Saturday, January 31, 2015

Feb. 1, 2015: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Click to hear Audio Homily
How many of us have heard the following phrase from our kids, “Leave me alone!” Children can be adept at shutting down, and shutting you out—leaving you with unanswered questions and a whole lot of frustration. We adults can also shutdown or shut others out, just as adeptly as children.

As Jesus was preaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, a poor demented man created a scene. He cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” In effect what the man was saying was, ‘Don’t meddle with us. Leave us alone.’ Jesus was not put off by the man’s outburst. In the cry, ‘What do you want with us?’ he heard a cry for help. So he healed him.

The urge to hide our problems is very powerful. In fact, we find it hard to admit that we can’t manage our problems. Pride tells us: I should be able to handle my own problems. We may be aware of our need to seek outside help, but hide it for fear of appearing inadequate. We’d rather appear strong and keep the suffering to ourselves. Have you ever said to yourself, ‘I gotta do this all by myself!’

When our lives are running smoothly and devoid of trials, we have a tendency to rely upon our own human strength. However, when our life is beset with difficulties and storms, our strength fades away and we become weak. Yet in these times of personal weakness we can turn to Jesus and rely upon His divine strength, and through that strength, face and endure those storms. A simple prayer, “Jesus, I trust in you,” is a powerful antidote to our cry ‘Leave me alone!’ Prayer opens our closed heart and mind to the possibility that God wants to use other people to assist us.

To acknowledge one’s weakness takes courage, but it can open the way for us to depend on God and others. Those who don’t disguise their struggles, but depend on God and others to work through their struggles, become a source of hope for others. This week, can you make a small prayer each day, “Jesus, I trust in you!”

Friday, January 30, 2015

Jan. 30, 2015 Friday: 3rd Week in Ordinary Time B

Jan. 30, 2015 Friday: 3rd Week in Ordinary Time B

1. Preparation
Lord, may I never take the gift
of freedom for granted. You gave
me the great blessing of freedom of spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and Your joy.

2. Today's Scripture (Mark 4:26-34)
Jesus said to the crowd, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come." He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.



3. Reflection (Word Among Us, www.wau.org)
In the film Mr. Holland’s Opus, the lead character is Glenn Holland, a composer working on a symphony who takes a job as a high school music teacher to support himself and his wife. At first he is frustrated by teaching and dreams only of finishing his composition. But he gradually learns to love his job and to see how much he has taught his students—and how much they have taught him. The film’s message is best expressed in a verse from a John Lennon song that Holland sings for his deaf son, Cole: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Unexpected results is also a theme in these two parables. The farmer can’t predict his harvest from just planting seeds. And someone who knows nothing about mustard plants can’t possibly imagine that they grow from such small seeds. But that’s the point. It’s often the case that when we’re working on one thing, God is doing something else in our hearts, creating something new that we can’t recognize until we look back and see it.

This means that you can relax a bit. Of course, try to stay vigilant at avoiding sin and growing in virtue. But let it be a confident, happy vigilance, secure in the knowledge that God will bring growth in the areas he knows you need the most. Just plant your seeds and tend your garden as you think best, and know that your heavenly Father will bring his good work to completion in you (Philippians 1:6).
God doesn’t always show us what he is doing in our lives, but that’s okay. In fact, it can be very comforting. Rather than expending so much energy trying to figure everything out, we can devote ourselves simply to loving God, loving our neighbors, and helping the needy. If we can focus just on this, we can rest assured that our heavenly Father will take care of everything else!

4. Prayer
“Lord, thank you that you have an awesome plan for my life—even if I can’t see it all. Help me to trust you day by day. Lord, I place my life in your hands!”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Jan. 29, 2015 Thursday: 3rd Week in Ordinary Time B

Jan. 29, 2015 Thursday: 3rd Week in Ordinary Time B

1. Preparation
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.



2. Today's Scripture (Mark 4:21-25)
He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’

3. Reflection (Mother Teresa)
Since Christ is invisible we can't show him our love. But our neighbors are always visible and we can do for them what we would love to do for Christ, supposing he were visible.
Today it is the same Christ who is present in those for whom we have no need, whom we do not employ and do not tend, who are hungry, who are naked, who have no home. They seem to be useless to both State and society; nobody has any time to pay attention to them. It is we christians, you and I, worthy of Christ's love provided ours is a true love: it is our responsibility to find them, to help them. They are there so that we may find them.
To work for the sake of working: this is the danger that constantly threatens us. It is here that respect and love and dedication intervene so that we can direct our work to God, to Christ. And this is why we always try to do it as beautifully as possible.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jan. 28, 2015 Wednesday: St. Thomas Aquinas

Jan. 28, 2015 Wednesday: St. Thomas Aquinas



1. Preparation
Your death on the cross has set me free.
I can live joyously and freely
without fear of death.
Your mercy knows no bounds.

2. Today's Scripture
"Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold." And he said, "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that 'they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'"

And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."

3. Reflection (Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net)
Jesus' parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God's word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn't want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.

Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God's word.
Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it. Do you hunger for God's word?

jesusthrumary.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jan. 27, 2015 Tuesday: St. Angela Merici

Jan. 27, 2015 Tuesday: St. Angela Merici

1. Preparation
As I sit here, the beating of my heart,
the ebb and flow of my breathing, the movements of my mind
are all signs of God's ongoing creation of me.
I pause for a moment, and become aware
of this presence of God within me.


2. Today's Scripture (Mark 3:31-35)
The mother and brothers of Jesus arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

3. Reflection (Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net)
Who do you love and cherish the most? God did not intend for us to be alone, but to be with others. He gives us many opportunities for developing relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Why did Jesus, on this occasion, seem to ignore his own relatives when they pressed to see him? His love and respect for his mother and his relatives was unquestionable. Jesus never lost an opportunity to teach his disciples a spiritual lesson and truth about the kingdom of God. On this occasion when many gathered to hear Jesus he pointed to another higher reality of relationships, namely our relationship with God and with those who belong to God.

What is the essence of being a Christian? It is certainly more than doctrine, precepts, and commandments. It is first and foremost a relationship - a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement, support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people together in mutual love and unity. God offers us the greatest of relationships - union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, the very author and source of love (1 John 4:8,16).

God's love never fails, never forgets, never compromises, never lies, never lets us down nor disappoints us. His love is consistent, unwavering, unconditional, and unstoppable. We may choose to separate ourselves from him, but nothing will make him ignore us, leave us, or treat us unkindly. He will pursue us, love us, and call us to return to him no matter what might stand in the way. It is his nature to love. That is why he created us - to be united with him and to share in his love and unity of persons (1 John 3:1). God is a trinity of persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - and a community of love. That is why Jesus challenged his followers and even his own earthly relatives to recognize that God is the true source of all relationships. God wants all of our relationships to be rooted in his love.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jan. 26, 2015 Monday: Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops

January 26, 2015 Monday: Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops

1. Today's Scripture
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)


2. Reflection (Word Among Us, www.wau.org)
That’s quite a spirit, isn’t it? It’s the spirit that sustained Timothy and Titus through arduous missionary journeys with Paul. It enabled them to preach the gospel effectively and to play a major role in the direction of the early Church. Both of these men lived extraordinary, difficult, and generous lives—true heroes of the faith!

As disciples of Paul, Timothy and Titus were instrumental in spreading the gospel throughout Macedonia. Timothy led the church at Ephesus, becoming its first bishop in ad 64. He was stoned to death around ad 95 because he tried to stop a procession to the goddess Diana.
Titus is known best for his pastoral skills. Paul relied on him to help bring unity to the divided church in Corinth, and later he sent him to Crete to help the struggling church there. Titus is also credited with evangelizing the region of Dalmatia, in modern-day Croatia. He is said to have died peacefully on Crete, when he was around ninety years old.

But today’s feast is not meant just to admire these two men. God wants us to imitate them as well. After all, the same spirit of power, love, and self-control has been given to us, too. It’s the Holy Spirit!
Few of us are called to serve as Timothy and Titus did, but we can still testify to the gospel wherever we are. It may mean caring for an elderly parent, being patient with a difficult child or a wearisome neighbor, or working faithfully at our everyday tasks. It doesn’t have to look heroic in order to be heroic. Any time we rely on God’s power, love, and self-control, we can make the ordinary parts of our lives extraordinary.

Timothy, Titus, and all the saints show us that God wants to be a part of our lives. They tell us that he wants to take everything that appears ordinary and make it extraordinary. What a marvelous, generous God we serve!

3. Prayer
“Holy Spirit, thank you for giving me a share in your power, love, and self-control! Come and fill me, as you filled Timothy and Titus, so that my life can become extraordinary.”

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Jan. 25, 2015: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Click to hear Audio Homily
A child asked his dad, "Daddy, how much do you make an hour at work?" The dad replied, "I make $30 an hour. Why do you ask?" The son replied, "Can I borrow $15?" "Where are you going to use $15?" the dad asked. The boy would not say, and he got up and went into his room. Puzzled, the dad took out $15 out of his wallet and headed toward his son's room. "Here is the $15. Now can you tell me where you are going to use it?" The dad noticed that the son already had $15 in his hand. The son said, "Now I have enough money. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you."

Whom are you working for? It is a good question to ask from time to time. In scripture, Our Lord reminds us to choose whom we serve when he said, “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24) If Jesus asked us point blank, "Whom are you working for," can we honestly say to him that we are working for him and for the Kingdom? Are we serving the Heavenly Father's will or our own.

Jesus said in today’s Gospel, "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." If I truly believe in the gospel the I would change my way of thinking, my attitude, my disposition, and life choices so that Jesus could be the Lord and Master of my heart rather than sin, selfishness, and greed. Jesus gives us grace to see sin for what it really is - a rejection of his love and wisdom of our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with his will.

Jesus calls each of us, "Come follow me," just as he did with Andrew, Simon, James, and John. He invites us to work for him for the Kingdom of God. We can work for the kingdom of God in our own stations of life.  Foremost, he is asking us to change our heart and our intention to serve Him alone. Intentions matter, as Mother Teresa said, "It's not how much you give, but how much love you put in giving." Mother Teresa was speaking of love for Jesus and not self-love.  Are we focused on pleasing the heart of Jesus, or are we worried about the results and performance? It's not how much we give, but how much love we have for Jesus as we offer him even the smallest amount.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Jan. 23, 2015 Friday: Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr

Jan. 23, 2015 Friday: Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted, and they came to him. (Mark 3:13)

“Who? Me? I can’t do that!” How many times have you heard comments like this, or even made them yourself when you were called upon to take up an important but daunting task? Don’t you think that the twelve men Jesus called to be his apostles had some of those same feelings? It was still early in his ministry, and they knew he was special. But they still had no idea just how important he was.


This Gospel reading tells us about three important things that happened. First, Jesus decided who he wanted for his ministry. He had many followers, some of whom were probably more qualified than these twelve. But he chose these men anyway. Next, Jesus summoned them. They didn’t volunteer; they didn’t run for election or ask for special positions. Jesus chose them. And lastly, they responded. They must have felt honored being selected, but at the same time must have wondered, “What am I getting myself into?” They had seen Jesus heal the sick and cast out demons, but none of them had done these things themselves. And still, this is what Jesus called them to do. He knew that, left to themselves, they were incapable of fulfilling this call, so he gave them his authority.

We can be encouraged by the legacy of these apostles—and all those who came after them. Like them, many of us wonder why God calls us to serve him in a particular way. And like them, we should all remember that we are a “chosen race … a people of his own” (1 Peter 2:9). He has summoned us to the mountain. Now it is up to us to respond.

Believe that God has planted seeds of greatness in you. He has summoned you. Now it’s up to you to respond. Know that he will equip you with everything you need. Step out in faith as the Twelve did. You are capable of serving Jesus in ways that you have not imagined because he will empower you. Remember, the Lord doesn’t call those who are equipped. He equips those who are called.

“Lord, give me the courage to say yes when you call and to believe that you will provide the wisdom, strength and ability to do your will.”

Word Among Us
www.wau.org

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jan. 22, 2015 Thursday: Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade

THE BATTLE FOR LIFE


I consider that [the battle against abortion] to be part of the battle in favor of life from the moment of conception until a dignified, natural death. This includes care of the mother during pregnancy, the existence of laws to protect the mother postpartum, and the need to ensure that children receive enough food, as well as providing health care throughout the whole length of life, taking good care of our grandparents, and not resorting to euthanasia. Nor should we perpetrate a kind of killing through insufficient food or a nonexistent or deficient education, which are ways of depriving a person of a full life. If there is a conception for us to respect, there is a life for us to take care of. …

A pregnant woman isn’t carrying a toothbrush in her stomach, or a tumor. Science has taught us that from the moment of conception, the new being has its entire genetic code. It’s impressive. Therefore, it’s not a religious issue but, rather, a clear moral issue with a scientific basis, because we are in the presence of a human being.

— Book of conversations with Cardinal Bergoglio titled Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words by Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013). Originally published as El Jesuita: Conversaciones con Jorge Bergoglio (2010).

Jan. 21, 2015 Wednesday: St. Agnes

Jan. 21, 2015 Wednesday: St. Agnes

1. Today's Scripture (Mk 3: 1-6)
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

2. Reflection (Word Among Us, www.wau.org)
What brings you peace? A few moments of silence? A clean home? A colorful sunset?


What about a peace that persists even in the midst of a chaotic, noisy, disrupted day? A peace that is founded on an interior calm and not external circumstances? That’s the kind of peace that today’s first reading is pointing to—the peace that comes from a clear conscience.

Think of the sinful woman, whose story is told in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 7:36-50). Moved by Jesus’ words of mercy and forgiveness, she offers him an extravagant gesture of love: she anoints his feet, bathes them in her tears, and wipes them with her hair. Jesus is moved by her display and gives voice to what she has already experienced: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (7:50). Freed from guilt over her sins, she can now move forward in her life, at peace with herself and with the Lord.

This woman’s story is our story. So is the story of the prodigal son and Zacchaeus and so many others. The Gospels are filled with stories of men and women who had a personal encounter with Jesus, experienced his merciful touch, and went away filled with peace. They tell us that the same experience is available to us: Jesus can become our own king of peace!

Where can we find this peace? In the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In this very personal, very private sacrament, we encounter Jesus in the person of the priest. We seek forgiveness, and we hear the comforting, inspiring words: I absolve you of all your sins… . May God grant you pardon and peace.” In that moment, we become the sinful woman, the prodigal son, the unjust tax collector, and every other person who met Jesus and felt his love. In that moment, we receive the peace we long for.

The next time you have an opportunity for Confession, take advantage of it. Know that in some mysterious way, you will be meeting Jesus—the Savior who came not to condemn you but to redeem you. Come to him, and let him fill you with his peace.

3. Prayer
“Jesus, thank you for the gift of peace that flows from your merciful touch!”

Jan. 20, 2015 Tuesday: 2nd Week in ordinary time B

1. Today's Scripture (Mk 2: 23-28)
One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?”

And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”



2. Reflection (Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net)
Are you hungry for God? Hungering for God and fasting for his kingdom go hand in hand. When asked why he and his disciples did not fast Jesus used the vivid picture of a wedding celebration. In Jesus' time the newly wed celebrated their honeymoon at home for a whole week with all the guests! This was a time of great feasting and celebrating. Jesus points to himself as the bridegroom and his disciples as the bridegroom's friends. He alludes to the fact that God takes delight in his people as a groom delights in his bride (Isaiah 62:5). To be in God's presence is pure delight and happiness. But Jesus also reminds his followers that there is a time for fasting and for humbling oneself in preparation for the coming of God's kingdom and for the return of the Messianic King. The Lord's disciples must also bear the cross of affliction and purification. For the disciple there is both a time for rejoicing in the Lord's presence and celebrating his goodness and a time for seeking the Lord with humility, fasting, and mourning for sin. If we hunger for the Lord, he will not disappoint us. His grace draws us to his throne of mercy and favor. Do you seek the Lord with confident trust and allow his Holy Spirit to transform your life with his power and grace?

What kind of fasting is pleasing to God? Fasting can be done for a variety of reasons - to gain freedom from some bad habit, addiction, or vice, to share in the suffering of those who go without, or to grow in our hunger for God and for the things of heaven. Basil the Great wrote: "Take heed that you do not make fasting to consists only in abstinence from meats. True fasting is to refrain from vice. Shred to pieces all your unjust contracts. Pardon your neighbors. Forgive them their trespasses." Do you hunger to know God more, to grow in his holiness, and to live the abundant life of grace he offers you?

3. Prayer
"Come Lord, work upon us, set us on fire and clasp us close, be fragrant to us, draw us to your loveliness, let us love, let us run to you." (Prayer of St. Augustine)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Jan. 19, 2015 Monday: 2nd Week in Ordinary Time

Jan. 19, 2015 Monday: 2nd Week in Ordinary Time B

1. Today's Scripture (Mk 2: 18-22)
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”



2. Meditation (www.jesuitprayer.org)

Changing Our Hearts
There comes a time when old, favorite pieces of clothing must be discarded. Not even good enough to donate, the sweatshirt from our alma mater or those favorite pajamas purchased during a London vacation, softened to perfection by years of laundering, must finally be discarded. They might offer comfortable nostalgia, but in reality no longer fit or serve us well. It can take an achingly long amount of time for us to let go, but with Jesus there is always the promise of something new that is more life-giving.

So it is with ideas. It can take a long time to discard old ways of relating to others, locally and globally, in favor of something new. Today, as we honor the memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are reminded of his eloquent preaching of Christ’s desire for peace and unity. Evil, operating under the guise of good, has convinced many civic leaders that increasing militarization is essential for those who “protect and serve” to carry out their sworn duties. Yet officers and citizens alike are being shot and killed, rending the fabric of our communities. Many, especially the young, are echoing the plea of Dr. King to put down arms of war and embrace each other with arms of humanity. Can we heed their call?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Jan. 18, 2015: 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Click to hear Audio Homily
What do you think is one of the greatest joys that a child can experience? Think of all the toys that we have given our children over the years; our experience is that a child’s joy from having a toy is so fleeting that they move on to wanting and begging for another toy -- (and don’t we, adults, do that too?) Have you ever pondered that perhaps pointing or introducing a child to Jesus would bring lasting and the greatest joy in the child’s life?

Some parents told me they took their child to the Perpetual Adoration Chapel on a regular basis. They taught him to come to the chapel to speak to Jesus whenever he was having a difficult time or needed guidance. Throughout high school, their son came to the chapel on his own to speak to Jesus about challenges and the stress he was facing. You know the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The young man’s parents did something invaluable for their child. First, the parents pointed their son to follow Jesus. There are many voices to follow in this world--voices enticing worldly success, comfort, and selfishness. Yet only one person can bring true fulfillment in a soul--Jesus. Our souls are restless until it follows and rests in Our Lord. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist in essence said, ‘look, there is the one whom we’ve been waiting for. Follow him, not me!’  Second, the parents taught their son that in the silence of the heart is where he will hear the voice of Jesus. Most of us are afraid of silence and so when we turn off our smartphones, TV’s, and radios, we begin to feel anxiety that we are disconnected from others. We forget that God created us to connect to him, not just on Sundays but from every moment since our birth to our natural death. The anxiety we feel from disconnecting from technology is really an invitation from God for us to seek silence and speak to him.

In our First Reading, Eli taught the young Samuel to pay attention in the silence of the night and be ready to respond to God with, “Speak,  Lord, for your servant is listening.”

We know we cannot give what we do not have. Do our children ever see us on our knees seeking guidance from Jesus? Do we know Jesus well enough personally to introduce Jesus to others? In this new year, what can we do to be a better disciple of Jesus as were John the Baptist and Andrew?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Jan. 16, 2015 Friday: 1st Week in Ordinary Time

1. Quiet my soul
My soul longs for your presence, Lord.
When I turn my thoughts to you,
I find peace and contentment.

2. How do I find myself today?
I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

3. Today's Scripture (Mark 2:1-12)
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."


4. Reflection (www.sacredspace.ie)
Faith opens a door to a living relationship with God in Jesus. Faith was the door opening to the forgiveness of sins, and then to the cure of the sick man. The faith of all helped the sick man - he was healed by ‘their' faith. Our faithful time of prayer may help people we know or do not know. All Christian prayer reaches out to many.

5. Personal prayer/dialog with God
Lord, I have felt paralysed at times, without the courage to act because of some failure or criticism that took the heart out of me. Then I relied on the help of good friends, like the four stretcher-bearers, to bring me to the point where I could hear you say: Get up and walk. Suddenly, as W.H.Auden put it, I was able to approach the future as a friend, without a wardrobe of excuses.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jan. 15, 2015 Thursday: 1st Week in Ordinary Time

Meditation on the Leper

1. Quiet our soul
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....

2. How do I find myself today?
Where am I with God? With others?
Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks.
Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.

3. Today's scripture (Mark 1:40-45)
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.



4. Reflection (Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net)
This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man's misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean - not only physically but spiritually as well.

How do you approach those who are difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some defect? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others.

5. Personal prayer/dialog with God
Touch me, Lord. Touch the ugly bits of me that I do not like to look at. If you will, you can make me clean.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jan. 13, 2015 Tuesday: 1st Week in Ordinary Time

He taught them as one having authority. (Mark 1:22)

We tend to think of authority as the right and ability to enforce rules. What is remarkable is that the things Jesus speaks with authority about are things he wants to create and build up in us. Not mere lofty goals we reach for endlessly but qualities, characteristics, and desires that he himself will help us adopt.

Consider, Jesus says you are …

… Safe—“I give you eternal life, and no one can take you out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

… Known intimately—“Before you were born, my eyes gazed on your unformed substance. I know you inside and out, exactly how you are made.” (Psalm 139:12-16)

… Chosen—“I chose you before the foundation of the world to be with me forever.” (Ephesians 1:4)

… Treasured—“Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

… Empowered —“You can do all things, for I will strengthen you and give you the wisdom and power you need to do what I call you to do” (Philippians 4:13)

All these statements are true about you. Let Jesus speak these words, in all his authority, to your heart today. Let these words shape the way you relate to the people around you, too. For the more you know how important you are to the Father, the more you’ll see how important everyone else is—and the more you’ll begin to treasure them.

“Jesus, open my ears to hear you, and my heart to be amazed and astonished as you teach me of the life you have for me.”

Word Among Us Daily Meditation
www.wau.org

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jan. 11, 2015: Baptism of the Lord (B)

Click to hear Audio Homily
How many of you use the camera function on your phone? Have you taken a selfie with it? Have you taken a selfie with a famous person? Perhaps around Donaldsonville and around Bayou Lafourche a selfie with our local celebrity Troy Landry (Swamp People) would be a good one. Some teenagers made the headlines in 2013 when they uploaded a selfie with the most unlikely celebrity, Pope Francis, inside St. Peter's Basilica after mass. There is something about us wanting to be identified with or closely associated with someone who is larger than life. Perhaps the fame of the person, or perhaps in the case of Pope Francis, his holiness would rub off on us by association.

Fr. Frank Uter, told me about a personal encounter he had with Mother Teresa when she came to Baton Rouge to visit her sisters. He was the rector of St. Joseph Cathedral at that time, and as he was introduced to Mother Teresa, Fr. Frank extended his hand to shake Mother's hand. Mother Teresa extended her hand, then did something unexpected. She took his hand and kissed it as if he was a dignitary. This gesture startled him. She had kissed his hand as if it was Christ’s hand.

If a saint such as Mother Teresa took your hand and kissed it as if it was Jesus’, would you be startled? Would you be honored, or would you feel embarrassed? Perhaps you don't feel worthy to be honored by such a holy saint. Is it too far fetched to believe that each of us belongs to the same family of Jesus, in fact brothers and sisters of Jesus? “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” (Heb 2:11)

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord. Baptism is the Sacrament on which our very faith is founded and which grafts us as a living member onto Christ and his Church.  Yet a question may stir within us: is Baptism really necessary to live as Christians and follow Jesus? In baptism, we were buried with Jesus into death, so that as Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4). It is an act that touches the depths of our existence. A baptized child and an unbaptized child are not the same. A person who is baptized and a person who is not baptized are not the same. We, by Baptism, are immersed in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history; and thanks to this love we can live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, of sin and of death, but in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.

At times we look to this world for happiness and look to the things that will pass from this world for pleasure; the unfortunate result is that we turn from our Heavenly Father. Is this what God had in mind when He gave us the gift of baptism? We must remember that the Holy Spirit dwells within us to guide and direct us to true happiness and eternal life with the Father.

Pope Francis urged us not to forget the great gift of baptism that we have received. He said, “Our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ. Our baptism has also given us a share in the Church’s mission of evangelization; as disciples, we are also missionaries.” The Pope said “as we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord this Sunday, let us ask him to renew in us the grace of our Baptism and to make us, with all our brothers and sisters, true children of God and living members of his body, the Church”.

Blessed Mother said in Medjugorje,
“Dear children, By your baptism you are all, in a special way called and loved, therefore witness and pray that you may be my extended hands to this world which yearns for God and peace. Dear children, I wish that you all be the reflection of Jesus, which will enlighten this unfaithful world walking in darkness.”

Pope Francis asked in his general audience address whether his listeners knew the date of their baptism. He said it is the most important day of our lives, but most of us don’t even know the date. On this feast day, let us ponder about what the gift of our baptism means for us. Are we using this amazing gift from God to transform lives?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jan 9, 2015: Friday after Epiphany

Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus' time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as "already dead" even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.

This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man's misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well.

How do you approach those who seem difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some physical or mental weakness? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord Jesus is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving.


"Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion."

-Don Schwager
www.dailyscripture.net

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jan 8, 2015: Thursday after Epiphany

What can bring us true freedom and joy? In Jesus we see the healing power of God's love and mercy in action. Wherever Jesus went, people gathered to hear him speak about the kingdom of heaven and God's promise to bring freedom and healing to those who put their trust in God. His gracious words brought hope, joy, and favor to those who were ready to receive him.


Jesus began his public ministry in his own land of Galilee where he was reared. His proclamation of the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah brought wonder to the people. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus awakened their hope in the promises of God. They, in turn, received his words favorably and wondered what would become of "Joseph's son".
Their hearts were hungry for the word of life and they looked to Jesus with anticipation and wonder. Do you look to Jesus with confidence and hope in the fulfillment of all God's promises?

The word "gospel" literally means "good news". Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free, not only from their infirmities, but from the worst affliction of all - the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one's life. God's power alone can save us from dejection, hopelessness, and emptiness of life. The Gospel of salvation is "good news" for everyone who will receive it. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to bring us the kingdom of heaven?


"Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit you bring us truth, freedom, and abundant life. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your kingdom of peace and righteousness".

-Don Schwager
www.dailyscripture.net

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jan 7, 2015: Wednesday after Epiphany

Does the Lord Jesus ever seem distant when trials or difficulties come your way? Right after Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, he left his disciples by themselves so he could go to a remote place to pray alone.It was at Jesus' initiative that the disciples sailed across the lake of Galilee, only to find themselves in a life-threatening storm. Although they were experienced fishermen, they feared for their lives. The Lake of Galilee was known for its sudden storms whipped up by strong winds which swept down from the nearby mountains. The disciples must have cried out for help when they recognized that their boat was about to be capsized by the threatening waves.

Jesus always intercedes for us
Although Jesus was not physically with them in the boat, he nonetheless had been keeping vigilant watch for them in earnest prayer. When Jesus perceived their trouble he came to them walking on the sea and startled them with his sudden appearance. The disciples were terrified rather than joyful when they saw Jesus' presence on the water. They thought a ghost had appeared to seal their doom. They couldn't believe it was really him until he spoke words of assurance: "Don't give in to fear or panic, but take courage and be calm, because I am here for you and ready to help you in your need." Jesus not only calmed their fears, but the threatening waves and storm as well.


Do you recognize the Lord's abiding presence with you?
Does the Lord Jesus seem distant when trials and difficulties come your way? The Lord never leaves us alone, but keeps constant watch over us at all times, especially when we are tempted and feel weak or helpless. Do you look to the Lord Jesus to give you his strength and help when you are in need? Jesus assures us that we do not have to give into fear or discouragement if we put our trust in Him and remember his great love for us. He will see us through any trial that comes our way. When calamities and trials threaten to overwhelm you, do you respond with faith and hope in God's love and presence with you?


"Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your saving help and your ever watchful presence, especially in times of adversity. Fortify my faith with courage and my hope with steady perseverance that I may never waver in placing all my trust in you who are my all."

-Don Schwager
www.dailyscripture.net

Monday, January 5, 2015

Jan. 6, 2015: Tuesday after Epiphany

In 1938 the Broadway musical team of Rodgers and Hart produced a musical called “The Boys from Syracuse”. One of its melodies has become part of the standard repertoire of countless vocalists ever since. The tune was memorable, but its lyrics were cynical and full of discouragement. They went:
Falling in love with love is falling for make-believe
Falling in love with love is playing the fool.
Caring too much in such a juvenile fancy
Learning to trust is just for children in school.


Its mood matched the times. The Great Depression was still raging.  The world had already tipped into a global war – both in Europe and in Asia – a conflict into which the United States would soon be drawn.

Where were we Christians?  Why was our voice not raised?  “Wrong!” we should have been shouting.  “That’s not true!  None of it is true!”

Today’s first reading makes the astounding statement that “God is love”.  It says that “Falling in love with love (God)” is not make-believe; it is the only real reality. It is echoed in Paul’s soaring affirmation that “nothing can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:39).  It was a truth about which Paul said he was absolutely certain.  It is a reality in which we can trust – trust absolutely.

“Learning to trust” is not just for children in school.  In Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matt 30:4–9) the first and the most basic meaning is that we can trust God, that Jesus did in fact trust God totally. Thus, though much of the seed failed to bear fruit, that which grew produced a miraculous harvest.  Although this parable has been extensively allegorized, scripture scholars tell us that, as uttered by Jesus, it was precisely to counter criticisms that his program was going nowhere.  It was a retort that said, in effect, that despite setbacks, God’s way would triumph in the end.  We can count on it!
And “caring too much”?  Was Calvary a “juvenile fancy”?

Christianity grew from just a few hundred individuals (at most) at the Resurrection to majority status in the Roman empire in under 300 years – precisely because it brought good news to a world blanketed by a pall of despair.  The world is as hungry to hear that message now as it was in Paul’s time.  It was hungry for it nineteen centuries later when Lorenz Hart composed those sad lyrics.  And Paul, quoting Isaiah, blessed those who bring the good news, reminding his converts (and us) “How can they hear unless there is someone to proclaim [it]” (Romans 10:15)


What good news we have to share!  Lord, open our mouths!  Give us the words you want us to bring to our world!

Creighton University Daily Meditation
http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/010615.html

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Jan. 5, 2015 Monday: Memorial of St. John Neumann

Beloved:
We receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit whom he gave us. (1 John 3:22-25)

What wonderful and reassuring words we hear from John. So simple. So pure. Just two easy steps to follow. So then why do we constantly fret about our relationship with God? Why do we continually beat ourselves down and feel we are not worthy of God’s love and God’s forgiveness?

Sure we sin. We were born sinners and we will die sinners. But that doesn’t mean that we as Christians and as believers should ever lose sight of or forget John’s powerful, hope filled words.


When I am greeted by someone and asked, “How are you?” I enivetalby reply, “Never Better!” Some people look at me at me with a bit of apprehension. “Really? Never Better? Did you just win the lottery?” But why shouldn’t I answer their question like this and why shouldn’t you? For if John’s words are echoing in our heads, then we know that the hand of God is resting on our shoulder and God’s love and forgiveness is a constant present in our lives. Truly, I ask you, “What could be better than that?”

Creighton University Daily Meditation
http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/010515.html

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Jan. 4, 2015: Epiphany

Homily by Fr. Flor McCarthy SDB

Once the people of a very poor parish set their hearts on acquiring an expensive set of figures for their Christmas crib. They worked hard to scape together the money to buy the figures that were made of rare porcelain. Eventually they had their crib. And were they proud of it!

The church was left open all Christmas day so that people could visit the crib. In the evening the parish priest went out to lock up. Before doing so he looked at the crib. To his consternation he discovered that the baby Jesus was missing. He wondered how anyone could stop so low as to steal baby Jesus.

As he stood there he spotted a little girl with a small pram entering the church. She made straight for the crib. Then she took the baby Jesus out of the pram and lovingly put him back where he belonged--right in front of Mary and Joseph and the adoring donkey and oxen. Before leaving she knelt and said a prayer in front of the crib.

As she was on her way out, the parish priest stopped her and asked her what she was doing with the baby Jesus. She told him that before Christmas she had prayed to baby Jesus for a pram. She promised him that if she got the pram, he would have the first ride in it. As she had got her pram, she was keeping her side of the bargain.

The little story shows the power of Christmas. Christmas evokes generosity in people, especially children. To look at the poverty of the infant King of the Universe cause us to open our hearts. By coming in weakness, God's Son evokes in us a feeling of compassion, thereby bringing our hearts to life.

It was the poverty of the child Jesus that evoked that lovely act of generosity in the little girl. It was the poverty of Jesus that caused the Magi to open their treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and lay them before him.

It has always been the poor who have had to pay homage to the rich, through labor, payment of taxes, and so on. But in the visit of the Magi to the Christ-child, we see a reversal of the established order of things. Here it is the rich who pay homage to the poor. It was the first of many radical changes Christ would bring about in our world.

Instead of being impoverished, the Magi were enriched. It is through giving that we are enriched, because through giving we discover our own riches.

The poverty of Jesus is a challenge to us too. It gives us an opportunity to open our hearts. To open one's heart is to begin to live. Jesus no longer needs our gifts. But other people may. He wants us to share ourselves with one another. And we too will find ourselves enriched, if as a result of knowing Jesus, we are able to open the treasures of our hearts and share with others.

-Fr. Flor McCarthy SDB

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Jan 2, 2015 Friday: Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

And now, children, remain in him,
so that when he appears we may have confidence
and not be put to shame by him at his coming. (1 John 2:27-28)


Today’s first reading is a reminder to us about being faithful to our awareness and our understanding of the role  God has in our lives.  We, as Christians, have been made aware of God and our reliance on God through our baptism and our daily faith practices of prayer, refection and conversations with like-minded Christian.  The reading addresses the antichrist, those temptations that seek to replace Christ many times with what appears to be “a quick fix”.  God invites us to be faithful, to our calling to live a faith- centered life, which is an invitation to put God in the driver’s seat, trusting God’s navigation, using our gifts to enhance life on this earth, while always being mindful of “the promise that he made us: eternal life.”


The Gospel continues with the lesson of our calling to be a witness of Christ, as John the Baptist, who was not Christ but rather a Holy Man who had heard the word of God and was encouraging people of his time to “Make straight the way of the Lord”.  Embracing our faith heritage, we are asked to live our lives being faithful to what God has asked of us, remaining humble and confident that God will take care of us. If we remain faithful and not put things of an antichrist nature,  (human power, money, etc.) in the driver’s seat, but rather, trust in the “saving power of God” we, as Christians today, will also “make straight the way of the Lord.” …Wishing you a faith-filled New Year…

Creighton University Daily Reflection
http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/010215.html