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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

A Life Pleasing to God


A Life Pleasing to God
April 5, 2022

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent 

John 8:21-30

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, by doing your holy will the Church grows and becomes more faithful in your service. You are life and truth and goodness. You are also peace and mercy. How grateful I am to have this moment to turn to you. Without you I can do nothing good. In fact, when I do good, it is you working through me, despite my failings. Thank you, Lord. Here I am, ready to love you more.

Petition: Lord, help me to please you in what I think, say and do. 

1. “In the World But Not OF the World”: We profess in the Creed that Jesus Christ came down from heaven “for us and for our salvation.” This truth colors everything about the Savior. He comes into the world without being of the world. His doctrine appeals to our highest and most noble aspirations. His way, his lifestyle, clashes with the way and lifestyle of the children of this world and therefore is never without resistance. In my innermost thoughts, in my words and deeds, am I striving to belong to “what is above”? 

2. Lovingly Telling the Truth: When we truly love someone, we tell that someone the truth about the things that really matter, even when the truth could be perceived as inconvenient, painful or demanding. God the Son has loved us from all eternity. His love compels him to tell us the truth about the Father, which is a message of infinite mercy and love. His love compels him to tell us the truth about our relationship with that merciful Father: how it should be filled with gratitude and loving obedience and devoid of anything that could separate us from him. In order to belong to Jesus and to what is above, I must strive to open my heart and mind to his truth, especially in those areas of my life where he is asking for change and conversion. 

3. Seeking to Please the Beloved: Love transforms our intentions and desires. When we love someone, we want to please that person in everything. Jesus loves the Father, and therefore he does what is pleasing to him, even though the Father’s will leads Jesus to embrace suffering, rejection, and death. He endures this agony so as to bring us the gift of resurrection and eternal life. If I love Christ, then I necessarily wish to do what is pleasing to him. And what pleases Christ? My faith, hope and love; my obedience and my humility; so also my selfless service to him in those who are materially, morally or spiritually needful of my attention and support. 

Conversation with Christ:

I will love all my brothers, Lord.

The small ones, lowering myself to their abyss;

the clean of heart, becoming as they;

the naked, clothing them;

the sick, consoling them;

the imprisoned, visiting them,

my brothers of every tribe, language, and race,

spilling my sweetness as a gentle perfume

because kindness in love 

is the strongest of all chains.

Resolution: I will strive to please Christ today in all my thoughts, words and deeds.

The Abiding Presence of God

April 5, 2022
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Readings for Today

Saint Vincent Ferrer, Priest—Optional Memorial


“The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone.”  John 8:29

Most young children, if left at home all alone, would react with fear. They need to know that their parents are around. The idea of being somewhere all by themselves is frightening. It would be just as frightening for a child to get lost in a store or another public place. They need the security that comes with a parent being near.

The same is true in the spiritual life. Interiorly, if we sense we are all alone we may react with fear. To feel as though there is an interior abandonment from God is a frightening thought. But on the contrary, when we sense that God is very present and alive within us, we are greatly strengthened to face life with courage and joy.

This was Jesus’ experience in the passage above in which He speaks much about His relationship with the Father. The Father is the One who sent Jesus into the world for His mission and Jesus acknowledges that the Father will not leave Him alone.  Jesus says this, knows it and experiences the blessing of that relationship in His human and divine Heart. 

The same can be said of each one of us. First, we must come to realize that the Father has sent us. We each have a mission in life. Do you realize that? Do you realize that you have a very specific mission and calling from God? Yes, it may entail very ordinary parts of life such as chores around the house, the daily grind of work, the building up of your family relationships, etc. Our daily lives are filled with ordinary activities that make up the will of God.

It may be possible that you are already fully immersed in the will of God for your life.  But it is also possible that God wants more from you.  He has a plan for you and it’s a mission that He has not entrusted to another. It may require that you step out in faith, be courageous, move out of your comfort zone, or face some fear. But whatever the case may be, God has a mission for you.

The comforting news is that God does not just send us, He also remains with us. He has not left us alone to fulfill the mission He has entrusted to us. He has promised His continued help in a very central way.

Reflect, today, about the mission that Jesus was given: the mission to give His life in a sacrificial way. Also reflect upon how God wants you to live out this same mission with Christ of sacrificial love and self-giving. You may already be living it wholeheartedly, or you may need some new direction.  Say “Yes” to it with courage and confidence and God will walk with you every step of the way.

My sacrificial Lord, I say “Yes” to the perfect plan you have for my life. Whatever it may be I accept without hesitation, dear Lord.  I know that You are always with me and that I am never alone. Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Rebuke by Jesus

May 28, 2021
Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today


The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it. Mark 11:12–14

This is a very unique and interesting story. The first thing this tells us is that Jesus was fully human. As a man, He was hungry. But this story tells us much more than the simple fact that Jesus was hungry. He would have known that it was not the season for figs to grow, but He decided to look for a fig anyway. And when He found none, He cursed the fig tree and, as we read later in this chapter, the tree withered and died. This was a symbolic action for the sake of His disciples, in that His disciples heard Him curse the tree and later saw that the tree had withered.

Saint Bede, an early Church Father, tells us that this action of Jesus had an allegorical purpose. The tree is symbolic of the many people Jesus encountered, and continues to encounter today, who failed to bear good fruit in their lives. They were the Pharisees and others who practiced their faith only in an external way. The leaves, Saint Bede tells us, were symbolic of the externals of the faith, and the lack of fruit was a symbol of the missing interior fruit of holiness and good works. This lesson tells us that Jesus is very demanding. He is determined to discover good fruit in our lives. He wants us to become authentically holy. And when He finds only the externals, He will rebuke us in love, taking even the externals away.

What good fruit does our Lord want to find in your life? How does He want you to manifestly grow in holiness? Do you go through the motions, attend Mass, say some prayers, but fail to produce an abundance of virtue, compassion, mercy and goodness? Do you say you believe in our Lord but then fail to preach the holy Gospel with both your words and your actions? If our Lord were to come to you, as He came to this fig tree, what would He find?

Being a Christian is not something that is exclusively between you and God. Being a Christian requires that you be so given over to the service of God and others that God is able to do incredible things through you. The Christian faith must produce good fruit in your life and through you in the lives of others. And it must do so in an abundant way.

Reflect, today, upon the holy image of Jesus walking over to this fig tree inspecting it for a fig. See this tree as an image of your soul and see the hunger in the heart of our Lord. As He looks at you and your life, will He be satiated? Will He find holiness and manifest good works? Or will He find little to nothing other than external claims that you are a Christian? Commit yourself to an abundance of authentic and manifest holiness and our Lord’s hunger will be satiated.

My demanding Lord, You call all Your followers to a holiness that is lived, transforming, manifest and fruitful for Your Kingdom. Help me to be a Christian not only in name but especially in action. May my life truly bear the good fruit of holiness and may that holiness become a means by which You feed the spiritual hunger of Your people. Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Greatness in Holy Servitude

May 26, 2021
Wednesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Philip Neri, Priest—Memorial


Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Mark 10:35–37

James and John were feeling quite bold. Their boldness may have come, in part, from the fact that they had become very familiar with the goodness of Jesus. He was unlike any other, and His genuineness was very evident to them. Therefore, they allowed themselves to slip into the trap of taking Jesus’ goodness for granted by seeking a selfish favor from our Lord. Jesus’ response is gentle and thoughtful, and, in the end, James and John are somewhat humbled by their attempt to obtain this selfish favor when the other disciples become “indignant” at their request.

Jesus summarizes His response to these disciples this way: “...whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” Jesus, of course, was especially speaking about Himself. He was the greatest and the first among them. And for that reason, Jesus humbled Himself as their servant and the “slave of all.” Normally, the idea of being a slave has very negative connotations. Slavery is an abuse of the dignity of another. It’s a way of discarding the dignity of the person. But, nonetheless, Jesus says that the ideal way to be truly great is to become a slave of all.

When literal slavery is imposed upon another, this is a grave abuse. But there is another form of holy slavery of which Jesus is speaking. For Jesus, a holy slavery is one in which we give ourselves to another in a sacrificial way out of love. And this is what Jesus did to perfection. His death on the Cross was a true physical death. It was a sacrifice of His earthly life, but it was done freely and for the purpose of setting others free. In referring to Himself, Jesus explains His holy “slavery” when He says, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus’ greatness is first found in the simple fact that He is God. But His greatness is made most manifest in His human nature when He gives His life “as a ransom for many.” It is the Cross that becomes the greatest act of loving service ever known. The fruit of His selfless sacrifice is the salvation of all who turn to Him. Thus, Jesus turns slavery and death into the greatest act of love ever known.

Reflect, today, upon your own calling to live a life of holy slavery. How is God calling you to sacrificially give yourself to others out of love? From a purely human point of view, the idea of sacrifice, servitude and even holy slavery is hard to comprehend. But when we use Jesus as the model, it becomes much clearer. Look for ways in which you can give yourself to others selflessly and know that the more you can imitate our Lord in this holy endeavor, the greater your life will be.

Lord of all holiness, Your greatness was made manifest in Your human nature by Your act of perfect servitude when You freely chose to die for the sins of those who turn to You for redemption. You humbled Yourself, taking on the form of a slave, so that all could be set free. Help me to always trust in Your great love and to continually open myself to the gift of redemption You offer. Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

An Exchange of Gifts

May 25, 2021
Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time


Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more…” Mark 10:29–30

Jesus’ statement above is in response to Peter who said to Him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” It was as if Peter were patting himself on the back, attempting to highlight just how much he and the other disciples had sacrificed to follow Jesus. And it was true, they did give up everything of their former life. They left home, their occupation, their relationships and everything that had been part of their daily established life in response to the call of Jesus. They were truly all in.

In hearing this statement from Peter, Jesus does not give the expected response. He doesn’t say to Peter, “Yes, you have, that’s very impressive Peter. Good job and thank you!” Instead, Jesus immediately explains to Peter that the sacrifice he and the others have made is worth it. Their unwavering commitment to follow Jesus would be repaid with gifts beyond their imagination. Thus, Jesus was saying that the gifts that He would bestow upon them would be exponentially greater than every sacrifice they made.

This was not a belittling of Peter’s self-sacrifice; rather, it was a form of encouragement by Jesus. He was encouraging Peter, and the other disciples, to have full confidence in their decision to follow Him. Their sacrifice would yield a hundredfold return. That is truly a good investment.

It can be tempting for us all, at times, to feel as though God asks too much of us. It’s true that God asks much of us. He asks everything from us. He asks for the complete and total gift of our lives to Him. He calls us to abandon all selfishness and to dedicate ourselves to His holy will without exception. But if we understand the reward of our self-giving, then the sacrifices we make will pale in comparison to the reward.

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you can say those words of the Apostle, Saint Peter: “Lord, I have given up everything to follow You.” Have you truly given your life completely to Christ Jesus? Are there things that you still hold back, not wanting to “sacrifice” for our Lord? Ponder those words of Peter and allow yourself to see the areas of your life you still need to surrender over to Jesus. And as you do so, allow the reward promised by our Lord to motivate you to the point that you truly hold nothing back and truly have given up everything to follow His holy will.

My generous Lord, You ask everything of me. You ask me to abandon everything in my pursuit of Your perfect will. Give me the grace I need to answer Your call and to live sacrificially for You without counting the cost. You are generous beyond description, dear Lord, and I trust that following You will produce an abundance of good fruit. Jesus, I trust in You.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Manifestation of Your Soul to All?

January 28, 2021
Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor—Memorial

“For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.” Mark 4:22

What a fascinating little line in the Gospel for today! What does this line mean? Though many have offered various commentaries upon the meaning of this line, let’s turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Churchfor some insight:

In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man's relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life… (CCC #1039).

This passage comes from the section on “The Last Judgment” rather than “The Particular Judgment.” The Particular Judgment will come for all of us at the moment of our passing from this world. It will be an accounting of our sins and virtues before God in a personal and private way. But the Last Judgment will come at the end of time and should be seen as a universal judgment upon all in a very definitive and public way. Thus, this line from the Catechism seems to suggest that both our good actions and evil ones will be revealed for all to see.

If the Scripture passage above, as well as the passage from the Catechism, are properly interpreted to mean that during the Last Judgment even our deepest sins, including those that have been forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession, will be made manifest for all to see, this idea can, at first, be a bit frightening. But it shouldn’t be. It should be liberating.

If every action of our lives, both good and bad, will be made manifest for all to see at The Last Judgment, then this will result in one thing and one thing alone for those who are in Heaven: the glory of God and much rejoicing! In other words, if God reveals every sin we have committed, then He will also reveal our repentance from those sins, the purification we endured, and the forgiveness we received. Therefore, those who make up the Communion of Saints will not look upon us with judgment; rather, they will glorify God in the same way we glorify God and thank Him for His abundant mercy and forgiveness. We must always remember His forgiveness and continually rejoice in that fact. Therefore, if all truly is made manifest, then it will be so that we can all rejoice together in the incredible mercy of God and can look at each other with gratitude for all that God had done for the other.

Reflect, today, upon the possibility of that glorious moment. Imagine the freedom you will experience by allowing God to share the deepest sins and the deepest virtues of your life with all who share Heaven with you. Shame will be gone. Judgment will be gone. Rejoicing and gratitude alone will remain. What a glorious moment that will be!

My glorious Judge, I thank You for Your mercy and forgiveness in my life. I thank You for freeing me from all sin. Please continue to purify my soul and free me from even the attachment to all sin. May I never forget all that You have done for me and may Your mercy become the cause of my eternal rejoicing and Your eternal glory. Jesus, I trust in You.

Racism: The Inheritance of Slavery

Shay Cullen
23 January 2021
The most powerful and richest country on the planet is still arguably the poorest in moral values and social and racial equality. It is suffering a shock to its democratic system. The days when black people in the southern states of America had to use special seats in the back of buses, go to separate drinking fountains and restaurants, their children forced to go to separate schools and churches and live lives segregated from white people, may be over. That great civil rights movement and the march on Washington led by Martin Luther King in August 1963 did not end racism in America. The attitudes still persist and maybe worse than ever. President Joe Biden has a mighty challenge ahead of him.
Racism has many facets and causes much hurt, suffering, anger and hatred and social unrest. It is when one group discriminates, oppresses and dominates another because of the color of their skin- be it black, brown or olive- or their facial features. In America, those that discriminate and reject people of color as having equal rights are known as white supremacists. At the behest of President Trump, their champion, they invaded and briefly took over the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. They are not a minority in America and consider themselves racially superior to black or brown-skinned people. Racism is exclusion, it exists in the minds and hearts, beliefs and attitudes of a single dominating group that treats the other group as inferior, even less than fully human, because they are of different skin color. Racism perpetuates itself everywhere when social and economic and cultural equality is absent. Racism and discrimination oppress another segment of society because of their economic weakness, poverty, lack of opportunity and skin color. The dominant group considers the other as an inferior race and denies them opportunity of equality and education to rise out of poverty. It is a vicious circle of the oppressed. Institutional racism denies almost all opportunities to the people of different skin color and they will always remain poor and disadvantaged and blamed because they are considered racially inferior.
When the Black American community did prosper and proved them wrong, they were annihilated by the white supremacist groups. Asuch is what happened in the thriving, prosperous black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, whose members were well off and owned property, banks and businesses and had a superior school system for higher education. Some rich families owned their own airplanes. In 1921, racial violence broke out. The community was attacked by jealous white supremacists. They bombed 35 city blocks, killed 300 black people, seriously injured 800 and 900 were made homeless and the white supremacists looted and burnt everything to the ground.
The dominant racist group need not be in the majority as was the case in apartheid South Africa where a small minority of white people of European descent ruled the nation and segregated the Black majority. This was reversed by the anti-apartheid movement led by Nelson Mandela with the help of the international community that imposed sanctions.
In the Philippines, the indigenous people of different ethnic heritage and darker skin color, such as the Aeta or Manobo people, suffer racial discrimination and racial slurs and bullying. the Manobo people. Most of them remain in poverty. In Myanmar, the ethnic group of Rohyngya has been so discriminated against that accusations of genocide are leveled against the Myanmar ruling class who forced them to flee their villages to Bangladesh where they make up the largest single refugee camp in the world.
European conquering nations colonialized the people of the world and robbed their wealth while millions of natives died and more were enslaved and impoverished as many of the native Americans today. Slavery became the basis of the colonialist’s economic prosperity. The American native population were corralled into reservations. The colonialists imported captured people from Africa to North and South America. In a period of 300 years, 13 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in slave ships built to purpose. The black descendents of these slaves are the victims of institutional racism. It is this culture of exclusion, discrimination and racial bias that is the open wound in America today. While many white people support the rights and dignity of African-American people, many do not.
Nowhere else is the racial inequality more apparent than in the relations of the black community with law enforcement. Poverty, inequality and non-education of many Black youth that suffer broken homes and dysfunctional families drive the youth to join the drug culture. This is a source of income and escapism from the frustration, pain and hopelessness of high unemployment and uselessness of life. US law enforcement is predominantly white, male and a culture of racism prevails. Last July 2020, a research paper published in the proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences found that one Black boy or man in every thousand are likely to be killed by police sometime in their lifetime and that Black males are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of police shootings than white males. It found that the leading cause of death among young Black men is violence by police. Here are some shocking statistics from the survey. 
It is this and much more with the killing of many Black people by police that the Black Lives Matter movement that has grown and spread around the world. We can only hope that President Joe Biden will do all he can to bring justice and equality to the lives of the 41.4 million African American community.