The Word of God

Daily Reflections

  • Follow My Lead

    Reflection on Mass for August 20, 2018

    The Gospel of today deserves special mention and time to ingrain its magnificent wisdom into our hearts and minds. Let us take a look at the structure of the passage and take away wonderful lessons of wisdom and walking the Christian journey.

    We have questions: “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus rearranges the question to better correspond to truth: “Why do you ask me about the good?” We respond with deeper faith to Jesus’ lead into the Commandments: “Which ones?” Jesus takes us to a place of surrender and obedience: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” The young man in the Gospel goes away sad because he had too many distractions, attachments and self-imposed obstacles. But the voice of Jesus continues to echo in our hearts and minds: “Then come, follow me.”

    Now this is where we fashion our own personal ending to the story today. Either we take the path of the over-indulged and pre-occupied immature Christian: “You have forgotten God who gave you birth.” Or we can complete the spiritual masterpiece before us:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” The choice, as always, is ours.

  • A Moveable Feast

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 19, 2018

    “To the one who lacks understanding, she says, ‘Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!'” There may not be too many people among our readers who do not like to sit down to a scrumptious, fun and filling meal, that is, yes, even healing and comforting. Some have believed that you can learn much about life from your meals: simplicity and freshness are a powerful combination, expectations are best if they are managed, simple is often better and perhaps the finest lesson is the sharing a meal is an awesome way to break down barriers, build trust and develop lifelong friendships. “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”

    That is why every time we sit down to eat no matter what the circumstance, there is yet another opportunity to get closer to God and each other or to move father and farther away. We could say that every time we eat can be a step in the wise or foolish direction, which becomes a standard and measure of where our lives are actually going at that time in our lives. “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.”

    “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.” The lesson of the Scriptures for us today revolves around the quintessential meal in which Jesus gives us His own Body and Blood as real food and real sustenance. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” We enter into such a mystery of life and love that it completely transforms our way of being and acting in this life. Wherever we go, in this life or the next, we take this meal with us because Jesus is a moveable feast.

  • Functional Christians

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 18, 2018

    “Fathers have eaten green grapes, thus their children’s teeth are on edge.” For a while in the secular media, it seemed to have been quite fashionable to place inordinate blame on parents and family systems for the problems that some adults now experience. The trend to excuse their own actions and sinful, even immoral behavior enveloped the sound and apparently rational belief that they were truly powerless and without any free will in place because their fathers were alcoholic and abusive or that their mothers didn’t want them. “Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you.” Some talk about not being told as children that they were loved or that all problems are because the genes passed on to them without ever considering any personal responsibility for any of their actions or most importantly, their attitudes toward life and love. “Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.”

    “Create a clean heart in me, O God.” While there may be some truth in some of these excuses or explanations, the truth remains that parents do in fact have a greater influence on society than any other people in the world. However, no one has greater influence on us than God does. “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” The harm in the most dysfunctional family should be eclipsed by the perfect functioning of the family that is the Holy Trinity. Even the worst things ever happened to us pale in comparison to what our heavenly Father has done for us when He gave His Son to die and rise to save us. Sin and evil have significantly increased, but God’s love and grace have far surpassed them. We have no excuses. We are in God’s functional family. “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord GOD. Return and live!”

  • Hard Heart, Hard Life

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 17, 2018

    “Thus says the LORD: I will deal with you according to what you have done, you who despised your oath, breaking a covenant.” The Prophet Ezekiel makes it very clear most emphatically in our First Reading that humanity is lost without the covenant that was extended to us and ratified in the Gospel. And yet, Christians cannot hide behind precepts and regulations and mount some kind of superior plane or landing from which to judge people and forget that we, that is, all of humanity, are in the same boat. I heard someone say quite directly to another: “Don’t judge other people just because they don’t sin like you do.” The Scriptures explain that the final judgment will be a review of performance, not of privilege. From this perspective, all the promises that we make in this life must be honored and none more profound than the commitment of love and life that marriage so eloquently capsulizes and expresses. God does not go back on His promises and neither are we to doubt the beauty of promise and commitment.

    “Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?’” St. Matthew continues and completes this thought for us by making sure that the Pharisees know that mere possession of laws is no evidence of virtue. 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 that the Word of God has everything to do with keeping promises and the commitments of love: “Receive the word of God, not as the word of men, but, as it truly is, the word of God.”

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

  • Baggage Claim

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 16, 2018

    “They have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house.” Without a doubt, none of us would want to be accused of having a closed mind when reading and sifting through the Scriptures, especially as they are presented to us every single day of the year, especially at Mass. Every time we either read or hear passages from the Bible, therein lies yet another trove of wisdom that is directly aimed at our well being and redemption. Take for instance the First Reading this fine day. Did you realize a certain word that was used three times there? It was the word “baggage” and it was nestled within the comparison to moving on from a rebellious situation as if there was another exile taking place. Baggage included everything that a person saw that was necessary, perhaps, even more specifically, everything that they could carry and place on their backs for a very long journey.

    What if this journey was a symbol for the journey that you and I are on toward the promised land of heaven? What then would the baggage represent or signify? “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?” Unforgiving situations where one or two people do not forgive each other or when anyone holds a strong and ruthless grudge or harsh, critical judgmental attitudes against another certainly would constitute baggage over the limit and not only restricts the ability to love in this life but also hampers and may even prevent our final passage into heaven. “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” No one has ever successfully attempted to diminish the pain that another person causes us, especially if we held that person in a place of deep trust and love. That was never, nor should ever be, the issue. The real challenge is this: is there any pain or betrayal in this life that we would think is worth losing heaven and an eternal life with Jesus? I didn’t think so.

  • The Greatest Assumption

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 15, 2018

    Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, a celebration, as we have stated so many times before, which recalls the mystery of Jesus Christ and enlightens and strengthens our faith in our salvation which was lovingly and spectacularly achieved and accomplished by the Lord. Our Reflection will take on three distinct and important segments. First, our First Reading, from the Book of Revelation, gives us a magnificent glimpse of heaven where the Ark, that which holds the presence of God is opened immediately followed by a “great sign.” “God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Now we could join the very many who have speculated on who this could be but the description of the sign makes it very clear that this is Jesus: “She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.”

    The second point is just as poignant as it is important: “For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man.” The beauty and majesty of God’s love for us in sending us His only Son Jesus lies in the very act of redeeming our race and giving us the second chance to get back into heaven. The only way this sacrificial and salvific act could be accomplished was and is by God who becomes one of us to completely assume our human nature and unite it back to God. This is why Mary’s role in our destiny is so blessed and crucial. We believe that such a person whose body held the Body of Christ and physically donated her own DNA to the her son was theological and spiritual. Her body could not have known corruption and was thus assumed into heaven to await all of us.

    Finally, the Feast of the Assumption speaks volumes to our attitude on earth while we wait for our heavenly call to go home. “From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.” Truly, the greatest act of love has been presented to us in the Incarnation, God becoming human through the power of the Holy Spirit and the body of the Virgin Mary. The Scriptures speak to the eternal promise which was made to us and our entire history so that no matter where we find ourselves, there is always hope, not only for a better tomorrow but for a life in complete joy that will never end. This has the great potential of shaping our attitudes here on earth and spreading joy rather than heartache while we walk the planet. Live a blessed life and be a blessing to everyone you meet today.  “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

  • Purity And Martyrdom

    Reflection on Mass Reading for August 14, 2018

    Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe who is best known and revered as the priest-monk-prisoner of Auschwitz Concentration Camp during the horrific events in Nazi Germany during the Second World War. He was very active in promoting the Immaculate Virgin Mary and was strongly influenced by a vision he had of the Virgin Mary when he was twelve years old: “That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.”

    “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.” As in the dramatic call to Ezekiel in our First Reading, our Saint of the day likewise received the awesome two-fold call to purity and martyrdom which he embraced completely with his entire life. “How sweet to my taste is your promise!” “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.” We can and should easily recognize the sacrifice imbued by the childlike faith and confidence of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Never abandoning his priesthood while a prisoner, Kolbe was a victim to severe violence and harassment. At the height of perpetrated evil with the death camp, prisoners were chosen to face death by starvation to discourage attempted escapes and although he was not chosen to die, he nonetheless volunteered to take the place of a man who had a wife and children. During the last days of his life, St. Maximilian led prayers and remained calm. After more than twelve days of dehydration and starvation, the guards gave him a lethal injection of carbolic acid after which he raised his left arm and calmly awaited death. He died on August 14, the vigil of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.

    While the majority of us will not have these same or even similar events, we can and should understand that we are, in our own chosen states of life, called to practice a pure and chaste approach to human life and to give witness of our faith wherever and whenever possible. It is the same Jesus through His Mother Mary who inspires us to continue the path of holiness and strength in this life. May we be encouraged by the heroic witness of St. Maximilian Kolbe, now and always. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”