September 9th, 2022

The Gospel according to Luke (6:39-42)

Jesus told his disciples a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”

Reflection:

How true this is!  How easy it is to see the minor faults of others and, at the same time, fail to see our own more obvious and serious faults.  Why is this the case?  

First of all, it’s hard to see our own faults because our sin of pride blinds us.  Pride keeps us from any honest self-reflection.  Pride becomes a mask we wear which presents a false persona.  Pride is an ugly sin because it keeps us from the truth.  It keeps us from seeing ourselves in the light of truth and, as a result, it keeps us from seeing the log in our own eye.    

When we are full of pride, another thing happens.  We start to focus in on every small fault of those around us.  Interestingly, this Gospel speaks of the tendency to see the “splinter” in your brother’s eye.  What does that tell us?  It tells us that those who are full of pride are not so much interested in putting down the serious sinner.  Rather, they tend to seek out those who have only small sins, “splinters” as sins, and they tend to try and make them seem more serious than they are.  Sadly, those steeped in pride feel far more threatened by the saint than by the serious sinner.  

Action:

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you struggle with being judgmental toward those around you.  Especially reflect upon whether or not you tend to be more critical of those striving for holiness.  If you do tend to do this, it may reveal that you struggle with pride more than you realize.

September 8th, 2022

The Gospel according to Matthew (1:18-23)

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

Reflection:

I remember so clearly when Ana and I found out we were going to have our first child. Although I had experienced many joys in my life thus far, this was different. Beside the obvious joy of new life, I was in awe of how Ana carried our daughter for nine months then endured the challenges of labor and delivery. I’ve always said that if men had the babies every family would have only one child. We were blessed with three more children and, so far, have six grandchildren.

So, today we remember and celebrate the birth of the Mother of God. Before God was incarnate our salvation depended on the existence of someone who would endure controversy and so much suffering. Not just with the pregnancy and birth of her child but with the weight of all humanity upon her. We know that her humility, faith, and obedience led to her response when this was all placed before her. One can only imagine how she was raised by her parents, Anna and Joachim, family, and friends. Yet there was nothing spectacular about her except for her choice to become the mother of Jesus and therefore the mother of salvation.

In contemplating the birth and life of Mary every day she lived was one day closer to God’s plan to change the course of our existence. The God who created ALL things, including every single one of us entered humanity through the life of a young girl who from then on, like Christ, would always look out for us. Not as our savior but as our intercessor. Whenever we struggle, we know that the great I AM is always with us. Mary will always be the one who brought Jesus into the world and who will never tire of bringing us to Jesus.

Action of the Day:

In prayer today let us ask for the grace we need to follow the example of our Blessed Mother. Let us ask for the humility and stength to carry our cross and follow her son. Today may not be your mother’s birthday but I invite you to reach out to her, in heaven or earth and tell her how you appreciate her and all the sacrifices she made to raise you. Also ask our Blessed mother to intercede for your mother and provide her with the grace of Emmanuel, “God with us”.

September 7th, 2022

The Gospel According to Luke 6:20-26

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in Heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”

Reflection: Our family just recently lost our dear sweet Jenny, our niece, to cancer that she had battled for many years. Shortly after that news I read an article from Fr. Richard Rohr. As some of you know, I have followed him for many years and his words bring me tremendous peace. Today I would like to share with all of you one of his articles. It’s a letter from Kate Bowler an author and theologian after being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Here are some of her comments.

Dear Body,

Sometimes, I hate you. You ache. You get tired sooner than I’d like to admit. You wake me in the night for no good reason. Your cells duplicate at unpredictable rates. New gray hairs and fine lines and silver stretch marks show up out of nowhere. You let me down just when I need you the most…

Sometimes, I want a break from living with you. I’d prefer to trade you in for a newer model…

She continues… With you I am fragile…

But God knows what it’s like to live in the flesh…If God too lived in a body, then God knows the ache of growing pains and the feeling of goose bumps on a brisk day and the comfort of a warm embrace. He felt the gurgle of a hungry stomach and the annoying prick of a splinter after a day of hard work. He wept over the death of a friend. Ours is a God who sneezed and rubbed His eyes when He was sleepy…

This is a God who knows my humanity inside and out…Not simply because the Word formed us, knit us together in our mother’s wombs, was there from the beginning…but because God wore our skin.

By embracing the wisdom of the incarnation, Bowler learned to listen to her body’s message and be kind to herself.

Bowler concludes.

Dear, dear body, I get it. Or at least I am starting to. You do not have an unlimited supply. You run out, and I need to listen. Maybe I really should go to bed a little earlier or let you off the hook for craving those extra salty chips. I need to sense when you are struggling, and gently acknowledge that you are actually changing. That time and love and grief and life have worn themselves into my skin. Day by day. This is the terrible, beautiful evidence that we have lived.

Action of the Day: Live your life the way God intended us to live it.

Apologies, no audio of today’s reflection.

September 6th, 2022

The Gospel according to Luke (6:12-19) 

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground.
A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people 
from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon
came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases;
and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured.
Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him
because power came forth from him and healed them all.

Reflection:

Today’s Gospel gives Luke’s account of Jesus choosing the twelve Apostles, and the beginning of his great discourse of Jesus, the “Sermon on the Plain”, distinct from Matthew’s famous “Sermon on the Mount”.  The imagery and symbols used by Luke & Matthew are different because the Gospel stories they told were for different audiences of early believers.  But rather than talk a lot about those differences (maybe another time!), I’d like to focus on Jesus’ actions at the very beginning of today’s reading.

Note that Jesus spends the whole night in prayer, and then, He makes an important choice – He chooses the ones who will carry the light of faith on, after He has completed His earthly journey.  Jesus knew from the beginning what He was going to be called to do – He was to share His Father’s love and to teach His disciples to love with the same unselfish abandon that His Father (and He) did.  Then, Jesus was going to lay down His life in sacrifice.  Jesus knew that it would take strong leadership to keep “the Way” going after His crucifixion and resurrection.  Jesus wanted to make sure that He was totally in line with His Father’s plan for all of that.

The call to each of us is to remember that God is always there for us, too, for when we have to make difficult or important decisions in our lives.  It doesn’t mean that God will make those choices for us.  No, but He will be there with us and through His Holy Spirit, God will remind us of His continual presence with us and interest in what is important to us.

I trusted in that myself not long ago, when I was faced with an important decision about my other full-time job (other than being a Deacon, that is).  Linda and I discussed it, and we both prayed that God would give me the wisdom to make the decision that was the one He wanted me to make.  It’s not like a bright light came on to show me that I was making the right choice (that would have been amazing).  No, it was just knowing in my heart that I had done the best I could to make the right decision.  My time of praying is definitely not over – I pray every day that I do what God wants me to do, in my working life and in all my encounters each day.  That is what all of us are called to do, and when we do that, we can leave the results up to that same loving God who wants the best for every one of us, His beloved, beloved children!

Action for the Day:

If you don’t have any big, difficult decisions at hand, ask God to bless all who come before Him today with those kinds of situations, that He may bless those offering those intentions with wisdom and peace.  And, if you do have such a decision for you, offer it up to our loving Father.  I’ll pray too that He blesses you in that decision and continues to live in your life always!

If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below! 

September 5th, 2022

The Gospel according to Luke (6:6-11) 

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

Reflection: Nobody is perfect and even though it hurts to admit it; it’s true and I am referring to myself. Here is a recent example which happened to be this week. While at work and driving in between meetings, I had to (take out a loan) stop for gas. While I was done filling up my tank and getting ready to go, I noticed a man asking other people if they had “jumper cables” but he didn’t ask me. I thought about it, but I was late for my next meeting, and it was 104 degrees that day. I came up with every excuse NOT to assist this man. And as I think about it now, who cares if I was late because I was already late anyway OR who cares if it was hot because I was already hot and sweaty already. Well because I made this impulsive decision, it has really bothered and disturbed me over the past few days. I can’t get it out of my mind and that is my penance for saying no.

In today’s Gospel Jesus defies the rule of the Sabbath and the peer pressure from the Pharisees because Jesus knew that it is much more important to assist His brother with the withered hand. I think about that simple act and how it probably changed that man’s life and possibly his families. I think about other people that were present and observed this act of kindness and thought to themselves that they just witnessed a miracle and a blessing. Therefore, they will assist someone on the Sabbath and every day for that matter. I think about how Jesus could’ve easily done this miracle somewhere else where no one could have seen it. But no, Jesus chose to give a lesson to everyone present. He even publicly said out loud to the man “Come up and stand before us.” Jesus thought it was much more important to give and show this act of kindness and compassionregardless of what their law was.

This passage is disturbing because those who were the religious leaders of the time were clearly only interested in themselves, and Jesus was getting in the way of their self-importance.  He was becoming more popular and respected than the scribes and Pharisees and they were filled with envy. Doesn’t that sound so familiar in our society today?

Though this passage is disturbing, it should hopefully become disturbing in a helpful way.  It should be an opportunity for each of us to look at our own lives and to examine the relationships we have.  Do you see envy present in any of those relationships?  Do you see yourself acting and thinking in an irrational way at times towards this person or that? Are you bothered by something you should’ve done but didn’t?

Action of the Day: Let the disturbing part of this scripture motivate you to work toward freedom from envy in your life. So, think about those irrational decisions that you may have done recently and ask God for forgiveness. I know I am.

Audio Reflection: