Monday, June 27, 2016

Self-awareness

This week we read for our first reading key passages from the book of the Prophet Amos.  Like all prophets his goal is to call the people of Israel back to God. What is interesting is his initial approach. He opens with a fierce attack on 6 foreign peoples. Then he attacks the Southern Kingodm of Judah.

His audience would have cheered his rant against Moab, Aram, Philistia, Tyre and even their Jewish brothers and sisters in Judah, because this was during the divivded kingdom.  In a truly brilliant maneuver he gets his audience cheering for God to punish the sins of all those people. You can imagine the people cheering Amos: "yeah! You tell 'em." 

Then Amos turns to his main topic. With the same language he used against "those people" he turns his critique on his own people, the people of Israel.  And the rest of the Book is focused on the sin of his people, the Northern Kingdom, Israel.

Centuries later, human nature remains the same. We are all comfortable critiquing foreigners. You can criticize any country in the Middle East, the Russians, the Germans, the French, or even the Brits, and you're safe.  But criticize America, and see how quickly people respond the way the people of Israel responded to Amos. Like the people of Israel in the time of Amos who believed that they were the chosen people, we just keep telling ourselves we are the greatest country in the world. Both statements are on some level true but it does not mean that we do not need to take a hard look at ourselves. 

This week as we read the Book of Amos, we need to remember that before we can remove the speck from someone else's eye, we must remove the plank from our own. This is not only true for individuals but for us as a people. Can we honestly look at our country/ our culture and be humble enough to admit where we are far from the path? Can we have the courage to hear the words of Amos addressed to us?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Unfit for service

The hardest course I have ever taken was not quantum mechanics, or differential equations. It was finger spelling at Gallaudet. It was not difficult to learn the alphabet or learn to spell. The hard part was watching. 

Whether we realize it or not during oral conversation our eyes move. We do not stare directly at the mouth of the person speaking.  When watching someone who is finger spelling entire sentences, you must stay focused. Cut your eyes away for a second and you just lost three letters. 

We Christians often talk about being "followers of Jesus" and today's gospel reminds us just how difficult that is. If we are followers, then Jesus is not walking beside us with his arm around us. He is ahead of us. And, if we are honest, Jesus is way ahead of us. And the road is filled with twists and turns. Most of all there are lots of side streets. If you have ever been to the Middle East or North Africa think of the souq, the overcrowded market. You get distracted by a vendor and the person you were following has disappeared. You took your eye off them for less than a minute, but now you are the one who is lost. 

Jesus delivers a harsh and hard message today.

No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God

To be a follower of Jesus is to keep our eyes fixed constantly on him and be constantly moving forward. It is the only direction that time moves. We are following Jesus through the souq of life, loud voices and shiny objects all around. And then there is our own innate tendency to look back over our shoulder at what was. And while we ruminate on the past, the present zips by and is gone. We took our eyes off Jesus, and suddenly we are standing there confused and lost because he is THE WAY. 

And of we are not really careful, we can go from ruminating to being absolutely stuck in the past. We declare some moment the golden age and we want to stay there. But if we are followers, we never stop.

Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head

Jesus isn't complaining; he's stating a fact. He is a man on a mission. He will rest when it is done. 
To be a follower we must also be constantly attentive to him. This does not mean constant busyness. Jesus is way ahead of any of us, and we are easily distracted. So we have to regularly stop and get our bearings, refocus on Jesus. 

It sounds really harsh for Jesus to declare that some people are unfit. But again he is simply stating a fact.  If we continue to look back we cannot move forward. 

The Sacrament of Penance (confession) is a great place for us to put the past to rest. Unfit need not be a permanent condition. We can turn around face forward, focus, and follow.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Not Seeing is believing

Sometimes we accept old sayings without actually thinking about them. Take for example "seeing is believing." It seems clear what it means, I'll believe it when I see it. But if you are a person of faith, it makes no sense to say it. For a person of faith, seeing is the opposite of believing. As the Letter of the Hebrews reminds us

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen 

Jesus goes even further when addressing St. Thomas,

Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed

Contrast St. Thomas with the unnamed centurion in today's gospel. Not only does the centurion believe so strongly that he does not need to see Jesus heal his servant, he does not need for Jesus to physically be present with the servant to heal. 

Lord, I am not worthy that you would enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant will be healed.

This is absolute faith in the Word of God incarnate, Jesus the Christ. 

And every time we participate in the Eucharist we are called to make the words of the centurion our own. We are both the servant in need of healing, and the centurion expressing absolute faith. 

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed

At the consecration do we see the host and wine become the body and blood of Christ. No, and it is a good thing we don't. If we could see it, we would be Thomas who came to believe only because he saw. 

The person of faith is the centurion. 

There are many moments in life when we cannot see or feel the presence of God in our lives, times when the only thing our senses and feelings register is a great big nothing, a divine absence. Our natural response is to think of this as a bad thing. In reality, these times are good for us. For it is in those moments that we are most truly people of faith. 





Friday, June 24, 2016

The mysterious interplay

Today we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist because Dec 25 with celebrate the Birth of Jesus, which puts the Annunciation 9 months ahead of that March 25, and Mary was told that Elizabeth was already in her 6th month so we go back one day. Instead of June 25, it is June 24. It all reminds us that God has a plan.  

But this leaves with the great question. If God is love, why does evil exist? Why does God not simply stop us from doing evil, particularly those of us who are striving to be his followers?

The Catechism responds this way:

God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.  He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it.

A part of God's plan is the process of becoming. From the first moment of life we are constantly becoming, changing from one moment to the next.  God could have created us to simply be, but he did not. He could have made each of us perfect and complete from the get go, but he did not. For reasons that remain a mystery. We must become over time. Does God know how each of us will turn out in the end? Of course. But for our own good we have to go through the process.  We must freely choose to love God and others. We must learn. We will make mistakes. At times our feelings will get the best of us, and we will sin. 

The good news is that God can even "derive good from it", our sin.  In the perfect goodness of God even our bad choices, and the bad choices of others can be transformed. There is no evil that God cannot use to some good end. We can sometimes forget that God has literally seen it all.  

Before the first atom of the universe came into being God saw not only the role of John the Baptist but all that would come before and after. God saw every good and evil thing that we humans would do, and he created us anyway. And every day all over the world people begin the journey of becoming and others compete their earthly journey. 

Today as we celebrate the Birth of John, we are reminded that are called to be him. We are not to be the center of attention, but to point others away from ourselves and toward Jesus. John was not only content to live in the shadow of his younger relative Jesus. But when ever anyone tried to put him in the spotlight, he would say "I am not ".  And in the end he would die a horrible dead. In his life we see the great incomprehensible mysterious interplay of God's plan, human freedom, sin, and God's victory.

Today we are reminded that John's earthly journey began the same as each of ours, with the cry of the newborn baby. May we have the courage to follow in his footsteps for the rest of the journey.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The limits of metaphor

In the gospel today Jesus uses the image of trees and fruit to make his point and the passage ends with the famous

By their fruits you will know them 

While it is true that people are to be judged by the "fruit" that they bear. This passage also points to the serious limitation of this metaphor. 

An apple tree cannot produce cherries. A fig tree cannot produce persimmons. Trees produce a single fruit. And the tree has no choice about the fruit it produces. 

We humans produce a variety from the truly loving and selfless, to the evil and selfless. And except for the cases of medical issues or coercion, we choose. We not only choose the kind of fruit we will produce, we choose how we will be nourished. 

A tree has no say in the water or fertilizer. We choose. And parents choose for their children, admittedly to an ever decreasing degree as the child ages. If we water the tree with a steady stream of anger, hate pornogrpahy, and violence. It is unlikely that it will bear good fruit. Even the stream of so-called news is good for the soul.  How many people keep one of these channels running all day long?

We should be well informed about the world in which we live, but we need to balance the darkness with light. Spiritual reading, particularly the Bible, prayer, quiet time for mediation, art, nature, conversation with those friends that bring out our better selves are just a few examples. 

If we wish to bear good fruit, we must be well nourished. Most of all, we must remember what Jesus tells us in the Gospel

Apart from me you can do nothing 


Monday, June 20, 2016

God knows!

The gospel today says

Stop judging, that you may not be judged

On the one hand, it seems rather simple. On the other it seems silly. Imagine going through life making no judgements about people. One could very quickly end up in a very bad place. And besides, isn't prudence a virtue? 

Prudentia or its Greek predecessor phronesis is practical judgement, the ability to judge the virtuous act from the vicious act in a particular situation. We don't like to think of ourselves as vititous but if an act isn't virtuous what is it?

Prudence is about judging actions. It is the virtue we use to judge our own actions, and before we do them. It is not about judging the actions of others after the fact. 

And yes, there are even times when prudence dictates that we judge the actions of others. Someone you know has a history of drinking, and driving, and wrecking cars. The person asks to use your car on a Friday night to go out with friends. Would it be prudent to lend him your car? Probably not. 

But notice, even in this scenario you are still making judgement about actions and foreseeable consequences. You are not attributing motive. And there is where we draw the line. 

We cross the line when attribute motive. To do that we must be able to know the mind and heart of another. In confession a person opens their mind and heart to the confessor and so it is possible to render a judgement. But in most of life we cannot know the mind and heart of another person. Sometimes we don't even know our own. 

How often do we Christians in the absence of real knowledge assume the worst? Someone walks past us without speaking and we assume it was an intentional slight. Someone forgets to invite us to an event, and we assume the omission was intentional. Someone doesn't respond to a text, they are ignoring us. We get offended where no offense was intended. 

Whether an action is good or bad we can and should judge, our own actions always, and at times those of others.  When it comes to motives, we must stick to judging our own. And even there we must continue to pray for deeper self-knowledge. In the end, when it comes to the true motive, only God knows.






Sunday, June 19, 2016

Practicing Self Denial

Usually when we hear the phrase self denial, we think of things like what we give up for lent. In today's gospel we hear

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself

And the more one reflects on it, the more difficult it becomes. We all have egos and, truth be, told there is a bit of control freak in each of us. 

Have you ever heard a really good choir? In a really good choir you hear no one. You hear sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. They may be outstanding, but no one stands out. The hard part about singing in a choir, is the constant listening and blending required to not stick out. 

Have you ever asked yourself the difference between personal prayer and liturgical prayer?

Liturgical prayer is precisely an exercise in self-denial. In liturgical prayer, we surrender our selves. The words, the gestures, the postures are all dictated by the Church. All most all of the texts are straight out of the Bible from the first "In the name of the Father..." to the last "Thanks be to God." 

The ministers wear vestments to cover up the self.  The people stand, sit, kneel, and respond in unison. We all are supposed to check our egos at the door and for that hour on Sunday deny your self and be part of the Church. 

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

It's not just about being a martyr. We are called to loose ourself, every time we engage in liturgical prayer, even if it is the liturgy of the hours and we are praying at home alone. We surrender to the liturgy. We loose our self, in the prayer of the Church. 

Think of it as practice, for the selflessness we should be living every day of our lives. 


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Only one Church

In 1972 June 18 was a Sunday, a rather nice Sunday as I recall. I was only 11 so my memory has faded a bit.  It was sunny and hot as summer was in Danville. I got up that morning put on my suit and went with my family  to Sunday School and Church at the First Assmebly of God on Kemper Rd. But it was the afternoon that would change my life forever.

That afternoon we all gathered at the River. I wish I remembered the spot. This time I didn't have on my suit. I had on shorts and a T-shirt covered by a white robe. The minister led me out into the water and baptized me in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 

It would be almost nine years later before I was confirmed and made my first communion but that day I also joined the Catholic Church. If you're now confused, keep reading. 

Jesus established only one Church. His final prayer was "that they may be one."(Jn 17:21) He established the sacrament of baptism as the way a person became part of the Church, commanding his apostles to"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28:19)

The disunity we think of as normal today would come into being a millennium and a half after Jesus and was the work, not of God but of us, human beings. Was there a need for reform? Most certainly, and much of what the reformers called for would happen through various councils in the Church.  What the early reformers did not realize was that once they started to fracture the church, the fractures would spread like a crack in windshield. Can anyone even list the full number of so called denominations  and non-denominational churches we now have? In the words of the Second Vatican Council "Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature."

As St. Paul tells us, there is "one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism."(Eph. 4:5) And it was a simple study of history, that led me home to the Catholic Church, which goes back to the time before we humans divided it up.

When I "became Catholic" I was not rebaptized, because we believe St. Paul.  I was brought into full communion with the Church by a profession of faith, and the reception of the two other sacraments of Initiation: Confirmation and Eucharist. We call it bringing into full communion because we believe that every validly baptized Chrisitian is to some degree already a part of the one Church established by Christ. Even though I did not know it at the time, 44 years ago today I was being incorporated by God's grace into something much larger than I could every imagine. And while I completed by initiation some 9 years later at Sacred Heart Church in Danville, it was merely initiation, the beginning. The journey of understanding continues today. My guess it that it will continue for the rest of my life. After all, can we ever fully comprehend what it means to be part of Christ, part of God?

Today I think of all the people who lead me on the journey, too many to name. Many have gone on to eternal life, and are in the company of the saints. Today in my prayers I will try to recall them all, beginning of course with my mother. I encourage everyone reading this today to pause prayer for all those who have led you along the way of faith. 





Thursday, June 16, 2016

The purpose of prayer

Why do we pray?  Whether we admit it or not the truth is that we are often either trying to make a deal with God, or trying to get God to do what we want. 

In today's gospel we are told,

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 

So is it just that God wants to hear us beg? I don't think that is the God we believe in. If we look at the Our Father I think we see why we need to pray.

Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come

In prayer we turn our hearts and minds away from this world. We turn away from ourselves and toward God,Heaven, the Kingdom. 

Then all of the rest of the petitions the our Father have on common purpose, to change the path of our lives
doing the will of God
Receiving the bread of life
Forgiving and being forgiven
Avoiding temptation and evil 

God does not need our prayer. God is perfect with or without our prayer. 
God loves us and is always going to do what is best for us.
We need to pray, because we have a soul. And that soul's only happiness, only peace is found in oneness with God. 
And our only true happiness is found when we are free to do the will of God. 
Body and Soul in unison pointed in the same direction —the Kingdom of Heaven. 



Monday, June 13, 2016

Legal, Just, Christian

I have come to realize that we do not have a justice system in our country. We have a legal system. 

A legal system is a collection of man made laws and a structure for enforcement. The mindset of people living in a legal system is "As long as It cannot be proven that I have technically violated one of those laws, I'm ok."

Justice goes further. Our Declaration of Independence said it this way, "we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights."  Over and above any human laws there are rights and obligations that individuals have in relation to one another and in relation to the society of which they are a part. Human laws are themselves measured against these higher rights and obligations established by the creator. And so, a law can be unjust. Words like truth, dignity, and equity have meaning in a justice system. The mindset of people living in a justice system is "If my actions are not only legal, but just, then I'm ok."

Today's gospel calls Chrisitians to something more than the legal or the just.

You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow

Jesus knew well that Christians would find themselves living in times and places where there was no justice, and perhaps not even legalism. He knew our human nature and how injustice can turn to anger and violence. And so, he taught them to look beyond this world for justice. True justice will come to every human being but perhaps not in this life. 

As Christians we work to make our society one not simply of laws, but of justice. At the same time, we keep our inner peace intact because we know that wether we succeed or fail in our lifetime, in the end there will be true justice. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Listening for God

One of the most difficult things for modern Americans is silence. Try it! Set a timer for even 5 minutes and try to just sit in silence, calming the mind that keeps flitting around from one thing to the other. It so as of we have lost to capacity to just be.

Today's first reading from 1 Kings 19 is one of my favorites. Elijah has escaped to the mountain and God is going to pass by. There is a strong wind, an earthquake, and fire. God is in none of them. Them Elijah hears a tiny gentle sound. That is God.

But the only way Elijah could have heard it was to have been quiet. Any noise at all could have drowned it out. 

There are many forms of prayer: praise, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, etc. And each has a legitimate place in each person's spirituality. But perhaps the most difficult for us is that prayer in which we simply open our hearts, minds, ears and truly listen. 

What the scriptures do not tells us is how much time elapsed between the four events while Elijah was in the cave. In our imagination, I think most of us tend to run them together one immediately after the other. In fact it could have been a very long time. But thankfully Elijah had the discipline needed. This is not something that happens over night but would have grown from years of practice. Discipline,  routine, ritual, practice —not really the favorite words of most people. 

It's funny. We readily acknowledge that they are essential for games, but then we are reticent to embrace them when it comes to the most important aspect of our life, spirituality. 

If silence/listening is not a central part of your prayer life. Perhaps today is the day to start. Start slow, and don't expect immediate success. True listening is harder than you think. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The second half of righteousness

Recently I was in a discussion with a person who did not believe in mortal sin. This person's argument was simple. To be saved you have to believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized. It was a variation on the faith alone, grace alone school of thought. My problem with it is that it is not biblical. 

Today's reading opens (Mt. 5:20) 

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

And if we look at the examples Jesus gives they are concrete actions. Jesus doesn't abolish the bar of the Torah he raises it. 

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. 

If you do these things, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven— moral sin

It is not just about right relationship with God. Righteousness also includes right relationships with your brothers and sisters. It is not simply about not physically harming a person. The Bible recognized emotional and psychological abuse long before our culture did, and the penalty is "fiery Gehenna."

The employer who comforts himself by saying, "I haven't done anything illegal", or the parent who justifies their screaming and says, "I never hit my children" forget that as much as God loves us, God still holds us to a higher standard than the civil law.  Love your neighbor is not merely a strong suggestion. It is the second half of the great commandment. 

In this Jubilee Year of mercy, it may be time to look into our hearts, and acknowledge the true seriousness of our sin. We may not have killed anyone, but attitudes towards others may be just as sinful. 

unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Straddling the fence

In today's first reading Elijah is fed up and so he confronts the people head on the must choose who to worship the Lord God or Baal. On some level thee stories can seem far removed from our lives. The temptation to worship stone gods is not our experience. Today the false gods take other forms. One of the most insidious is career. Even in the Church Pope Francis has warned about the dangers of careerism.  He even abolished two of the three levels of monsignors, and raised the minimum age, because being named a young Monsignor was perhaps the most visible sign of the climber. 

In the world in general, every day, marriages are destroyed because one or both parties are more focused on job success than they are on their marriage. Some even choose not to have children at all, because it would interfere with their career. And it is not limited to certain professions or income levels. 

When I was a child the question people would ask in the south was "who your people?" A person's identity was tied to being part of a family. But this too certainly had its problems particularly if you were from a poor family or a family with problems. 

And so some where in the last century we struck out on our own— individualism. We would define ourselves and we would define ourselves by what we do.  What we didn't realize was that in that process we replaced God with Success.  Success became the new God. And part of what makes it so seductive is that you can tell yourself that you are doing it to provide a better life for your family, the family you spend little time with because you are so busy working. 

Should we strive to do well at our vocation, profession, or job? Of course. But not at any cost.  We must have only one God in our lives. And pleasing that one God must be our only true ambition. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The irony of it all

Even for many of our young people high blood pressure and skin cancer are concerns. The doctors are telling us to stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen, and cut way back on th sodium in our diets. On the physical level, for many Americans there's way too much salt, and to much time in the Sun. But that is on the physical level.

In today's gospel we are called to be both salt and light for the world. 

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

On the Spiritual level we are to be salt that adds to the flavor or life, and light that enlightens the world. And on that level I don't think are any of us who can say we experience an excess of that. And even more to the point I doubt that any of us can claim that we bring too much salt or light to others. 

The text above is an imperative, your light must shine. As Christians, filled with the Holy Spirit, it should be our default behavior. And yet, we get sucked into the darkness of the world. We see the flaws first. We complain about small things. 

Today let each of us choose to be better. Let us choose to be light. And while the voice inside our heads may still critique and complain. Let's just keep that to ourselves, until we can break the habit. 



Monday, June 6, 2016

How hungry are you?

Today in the gospel we have the beatitudes. How many times have we heard them?

And yet one in particular stands out

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled

This raises a question for each of us:

What do I hunger and thirst for?

There is clearly a great hunger around us. We hear angry voices on all sides day and night. Malcontent seems to be a chronic condition for so many people and yet how many are really ready to honestly name the hunger: hunger for power, wealth, affirmation, recognition, freedom misunderstood as the power to do whatever I want, hunger for control, or just a general hunger for more. We call it gluttony. 

How many of us honestly hunger and thirst for righteousness? How many of us can honestly say that the hunger that drives our actions is a hunger for a proper relationship with God?

The problem is that we do hunger and thirst for righteousness; we just don't know it. We mistakenly confuse the hunger of our soul for some hunger of our flesh. Human love is good, but no human relationship will ever satisfy the hunger that every human has for God. True freedom is not the ability to do what I want when I want; it is the freedom to choose the good, and to be the person God has called you to be. 

As we walk through today it would be good to monitor our hungers, and notice the ones that are misdirected. And listen carefully for the hunger of your soul, which can only be filled with God.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

The moment of death

What happens to us when we die?

To really answer that question we must go back to Gensis 2 where we have the more detailed account of how God created the human being (Adam). He formed him from the ground (Adamah) and blew into his nostrils the breath of life (neshma hiim) and he becomes a living soul (nefesh hayah).

We are from that moment composite creatures adam from the Adamah, linked to the earth, bodily, physical; and the same time we are spritual, creatures linked to God, creatures with a soul. And so we spend our lives pulled in both directions. 

But at the moment of death, the two parts separate. 

In first Kings 17 Elijhah prays three times for God to send the soul (nefesh) of the child back into the body. And God does just that the soul and the body are reunited. 

Now rememeber that all of the Old Testament is preparation for the New Testament. And this story is not just the foreshadowing of the resurrection of Jesus, but the foreshadowing of what will happen to all of us at the end of time. 

As St. Paul explains in. 1 Cor 15
If there is no resurrection from the dead, then Jesus was not raised from the dead.

At the end of time we too will experience the fullness of the resurrection of the dead. But the resurrected body will no longer be tied to the earth, it will be spiritual. We will be body and soul forever but with the new body, we will be single minded, drawn solely to the one who created us. 


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Being inconvenienced

In his second letter to the bishop Timothy, St. Paul instructs his how to carry out the office:

proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

Often you will hear people interpret "whether it is convenient or inconvenient" as whether people want to hear it or not. But there is another dimension to it. 

As anyone in any ministry can attest, as much as we may attempt to herd people into sechedules, systems, and programs, people will continue to show up in need at inconvenient times.  We proclaim the word not just with preaching and teaching but through personal encounters. "the word" we proclaim a not a book, it is a person, "and the word became flesh". The word is Jesus Christ. 

St. Paul challenges all of us to slow down. Some times we will need to convince, other times reprimand, other times encourage. But the hard part is that we must do it with "all patience". Not just some or a lot, but all.  

Most likely everyone of us will have someone hit us with something at the most inconvenient moment.  Can we with all patience show them the face of Christ?

Friday, June 3, 2016

The sacred heart

While some religions avoid religious images, Christianity is filled with them because at the center of our Christian faith is the belief that at one particular moment in time, God became a flesh and blood human being. Jesus Christ was truly God and truly human. That nexus of the human and divine is captured artistically in the image of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus —a truly human heart, afire with divine love, surrounded by the crown of thorns, shedding blood, and wounded. 

For me to attempt to explain it would be to rob it of it's power. I will say that for me, it is a reminder of what all our hearts should be and can be thanks to Pentacost event, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, when God shared his divinity with us. 

There are literally thousands of images of the sacred heart, sagrado coraz√≥n, sacre coeur, etc. Today we celebraste the heart of Jesus as our highest level of celebration a Solemnity. I would invite every one to go online search for images of the sacred heart, find the one that speaks to you, and loose yourself in God's love.