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Daily Reflections

  • Everyone Has a Mission in Life

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 18, 2017

    “I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.” (Alleluia Verse) Everyone has a mission in life. Everyone spends their life searching for that mission and when one finds it, they hang on for dear life. Others, never discover it and live out their days in less than quiet desperation. This is what we can gather from the readings today. The Lord has fashioned us and sends us forward into this world for a definite purpose and that purpose has everything to do with bearing fruit that will last. That means eternal fruit.

    “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.” (First Reading) This directive is never easy. There will always be those around us who will fight and attempt to destroy the harvest. The First Reading assures each and everyone of us that He will be there to strengthen and guide, and yet, even to protect us from the plotting of those who would pull up the wheat instead of the weeds.

    “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” (Gospel) We are all called then to respond to this great invitation. Every day presents itself with a new opportunity to spread the Gospel and the message of love and forgiveness that is contained right there all the time.

    “Don’t wait for a feeling or love in order to share Christ with a stranger. You already love your heavenly Father, and you know that this stranger is created by Him, but separated from Him, so take those first steps because you love God. It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God.”  (John Piper) 

  • I Can See Clearly Now

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 17, 2017

    “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” (First Reading) “Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?” (Gospel) There is a very interesting connection in Paul’s Letter to the Romans today that involves shame and degradation. He boldly states that he is not ashamed of the Gospel because it has the power of the 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 the phrase, “You are either being formed by the Gospel or deformed by the world.”

    Psalm 19 underscores the power of the truth as it rains down from Heaven itself, filling every vacuum and space in nature. Then we hear from St. Luke, as if to apply these lofty principles for us to learn more profoundly, introducing the Pharisee. It is curious that this self-righteous teacher would actually invite Jesus into his home only to criticize Him. What was he thinking, coming face-to-face with the King of Kings, and then noticing a simple gap of protocol? A textbook, working definition of hypocrisy is to judge only by appearance, look only how great a person looks rather than how good he or she is, to 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. The Lord is quick to aptly describe this behavior as “You fools!” Lest we think that being Pharisaical is just silly and idiotic, take a look at the actual Greek word for fool that Jesus ascribed. The word mōrós (“moron, moronic” in English) is described as dull (insipid), flat (without an edge); mentally inert; lacking a grip on reality as though brainless. We shouldn’t think this only happened in the day and time of Jesus, because 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. Perhaps we should live in the light, forgive as often as needed, and be real. Knowledge makes people humble. Arrogance make them ignorant. People don’t see things as they are; they see things as they are.

  • Humility as Freedom

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 16, 2017

    People who are in the greatest need of mercy and forgiveness, and truly acknowledge it, are the ones who recognize God’s love and presence when they see it.

    The professional-religious class mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, were certainly too jaded and overwhelmed with their own sanctimonious perceptions to recognize wisdom, God’s presence, His love and mercy. It was this group of folks who were always judging, criticizing, condemning and even acting superior to others that stirred Jesus’ words into action. “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it…” (Gospel) The pure and simple remedy to haughty, senseless pride is, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Alleluia Verse)

    Every day we are alive on this planet, we are given plenty of opportunities to forgive, be merciful, practice patience and beg for God’s mercy. Instead, at times, we take the easy path and turn that humility into a raw grab for power over another, a quick salve just to feel better about ourselves, and an underhanded way to escape responsibility for our behavior and actions. Today is yet another opportunity to be humble before God. Here are some practical ideas, (1) strive to do your best without complaining; (2) recognize and accept your own flaws; (3) be grateful for everything, even the hard days; (4) give credit and praise where it is due, especially to others around you; (5) admit when you are wrong and ask for forgiveness; and (6) forgive and move on.

    “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes us as angels.” (St. Augustine)

  • You Have Been Invited

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 15, 2017

    There are three parts to our Reflection today. The first part is the invitation itself from God, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” (First Reading) What we realize here is that at the most basic and realistic level, God’s invitation is one of deep love, grace and miraculous grace. It is not an invitation to do something, nor is it an invitation to a physical place. It is an invitation to live with a new heart and a new spirit.

    The second part is the RSVP from us. “He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.” (Responsorial Psalm) When we receive this call, our souls naturally want to rebel and become stubborn. In humility, however, we know our own fallen nature and we then call out for help with the deepest faith that He will answer since he issued the invitation with the grace to help us fulfill the task. The will of God will never take us where the grace of God will not protect and empower us.

    The third part is the event to which we are all invited. “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” (Gospel) It reminds us that the invitation of God to a feast is as joyous as a wedding feast. If we refuse the invitation of Christ, some day our greatest pain will be, not in the things we suffer, but in the realization of the precious things we have missed. It also reminds us that when we answer the invitation, we must come ready. “My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?” (Gospel) To that I say, Jesus, thank you for this awesome invitation, I’m getting ready; keep the door open for I can’t wait to see You.

    Today’s Feast is in remembrance of St. Teresa of Avila, Spanish mystic philosopher and Catholic Saint.

    “Let nothing disturb thee; let nothing dismay thee: all things pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”

  • We Are Family

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 14, 2017 

    “And then, on that day, the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk.” (First Reading) “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Gospel) Did you notice the stark difference in the tone of Joel’s writing from yesterday to today? Yesterday he was speaking about devastating drought and horrific locusts in droves, all because the people were not faithful and not following their loving God. They were not paying attention to the signs around them and were going to pay for it severely. So what changed? They did. They realized that God was indeed a refuge and a stronghold for them all. Then and only then did their lives turn around. This exuberance and confidence with God in their lives is echoed in the Psalm when we cry out with the Church to rejoice in the Lord, you just.

    Author Dan Schwager has the following brilliant insight.

    “When an admirer wished to compliment Jesus by praising his mother, Jesus did not deny the truth of the blessing she pronounced. Her beatitude (which means blessedness or happiness) recalls Mary’s canticle: All generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:48). Jesus adds to her words by pointing to the source of all true blessedness or happiness — union with God. Mary humbly submitted herself to the miraculous plan of God for the incarnation of his only begotten Son — The Word of God made flesh in her womb, by declaring: I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38). Mary heard the word spoken to her by the angel and she believed it.  On another occasion Jesus pointed out that our true mother and brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and do it (Luke 8:21). They are truly blessed because they know their God personally and they find joy in hearing and obeying his word. Our goal in life, the very reason we were created in the first place, is for union with God. We were made for God and our hearts are restless until they rest in him. An early martyr once said that “a Christian’s only relatives are the saints.” Those who follow Jesus Christ and who seek the will of God enter into a new family, a family of “saints” here on earth and in heaven. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood.  Our adoption as sons and daughters of God transforms all our relationships and requires a new order of loyalty to God and his kingdom. Do you hunger for God and for his Word?”

  • Are You With Me?

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 13, 2017

    The Book of Joel is most remembered in some circles for the opening reading on Ash Wednesday in which the prophet calls the people to repent, fast, and put on sackcloth and ashes. Interestingly enough, he uses the imagery of drought and locusts to discover how well his audience knows the Lord, warn them of something much worse happening if they ignore his preaching, and express his solemn belief that all those who are faithful will one day be richly blessed. Joel warns not to ignore the signs. A drought is a sign of a lack of water, the very source out of which surfaced all of creation in Genesis and Jesus (The New Creation) from His Baptism in the Jordan. Locusts are so numerous that they block the sun and cast a thick shadow over the earth. No walls can stop them; fires in their path are immediately extinguished by the hundreds of these dead insects, and if a door or a window is inadvertently left open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house.

    In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is tested. No, not examined or fielded for helpful information, He is tested. As Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro of Dallas writes, “Life is a battle. Every day is a struggle. If I do not pray, then I am fighting with both hands tied behind my back. I will lose. I will cave in. I will die. I will easily forget why I am here.” The Evil One, and all of its co-workers, will try to limit your prayers because it knows that your prayers will limit evil.  Sometimes, it only takes one prayer to change everything.

  • Persistence Always Wins

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 12, 2017

    The Book of the Prophet Malachi is one of the shortest in the Old Testament and was written nearly 450 years before the birth of Christ, but in many ways, it reads as if it was written last week. God loves His people yet it looks like many reject this awesome gift. Religious leaders are negligent and simply tell people what they want to hear. Faithful couples are leaving their loves preferring sorcerers, liars and insanity-driven power trips while the world seems to be bent on destroying itself. Sounds like a description of the news this morning. The First Reading today is taken from the very last part of this book where God is not vague about how the earth’s cliffhanger is resolved. It will be blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble (straw), and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” igniting fast and disappearing like straw. If we stopped right there, we would no doubt be swallowed up in fatalism and despair and that is why the Psalmist bids us to repeat several times over the words, “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord…Blessed are they who hope in the Lord…Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.” Then what are we to do? Once again, the answer comes to us through the Gospel of the day which is “ask, seek, knock.” Prayer is the life of the new heart. (CCC 2697)

    Throughout the centuries, Christians maintained three main expressions of prayer; vocal, meditation, and contemplation. Together, they make a phenomenal path to peace and holiness, not to mention sanity.

    Vocal – We are body and spirit, thus it is important to express our spiritual feelings outwardly [we speak].

    Meditation – The mind searches to understand what God is saying [we think, imagine, desire and feel].

    Contemplation“We are alone with the One who loves us”  [God speaks, we listen and experience].

    The one who asks through vocal prayer, receives; the one who seeks through meditation, finds; and the one who knocks at the door of contemplation, can change the world one soul at a time.

    “In the confrontation between water and the rock the water always wins. Not through strength but through persistence.”