The Word of God

Daily Reflections

  • Not What You Expected

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 25, 2019

    “And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.” One of the great pitfalls in the spiritual life can be found in the somewhat inescapable but far from harmless trap of seeing the world from a purely human point of view and not as God does. The conclusion of the great Book of Job underscores that reality quite well in true Old Testament wisdom literature fashion. You see, the Lord sees everything, everywhere, all the time. His perspective is the one we want to approach. “I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.”

    “Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.” And if this approach seems too other-worldly and far above the capacity of the human mind to grasp, it is because it is. Without adding more height to the immense challenge to walk with God and grow deeper in love with Him with each breath we take, we simply cannot do this on our own. This is why pride creates critical mistakes of judgment and spiritual attitudes that do nothing but create more chaos and loss of fervor. Remember, Heaven is far more than we can ever imagine and the path to get there must be completely joined with the path Jesus took to the cross so that we, like Him, will find radiant joy after we take our last breath.

    It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.  Fulton J. Sheen

  • Two-Faced And Counting

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 24, 2019

    Today we have a real treat. It is the Feast of St. Bartholomew, one of the Twelve Apostles identified also with Nathanael as we have just read in the Gospel. “Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” Although at first he was skeptical, he responded to the vigor and enthusiasm of Philip and came to meet Jesus. This is when the first reaction to this encounter was Jesus uttering his now-famous observation: “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Most people would agree with our assessment that a person who is duplicitous is also said to be “two-faced.” Bartholomew (Nathanael) was clearly free from this type of deception and went on to give great honor and glory to God and the early Church which Jesus founded with his death. But what exactly is a two-faced person? It is basically a person who suffers from a lack of self-identity, self-esteem, and integrity. This person is also usually one who fakes compliments to please whomever they meet. In an effort to be accepted by the entire world, a “two-faced” person will socially accommodate anyone in an attempt to be popular and liked by everyone but then later hurls usually vicious and negative barbs in the safety of the darkness of deceit. But this is totally evil because it lacks truth and sincerity, everything that Jesus is and invites us to imitate as His followers. 

    What are some of the ways we can be imitators of the Apostles who have given their entire lives to follow Jesus and avoid two-faced people and behavior? First, let us practice honesty in every situation and on every level possible. Little lies become medium-sized and on and on. Although in some circles, being honest means being vulnerable, nothing could be further from the truth. Take the opportunity as often as possible during your day to avoid creating white lies or painting another person’s character as much inferior to yours. You would be surprised how honesty and a strong grasp on the truth actually begins to create a climate of trust and sheds light on elements which are not truthful and good. “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.” If we truly want to live in peace and have peacefully good nights of sleep, it is best to trust Jesus with all judgments and be as real throughout the day as we are in the silence of our hearts. We simply cannot afford to live in the shadows, the darkness or always in the background offering petty commentary about people because it makes us feel secure. Only mold grows in damp, dark crevices.

    “Don’t worry about those who talk behind your back, they’re behind you for a reason.”  Anonymous

  • The Feast Of Friendship

    Reflection on Mass Reflection for August 23, 2019

    “For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” The touching story of Ruth and Naomi found in our First Reading from the Old Testament highlights the great joy and value of true friendship in our lives. In the wake of famine and the shadow of death, commitment and confidence describe the fruits of a loving friendship that seeks the best of and for the other. This particular passage is often quoted in may different kinds of genres and literary circles, even highlighted in a famous movie about thirty years ago (Fried Green Tomatoes); but all too often the last line of the beautiful sentiment. “Your God will be my God” is omitted or forgotten.

    “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is why the Gospel of today makes the complete point about the endearing and enduring nature of true friendship. Unless it lasts into eternity, it will remain on the level acquaintance or passing memories of a long life. The entire wealth of the Law and thus our true way back to Heaven to live forever with God is summarized beautifully when we first love God with all our being and then love our neighbor as ourselves. The Lord creates a lasting bond that is forever, precisely because He is forever. Today give thanks to God for your friends and if time allows, call them and let them know how much you appreciate them in your 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

  • Do You Have A Reservation?

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 22, 2019

    “If you deliver the Ammonites into my power, whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites shall belong to the LORD. I shall offer him up as a burnt offering.” There is so much rich symbolism in just this one phase that it bears more enhanced explaining and discovery. It is all about making a promise, a vow and keeping your words with integrity. We can make several poignant references to our own personal lives when we receive an important invitation to any number of significant events and then say and promise that we will be there. We remember how wonderful it feels to be included, to be esteemed and wanting to attend any important moment and enrich it with our presence. We also see that we must be very careful of what we promise because the consequences could be dire. Jephthah learned that lesson the hard way:  “Alas, daughter, you have struck me down and brought calamity upon me. For I have made a vow to the LORD and I cannot retract.”

    “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” Here we have an additional and awesome image that opens, if just for a portion of the time, a powerful insight into what the Scriptures mean about living in and for the Kingdom of God here on earth. There is definitely a universal call to holiness that involves a personal relationship with Jesus. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.” Jesus makes Himself readily available and presents a message of hope, salvation and promise but not all are open to that kind of life. “Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’” As a result of that widespread rejection, those whom no one would consider open to the Kingdom are invited and they seem to approach out of a tremendous amount of personal need and circumstance. “My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?” The integrity of the invitation and the one who is inviting must involve a serious and balanced attitude as to what living in the Kingdom actually means and looks like. Even though many will initially respond in the positive and start well in their walk with the Lord, faith and hope must be constantly fed by Word and Sacrament that Jesus gives as mainstay of living in and for the Kingdom. Anything less than that could spell real trouble for the believer who is simply not prepared for the journey. It is tantamount to making a vow that we find horrible to keep and worse not to. When we respond to the Lord’s invitation, let’s make sure we are ready to mean “yes” when we say “yes.”

    Do not promise to live forever rather promise to forever live while you are alive. Atticus

  • Justice At The End Of The Day

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 21, 2019

    It has been posited that there is no real justice this side of Heaven. We can look at our own human history to see a glimpse of that when we remember that slavery, Apartheid, the horrible Holocaust were legal. Abortion is today a legal matter. With that in mind, we could conclude that legality is a matter of power rather than justice. This is why we begin our Reflection today by remembering and echoing the constant cry for justice that is common throughout all the Scriptures. “The word of God is living and effective, able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.”

    To bring this discussion to more concrete terms, the Gospel of the day gives us such rich morsels to ponder, wonder and then to act: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his  vineyard.” The vineyard is clearly a metaphor for life in the Kingdom and where we should plant ourselves squarely in it. But there is some element of injustice there, isn’t there? The people who started out early in the morning receive the same wage as those who worked just an hour. Does that seem fair? Of course not. Maybe if this was a lesson in macro-economics, which it is not. Remember, it is about the mysterious life in the Kingdom where not everyone has the same amount of talents, gifts or even opportunities yet everyone is accountable for what they do with what they have. Thus jealousy and envy are vicious poisons that can kill the life of the Spirit in the one trying to follow Jesus. The wages at stake (even at the moment of Jesus’ first telling of the parable) are not actual daily wages for vineyard-laborers, but forgiveness, life, and salvation for believers. Seen like this, it really does not matter when a person receives them whether early or late in life, as long as they do find them before the end of the day, the final call, death, that is. The key here is get working in the Kingdom as soon as possible no matter who is first second, third, fourth, etc…

    A very good friend of mine once made an astounding observation which I never forgot. He said that there will be three different surprises when we get to Heaven after death. We will be surprised by those who are there, those who are not there, and that we are there. So you see, real justice is served at the end.

  • Needle In Pray-Stack

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 20, 2019

    “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” We have arrived once again, intrepid readers, to one of the most famous of phrases that is quoted by Christians and philosophers alike concerning the improbability of a large beast of burden being able to squeeze through the most tiny of all crevices. The stunning truth behind this wonderful selection has been treated before in these pages and shall be repeated in a condensed form. Clearly Jesus was not actually talking about a sewing needle but rather about a narrow entrance into the city of Jerusalem, a gate known locally as “the eye of the needle.” This gate was so small that a camel could only be brought through with great difficulty, squeezed through on its knees only after all the load of goods to be sold and traded were removed from its tired back. Unburdened and prayerful is the way to enter the Kingdom!

    “Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.” The real thrust of our readings today is quite clear. If we do not practice humility we will grow into haughty people who do not give God or others the time of day or the respect and care that is deserving. And while all this degradation is occurring slowly, we lose faith and confidence in our Lord God who loves us so much and never takes His eyes off of our paths. The number one cure for this kind of pride which leads to a loss of faith is a deep, personal and engaging prayer life. This is because we must first acknowledge our dependence and need upon God then realize that we are all on this planet together trying desperately to get to Heaven. The camel for us today becomes a symbol for us to remember to uncomplicate our lives from pettiness and the inordinate desire for possessions and get on our knees in prayer as often as we can. The more we do this, the happier we will be.

    The secret of getting ahead is getting started. Mark Twain

  • Meeting The Shadowy Future

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 19, 2019

    “Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.” Reading the Bible always calls out to us to realize that whenever we feel insecure, unloved, or unimportant, we must remember to whom we belong. The very price for our lives was paid by the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross and that payment made all of us not only members as in a club, but actually really parts of the Body of Christ, each having our own individuality and strength, weakness and struggle. This is the great gift of the Church and every day we move closer and closer to the Heavenly City that awaits all the billions that have ever brought the precious name of Jesus to their lips.

    “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  Daily there is a deep call to renew, maintain and nourish this belonging in a world that values selfishness, earthly possessions and power. These unfortunate priorities create such misery and emptiness that even in some circles, from those who should know better, there are vicious attacks on the very source of beauty and healing that are celebrated, proclaimed and lived in the Church.

    “When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Every day, you and I choose how we live and react and respond to the world around us, sometimes seemingly spinning out of control. Every day is a gift, certainly, but also an opportunity to stand as an apostle or slither like a traitor. “Then come, follow me.”

    Look not mournfully into the past, it comes not back again. Wisely improve the present, it is yours. Go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear and with a bold, heroic heart.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow