The Word of God

Daily Reflections

  • Serve to Live, Live to Serve

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 21, 2018

    “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.” 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.”

    To serve another human being without counting the cost, expecting credit and wanting a reward or payback is not natural: it is super-natural. And for super-natural lives, we are in need of super-natural food: The Eucharist. Jesus Christ, within hours of his death, revealed the very mystery of divine life as it sustains earthly existence when He gave us all of Himself: “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Following Jesus and living a Christian life which 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 is essential to the one who understands 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

  • Now and Later

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 20, 2018

    There is an interesting connection among three key elements that Jesus presents to us today: 1) Denial of God 2) Denial of the Holy Spirit 3) Defense of our Faith. Let’s take them in that order:

    First, we are clearly told that if we live as if Jesus never came and/or we never met Him, we should expect the same treatment, that is, He will do the same. Second, if we speak with words of hatred and defiance against the Holy Spirit, and surely against God in any way, shape or form, we are to expect serious consequences. And lastly, if we neither deny nor defy God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, but rather live in Him and through Him, then we can and should expect that our very speech, our lives, our thoughts, and all that makes us who we are will be defined by the depth and breadth of our love of God in every day life. In other words, we will certainly shine.

    Here is the major connection: All three warnings and predictions have to do with the next life. Jesus promises if we recognize Him now on earth, He will recognize us later in heaven. If anyone repeatedly closes their eyes to God and shuts their ears to His voice now, they will most certainly come to a point where they can no longer recognize God, and thus they see evil as good and good as evil even to that tragic point of that person’s last breath in which they could very well miss any chance of living forever with God in eternity, that is, later. Finally, if our deep trust is with the Lord, His Holy Spirit is promised to us as it was to Abraham and all his descendants as we read in the First reading so that we will never have to worry what to say before this world’s authority, now, or to the authority of heaven, later.

    Question for the day: What are the two most important moments of our life? Now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

  • More Kindness, Less Judgment

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 19, 2018

    St. Paul makes it very clear most emphatically in his Letter to the Ephesians that humanity is lost without the Gospel. And yet, Christians cannot hide behind precepts and regulations and mount some kind of superior plane or landing from which to judge people and forget that we, that is, all of humanity, are in the same boat. I heard someone say quite directly to another: “Don’t judge other people just because they don’t sin like you do.” Paul explains that the final judgment will be a review of performance, not of privilege. From this perspective Gentiles stand on an equal footing with Jews, and Jews cannot condemn the sins of Gentiles without condemning themselves. It also underscores the very important corollary aspect of this teaching which declares that judging another human being does not define who they are; it defines who we are.

    St. Luke continues and completes this thought for us by making sure that we realize that the Pharisees exhibit no real evidence of virtue just because they are in mere possession of laws. Mark Twain once responded to a man who was going to the Holy Land to see where the Ten Commandments were given with, “Why don’t you just stay home and live them?“ Good point, Mr. Clemens. “The worst prison,” St. John Paul wrote, “would be a closed heart,” and this is precisely why you and I must know the difference between judging and admonishing. Arrogant judgment condemns because it is motivated by pride; admonishing the sinner liberates because it is motivated by love. Each produces very different results. We are worth more than any bird flying around your home today and you see how nature exists and continues to move forward into the cycle of life. So it is with us. We shall not be afraid but we cannot resort to silly adolescent critical and judgmental attitudes. “May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us; who have put our hope in you.”

    “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  ~St. Teresa of Calcutta

  • In Case Of Abandonment

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 18, 2018

    “At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me.” Today on the Feast of St. Luke, we have been served a most excellent meal of solace, encouragement and strength through the experience of all who serve the Gospel and who want to do the right thing. This of course is the second course of a meal before which was served a plate of cold, lifeless abandonment and betrayal by those whom were least suspected. But who doesn’t know this plate? Anyone who has lived a good healthy amount of time will recognize it right away. What is not so recognizable is how to deal with it. This is where the Psalmist whisks in right away our third course with the affirmation that “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.” Please note the added seasonings here: “your friends.” We are the Lord’s friends and thus cannot and should not expect anything else or better in the treatment we will receive from those around us, especially from those we have helped along the way and trusted. With just a little amount of savoring, we can find great comfort in this and find blessings beyond measure.

    Now it is time for the main course to be served and that we find with tremendous exquisite tastes in the Gospel. Let’s take this apart a little to uncover the richness: “The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.” Notice the Lord sends us in pairs, that is, not alone. We need the support of another in ministry and the Christian walk. “Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” We go forward with our eyes wide open thanks to Jesus. This is no cake walk. It will be difficult and there will be wolves, the two-legged type. “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals.” Do not get attached to things, even the praise and accolades of those around you. Be wary of anything that takes your focus off of the mission, which is quite simple to exclaim: “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.”

    Dessert is finally served: In case of abandonment, abandon yourself to Jesus then move on. There are many other exciting and healthy meals ahead. St. Luke, pray for us.

  • Spiritual Detox

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 16, 2018

    “You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” There are many among us who swear by the deep, internal cleansing and detoxifying process whereby the poisons and noxious substances are purged from the bloodstream. And while this is neither the time or place to have an intelligent conversation about these purported benefits, it is safe to say that there is a deep and beneficial connection to our spiritual lives. Using another medical analogy, sin and selfishness can creep into our lives like plaque upon our gum lines. Following the Lord and being completely honest with ourselves is like floss which seeks to go deep and eradicate the hidden filth that seems to accumulate without our realizing it. The Psalm today also opens the heart to listen carefully in prayer to the promptings and inspiration from the Holy Spirit: “Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.”

    “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.” Another crucial part of a spiritual life filled with integrity is humility and honesty. Many have to come to understand that we are only as sick as our secrets which basically means that a secret which is kept in the dark usually grows and festers and ultimately destroys a person. The good news is that once it is exposed to light and released, all its ugly power is gone. Unfortunately there are people who are proud and refuse to admit that there are issues and areas that are in need of a spiritual detox in order to clear and eradicate this lack of self-knowledge. Tragically, this leads to a growing negativity and self-loathing while keeping them sick and trapped in sinful behavior. The awesome truth about life is that we are sick and we need Jesus. Now the battle is more than half-won.

    Let us pray: Lord Jesus, hear my pray and walk into my soul and cleanse me with Your Love. I am yours. I can hide nothing from you. Help me be honest with myself so I may find your Truth. Amen.

  • The Shape Of Things

    Reflection on Mass Readings for October 17, 2018

    “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.” There is a very interesting connection in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians today that involves the constant and iconic battle between the flesh and the spirit. The fruits of each are easily noticed and those who live by the Gospel experience and exude the power of truth that pierces all pretense and lies. However, he sadly admits that there are those who would prefer to suppress the truth that brings the very shame that Jesus came to eradicate. This, in turn, incurs anger both from heaven and from nature because living a lie can only bring humiliation, lack of self-respect, and shame. We could summarize a great deal of Paul’s writing (Theology) with this phrase: “You are either being formed by the Gospel or deformed by the world.”

    “Woe to you Pharisees!” As if to apply these lofty principles for us to learn more profoundly, Jesus confronts the Pharisees lodging a number of very clear and piercing observations that clearly place them in the category of those who live in the flesh. Here is a textbook, working definition of hypocrisy: judge only by appearance, look only how great a person looks rather how good he or she is, notice and point out what’s wrong with others and forget the positive, and, of course, throw all the attention away from yourself as if your moral heights defy gravity. Lest we think that being Pharisaical is just silly and idiotic, take a look at the actual Greek word for “fool” that Jesus is ascribed here: mōrós (we get the word, “moron, moronic” in English) – properly, dull (insipid), flat (without an edge); mentally inert; lacking a grip on reality as though brainless. OK, we get it. And before we think that this only happened in the day and time of Jesus, it still happens every time a person prays, goes to Church, talks the talk (invokes the presence of Jesus) and then acts like a Pharisee by embodying the working definition of hypocrisy. It is clear what we must do: live in the light; forgive as often as needed; be real. Knowledge makes people humble and arrogance make them ignorant. This is how we become formed by the Gospel and find ourselves in the good shape of things to come.

  • I Will Get Through This Day

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 15, 2018

    Today is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, (1515-1582), probably the female saint and mystic with greatest influence in the world on so many levels. Below is one of her most famous poems which we will intersperse with passages from the Scriptures today.

    Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee: All things pass. “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” God never changes. “Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.” Patience attains all that it strives for. “If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts.” He who has God finds he lacks nothing. “High above all nations is the LORD; above the heavens is his glory.” God alone suffices. “And there is something greater than Jonah here.”

    We are free because of the desire of God to send us His only begotten Son that enwraps His mercy and love all around us every single day. Do not let anything rob you of any joy or peace today. You will get through this day because you started with Jesus and you will end with Him. Blessed be the name of the Lord!