The Word of God

Daily Reflections

  • Astonished

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 4, 2020

    “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” Imagine a long journey to visit someone very special in your life, perhaps a grandmother or an old friend who lives far away in a small town where you used to live and haven’t visited for quite a while. As your vehicle leaves your city and travels into the country, the surroundings and the signs begin to remind you to have a happier, less complicated times. Then the smells kick in. Just think of the aromas of childhood and blissful memories as they begin to flood every fiber of your being. You are almost there. You are not far. This experience must have filled the scribe in our Gospel today. We must be eager for that same intimate familiarity as well and it is truly ours as the Second Reading relates.

    “Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation.” This eagerness to grow closer to Jesus is the best way to travel toward Heaven in this life. Wanting with every effort we can muster to be acceptable and pleasing to God who loves us as we are, doing everything as if no one was watching except the One, and always attempting to speak the truth is our plan of action. With this, we can rest assured that we are not far at all.

    “We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” Brennan Manning

  • The Happiness Trap

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 3, 2020

    “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” There are more than just a few people who have wondered what may sound to others to be unthinkable: is it possible that pursuing happiness actually a cause of sour, distasteful unhappiness? Perhaps in all of Scripture there can be found no more perfect of a focus group to highlight those who fall into a happiness trap than the sad group (no pun intended) in today’s Gospel Reading: “Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and put this question to him…” You see, the real clue here as to why these people are so miserable is because they do not hope for or believe in the Resurrection. How sad for the Sadducees.

    “You are greatly misled.” This is definitely not a phrase you nor I would ever want to hear from Jesus which is why we are so richly blessed to have the Word nourish us today. The Resurrection of Christ is everything. Life would not be worth living if we did not realize that a much better eternal life was simply waiting for us when our time approaches. Today, lift your head and shake off any regrets or sadness that could lead you to take your focus off the great Miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus. Commit this phrase to memory as you may never know when you might need it for yourself or to share it with someone who needs it even more: “He is not God of the dead but of the living.”

    “The more we try to avoid the basic reality that all human life involves pain, the more we are likely to struggle with that pain when it arises, thereby creating even more suffering.” Russ Harris

  • Asking The Right Question

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 2, 2020

    “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Depending on how you view the scene, this question has traveled down throughout the centuries as famous or infamous. It has become a famous question because it almost always begins the age-old discussion about the relationship between the Church and the Government, or the State. It has become infamous because of the sinister motivation behind the ones asking this “trick-question” of Jesus. “Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, ‘Why are you testing me?'”

    Both perspectives are actually beneficial for us on the journey toward Heaven. The discussion about the Church-State relationship is important to distinguish authority, power, and the greater good for society. The Church should never be in the business of governing and the government should not be established as a spiritual force that mandates or even polices morality. And in this same paragraph, it is important to remember that not everyone who asks “religious” questions is really out for a religious outcome. People can hide behind the veil of piety just to be right, access power, or obtain the upper hand in any given situation. Our First Reading gives us plenty of insight as to how to follow a straight and narrow path toward justice and peace: “Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability.”

    “‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things which are God’s.’ One would like to add: Give unto man things which are man’s; give man his freedom and personality, his rights and religion.” Pope Pius XII

  • Your Mother My Defense

    Reflection on Mass Reading for June 1, 2020

    “O happy Virgin, you gave birth to the Lord; O blessed mother of the Church, you warm our hearts with the Spirit of your Son Jesus Christ.” Today, the Church remembers and honors the intense suffering and grief of the Mother of Jesus during His Passion and Death and how these were gloriously transformed to bring us Jesus, Redemption and the Church. There were actually seven individual sorrows that Mary endured as was foretold to her by Simeon the priest of the Temple on the occasion of the Lord’s Presentation. Here is a partial text of a very popular hymn somberly expressing these heartfelt sentiments: At the cross her station keeping, Stood the mournful Mother weeping, Close to Jesus to the last. Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, All his bitter anguish bearing, Now at length the sword had passed. Our present hope for our Christian journey toward Heaven is found here in the mystery of today’s Feast.

    “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?” Let us reflect on the mystery and fruits of suffering as presented by St. John Paul II in a remarkable teaching borne out of his own incredible personal sufferings. First, he says that suffering empowers humility: To suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ. In him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. Secondly, he teaches that suffering is transformative: Down through the centuries and generations, it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace. To this grace, many saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and others, owe their profound conversion. A result of such a conversion is not only that the individual discovers the salvific meaning of suffering but above all that he becomes a completely new person. He discovers a new dimension, as it were, of his entire life and vocation. Finally, he writes that suffering enlivens and grows charity and love for and of others: We could say that suffering . . . is present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one’s “I” on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love that stirs in his heart and actions.

    Thus, suffering in its purest sense is actually the road to holiness and a closer walk and friendship with the Lord Jesus. His mother shed human tears for the Divine Son she helped bring into this world, our world. We cry human tears but not always for what is right and just. Today we seek to move toward complete integrity on this walk of ours toward Heaven, knowing and embracing humility, deep-seated change, and charity which are all great gifts when we suffer with each other, with Jesus always in our hearts and minds as equally dignified members of the Church.

    “Let me mingle tears with you, Mourning him who mourned for me, All the days that I may live. Christ, when you shall call me hence, Be your Mother my defense, Be your cross my victory.” Stabat Mater

  • We Are Living Christs

    Reflection on Mass Reading for May 31, 2020

    “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” This is one of those days that we can honestly greet each other with the happy phrase, “Happy Feast Day!” Why is that? Today the Church celebrates Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles and many gathered with them and the birth of the Church ensued. In some ways, we could say that this is our Birthday celebration because this is how it all began. This is how all of life is transformed and made new again. This is the force of the Gospel especially when it is lived through and in the hearts of believers. This is what motivates the Psalmist to invite us to sing with all our hope and might: “When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”

    “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” Our Second Reading clarifies another compelling reason to ask and openly receive all the gifts that God wishes to impart to us through the Holy Spirit. We are not alone in this life. We have a great impact on and a deep call for service for and with each other. This is what makes the Church a mystery and a hopeful presence in a world that is often without it. make this day special by renewing your Baptism and continuing to ask God for strength of mind and heart. The best, as we have often said here, is yet to come.

    “Without Pentecost, the ‘Christ-event,’ that is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, remains imprisoned in history as something just to remember, think about and merely reflect on. The Spirit of Jesus comes to dwell within us so that we can become ‘living Christs’ here and now.” Henri Nouwen

  • No Book Big Enough

    Reflection on Mass Reading for May 30, 2020

    “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.” The conclusion of the Gospel of St. John with which we have been served today is remarkable in many different ways. First, it clearly shows that not everything that we are to believe is actually written down giving our rich understanding and possession of Sacred Tradition a much-needed boost for understanding. Jesus has in fact left us many wonderful ways and approaches to both find and love Him.

    “He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Never miss an opportunity to share with anyone who would or who might need to listen to your experience meeting and loving the Lord Jesus. Think about this for just a minute, if you had the cure to cancer, wouldn’t you share it? You have the cure to death so why not share that all the time?

    “There isn’t enough room in your life for both fear and faith. Each day, you must decide which one gets to stay.” Dave Willis

  • Only So Many Tomorrows

    Reflection on Mass Reading for May 29, 2020

    “…but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” It is an interesting and acquired taste of irony that we enter this life needing someone else to dress, feed and clean up after us only to find that toward the very end of this amazing life, we will depend on others, not the same people, obviously, to do the same for us. What can we learn from this? One aspect is clear. We are brought into the world with the almost inescapable lessons of service and self-emptying to hopefully initiate for the years that we have with the not-so-unrealistic hope that others will still be there for us when we are at the depths of need and dependence.

    “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” This is precisely why the question that Jesus asks of Peter in the Gospel (and actually three entire times obviously to make a divine point) is startling and realistically geared for each and every one of us who seeks to live a life of integrity and peace and one day find our eternal home in Heaven. Life is certainly too short and too fragile to live selfishly. We are placed here to help each other and everyone has a distinct mission to fulfill. God placed you and me here for a definite and wonderful reason and we first find out what that is and then live life to the absolute fullest. When Jesus asks us, “do you love me?,” the only way to answer is to show Him how much we love each other.

    “Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” St. Pope Paul VI