Today’s posting

Hi Everyone! As you are probably wondering.. the Gospel from my reflection today was actually not from today’s mass (Sorry, Deacon Paul – I seem to have stolen yours from this coming Thursday!).. I hope it is still of help to you (and you’ll get to compare my perspective with Deacon Paul’s coming up later this week). Apologies for any confusion. Blessings to you all today and always!

May 4th, 2021

The Gospel according to John (15:9-11) 

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”

Opening Prayer: Jesus, thank You for loving me.  Thank You for calling me to walk closely with You, and to share Your love with all I meet.  Help me to remain in Your love and let Your love flow through me!  Amen.

Encountering Christ:

When I was a little boy, during the summer, the days that I recall looking forward to the most were when I got to go to “open swimming” at our local pool.  It was one of those very large pools (multiple pools, actually, a little wading pool for the little ones, an in-between one for those who could only swim a little, and one with a couple of diving boards, including one you had to climb a ladder to reach).  I have never been a strong swimmer, so, no, I never went up on that big diving board.  But, I loved being in the cool waters, especially on those warm summer days.

The love that Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel is like that pool of cool, clear water.  He intends for us to be literally “in” His love – immersed in His love, like being in a swimming pool full of it.  He wants for us to know His love sustaining and supporting us like the water supports us when we are in that pool.  And, just like we feel the coolness and the wetness of that water in the pool, He wants us to sense His love touching us, living within each one of us.  That’s what He means when He says “remain in my love.”

Of course, we don’t always get to stay in the pool, do we?  At some point, we have to get out of the pool, dry off, and go back to the rest of our lives.  We can think of the way the cool water made us feel, but eventually (perhaps quite soon), we have only that memory, and soon, not even that.  Our lives require us to live in a world that is quite barren in this way.  It seemingly does not reward those who live a life of love and service to others.  Yet, that is what Jesus Himself did, and what He calls us, His followers, to do, too.  How do we do that?

This reading gives us a clue about that, too.  Jesus points out that the reason that He wants us to “remain” in His love is that He wants us to experience not just any joy, but “complete” joy.  He says that the way we remain in His love is to obey His commandments, but He doesn’t mean joyless following of rules.  He means that we are asked to follow the commandments, but to do so with a joyful heart.  How do we have joy in following commandments?  We have it because they are helping us on the journey to our ultimate destination: heaven.

For Jesus, it’s not about the finite number of years that each of us have on this earth.  No, it’s about preparing us for eternity with Him in heaven.  The “complete” joy that Jesus speaks of is the joy that comes from knowing that we have, as Paul writes, “run the race” and “kept the faith”.  That race is made up of living out Jesus’ love by sharing it with those whom we meet each day.  It is made by truly willing the good of the others in our lives, as St Augustine wrote. 

It also means knowing that we will not love perfectly, as we are not perfect.  But, we love as best as we are able, and when we fail to love, we ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy, and for His grace to do better.  Let us pray that God may show each one of us who He wants us to love, and give us the ability to do those loving actions, even if they are difficult.  God will never give us more than we can manage.

Let us seek to jump into that pool of Jesus’ love, and feel the coolness reach our innermost hearts.  Let it refresh us, and help us to be His servants and His ambassadors in the world today and everyday.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to dwell in Your love, and to be the one who makes a difference in the lives of those around me.  Let me do it, not for praise from people, but because it is what gives You joy.  Help me to spread Your joy, particularly to any of those whom you place in my path who are most in need of it!  Amen.

Action for the Day: Take a few minutes today and reflect on Jesus’ love, and ask Jesus to show you someone who especially needs to sense His love through you!

May 3rd, 2021

Gospel according to John (14:6-14)

Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

Opening Prayer: Jesus, you are the way, the truth, and the life. Whenever I am lost, help me come back to your way. Whenever I am confused, help me find your truth. When I am confronted with death, help me remember that you are my everlasting life. 

Encountering Christ: When you are in a relationship and really care for someone it’s important to know them. Learn to know their likes and dislikes; their preference in types of food; if they like to read or walk; even down to what their favorite colors are. I go through periods of frustration when my own wife, married for 36 years, dated for 9 years prior to that; and she will ask me how I would like my eggs? SCRAMBLED I would say in frustration, it’s been that way for 45 years. I wonder does she really know me? 

Do we really know Our Lord? Do we deeply understand him? We all go to church regularly; we all pray regularly; and we all say that we believe. But do we really know Him? If we really believe and have seen the Father, then we will do as He has asks us. Today’s scripture says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do”.

My earthly father and I are very close. He is the one who taught me, trained me, and showed me what’s good. He and I do everything together even up to this day. He taught me how to fish and we’ve been doing it for 50 years together. I know my earthly father and now I have become him including the times when words come out of my mouth and then I think, “I sound like my Dad”! 

Jesus did, indeed, spend much time with His disciples. They stayed together, ate together, traveled together, laughed together, and spent much time talking with each other. Therefore, Jesus’ comments to Philip stemmed from His real and lived personal relationship with Philip.

Take the first part of that statement to begin with. “Have I been with you so long…” Imagine Jesus saying this to you. Is this something He would be able to say to you? Is it true that you do spend much time with Him? Do you spend time reading the Gospels, speaking to Him from the depths of your heart, conversing with Him, praying to Him, and listening to His gentle voice?

But Jesus goes on: “…and you still do not know me…?” This is a humble truth that is important to admit. It is true that even those who have a very deep and transforming life of prayer do not know our Lord deeply enough. There is no limit to the transformation that can take place in our lives when we know Jesus personally.

Jesus’ statement goes on: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” So the next question is this: “Do you know the Father?” Do you know the Father’s love, His care for you, His perfect will? Though the Father and the Son are united as one God, They are still distinct Persons, and we must, therefore, work to establish a relationship of love with each one of them.

As initially mentioned, the comments from Jesus are a gentle rebuke of love to Philip, and He wants to speak this same gentle rebuke to you. But it’s a rebuke of love meant to encourage you to get to know Him better. It’s an invitation to personalize your relationship with Jesus and the Father in a real and concrete way. Do you know Him? Do you know the Son of God? Do you know the Father in Heaven? Do we really know how he likes His eggs prepared?

Closing Prayer: My divine and personal Lord, I thank You for Your perfect love and pray that I may open myself to that love more fully each and every day. Saints Philip and James, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

Action of the Day: Reflect upon these loving questions of our Lord as if they were spoken to you. Let His words encourage you to get to know Him more deeply. Pray for your relationship to become more personal and transforming. And as you get to know our Lord more intimately, know that it is also the Father in Heaven Whom you are getting to know.

Three Generations of Gallego’s at a secret fishing hole in Southern Utah: My Uncle Ruben, my son Anthony, my dad Ray, and me behind the camera.

April 30th, 2021

The Gospel according to John (John 14:1-6)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Opening Prayer:  Help me open my spiritual eyes to see what you have prepared for me in heaven.  

Encountering Christ: Do we REALLY know the way? Do we really take the time to look at and read our own personal roadmap (through prayer) to find our way through the thick and thin of life? OR do we only rely on Jesus when we need something. 

Before we go on today – take some time to just sit and think about how often we ask RATHER than thank! You might even want to make a list with two columns on it. One for – What we ask God for AND  What are we thankful for that that God has given to us.

When I talk about being thankful I’m talking about when we ask God for something and that prayer is answered – for example…. “Thank you God for giving me that new position within the company” OR “Thank you God for the new car.” Those are answered prayers true enough, but do we take time to reflect on being thankful for what is simply around us each day? The things we take for granted, like the gift of another day of life or maybe we could thank God for bringing us to a friend that really needs someone to talk with. 

Jesus told his disciples – and that includes us! – Have faith in the Father and in Me. He was giving the instruction to follow the Father by simply following himself. We only have to see Jesus and follow his lead. He left a great roadmap to salvation. It has a lot of options for various scenic routes through life – but He didn’t include detours – that was not an option! (No taking a shortcut around our faith).

Jesus also calls us to think and dream about the mansion that is awaiting us back home in heaven. From the very beginning of our existence, that place was prepared for us. It is almost as if the bed is made and the coffee is on just waiting for us to return home. Liken it to going on a trip and when you finally come home how good that feels.

The other AMAZING part of this gospel is that Jesus even goes so far as to tell us that when the Father calls us home after our mission here on earth is finished, He is even going to bring us home himself. WOW!!!

Thomas totally missed the point. It was as if he was sleeping in class most of the time when Jesus was trying to teach all the Apostles. So thankfully Jesus laid it all out very succinctly for him and us. If we realize and live each day with Jesus in us and about us, then we will have known the Father through our following Jesus’ way and teachings. Simple! – BUT – often times very hard to do.

We are told in today’s gospel about what is in store for us when we follow the basic principles and guidelines that Jesus taught. He emphasized the Commandments and he stressed to “Love one another as I have loved you.” We can do it and today is the start of something great in our lives IF we will simply tune into God’s channel and listen to Him. God has a different type of Podcast…. It’s quiet – not much talking. You have to spend time listening in prayer and much of that time is simply waiting to listen for inspiration or instruction! 

Closing Prayer:  Jesus, in spite of the difficulties of this life, I can’t lose sight of the fact that it is all worthwhile. What you have prepared for me is so wonderful that in spite of my trying to imagine every detail, I will never come close to knowing how great it will actually be.  When I am discouraged or down, remind me that my sacrifices and suffering are worth it because I want to spend eternity with you in the mansion you have prepared for me in heaven!

Action for the Day: Sit for five minutes and calm your brain! Say nothing…just sit there and wait for God. He might expect you to wait longer. If you don’t hear anything in that five minutes – try it again later at another time. Try and deprogram yourself from asking and retrain yourself to listen for instruction and the MESSAGE!

April 29th, 2021

The Gospel according to John (13:16-20

When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Opening Prayer: Lord, you taught the Apostles to pray, and they were unstoppable in their mission as your messengers. Help me to pray well now, so I can hear your words of encouragement and be sent out to help my wounded brothers and sisters.

Encountering Christ: There are many images and representations of Jesus that inspire and evoke awe.  Just to name a few, his healing of the leper who says, if you wish you can make me clean; Jesus holding the children that the apostles were trying to shoo away; Jesus weeping at the tomb of his friend Lazarus; Jesus on the cross.

Among these and many other images is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.  This we know happens during the last supper when he gives us the gift of himself in the breaking of the bread.  So, after offering us the bread of life, food for our journey, he shows us in the clearest means possible how we are to live our lives.

The creator of all things including us, the author of life humbled himself, got on his knees and performed a task meant for one who serves.  This goes contrary to every earthly model of a supreme leader.  Yet as the disciples squirmed, confused and uncomfortable Jesus continues to wash the feet of each of his dearest friends.  Jesus says, “No slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.”  This message is meant for us as much as it was for the apostles.  In giving us this example, he has given us the blueprint for our voyage home to the Father.  Do we accept and believe this promise?  Do we receive this with a humble heart ready to serve so that we may be on equal footing with our God who became one of us so that he could show us in no uncertain terms what he offers us?

As deacons we are called to often meditate on the image of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles.  It is a reminder that we are called to have a servant’s heart.  A heart so tender that when we encounter the grace of the risen Christ, we are so moved that we will do everything within our abilities to be present and tend to our brothers and sisters.  I long to be better at doing this but just like you I am a work in progress.  And, when we cooperate and collaborate with God’s grace and serve as we are called our hope is that you see Christ.  Not because of who we are but because of who he is.

We are all called to do the same.  To serve each other, especially the ones Jesus dwelt amongst the most.  So that we experience the love, compassion, and healing grace of the servant king who urges us, as he did, to lead others to the Father through the humility of a servant who wants nothing more than to share the gift of life in heaven and earth.

Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, may we go forth with a servant’s heart so that the fruits of our labor may reveal a heart filled with the grace of God.  And in doing so may we be icons of Christ who reveals the love of our Father.

Action for the Day: Find an image of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, meditate of the motivation as much as the action and do likewise.  Nourished by the living bread we can all find someone whose feet we can wash through some act of kindness, assistance, or simply presence.