizing and announcing the truths of our faith to all of the known world at the time of their lives. These formed the concrete basis and foundation of the Christian message for the following two millennia. This brings us to the completely jubilant truth that God wants, desires, and continues to rescue us. Evil can and does attach its ugly self to us in two distinct ways: meanness and weakness. By recalling and remembering the great love that Peter and Paul had for the Lord Jesus and the courage firmly placed within their hearts when they both faced martyrdom, we can find the hope of change in our personalities when we find that being or saying something mean is so tempting. Being mean is being lazy and an obvious sign of evil that has crept into our hearts and begun encrustation. Everyone carries human weakness, which often manifests itself when we are tired, frustrated, or lacking in patient civility. With this great commemoration of Peter and Paul, let us find the courage and motivation to shake free of meanness and weakness and give Jesus the glory in this life as we wait to see Him face to face in the next.

“The next time you feel as if you are drowning in life’s problems, remember your lifeguard walks on water.” —Quote scribbled in a book found in a library.

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Who Is Sitting At Your Table?

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 28, 2022

“The LORD departed as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham returned home.” It is truly amazing how some Old Testament figures seem to have open, easy-access facetime with the Lord. God and Abraham seem to have taken just a causal walk with some rather deep and profound consequences. And in this episode, the fruit of their conversation has painted a wonderfully comforting picture that can and should help us and encourage us on our spiritual journey. What should be more than crystal clear is that God never gives up on us even if we may have surrendered hope ourselves. There can never be a valid excuse for denying this awesome truth. God truly loves spending time with us!

Knowing how much God loves us, especially in sending us His Only Begotten Son, it must be clear that Jesus has that same desire: spiritual intimacy. “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Maybe there are some of our readers who want to cry out, “Lord, I am here for you. Rest with me!” Perhaps the message here is that we avoid being distracted by anything else while we are on the course of loving, knowing, and serving God. It may sound rude for Jesus to tell us that we should not bury our dead or departed loved ones or we should not bid our family and friends goodbye when embarking on a journey. But the salient message here is, do not give other people or things more preference over God.

Why do you think we stumble and fall at times? What nervous and erroneous mental distractions come between us and true happiness? What excuses do we offer? It will inevitably come down to whether or not we are people who pray. Some have assembled the main reasons why we do not pray: We think we do not have the time, or that it is important, or that we think it makes no difference. All these excuses are beyond silly; they are not even true. Today, let us be fed with the wisdom of the Scriptures and make and find the time to pray. The rewards are literally out of this world.

“Intimacy with God is the way to true fulfillment. How do you keep the Enemy from sitting at your table? You keep your eyes on Christ.” Louie Giglio

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We Can Be Better

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 27, 2022

“They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way.” One of the more astounding truths we encounter throughout our spiritual lives is the realization that many people in our immediate circle of contact and influence are challenged and burdened much like ourselves and carrying similar crosses that we are bearing. Yet, because of our attachment to routine and preconceived notions and prejudices throughout the day, we are blind to the plight of others around us, perhaps made that way because of our struggles which tend to make us insensitive. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy or horrible instance to open our eyes and see what we have been missing all along. That is why the time to act is now: “Remember this, you who never think of God.”

“Jesus answered him, ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.'” Today we are also given an added touch to this reflection. Those people in our lives, which we treat with infrequent and perhaps unthinking care, could be Jesus Himself. He said as much. His words and promise are better than gold, so we can rest assured that all that is presented here is at least worthy of more than casual thought. What if that was Jesus I passed today? What if that person who pains me the most is the Lord watching how I will return responses and invitations to greatness? Let’s see.

“I know that people can be better than they are. We are capable of bearing a great burden, once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is.” James Baldwin

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The Illusion Of Excuses

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 26, 2022

“‘Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time. What if there are at least ten there?’ He replied, ‘For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.'” The beautiful Scriptures today paint a wonderfully comforting picture that can and should help us and encourage us on our spiritual journey. What should be more than crystal clear is that God never gives us on us even if we may have surrendered hope ourselves. There can never be a valid excuse for denying this awesome truth.

Jesus makes it clear that following Him to the brink of suffering and death is really not an option if we seek the final goal of heaven: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” First, let us be clear about this statement: please don’t think that he was speaking of the body of someone’s parent as it was waiting for burial. The real sense of this phrase is rendered, “Let me bury my father when he dies.” Seen in this light, it sounds more like an excuse rather than a real impending need. The issue here is a call for us to review and discover any excuses we make consciously or unconsciously in answering our call to follow Jesus.

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” George Washington

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Finding Halo

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 25, 2022

“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.” Today the Gospel Reading takes us to the meaning of the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, best known to many as “Finding of the Child Jesus.” How could we faithfully summarize what we witnessed through the powerful Word of God today? Clearly, Jesus loved the art of teaching, asking and answering questions, and in every encounter with the Lord, there was always something astounding.

“Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And there is something else quite telling that we must not forget or miss today. The question His Mother Mary asked Him was also truly astounding. How could the Lord, even as a child, bring or cause in any way, even indirectly, anxiety to His parents? Since we could not honestly assume that that was Christ-child’s motive, what shall we make of the subsequent fear of losing a child in such a huge horde of people on the move? We could start with the obvious answer to the question, “where was He?” Jesus was in the Temple not to abandon His parents but in His Father’s House to do something for them and all humanity that would certainly last into eternity. He was beginning the framework for His suffering, death, and Resurrection, which would culminate in His own body, the Temple not made by human hands. When we feel we have lost Jesus in our lives, we must remember this element of today’s Scripture and never lose hope: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Let us pray: Lord, help me confidently reach for what lies ahead and help me seek you in the midst of my struggles. Lord, help me rejoice in the hope of tomorrow and give me the strength to just keep going. Amen.

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My Sacred Heart Belongs To You

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 24, 2022

“I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.” (First Reading) Devotion to the Sacred Heart, as we know it, began about the year 1672. On repeated occasions, Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun in France. During these apparitions, He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it. He asked to be honored in the symbol of His Heart of flesh. There is only one Person in Jesus, and that person was at the same time, God and Man. His Heart, too, is Divine — it is the Heart of God.
What does it mean when one person says to another, “I give my heart to you”? For some, it means that you are ready and truly able to trust another with your feelings, thoughts, and future. That person must also clearly demonstrate the following:

1. They take time out for you
2. They are honest about themselves, and you
3. They share intimate details about themselves
4. They readily show various personal aspects of their own life
5. They are consistently there for you and talk and listen about anything

“The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Second Reading)

Thus, what do you think it means that Jesus gives His Sacred Heart to us and opens the way for a mutual relationship which is forever with Him? Let’s take another look at the list we prepared before:

1. Jesus always takes time for us.
2. Jesus is Truth
3. Jesus has shared His very life by dying on the Cross
4. Jesus invites us to discover who He is in our day-to-day life
5. Jesus never leaves

“I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”

Jesus calls every one of us to love. First, to love God above all things, second, our neighbor as ourselves, and lastly, ourselves. All together and all at once. Throughout our short lives here on earth, it may take a little more effort and time with one or two of these charges, but this is what we call faith in action! People who obey this command change their spiritual lives forever! If we are believers in Jesus Christ, we must ask where He called us to go? Who has God put on your heart to love and share the gift of salvation?

“Immature love says, ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says, ‘I need you because I love you.'” Erich Fromm

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Did You Say “Climate Change?”

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 23, 2022

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” Real climate change has just dawned upon us. The life, teaching, and example of St. John the Baptist can never and should never be erased from our understanding of our salvation which is found squarely and fundamentally in Jesus Christ. St. John the Baptist lived so that everything depended on God, and his whole life was dedicated to preparing the way for the Messiah. So why do we say “climate change?” This is a very interesting aspect of today’s feast.

“He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.” What is most memorable about the life and death of St. John the Baptist is that he was determined to leave behind the legacy of decrease/increase. Jesus must increase in my life, and I, that is, my ego and selfishness, must decrease. Even more interesting is how the climate and the seasons exhibit this wonderful style of life throughout the year. You see, after today’s feast, the days will start to grow shorter and shorter, while conversely, after the birth of Christ in just six short months, the days will grow longer and longer, increase, if you will. I hope that you and I will decrease so that the Lord can shine through us like the morning dawn.

“Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.” Andrew Murray

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Strengthening For Tomorrow

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 22, 2022

“Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” Many of us have probably heard or even used the expression, “money doesn’t grow on trees.” While being a bit comical, there are several meanings nestled behind it. The first and foremost meaning should be clear: money must be earned and does not come freely, as do the leaves on any given tree or shrub. Typically, this idiom describes the idea that someone should be careful about how they spend their money. This phrase relates to the fact that trees often produce fruit for people to enjoy—regardless of whether or not the people cultivate these trees. This contrasts with the idea that money must be worked for with effort and is never given without reason.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.” Sometimes our vision for ourselves falls short of what is actually going on in our lives. At times our perspective on the world around us becomes bitter, and thus our actions and words become rude, unkind, and thoughtless with numbing regularity. We mistakenly think there is no good fruit to be found, but the real truth lies in the fact that we haven’t spent enough quality time with our beautiful and loving God. When we allow ourselves the time to realize how great our God is, we begin to see and bear good fruit. Then and only then does it become much easier to choose gratitude over a complaint. Furthermore, at the heart of the battle for our souls is a real enemy who prowls around seeking someone to devour. Evil will never stop gaining new ground and moving others away from the Lord. This is another reason why we must be aware of those who just “talk the talk.”

“Be patient. God is using today’s difficulties to strengthen you for tomorrow. He is equipping you. The God who makes things grow will help you bear fruit.” Max Lucado

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The Pain Of Not Being Appreciated

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 21, 2022

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Have you ever had the experience of working so very hard to celebrate someone’s birthday or another milestone and sacrificing quite a bit, only to have your gift and expression of care be totally unappreciated or even acknowledged? Most likely, we have all had a similar thing happen to us. This would help us understand that this passage from the Gospel is generally interpreted to be a warning by Jesus to his disciples, including all of us, that we should not offer biblical doctrine to those unable to value and appreciate it. This is similar to another warning about giving sacred things to dogs. In these very telling examples, Jesus uses dogs and pigs as representatives of those who would ridicule, reject, and blaspheme the message of the Gospel and, by extension, the messengers/evangelizers of the Good News. We are not to expose the elements of our faith in Jesus Christ to those with no purpose other than trampling it and returning to their evil ways.

“How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” You and I are responsible for the process it takes to live our lives integrally and share what we believe, but we are not responsible for people’s responses. Just as animals could never appreciate pearls or the finer things in life, some cannot or will not appreciate what God has done for them. Jesus’ instruction to His apostles on how to handle rejection was simply to move on to those still waiting to hear the greatest story ever told.

“Staying in a situation where you are unappreciated is not called loyalty; it is called breaking your own heart.” Trent Shelton

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Spiritual Eyesight

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 20, 2022

“You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” There are many personality types and weaknesses that Jesus expresses the most disgust and repulsion than the hypocrite. We could ask ourselves, what is truly the problem with hypocrisy? When someone condemns the sinful behavior of others and then engages in the same behavior, we seem to lose it, or at least, sometimes. It is objectionable to realize that someone is not practicing what they preach, but it goes much deeper than that: a hypocrite is trying to convince us that they are more holy, righteous, and moral than the rest of the people. This is what makes it so hateful.

“They did not listen, but were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who had not believed in the LORD, their God.” We simply do not have nor should we ever seek the luxury of being proud, stubborn, or arrogant when it comes to our faith and feeding our souls whenever possible. This is why the Eucharist is remarkable both in its simplicity and supreme awesomeness. This is exactly how we put on the mind and heart of Jesus Christ; seeing my brothers and sisters through His eyes radiate love and forgiveness. You and I are called to begin every day to adopt and develop a healthy, realistic worldview where no one is better than anyone else and that forgiveness if we truly want it at the end of our lives, must be practiced today and right now before yet another minute passes. Life, as it is, clearly remains as fragile as it has ever been. We can live what we read in St. Matthew’s Gospel, “only then will you see clearly.”

“Truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy.” Warren W. Wiersbe

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The Feast Of Corpus Christi

wine bread on table for Eucharist

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 19, 2022

Our First Reading begins to set the stage for a much deeper awareness of the simplicity of eating: “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.” Our lives have been bought and purchased at an amazing cost! None of us are here “by accident.” We each have a deep and enriching purpose that we must find, and that journey must be fed: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Such a Feast begs all of us to take a step back and reflect on that quote from the Scriptures today. Jesus does so much more by giving us His Body and Blood. He teaches us that not only do we take meaningful time when we sit and share food but also take every opportunity and chance to serve, even to the point of washing each other’s feet.

“Take it; this is my body.” As Jesus feeds us with His very Body and Blood, He assures us that He is showing us and expecting us to be the least among us. It is easy to do great things for those we love. What about doing the hard things for those we don’t know or, even better, know who will never be able or willing to say thank you? This is selfless and what this night is all about: empty yourself as Jesus did, so where He has gone, we can follow.

“When you approach the (Eucharist in the) tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.” St. Josemaria Escriva

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Divided Loyalties

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 18, 2022

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” No one likes to be “caught in the middle.” This is especially noteworthy when we find ourselves amid conflicts and human drama not made of our doing. This is exactly why Jesus warns us and tries to prevent any of us from falling into divided loyalties. The pull and lure of this world with all its empty promises can create a severe split in our lives that spells certain trouble, not to mention a chaotic and frenetic lifestyle trying to please everyone, living a two-faced lie, and secretly maintaining a hidden life that costs much more than it is ever worth.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” The struggle between good and evil, which perpetuates all of our lives from start to finish, must be won. We will always have to face conflicts and discomforts, but we must never face those alone. When we accept our humanity and the people we truly are, we will see the great need we have for the Lord Jesus. Nothing and no one else will ever satisfy.


“More often than we realize, people see in us what we don’t see in ourselves.” Misty Copeland

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The Treasure Of Happiness

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 17, 2022

“When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, saw that her son was dead, she began to kill off the whole royal family.” The First Readings we have been provided this week sound like the plot of a murder-mystery series that one might be tempted to binge-watch if anyone had that much free time these days. This wicked queen named Athalia has picked up where her mother left off. Yes, Jezebel, perhaps one of the evilest and most cunning figures in the Bible, rivaled only by Caipahas, Herod, and Pilate. As we just read, after the death of Ahaziah, her son, Athaliah, seized the throne and reigned for seven years. She massacred all the members of the royal house of Judah.

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” What remains clear about living in this world is that you and I will meet ALL KINDS of people every single day, and all these encounters have in common is that we can tell what is in the heart of a person by their words and deeds. The Gospel underscores that claim by reminding us that whatever is in our hearts will undoubtedly find its way to the surface. Knowing that and trusting the Lord Jesus can make all the difference in the world, especially for the people around us. Ask yourself this question: “If people had to guess what was inside your heart just by your actions, what would they guess?”

“Try to make at least one person happy every day. If you cannot do a kind deed, speak a kind word. If you cannot speak a kind word, think a kind thought. Count up, if you can, the treasure of happiness that you would dispense in a week, in a year, in a lifetime!” Lawrence G. Lovasik

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Mind Walking

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 16, 2022

“Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace.” There is a common principle of wisdom in most spiritual circles that states that we must watch our thoughts because they determine our words, actions, personality, and ultimately our destiny. History is full of episodes of confirmations of this truth. Even our own lives give rise to the belief that this is true. Guilt is the culprit that often robs our peace as well as fear. These, among others, are the source of the corruption of the mind and heart that often takes place slowly and methodically. But fear not, the remedy is not only clear but close: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Perhaps there is no more obvious sign of a follower of Jesus than the desire and ability to forgive. By extension, the greater the offense, the greater the forgiveness, producing an even greater love to accomplish reconciliation. These are the thoughts we truly wish to walk through our hearts and minds, and if we invite Jesus Christ to walk with us daily, occupying our thoughts and feelings, success will be ours.

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” Mahatma Gandhi

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Prayer-Chariots Of Fire

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 15, 2022

“As they walked on conversing, a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” Many of us believe that there are two basic kinds of people in this life, “givers and takers.” If that’s true, it may suggest that that is how they see God. Stingy or sparing people usually have a relationship with God that sees Him as a taker rather than a giver. They perceive themselves as being drained away by God because he is so incessantly and solely demanding. Of course, they are ill-disposed to being generous. However, the heart which sees God as a giver wants to be like Him and bestow the same happiness they receive from Him upon others. When this person looks to God, he feels replenished, not drained. The prayers of these people are rich, meaningful, and life-giving.

Considering our lives of prayer, Jesus in our Gospel today has a remarkable suggestion: “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” It seems that the closer and more inmate our prayer with God is, the more effective and fruitful it will be. Prayer doesn’t change the world. It changes people, and they change the world.

Our prayer may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” Max Lucado

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Love Is The Only Solution

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 14, 2022

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'” Right. That’s the way it used to be. That may be how some were raised or learned to act after so many disappointments and stabs in the back. It sure does take a lot of energy, though, and living by “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” just makes for a blind and toothless generation. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Seriously? How is this done, especially in a world where cut-throat is the week’s game? What Jesus is asking us to do is not something impossible or unnatural. It is the only thing that makes sense and will bring peace to me and hopefully to the person who is hostile to me in time. It is possible to literally disarm a hating person by acting towards them positively and lovingly, refusing to be controlled by their negative attitudes, and imitating Christ Jesus in every way possible and any given situation.

Our call today is simple: remember that anyone who harms us also harms themselves as well, even if they get a twisted pleasure in the short term. If I have a true Christian spirit, I will reach out compassionately to that person. I will want that person to be healed, healed of their hatred, healed of their anger, and to learn how to love. “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This will not be easy, but it is not impossible either. The rewards are amazing. It is a phenomenal way to live precisely because it is a call and a challenge to do everything in our power to imitate God in extending our love, respect, and forgiveness impartially and unconditionally to everyone, especially to those who render injustice and sorrow upon us.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” My friends, this is a new commandment because it makes us new and refreshed in the Lord Jesus. This is why many saints have referred to it as “perfection.”

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.” G. K. Chesterton

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Too Rich To Be Petty

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 13, 2022

“Lord, listen to my groaning.” Not too long ago, a writer came up with an interesting list based on a self-study based on interviews he conducted over the years. It was the top nine things people said before they died. Some of the things spoken were completely understandable, like “I see Heaven” or “I see Hell,” there was also this choice morsel: “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” Have you wondered what keeps us from being truly happy? Could it be pettiness and the resistance we sometimes take in forgiving someone who has hurt us deeply? The Gospel of today certainly addresses this question.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” Today, Jesus gave us this teaching to help minimize the effects of evil and the current active spirit and echoes of hateful and vindictive spirits we encounter. Evil escalates when we respond to it with equal and, most times, excessive fervor. A small situation can get blown so far out of proportion that it can cause horrible harm. Even in everyday life, when someone wrongs us, the situation can blow up and get out of control, destroying marriages, families, friendships, and even faith, without which we simply cannot survive. Frustrating and ongoing issues of injustice will merely require more patience, more trust, more forgiveness, and more Jesus.

“That’s prayer to let God’s Word speak deep within you and tell you, “You are my beloved. You don’t have to take an eye for an eye. No, no you’re too rich for that.” Henri Nouwen

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Do You Like A Good Mystery?

person having a thrill rollercoaster ride

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 12, 2022

I know many who do, and I’ll bet so do you. I would like to propose at least three reasons why some deeply enjoy mysteries:

  1. They are a “safe thrill,” like an amusement park ride, a fast merry-go-round, or a wildly colorful Ferris Wheel. Similarly, mysteries are safe adventures because we get to visit exotic or otherwise interesting places and meet even more intriguing people. We encounter the dark side of people, but somehow we always know that good will overcome evil.

  2. We like mysteries because we can often relate to one or several characters. People enjoy following the detective or the CSI team because we believe that we can be a part of the solution. We belong to the “winning team” and restore justice, love, and peace.

  3. On perhaps the most basic level, we like mysteries for the same reasons others read romance, historical fiction, or sci-fi novels. We find ourselves instantly involved in the characters’ lives and being there with them, feeling what they feel, seeing what they see, and experiencing their emotional journey. What happens is that our worldview grows and fills our loneliness which helps us to figure out how to connect in the world. We learn about how others live and see the world, opening our perspectives and experiences.

Today, you and I are presented with a magnificent mystery: the Mystery of the Nature of God! It may be the same reason that people enjoy the literary genre of mystery, that we can find some inner excitement over what the Church provides for us today.

“Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there and proclaimed his name, “LORD.” (First Reading) Imagine! A front-row seat to the gift of the Ten Commandments is all ours! We meet Moses and the Creator God in the most intriguing of all places on Mt. Sinai. And today, on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we are all certainly on the “winning team” as we remind ourselves of this miraculous membership every time we sign ourselves with the Sign of the Cross involving that same Glorious Mystery: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. “(Second Reading) Finally, The Most holy Trinity has been graciously given to us for the most sublime of all reasons: “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” Jesus said to His Apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” (Gospel)

If we truly enter into the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, even with just a simple act of Faith that involves our reason and our intellect, what happens is that our worldview grows. It fills up our loneliness and helps us figure out how to connect in the world. We learn about how others live and see the world, opening our perspectives and experiences. Remember this every time you make the Sign of the Cross with Holy Water:

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

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Say What You Mean

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 11, 2022

“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.'” Our speech is a powerful gift that God has given to all humanity. It describes how we live and love and develop relationships with the world and those who will populate our years and create masterpieces with their friendship and care for us. Our words can also betray us, and there is much temptation in the present world to lie and damage the truth and cause pain even to those who want to love and care for us. We could say that, in some ways, our speech is a two-edged sword in that it can create or destroy depending on the integrity of the one who utters the host of words in a given lifetime.

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,’ Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.'” In today’s Gospel, Jesus also addresses the deep and dynamic power of our words. He goes beyond the legal aspects of vows and promises. He makes sure that even our daily conversations, especially our casual conversations, are imbued with truth and light and the desire to serve the truth. Otherwise, evil will thrive not because of the bad people we encounter but because of the good people in our lives who do and say nothing. Silence may be golden, but sometimes it is yellow (cowardice).

Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.” William Faulkner

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Hard Words And Hard Hearts

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 10, 2022

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna (Hell).” These words of Jesus we just heard are hard words to hear. They are hard to think about. They are hard to process. They are hard because Jesus is addressing lust and adultery that cause more emotional pain and hurt families, perhaps more than anything else. Nobody wins when a family breaks apart under the horrible weight of painful pretense and broken dreams. Love is such a supreme and, yes, even Divine gift that any alteration or selfishness that enters such a relationship can have the most destructive consequences.

“After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” We all have endured some of these painful experiences, either directly or indirectly. Yet, it is precise because Jesus is speaking about these that we simply cannot ignore what he has to say. We live in a broken world, and we pick up knocks and bruises as we go through, and if Jesus has something to say about all that, we need to tune in. If Jesus had nothing to say about the things that cause us the most heartache, he’s not asking us to live in the real world when He calls us to follow him. Love, not lust, is at the basis of our hearts. Truth, not lies, is the very air our hearts and souls need to approach God and one another. When we give our hearts to Jesus, we ask Him to allow us to love the way He does. Completely. Unselfishly. Purely. Daily prayer and the Eucharist are absolutely necessary for this spiritual approach to our human existence. What Jesus clearly wants for us is not natural; it is supernatural, and only then will we be happy in this life, waiting for the one to come. “Shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the Word of Life.”

Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein  

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The Secret Of Success

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 9, 2022

“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” That is certainly something you don’t hear every day, at least in polite company. If you and I are going to understand what Jesus is communicating with us fully, we require a little research. In New Testament times, (much like today) anger was considered a very powerful emotion that could lead a person to horrible problems. If there were anger in someone’s heart, it would eventually show up in words and actions. The more anger, the more problems. Easy enough, right?

“Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.” Throughout the year, as we have read in several places, Jesus also saw his followers as the light of a fire to the world. Placing a light fire under a basket would put the fire out. No, like a city high on a hill, the fire should be placed for all to see, especially when it comes to forgiveness and making peace even with the most incorrigible persons. So, one cannot hide faith through inaction. One must show faith in action for all to see, so those seeing the witness can be brought to faith and praise God.

In essence, Jesus told his followers they could not have it both ways. One cannot believe as a Christian yet act as if faith did not matter. Faith leads to action, and the action points to the Kingdom. Are we alive or lifeless? Are we who we say we are? Let’s see how the day progresses…

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Fighting Fire With Fire

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 8, 2022

“The God who answers with fire is God.” We have been presented with more than just an average display of God’s power and might, Elijah’s incredible and undying faith, and the almost comical and deeply ironic conclusion when the pathetic false gods of others are pitted against the mighty works of God, our Father. The false promises of false powers that claim to have power over life were literally left in the listless pangs of silence: “But there was not a sound; no one answered, and no one was listening.” This experience of the deepest disappointment when misdirected requests and longings go unanswered continues to play out even in the modern world. How many people do you know who is lost and empty because they backed the descendants of Baal and not the God of Elijah? Too many to mention, no doubt.

“But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” What is clear about today’s lesson should be evident: there are two sources of power in the universe, good and evil. Whatever is not of the God who has revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ cannot ever hope to satisfy or bring about the goodness in this life we long for. For the rest of our lives, we must look for light and love and vision from the only source that can help us. This is where our prayer nourished by the Scriptures is not only essential but the only real guarantee of our happiness in this world: “You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.”

“Remember this. When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold. When people choose to withdraw far from light, the light continues to be bright in itself but they are in darkness. This is also the case when people withdraw from God.” Saint Augustine

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Truth In Tension

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 7, 2022

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth.'” Let’s look at some of the uses/characteristics of salt. It is a preservative, gives flavor, is bright white, is used as a fertilizer, and produces thirst. As a preserving agent in this world, every Christian is to be in the world but not of the world and do whatever is in their power to keep those around from spoiling or degenerating. Christians can add flavor or joy to the world while living a life of purity and understanding while increasing the fruitfulness of those struggling alongside each of us. Just as salty food makes us thirsty, Christians, as the salt of the earth, can cause others to be thirsty for Jesus. “I want to be like you because you love God and it is obvious.”

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the light of the world.'” What does light do, and why do we need it so much? It exposes the hidden pockets of evil, enlightens greatness in this world, and shows us the way out of a dark space. This is precisely why we followers of Jesus need each other so much. We simply cannot do this alone. We need help more than just a few times to point out what is evil in this world to avoid it and help us realize the many blessings we have been given so we may be grateful lovers of God. We need help at every step and stage of our lives from others who love Jesus to find our way either out of the crisis, grief seasons, or just painful moments.

“Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Is there some hidden, secret recipe for being salt and light in this life? We have just discovered it. It has everything to do with living a holy, healthy, and happy life full of purpose. We need to beg to be filled with the Holy Spirit while there is breath in our bodies. We have the Commandments and Beatitudes, we have the Sacraments and the Mass, and we are constantly being challenged to continue to pray without ceasing or losing heart. This will be nourished by our reading and reflecting on the powerful Word of God as we do here. This is our life, our call, our invitation to greatness.

“Being salt and light demands two things: we practice purity in the midst of a fallen world and yet we live in proximity to this fallen world. If you don’t hold up both truth in tension, you invariably become useless and separated from the world God loves.” David Kinnaman

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Your Mother My Defense

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 6, 2022

“O happy Virgin, you gave birth to the Lord; O blessed mother of the Church, you warm our hearts with the Spirit of your Son Jesus Christ.” Today, the Church remembers and honors the intense suffering and grief of the Mother of Jesus during His Passion and Death and how these were gloriously transformed to bring us Jesus, Redemption, and the Church. There were actually seven individual sorrows that Mary endured as was foretold to her by Simeon, the priest of the Temple, on the occasion of the Lord’s Presentation. Here is a partial text of a very popular hymn somberly expressing these heartfelt sentiments: At the cross, her station keeping, Stood the mournful Mother weeping, Close to Jesus to the last. Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, All his bitter anguish bearing, Now at length, the sword had passed. Our present hope for our Christian journey toward Heaven is found here in the mystery of today’s Feast.

“So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” Let us reflect on the mystery and fruits of suffering presented by St. John Paul II in remarkable teaching borne out of his own incredible personal sufferings. First, he says that suffering empowers humility: To suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ. In him, God has confirmed his desire to act, especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. Secondly, he teaches that suffering is transformative: Down through the centuries and generations, it has been seen that in suffering, there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace. To this grace, many saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and others, owe their profound conversion. A result of such a conversion is not only that the individual discovers the salvific meaning of suffering but also that he becomes a completely new person. He discovers a new dimension, as it were, of his entire life and vocation. Finally, he writes that suffering enlivens and grows charity and love for and of others: We could say that suffering . . . is present to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one’s “I” on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love, and in a certain sense, man owes to suffering that unselfish love that stirs in his heart and actions.

Thus, in its purest sense, suffering is actually the road to holiness and a closer walk and friendship with the Lord Jesus. His mother shed human tears for the Divine Son she helped bring into this world, our world. We cry human tears but not always for what is right and just. Today we seek to move toward complete integrity on this walk toward Heaven, knowing and embracing humility, deep-seated change, and charity which are all great gifts when we suffer from each other with Jesus always in our hearts and minds as equally dignified members of the Church.

Let me mingle tears with you, Mourning him who mourned for me, All the days that I may live. Christ, when you shall call me hence, Be your Mother my defense, Be your cross my victory.”  Stabat Mater

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Pentecost 2022: The Christ-Event

holy spirit day of pentecost

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 5, 2022

“If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.” This is one of those days that we can honestly greet each other with the happy phrase, “Happy Feast Day!” Why is that? Today the Church celebrates Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles, and many gathered with them, and the birth of the Church ensued. In some ways, we could say that this is our Birthday celebration because this is how it all began. This is how all of life is transformed and made new again. This is the force of the Gospel, especially when it is lived through and in the hearts of believers. This is what motivates the Psalmist to invite us to sing with all our hope and might: “When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” Our Gospel Reading clarifies another compelling reason to ask and openly receive all the gifts that God wishes to impart to us through the Holy Spirit. We are not alone in this life. We have a great impact on and a deep call for service for and with each other. This makes the Church a mystery and a hopeful presence in a world that is often without it. Make this day special by renewing your Baptism and continuing to ask God for the strength of mind and heart. As we have often said here, the best is yet to come.

“Without Pentecost, the “Christ-event, ” that is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, remains imprisoned in history as something just to remember, think about and merely reflect on. The Spirit of Jesus comes to dwell within us so that we can become ‘living Christs’ here and now.” Henri Nouwen

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The Person I Am Meant To Be

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 4, 2022

“I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord; he will guide you to all truth.” When you and I were baptized, we were marked with oil to signify that we are consecrated to God and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Our anointing is also a powerful sacramental sign that we are joined to Christ and share in His threefold mission as Priest, Prophet, and King. The Israelites anointed their priests and kings with oil. They spoke of their prophets as being anointed with the Spirit. Jesus fulfilled all these as we read the conclusion of the Great Gospel of St. John this fine Saturday.

A priest is a mediator, or bridge, between God and human beings. He offers sacrifice to God on behalf of all. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the Jewish high priest went into the Holy of Holies in the Temple. There he offered sacrifice to God to make up for his sins and the people’s sins.

A prophet is a messenger sent by God who speaks for God. They witness God, call people to conversion and are killed for their message. Jesus fits this description perfectly. He is the Word of God made flesh and called the world to turn away from sin and return to the Father and was put to death for it. Crowds identified him as “Jesus the prophet” (Matthew 21:11). He spoke of himself as a prophet: “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” (Luke 4:24) He even foretold–prophesized– His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

A king is a person who has supreme authority over land and people. When kings ruled the Jewish people, they became a nation. They longed for a Messiah who would again make them great and free them from the oppression of the Roman Empire.

The references to Jesus as King in the Gospels are amazing and meaningful: The Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that the Lord God would give her son the throne of King David, his father, and he would rule over the house of Jacob forever.

What was the most important day of your life? Earlier in our Reflections, I mentioned that it was Mark Twain who said that there were actually two:
1. the day we were born and
2. the day we realized why.

That certainly is accurate, but let’s reflect on what the Scripture has shown us today: the best day of our life was the day we were baptized into Christ! It was there that we received our three-fold mission to go forward in this life and anointed Priest, Prophet, and King:

Priest: As Baptized Christians, we pray and lift each other to God
and assist and partake in the great Sacrifice of the Mass.

Prophet: As Baptized Christians, we teach by word and example
and stand up when necessary for the Gospel and the poor and defenseless.

King: As Baptized Christians, we act kingly when we serve, act selflessly
and practice noble generosity.

Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be – and becoming that person.” St. Thérèse of Lisieux

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Summer Blueprint

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 3, 2022

St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was once asked about her prayer life. The interviewer asked, “When you pray, what do you say to God?” The beautiful Saint replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.” Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer asked, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?” She replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.” There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and did not know what to ask next. Finally, Mother Teresa broke the silence by saying, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” The secret of the spiritual successes of this great Saint, and ours, is given beautifully in the Gospel. Jesus, like Moses in the Old Testament, comes down the mountain to deliver and impart “The New Law of Love,” and much like the Ten Commandments, these give life and point the clear way to salvation. These are known as the Beatitudes and “are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching.” (CCC 1716). “They shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life.” (CCC 1717) And “they respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.” The Beatitudes create the blueprint for living a beautiful, Christian life. These eight blessings are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching and respond to the natural desire that we all have for true and lasting happiness.

And they do one more thing: The Beatitudes proclaim the blessings and rewards that have already been secured for those who love Jesus. Just imagine, there’s a place in Heaven for you, and it has your name on it!

“Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself.” Mother Theresa

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E Pluribus Unum*

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 2, 2022

“May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that the world may believe that you sent me, says the Lord.” Unity and union have tremendous amounts of literary and spiritual appearances in the Scriptures and the course of everyday life. We are constantly and even sometimes painfully reminded of what brings us together and what tears us apart. Our background, whether social background, knowledge, experience, or religion, can bring us together, separate us, or even cause conflict. Still, even in the face of such daunting challenges, Jesus prays to His Father that we may be one. 

“I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” Why do we need unity? Jesus asserts that it is primarily for our benefit. It benefits all God’s people and makes us more effective, and shines Christ’s love into the world. When there is no unity in the essential matters of life, we have disastrous effects. Let’s start with our inner circles and immediate spheres of influence. What can and should I do today to make things more unified? How can I be a source of unity rather than disunity? The answer is simple because it is found in the person of Jesus who is love and who taught us that the greatest thing we can do in this life is to love, forgive and serve. Today is a good day to start. Out of many, let us be one. 

*E pluribus unum – Latin for “Out of many, one” – is a traditional motto of the United States, appearing on the Great Seal; its inclusion on the seal was approved by an Act of Congress in 1782.

In the essential things, unity; in the non-essential, diversity. In all things, charity.” St. Augustine 

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Smile, Breathe, Give

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 1, 2022

“Consecrate them in the truth.” What does it mean to consecrate someone or something? Some definitions render the word as the act by which something or someone is made sacred and or dedicated for a clear and religious purpose when Jesus continues His prayer to the Father in Heaven and asks that those who would follow Him, His Apostles, the early Church, and all of us who seek the truth in the Church to be consecrated, it is clear that He is asking that we be set apart and made sacred for a specific role and place in this world. 

“As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.” How can we live this “consecration” daily? First, it means that we are people of truth and not lies. Second, we continue to seek to be in union with Jesus, always staying in communication with Him just as He was with His Father. And finally, we must keep in mind the powerful description that Jesus gives to all of us today: “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” When worry, anxiety, anger, or deep-seated sorrow begin to overtake us, we must cling to this promise. We simply do not belong to this world; we belong to Jesus. Seen in this perspective, even the greatest problems we may ever have to encounter will always be met with Jesus right at our side. “In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”  

“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth diminishing your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” Steve Maraboli

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The Visitation

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 31, 2022

Generosity is a willingness to give even at a cost to oneself. It expresses concern for meeting the needs of others, even if it means sacrificing something of one’s own. We are to extend ourselves to all of mankind, especially the neediest. To do so, we are emulating Jesus, who went after the one lost sheep. To love is to give. God loves us and gives us everything He wants us to have. When we give, as our Lord encourages, we truly deny ourselves. Generosity must be done in silence to merit grace from God and not merely the thanksgiving of mortal men. It is very easy to be generous to our relatives or friends, but that is not generosity since we will be repaid for that with friendship, thanksgiving, and praise. Generosity must extend to the poor and the needy. It is a quest for justice as we have the work of God to provide for those who don’t have it.

The most excellent example of Generosity (after Jesus Himself): The Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Blessed Mother exhibits the fullness of love and truth in the fullness of grace. She is generous in charity, patient, kind, and gentle; she is good and faithful, chaste, modest, and temperate. Her spirit rejoices in God, her savior, and she is at peace even in trying times because she trusted in the Lord: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.” (Gospel)

Three times in this life, Mary was blessed in a special way by the Holy Spirit – at her Immaculate Conception, at the Annunciation, and at Pentecost – and we are the beneficiaries of the immeasurable fruits of the Spirit produced in her. Through her maternal protection and intercession, we obtain pardon for our sins, health in times of sickness, the strength of heart when we are weak, consolation in the face of affliction, and help when we are in danger. Above all, she is the Mother of Christ, our Redeemer, and our Mother.

Today, we recall her famous visit to her cousin Elizabeth. John the Baptist leaped in her womb, foreshadowing our joy at the Birth of Mary’s Son, Jesus. She also shows us quintessentially how to evangelize, bringing Jesus to others at every opportunity. Mary also powerfully reminds us that every encounter we have has the potential to bring the Good News to someone who truly needs it. Thank you, Mary, for your wonderful YES!

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Ascension: I’ll Be Back

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 30, 2022

The Feast that we celebrate today brings a newness of understanding and a fresh and bold way to continue the path we have chosen all the way to Heaven. This virtual retreat that started on Ash Wednesday, culminating on Easter Sunday, is now being fully realized and planted in our hearts right as Pentecost looms with the promise of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit: “So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.” This does not mark an end of the relationship Jesus has with us, the Church, but rather a new beginning and new way of how we relate to Him as He returns to the Father. We are the Body of Christ, and thus we have also ascended with Him in a very hopeful and powerful way. This must change how we look at our lives today, knowing that the greatest is still yet to come for all of us. Our very nature now is in transition between Heaven and earth, and it will be up to us to decide how we are to act while we live and move and have our being. That must involve praying for, waiting for, and living in the gifts of wisdom and knowledge. We must be witnesses!

“We must show our Christian colors if we are to be true to Jesus Christ.” (C. S. Lewis) Perhaps the most awesome lesson to learn from today’s Feast is that Jesus is coming back just as He said He would. This does NOT mean that we lie in wait, scared and anxious about the cataclysmic doomsday that is so popular in science-fiction and pop culture. The opposite is true: doesn’t it make more sense than if you knew someone you deeply loved was coming to see you, wouldn’t you be outside eager and happy to greet them, having prepared a lavish welcome with mind and heart ready and poised to hold and embrace and even shout with a song upon seeing them again? Absolutely! To be honest, it is not always easy to maintain such a joyful demeanor, especially when there are crises we must face and problems we must address. Sometimes we are allowed to hit rock bottom so we may know that God is The Rock at the bottom. Discovering this mysterious truth, we then are set again to face whatever comes with the strength inside from Him, who is returning just as He left. Indeed, we could and should shout with the Second Reading today: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

“What then are we to do about our problems? We must learn to live with them until such time as God delivers us from them…we must pray for grace to endure them without murmuring. Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly.”  A.W. Tozer 

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Conquering In The Struggle

gloomy weather clouds over railway tracks

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 29, 2022

“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” Each time we live through the great transforming Seasons of Lent and Easter, there must be some part of us that is changed. Understanding and embracing final justice and the Last Judgement has the remarkable effect of grounding us closer and closer to Jesus, knowing that as long as we stand with Him in the power of the Holy Spirit, life can never be the same again.

So my dear friends, what are we to do as we bathe in the grace of these powerful proclamations from Scripture? First, practice the faith. Of course, the spiritual life is a struggle, but we find ourselves and our road to holiness within that grind. Second, be generous in the things of God and pray for the spirit of detachment. The early Christians lived this remarkable spirit, and even though their lifestyle didn’t amount to much in monetary terms, their intention and hearts certainly did, as they were poised for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Finally, reject discouragement: “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

“Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.” Brennan Manning

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Beauty No Misery

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 28, 2022

“I came from the Father and have come into the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” What kind of magnificent love has inspired and propelled God to send His Son Jesus Christ to be born in a filthy manger, live a poor life, then be crucified for our sins? Perhaps a line from today’s Gospel helps us answer this profound question: “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God.”

As we are surrounded by the great Feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost, we are called to respond with the enthusiastic joy of the awareness that is brought to the one who understands this gift and cannot help but be changed forever. My life must be different because of what happened to me and the world. Death has been defeated, and there is a place waiting for me in Heaven forever. This is also underscored by the opening lines of today’s Responsorial Psalm: “All you peoples, clap your hands; shout to God with cries of gladness. For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome, is the great king over all the earth.” Let us move forward into this weekend with new resolve and new hope. Darkness cannot and will not extinguish what we have been given.

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” Anne Frank  

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Labor Pains

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 27, 2022

“You’ll never understand life until it grows within you.” (Sandra C. Kassis). “When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.” The Gospel today presents us with yet another powerful and insightful image to help us understand the depths of our spiritual lives and how we can best understand and live them to their fullest with Jesus Christ always before us. The basic wisdom at play here is quite simple: the greater the goal, the greater the sacrifice, the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. “Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, and so enter into his glory.” Jesus accomplished everything for us with a great amount of pain and suffering. But just look at the results: Our salvation and place in heaven have been assured and guaranteed. All we need to do is get there. Consider the following two quotes and allow for some quality time today to reflect on them:

“If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ.” Saint Ignatius of Loyola

“When it is all over you will not regret having suffered; rather you will regret having suffered so little, and suffered that little so badly.” St. Sebastian Valfre

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Such Sweet Sorrow

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 26, 2022

“Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow that I’ll say good night until tonight becomes tomorrow.” –Shakespeare, (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2, Line 185) “I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.” How can separation and painful longing be good? Perhaps we could also remember the adage repeated a million times all over the globe, which states emphatically that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Is that true? Because of our weakened humanity, always longing for things that will never disappoint, anger or end, we can see how separation allows us to be much more aware and grateful for the people and the things around us. Think of the ailing patient in a cold, removed hospital room who misses the outdoors. Then imagine the first day out of the hospital. What joy it would be!

And there is yet another sweetening factor here: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” Please realize today and for the rest of our tomorrows what access we have been given after the Ascension and in the power of the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost. We can and must ask God for our needs with the assurance and confidence that the Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus has given us. “Ask and you will receive” is better than all the promises of the world combined! That is why the parting of Christ at the Ascension is such sweet sorrow.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” A.A. Milne

“So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.” Helen Keller

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Gods Of Our Own Making

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 25, 2022

Our First Reading today reveals a remarkable experience that St. Paul had when speaking to the deeply religious Greeks living in Athens at that time: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious.” As we recall, the Greeks had an altar to an unknown or unrecognizable deity, and the brilliant St. Paul utilized this moment in what had to have been a breath-taking moment. He built on their spiritual experience of something beyond their immediate grasp. He began to introduce the wonders and miraculous comfort of our God, who clearly does not want to remain hidden or distant and who has been and will always be patiently awaiting an epiphany on the part of every individual who is looking for truth and meaning their lives: “God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent.”

“But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” These wonderful passages are preparing us for the great Feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost, which are being anticipated by the whole Church in the coming weeks. First, Jesus must physically leave to prepare a place for us. Second, The Holy Spirit must come down upon the Church so that Christians everywhere may fully enter the mystery of grace and salvation at a level of comfort, vision, and understanding. We pray during this time for an infusion of wisdom so that we might comprehend what is happening in our lives and place all those events, good and bad, happy and tragic, onto the backdrop and perspective of our eternal life in Heaven. Allow these days of waiting for Pentecost to make a real impact on your life. It promises to be amazing, even if it is just one small received insight. It could make a huge difference.

“Our society worships gods of our own making. Our culture is saturated with the worship of sports, sex and pleasure. We are busy humanizing God and deifying man. Our idols are not statues of gold and marble; our idols come from the things we love the most. Life does not have to be filled with such emptiness, but we can fill our minds and hearts with the things that bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. Dr.” Billy Graham

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Giving Us What We Desire

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 24, 2022

“Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.'” When we say that we believe in something or someone, that one little phrase speaks volumes. When you or I say that our belief is placed in a person, everything points to complete trust, respect, and love. This is why when we surrender power to people we love, and rightly so, we also risk a terrible plight of being hurt badly. Many of us have heard the statement that “no one can hurt you like the one you love can hurt you.”

“And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation.” This is why the ongoing promise on the part of Jesus for the Holy Spirit, often referred to as the Advocate in several of the passages this month, is how we come to put our trust in Jesus, believing in what He says to do, is of the most remarkable and utmost importance for the salvation of our souls.

And the great news is, unlike people, the Lord will NEVER hurt us. What a relief!

“As we journey through this life – through the easy times and the painful times – God is fashioning us into people who are like his Son, Jesus. That means God is in the process of changing what we desire far more than he is in the process of giving us what we desire.” Charles Stanley

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Lydia’s Legacy

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 23, 2022

“One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.” From time to time, the Scriptures unfold and reveal certain special treasures that make sense to a handful of believers, even more so than to others. Today is one of those days. Although we may not have ever heard of Saint Lydia, she did exist, and in some parts of the Church on the planet, her veneration and memory are still celebrated. The site where she was baptized is marked with a modern Greek Orthodox chapel just outside the NW gate of Roman Philippi in Greece.

“And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.” Although, for most Catholics, praying to Saint Lydia for her intercession to the Lord for us would be very innovative and unique, there is something wonderful and insightful here. What she models for us is not new. In his 1995 Letter to Women, Saint John Paul II wrote, “In this vast domain of service, the Church’s two-thousand-year history, for all its historical conditioning, has truly experienced the ‘genius of woman’; from the heart of the Church there have emerged women of the highest caliber who have left an impressive and beneficial mark in history.” St. Lydia’s genius is instructive and worthy of our consideration for knowing the desires of her heart: She was a businesswoman who lived the virtue of hospitality, a leader of people, and a follower of Jesus Christ. She knew her own heart and followed its inspirations and attractions to the person of Jesus Christ. Let us ask Lydia to guide all women, indeed, all Christians, in their responding sacrificially to the holy desires of their hearts. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home.”

“Pour out upon us, Lord, the spirit of knowledge and love of you, with which you filled your handmaid blessed Lydia, so that, serving you sincerely in imitation of her, we may be pleasing to you by our faith and our works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” Amen.

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Never Alone

person on hill outstretched arms facing sunrise

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 22, 2022

“If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right.” If someone were to ask you what you thought clearly marks the life of a Christian, what do you think you would say? No doubt, some would say that they are people who are nice, friendly, and generous with their time and possessions. Others might also chime in and say that the mark of a Christian is a thirst for God’s Word. Even though answers like these are correct, there is one hallmark that is often forgotten. It is the hallmark of love. Christians should love each other. That means that at every opportunity we approach, especially in the face of evil and hatred, if we truly want to look like a Christian, we must act like one and forgive and love as often as possible.

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” This is why the promise on the part of Jesus for the Holy Spirit, called the Advocate in these passages, is of the most remarkable and utmost importance. You see, without the help of the Holy Spirit, we couldn’t possibly know what it means to forgive and move on with our lives; we would not know what it means to trust and place all of our lives, especially its worries and difficulties at the foot of the cross and know that we are never alone.

“You are never left alone when you are alone with God.” Woodrow Kroll

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I Just Want to be Happy

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 21, 2022

People are always disappointed. Think about the hateful disappointment of those over 2,000 years ago who were expecting their own created version of the Messiah! They expected a revolutionary who would wield such political and military power that anyone associated with him would be called “his friend.” Selfishly, they would then somehow share in that tremendous and overwhelmingly amassed power. It is little wonder why such as these rejected Jesus Christ flat out because, astoundingly, he promoted service as a basis for greatness. He even washed feet and wounds and ate with sinners and outcasts: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Those who rejected Jesus when He first came were steeped in their mistaken ideas about who God promised and how he would save them from their sins. This still happens today as Jesus comes to us every single day of our lives, which calls upon us to set aside any biases or unrealistic expectations and accept the Lord Jesus just as He says He is for the world: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Love Jesus today with all your heart, and then allow that remarkable decision to permeate and affect everything you do and say. Sometimes the human heart needs more time to accept what the mind already knows.

“Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
C. S. Lewis

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To Live As Friends

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 20, 2022

“I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.” Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we each have in this life is that of solid, lasting, and supportive friendship. We often do not think about this treasure in our lives, but it is one that we certainly miss when it is gone. Jesus offers the most remarkable share in His life by calling us His friends and providing us the same comforts and encouragements that come from good friends. And He promises that He is also present in those relationships that bring us closer and closer to Heaven and help build our relationship with Jesus Himself. “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”

The Lord also offers a deeper insight into love and friendship when he states what might have been so obvious beforehand: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The ultimate sacrifice that people make for each other is the utmost extent of a loving commitment of one friend to another. Sometimes that sacrifice is carried out in one singular moment or lived out over many years of life. Nevertheless, friendship in the Lord Jesus is the greatest gift nourished by the Word of the Scriptures and the Bread of Life.

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends.”

Michael W. Smith

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Complete Joy

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 19, 2022

“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” Joy is both a mysterious and complicated matter for some reason. What brings joy to one and not to another? Why do some people avoid being happy while others thrive on it? Perhaps part of the understanding of human nature is revealed within each person who feels and experiences life through their prism of life and love. Each person makes a fundamental decision practically every day of their life as to what will make them happy, sad, angry, or even apathetic. For our purposes in trying to unlock the Scriptures, we could say that joy, like happiness, is a choice and a very important one from the looks of things.

“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” It comes down to this: it all depends on who you listen to. We all know friends and acquaintances that are news aficionados and who have their hands on the pulse of all things newsworthy or not. We know people whose worldview is determined by those few people who occupy their inner circles. And, of course, some seem aimless and lost because they have no one. That is why listening for the voice of Jesus today is critical. What is He saying to you, right here, right now? So much is riding and depends on the answer to this question. If we want complete joy in Christ, we must listen. And we listen, we follow. Then our joy might be complete.

“Prayer is first of all listening to God. It’s openness. God is always speaking; he’s always doing something. Prayer is to enter into that activity… Convert your thoughts into prayer. As we are involved in unceasing thinking, so we are called to unceasing prayer. The difference is not that prayer is thinking about other things, but that prayer is thinking in dialogue,… a conversation with God.” Henri Nouwen

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Remain in Me

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 18, 2022

“Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord; whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.” This is yet another profound and useful image to understand our role and purpose in this life. How often have we asked ourselves or heard others ask about why we are here and our purpose? Sometimes our vision for ourselves falls short of what is going on in our lives. At times our perspective on the world around us becomes bitter, and thus, our actions and words become rude, unkind, and thoughtless with numbing regularity. We mistakenly think there is no good fruit to be found, but the real truth is that we haven’t spent enough quality time with our beautiful and loving God. When we allow ourselves the time to realize how great our God is, we begin to see and bear good fruit. Then and only then does it become much easier to choose gratitude over complaining.

This now brings us to this very telling and provocative warning from the Lord: “Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.” At the heart of the battle for our souls is a real enemy who prowls around seeking someone to devour. Evil will never stop gaining new ground and moving others away from the Lord. This is yet another reason we must be aware of those who just “talk the talk.” “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” We must also realize that we will be able to recognize the true person living in every human being by their fruits. That includes you and me, especially in our day-to-day interaction with our fellow sojourners on this planet toward Heaven, always knowing and trusting that the Lord Jesus will make a great harvest even out of our most humble intentions as long as we remain faithful. Be great today! You may never know what kind of rich harvest you will be planting.

“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” Robert Schuller

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Slow Down Today

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 17, 2022

“And when they arrived, they called the Church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Then they spent no little time with the disciples.” When everything is so clear and lucid at that wonderful moment in life, you just do not want time to end. We might say that time was relative in those special episodes around us. “Time is relative” means the rate of change of time is not the same for every frame of reference. Two people sitting in two other frames of reference can measure different rates of time, i.e., one’s clocks can tick faster than others or vice-versa. When the grace of God surrounds you, time stands still, and everything comes into such clear focus that we just do not ever want to leave that space. But unfortunately, reality knocks relentlessly, and we go back to the grime and gristle of it all. The joy that overwhelmed the disciples in our First Reading understood that very well. They knew and quickly realized that great things take great sacrifices but yield even greater rewards: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” They couldn’t spend enough time listening to all the wonders that God had done for those who never lost trust or faith in Him.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” To find these deep, wonderful moments of clarity, we must slow down. If we think that somehow and somehow, we will finish everything we think we need to accomplish, we will wear ourselves down. This leaves little time to survey and realize how God our God is to us. Try slowing today. You’ll be so glad you did.

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” Saint Francis de Sales

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Looking for Scars

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 16, 2022

“When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form.'” Have you ever wondered why so many seem preoccupied with the movie, sports, and music superstars? Take a look at the raw energy at concerts, movie premieres, award shows, and sports events and notice how crazy people get over these people, who, like Paul and Barnabas in our First Reading, are just human beings like ourselves. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that too many people do not have God in their lives, so they will and have settled for a bunch of little, passing, inconsequential gods. They last for a moment until the next rage appears. So sad!

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” “Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.'” As we have heard in today’s Readings, the only remedy for this obsession with human idols is to be open to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and knowledge. Belief and trust in the Lord Jesus promise that we will have clarity in this life, peace in our hearts, and right judgments, especially when we watch the news of any given number of movies and television shows, not to mention sporting events. Jesus truly loves us and is not looking for fame or good looks but loving Him back in return.

“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.” Elbert Hubbard

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Friendship on Fire

senior man smiling looking at phone in hand

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 15, 2022

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” One day an older gentleman received a call from his fifty-something son, whose relationship was always good but lived far away in another state. It was a brief call only to say that the younger man had been in a larger meeting, and the man sitting next to him had used the same kind of hair gel his dad had used for all these years (when he had hair). He just wanted his dad to know that remembered his father, missed him and loved him with all his heart. Can you imagine how that older man must have felt? What a great and comforting surprise. “He remembers me, still!”

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.” This hope is a little of what it is for those chosen by the Lord to follow Him, which truly includes all of us. This must be the Holy Spirit at great work in the world if it is so personal and yet so universal. The Lord is hungering for our faith while every one of us remains so special and truly close to His Heart. We exist as if there were only one of us in the entire universe. This is what the Holy Spirit does for the one who seeks God in this life.

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we each have in this life is that of solid, lasting, and supportive friendship. We often do not think about this treasure in our lives, but it is one that we certainly miss when it is gone. Jesus offers the most remarkable share in His life by calling us His friends and providing us the same comforts and encouragements as good friends. And He promises that He is also present in those relationships that bring us closer and closer to Heaven and help build our relationship with Jesus Himself. “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”

On this beautiful Sunday, take a moment first to remember all the people in your life whom you have loved and love today. Say a deeply felt prayer for them. Thank God for them. Then, follow your heart. If it is with Jesus, you will not be disappointed.

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” Ann Landers

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St. Matthias: Love In The Time of Christ

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 14, 2022

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Here we have the most awesome and life-changing promise that the Lord offers to us to ensure that we know that He is absolutely and eternally serious about what he intends to provide for us for all time: He promises to make the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves intensely. Do you personally know anyone who would die for you? If you did, would they be able to assure your entrance into Heaven? Only Jesus can do both.

“Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.” Today is also the Feast of St. Matthias, who “replaced” the fallen traitor Judas after the horrible sequence of events after the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Again, we have an example of Christ’s love for His Church by continually stocking and staffing good and solid leaders to shepherd and protect the flock. God never leaves us orphans because we live in the time of Christ until we live with Him forever in Heaven.

“If I am a friend of Jesus, I must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him. It is a difficult thing to do, and thank God that it is. Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. And Jesus says to us, “…I have called you friends….” Remain faithful to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life.” Oswald Chambers

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Sanity In The Face Of Human Injustice

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 13, 2022

“We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our fathers he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” Many continue to comment these days that the world seems to be out of control with no end in sight. Perhaps you know people who are despairing the more they keep watching the news worldwide, which seems so bleak and hopeless. We have people all around us who seem to have no joy left even after the great celebration of Easter! What do you tell someone like that?

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” The only possible response you and I can have is to joyfully and calmly repeat the words that Jesus has for every one of us today. The only real way we can respond to turbulence in our world, communities, and families is to have faith in the One who rose from the dead and continues to give light and promise to all who will listen. Start with yourself. Believe. Trust. Share.

“Do not let your heart become troubled by the sad spectacle of human injustice. Even this has its value in the face of all else. And it is from this that one day you will see the justice of God rising with unfailing triumph.” St. Padre Pio

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Love’s Search for Happiness

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 12, 2022

Imagine the disappointment of those over 2,000 years ago who were expecting their own created version of the Messiah! They expected a revolutionary who would wield such political and military power that anyone associated with him would be called “his friend.” They would then somehow share in that tremendous and overwhelmingly amassed power. It is little wonder why such as these rejected Jesus Christ flat out because, astoundingly, he promoted service as a basis for greatness. He even washed feet and wounds and ate with sinners and outcasts: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

William Shakespeare once wrote, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Although there is much truth in that statement, there perhaps is more that resonates with reality to say that unrealistic expectation is the blueprint for disaster. Those who rejected Jesus when He first came were steeped in their mistaken ideas about who God promised and how he would save them from their sins. This still happens today as Jesus comes to us every single day of our lives, which calls upon us to set aside any biases or unrealistic expectations and accept the Lord Jesus just as He says He is for the world: “From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.” Love Jesus today with all your heart, and then allow that remarkable decision to permeate and affect everything you do and say from now on. Sometimes the human heart needs more time to accept what the mind already knows.

“Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” C. S. Lewis

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Turn On Your Truth Light

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 11, 2022

“I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” This clear and awesome self-description from Jesus in the Gospel today speaks more than just volumes for us to ponder. It calls out throughout the centuries for a deep and true response to reality whom we follow, whom we love. How is He the light? We immediately realize that this question would automatically posture and position our conversation that could easily drift into philosophy or history, or even politics. Light, by its very definition, illumines reality. It helps us see clearer and thus walk in a way that moves us toward fulfillment, happiness, and holiness. Let us recall the words of Christ who makes it crystal clear: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.”

We encounter people in our lives, some who add to the joy and peace that is ours and those who attempt to rob us of that light that we take so long and with great effort to maintain. Do we surrender power to people who will use it to destroy us? Jesus saves us from precisely such horrible pitfalls and mental traps. Think of all the conversations you had yesterday, and then think of all the ones you will have. How many of them will be about important, eternal matters? Some people feel very uncomfortable and awkward talking about their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. However, everything true will speak for itself, and we are just its servants. No matter how educated, talented, rich, or “cool” any of us believe that we are, how we treat people ultimately tells everything anyone ever needs to know about who we are versus who we say we are. Go into today and travel into your world armed with what you know is good, sound, and holy!

“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” St. Augustine

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The Suspense Is Filling Me

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 10, 2022

“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?” In the discipline of literature and creative writing, suspense is the element of both fiction and nonfiction that makes the reader uncertain about the outcome. As an emotional response, being in suspense could be good or not, depending on how sure we are of the outcome of any given situation. “And a large number of people was added to the Lord.” Humanity has always been in suspense about one thing or another. Perhaps the great number of people who turned their lives over to the Lord Jesus suggests strongly that they knew something better was waiting for them, and they found it all in Jesus. In this regard, the suspense kept the mind and heart open to find the true and lasting answers to life and love and eternity.

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” A very old and equally wise saying boldly states, “tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.” It means that we often surround ourselves with the voices of those we tend to agree with and trust, making all the difference in the world. If we associate and fill our minds and hearts with meaningless passing things, it will be no wonder why we sense a vague, empty relationship with God and others. Who we listen to and what we watch will shape our very approach to life now, here on earth, and later in Heaven. Perhaps we don’t have the patience to wait on what God wants to say to us. A little suspense can reveal wondrous things about the world and grace and our place on the way back to God. Spend some time today and just listen. Endure the suspense.

“Even cowards can endure hardship; only the brave can endure suspense.” Mignon McLaughlin

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Climbing the Mountain of Life

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 9, 2022

George Mallory was the famed mountain climber who may have been the first person ever to reach the top of Mount Everest. In the early 1920’s he led several attempts to scale the mountain, eventually being killed in the third attempt in 1924. Before that last and fatal attempt, he had said: “I can’t see myself coming down defeated.” Mallory was an extraordinary climber, and nothing would force him to give up. His body was found in 1999, well preserved by the snow and ice, 27,000 feet up the mountain, just 2000 feet from the peak. He never gave up nor looked for the easy way to the top. In that same year, a banquet was held for the team that accompanied George Mallory. A huge picture of Mt. Everest stood behind the banquet table. It is said that the leader of the group stood to be applauded and with tears streaming down his face, turned and looked at the picture:

“I speak to you, Mt. Everest, in the name of all brave men living and those yet unborn. Mt Everest, you defeated us once; you defeated us twice; you defeated us three times. But Mt. Everest, we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger but we can.” In 1953 two climbers, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzig Norgay, reached the top.

“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” Today, Jesus invites us with perfect clarity to enter through the narrow gate. This gate path could mean following the Lord Jesus when it is convenient or inconvenient. It could mean doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Entering and climbing through the narrow gate means following Christ, not just sometimes or partway, but completely. It means we persevere and sacrifice and surrender even how we think things should unfold, even in the face of disappointments and sadness. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

God never said that the climb up the mountain of life would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worth everything.

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What’s My Assignment?

golden gates of heaven

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 8, 2022

“So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” One of the great gifts we can collect from the Easter mystery is a profound ability to tell the difference between good and evil; even in the most simple day-to-day experiences. More specifically, the joy of Easter lets us remove the weight we tend to place on very petty matters that rob us of the joys of living.

“For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Easter must be the time of our lives! If we could catch a mere glimpse of what Heaven would be like, we could hardly let anything annoy or upset us. And yet, in the course of things, we surrender power and attention to the wrong things.

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” This still happens today, especially with the amount of anxiety and restlessness in the world, especially these past two years with the outbreak of COVID-19. The task for all of us is clear. We must listen. We must attempt with all our might to recognize the Lord’s voice and heart in this troubled world, and with the divinely-inspired help of the Scriptures, the suspense of the future can and should and is resolved in the hearts of those who love Christ first, then all who have been placed alongside us on this earthly journey of ours. It takes true courage inspired by the Holy Spirit to even imagine a greater and fuller existence in anticipation of our life in Heaven. Yet, this adds color and suspense to life, making us believe that the best is always yet to come. And so it is.

“Every day, we have to ask God for our assignment, we must not assume we understand His plan but rather surrender to His will daily.” E’yen A. Gardner

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Easter Eggs of Peace

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 7, 2022

“The Church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.” Are you at peace today? Why or why not? These questions are sincerely important because of who we are: Christians, that is, people who believe in and follow The Lord Jesus, risen from the tomb. People in our lives who do not have any faith or wonder why we have ours will certainly be looking to us to see how we handle every kind of life situation, especially disappointment, tragedy, and bad treatment. What they may be searching keenly in us is a profound sense of gratitude: “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” This thankful-for-living attitude can make all the difference in the world, not only in the way we live our daily lives with family and friends but also in how we subtly impact the lives of all those around us who are also searching for meaning in their own lives.

“It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” This openly optimistic and encouraging attitude has more to do with the grace and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives than it does with just simple cognitive shifts in our personality. It has everything to do with believing that Jesus accomplished everything He said and promised He would do. This is highly crucial for us. We have been so immeasurably blessed that the only response for us today is to be a blessing to others. Loved people love people, and freed people lead others to freedom.

“The Easter eggs symbolize our ability to break out of the hardened, protective shell we’ve surrounded ourselves with that limits our thoughts and beliefs. As we break open our hearts and minds we discover a transformation to a new life enhancing thoughts and beliefs.” Siobhan Shaw

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The Heart of the Matter

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

– Kate McGahan

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 6, 2022

“‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ He said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.'” There is a very telling and interesting detail in our Scriptural Readings today. It concerns the very nature of the question that Jesus asks Saul, later the great St. Paul, as to his previously recklessness and heartless persecution of the early Christian Church. Keep in mind that he has been rounding up all those following the “New Way” of the Lord and imprisoning most of them for their beliefs. But notice what Jesus asks him: “why are you persecuting me?” What inescapable conclusion can we draw from this telling detail? Jesus is equating the Church with his very person, His own body. His new creation of the Church has everything to do with a deep and lasting, wonderfully engaging personal relationship with Himself. What a joy it is to discover that in prayer today!

The effect of this real joy is what we do with the knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. We share! This can and does bring life to others in a very broken world in which we live. “Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” If we came across someone in our homes or places of schooling or work literally in obvious distress, our first reaction would be to do something positive and proactive. How much more does that matter when we know that someone needs to hear of God’s great and marvelous love for us? This is precisely how we can help Jesus and the community of believers. Be a friend to someone in need. It is just too easy to dismiss people who are not like us or perhaps do not like us! How can you be a blessing for that certain someone today? And even though we cannot expect anyone to change just because we forgive them, it is the change in our hearts and within all our attitudes that we are after. Our prayer reveals that Easter means a new life for all. Imagine all the possibilities!

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is a daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” Mahatma Gandhi

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