The Word of God

The Test Of Obedience

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 24, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.” 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 we are enduring a personal and spiritual test, we grow in 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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The Daily Test On The Ten Commandments

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 23, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“In those days: God delivered all these commandments.” There is probably no other document as famous and historically significant as the Ten Commandments. They have helped shape not only the character of the early Jewish people but also all Christians today. God helps us in many different ways to live a moral life and gives us grace, which awakens us the desire to say no to temptation and sin and 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. One way he does this is 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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Mary Magdalene’s Test

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 22, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Throughout the Gospels nestled within the New Testament, we find various examples of the kind of relationships which Jesus gifted a number of people, including His Mother Mary. If we could say that there are dramatic examples, we could certainly point to the deep and remarkable friendship the Lord had with Mary Magdalene that was essentially coupled with her lasting conversion to the Word. All of life changed substantially for her as she began to live no longer for herself but others. As her Feast Day, today suggests, she embodied the refrain from the Responsorial Psalm: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

“And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.'” But the most profound experience of conversion happened within the context of death and hope. Like so many others after the trauma of watching Jesus executed on the cross, Mary Magdalene was left breathless, speechless, and yes, even hopeless. And here we find perhaps the most difficult of all spiritual tests that we must endure as we follow Jesus from the tomb to everlasting life. It is an ongoing test leading up to the final exam when we are set to meet the Lord face to face.

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars. The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” Fyodor Dostoevsky

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We Always Have A Choice

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 21, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.” Some researchers have discovered that the average person makes up to over 200 different food choices every day. This would include the types of foods, the time it is eaten, and the company’s places. With so many opportunities to nourish ourselves physically, is it no wonder that there are equally as many –if not more- opportunities to feed our souls? The answer is an astounding YES!

“But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” One of the more elusive tests that we must endure in this earthly pilgrimage is that of selecting thoughts and ideas that we allow to take up space in our lives. We eventually become the result of all the choices we make. When we choose God, we choose life, not just a level of peace and understanding in this earthly life but also a great shot at eternity.

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control the way you think about all the events. You always have a choice. You can choose to face them with a positive mental attitude.” Roy T. Bennett

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When We Feel Powerless

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 20, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians.” One of the most difficult experiences one can face is that of powerlessness. Nothing feels quite as bad as having little or no control over situations that merit or deserve some direction on our part. At the same time, there may be very little over which we have complete control, such as sickness, disappointments, and death. Perhaps the Lord is preparing us slowly for these situations by the little moments of inconvenience. When the Lord save the Chosen People from the slavery of the Egyptians, their powerlessness evaporated as they placed all their hope in Him and His servant, Moses.

“Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Our true and lasting power comes from the belonging we have of being part of God’s trusted and beloved family. Jesus makes that promise real and everlasting, not only with His words but also and most specifically with his supreme sacrifice upon the cross. When we feel powerless, let us remember that power is, in fact, an illusion, and the only real thing over which we have control is our relationship with God. Do something great for God today!

“When you pray, God listens. When you listen, God talks. When you believe, God works.” – Unknown

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Trusting The Future

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 19, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“Tell the children of Israel to go forward. And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea, split the sea in two, that the children of Israel may pass through it on dry land.” The Scriptures are full of examples of the literally 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 totally useless and even harmful to our souls and those around us. Imagine the scene of the Israelites standing in front of the mighty Red Sea and being told that they were about to walk through it! No doubt some among them 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 “river-marchers” 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 Tools Of God

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 18, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock.” Here comes a test that may even be worthy of a final exam. What happens when the ones you trust and those entrusted to take care of you fail miserably? This happens on several different levels but make no mistake; it does and will occur. (Perhaps for some of our readers, it already has.) Someone or something will no doubt severely disappoint us. A hard test, wouldn’t you say?

“He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Based on the beautiful Scriptures we have today, there is a great way to pass this terrible personal exam of sorts and is found in the Gospel. Jesus came precisely for all of us who would face all kinds of disappointments, and for that real reason, He gave us access to the Holy Spirit and all things heavenly. Let us thank God for this gift and sit down and pass this awesome test!

“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.” Paulo Coelho

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Facing Death Calmly

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 17, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

This was a night of vigil for the LORD, as he led them out of the land of Egypt.
Today on this wonderful Summer Saturday of July, we encounter what is perhaps one of the most– if not the most difficult –of all tests for which to prepare: Death. Following Jesus teaches us all not only how to live but also how to die: with courage and faith. The slavery of the Israelites in Egypt is like a symbol of life itself and being set free to enter the Promised Land, so much akin to being set free from the shackles of his life to live forever with Him in Heaven, our true Promised Land.

The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
Jesus knew first hand what it meant to face death. He did it with such love laced with courage and total self-giving to the Father’s will that all of us would be saved and have a safe home forever in Heaven. One thing is for sure. We will all face the end. Our choice this very day is to make sure that we live with Christ so that we might meet that night together, awaiting the morning of a glorious Resurrection.

“Facing death calmly is praiseworthy only if one faces it alone. Death together is no longer death, even for unbelievers. The source of sorrows lies not in leaving life, but in leaving that which gives it meaning. When love is our whole life, what difference is there between living together and dying together?” Raymond Radiguet

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Passing The Passover Test

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 16, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“It is the Passover of the LORD…Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.” There are certainly days in the life of every Christian that life feels particularly hard and burdensome. Unfortunately, for some more than others, these last a little longer. We wonder where God is or why He seems to have abandoned us. This kind of test is very difficult because it is dark. That is why we must remember the promise that was made to us sealed by the blood of the lamb in the Old Testament and the blood of Jesus (Lamb of God) in the New; this is what we know as Passover.

“If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.” In many ways, some of the toughest tests we will ever have to endure in this life are practically impossible to pass —on our own, which is precisely why God the Father rescued the Chosen People, preparing the way for the magnificent redemptive act of the suffering, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ His Son. When we fully grasp and incorporate what Jesus did for me on a universal level and spend my life working to make that real in every instance and circumstance in my personal life, we will find such peace and clarity that we would or could never be the same again.

“Freedom is within our grasp, and Passover reminds us that we need to reach.” Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson

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Never Alone

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 15, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“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 that 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 a myriad of uses and presentations. However, a yoke, as is mentioned in the Gospel today, is a very large piece of word or even a metal composition that is 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.

“This is my name forever; this is my title for all generations.” 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 own 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 absolutely necessary if we are going to make it to Heaven. You see, when we put our problems in His hands, He puts peace in our hearts. This is a test that you pray before, during, and after!

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

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When We Cannot Understand Why

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 14, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.” Imagine for just a second that you are Moses. You come across a burning bush in your backyard. No one is going to believe you, but there it is right in front of you. What do you do with this kind of experience? Realistically, the great majority of us will not experience anything like that, thankfully. However, many things happen to us for which we have no explanation. “Why do these things happen to me?,” we sometimes ask ourselves. Perhaps the inexplicable and mind-boggling things that outrun our understanding could be a test of some sort. But of what?

“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.” This is how we pass this test: trust. Simple, childlike trust in the way God has things ordered in our lives. This is not easy, especially for those among us who need to have answers yesterday. Much of the benefits of passing this type of spiritual testing is patience which we could always use. Pray today not to understand everything, but to trust the One who everything “in HIS HANDS.”

“When we don’t understand and don’t agree with the way life has gone, we are to bow before God and once again confess that we can’t understand His wisdom. In faith, we are to accept His wisdom, His Word, and His workings, trusting in Him and obeying His commands.” Elizabeth George

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Testing In The Midst Of Enemies

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 13, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Another one of the examples of “being put to the test,” is how we deal with issues of guilt and shame. Sometimes, these are merited or deserved, while others are not. It all depends on the situation. In the Old Testament, Moses was indeed “found out” and began his self-inflicted exile, riddled with guilt and shame. Many, if not all of our readers can certainly relate to these situations where our guilt blinds us and, yes, tests our resolve to live happy lives.

“Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.” Make no mistake about following Jesus: when He promises He will free us from guilt and shame, He means it, taking His message to the Cross and Heaven. The problem lies in our unbelief. How can we hold on to the yolk of unrepentant living and still live in misery? The resounding answer is “not very well.” Let us consider the trials and errors of making mistakes, either intentionally or unintentionally, and decide today, while it is still today, to accept what guilt can teach us but never stay there. This could be the start of something wonderful!

“I’m just going to say it: I’m pro-guilt. Guilt is good. Guilt helps us stay on track because it’s about our behavior. It occurs when we compare something we’ve done – or failed to do – with our values.” Brené Brown

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Testing In The Midst Of Enemies

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 12, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“The Egyptians, then, dreaded the children of Israel and reduced them to cruel slavery, making life bitter for them with hard work in mortar and brick and all kinds of field work—the whole cruel fate of slaves.” One of the greatest tests we endure in this life is found at the hands of those who hate us. Some of us are fortunate that we do not have active enemies trying to undo our life’s work and make every step miserable. Still, we all, without exception, have some sort of enemy, even if it is internal self-pity, fear, or needless worry.

“…and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Here is the center of our reflection today: we cannot avoid suffering in this life, nor should we even attempt to try. The only avenue we have open to us is to see our cross as a “gift” from Jesus that will indeed make us stronger, more faithful, and yes, more loving. At the heart of the matter is that when it is all said and done, and we come to our last hour on earth, we might even give God thanks and praise for those who caused us discomfort, for we have passed the test!

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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A Test For Insecurity

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 11, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” Another one of the tests that we followers of Jesus experience, some more than others, is insecurity about our place and mission here on earth. Many doubt us, and the world  does not make it any easier to find our true place and purpose in this life. But focusing on God’s Word in the Scriptures and our prayer life, clarity will be more ours and to a greater degree.

“In him, we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.” When we can stay true to ourselves despite any attempts to change ourselves, we’ve accomplished something great. We simply should not change who we are just because someone else wants us to. It’ll cause intense insecurities when you do this, whereas staying true to the person God sees and has created will allow us to feel secure.

“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” Sometimes we surround ourselves with very negative and critical voices that do not or cannot have our best interest in mind. “Tell me who your friends are,” says an old saying, “and I’ll tell you who you are.” When we find that we have lost our way and are confused about our vocation in this life, we can recollect the kinds of voices that we are entertaining. Maybe it is time to shake the dust from our feet and begin anew. What does God want from me? Have I  asked Him lately for help? Now is the time.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you change yourself, you’ve accomplished something great. Don’t change who you are just because someone else wants you to. When you do this, it’ll cause intense insecurities, whereas staying true to yourself will allow you to feel secure.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Outlook And Outcome

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 10, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.” One of the more obvious reasons that God tests us is the result. Nothing succeeds like success. Throughout our long historical and universal relationship with Him as a human race, the Lord God 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 first hand 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, yes, 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 are willing to wait because of Jesus. 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 9, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“And Israel said to Joseph, ‘At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive.'” 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. Here we have a Father mourning his son who believed he was still alive, out there, somewhere. And while the father was tested, the son was also put to the test of forgiveness. Both passed, and both were to be able to present a noble life at the end.

“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 at 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, and 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 Test Of Forgiveness

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 8, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.” Remembering the context of this marvelous and dramatic scene, we come to the very moment when Joseph forgave his brothers for what they did to him years before. We could say that in many ways that this is also a test. You see, it is one thing to “say” that we will forgive or even that we “want” to do so, but when it 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 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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The Best Form Of Love

Reflection for Mass Reading on July 7, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“But turning away from them, he wept.” Our First Reading, today from the Old Testament, is truly moving. Remember the context: Joseph’s brothers left him for dead, intent on having some wild animal devour him or allow him to starve to death at the bottom of a well. Can you or anyone else try to imagine what we have done in a similar situation? for some of us, the real question would sound like: “what DID we do?” We have come across an example of a test of forgiveness. “But see, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness.”

“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 just 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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The Nerve!

Reflection for Mass Reading on July 6, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” Sometimes we experience tests and trials that often appear as remarkable and notable conflicts. Today we have been treated to an amazing and timeless wrestling match that still is fought at this very hour. “When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled.” Through the night and the wound to his sciatic nerve, Jacob’s wrestling match represents all the battles of our lives, beginning with the biggest battle of them all – between the material and the spiritual, what is of below and what is above. It is the perennial struggle between light and darkness, good and evil. The Lord teaches us that in every struggle, every test, every trial, we are powerful and can overcome evil forces and urges if we so desire.

“Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘Because I have seen God face to face,’ he said.” 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. “In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.” These are when we feel that 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.” We, therefore, have to acknowledge this weak spot, this exposed nerve, by recognizing and remembering Jacob’s wound 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 ourselves stronger. Jacob 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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Courage And Faith: Marriage Made In Heaven

Reflection for Mass Reading on July 5, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.” One of the more profoundly difficult tests we Christians must face is that of feeling abandoned. While these are extremely heavy moments in life, there are already remedies in place due to the love God has for us and the love He has placed deep within our hearts. However, the overwhelming problem is knowing what to do when we find ourselves right in the middle of internal storms where we feel God has forgotten us. Panic has a way of robbing us of clarity, especially when we truly need it.

She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.” Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” The Gospel of today certainly sheds light on this through the eyes of those who reach out to Jesus with part desperation, exasperation, and yes, even hope. Look at the words again: Have courage, faith saves. If we are to pass the tests of disappointment and abandonment, we will find the answers there. Even if you do not find yourself in these fields today, pray that you may be ready when they appear. Better to have courage in faith than fear in the darkness. Perhaps that is why we are tested: to build us up to be faithful in the Lord.

God is a promise keeper especially in times of hardship:
He brings comfort in times of mourning.
He wipes tears in times of weeping.
He brings laughter in times of sadness.
He brings joy in times of anxiety attacks.
He brings provision in times of lack.
He brings peace in times of distraction.
He brings healing in times of illness.
He brings solutions in times of trouble.
The list goes on and His promises are ‘Yes and Amen.”

Euginia Herlihy

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The Right Frame of Mind

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 4, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.” Before taking any test, we must be in the right frame of mind. When it comes to the test in our spiritual lives, nothing is more important than to accept with an open heart what has been placed in front of us. This situation in our First Reading is disastrous because of the posturing that the Israelites had taken. Humility was lacking. This is why St. Paul was crystal clear about his posturing as a model for us: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

“So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” In the Gospel passage, it looks like the people described as miserable failed the test placed before them. The result was equally disastrous as it was in our Old Testament Reading. No faith, no miracles, no healing. The lesson seems clear enough: when we overstep our relationship with the Lord either by trying to “play God” or reduce faith by arrogant grabs for wisdom and insight, nobody wins. Thank God we have a God who loves us and is always ready to forgive. Here is yet another insight as to why we are tested. How else could we receive any miracle or healing? Walk into your test with faith, leave with deep and lasting joy.

“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Theodor Seuss Geisel

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The Test Of Thomas

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 3, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.” On this First Saturday of our new month of July, we are graced with the Scriptures for today and the weekend of rest (for most of us), and the Feastday of the Great Apostle Thomas. He shows us how to live as citizens of the Kingdom and family members of God’s home. Certainly, we can say that he faced a test of his faith as well. The Gospel sheds more light on this as well.

“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.'” A young father often spoke about a trip he took with his little boy, who was just 2 1/2 years old at the time. It was the first time the father and the boy had been away by themselves, just the two of them. The first night they spent in a hotel, the father moved his bed close to the little boy’s, and when they were both tucked in, he turned out the light. After a few minutes, a little voice said: “It sure is dark isn’t it?” “Yes,” said the father, “it’s it’s pretty dark but everything is going to be alright.” There was silence for a few more minutes, and then a little hand reached over and took his father’s hand. “I’ll just hold your hand,” said the little boy, “in case you get scared.”

Do we ever doubt the Lord Jesus like Thomas? I am sure we do. However, even though this Apostle earned a negative label, he did not lack other outstanding virtues such as great courage and loyalty. The need and want for proof of our faith in Christ is directly proportional to the level and depth of our spiritual life. Although the Scriptures today portray good St. Thomas as a skeptic, he never stayed there in doubt. He still wanted to see. He persisted in knowing. And then, after a lifetime of experience and spreading the faith and preaching the Gospel, he did pass his test and felt the wounds of Christ in his own body by glorifying God with a martyr’s death: “Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!'”

So how do we pass the test of doubting our Jesus? First, we must return solidly to God in prayer when experiencing any threat, large or small, to our beliefs. Second, we must recognize that we who want to follow Christ actually and daily are involved with a spiritual battle. We can never take anything or anyone for granted. Finally, we must take His hand. This means a total and life-changing trust in the One who has died for me and can not wait to see me in Heaven. Of this, I have no doubt.

“Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.” Thomas S. Monson

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The Price Of Joy

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 2, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“In his love for her, Isaac found solace after the death of his mother Sarah.” Some of the most inspiring opportunities of remarkable growth come when we are grieving. And yet, there are so many among us who despise these moments and become angry, saddened, or even despairing. While these are the normal phases or stages of grief, we simply can not remain there too long lest we lose sight of the battle or journey of life. Grief can be a test as long as we do not make a lifestyle.

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Here again, we have words of comfort and wisdom when we face the tests of life. God calls us to a deeper walk with Him every single day. Sometimes that takes the form of grief, and sometimes it is just the plain tiresome pace of life we encounter. No matter what form it takes, we are tested because that is the price of joy, and if we want wisdom, we welcome this particular kind of test. Rejoice today: He has called you!

From dark clouds we get precious water. From dark mines we get valuable jewels. And from our darkest tests come our finest blessings from God.” – Unknown

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Test Time

Reflection on Mass Reading for July 1, 2021

Theme for July 2021: Why Does God Test Me?

“God put Abraham to the test.” In God’s loving care for all of us, He has willed that we hear/read this first phrase out of the Old Testament Scriptures to begin this brand new month of July. Knowing that for us who believe that God is indeed alive and involved with our lives, this is no accident. Perhaps there are some among our readership who are currently struggling with issues and have asked the question, “Why does God test me?” Perhaps there are those among us who have struggled and still have questions. And maybe, just maybe, there will be a test of our faith looming in the not-so-distant future. Whatever the case, we will begin this special set of Reflections addressing, praying over, and asking God for insight and wisdom concerning the tests of our lives. With that, we certainly invoke the words of the Psalm as well: “I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.”

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.'” As we move to the words of the Gospel of our first day of July, we are struck again by the opening phrase that should make us joyful. It was when Jesus saw faith that it was time for a miracle. What an amazing gift that is for us today! Let us start this month with faith AND courage. Pray for both, receive both, celebrate both!

So it begins.

“Everything that comes to us is a blessing or a test. That’s all you need to know in this life, just the certainty that God’s got His eye on you, that He knows what you are made of, what you need to grow. Asking “Why?” is pointless. He will show you your path in His own good time. And long as I remember that, I’m fine.” Dorothy Allison

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From Here To Eternity

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 30, 2021

“When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.” This passage is especially interesting because the Gadara was a pagan-infested area east of the sea of Galilee where evil had its way with the people. This was because God was not mentioned, worshipped, or loved. Let’s not miss the interesting detail that they were coming from the graveyard (tombs). What on earth were they doing there? The ancient world believed that the air was thickly populated with evil spirits that sought entry into everyone. Often they did enter through food or drink. All illness was caused by them. 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, of dumbness, of fever; spirits which took a man’s sanity and wits away; spirits of lying and of deceit and of 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 each and every one of us: every day is a challenge and struggle to live this life and walk this walk. Keep in mind as a result of 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 indeed be swallowed up in despair. We also learn from this passage that the envious and godless people in this world are actually 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 of 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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Shaking Free

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 29, 2021

“I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.” Without a doubt, the beautiful Scripture passages today speak directly about the notion of rescue and God’s hand in this wonderful redemptive activity: It should not be of any surprise that the Lord seeks and wants to heal us all. Gold, silver, money, and riches do not have the power to bring our lives to a level of complete trust and understanding as we near the Promised Land of Heaven.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.'” Today we celebrate the great Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul 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 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 inpatient civility. Let us today, with this great commemoration of Peter and Paul, 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.

“When someone would mistreat, misinform, misuse, misguide, mishandle, mislead… or any other “mis”… to others, they’re obviously missing something from their lives.” Donald L. Hicks

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Excuses, Excuses

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 28, 2021

“‘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.'” Today, the beautiful Scriptures 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 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 are making either consciously or unconsciously in answering our call to follow Jesus.

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 we do not pray: We think we do not have the time or that it is important, and we believe 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.

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

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Greatness Awaits

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 27, 2021

“God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” On this very first Monday of our new month, we are greeted by this most heart-lifting message about life. Our God wants us to live and breathe and have our being solely and completely in Him. In a world where there is so much destruction and death, this message is certainly wonderfully needed and appreciated by those of us who want to seek life and love in this world. We also believe that we have all been espoused, that is, totally loved and accepted as we have been reminded through the Scriptures practically throughout the previous month and even today: “For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” This truly is an amazing concept and the most excellent way to begin a brand new month this week: God loves us all so much that he wants to move into the closest spiritually intimate relationship that could ever exist. How often have we experienced sometimes lonely bouts of sadness and feelings of rejection? All these Jesus has faced and conquered, and we are the direct beneficiaries of His victories. This is why the best news we have today is that we worship a God who loves us and is the source of all life and love that flows through our veins and breathes through our lungs.

“Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.” What we have been gifted today is yet another glimpse into the mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus, that is, the Word Made Flesh. God became one of us so that all the misery and suffering we endure would be sacrificed and taken up into His being and then redeemed. We have been set free, but even that gift of freedom must be fully and freely accepted and lived. Without freedom, we could never appreciate or understand the powerful opportunity that we have right here in front of us. We have two remarkable examples of the power of miraculous love that was showered upon a little girl who had died and a woman who had been suffering horribly with a twelve-year hemorrhage. Both of these examples show us very important aspects of following Jesus: “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you,” and “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”

Interestingly enough, they are quite related; that is to say, the more fear we allow, the less faith we experience, and consequently, the more faith we grow the less fear fills our days and nights as we witnessed in the deep trust the woman in the Gospel displayed. With just a little faith, miracles can begin to appear everywhere we look. Let us start today remembering that there truly is not enough space in our souls for both worry and faith. We must decide which one will occupy our space.

“Doubt and delay are evidence of a disconnection from faith and courage. Do not doubt that you can be a person of greatness, nor delay the acts of strength and love that will prove it.” Brendon Burchard

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Under My Roof

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 26, 2021

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Here on the last Saturday of the month, we are greeted and challenged by this very familiar phrase from the Scriptures, which are recalled during the Sacrifice of the Mass right before the Body and Blood of Christ are to be received. The term “under my roof” refers primarily to the authority one is called to acknowledge and respect when living or even visiting someone else’s home or abode. At the core of all courtesies known to us is the deference and dignity we show to those whose homes we enter, that is, while we are “under their roof.” What is at issue for us today is that of authority or, in other words, the power to achieve something great.

“And Jesus said to the centurion, ‘You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.’ And at that very hour his servant was healed.” We have witnessed something great happen as the Gospel continues: a miracle! Perhaps we could say that the centurion told Jesus that He did not have to come under his roof, but rather, the centurion had to submit and believe and trust by living in the Kingdom, virtually, under God’s roof. When each of us lives our lives so completely in trust in the wonderful grace that God provides, with the ultimate assurance that all is well and all will be well, we, too, will have our miracle right under our roof.

“God will always give us more than we deserve.” St. Padre Pio

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Leave The World Happier

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 25, 2021

“I do will it. Be made clean.” As we continue on our spiritual journey toward our final goal of Heaven, we encounter challenges, problems, and serious issues that befall us along the way. One of the very obvious hurdles we face is illness and sickness, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. As we review and reflect on the wonderful Scriptures for today, we realize that not only do we want peace and health in this life, Our Lord Jesus wants the very same thing for us. He wants us to praise Him with all our heart and mind, and soul intact, and that means a constant approach to praying for and seeking healing in our lives and the lives of those around us. “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”

Make every effort throughout this day and week, ensuring that our heart is pure, our motives are upright, and our intentions are good and forgiving. “Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” In this very positive way of living, we become co-workers of the Gospel with each other and remarkable close friends with Jesus. This is what He asks of us today, and we are given all the grace we need to fulfill it. Let’s see what this day brings for us and others. Remember, some people bring joy wherever they go and some whenever they go.

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” St. Teresa of Calcutta

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I Must Decrease

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 24, 2021

Today is a very special day on several different levels. Let’s begin our journey through this little mystery that presents itself: First, if your name is John, Johnny, Ian, John, Jane, Janis, Jean, Joann, you can claim a Feast Day. If you get a free lunch or a cake or something special, please let me know: maybe we can start a trend and a tradition! Currently, by some accounts, the name “John” and its derivatives comprise anywhere from 25-33% of the world’s names. Wow!

Second, let’s look at the meteorological information we have to date—specifically the June and December Solstice. Without launching into a Weather Channel presentation, the bottom line is this: After today, more or less, the days start getting shorter, and after December 24, they are prolonged. Today is the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, and December 24, well, everyone knows it is Christmas Eve. The days are decreasing, while in December, they will start to increase.

Third and most importantly, we place all this together: Today for each and everyone one of us, who, safe to say, knows at least one or two people whose name is John or derived from that name, that Jesus must increase in our lives and I, you and me, we must decrease.

For spiritual help and assistance with this very tall order, let us take another look at the Litany of Humility that we have shared before. It is called the Litany of Humility. Pray this slowly and see what happens.
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others…Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised…Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected …Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
others may increase and I may decrease …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything…Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

He Must Increase

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What’s In Your Tree?

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 23, 2021

“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.” 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 what exactly our purpose is? 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 that 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 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.

This now brings us to this very telling and provocative warning from the Lord: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.” At the heart of the battle for our souls is a real enemy who prowls around seeking someone to devour. Evil will never stop to gain new ground and move others away from the Lord. This is yet another reason why we must be aware of those who just “talk the talk.” “By their fruits you will know them.” We must also realize that we will 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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Pearls And Pigs

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 22, 2021

“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.” Again we have yet another very familiar biblical reference familiar to most people even when repeated even in polite conversation. This passage from the Gospel is generally interpreted as a warning by Jesus to his disciples, including all of us, that we should not offer biblical doctrine to those who are unable to value and appreciate it. This is also very 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 Gospel’s message and, by extension, the messengers/evangelists of the Good News. We are not to expose the elements of our faith in Jesus Christ to those who have no other purpose than to trample it and return to their evil ways.

“He who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue.” However, this pointed command was never intended to keep us from being salt of the earth and light of the world. We must remember that Jesus Himself ate with and taught sinners and tax collectors and those whom society regarded as outcasts and even dirty. We are always ready to share our faith, but when it becomes apparent that we and our message are not welcome, we are simply moving on. It is also appropriate to put it this way: we 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 handling rejection was simply to move on to those who are 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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Looking For Beams And Splinters

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 21, 2021

“You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Today we are being treated with a very famous morsel of Scripture quotes which most people have heard even if they have never read anything else in the Bible. Perhaps much of its popularity is due partly to the overall experience that everyone has with this issue. We could ask ourselves, what is truly the problem with hypocrisy? When someone condemns the sinful behavior of others then engages in the very same behavior, we seem to lose it, or at least, some of the time. It is objectionable to realize that someone is not practicing what they are preaching but goes much deeper than that: a hypocrite is trying to convince us that they are more holy, righteous, and moral than others. This is what makes it so hateful.

“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Among the many profound spiritual lessons that can be discovered as a result of the virus pandemic and other life challenges is the call on all of us to valiantly struggle against this tendency to assume that our worldview, often very limited, is the only unbiased, open-minded and uncolored norm of judgment, that only we possess clear, unhampered sight. In other words, thinking and acting as if we are the “doctor” in the hospital of life and everybody else is the “patient.” This sickness, affecting the soul much like the actual COVID-19 weakens and destroys the lungs, can be cured only by putting on the mind and heart of Jesus Christ; by seeing my brothers and sisters through His eyes which always radiate love and forgiveness. You and I are called to beg every day to adapt 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 noted. We will be able to 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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Looking Back And Backwards

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 20, 2021

“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” We have all known people, perhaps offering our very lives as an example as well, of those who leave a sinful way of life behind but still are tempted to return or even if by reminiscing on “good old days” when sinful living was full of harmful pleasures, but pleasurable, nonetheless. Perhaps the problem is an obsession with the past, even though it is so misleading. It also seems that many people, maybe ourselves included, leave the present precious moment because of its obvious challenges and problems and “rewrite” history to make it seem so much better than what we have today. Looking back with regret is dangerous in and of itself, but looking back at a past that should be left there is even more so. It can lead to far worse consequences than the darkness and sinful webs woven in the first place.

“He said to them, ‘Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?’ Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.” The Gospel gives us all the very reason and opens up the heart of the matter as to why looking back to the evil past can never be a good thing. The beautiful story points to the One who has defeated evil and darkness and remains as the only solution to all of life’s problems here and later. Jesus can calm all the storms of our existence, emphasizing the need not look back at problems but to look always forward to the solution found in our undying faith in Christ.

“I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward. I’m not the one to sort of sit and cry over spilt milk. I’m too busy looking for the next cow.” Gordon Ramsay

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Two Masters, One Headache

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 19, 2021

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” Conflict is certainly part of life, but an excessive amount is never good for the soul. 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 frantic 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.

Perhaps some of our readers and followers find themselves at a point in their spiritual lives where they know they want to grow deeper and with more integrity. Still, there is weakness in the human condition, and often we can commiserate with St. Paul, who longs to do the right thing and experiences the pull of selfishness. This is where this great Biblical writer who has penned the majority of the New Testament is so brilliant. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 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.

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Abraham Lincoln

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The Lamp Of The Body

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 18, 2021

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light.” Today, the Scriptures, among many other issues, address our hold on what we deem important to us, namely, our priorities. Our eyes can be used to see which is good or evil in this world and thereby make the important decisions that either bring us closer to the Will of God or further away from following the Lord. If we look for the good in this life, we will certainly see and find it and thereby and hopefully follow and imitate it. However, if we allow our eyes and minds to focus and obsess on evil in this life, we are so affected by what we see that darkness begins to emanate from within and can corrupt us and those around us. If it is important to us, we will find a way. If not, we will somehow and very conveniently find an excuse.

“It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.” Mary O’Connor

“Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.” Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (161-180 AD)

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 2:34)
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

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Mind Walking

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 17, 2021

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ.” 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 believe that this is true. Guilt is the culprit that often robs our peace as well as fear. These, among others, are, as St. Paul writes to all of us today is the source of the corruption of the mind and heart that often takes place ever 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.” There is perhaps no other more obvious sign of a follower of Jesus than that of 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, success will be ours.

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

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Prayer Chariot Of Fire

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 16, 2021

“Brothers and sisters, consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” There may be many among us who 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 My What?

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 15, 2021

“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 the way some were raised or learned how 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 game of the week? 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 in time to the person who is hostile to me. It is altogether possible to literally disarm a hating person by acting towards them in a positive and loving way, refusing to be controlled by their negative attitudes and imitating Christ Jesus in every way possible and in any given situation.

Our call today is simple: remember that anyone who really 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 in compassion 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 the ones 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 of the 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 14, 2021

“As your fellow workers, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” 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. Among them, that was completely understandable, like “I see Heaven,” or “I see Hell,” there was 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.” Jesus gave us this teaching today 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 problem 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, 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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Got Mustard?

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 13, 2021

“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” This ever-popular Gospel passage should also enthuse those cooking enthusiasts among our readers. Is anyone aware of the various uses of mustard, other than being spread on hot dogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches? The following may send you searching through the internet to secure the validity of these claims. It has been used as mild burn relief, a cosmetic face mask for skin rejuvenation, relief for sore muscles and sore throats, and the removal of the toxic and awful odor of the shrewd skunk in case you find yourself ever-too-close and sprayed with mayhem.

“We are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” Living in the Kingdom means relief from the scorching rays of a hostile world and facing it with renewed vigor and the glow of the Spirit. It means comfort from the wear and tears on our bodies as we desperately travel the moral roads through unknown lands while bravely clearing our throats to preach the Gospel, in season and out. It also means throwing off the stench of sinfulness and accepting the sweetness of forgiveness freely and mercifully offered in confession. Accept all the wonderful promises Jesus has made to you and those you love, and ask for the courage to walk in the light and carry your faith to all aspects of your life. May today’s reflection put a smile on your face and help you keep going.

“I have a mustard seed; and I am not afraid to use it.” Pope Benedict XVI

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Look What We Found

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 12, 2021

“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? It is clear that 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, culminating 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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Staircase To Heaven

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 11, 2021

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. He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart during these apparitions 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. “My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred.”

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, your thoughts, and even your 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

“…to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

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

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”

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 a believer 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?

My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it is through earth’s loveliness.

“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.” Michelangelo

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Letting Go And Winning Freedom

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 10, 2021

“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.” Now that is certainly something you don’t hear every day, at least in polite company. If you and I will understand what Jesus is communicating with us fully, we need a little research. In New Testament times (much like today), anger was considered a very powerful emotion that could lead a person into 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.” As we have read throughout the year in several places, Jesus also saw his followers as the light of a fire to the world. Placing a flame of light 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 of persons. So, one cannot hide faith by 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 cannot 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.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” Thich Nhat Hanh

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Stay Close To The Fire

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 9, 2021

“Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the children of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious?” In today’s First Reading, St. Paul reminds us that it is truly worth following the Lord God in our lives because the promised glory is so much more intense than any suffering or anxiety we may experience on this planet in our daily struggles. How many people do you know who is lost and empty and keep asking why God is so distant? I wonder who moved.

“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 for which we long. We must look for light and love, and vision from the only source to help us for the rest of our lives. Our prayer nourished by 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 8, 2021

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth.'” Let’s take a look at some of the uses/characteristics of salt. It is a preservative, gives flavor, is bright white, 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 doing 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 earth can make others 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 to 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 a 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, which is why we need to beg to be filled with the Holy Spirit while there is breath in our body. We have the Commandments and Beatitudes. We have the Sacraments and the Mass. We are constantly being challenged to continue to pray without ceasing or losing heart, which will be nourished by our reading and reflecting over 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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Blueprint Monday

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 7, 2021

“Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement.” From time to time in this journey of life, things happen that we simply do not understand. These are the times when we are called to place complete trust in the Lord, receive His merciful encouragement, and pray for the patient wisdom to await the fulfillment of understanding to be even more confident in His ways. This is all beautifully brought together with the proclamation of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Just as Moses in the Old Testament came down the mountain with the Law in the form of the Ten Commandments, Jesus walked up the mountain and fulfilled what the great Law-giver started and mapped out the way to survive “the time of great distress” for each and every one of us. The Beatitudes create the blueprint of 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!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” The secret of our spiritual success is given beautifully in the Gospel. Like Moses in the Old Testament, Jesus 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.”

Today, sometime before it is all over and done with, take some time to revisit this passage in Matthew’s Gospel. Go over each Beatitude slowly and with positive intention. Tell the Lord, “I want to succeed.” And you will: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

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This Is My Body, My Life

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 6, 2021

Although it is not plausible to debate that eating is essential to our survival, that it is deeply symbolic, and that it is enjoyed across the board by every known culture on the planet, we can and should open the debate lines concerning how we have lost the meaning of meals and richness of gathering to feast especially in our modern times. For example, it appears that breakfast is often a shake of everything from protein, fruits, or a soda with ice, lunch a sandwich gobbled in front of the computer, and dinner, when hurriedly arranged or just accidentally falling into place, is quickly consumed usually in front of the television blaring or everyone with their phones checking Facebook posts and or texts. Even though we see commercials to the contrary and movies and listen to heart-felt pitches to act otherwise, we continue with this rapid-feeding frenzy. Perhaps it is because eating like this satisfies some basic needs as it fuels our bodies. But being fed is not the same as being nourished. This is how and why we must understand the great significance of Holy Thursday when Jesus the Christ uttered those immortal words that have since been repeated over the centuries: “This is my body…this is my blood…do this in memory of me.” Our First Reading begins to set the stage for this 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 and at an amazing cost! None of us are here “by accident.” We each have a deep and enriching purpose which we must find and for 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.” While well-thought-out mealtime practices and rituals can draw us into a state of increased awareness, our appreciation for the Eucharist can give sight to the vision we need to focus on the things that matter in this life to get home safely (Heaven) when it is all said and done. Jesus does so much more, giving us His Body and Blood. He teaches us that we take meaningful time when we sit and share food and 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 is assuring 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 even know or, even better, know that will never be able or willing to say thank you? This is selfless, and it is 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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Widow Wisdom

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 5, 2021

Let’s look at the widow’s mention in the Bible: 56 times in the Old Testament; 26 in the New. With these many occurrences, something beautiful is going on, and we need to examine this if we are to gain spiritual benefits from these powerful Readings from Holy Scripture. Today, there is mention of one widow’s sacrifice in the Gospel. (St. Mark) In the Old Testament, the common words associated with the mention of widows were: weeping, mourning, desolation, poverty, and indebtedness. They were especially vulnerable because they were dependent on everyone and thus had known both the joy of love and the anguish of loss more than any other member of society. And because of this particular life experience, widows probably reflected the image of God much more significant than others.

In the New Testament, widows were prominent such as Anna, the long-time widower temple attendant who was uniquely privileged to greet the infant Messiah; A widow who received the miraculous gift of seeing her son healed by Jesus because of His deep and warm compassion for her; there is the remarkable persistence from a widow who keeps demanding justice from a corrupt judge and the reversal of the standards of generosity because of the great act of a widow in the temple. (Today)

This life is it. There will be no “second-chance,” or “let me try this again until I get it right.” Instead, it appears that before our final, earthly, and physical death, there is an urgency for us to face a spiritual dying to oneself, to empty oneself of attachments and obsessions, and to recall the example and image of the widow who “put in more than all the other contributors …but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” Spiritual poverty begins with depending on God completely, letting go of the non-important pettiness we encounter, and contributing our livelihood, our very center, to following the Lord Jesus. This takes us to the border between life and death where there are no guarantees – only hope, where there are no answers – only faith, and where there is no security – only love. This is where the poor widow lives. This is where God lives. And they live in union as one. In the face of the poor widow – the face of spiritual poverty – Jesus sees and recognizes Himself—and we see Him.

So my dear friends, what are we to do as we bathe in the grace of these powerful proclamations from Scripture?

1. Practice The Faith: Of course, spiritual life is a struggle, but we find ourselves and our road to holiness within that grind.
2. Be Generous: Be generous in the things of God and pray for the spirit of detachment. The widow lived this remarkable spirit. Even though her offering didn’t amount to much in monetary terms, her intention and her heart certainly did, as she was poised for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.
3. 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.” (Jesus, in John 16:33)

“Don’t let anyone drain you of your happiness today. Be drama free. Rise above the petty stuff.” Trent Shelton

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The Spirit Of Tobit

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 4, 2021

“May his holy name be praised throughout all the ages, because it was he who scourged me, and it is he who has had mercy on me. Behold, I now see my son Tobiah!” At first glance, the Book of Tobit is one of the most charming and even fanciful in the Old Testament. Tobit and Judith, and Esther were used and regarded as canonical by the earliest Christians and by the Church herself. They have been used to teach important spiritual and moral lessons. One of these, by far, is the enormous moral strength arising from a complete trust in God. That is why the lives of Tobit and Tobias are models for our lives. We all face serious challenges. We all have the same opportunity to do God’s will serenely, trusting in His providential care. But we often fail to take that opportunity, looking at our challenges the way most people do, the way our culture does.

“The great crowd heard this with delight.” As we move through this summer, post-COVID months of life, it becomes more and more critical that we grasp our spiritual lives as highly important. If anything that the last year has taught us is that trust in God is tantamount and crucial if we are going to make sense of the strange and difficult episodes we pass. Jesus is Lord of Heaven and earth, and He is our Best Friend. Treat Him like one! This should fill us all with great delight. What will you do today about what you just read?

“Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting.” Napoleon Hill

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Reflection on Mass Reading for June 3, 2021

“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” Imagine a long journey to visit someone very special in your life, perhaps a grandmother or an old friend who lives far away in a small town where you used to live and haven’t visited for quite a while. As your vehicle leaves your city and travels into the country, the surroundings and the signs begin to remind you to have a happier, less complicated time. Then the smells kick in. Just think of the aromas of childhood and blissful memories as they begin to flood every fiber of your being. You are almost there! You are not far. This experience must have filled the scribe in our Gospel today. We must be eager for that same intimate familiarity as well, and it is truly ours as the Gospel of today relates.

“Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.” This eagerness to grow closer to Jesus is the best way to travel toward Heaven in this life. Wanting with every effort, we can muster to be acceptable and pleasing to God who loves us as we are, doing everything as if no one was watching except the One, and always attempting to speak the truth is our plan of action. With this, we can rest assured that we are not far at all.

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” Brennan Manning

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Greatly Led

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 2, 2021

“Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.” There are more than just a few people who have wondered what may sound to others to be unthinkable: is it possible that pursuing happiness is a cause of sour, distasteful unhappiness? Perhaps in all of Scripture, there can be found no more perfect of a focus group to highlight those who fall into a happiness trap than the sad group (no pun intended) in today’s Gospel Reading: “Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and put this question to him…” You see, the real clue here as to why these people are so miserable is because they do not hope for or believe in the Resurrection. How sad for the Sadducees!

“You are greatly misled.” This is not a phrase you nor I would ever want to hear from Jesus, which is why we are so richly blessed to have the Word nourish us today. The Resurrection of Christ is everything. Life would not be worth living if we did not realize that a much better eternal life was waiting for us when our time approaches. Today, lift your head and shake off any regrets or sadness that could lead you to take your focus off the great Miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus. Commit this phrase to memory as you may never know when you might need it for yourself or to share it with someone who needs it even more: “He is not God of the dead but of the living.”

“The more we try to avoid the basic reality that all human life involves pain, the more we are likely to struggle with that pain when it arises, thereby creating even more suffering.” Russ Harris

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To Pay Or Not To Pay

Reflection on Mass Reading for June 1, 2021

“Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Depending on how you view the scene, this question has traveled down throughout the centuries as famous or infamous. It has become a famous question because it almost always begins the age-old discussion about the relationship between the Church and the government of the State. It has become infamous because of the sinister motivation behind asking this “trick-question” of Jesus. “Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, ‘Why are you testing me?'”

Both perspectives are beneficial for us on the journey toward Heaven. The discussion about the Church-State relationship is important to distinguish between authority, power, and the greater good for society. The Church should never be in the business of governing, and the government should not be established as a spiritual force that mandates or even polices morality. And in this same paragraph, it is important to remember that not everyone who asks “religious” questions is out for a religious outcome. People can hide behind the veil of piety to be right, access power, or obtain the upper hand in any given situation. The Psalm for today gives us plenty of insight as to how to follow a straight and narrow path toward justice and peace: “Blessed the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commands.” In other words, we trust the Lord first, speak only when we think we can add something positive to the conversation, and then ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit every chance we get. Sounds like superior advice.

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” Amy Carmichael

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Setting The World On Fire

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 31, 2021

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 He 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. In the fullness of grace, our Blessed Mother exhibits the fullness of love and truth. 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 especially 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 of bringing the Good News to someone who truly needs it. Thank you, Mary, for your wonderful YES!

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” St. Catherine of Siena

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Do You Like A Good Mystery?

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 30, 2021

I know many who do, and I’ll bet, so do you! I would like to propose at least (3) three reasons why some deeply enjoy mysteries:

1. They are a “safe thrill”: 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.

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 part of the solution. We belong to the “winning team” and restore justice, love, and peace.

On perhaps the most basic level, we like mysteries for the same reasons others read romance or historical fiction or sci-fi novels. We find ourselves instantly involved in the characters’ lives, being there with them, feeling what they feel, seeing what they see, and experiencing their emotional journeys. 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 up our perspective and experiences.
Today, you and I presented with a magnificent mystery: the Mystery of the Nature of God! It may be the same reasons that people enjoy the literary genre of a puzzle, 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 up our perspective 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.”

Mystery Solved!!

“The mystery of God hugs you in its all-encompassing arms.” St. Hildegard of Bingen

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Real Spiritual Authority

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 29, 2021

“My hand opened her gate and I came to know her secrets. I directed my soul to her, and in cleanness I attained to her.” Depending on who is holding it or wielding it, authority can be of great service to us or a means for utter destruction. History is filled with examples of those who have taken the limits of their power and turned promised peace into a nightmare. This happens on a global and personal basis. The difference in the lives of each individual lies in the ability and desire to reach for and cultivate Wisdom which is the very gist of the Readings today and the call for each of us to be wise according to the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

“By what authority are you doing these things?” Although this question from the powerful chief priests and scribes in the Gospel was motivated by corrupt desires, it is a valid question that we can and should ask of ourselves. Power is an elusive, seductive, and often mysterious force in our lives that always need to be in check. We never have the right to hurt another human being, but we are given the spiritual power to make as great a difference as possible. Let’s see what kind of difference we can make today!

“Real spiritual authority has to do with the truth of the actual words being spoken, and the spirit of the person behind the words. Really, authority is about truth: honest-living truth.” John Ortberg

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Figs Or No Figs

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 28, 2021

“When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, ‘May no one ever eat of your fruit again!'” There is an interesting encounter between Jesus and a fig tree that should, in some ways, be of great concern for many of us. Plainly, the issue here is whether or not the Lord can find fruit in our lives. It also concerns the timing of that fruit search. “The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.” Jesus was hungry, and this hunger could be seen at least on two different and wonderful levels; first, the physical hunger of wanting to enjoy something that the earth bountifully produces and spiritual fruit which abides in all of us to one extent or another. The fig tree often symbolized the people of Israel as the Chosen Ones who first heard the message of the Gospel and then, by extension, the Church for all people to live and move and have their being. Thus, it is not an overreach to think that the Lord is looking for great fruit in all of us because He hungers for our faith to grow and prosper and spread. All this takes place in the present moment.

“Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf.” There is, moreover, another interesting insight that we can learn from today’s Scriptural offerings. Where was the last time we heard of the mention of a fig tree, and, more specifically, the fig leaf? Yes, in Genesis (3,7): “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” They were guilty and felt shame because of their sin. Jesus curses the fig tree, and by way of extension, does away with its leaves and, because of His great love and sacrifice for us, does away with the shame and guilt that keeps us from loving Him and each other. Seek today to develop an even deeper relationship with the Lord so much so that you can sense that great and wonderful release from all the forces of darkness that keep us beaten and alone.

“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” Brené Brown

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The Light Of Trust

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 27, 2021

“How beautiful are all his works! Even to the spark and fleeting vision! The universe lives and abides forever; to meet each need, each creature is preserved.” Since the dawn of all the ages, there has been this remarkable and dramatic contest of strength between light and darkness, clarity and delusion, sight and blindness. These are all eternally wrapped up into our human existence, which by definition means they all have deep, spiritual roots over which our sweet Jesus holds sway. If all this is true, and we all know that it is, then each time we approach the Bible and the treasure lode of wisdom found there, we must address the issue of blindness in our lives and the continuing resolutions to this plight. The Psalm begins to prepare us for the only solution in sight: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made!”

For any of us struggling with the day-to-day pull of responsibilities, deadlines, or even seemingly endless worries, the Gospel is relief and miracle all bound up into one passage of pure magnificence. Let’s take a closer look at this: “Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.” The blindness of all sorts creates this mindless inertia and apathy within us, which makes an empty life full of taking and no giving. “On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.'” Jesus is always speaking to us, and just the slightest whisper from Heaven can make all the difference in the world to which our only response is to cry out to Him with everything we have in store of our being to which the Lord promises response. “And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more.” There will be negative and unbelieving voices in our lives trying to move us away from the battle victory we desire in prayer, but we must not stop or give up. “So they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” And there will be sane and rational people who believe with all their hearts and minds who continue to encourage and nourish us with their prayers. “He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.” Bartimaeus, remember, was blind and throwing off his clothing and springing anywhere could have meant a dangerous physical move, but he trusted with everything he had left to face Jesus to which “Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?'” This is exactly the point in prayer where we must be solidly aware of our true needs, trust 100% in the Lord and then ask boldly with faith: “The blind man replied to him, ‘Master, I want to see.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.'” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.”

“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.” Helen Keller

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Serve To Live, Live To Serve

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 26, 2021

“Hear the prayer of your servants, for you are ever gracious to your people; and lead us in the way of justice.” Sociologist Robert Wuthnow of Princeton University has explored how it is that people make everyday ethical decisions. Many people, he found, perform deeds of compassion, service, and mercy because at some point in their past, someone acted with compassion toward them. He wrote, “The caring we receive may touch us so deeply that we feel especially gratified when we are able to pass it on to someone else.” He tells the story of Jack Casey, who was employed as an emergency worker on an ambulance rescue squad. When Jack was a child, he had oral surgery. Five teeth were to be pulled under general anesthetic, and Jack was fearful. What he remembers most, though, was the operating room nurse who, sensing the boy’s terror, said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right here beside you no matter what happens.” When Jack woke up after the surgery, she was true to her word, standing right there with him.

Nearly 20 years later, Jack’s ambulance team is called to the scene of a highway accident. A truck has overturned, the driver is pinned in the cab, and power tools are necessary to get him out. However, gasoline is dripping onto the driver’s clothes, and one spark from the tools could have spelled disaster. The driver is terrified, crying out that he is scared of dying. So, Jack crawls into the cab next to him and says, “Look, don’t worry, I’m right here with you; I’m not going anywhere.” And Jack was true to his word; he stayed with the man until he was safely removed from the wreckage. Later the truck driver told Jack, “You were an idiot; you know that the whole thing could have exploded, and we’d have both been burned up!” Jack told him that he felt that he just couldn’t leave him.

Many years before, Jack had been treated compassionately by the nurse, and because of that experience, he could now show that same compassion to another. His experience of an act of loving service enabled him to do the same for another. In the Alleluia Verse for today, Jesus made it clear: “The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Following Jesus and living a Christian life that is authentic and inspiring is much more than having a hobby or belonging to a particular political party. It is even more than having a job or a career. Our faith not only points us to what is eternal but also follows us into that existence. If we live with Jesus here and now, we will enjoy His wonderful presence forever. That is why the Eucharist must understand that this life is passing and Heaven is the only real goal worth living and dying for. “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“You come to me and unite Yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. Your Blood now runs in mine, Your Soul, Incarnate God, compenetrates mine, giving courage and support. What miracles! Who would have ever imagined such!” St. Maximilian Kolbe

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Relax And Float

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 25, 2021

“We have given up everything and followed you.” Have you heard someone go on and on about how successful they are and how much they have accomplished in their short life? Depending on how you view this scenario, one thing is for certain. There is no such thing as a self-made person. No one is born with everything they need to move forward in this life. Wisdom comes to each person at different times, and when it does, the same response is heard. “I owe everything to God.” And so it is. We owe God for everything, even these little breaths we take as we read the Scriptures of the Day and this Reflection. When we recount what St. Peter related to Jesus, we could add, “but God gave up His Son for all of us!” And so He did.

“For the LORD is one who always repays, and he will give back to you sevenfold.” Faith is a fundamental part of life for the ones intent on seeing God face-to-face in heaven. Many of us were taught from a very young age that learning on faith in difficult situations helps us overcome even the most challenging times we will face during our lives. However, things don’t go according to plan, and we can be left feeling hopeless, broken, and desperate. That is why total trust, not part or even half-trust, is going to work.

Total trust = total surrender = total joy in the Lord Jesus!

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” Alan Watts

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Your Mother My Defense

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 24, 2021

“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. Mary endured seven personal sorrows as was foretold to her by Simeon, the Temple priest, 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.

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?” Let us reflect on the mystery and fruits of suffering presented by St. John Paul II in the 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. Many saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and others, owe their profound conversion to this grace. A result of such a conversion is that the individual discovers the salvific meaning of suffering, but above all, he becomes a completely new person. He finds 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 others 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, suffering in its purest sense is 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 of ours 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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We Are Living Christs

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 23, 2021

“‘Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. As Scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me.’ He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive.” 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.”

“In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” Our Second 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 reassuring 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. The best, as we have often said here, 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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Consecrate The Person I Am Meant To Be

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 22, 2021

“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.” 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 means 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 is evidenced in the dialogue in St. Mark’s Gospel of today when discussing how Christ is the Son of David: “David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said: The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.'” and proclaimed this these very words referred to him:

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

A prophet is a messenger sent by God, a person who speaks for God. They witness to 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 both 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 Mark Twain said that there were 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 both 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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Only So Many Tomorrows

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 21, 2021

“…but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” It is an interesting and acquired taste of irony that we enter this life needing someone else to dress, feed and clean up after us only to find that toward the very end of this amazing life, we will depend on others, not the same people to do the same for us. What can we learn from this? One aspect is clear. We are brought into the world with the almost inescapable lessons of service and self-emptying to hopefully initiate for the years that we have with the not-so-unrealistic hope that others will still be there for us are at the depths of need and dependence. 

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  This is precisely why the question that Jesus asks of Peter in the Gospel (and three entire times obviously to make a divine point) is startling and realistically geared for every one of us who seeks to live a life of integrity and peace and one day finds our eternal home in Heaven. Life is certainly too short and too fragile to live selfishly. We are placed here to help each other, and everyone has a distinct mission to fulfill. God put you and me here for a definite and wonderful reason, and we first find out what that is and then live life to the absolute fullest. When Jesus asks us, “do you love me?,” the only way to answer is to show Him how much we love each other. 

“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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E Pluribus Unum*

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 20, 2021

“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 May 19, 2021

“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 Most Important Lesson

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 18, 2021

“And so I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.” Like the Divine Parent that He is, God loves us all so very much and sees with the eternal eyes of providence the rich potential in all of us even though we do make some really bad choices now and then. As we near the Feast of Pentecost and all the riches that are promised there, what do we hope to learn and guard moving forward? 

“Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.” Throughout the transfiguring Season of Lent, Jesus taught us all some amazing lessons of life. We could summarize some of them thus:

1. Never trade temporary pleasure for permanent regret.
2. Seek wise counsel from people who care about you.
3. Pray and seek wisdom from God’s word for your decisions.

Perhaps you have more or even some amendments to these but make no mistake, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit have been promised to us to use and make this life the very best. The rest is up to us. 

“The most important thing is God’s blessing and if you believe in God and you believe in yourself, you have nothing to worry about.” Mohamed Al-Fayed

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Conquering In The Struggle

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 17, 2021

“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, some part of us must be 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 within that grind, we find ourselves and our road to holiness. Second, be generous in the things of God and pray for the spirit of detachment. The early Christians lived this remarkable spirit. 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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Ascension: “I’ll Be Back”

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 16, 2021

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.”   You see, 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 the fact that Jesus is coming back just as He said He would. This certainly 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! It is not always easy to maintain such a joyful demeanor, especially when we must face crises and problems. Sometimes we are allowed to hit rock bottom to 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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Beauty Not Misery

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 15, 2021

“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 is it that 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 the Gospel of today 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 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, too, is underscored by the opening lines of the Responsorial Psalm of today: “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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St. Matthias: Love In The Time Of Christ

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 14, 2021

“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 in effect “replaced” the fallen traitor Judas after the horrible sequence of events after the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Again, we have an example of the love Christ has 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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Such Sweet Sorrow

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 13, 2021

“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 of 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 all of 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

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 12, 2021

Our First Reading today reveals a remarkable experience which 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 prepare 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 insight that is received. 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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Never Alone

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 11, 2021

“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.'” If someone were to ask you what you thought marks the life of a Christian, what do you think you would say? No doubt, some would say that they 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, then we must act like one and forgive and love as often as humanly possible. 

“And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation.” 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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Lydia’s Legacy

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 10, 2021

“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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I Chose You

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 9, 2021

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”

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 he 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!”

“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” This 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. 

“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” Today in the United States, we celebrate Mother’s Day, and with that, there is unleashed all kinds of memories, thoughts, and emotions. Today, we hope that whatever is going through the human heart of our readers, one thing will be clear: God chose you to bring life into this world and make a positive difference precisely because you know that Heaven is waiting for us all. Like our loving God, Moms are the people who know us the best and love us the most.  

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Love’s Search For Happiness

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 8, 2021

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 and is 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,” and 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: “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 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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To Live As Friends

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 7, 2021

“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 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 utmost extent of a loving commitment of one friend to another is found in the ultimate sacrifice that people make for each other. Sometimes that sacrifice is carried out in one singular moment or lived out over many, many years of life. Nevertheless, friendship in the Lord Jesus is the greatest gift of all 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

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 6, 2021

“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 understanding 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 lives 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 from the looks of things, a very important one. 

“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” What it comes down to is this: it all depends on who you listen to.

  • We all have friends and acquaintances who claim to be news buffs and have their hands on the pulse of all things newsworthy.
  • We know people whose worldview is only determined by those who occupy their inner circles.
  • And, of course, we know some people who seem to be aimlessly lost because they claim to have no real-world connections.

Are you listening for the voice of Jesus today? What is He saying to you, right here, right now? There is so much riding on the answer to this question and if you want complete joy in Christ, then you must listen. Because if 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

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 5, 2021

“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 what exactly our purpose is? 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 lies in the fact that we haven’t spent enough quality time with our beautiful and loving God. When we allow ourselves 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 to gain new ground and move others away from the Lord. This is yet another reason why 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 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

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 4, 2021

“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 in those special episodes around us, time was relative. “Time is relative” means that the rate of time is not the same for every frame of reference. Two people sitting in two other frames of reference can measure different time rates, 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 there 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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The Holy Trifecta

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 3, 2021

“Jesus said to Thomas, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” How is Jesus “The Way“? Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think about how precious the time you have to spend is at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored. (Earl Nightingale) Once we accept Jesus into our hearts and carry Him wherever we go, there is a certain appreciation for life that never leaves us. Once we realize and accept Jesus is the way I want to follow, every minute of my life is a true gift and others begin to see and experience that as well. 

How is Jesus “The Truth“? Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learning. Work hard and never give up on your dreams even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. (Philip Sweet) People all around us worship many things in this life, anything from money to power and pleasure. When Jesus becomes our Truth, everything He has taught us is maintained in a life of remarkable integrity. This is critical, especially in the face of temptation when we must make that daily choice which version of ourselves we chose to be for that moment. It also means that we are now posed to forgive even the meanest and cruelest individuals we will ever meet. Jesus is stronger than any of those! 

How is Jesus “The Life“? There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved. (George Sand) When a person accepts Jesus as their universe and pattern of living, love becomes nearly effortless. That is because God is love. Those who truly understand the overwhelming love shown to us, especially in the death and Resurrection of Jesus His Son, then the only response can be a life of generous giving of self, amazing patience, and love. This prepares us for eternal life in Heaven, where there is no more pain, no more guilt, no more tears. “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

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Fresh Off The Vine

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 2, 2021

There is no such thing as a gardener without passion. Nor could there be one without creativity or deep insight about the earth and what comes out of it. We could even say for our purposes here that working with the soil and growing food and flowers that enrich our lives is an art that employs the hand, the head, and the heart altogether. During the Easter Season, we are witnesses through the Scriptures of the “first fruits” of the sowing and planting of the Gospel enriched by the Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to produce this wonderful and life-giving fruit world’s garden, the Church. “The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”  God is like the Supreme Gardener who has placed all of creation in place and order and brings all the blossoms in an all-powerful and all-loving gentle manner. This very truth inspired the Psalmist to invite us to sing with him today and forever: I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.”

And while we are living in a whole world of gratitude and the overwhelming sense that Jesus is right here with us through thick and thin, our behavior then reflects such living: “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.”  Today’s Scriptures proclaim the deep and life-giving connection with the integrity of life because of the One who has loved us into existence. If we believe in Jesus and follow Him, our entire lives must strive to live as redeemed and ransomed people. This is how we exhibit closeness to our hearts with the divine mysteries of creation and redemption. Jesus, using the imagery of gardening and farming, reminds all of us of this intimate relationship in the Gospel today: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” If it is true and that you can always tell a tree by its fruit, then who will people see and experience in us today. Will they see Jesus? Who, then?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

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A Quiet Mind

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 1, 2021

“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” Have you ever wondered how many early Christians faced martyrdom and certain deaths with such peace in their hearts? Do you know people, the bedrock of faith, who face trial after trial, disappointment after languishing moments, and still smile? Our First Reading today is just one of those examples of the deep and abiding love that Jesus places in those who truly love Him and want to spend quality time with the Lord. This is what you are doing today, reading the Scriptures, letting them permeate and sink into the folds of your existence, then try to apply them in a powerful way. This is what is meant by remaining in the word. It means being so comfortable with the words of the Bible that they become a deep reference point to all of life’s ups and downs, hills, and valleys. We see things as part of God’s plan and not just in terms of my little world with its fads and issues. 

“The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” This is also the perfect recipe for living a full, abundant life of joy because the Christian who has met Jesus and never looks back never has a bad day. Perhaps, some days are better than others, but still, the fullness of joy and hope never leaves that soul. As some among us are slowly but carefully returning to a more integrated, social life, patience, and forgiveness must be in our hearts and minds so they can easily be radiated through our speech and actions. Quiet your mind today and let the Lord lead you today and beyond. 

“A quiet mind married to integrity of heart is the birth of wisdom.” Richard Grey


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Unarmed Truth

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 30, 2021

“Jesus said to Thomas, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”  How is Jesus “The Way”? Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think about how precious is the time you have to spend, whether it is at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored. (Earl Nightingale) Once we accept Jesus into our hearts and carry Him wherever we go, there is a certain appreciation for life that never leaves us. Once we realize and accept Jesus is the way I want to follow, every minute of my life is a true gift and others begin to see and experience that as well. 

How is Jesus “The Truth”? Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learning. Work hard and never give up on your dreams even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. (Philip Sweet) People all around us worship many things in this life, anything from money to power and pleasure. When Jesus becomes our Truth, everything He has taught us is maintained in a life of remarkable integrity. This is critical, especially in the face of temptation when we must make that daily choice which version of ourselves we chose to be for that moment. It also means that we are now posed to forgive even the meanest and cruelest individuals we will ever meet. Jesus is stronger than any of those! 

How is Jesus “The Life”? There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved. (George Sand) When a person accepts Jesus as their universe and pattern of living, love becomes nearly effortless. That is because God is love. Those who truly understand the overwhelming love shown to us, especially in the death and Resurrection of Jesus His Son, then the only response can be a life of generous giving of self, amazing patience, and love. This prepares us for eternal life in Heaven, where there is no more pain, no more guilt, no more tears. “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.” 

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” Martin Luther King, Jr.


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The Greatest Discovery

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 29, 2021

Imagine the response of the disciples of Jesus when he told them, as we heard today in the Gospel, that the world may hate them! Perhaps they began wondering about all the teaching on love and forgiveness, and then here arrives a lesson on hatred? Part of the problem then (and even today) was that so many were expecting their own created version of the Messiah who would wield such political and military power that anyone associated with him and would be called “his friend” would somehow be so much like the rich and influential who seemed to mistreat and misjudge those whom they thought lower than themselves. Today Jesus continues to invite us into His friendship as he promotes service as a basis for greatness. He even washed feet and wounds and ate with sinners and outcasts: “Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.'”

William Shakespeare once wrote, “Time is very slow for those who wait. Very fast for those who are scared. Very long for those who lament. Very short for those who celebrate. But for those who love, time is eternal.” Those who rejected Jesus when He first came were steeped in their mistaken ideas about who God promised, how He would save them from their sins, and why He opened the mystery of love for the universe. 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: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Love Jesus today with all your heart, and then allow that unprecedented decision to permeate and affect everything you do and say from now on. Sometimes human nature needs more time to accept what the mind already knows. 

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” William Arthur Ward


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Turn On Your Truth Light

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 28, 2021

“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 the reality of Whom we follow and whom we love. How is He the light? We immediately realize that this question would automatically posture and position our conversation to drift into philosophy or history or even politics easily. 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 all sorts of 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 just 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 are about to have. How many of them will be about important, eternal matters? Some people feel very uncomfortable and awkward talking about their faith and their relationship with Jesus Christ. However, everything that is 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

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 27, 2021

“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?” In the discipline of literature and creative writing, suspense is both fiction and some nonfiction that makes the reader uncertain about the outcome. As an emotional response, to be 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.” This still happens today, especially with the amount of anxiety and restlessness in the world, especially recently 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, which makes us believe that the best is always yet to come. And so it is. 

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


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Climbing The Mountain Of Life

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 26, 2021

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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Crying Wolf

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 25, 2021

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.” Dream beyond all your wildest imaginations! What if you could accomplish the most incredible memory of anyone’s lifetime and have Lord Jesus the Christ walk with you for the entire day. Amazing, no? What would he have for breakfast? We’ve heard that he favors grilled fish. What if He came with you to the nursing home, the hospital, a clinic? They would be empty! Now, what if came with you to all the situations and places that bring out the most fear and anger in your life? With every positive and credible amount of information that we have, we could easily surmise that Jesus has no fear! None whatsoever. He also possesses complete self-mastery and never surrenders his peace or power to anyone. He has seen many a wolf coming and never backed down, especially for all of us, the ones He has loved with an everlasting love. 

“The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” Instead of running toward self-pity, victimhood, and self-righteousness, we are passionately invited to follow Jesus right into our very heart and soul! Life is filled with obstacles and burdens, and yes, even with those who seem to make it their life’s mission to increase these pains in our lives, the best news today is that Jesus sees the wolf coming and stands right by us all the time. There is true freedom in Christ. No need for excuses, just plain, divine, everlasting love that has set us free. 

“Like crying wolf, if you keep looking for sympathy as a justification for your actions, you will someday be left standing alone when you really need help.” Criss Jami


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Easter Eggs Of Peace

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 24, 2021

“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 wondering 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 and is highly crucial for us. We have been so immeasurably blessed that the only response for us today is to be a blessing for 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

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 23, 2021

“‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ He said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.'” This passage is a very telling and interesting detail in our Scriptural Readings today. It proves that Saul, later the great St. Paul, previously recklessly and heartlessly persecuted the early Christian Church by rounding up anyone who followed the “New Way” of the Lord and imprisoning 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, then, with a deep and lasting, wonderfully engaging personal relationship with Himself, and 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 the great and marvelous love our God has 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 even 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 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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Share To Remember

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 22, 2021

Edgar Dale was a nineteenth-century American educator who developed the “Cone of Experience” by which he made the following amazing assertions: we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss with others, 80% of what we experience, and a whopping 95% of what we teach others. Some of this would probably ignite debate or conversation to any varying degree of an agreement. Still, for our purposes today, let us consider the scene that was presented to us in the First Reading today: “‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone instructs me?'” When it comes to our approach and use and love of the Scriptures, it seems that our reading or listening to the beautiful Word of God is deeply enriched and expanded only when we share the wealth that we have discovered with others who also want to know Christ. 

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” Today, during this great Easter Season, we are passionately called upon to reflect on what difference it makes in our lives. We believe that Jesus has risen from the dead, defeated all the powers of darkness and hatred in this world, and saved us a place in Heaven. Something reasonably must be different in the way we approach life, and one of the more profound ways that are accomplished is how we share our faith. Take a chance today: share with someone who Jesus is for you and what great things He has done for you. Then let’s see how much you remember. 

“If Easter says anything to us today, it says this: You can put truth in a grave but it won’t stay there.” Clarence W. Hall


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For The Smell Of Bread

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 21, 2021

“Jesus said to the crowds, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.'” Have you ever been rushing from Point A to Point B without realizing how fast you are going, and then, all of a sudden, you catch the aroma of something that almost immediately catapults you to another space and time? Ask anyone around you about their favorite smells, and more often than not, in the top 5, you will discover, not unsurprisingly, that the smell of freshly baked bread is there. The more interesting item for today is that the aroma of freshly-baked bread has more than just the power to make your mouth water. According to a new study, it can also make you a kinder person. According to the Daily Mail, researchers at the University of Southern Brittany in France found that shoppers were more likely to alert a random passerby that they had dropped a belonging if, at the time, they were also passing a bakery giving off the sweet scent of baking bread. The findings, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, suggest that certain smells can trigger a more positive mood, which leads to a greater degree of kindness and charity to strangers making for a great level of happiness. “For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city.” In a very similar and mysterious way, Jesus has risen from the dead, giving us Himself as the Bread of Life so that we might go through thigh this life with the immense amount of confidence and joy to face no matter what is right before us, especially the challenge to forgive, move one and thrive in the Spirit of God who in face raised Jesus from the grave. 

This power to thrive, forgive and surrender one’s being is supernatural and requires supernatural food to accomplish: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” It should be clear by now that none of us will make it off this planet alive; that is, we will all come to that door of eternity where we must by definition surrender our spirit and everything else that accompanied it while we spent rented and precious time here. Today we are all called to partake of the most wonderful and miraculous meal known as the Eucharist so that we might truly enter into that mysterious life and move forward in faith toward our destiny which lies in Heaven. In the meantime, there is sufficient power and healthy living right here, right now. It begins with forgiveness and the wonderful smell and presence of bread which brings to life for us today the Bread of Life. 

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. Mahatma Gandhi 


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What’s In Your Easter Basket?

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 20, 2021

“As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and when he said this, he fell asleep.” The blood of the martyrdom/witness of St. Stephen brings a considerable amount of sobriety to the joy of the Easter Season, but it is remarkably necessary. The gift of Easter has everything to do with where we hope to end our earthly pilgrimage because of the great gift of the Resurrection. We want to go to Heaven after a good and solid life of witness to the real joy and meaning of this great time. We want to have enough happiness and peace in our hearts to say at the end of it all, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”  

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.'” The Resurrection of Christ also brings forth the spiritual nourishment we need to make it to Heaven and find our way in this life by imitating the hope that is ours of and for a much better life. He is the Bread of Life that feeds and takes care of all our needs. Thus we could say that in our Spiritual Easter basket this year, we will find forgiveness, hope, strength, and courage to face whatever is there waiting for us ahead. 

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies. It is the only time of year when it is safe to put all your eggs in one basket.” Kate McGahan


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Look Who’s Talking

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 19, 2021

A very wise man once attempted to comfort a younger apprentice who seemed to have been the target of several slimy and vicious remarks from a coworker by stating the following: “whatever is ever said to you is never more important than the one who said it.” Now just think about that bit of advice for just a minute and then consider the passages with which we have been gifted today in the Scriptures: “Though princes meet and talk against me, your servant meditates on your statutes. Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.” Do we ever truly realize how many words and phrases are spoken to us in the course of any given day? Some are surely good and others not so. We received a glimpse of this in the First Reading in the ugliness hurled at Stephen: “We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” What we can safely conclude from these two Biblical selections that all of us, throughout the entire span of human experience, have to decide quickly and wisely what we will allow settling, grow, and fester into our ears and hearts and minds. 

With that in mind, the Gospel screams for attention to the only voice that we can truly trust 100% of the time and in every situation before us: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.'” Let us call out to one another and challenge each other to pay even more attention to the words of Jesus uttered in the Scriptures for us, especially in the coming week, believing that it is important to see who is talking and what He is saying. 

“Somewhere we know that without silence, words lose their meaning, that without listening, speaking no longer heals, that without distance, closeness cannot cure.” Henri Nouwen


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Ghostly Fears

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 18, 2021

“Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” Take special note of what just happened in the Gospel. The Apostles are talking about life, suffering, God, and the Messiah. Jesus appears to bless everyone, yet their first interpretation of the event is that they are witnessing an episode from the SyFy Channel. The problem here is simple to see while the remedy is close by. Jesus first asks why there are troubled hearts. Right after that remark, He tenderly instructs the only way to combat fear and doubt: “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.” We must see today that unreasonable and irrational fear can only successfully be combated by reverting to the entire mystery of Easter, which is the great Truth that Jesus has not only defeated death but also all the forces of evil and darkness. He is on our side. We start to shake and quiver when we forget this wonderful Truth. 

The First Reading also recognizes that human beings, still affected by Original Sin’s vestiges, make mistakes out of many different reasons and faulty mindsets. St. Peter was certainly generous in his assessment of this predicament of ours: Now I know, brothers and sisters, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did,” and then later in that same reading: “For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.” Easter brings light and clarity to our minds because it reveals that the massive, archetypal, and age-old battle between good and evil has already been won. We are now offered the chance to share in that victory should we choose to do so with the freedom and wisdom that has been purchased for us by the blood of the Lamb. Remember once again during this glorious Easter Season that earth’s worst day and best day were just 24 hours apart. 

“In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves.” Laurie Halse Anderson


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Storms Of Mystery

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 17, 2021

“The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat,

and they began to be afraid.” In today’s Gospel, we have all been gifted with one of the more famous and breathtaking moments in all of the Scriptures, at least in the top ten! Try to imagine the scene where hurricane-force gale winds are blowing mercilessly against a tiny boat. At the same time, the crashing sounds of the thunder in the distance are only rivaled by the crashing of the waves. The drama unfolds in three distinct phases: first, there’s a horrible storm that scares everyone on board; second, they see Jesus walking over the storm thinking He is a ghost; third, Jesus utters the most iconic words of comfort born from faith, “It is I, do not be afraid!” and then calms everyone’s storm. This process is the quintessential outline and summary of our spiritual lives! We face our storms of doubt, we call upon Jesus, He makes His loving presence known and empowers us to believe, then we doubt again, and the cycle starts all over again, but each time it does, we are closer and closer to Jesus who never leaves our ship of life. 

This episode raises the age-long question that has faced every Christian since Jesus first walked the earth: why do we doubt and how do we deal with this very human and expected experience? First, doubt is a natural process of every intellectual and moral approach. It is almost necessary because it is a way of strengthening our ideals and beliefs, but it must never overtake the very treasure we are trying to discover. We must realize that doubt is part of the natural growing pains of faith, and having said that; it is also a mystery. No one human being could ever totally grasp the fullness of who God is, so understandably there will be gaps due to our limitations. “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.” Spiritual or emotional setbacks do not make a good case for abandoning Jesus or questioning why we are here on this planet. Perhaps the greatest spiritual gift we need when confronted with doubt is humility. Humility reminds us that faith is a powerful gift that must be opened slowly and without pretense. This is precisely how we run to Jesus through every storm we encounter on the water and everywhere else. 

“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” Brene Brown


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Healthy Gratitude

Reflection on Mass Reading for April 16, 2021

“One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.” When we realize all that we have been through these past few months, how can we not see the great blessings each day? What kind of power or force are we blindly following to make a day, an hour, or even a single minute blessed or cursed? “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” Doubt and pessimism in all their forms are useless and truly squander time and energy. The Pharisee Gamaliel made a very poignant observation that could help our understanding of this: “For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them.” What makes today blessed, fortunate, and awesome has nothing to do with some outside, uncontrollable force over which we have no power, but one simple fact: Jesus died for us sinners, and now we have a shot at eternal life. 

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.” We have all been blessed by the complete and selfless act of self-sacrifice that Jesus accomplished on the cross. By His blood, we have been washed and made clean, and we can and should avail ourselves of all the promised blessings every single day we are alive. Shallow people believe in luck; strong people believe in cause and effect; blessed, healthy, and happy people believe in Jesus. 

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar


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