The Word of God

Daily Reflections

  • 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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  • What’s In A Name?

    Reflection on Mass Reading for April 15, 2021

    On this beautiful Thursday, we are presented in the First Reading with a dramatic and very telling dialogue that makes perfect sense for all of us who are attempting to follow the light of Christ throughout the days we have been given on this planet. First, the Sanhedrin, clearly angry and disgusted with the Apostles, begin this exchange: “We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name.” What is curious about this inflammatory statement is that it seems the high court is more upset about the name of Jesus than the Apostles are still alive and being received with great respect much more than themselves. It is all about the name! Invoking someone’s name like this announces closeness and reverence for the person who bears the name and the willingness to follow, emphasize and share this relationship with everyone in one’s circle of influence, with, in fact, the whole world. The Apostles made this crystal clear in their quick and concise response to the Sanhedrin: “We must obey God rather than men.”

    Many years ago, I saw a short film that told an imaginary story that, at the heart of it, asked this question: “If it were a crime to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” With today’s Readings still echoing in our hearts today, we could ask the same question of ourselves. The answer would have to rest on the amount of time, energy, and vigor that we place in following Christ and believing everything He taught and said He would do for us, especially on our last day on earth. Everything depends on this strong relationship which Jesus would prefer to call a “friendship” because it is truly based on love and forgiveness. So, what’s in a name? Everything. 

    What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  William Shakespeare, Romeo, and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2

    “There are two hundred and fifty-six names given in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ and I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.” Billy Sunday

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