We are glad that you found us, the DEACON-5! Here, we will be posting daily Gospel reflections, Mondays through Fridays, each day written by a different permanent deacon in our group. We pray that you find inspiration and a touch of God’s love for sharing some time with us. Please feel free to leave a comment or a prayer request for us!

Blessings to you all!
Deacon Ray Gallego, Deacon Steve Hillmann, Deacon Paul Machuca, Deacon George Mora and Deacon Chuck McDaniels

June 18th, 2021

The Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 6:19-23)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Opening Prayer:  Lord you are my treasure. As I reflect on your words today, enlighten my mind to contemplate my eternal destiny. May this reflection deepen my desire to spend eternity with you. 

Encountering Christ: The last sentence of the opening prayer puts enormous pressure on the writer today. There is an obligation in those words to make sure that proper preparation has been done prior to writing to you today.

We spend so much time in our lives working on various things – that we often lose sight of the “real prize” in our lives. It’s all about eternal life really. We certainly are called along the way of life to help make this earth of ours a better place. We are called to leave this life having made our surroundings better than we found it.

If we think about the gospel today as it relates to our talents, then we have a huge responsibility to share the “gifts” given to us with our families and others. But…. Do we actually do that? Do we even really know the gifts that have been given to us. Do we continually search ourselves and see if God has updated our firmware along the way!! 

It seems that we are being summoned to expand our own personal “giveaway program” and share what we have rather than hoard the gifts of life and store them up. 

I don’t know about you, but I find myself always perplexed when I clean out the closet or garage and the repeating question time and time again is….why did I buy that OR what am I still doing with that! Worse yet – and this is what applies to our lives…. “I didn’t even know I had this”. Bingo! That is the question we need to look at with our gifts that God has entrusted to us. If we don’t realize the gifts given – or worse yet even know that we have a gift – then how are we going to make a difference and live out God’s plan for us. It is certain that he gives us a gift EXPECTING us to use it!

So perhaps the real message for us today is to think about or – as we say as Deacons – go to prayer to discern our progress in using our talents. Our goal should be that at the end of our earthly lives we should be able to say that we have used up the talent and have shared it with many.

Remember that we are called in today’s gospel to keep our eyes focused on the prize of eternal life. As we walk through life with family and friends take time to re-evaluate and give thanks for life and especially for God’s trust in us to deliver on the talents! We can do it – even in the midst of the world’s problems and distractions.

Stay faithful and faith filled and spend time looking into what God is always calling you to do.

Closing Prayer:  Lord, my heart is full of gratitude for the spiritual and temporal gifts that you give me each day. By your grace, may I never make an idol of your gifts. Help me to remember that the Giver is so much more than the sum of all the gifts I have received!

Action for the Day: Pray and discern your gifts and “calling”…… AND….. don’t rush it!

Photo by Hernan Pauccara on Pexels.com

June 17th, 2021

The Gospel according to Matthew (6:7-15)

Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Opening Prayer: Lord, I sometimes say this sacred prayer like a pagan, mouthing the words without thinking. Help me to renew my love for the “Our Father” during this time of reflection.

Encountering Christ: Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, make a comment and that person says I was just going to say that?  Often, when conversing with my wife, we will say, “I was just thinking that”.  Jesus tells us in today’s gospel that our Father knows what we need before we ask him.  Then why pray?

We do not pray because God needs anything from us.  We pray so that we can experience the love of our Father in a personal and communal way.  Prayer is not a repetition or recitation of words but a dialog with our Divine Creator that involves a familial, familiar intimacy of a father and child.

It also reminds us that we are dependents of the Father not the other way around.  We depend on our Father for all our needs both material and spiritual.  And like a child we ask our Father in humble sincerity for His presence, acceptance of His will, our daily needs, forgiveness, and protection.  This is what His son taught us to ask for.

Isn’t it interesting that immediately after he taught his followers this prayer he emphasizes the importance of forgiveness?  He puts it is such a way that the focus is not on our forgiveness but in our ability and willingness to forgive others.  If we do this then our heavenly Father will forgive us, but if we don’t then he won’t.

This reminds me of one of the most beautiful and significant parables Jesus shared, the Prodigal Son.  I am sure we are all familiar with this epic tale of sin, betrayal, and forgiveness.  I once heard the following in a reflection about this parable, “Repentance walks, forgiveness runs!”.  I still get choked up when I think about those words because of the image the presenter offered us.  He said, the repentant son, as he practiced what he wanted to say walked home toward his father and as soon as his father saw him he ran to his son, embraced him and showered him with love and affection.

Does our daily prayer have room for the desire, courage, and tenderness to forgive?  Are we willing, like our Father, to run and offer an embrace filled with love and affection for those that need our forgiveness?  Because it is then the forgiveness we seek from our Father will shower down upon us.  And all our needs, not our wants will be recognized by the Great Provider one day at a time.

He is “Our Father”.  Not just mine, yours, those who look like, act, think, or believe like us.  He is the Father of all humankind.  Let our prayers always include everyone and the grace to forgive so that we may receive all the gifts God wants us to have today and always.

Closing Prayer: Merciful Father, your son, our brother taught us to pray in such a way that we acknowledge your divine providence but also your intense desire to provide for all our needs.  May our time in dialog with you produce the fruit of mercy and compassion to heal the broken hearted.

Action for the Day: Pray the Our Father slowly, pausing with patience and listen to Holy Spirit.  These are not just words they are a plea for the grace we need every day.  Receive that grace as it is always meant, to return to God through the ministry of presence, compassion, and mercy.  There is someone who needs your forgiveness.  You know who it is.  Go, give it and you will receive.

THE CONVERSATION Photo by Alexander Suhorucov on Pexels.com

June 16th, 2021

A Reading from the Gospel According to Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Opening Prayer: Loving God, you ask us to carry out almsgiving, prayer and fasting in secret. We are helped by your good example. Whatever is done with sincere love will last eternally. Let us ask for a heart that is free, that enables us to live with sincere love.

Encountering Christ: We all want to be a little more liked. The different platforms of social media play upon our desire to be popular through likes, followers, friends, etc. In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees wanted the same thing, just with a different platform: climbing their own pedestal. Jesus said they turned street corners into platforms when they gave alms or prayed with their arms spread wide out while chanting slowly so that everyone would see and hear. Whenever they prayed in synagogues, they stood; so that all eyes were on them. In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, there was one person who wasn’t watching the Pharisee: God. Jesus said, “They have already received their reward.” God’s eyes were on the humble, quiet, repentant tax collector. “God looks upon the lowly, but watches the proud from a distance” (Psalms 138:6). “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones but has lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:52).

Blessed Are the Lowly: The wonderful thing is that God longs to meet the lowly, the simple, and the small. St. Andre Bessette said of himself, “God chose the most ignorant one. If there was anyone more ignorant than I am, God would have chosen him instead of me.” Other saints said much the same thing that they were chosen by God, precisely because they were the weakest, the smallest, and the least educated. St. Paul himself said, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27). God is drawn to humility like iron to a magnet. Or perhaps it would be better to say that God is the magnet, and when we are humble, our true spirit is shown, and we are lifted up towards him. When we are humble, he cannot take his eyes off of us. As St. John of the Cross-said, “To descend is to ascend”—the more we humble ourselves, the more God will lift us up.

A Secret Room: Many saints say the secret room is the one inside our hearts. Whether working or at home, we can enter that secret place where no one else can go, and our “Father who sees in secret” will reward us and join us, for he delights when humble people like ourselves sequester ourselves to visit with him.

A community of faith is a real support to us as we seek to live out something deeper. Jesus insists on the interior and not the exterior: it seems that the religious people of his time valued the exterior very highly. And this may have been a strong witness for the faith. Jesus calls us back to the interior life: private prayer, private giving, and private devotional practice.

Closing Prayer: Lord, I close my door to others’ eyes, go to my secret room where no one else but you can see me, and present myself; small and lowly. Allow me to experience your delight at seeing me in secret. When my sins accuse me, saying, “I’m not good enough for you”, I will acknowledge that truth and pray for forgiveness and an increase in humility. 

June 15th, 2021

The Gospel according to Matthew (5:43-48) 

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
    You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Opening Prayer: Loving Lord, please help me to try to love like You, even when it is difficult, and even when those whom I love don’t love me back.  Help me to see them as You do, as Your beloved children, and help me to give to them the dignity that You have given them.  Amen.

Encountering Christ:

As we continue through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays down a challenge for each of us.  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  One can only imagine what that meant to the hearers of that sermon, as they were under real and severe domination by the Romans.  How could they (and how can we) pray for those who mistreat us?  The short answer is that we can only do that in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with the grace that comes from God.

It really comes down to the boundless mercy and love of God, and our inability as humans to comprehend what that “boundless” love really means.  It’s easy (usually) to love those who love us.  It’s easy (usually) to do good to those who do good for us.  There’s an implied expectation there – we love and do good, because we know that love will be given and good will be done to us.  The more we mature, the less our actions are about that expectation, but it is there, nonetheless.

It is in the difficult times of our lives that living out our love becomes the most difficult.  Can we imagine forgiving the one who caused the loss of a loved one through a willful act, or even through something that was not intended?  Unless we are in that situation, I do not believe that we can say for sure.  For one who does not have faith in Jesus, I can say that forgiveness in that situation will most assuredly not be given.

That same boundless mercy of our God is what gives us the ability to return to Him again and again through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and be made new.  God does not keep count and will never fail to shower that same mercy upon each of us, even though we do not deserve it.  Thinking of that truth in the abstract is one thing – seeing it in a real life situation or challenge is quite different.

A few years ago, a film came out, based on a book by William Paul Young entitled “The Shack”.  It’s a remarkable story that will make you think of the relationship of the Holy Trinity and their relationship to us.  There is a scene where the main character, Mack, is told that he has to forgive the killer of his young daughter, Missy.  Mack is understandably unwilling to do that, saying that the killer should be condemned to hell.  God speaks to him, though, saying that the killer “too is my son, and I want to redeem him.”  In the end, Mack says the words, and in so doing, begins to heal from the loss of his daughter.  But, the love shown in that scene points to this passage from the Sermon on the Mount. 

Jesus called for His followers to love everyone equally and to pray for their enemies.  In our human strength, we can’t hope to do that, but when we see how God never fails to love and forgive each of us, we have an example that we can try to follow.  We won’t get there “perfectly”, but the whole lesson is to be reminded that, while we can’t easily forgive, we can ask God to give us the grace and the knowledge of His love, so that we can forgive even when it is hard to do so.

There’s another line from that same film that helps me to understand that reality, even when we can’t see it.  Jesus is speaking with Mack and tells him, “Even if you can’t see it, you are in the center of our love and purpose.”  In the film, we see that in a very real way.  But, the truth is that each of us are absolutely in the center of the love and purpose of our God.  We may not think about God, but He never stops thinking about us.  He hopes for the best for each of us, even though it is up to each of us to choose.

May we each pause now and consider how we can share Jesus’ love with those in our lives.  May we see that the God who is the One who created us is also the one who redeems us.  If we don’t feel that He is near, just turn and look for Him.  He is there, loving us, calling us each by name, helping us to have the grace and the ability to forgive those who have wronged us.  And, then, most amazing of all, He is there to forgive each of us as many times as we wish to turn to Him!

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, You forgave those who put You to death on the cross.  Help me today to forgive without counting the cost, and to love without expecting anything in return.  Walk with me and show me where I can be of service to Your family, and remind me that all things are possible with You. Amen.

Action for the Day: Think of one person that you need to forgive.  Ask God to give you the chance to forgive that person and help that person to experience the endless love and mercy that you yourself have received.

June 14th, 2021

The Gospel according to Matthew (5:38-42)

Jesus said to his disciples: “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.”

Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving us these wise words to contemplate today. Please help me to live by them.

Encountering Christ:

Think about this new moral law in your own life. What level of “justice” do you most commonly live by? When someone wrongs you, do you live like those prior to the Old Testament laws by seeking to get back at them to an even greater degree than the harm done to you? Do you live by the law that seeks the equal justice of an eye for an eye? Do you seek to forgive and offer mercy as a payment for the debt another has incurred by the sin they have committed against you? Or, ideally, do you strive to go even beyond the act of forgiveness and bestow mercy in a new and generous, superabundant way? This last level of love is difficult to obtain and live, but it is the way our Lord treats us and it is the way that He calls us to treat others.

It is this law of retaliation that Jesus addresses in our Gospel today. The new and much higher form of morality that Jesus taught called His disciples to “offer no resistance to one who is evil” and to turn the other cheek when evil was done to them. Though strict justice requires satisfaction for sin, Jesus’ new teaching was that mercy pays every debt. First, His mercy bestowed upon us, for the forgiveness of our sins, pays the debt of our sins when we truly repent and change. But if we desire our debts to God for our sins to be forgiven and repaid, then we must do the same to others, holding nothing against them.

But Jesus goes even further. In the passage quoted above, Jesus exhorts His disciples to a new and radical form of charity and generosity. 

This new moral code was how the children of the Kingdom of God were now called to act. It was not enough to only forgive and to forget the debt one owes you because of their sin. Mercy now requires us to “Give to the one who asks” and to walk “two miles” with one who only asks you to walk one mile with them. In other words, Christian charity far exceeds every concept of strict justice and even goes beyond basic forgiveness. This was certainly a new and radical teaching from our Lord.

As you seek to understand this new law of love and mercy given by our Lord, pray to Him that He will give you the grace you need to give to others the same level of mercy that God gives to you.

Closing Prayer: My generous Lord, You offer Your mercy in superabundance. You not only forgive when we repent, You also restore us to far greater heights of holiness than we could ever deserve. Give me the grace I need, dear Lord, to offer this same level of mercy and love to those who have sinned against me. I forgive all who have hurt me. Please help me to also love them with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.

Action of the Day: Lord, today by your grace I will go the extra mile when the opportunity presents itself.

Photo by Oliver Sju00f6stru00f6m on Pexels.com