Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

The psalm today provides us with a magnificent truth for contemplation: “In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.” God’s people can turn to this reality with confidence.  Consider the “ages” of your own life, the peaks and valleys over time.  In what ways has God provided a refuge in the midst of your trials, suffering, and sublime joys?
Do we really believe that God has our best interests at heart, that we can rely upon him for nourishment and protection?  Sometimes we like to “go at it alone,” but that only leads to loneliness and desperation.  How much better to be faithful in trusting our God who is supremely faithful to us!
September 27th, 2014

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“Turn, turn, turn!” was a song made famous by The Byrds, yet based on the words of today’s reading from Ecclesiastes about how everything has its own season.  The author of Scripture writes that God “has made everything appropriate to its time” or proper season.  How would you characterize the current season of your life with God?  Wherever you are, you might consider the next line, that the Lord “has put the timeless in their hearts.”  So, in the midst of the turning of seasons, a stable center remains.  

God doesn’t change, and so our existence can be founded upon his eternal love.  This truth is what allowed St. Ignatius to have the kind of “indifference” he had to created realities, so that he was open to whatever God’s will was in his life.  He famously said that if the Pope ended the Society of Jesus (his beloved dream), he would need fifteen minutes of prayer to be okay with it.  Let us pray for the same sort of indifference in all seasons, trusting in the timeless perfection of God that overcomes all our concerns.
September 26th, 2014

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“Aslan is on the move,” the world of Narnia realizes as their royal Lion, an image of Christ, returns to claim his land again.  So too, Jesus is “on the move” in today’s Gospel.  Herod is at a loss that Someone as powerful and attractive as the Lord Jesus has come upon the scene.  When people tell him that John the Baptist has come back to life, Herod replies, “John I beheaded.” You can hear the mixture of self-satisfaction and shock in his voice.  Herod is so unsettled that “he kept trying to see him.”

God wins.  Therein lies a central message of the Bible.  The world is not stuck in a cosmic tug-of-war between God and the devil, unsure of who will come out victorious.  Instead, God’s Son has entered into our existence in order to set it aright.  How do we need the assurance of God’s victory in our hearts?  In what concrete ways is Jesus “on the move,” seeking to redeem and sanctify us this day?

September 25th, 2014

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus is forthright toward his disciples–not everyone is going to like them.  In handling people who do not “welcome” his followers, He promotes a simple, direct practice that is still quite useful.  Christ says, “When you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”  Whose dust do you still need to shake from your feet?
Let’s face it: some people probably have not treated us very well in the midst of our walk with the Lord.  Too often we exert ourselves trying to appease them, yet this can be a slippery slope.  As St. John Vianney so aptly warned, “Don’t try to please everybody.  Try to please God, the angels and the saints-they are your public.”  What a liberating yet challenging truth to live by!  Let us pray for a humble confidence to persevere even in the face of tension or opposition.  After all, as the Proverbs tell us, God “is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
September 24th, 2014

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest

St. Ignatius spoke of God as his constant Teacher.  “Treat me as a school boy,” he would pray after his conversion.  The psalmist today also humbly prays, “Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.”  When in your life has God revealed how to live according to His Heart?  

Not only do we need to know what is good, but we also must enact it.  Those who do the latter are the ones that Jesus calls his true family. But that requires the grace of courage and will power.  Ultimately, the love of God is meant to motivate and strengthen our following of his will.  In this way, Jesus can claim, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” Let us pray for the intimacy with Christ that inspires such generosity.
September 23rd, 2014

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,” Jesus promises us today.  How are we to interpret such a saying of our Lord?  I’m not sure, but it seems to me that we are meant to be aware of this: truth will be made manifest.  Christ is the One who reveals the truth of our existence and our world.  The Father has put His Son–the Light of the World–upon the proverbial “lampstand,” in order “that those who enter may see the light.”

In the rush for power, pleasure, and prestige, we often forget or obscure the truth.  However, Jesus tells us that the truth is out there.  The truth will be made known.  And we can abide in God, who is Truth.  Then the meaning of our lives will be illuminated and we can be one “who thinks the truth in his heart.” Where do we need the Lumen Christi, the Light of Christ, to shine and overcome any darkness now?

September 22nd, 2014

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our Gospel calls attention to the sovereign generosity of God.  The landowner in Jesus’ parable gives equal wages to the workers, regardless of when they began their labors.  To the chagrin of those who commenced much earlier, the landowner asks strikingly, “Are you envious because I am generous?” How might we also need to surrender a similarly envious, possessive servant-mentality?

The radical self-gift of God represents a scandal of Christianity.  God freely gives his love and grace to all those who will cooperate with his plan of redemption.  We are not measured according to weights and balances and then given what we “deserve.”  Indeed, we deserve nothing.  Yet that does not keep God from relentlessly lavishing us with his goodness.  Today, let us re-discover the glorious abundance that God offers.

September 21st, 2014

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Blessed they who dwell in your house!” exults the psalmist today, saying further,  “They go from strength to strength.” There is a definite strength that comes with abiding in God.  I have heard it said that with God, mountains begin to look like molehills.  Yet without God, even molehills look like mountains.

Today is also the feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of the Blessed Mother.  Raising Mary as their little daughter must have been a sublime joy for them.  Who is Mary for us?  What do we feel in our heart for her?  Where do we need her to be close to us?  In my own experience, the presence of Mary reminds me of God’s presence.  With our Blessed Mother beside us, let us talk to her about the mountain and molehills of our existence, so that we can climb them with God.

July 26th, 2014

Feast of Saint James, Apostle

I recall a dark period of my life, when I sought to serve God yet felt that I was failing.  A priest pointed me to today’s psalm that promises, “Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” He said that he had found this true at a certain point in his life, when he was facing certain sadness and confusion.  At the time, it was almost impossible for me to imagine how I would “reap rejoicing.”  Yet some time later I came across the same psalm and realized that I too could affirm its truth.

St. Ignatius has wise words for anyone who is in spiritual desolation, a state of decreased faith, hope, and love.  He urges a desolate person to call to mind what will come again: consolation.  That is to say, the person will once again experience a state of increased faith, hope, and love.  In effect, St. Ignatius is saying that those who “sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.”  This is a hopeful teaching that can make a huge difference.  It can help us stay faithful to God in times of desolation.  Are you, or someone you know, experiencing any desolation?  What would it look like to trust that you or they will “reap rejoicing”?

July 25th, 2014

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

When we are young and in love with somebody or something, we are usually zealous, generous, and devoted.  Often that fire cools and becomes but an ember, or dies out completely.  In the first reading, God tells his people, “I remember the devotion of your youth.”  Here the implication is that God’s people have lost their love for him.  Consider how that affects His Heart.

At the same time, the fire of God’s love for us is always blazing in his Heart.  He desires the covenant with his people to be fulfilled faithfully and mutually.  When faced with our infidelity to our Maker and Redeemer, all we can exclaim are the words of the psalmist, “How precious is your mercy, O God!” When specifically have we witnessed God’s faithfulness to us?  It is important to have touchstones of this relationship to turn to, remember, and treasure.  When you recognize these moments, the Lord’s words ring true: “…blessed are your eyes, because they see.”

July 24th, 2014
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