Friday, June 26, 2020
We hear in our Gospel today (Mt 8:1-4) of the great and humble faith of a leper, as well as Jesus revealing his divinity. The leper approaches Jesus, pays him homage and says, "Lord, if you wish (or will - depending on the translation), you can make me clean." Jesus touches the leper then says, "I will; be clean." In what some might see as a foreshadowing of the Lord's prayer, the leper asks that the Lord Jesus' will be done on earth, that being, if it was Jesus' will to clean the leper, let it be so. And as only the divine could do, Jesus, through a simple touch and an act of his will, does just that. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It was Jesus' will that the leper be made clean and return to being within the community, rather than an outcast. Isn't that Jesus' will in heaven, that we be made clean from our sins to be part of his community, rather than being an outcast?
Thursday, June 25, 2020
In our Gospel today (Mt 7:21-29) Jesus makes it pretty clear, not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven, even those who say, "Lord, Lord!" Jesus says it isn't about prophesying or driving out demons or doing mighty deeds in his name. Instead, Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is for the one who does his Father's will. Jesus continues by making the distinction between those who hear his words and act on them and those who hear his words but do not act on them. Considering Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, in the flesh, it seems logical that listening to Jesus and acting on what he says, is doing the will of God. Let us stop to listen to Jesus today and everyday and act on what he says. His instructions are good for the soul now and come judgement day.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
On the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, we read in today’s Gospel (Lk 1:57-66, 80) the birth of John to Elizabeth and Zechariah. It is important to recall Luke's Gospel begins by describing Elizabeth and Zechariah as having no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now both were beyond childbearing years (cf. Lk 1:7). Also remember for nine months Zechariah is not able to speak because he doubted the angel Gabriel that he and Elizabeth would have a child. But the moment Zechariah does as Gabriel said to do, name his newborn son John, Zechariah is once again able to speak. The first thing Zechariah does is he blesses God. Compare the patience of Zechariah and Elizabeth to our "I want it now" society. Here was an elderly, childless couple during a time when being childless was seen as a form of punishment. Late into their lives, still faithful to God, they are blessed with a child. Even when Zechariah is stricken for nine months following his moment of disbelief, as his ability to speak returns he immediately blesses God. We have a few months of a loosely enforced quarantine and we start losing it. People shooting others over a simple request to wear face masks in stores, conspiracies theories being tossed about like beads at Mardi Gras, medical advice disregarded because it hinders our getting back to normal immediately. Patience is a virtue. Let us be virtuous through greater patience, like Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Monday, June 22, 2020
In our Gospel today (Mt 7:1-5) Jesus cautions his disciples not to judge others, saying that the measure by which we judge others, we will be judged. Jesus continues, asking how we can judge others while not recognizing our own faults, using the analogy of seeing a splinter in the eye of our brother while having a wooden beam in our own eye. While we are not to judge someone's heart, we certainly can and should discern right from wrong. For example; we know someone driving 50 mph in a 25 mph school zone is violating the speed limit and that is wrong. What we don't know is the person's heart, or why this driver was speeding. Are they racing to the hospital because of a medical emergency? Or, do they believe they are above the law? We would do well to heed Jesus' instructions, particularly in these days of instant news and soundbites. What we are shown and told isn't always the full story, and rarely do we know the heart of those involved.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
As we celebrate the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Gospel today (Lk 2:41-51) we have the Biblical "Home Alone" story. Following the feast of Passover, unknowingly Mary and Joseph leave Jerusalem for home without Jesus. Once they realize their son isn't part of their caravan, they return to Jerusalem, searching for Jesus. Upon finding Jesus in the temple we hear Mary say, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." How often during times of crises, especially during this pandemic, have we wondered where God is in the midst of the maelstrom? How often have we searched for Jesus, with the same anxiety as Mary and Joseph? Just like Mary and Joseph, let us search for Jesus in the house of the Lord, where we will find him in his Word, and in the Eucharist.
Friday, June 19, 2020
On the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we hear in our Gospel (Mt 11:25-30) our Lord call all who labor and are burdened. He wants us to take on his yoke and learn from him. He tells us by doing so we will find rest for ourselves because his yoke is easy and his burden light. When you envision a yoke it is usually the image of a large wooden beam that fastened around the necks of draft animals, frequently oxen. It isn't light by any means, except it is designed for two animals side by side. Instead of a single ox laboring alone, the yoke lightens the burden by sharing it between two animals. By taking on Jesus' yoke we have the Son of God laboring beside us, making our burdens light.
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Jesus teaches us his prayer, the Lord's Prayer in the Gospel reading today (Mt. 6:7-15). In the lead up to the Lord' Prayer, while warning against wordy prayers, Jesus tells us, "your Father knows what you need before you ask him." If that is so, what is the purpose of praying? The purpose of prayer is to bring about a change in us, to bring us closer to God, recognizing all that we are and have are by his graces. Prayer opens us up to God's will. Prayer opens us up to God's transformative love so we grow more in love with Him.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
In our Gospel today (Mt. 6:1-6, 16-18) Jesus warns about doing and saying pious things for show and self aggrandizement. He even mentions praying in the privacy of our rooms. This isn't contrary to what Jesus teaches in Mt. 5:14-15 when he tells his disciples they are the light of the world, and that their light should not be put under bushel basket, rather light belongs on a lampstand. Why? So others may see our good deeds and give glory to God. Therein lies the difference, which is literally at the heart of this. They hypocrites act pious in public for their own recognition. The humble act such that their God is recognized in their works. God sees into our hearts. May our hearts always remain humble and contrite.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Jesus instructs us to love our neighbor AND our enemy in today's Gospel (Mt. 5:43-48). It isn't enough to love our neighbor, though we know that to be the second greatest commandment. Jesus tells us now we are to love our enemy, and pray for those who persecute us. Stop for a moment to think of someone you absolutely hate; someone who, just the mention of their name, sets you off; someone who is humanly impossible for you to love. In this over politicized and hyper sensitive environment we are in, finding someone to hate is not difficult. Now, pray to God for the grace to love that person, because that reliance on God to help you love is really what Jesus is talking about. To be perfect like our heavenly Father is perfect is beyond our own ability. We must turn to God for the grace to do so. With God, all things are possible, even loving our enemies.
Monday, June 15, 2020
In our Gospel today (Mt 5:38-42) Jesus takes laws from Leviticus (cf. Lv 24:20) that introduced the concept of just and equal punishment for an offense and tempers them even further. He tells his disciples that if they are struck, do not strike back, but turn the other cheek. If their tunic is taken, Jesus says to give your cloak as well. If asked to go a mile, go two miles. While these are physical examples, being slapped by the hand, or taking of property, we would do well to apply this principle of de-escalation today with what is said or written. How often in social media such as on Facebook or Twitter we see heated arguments posted, with one or the other trying to get in the last word. How much more pleasant those forums might be if more of us just turned the other cheek, let the other have the last word as if it were your cloak.
Friday, June 12, 2020
In our Gospel today (Mt 5:27-32) Jesus gives an indication how wonderful heaven is in most dramatic teachings, as someone speaking with authority and knowledge. This glory of heaven that awaits us is revealed in the hyperbole Jesus uses - tearing out, cutting off - to stress the lengths we should take to protect ourselves from the sins that would keep us from heaven. To give some perspective, consider the grueling training an Olympic athlete endures for the opportunity to win a medal and stand atop a dais for a few minutes. If a moment of sports glory is worth thousands of hours of training, conditioning, and painful injuries, the drastic steps Jesus suggests we take to avoid sin should give us a sense of the splendor of heaven.
Thursday, June 11, 2020
On this, the memorial of St. Barnabas, the Apostle, in our Gospel (Mt 10:7-13) we hear Jesus sending out the twelve original apostles. In doing so, Jesus instructs them what to say, what to take and not take with them, as well as the power to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons. These men went out among their fellow Jews preaching the Good News, preaching the kingdom of heaven was at hand. They would later send Barnabas out with St. Paul to spread the Good News to the Gentiles. In much the same way, our successor to the apostles, Archbishop Vigneron, has commissioned us to spread the Good News as joyful missionary disciples. Through "Unleash the Gospel" we are charged with introducing or reintroducing Jesus to those around us. Let us ask St. Barnabas to intercede for us, to ask for the graces necessary to truly be joyful missionary disciples!
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
In our Gospel today (Mt. 5:13-16) Jesus tells his disciples he wants them to be a shining light for all to see, not for their own sake, but that others may glorify God our Father. This is in contrast to what Jesus says about the scribes and the Pharisees, the hypocrites that go about praying in public to be seen as righteous in the eyes of those around them. The difference is what is in our heart. Does God occupy first place in our hearts such that all we do, all that is seen by others, gives glory to him? Or do we ourselves occupy first place in our hearts such that all we do is done to draw attention to ourselves?
Monday, June 8, 2020
Why do we sometimes build grand churches and cathedrals? There are many opinions and thoughts, but when I saw this picture, it reminds me how much bigger God is than me, his humble servant. What came to mind was what John the Baptist said, ""He must increase; I must decrease."" (Jn 3:30)
Thursday, June 4, 2020
In our Gospel today (Mk 12:28-34) a scribe asks Jesus which is the first of the commandments. Now when we think of commandments we typically think of the Ten Commandments. But scribes were experts in Mosaic Law, made up of 613 commandments. Jesus summarizes all the laws into these two commandments, to love our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In Luke (cf Lk 10:25-37) we hear something very similar, but the question is raise, who is my neighbor. Jesus replies with the story of the Good Samaritan, in which we learn EVERYONE is our neighbor. Who do you say are your neighbors? Are they the people who look like you, act like you, think like you? Or are they the people Jesus defines as your neighbors, the people who look different from you, act differently, think differently?