Tuesday, September 7, 2021

September 7, 2021

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

 

I watched a video reflection this morning by Cardinal Cantalamessa, the Preacher of the Papal Household.  He was speaking about being happy. He said the Christian isn’t looking to be happy later, but is happy now knowing Jesus is always with us and we know where we are headed: ultimately heaven.

 

He said, “Faith projects joy even in suffering.”

 

St. Paul’s words today to the Colossians help us to understand how to live this joy.  Seems pretty basic, not rocket science.

 

But what about the days that are just crazy.  I’m headed into one of those days now. I leave in a few minutes and will be finished around 9PM—not a lot of time to unwind before its off to bed!

 

Days like this I (all of us really) can project stress, moodiness, etc, anything but joy.

 

So the challenge for us on the crazy days: take some time to just sit in quiet for a period of time.  The busier the day, the longer should the  time in quiet.  Don’t meditate, don’t reflect, don’t ‘do’ anything.  Just sit. Realize that Jesus is with you and just listen.

Monday, September 6, 2021

September 6 2021

 "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his Body, which is the Church" (Colossians 1:24)

I have to admit, I don't get this "I rejoice in my sufferings" thing.  Paul speaks about it.  In the Acts of the Apostles we hear, "So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name." (Acts 5:41)

We read many saints longing for martyrdom or those facing their own martyrdom rejoicing.  

I don't get it.  I have never longed to be a martyr. I'm ok with never being a martyr or even to suffer.

Well, suffering makes no sense according to the ways of the world and in Christianity it is not suffering for sufferings sake.

So what is going on here?

St. Paul will also tell us that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  The Second Vatican Council will teach that we are the Church IN the world, not OF the world and John Paul II called us a 'pilgrim people'.

The Christian's ultimate goal is to become a saint, to be in heaven in perfect union with God.  Our central symbol in the Church sanctuary isn't a Cross, but a crucifix:  there is a body attached to that Cross.  This offense symbol is a symbol of Hope for us.  We understand that Christ willingly experienced the pain and suffering on the Cross as a means to attaining our salvation.  The worst the world can do is to inflict pain and death on the body, but that could not stop God.  Jesus' story doesn't end in suffering, and neither will ours.

In the experience of suffering, the suffering isn't the focus for the Christian.  The focus is always on Christ, on what He promised and what he gained for us.  Suffering becomes a tool, a reminder of the need to focus on Christ and that He is right there with us to lead us through suffering to the joy of new life.

Monday, July 26, 2021

July 26 2021

Readings: Sirach 44: 1, 10-15 Mt 13:16-17

 

There are so many in our community and society who are struggling to find meaning and purpose.  So many who long for stability, strength to persevere not just times of crisis and trial, but also the day to day.  

 

Many are looking for the ‘good life’, yet so many find themselves wandering aimlessly, unable to recognize what they have and what is available to them.  Instead of living life with joy, many are filled with anxiety or even anger.

 

Jesus isn’t telling the Apostles in today’s Gospel that they are fortunate to be living in a particular moment in history. He is saying to them, and to us, that we are fortunate to be invited to live a real relationship with Him, one that not only unites us more to Him, but also connects us to His graces.  These graces transform us so we can see where He is present and active in our lives and in the world, and we can hear His voice calling out to us.

 

How fortunate we are. Let’s be sure not to take this gift for granted.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

July 21, 2021

 Today's Readings


We are a pilgrim people.  Christianity is about a journey to God, uniting our hearts and minds to him in an unbreakable bond of love. This pilgrimage to God is more than getting from point a to point b.  It involves transformation on our part, shedding our self-centeredness and becoming more like Christ in all we say and do.

At times we will struggle in this journey.  As we have heard this week in the first reading, the people of Israel reacted with fear when facing the crisis of the Egyptian Army bearing down on them.  But today we are also reminded that we can struggle in this journey in the day to day.

The people of Israel were in the desert for 40 years.  Sometimes the day to day can cause the mind to wander, to lose focus.  We become focused on our hunger, the weather, someone else's behaviors. This leads us to become annoyed, frustrated, anxious, fearful or even angry.  We can grumble.

Yet, the reading also shares with us that the Lord didn't give up on them.  He gives them what they need for the journey forward.

So it is with us.  We struggle, we mumble and complain.  Yet the Lord doesn't give up on us.  He gives us the grace to persevere in faith, hope and love.  We need to refocus our attention to Him and to open ourselves to those graces.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Sunday July 18, 2021

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.”

 

We understand the need for vacations and days off:  they are meant to be a break from work, from the stresses of day to day tasks, work and school.  Time off is a chance to recharge the batteries, enjoy life, be with loved ones.

 

So it makes sense to hear Jesus tell the apostles to take some time to rest.

 

It is important for us to realize though that Jesus is speaking more than punching out on the clock.  And we need to realize that days off and vacations are also more than just not going to work or school.

 

This past week I read a couple of news articles (and some social media posts) about restaurants dealing with customers who have been verbally abusive.  Last summer there were some similar news stories.  I’ve seen it this summer on my days off.  There is a breakfast spot I like to go to when I’m on the Cape;  They, like so many businesses, have struggled to adequately staff their restaurant.  Well, this one morning there was a line waiting to be seated.  Most of us in line weren’t surprised:  Summer on Cape Cod is crowded at times; chances are you will need to wait at times, and we all noticed they were short staffed.  Yet there were some who were angry by the wait, a couple that stormed off in disgust.

 

This isn’t anything unique to 2021.  During the summers in college I worked at a grocery store at night.  I was amazed the by the number of people on vacation who were in a bad mood. 

 

Doesn’t have to be restaurants:  try driving through the lights at Faunce Corner at noontime or waiting in line for coffee.  Take a look at Social Media feeds. There are a lot of people in a bad mood; well more than that, a lot of people who are angry.

 

  Sometimes that includes us.

 

The thing is the more impatient we become, the less human we are.  Our reactions and interactions do not reveal a love of God or a commitment to the Christian life.

 

St. Ignatius of Antioch: “We should…really live as Christians and not merely have the name.”

 

Not only are we not patient, we are not merciful, forgiving, compassionate or loving.  We even feel justified in our reactions, but how often do the Scriptures tells us not to think as human beings do, but as God does?

 

We are tired, we are anxious, stressed, perhaps scared, and we are definitely angry. All of this reveals a life lived for oneself.  We have become incredibly self-centered.

 

To each of us Jesus says “Come away”.

 

1.     Need to take a break, relax and recharge (not to catch up on work, but to appreciate truth, beauty and goodness):  going to the beach, camping, hiking, bike riding, a baseball game, family and neighborhood gatherings, etc.

But also opportunities that go deeper:

2.     We need to refocus on who we are and what we are about.  What drives us? What is the focus of our heart? What are our deepest longings?

3.     Worship of God at Sunday Mass. We need to open our hearts and minds so that we may become more and more like Christ, be drawn more and more into the divine life itself.

 

Be more loving from the very depths of our being.

 

Anxiety, frustration, fear, impatience, anger are not the fruits of a heart in love with Christ; they are fruits of living for oneself.

 

It is easier to be angry, offended, etc. than to give up control.

 

The fruits of living the divine life:

 

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

 

Doesn’t the world need more from this list?

 

We can’t just agree with that. We can’t just nod our heads in agreement that there is a lot of anger and anxiety in our world.

 

We need to change our lives—not anyone else’s.

 

The problem isn’t everyone else; it begins with each of us.

 

It begins by making time: there will always be something that has to get done; something that needs my attention, something that can’t be delayed for whatever reason…

 

Jesus will also teach us: “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mk 8:39)

 

Jesus himself, the Son of God, took time to be apart from the crowds, to rest and to pray.  Not just because he wanted to, but he needed to.

 

If God had to take time away, there is not way we can expect to do differently and live life authentically and joyfully.

 

What can each of us do this week differently to make time for God?

 

What do I need to do to not only make time for Sunday Mass, but what can I do to prepare myself better, to be more open to God’s word and grace that I can encounter here if I’m not focused on myself?

 

 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Monday March 15, 2021

 "Thus says the Lord: Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind." (Isaiah 65:17)


When I reflected on these words what came to mind was the current Pandemic.  It certainly has been challenging in so many ways. I know I am not alone is looking forward to the end of this time. However, life after the Pandemic will not be a return to the way things were.  The words of Isaiah challenge me to reflect on a couple questions:  What have I learned during the Pandemic, or have I? How have I grown, or have I?

For some the Pandemic has been paralyzing, for others they have continued to thrive.  It is important to acknowledge that while God didn't cause COVID, he has used it as a means to reach out to us.  Have we been focused on what we can't do or have we seen the opportunities the Pandemic has afforded us?

We have had pandemics before, times when we have been kept from being with others.  Yet, this time around it seems to have had more negative effects on people than the past.  What has changed? Why are we not as resilient as before?

Despite the struggles, life goes on.  The Pandemic will end, but, as I mentioned before, life will not return to what it was before.  Yet, we can still move ahead with confidence.  Faith tells us that Christ has been with us throughout and will continue to be with us, to give us strength and courage despite the unknown.

In today's Gospel (John 4:43-54) the man believes Jesus at his word: 'your son will live'.  The man doesn't demand proof or wait until he has seen his son's recovery.  His immediate reaction is to believe Jesus' words.

Jesus has promised us that he will be with us at each and every moment: the times of joy, the times of struggle and the times in between.  Our response should be like the man in today's Gospel: believe.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Monday, October 5, 2020

I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you* by [the] grace [of Christ] for a different gospel. (Galations 1:6)


St. Paul reminds us this morning that our faith is not a 'one and done' experience.  It is not enough to say 'I believe in Jesus' or to recite the Creed. Christianity is about a relationship with Christ. A relationship with God in whom all perfection is found.  The more we grow in understanding and love of Christ, the more we experience conversion of mind and heart.

The moment when we stop growing in faith; the moment we stop taking time to learn more about Christ and His teachings; the moment we stop praying, the greater the chance of becoming complacent and of walking away from faith.  Oh, we may still attend Mass, 'say our prayers', but the practice of faith becomes all about me, dressed up in words about the Gospel or Jesus.

The scholar of the law in the Gospel today refers to a scholar of the Law of Moses. He would have been a spiritual leader of the people. He is being called by Jesus to come to a greater understanding of what it means to love God.

That scholar is us.  

September 7, 2021

“ As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abou...