The Word of God

Daily Reflections

  • Noah’s Mark

    Reflection on Mass Reading for February 19, 2019

    “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just.” Since the first few moments after the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, God began to work on His sovereign promise to give humanity a second chance to move forward and to exist safe and in holy, sacred space in order to find the way back to heaven. We see this effort dramatically unfold in the call of Noah to gather faithful people and begin a new chapter in the global walk to heaven. As the time unfolded after the words and teaching of the prophets, this renewal was going to be first and foremost through His Our Lord Jesus Christ who would be incarnated into our existence and born of the Virgin Mary. In the three years that Jesus walked the earth, He began the work of creating what we could call a “second ark,” that is, the Church as the people of God where all would be welcomed, safe and prepared for the journey of life. 

    “And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” The Gospel today has Jesus reminding those around Him and us that not only will the Church be a refuge for all who want eternal happiness and joy, but all will be fed for the journey. Today as in the days of Noah and the Apostles, we can rejoice with this awesome invitation to live and move and have our being safe with the Lord within His Church and led by such a worthy Captain.

    There is but one Church in which people find salvation, just as outside the ark of Noah it was not possible for anyone to be saved.  ~St. Thomas Aquinas

  • Soft Hearts, Hard Feet

    Reflection on Mass Reading for February 18, 2019

    “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” The preceding experience which clearly caused Our Lord to sigh in what seems to be exasperation continues into our modern world. After all we have seen as human race during our relatively short stint upon this planet, there are many who seriously doubt the role and awesome power of the Creator. If put to those skeptics what it would take to believe in Christ, their response could sound something like this: “I would have to see Jesus do a miracle with my own eyes.” This sentiment is not uncommon. More than one person has held that he would believe in Jesus if he could see Him with his own eyes. Today’s passage, however, indicates that this is wishful thinking. If one’s heart is fully hardened against God, seeing Jesus Himself do a miracle will not be enough to cause belief. The response of Jesus to those who had seen His miracles is instructive. God will not do tricks for those who will believe, let alone those who have hardened their hearts against Him. Thus, Jesus told the Pharisees that they would get no sign from Him. If what they had seen did not convince them, nothing would.  

    Perhaps this horrible hardness and resistance to the joy of faith stemmed from the first recorded murder which we read in the First Reading. “Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out in the field.’ When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” Just as the first brother killed another so does this unrelenting doubt absorb the person to extinguish the flame of faith and love in the hearts of so many who would otherwise be strong believers. What this clearly teaches us is that we must be open to the love of Jesus and starve our doubts every chance we get. Our feet and our resolve must be strong going forth into this wounded world knowing always that the Lord Jesus is always there for us.

    God wants us to have soft heats and hard feet. The trouble with so many of us is that we have hard hearts and soft feet. Jackie Pullinger

  • Where I Stand

    Reflection on Mass Reading for February 17, 2019

    St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was once asked about her prayer life. The interviewer asked, “When you pray, what do you say to God?” The beautiful Saint replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.” Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?” She replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.” Here was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next. Finally Mother Teresa broke the silence by saying, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”    

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” The secret of the spiritual  successes of this great Saint, and ours, is given beautifully in the Gospel. Jesus, like Moses in the Old Testament, comes down the mountain to deliver and impart “The New Law of Love,” and much like the Ten Commandments, these give life and point the clear way to salvation. These are known as the Beatitudes and “are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching.” (CCC 1716) “They shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life.”  (CCC 1717) And “they respond to the natural desire for happiness.This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.”  The Beatitudes create the blueprint of living a beautiful, Christian life. These eight blessings are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching and respond to the natural desire that we all have for true and lasting happiness.

    And they do one more thing: The Beatitudes proclaim the blessings and rewards that have already been secured for those who love Jesus. Just imagine, there’s a place in Heaven for you and it has your name on it! Today, sometime before it is all over and done with, take some time to revisit this passage in Matthew’s Gospel. Go over each Beatitude slowly and with positive intention. Tell the Lord, “I want to succeed.” And you will: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

  • Still Hungry

    Reflection on Mass Reading for February 16, 2019

    “They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.” What can we safely assume when we think of leftovers? Let us begin with our own collective experiences growing up in a family. Leftovers meant that while there was still food from another previous meal, good money-saving etiquette dictated that we eat what we have first before buying something more. It meant that we were not a wasteful family. It meant that there was more than the distinct possibility that some dishes actually tasted better after a day or two of marinating and bathing in sauces and gravies which made for the repeat even better than the premier. “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” It also powerfully suggested that somehow, someway we were all going to eat because the Lord Jesus was truly the head and constant guest of the family. 

    “You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” Even the perennial presence of such over abundance of love and joy, our response to such memories was and is clear. We are to treat each other as members of the much larger family we know as Church and practice the same over generous spirit with which the Lord God shows to us. That means first and foremost to obey God and all that He has given us to live, not just the food on the table, but also the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Such negligent behavior has always had disastrous effects: “The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken.” This mega-generous reveal cannot be lost on any of us today. On that day in the Gospel, the leftovers barely filled vast bread baskets and over-flowing storage because there would literally be billions coming after that miracle to be fed and then finally to a place where there will be no more hunger or pain, just Jesus, who re-opened the gates of Paradise with His own life so that we could have life to the fullest. Here and now. 

  • Seeing Is Believing

    Reflection on Mass Reading for February 15, 2019

    “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked.” Some say that the eyes are the window to the soul in that we are able to reveal what is the very depths of our souls through them to others. When Jesus speaks of eyes and light, He means all people should keep their eyes on God because the eyes are the windows to the soul. Eyes should not focus on trash such as pornography, filth, or extravagant “over-the-top” lifestyles. This is what He means when He says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When Adam and Eve had ruined their near-perfect relationship with God, their eyes were opened to the truth of what they had done and how far they left the presence of God in so little time. We, the descendants of the original sin instigators, have been given the only solution to the human problem of hopelessness: “Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.”

    “Ephphatha!” The Gospel of ours today crown these thoughts with the most dramatic and marvelous scene by which Jesus approaches humanity figured in the person of a deaf man who had a speech impediment. The analogy should be clear. Humanity has an impediment and it is a closed heart and a closed mind. Jesus is the supreme and only solution-remedy to such a universal dilemma. Today, be especially open to the Lord working in your life today. You will hear His voice and speak His words: “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

    Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • No Shame

    Reflection on Mass Reading for February 14, 2019

    “The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.” There are many who ascribed shame as a very subversive aspect of human experience. As a self-conscious emotion, shame tends to formulate an internal state of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonor, regret, or disconnection. Shame is a clear signal that our positive feelings have been interrupted. Almost anything can trigger shame in us, but so can a failure to meet our own ideals or standards especially if that failure is directed toward someone we love or admire. Adam and Eve felt no shame because they were living in perfect harmony with the God who loved them and all humanity into existence. That would soon tragically change when they allowed trust in God to die then they disobeyed Him.    

    “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” There was no apparent shame in the Gospel passage of our today. The woman begging the Lord for a miracle to drive the demon out of her daughter, knew exactly and confidently who it was she was standing right before listening to what she was requesting. And her request was not for her but for someone she loved so her motives were entirely selfless. What all this teaches is simple. Our lives would be entirely free from the ravages of shame and guilt if we were to realize and confirm Jesus as our Lord and Savior and speak confidently before His mighty presence, including confessing our sins and asking for the help for every moment along our spiritual journey.  Given that shame can lead us to feel as though our whole self is flawed, bad, or subject to exclusion, the love for God and increased faith it motivates us to be honest with God and ourselves and others and make our prayer life one that is rich, integral and beautiful. 

    Father, you brought the light of the gospel to the Slavic nations through Saint Cyril and his brother Saint Methodius. Open our hearts to understand your teaching and help us to become one in faith and praise.  

    O glorious advocate and protector, St. Valentine, look with pity upon our wants, hear our requests, attend to our prayers, relieve by your intercession the miseries under which we labor, and obtain for us the divine blessing that we may be found worthy to join you in praising the Almighty for all eternity through the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

  • The High Price Of Freedom

    Reflection on Mass Reading for February 13, 2019

    “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.” Today we are once again served a delightfully interesting and meaning-laden Scripture from the very first book of the Bible. The Forbidden Fruit has long been a fascination among artists, authors, and theologians ever since it was first plucked from that remote corner of the garden of Eden. The idea that a specific fruit was somehow the cause of all the calamities and diseases and all the foils that have befallen humanity all these centuries is a little far fetched. What was the real sin here? Adam and Eve abused their freedom, allowed trust in God to weaken in their hearts making them susceptible to the wiles of the devil causing them to disobey the only Protector they ever knew. So you see, it was not what went into them that caused corruption. It was an internal betrayal hitting at the very core of their soul. 

    “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” You see, whatever is inside a person’s heart will undoubtedly and most assuredly find its way to the surface. Whatever has found a home in the human heart will eventually venture out into the normal course of interaction with other people and that is what defiles. Our fellow humans sometimes say ridiculous things because they do not stop first to think about the consequences of words. They whine and complain because that is seemingly all they know how to describe life. We who follow Jesus must listen to His wise counsel today and make the obvious conclusion: if what is within us makes us wise or defiled, then by all means let us invite Jesus to live there first. Then whatever we say should sound a lot like Him. 

    Integrity is telling myself the truth. Honesty is telling the truth to other people. Spencer Johnson