Providing the Word of God.

Daily Reflections

  • Love My What?

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 20, 2017

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'” (Gospel)

    Right, that’s the way it used to be. That may be the way I was raised or learned how to act after so many disappointments and stabs in the back, but it sure takes energy, though, and living by “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” makes for a blind and toothless generation.

    “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Gospel)

    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 to 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, wanting 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.”  (Gospel)

    This will not be easy, but it is not impossible either for 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.” (Alleluia Verse from John 13:34)

    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.

  • What Time Is It?

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 19, 2017

    “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” (First Reading)

    Not too long ago, I was struggling with my own thoughts and feelings about another individual who was continuing to hurt me and others around him all the while knowing that the right and just course to take was not going to be his because of a Gibraltar-sized block of pride. All that changed when, in deep prayer, it occurred to me that I was not living in an acceptable time. That is, I was focused too much on the past and on the future and not enough on Jesus, right here, right now with me. Then a good friend suggested for me to imagine sitting with that person and having a great steak with a glass of wine when all of this is over  In other words, live in God’s time and God’s loving grace. From that day on, I haven’t wasted a single minute wondering about retribution or worrying about resolution. That doesn’t mean we stop fighting for what is right, but rather it means we look forward to a good night’s sleep after a full day of battle.

    “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.” (Gospel)

    Jesus gave us this teaching today to help minimize the effects of evil.  Evil escalates when we respond back to it with equal and most times excessive fervor.  A small situation can get blown so far out of proportion that it can cause horrible harm. Even in everyday life, when someone wrongs us, the situation can blow up and get out of control, destroying marriages, families, friendships, and even faith without which we simply cannot survive. Frustrating and on-going issues of injustice will simply require more patience, more trust, more Jesus.

    “We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” (First Reading)

  • Why Am I So Hungry?

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 18, 2017

    It has been a couple of years now, but I distinctly remember a talk given by a wonderful and spiritually-driven woman who presented her answer to the age-old question, “Why do we overeat?” She narrowed it down to five main reasons.

    Panic.  Reaction to much anxiety, fear and stress.

    Comfort.  The attempt to nurture, soothe and care for unmet needs and feelings.

    Self-protection.  Numbing action because we can’t or won’t face our feelings.

    Frustration.  Things go wrong so we head for food.

    Shame and self-pity. Whatever is wrong with life, we take the blame and hide.

    Today, we celebrate the Great Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus. In this celebration we proclaim our belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We also proclaim that the same Jesus lives within each one of us who are baptized into His Holy Body, the Church. We call this the mystery of communion because our faith and life is all about relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    Let us now return to our original question, “why am I so hungry,” and by extension, “why do we overeat?” Whether anything is off-balance or troublesome in our lives, it is because something is troubling inside of us, at our very core, which is our soul. Ask yourself about each of the painful reasons we may overeat. Why do we ingest and consume so many things that will never satisfy and actually hurt us? Why do we sometimes gravitate to unhealthy relationships? If we truly believed that Jesus Christ is alive and real in the Eucharist, how would he make a difference in our lives?

    Panic. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

    Comfort. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”

    Self-protection. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

    Frustration. “So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”

    Shame and self-pity. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

  • Sooner or Later

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 17, 2017

    Eating the container rather than the contents might be better for one’s health in some cases. There was once an experiment conducted to test the nutritional value of a certain breakfast cereal. One group of rats were fed the breakfast cereal while the control group was fed the box that the cereal came in ground up, of course). Sadly, the rats who ate the container were healthier than those who ate the cereal. Be careful what you pour into your bowl.

    I believe there should be a marked difference between the containers and the contents. Usually, the contents are far superior to what is on the outside. The comparison is similar to the wrapping paper of a gift. In the spiritual life of those who want to follow Christ, the vessel must have integrity with the contents. What we say and do to and for one another, reflects what is deep inside each of us. This means our speech and behavior have much more to do with what we really believe than anything we might wear, where we live or even the shape of our bodies. What matters most is that our soul is in the right place. For the Christian, there is only one right place and that is with Jesus. “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One.” (Gospel)

    Sooner or later, the truth about who we truly are surfaces and our speech often times gives us away.  It usually happens under adversity and/or suffering, which is why you and I can always give thanks for the gift of humility. This is the path we are following, the same which Jesus paved with life. “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (First Reading)

  • Hard Words and Hard Hearts

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 16, 2017

    “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna (Hell).” (Gospel) These are hard words for us to hear from Jesus; hard to process and think about; hard because Jesus is addressing lust and adultery, which causes emotional pain and hurt to families, perhaps more than just about anything else.

    Nobody wins when a family breaks apart under the horrible weight of painful pretense and broken dreams. Love is such a supreme and yes, even Divine gift, that any alteration or selfishness entering such a relationship can have destructive consequences. I know we have all endured some of these painful experiences, either directly or indirectly.  Yet, it is precisely why Jesus is speaking about these, and why we cannot ignore what he has to say. We live in a world that is broken, and we pick up knocks and bruises as we go through, and if Jesus has something to say about all that, we need to tune in. If Jesus had nothing to say about things that cause us the most heartache, he’s not asking us to live in the real world when He calls us to follow him.

    Love, not lust is at the basis of our heart. Truth, not lies is the very air our heart and soul needs to approach God and one another. When we give our heart to Jesus we are asking Him to allow us to love the way He does, completely, unselfishly, and purely. This is why daily prayer and the Eucharist are absolutely necessary for this spiritual approach to our human existence. What Jesus clearly wants for us is not natural; it is supernatural and only then will we be happy in this life waiting for the one which is to come.

    Our anthem today is found in the Alleluia Verse from Philemon. “Shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the Word of Life.” Read it out loud again, listen to your voice and never forget them.

  • The Power of Anger

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 15, 2017

    It has been said that, “whoever angers you, controls you.” This wisdom is gained from having lived and learned from those who may be closer to the grave than most. You see, for many who know that time is more precious than they had ever imagined, it is of ultimate importance to know how to and how not to spend our days.

    Pope Francis also added some clarification to this discussion while quoting scripture, “In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ words are clear in this regard: ‘But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire’. When we hear people saying awful things, it’s important to always remember that to call someone ‘fool’ or ‘psycho’ is to kill your brother, because an insult ‘is rooted in hatred.’ In fact, ‘it stems from the same root as crime: the same-hatred!’ Nevertheless, insulting is like second nature to us. There are people who have a shocking ability to express hatred for another person.”

    If it is true, and I do believe that it is, that whoever leads us to angry moments is in fact controlling us, then imagine if we put that in a slightly different paradigm; “The One who inspires us to love and forgive, is the One who holds my heart.”

    We can then wholeheartedly agree with St. Paul who accurately wrote, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Because of Jesus, we can have a beautiful life that is full of love and peace. He taught us how to live and how to die. Let Him have managing influence in everything you do and say, today and always. Think of the moment when the Lord Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River with the Father’s voice and the Holy Spirit present. Think of the rebirth of our souls at Baptism. Try to remember that when you are tempted to fight fire with fire, the Fire Department usually uses water.

  • Change Happens

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 14, 2017

    In our Gospel reading today, Jesus makes an astounding statement. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”  Nothing is going to be altered from the basic understanding and meaning of the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Jesus continues saying, “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.”  Thus, there is this healthy and inspiring balance we are called to achieve between what is radically, completely and fundamentally true about our faith, and the expression and practice of this gift all the way till we breathe our last breath. We need to be ready to move forward creatively to new ways of understanding our faith and living it out. The traditions of the past are still valid but we must never get bogged down in them to the extent that we do not respond to the clear signs of the times. Tradition can be understood either as a fundamental belief that existed from the very beginning or a way of doing or understanding things which have been around for a long time.

    In the spring, newness explodes and the orange tree bears oranges while the apple tree bears apples; even after the changing seasons of autumn and winter, they still produce oranges and apples respectively; and not lemons or grapefruits. Yes, change happens, however, the fundamental essence remains. The day we close ourselves to change as well as the fundamental truths of our walk with Jesus, is the day we die, as Paul warns us in the Second Letter to the Corinthians. “…for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.”

    “To live is to change; to be perfect is to have changed often.” -John Henry Cardinal Newman