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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reflection on the Readings for Sunday June 30th

By:   Sharon Nelsen

Waiting for inspirations on this Sunday’s scriptures gives me a deeper appreciation of the process our priest celebrants go through in preparing homilies for each weekend.  It’s easy to go all over the place; yet, in the midst of so many choices, all are called to trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in each of us, struggle as we may, to break open God’s Word in our place, in our time.

My reflections on Sunday’s gospel, rise out of other readings from this month’s liturgies-- readings that struck my heart--especially the gospel from June 27th,  (Matthew 7.21-29) and from June 29th,  (Matthew 16.13-19) the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul. 

In the latter, Peter is given the keys to the Kingdom because he hears, values and acts on the voice of God— Jesus says that hearing the Father is “The rock” on which “I will build my Church.”  (Matthew 16.18).  It’s tempting to become so focused on the headship aspect that we forget the introduction of this “rock” image by Jesus, given to us earlier in the week in Matthew 7.24: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.”  This analogy has a physical meaning, obviously, but there is a deeper meaning if we connect the image with Jesus’ words to Peter: Listening to the word of God and acting on it is the rock on which the whole church is built, living stone by living stone.  This is not exclusively about headship, but about “everyone who listens.”

What does all of this have to do with today’s scriptures which thematically are about following? Elisha is called to follow Elijah (1Kings 19.16b, 19-21) and the disciples and others are called to follow Jesus (Luke 9.51-62).  Following God is about keeping an open heart, a listening heart, to God’s Word within and as God’s Word comes to us from others.  “Holy Spirit, make my heart be open to the Word of God, that my heart be open to good, that my heart be open to the beauty of God every day”--a challenging prayer from our dear Pope Francis given to us on Pentecost this year.

We follow Jesus when we are open to doing good, when we become the beautiful, “How beautiful are the feet of the one who preaches good news.” (Romans 10.15).   God is “located” in goodness and in beauty everywhere, even in our daily encounters.  That is what Jesus shows his followers and shows us in the incident with the Samaritan village in Sunday’s gospel from Luke.

Jesus does not judge or condemn those Samaritans who have refused hospitality because their village was not his destination, but just a stopover on the way to Jerusalem.  Furthermore, he rebukes his own followers who want to be like Elijah and “call down fire from heaven to consume” those who have rejected them.  Hospitality is about acceptance; the lack of hospitality is about rejection, and in Jesus’ culture, such behavior carried a “mandate” to defend honor.  Jesus teaches out of the religious tradition of his disciples, pre-empting cultural “rules.” 

What the Lord teaches us to set aside, to dismiss, to not be tempted into, is “getting even.”  When one is justice-oriented, it is an easy slide into getting even, making “it” right.  Jesus is teaching His disciples, and teaching us to build and grow on our foundational principles, principles that have formed our inner faith voice. 

The foundational principles make us living stones, an authentic part of the entire church.  The voice of God within for those early followers of Jesus, would be those who had internalized Leviticus 19.18: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord.”   By forgiving, not by grudge-bearing and revenge, will others  recognize true disciples of the Lord.

How do we apply the foundational principle of forgiving everyone to those who have explicitly rejected us?  What does Jesus teach us specifically about forgiveness in this brief Samaritan-Non-Samaritan episode?  Forgiveness, he tells us by his own actions, is sometimes just letting it go, overlooking it so to speak, moving on.  Notice the absence of trying to convert “those sinners,” of attempting to make them understand, or even of making efforts to rebuild relationships.

Following Jesus often means working on “our stuff,” and trusting with St. Paul, that “The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.” (2Tim 4.18)  That evil threat is not exclusively from the outside.  That evil outer threat has power over us because it touches our inner power center – get even, call down that fire!  We are freer to act on the Word of God we hear when we allow God to touch and heal the source of our wounded reactions or responses.

As we truly resolve to follow Jesus, to “Come to him, (believing that each of us is) a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God,” (1Peter 2.4), we grow in honoring the movement of the Spirit within us.  We blossom into wisdom, building on that solid inner stuff with hearts open to the beauty of God every day, allowing ourselves to “be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.” (1Peter 2.5).  Yes, indeed: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock,” (Matthew 7.24) and will stay with the Lord, hearing Him say, “Follow me,” and freely able to leave to God the things of God.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Remnant

"They rejected his statutes, the covenant which he had made with their fathers.  The vanity they pursued, they themselves became; they followed the surrounding nations whom the Lord commanded them not to imitate."  2 Kings:17
Photo by Heidi Knofczynski

The word “remnant“ has been coming to my mind a lot lately and I have been trying to write a reflection on it for days, but I could not pull it together (admittedly this is a frequent problem for me).  I keep brushing the word aside thinking that the word remnant seems a tad over-dramatic. Is our culture dying so quickly that those who are still faithful to the Church’s positions on the issues of marriage, contraception and abortion in our Catholic churches are already a mere remnant (even if the pews seem full)?  Surely that is overstating the case!

Yet in headline after headline, and in discussion after discussion, with Catholic individuals who ought to know better, I am finding that adhering to the Natural Law (the Ten Commandments), particularly in political views is not even considered!  Many ( though not all) of my fellow parishioners use a soft sentimentality as the basis for many political positions, how you feel governs your stance.  Anything that causes discomfort ought to be re-defined. This is dangerous because so many of these individuals are willingly handing over to Caesar the powers to bind or loose moral teachings – and if you try to make an argument against that, you are completely misunderstood, because so many lack an understanding of what liberty and freedom really mean!!!  Are we narrowing down to a remnant of faithful Catholics?

Then the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down DOMA and dismissing Prop 8 came down, not unexpected, but still quite ominous, and after reading Elizabeth Scalia’s excellent article titled “The ‘Party’ is victor; Time to save souls and churches” I realized I was not being dramatic at all.  It was the Spirit that place that word in my heart.  Not to cause despair, but to show me that the seeds of renewal are even now being sown.

“So too at this present time there is a remnant , chosen by grace.”  Rom 11:5

The word remnant first popped into my head during the June 7th rehearsal dinner for my son Matthew and his then bride–to-be Grace. They were married on June 8th (Yes! It was the feast of the Immaculate Heart isn't that awesome!!!) after a real courtship that was based on discernment of God’s will for them. These two have a profound respect, for each other and their deepening love, for parental authority and a commitment to Christ through their Catholic faith. In fact, it was their Catholic faith that came shining through all the wonderful parties and joy-filled celebrations. Especially in the beautiful Nuptial Mass, where the Gospel was chanted by a newly ordained transitional deacon and Panis Angelicus , Ave Verum Corpus and Gounod's Ave Maria were beautifully sung. The Mass and all of the celebrations that surrounded it were directly and indirectly proclaiming what marriage truly is: A covenant that is “ordered to the good of the couple, as well as the generation and education of children.” (CCC 1660) Marriage was not just about the two of them, it was a bridging of the past generations to the future ones. It was about the obligations of these two to build up a Culture of Life through their vows to each other and to God.

Both myself and Grace’s mother heard from guests who felt renewed and filled with hope after the wedding. It was so joyfully Catholic! Three generations of the priesthood participated in celebrating it and at least one other young man was undertaking serious discernment for a religious vocation. And it was at the rehearsal dinner that I looked around the room and felt the hope and promise of renewal that God is always offering us! I thought here ,in this room, are some of the remnant, the faithful remnant in an increasingly post-Christian world. God always leaves a remnant. And what a joyful remnant it was! I wish I had words for my gratitude.

 Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.  Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.  And You shall renew the face of the earth.

The darkness of the Culture of Death’s attack on marriage, which is an attack on the Church, is even more disheartening because of the ignorant and complacent acceptance of these attacks by so many members of the Church.  In the face of this daunting opposition these young people were joyfully, faithfully Catholic.  They did not hide their faith under a bushel basket, nor were they stridently holding it over those they may have serious disagreements with.  They simply lived it with maturity and with great joy.  Sometimes it takes darkness to appreciate just how bright the light of Christ shines, and in the growing darkness of our world the joy of this marriage shines so brightly for me.   I know that some of our readers have also been graced with signs of hope like this as well, and to these things we hold on to.

We hold on to them and share them with others because the threats that were once vague and veiled and aimed at our Church are solidifying and they are proving to be formidable.  I take no comfort in President Obama’s claim the he won’t force religious institutions to accept gay “marriage”.  It is a hollow promise.  And every day more souls are giving up the fight, because it looks hopeless, because it is much easier to just give in, because no one they know and respect is willing to stand up and proclaim the truth, and take the insult and calumny that will result from it.  The Culture of Life is facing the ravenous dragon in the Culture of Death and we appear to be losing.  But we are not.  Have faith and endure, and be perceptive of God’s signs of hope! There is a remnant, praise be to God!

Go then, rejoice and exalt over the children of the righteous, for they will all be gathered together and will bless the Lord of all ages.  Tobit 13:13 

Matthew and Grace
How about you? Where do you see signs of hope?

And for more encouragement in strengthening and growing the "remnant" check out Deacon Paul's link:  Small Faith Communities
or if reading is more your thing:   Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network


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Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Mantle of Love

The Mantle of Love
(reflection on Mass readings for 12th Sunday Ordinary "C")
by: Deacon Paul Rooney

The Church did well to link together today's First Reading (1 Kings 19:16b,19-21) and Gospel (Luke 9:51-62), because they both point to the same theme.

God calls Elisha, through the prophet Elijah, to become his special servant.  In the story, the "call" is symbolized with the passing of the mantle from the prophet to the candidate.  It is a call to carry the word of God to others.  So that he would not change his mind through human weakness, Elisha "burns his bridges" behind him.  He slaughters his oxen; uses the wooden plows as fuel for cooking the oxen; and then gave the food away.  He was now fully prepared to follow his call, to honor his commitment to become a servant of God by being a servant of God's prophet Elijah.

When we follow this "commitment-bridge" to the gospel today, we see Jesus advising those who want to follow him to check their priorities and the reality of their commitment.  There is no turning back, once you accept Jesus as your Master and choose to answer his call to become his servant.  He uses a farming image to convey the consequences of laxity in this matter.  If a farmer is plowing a field and is constantly "looking back" to see what he has been doing, his rows will become crooked.  Just so the Christian's call.  He must totally focus on the goal, the path to be strictly followed, and commit his efforts totally to the task at hand.

Jesus illustrated the importance of commitment, by "setting his face" to go to Jerusalem.  He chose to say "yes" to his Father's will, even when he knew it would lead to his passion and death.  He had put his hand to the plow without looking back.

So it is with us.  It is not just a matter of believing in Jesus, being baptized and confirmed, and that's the end of it, claiming self-righteously: "I've been saved!"  No, now the task is just beginning!  As St. Paul teaches, we still have to work out our salvation every single day.  In particular, we are all called, without exception, to continue the mission of Jesus, to plow our own fields, to proclaim the Good News of God's love and mercy.   How we do that depends on our state of life, and the gifts that God has freely given to us.  But God can take the little that we have to offer, and turn it into a great abundance for the growth of God's people.  If we do not put our hand to the plow and work diligently for the kingdom of God by the way we live and serve, then our faith will grow lax and we will not become a light that the world desperately needs to see through our Christian witness.

The "mantle" of Elijah and Elisha continues symbolically to this day.  Specifically it appears in the form of the cape worn by monks and bishops, and the cope worn by the presider at Benediction.  It shows their commitment to serve, the commitment of love by these ordained men to the mission of Jesus.

There is one other "mantle" we can count on, the "mantle of Mary."  Our
Blessed Mother taught us what true commitment means, when she said "yes" to God at the time of the annunciation by the Angel Gabriel.  Her mantle of love will protect us!  A good prayer for us is this: Dear Mother Mary, please place your mantle of motherly love around me and my family, and protect us with your intercessory prayers of love.  Please ask your Most Beloved Spouse, the Holy Spirit, to transform us all into the image of your Son, Jesus!

Deacon Paul Rooney

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Reflections on the Readings for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time -- June 16

  By Judy Morss

This Sunday is Father's Day in the United States. On this day we take time to remember, acknowledge, thank and pray for those men in our lives who have been a father or like a father to us. I think of Joseph, Jesus' earthly father and the role model he was for Jesus. Joseph believed in God, obeyed and trusted God and protected Mary and Jesus. Joseph was an ordinary man, who through God's grace, was an extraordinary part of our salvation.

We are God the Father's children; He watches over us, guides us and protects us.

On Father's Day, I think of my Father and the gifts he gave me. My Mother came from a Roman Catholic background and my Father was a Lutheran. When they married, he promised to raise his children as Catholics. He kept his word. On cold Sundays, he drove us to Mass and then picked us up after Mass. On warm Sundays, my Mother, brother and I would walk to church and back. When we would arrive back home, my Father would usually be sitting on the front porch enjoying the morning. He would ask us how Mass was and then tell us about his conversation with Jesus. I learned early in life that you don't just pray to Jesus asking for things and praying that rote prayer, but you talk with Jesus about the things in your life and He always answers! Sometimes the answer was NO, but He always answered and gave guidance.

* * *

* * *

As I reading the readings for today, the word Forgiveness filled my thoughts.

Taken from 2 Sam 12:13: 
Then David said to Nathan,
“I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan answered David:
“The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin:
you shall not die.”

Taken from Psalm 32:5: 
I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.

Luke 7:36-50A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
“If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Tell me, teacher, ” he said.
“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred day’s wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?”
Simon said in reply,
“The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”
He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven
because she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

* * *

What hope these readings bring me. My God is a forgiving God. He knows the magnitude of my sins and yet he forgives them. I need only to sincerely ask for forgiveness and I will receive it. However, Jesus places an interesting caveat on forgiveness. When He taught us to pray, He said "...forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." In other words, forgiveness is a two-way street. If we hope to be forgiven, we must in turn forgive. That is our challenge.

May Peace, Blessings and Forgiveness be yours,


Monday, June 10, 2013

Arise Lord

Arise, Lord, let men not prevail! 

I have just finished reading Brave New World, in which a couple of quotes, for some reason, brought to mind Jesus and the Canaanite woman.  Then I came across a poem by T.S. Eliot, and I found myself trying to ponder them all at once; I was groping for a connection between them.  Does anyone else have problems like this?   It is really unsettling, and, from my point of view, distracting.  Why couldn't I calm my mind down? Even my prayer time was cluttered with these thoughts, and it was difficult to persist.  I could not escape these distractions through prayer, they intensified.  Clearly, I was making too much of these things.  I was not able to let them go even for the Lord during prayer.  And He was silent.

Later, when I was busy picking up my house while listening to Mumford and Sons I found that my distractions were following me.  I picked up one of my husbands Popular Science magazines, and while Mumford and while  Awake My Soul was playing in the background, I read that someone, somewhere is working on a face recognition feature for our TVs.  Imagine!!  As soon as your TV recognizes your face it will suggest shows that it knows you like.  No more channel surfing to give you a clue that the TV may be a distraction from things of higher importance.  TV will instantly soothe over all unsettled feelings, and all of your more transcendent “distractions” will fade away.  My "distractions" seemed to be coalescing into something more, and it occurred to me that maybe they were not distractions.  Maybe they were a prayer rising in my heart.

"Awake my soul!  You were made to meet your maker" 

In Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World  the Resident Controller of the Western World explains to young students why they are so lucky to be living in the modern world:

“Stability,” said the controller, “stability.  No civilization without social stability.  No social stability without individual stability.”

The tradeoff for this stability is love.  How it is accomplished is by eliminating families, and by the conditioning of all peoples, beginning at their test-tube conceptions, to be happy only in the certain castes they have been predestined to. Solitude, which can awaken a soul to a yearning for love, is eliminated thru constant socialization, through passionless promiscuity and, when the human soul overcomes even these distractions, there are side-effect free drugs to quell the stirrings of transcendent desire. They are etherized to deep feelings, good or bad, through the instant gratification of all their conditioned desires.

“Feeling lurks in that interval of time between desire and its consummation.”

“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is tormented by a demon.”  But he did not say a word in answer to her.

Right after I read this I re-read the T. S. Eliot poem: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.  No wonder the powers-that-be in a Brave New World feel that they must eliminate the interval between desire and its consummation!   Only in the solitude of that interval can the beautiful yearning of the poet, and the lover, be discerned. In this time the desire grows, and the impulse to satisfy it becomes more desperate.  In the pain of that yearning one can realize that he has been living life etherized on a table, or that he has measured out his life in coffee spoons.  One can begin to discern what he truly desires.
Yet, it is a dangerous interval. The pain can provoke rage and despair, addiction and hatred -- instability.  It is worse for us in our post-Christian culture, which gives us so little strength for persevering in virtue, because it gives us so little to believe in.  As we progress in our (seemingly) orderly and safe society, we will need to provide a means to distract individuals from these intervals.  As Prufrock ends, you feel he has given up; to afraid of his own desires to push through the angst, the fear, and the impotency of a culture that loves very little.

“I have measured out my life in coffee spoons."

Ah, but if one perseveres in discernment this interval of solitude can also pierce one’s soul with the awareness that he belongs to Someone who is beyond the vanities of this world, and you have an irreplaceable identity in Him!  The depth or our pain has its fulfillment not in numbing distractions, but in a joy that at present you cannot contain.

Arise Lord, let not the voices of men prevail.

Here again is a dangerous moment, because sometimes when I cry out to God, He is slow to respond. And I have been conditioned to instant gratification! I sometimes feel that I am being ignored.  Like the Canaanite woman in Matthew’s Gospel, sometimes the Lord allows an interval between the professed desire and its consummation:

And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is tormented by a demon.”  But he did not say a word in answer to her.  His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”  He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But the woman came and did him homage, saying, Lord, help me.”  He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”  Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done as you wish.”  Matthew 15:  22-28

But the woman, because of the great love she has for her daughter, perseveres.  She does not refuse to recognize the faults she brings with her, but lays them at His feet as well.  In the interval of time between the plea of the woman for her daughter and Jesus’ final words Jesus has drawn from her tremendous courage, trust and love.  She may have come only for healing of her daughter, but she surely left with a passionate desire for Him.  Her humble faith in Him brings the light of Christ to the dark recesses in her soul and she receives His love and healing in greater abundance, and so does her daughter.   When I hear Jesus say “O Woman”  I hear more than just a pat on the back  or a way-to-go affirmation.  I hear Jesus pouring out his great love for her, because she is now able to receive so much more of it! He has lifted her up in dignity and in her identity by allowing the interval of solitude to increase and refine her desire. What might have happened if she listened to the voices of the men around her?  What might have happened if she never experienced those moments of fear, anger, humiliation?

Arise, Lord, let men not prevail!

In case you may be wondering what Mumford and Sons song I was listening to:

Awake my soul.  For you were made to meet your maker. 

Push through the temptation to let the voices of men distract you from the solitude that reveals the depth of your need, and the intensity of your desire for God.


It seemed to sum it all up for me.
Peace and grace,


Sunday, June 9, 2013

You are the Light of the World

In Tuesday's gospel for the 10th week of ordinary time, we hear Jesus say some familiar words.

          Jesus said to His disciples: You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:13-16)

I used to think that I had a pretty good grasp on what Jesus was saying, until two other pieces of Scripture came to mind. In John 8:12, Jesus says to the Pharisees, 
            "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

And, in Genesis 1:3-4, when God said:

             "Let there be light, and there was light. God saw how good the light was."

God the Father created light. Jesus said He was the light of the world, and tells his disciples (and me), that I must be as He is. I find this to be quite a challenge I'm faced with, living like Jesus.

When I read Genesis, I believe that light means life. At the beginning, God, by willing light into being, created every possible and potential form of life that has ever existed, or will ever exist. And science tells me that light is necessary for human beings and for most living things, because through the wonder of photosynthesis, plants use sunlight to create oxygen, an element we cannot live without. And while sunlight gives life to our physical bodies, there is another Light which brings life, a  light that transforms us into something more than just one of a million or so other life forms.

 When Jesus tells me that He is the light of the world, He also tells me that those who see Him see the Father (John 10:30). So I need to look at Jesus, and ask myself, "What is His light showing me? What does He want me to see?" I realize that I must look at what Jesus taught, and how he lived in order to understand. I learn that to reflect God's image and likeness is  to be compassionate, to love my neighbors and even my enemies. It is to bring healing when I can, to be generous without counting the cost, and to live a life in humble service to others. And I find that Jesus is the Light that brings Life, eternal life. And by the light of His life, I discover that God is love, and love is joy.

This is what Jesus tells us is fundamental to God's nature. And Jesus exemplified this life of complete and unconditional self-giving. I am offered a life transformed through love by Love Incarnate. His light empowers me, through the Holy Spirit, to transcend my everyday life and enables me to share in His divine nature.

It is my life that must shine before others. Jesus has called me to be a "life-giver", to be the light that pierces the darkness of hate, greed, isolation and indifference. I must be Jesus, radiantly alive and loving, and filled with gratitude for His Light within.




Thursday, June 6, 2013


(Reflection on the readings for June 9, 2013,
the 10th Sunday, Ordinary Time “C”)
- Deacon Paul Rooney

 There is a lot of grieving going on today.  It includes those who have lost sons and daughters in a war in some far-off land.  It can spring from terminal illnesses that seem to pop up out of nowhere, and strike down a member of our family.  Another particular cause for heart grief is when a family member strays from the fullness of truth that is found in the Catholic Church.  No matter what form they take, these things tend to leave us feeling helpless and depressed.

Shared helplessness is certainly a common bond among those grieving either their own loss, or the loss sustained by someone else.  I could not help but think to myself, where is Elijah (1st Reading: 1 Kgs 17:17-24), or where is Jesus (Gospel: Luke 7:11-17), both who brought back the dead in our readings today.  We all want certainties in life; we dislike painful and heartbreaking surprises.

All we know for sure is that we can’t blame God for the bad news.  In the midst of disaster, it is possible for all of us, still in shock, to overlook or forget another reality: Jesus is indeed always present.  We read about his endless compassion in our gospel.  Now we see his disciples continuing his mission of compassion, as they serve and help the grieving survivors in Oklahoma (and other locations) in every way they can.  Pity and compassion know of no denominational lines; instead, they come from a heart filled with Jesus’ own love.

It is only Jesus who can bring meaning out of chaos.  Jesus has power over death.  While we cannot imitate such power, we can imitate his compassion!  Each one of us knows all too well the tragedies that follow or flow from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, drought, pestilence, and other things we call “natural” disasters.  When circumstances seem to confront us with hopelessness, our faith is put to the test.  We do the only thing our faith calls us to do: we cling to the one who promises eternal life, because we know that somehow all things turn to the good, because God is working in all things (Rom. 8:28).

Why do we know this?  Because the Father sent his only Son to live among us and teach us.   He suffered, and he died for us.  He understands suffering and dying.  He has been there, done that...  Now he wants us to trust him, to accept and endure with faith and hope whatever comes our way in life.  There are many books written on the topic of abandonment to divine providence (one even has that title); but that is the secret we need to bring into the light.  We are God’s kids, children of God, sons and daughters of our Father.  We need to trust in Him, and abandon ourselves into our Father’s hands, imitating our brother Jesus.

Deacon Paul

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Are You Still Hungry?

Are You Still Hungry? 

A Reflection on Luke 9:11b-17
By: Larry T 
Homilists love the miracle of the multiplication of loaves because various sermons can be preached from it. First Jesus heals, then he nourishes. It speaks to Jesus’ compassion for the people. To some it means that God will always provide sustenance for His people. The five loaves and two fish add up to seven – the perfect number. The twelve wicker baskets might signify the twelve tribes of Israel. What meaning could the collection of the left over fragments have? This miracle also prefigures the institution of the Holy Eucharist. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke we read, “They ate and were satisfied.” In John’s gospel it’s, “When they had had their fill.” Jesus provided the meal, and once the people feasted on it, they were satisfied. This is the only miracle that Jesus performed to appear in all four gospels.

11 The crowds, meanwhile, learned of this and followed him. He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured.
12 As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”
13 He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.” They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”
14 Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of (about) fifty.”
15 They did so and made them all sit down.
16 Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
17 They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.
Lk 9:11-17 (N.A.B.) 

18 Then he said, “Bring them here to me,”
19 and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
20 They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full.21 Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
Mt 14:18-21 (N.A.B.) 

41 Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to (his) disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all.
42 They all ate and were satisfied.
43 And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish.
44 Those who ate (of the loaves) were five thousand men.
Mk 6:41-44 (N.A.B.) 

10 Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
12 When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”
13 So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
Jn 6:10-13 (N.A.B.)  

The people consumed the miraculous meal that Jesus provided for them and they were satisfied and fulfilled. This event reminds me of my friend of Arliss, a resident of Happy Hollow Manor, an independent living facility. How old is she? I don’t know, but if your name is Arliss, you could be eighty or ninety something. She has decorated the white walls of her nicely furnished one-bedroom apartment with framed photographs of her late husband, children, grand-children, and great grand-children. Pictures aren’t just pictures, they are memories, and memories are a great comfort to her, something that she cherishes. One oak framed picture is of her children taken against the background of the farm. She has told us that when she looks at it, she can close her eyes and sometimes almost hear the livestock, and smell freshly cut hay. 

My wife and I are Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist. On the first Sunday of the month we take Holy Communion to the residents of Happy Hollow Manor. Sunday is the most important day of the week to Arliss. She always gets, as her husband used to put it, dolled up. Her wavy silver hair is always impeccably combed, her make-up is just so, and she usually accessorizes a nice print dress with her grandmother’s Victorian cameo gold brooch. She never fails to answer our door knock promptly and each time greets us with a wide smile. We always tell her how nice she looks. Following a bit of small talk, usually about the weather, and the prayer one of us will gently place the consecrated host on the palm of her farm-hardened outstretched hand. She will reverently consume it. Her face will radiate peace and joy. After a few minutes her eyes will open, “Pat and Larry thank you, thank you so much for bringing Jesus to me! Have a blessed day!” 

“Arliss, it’s a privilege to bring Holy Communion to you.” we respond. 

Since Arliss receives the Eucharist with the proper disposition, with reverence, gratitude, and humility, she is at once spiritually satisfied, nourished and strengthened. She doesn’t just endure a weekly obligation; she doesn’t patiently tolerate an interruption of her day; she doesn’t participate in a mindless act of repetition wanting to be somewhere else - reception of Holy Communion is the highpoint of her week. 

Even though Adam and Eve’s descendants (all of humanity) are in born in disunion with God, we have a powerful inborn longing to be in union with Him. This, often misinterpreted, nagging ache can’t be stilled with an eight-bedroom mansion, or a two-carat diamond ring, or the riches of Warren Buffett because the need to be in union with God is in the very center of our souls. 

Arliss radiates the inner peace, joy, and serenity that emanates from the Holy Eucharist because it enables her to approach unity with God. Every time we take Holy Communion to Happy Hollow Manor, Arliss teaches me the same lesson. A good start for us might be to try to recapture the reverence and wonder of our first Holy Communion.