Welcome !

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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


(a reflection on Luke 19:1-10)
by: Deacon Paul Rooney

I have no statistics on this, but I suspect that there are a LOT of folks out there who are convinced that if they just "believe" in Jesus, then they are Saved.  But those same folks don't stop with just that thought.  They are convinced that they need to do absolutely nothing more; their part is finished, and the rest is up to God.  Of course, these fundamentalists will cite scripture verses such as John 3:16, which speak of believing and the salvation that follows.

        There are many responses to correct such a view of a potentially very limited Christian life, and we find those correctives throughout Jesus' teachings in the gospels.  Today's wonderful story of Zacchaeus is no exception.  In fact, it is one of the more delightful teachings in the gospels, a very visual story that excites the imagination.  When we first meet Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector, we are told that he is "short in stature."  Immediately I picture him in my imagination as a short, fat, bald and bearded man.  Since he is rich, and lives in that very hot desert town of Jericho, then he is probably sitting in the shade of his tax stall on a corner somewhere on main street, sipping wine all day And eating pastries that only the rich can afford.  He was not liked by the townspeople, because he was a tax collector, a much-hated person because he worked for the Roman government in his occupation.  The Pharisees almost always mentioned "sinners" and "tax collectors" in the same contemptuous way.
Old Jericho was a desert town way out in the middle of "nowhere"; but it was a major city because of it's location near the crossroads of two heavily trafficked roads.  First, the "King's Highway" was located a little to the east (a N-S route).  Second, Jericho connected to a major trade route (running E-W) that led to the Mediterranean.  The Old Jericho of our story is about two miles away from modern Jericho (I have been there several times).  It had an oasis, and was the first city captured by the Hebrews when they entered the promised land.  So it's historical existence cannot be doubted, because all archeologists agree that it existed centuries before Jesus visited the city in our gospel story today, and the drawing indicates their understanding of the type of walls and buildings that it had at that time, based on their excavations.

Back to our story: notice what Zacchaeus does.  He takes action to "see" Jesus!  He runs ahead of everyone ("waddles," in my imagination), and with effort climbs up a sycamore tree–not really too difficult, since the branches of the desert variety are fairly low.

Now notice what Jesus does.  He sees Zacchaeus, and invites himself to dine with him!  That must have stunned the crowd following Jesus through the town.  Now I am going to take that giant leap to our own day, so hang in there... J

The key to today's gospel is to recognize that Jesus always responds to our little efforts to make contact with him!  We all have our "Zacchaeus moments" such as going to Mass on Sundays to adore our Lord.  Mass is our "tree."  We all need a tree!  One of my own "trees" is the Bible.  If I did not take quality time every morning to read and meditate on the scripture passages used in the day's daily Mass, I would have a frustrating day.  I personally need this contact, because I need to hear Jesus talk to me; I need to hear him "invite himself" into my life–just because I chose to do something to enable that Jesus to see the welcome mat I have placed at the door of my heart.

What is your own "tree"?  Remember, we all need one!  How do you make Jesus feel that he is welcome?  Perhaps it is simple vocal prayer for you, both praise and thanksgiving.  Perhaps you pray a rosary, meditating on gospel scenes from the life of Christ.  Perhaps you just sit silently in his presence, just "being with" him in silent adoration, either in your "prayer chair" at home or in a church or chapel.  Whatever it is, it is your "tree" and you must water it frequently (i.e., use it) to keep it flourishing on your desert journey.

Remember, we meet Jesus in the ordinary events of our lives.  We do not need to look for the spectacular to find him.  He will meet us anywhere we like, if we are just welcoming. So my advice today is this: Go Climb Your Tree!

- Deacon Paul Rooney

Thursday, October 24, 2013


(a reflection on Sunday Readings, Oct. 27, 2013)
by Judy Morss

The readings for today remind us that God does indeed hear our prayers. He meets us where we are.
          In the first reading from Sirach 35: 12-14,16-18, God is pictured as having ears to hear us and that He does not play favorites.  After that first sentence, we learn much more about God's attention to our prayers.  He listens very attentively to the poor, the orphans, the widow and others who are distressed.  I love the image of these prayers "piercing the heavens" as those prayers rise up to heaven. It makes me think of that shaft of sunlight that pierces the sky on a cloudy day.
          In the Gospel of today, Luke 18:9-14, we receive a better understanding of prayer to God. There certainly is a contrast between the Pharisee who
moves up close to God (so that the Pharisee can be seen by the rest of those in the temple praying.)  The Pharisee tells God all about how righteous and faithful he is and reminds God of all the rituals he observes.  It's almost as though he is "praying and adoring himself."
          What a juxtaposition between the Pharisee and the tax collector.  The tax collector stands near the back of the temple. He knows that he is a sinful man and prays to God in all honesty, asking for forgiveness and mercy.
          The big question becomes who was justified?  I think the answer is both were justified.  The big difference is that the Pharisee in his arrogance justified himself, while the tax collector was justified by God. When we approach God honestly, presenting our best and our worst self, He will forgive us and send us forth into the world to do His will. The fact that we have been forgiven does not make us perfect; in fact we will return again to God begging for and receiving forgiveness and healing. When we bring our humility and sorrow for our sins, we are forgiven again and again.  God's mercy is always there for us when we ask for it.
          Jesus says: " I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
With peace and love,

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rafu Yadayim

A Reflection on Exodus 17:8-13 
By: Larry T 

This Sunday we read about a furious battle between the Amalekites and the Israelites.
8At Rephidim, Amalek came and waged war against Israel.
9Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, “Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”
10So Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.
11As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.
12Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
13And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
- Exodus 17:8-13 N.A.B. 

The barbarous Amalekites had been scheming to annihilate the Israelites for some time. They waited patiently until Moses and his people were camped at Rephidim before launching their attack. Who were the Amalekites? Josephus, the first century Jewish historian described them as:
They were called the Amalekites, and were the most warlike of the nations that lived around there; and whose kings exhorted one another, and their neighbors, to go to this war against the Hebrews; telling them that an army of strangers, and such a one as had run away from slavery under the Egyptians, lay in wait to ruin them; which army they were not, in common sense and regard to their own safety, to overlook, but to crush them before they gather strength, and come to prosperity, and perhaps attack them first in a hostile manner, (Josephus, Antiq. 3.2.1) 

Moses, Aaron, and Hur scrambled to the top of the highest hill at Rephidim; from that vantage point they could watch the battle. Standing erect Moses raised the staff of God heavenward in one hand while reaching out to heaven with the other hand as he gazed intently at the battlefield. As long as he was able to point the staff heavenward, the Israelites dominated the Amalekites, but when his arms became too tired to hold the staff upward and he lowered his arms to rest, the Amalekites gained the upper hand. It didn’t take Aaron and Hur long to analyze the problem and devise a solution– if the Israelites were to survive; they had to help Moses hold up the staff. Wait! Wasn’t this the same staff Moses used to part the Red Sea? Wasn’t it the same staff he used to strike the rock at Horeb to get water for the people? Why did he have to hold it heavenward continually?  

The Jewish Encyclopedia offers the following insight into this incident: 
Evidently the colors for this picture are drawn from the palette of later experience. Accordingly, in rabbinical literature stress is rather laid on the moral lesson of the episode. Amalek was but the scourge in the hand of God to punish the people of Israel, who had become "faint and weary" in the observance of God's commands and "feared not God." They lacked the power of faith (play on the name "Rephidim" = rafu yadayim, "the hands became weak"), and therefore said: "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Ex. xvii. 7, 8). Like a wayward child that runs back to its father when a dog comes snarling along, the Israelites were unmindful of God's doings until like a dog Amalek came to bite them. Then Moses fasted and prayed, saying: "O Lord, who will in the future spread Thy Law, if Amalek succeeds in destroying this nation?" And with uplifted arms, holding the staff and pointing heavenward, he inspired Joshua and the people with his faith until the victory was won (Mek.ib.).
 – The Jewish Encyclopedia

The image of Moses with the wooden staff raised heavenward convinced the Israelite warriors that God was with them in their battle against the Amalekites, and they prevailed. Similarly the image of Jesus nailed to the heavenward raised wooden cross on top of the hill has inspired Christians since His resurrection. 

Like the Israelites at Rephidim have we become faint and weary in observing God’s commands? Is there a worldwide loss of faith among believers? If we took a trip on the faith roads and highways of our country would there be too many potholes to avoid, and not enough construction in progress? Does God see His children losing their devotion to Him, or does He see their faith increasing? Do we need an occasional time out to mentally picture the battered, bloody, tortured body of Jesus nailed to the wooden cross? Does this mental image, and what it represents, fortify our faith in the same way that the image of Moses at the top of the hill gave hope to the Israelite warriors at Rephidim? Or does our secular world with its dizzying array of distractions surreptitiously disconnect us from the image?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


(a reflection on Luke 18:1-8, the widow and unjust judge)
by: Deacon Paul Rooney
I hope that none of you have superstitious notions.  According to a BBC poll just this year, it seems like one in three college kids think it worth giving "lucky underwear" a try, especially just before a college exam!

 If you have ever watched "Track and Field" events in the Olympic games, back in the era of the famous Carl Lewis in the late 1980's, perhaps you may remember the name of an Olympic marathon "hopeful" by the name of Margaret Groos, a girl from Tennessee.  Before she eventually had to withdraw from competitive sports because of a hyperthyroid condition, someone asked her the reason for her early success.  Her answer made it into the "famous quotes" archives.  She said this:

"When I was 15, I had lucky underwear. When that failed, I had a lucky hairdo, then a lucky race number, even lucky race days.  After 15 [more] years, I’ve found the secret to success is simple.  It’s [just] hard work." http://www.quoteswave.com/text-quotes/392817

Perseverance in good actions is always the answer, isn't it?  God gave each one of us certain gifts and skills, and He wants us to use them.  God did NOT say, "Don't forget to go to work today without your Rabbit's foot."  NOR did he say, "Make sure you read your horoscope today, it will guide you."  And He certainly did NOT say, "Don't forget to wear your lucky underwear."  What he did say is found in the First Commandment.

Well, in today's gospel we have a story of another woman who persevered.  However, she did not get her way with the judge because she wore lucky underwear.  Instead, she simply kept asking, and asking, and asking, until finally he gave in to her request for justice.  The story is pretty straight-forward.  If someone like an unjust human judge will give in to persistent pleas for help, don't you think that a just God  will respond to persistent pleas for justice?  Of course He will!

But here is the key: are we willing to be patient and allow God to respond in His own way and in His own time? This requires faith, believing that the Lord hears and will answer all prayers that are in accord with His will.

There is a footnote in the bible [NABRE] which says that persistent prayer is needed to avoid apostasy, and this is a sad truth. We all know someone who has simply stopped going to Mass.  That act of straying from the Sacraments has its roots in the non-existence of a real prayer life. I think we all know what happens when our prayer life becomes lax, or when we find excuses not to take quality time to pray.  Eventually this kind of spiritual sloth expands. When Jesus is not at the center of our daily lives, the virtues become harder to live out, and the vices and occasions of sin seem to crop up much more frequently as the enemy gains a foothold in our life. The deadly danger is the short distance between laxity in prayer and eventual apostasy, which is the complete rejection and repudiation of the Christian faith, by deeds if not by public assertion.

To avoid this deadly path to an inactive spiritual life, we need to heed the gospel message today: be persistent in seeking justice, and be persistent in our prayer life. A great image is presented in the First Reading (Exodus 17:8-13). As long as Moses had his hands raised in intercessory prayer, the battle went well for the Israelites. But when he stopped interceding with prayer, the enemy gained an advantage. And when others joined Moses to help him with the intercession, the battle against the enemy was won.

This is what Our Lady, the Queen of Peace, who continues to appear at Medjugorje since 1981, has been urging upon all Catholics: to pray persistently for peace (she tells us that "there will be no peace without prayer and fasting"), and to pray persistently for our priests to help them in their intercession for us.  She asks us to pray the rosary daily; to fast on bread and water on both Wednesdays and Fridays; to read scripture daily; to attend Mass every Sunday and as often on weekdays as possible; and to go to Confession monthly.

So there is our roadmap, from scripture, from the Mother of God, and from Jesus: persistent intercession, and perseverance in our daily prayer life.  Remember the way our gospel started today, and I quote: "Then [Jesus] told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary."  That is the key to victory in spiritual warfare!  All you need to do is use it!  (+)

Deacon Paul Rooney
Mary Our Queen Parish, Omaha

Photo Credits:


Monday, October 14, 2013


(a reflection on Luke 11:37-41)
by: Deacon Paul Rooney

Luke 11:37-41 (esp. 40a) : "You fools!"

Jesus has some harsh words in today's gospel for those who do not tend to their spiritual journey.  One road on this spiritual journey speaks to me of love, and our invited response to the ethical demand of the gospel.  The other road speaks to me of hypocrisy.  Both roads reveal themselves eventually.

I can remember vividly the time when I was a paperboy for the Fremont Tribune many decades ago. J  Every late afternoon during the weekdays I would make my rounds delivering the Tribune.  Then on the first Saturday
morning of the month, I would make the rounds collecting the monthly subscription price of 15¢ [how times change…the price today is $12.25 to have it delivered to your door by a paperboy].  During the daily deliveries all month long, all I would see would be the outside of the homes: all very nicely painted, yards well-trimmed, and so on.  But once a month when I collected, they would invite me inside, and I would see the absolute mess or chaos that the homes really looked like inside, away from the eyes of the world.  I suspect many of us can visualize that scene.  How many times have we received a surprise phone call from someone saying they would be arriving soon to visit - - so we hit the panic button and clean up the inside of the house (or at least that part that the Visitor will see)!

This is sort of what Jesus is getting at in today’s Gospel (Luke 11:37-41).  Jesus seems to get a little tough with his host, calling him and all the Pharisees Fools!!  That’s probably not something you would expect an invited person to call you, right in your own home.  But that really was in keeping
with the rabbinic tradition, which could also be harsh with some Pharisees.  In that culture, it meant that the Pharisees were being seen by Jesus as being arrogant, which in turn means the Pharisees were acting out of self-important pride in their own ability to follow the ritual rulebook.  And their man-made rulebook said that everyone had to wash their hands and forearms before eating.

Jesus tells the Pharisees - - and us - - “Hey, keeping the external rituals is meaningless if the inside or interior of your heart is a shambles.  You are being hypocrites, because your actions don’t reflect the real truth of your Heart.”  That is always the challenge that Jesus places before us: to put our faith into action.  And good action comes only from a heart of love.

This is why almsgiving is such a Great work of mercy!  It is private, and no one knows what you are giving but you and God!  Works of mercy that come from within are what purify us in the eyes of God. Or as Jesus might say, “Give what is inside the dish to the poor, and then the dish will be clean.”

There is a lot for us to chew on in these five short gospel verses.  The key is to focus on interior cleansing, not exterior cleansing.  To do the latter while ignoring the former reveals the hypocritical heart.  This gospel is not meant just for the Pharisees.  It is meant for all believers of all times; it is meant for you and me today.  We are indeed a sacramental people, but we must make sure that our pious practices do not become a matter of show, or a matter of score-keeping.  The ethical demand of the gospel calls me to take time in my daily examen to discern whether my "religious" actions reflect the true condition of my heart.   I would urge all Christians to do the same.  (+)

Deacon Paul Rooney
Photo credits:
Almsgiving: http://www.wordonfire.org/WoF-Blog/WoF-Blog/March-2012/Lent-Almsgiving-and-How-to-Avoid-Being-a-Goat.aspx


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Leprosy and redemption.

Sunday, October 13, 2013    
By Judy Morss

The stories in our first reading and in the gospel have many things in common. Both stories deal with the healing of a terrible disease and the thankfulness of those who returned in gratitude to their healers.

Reading 1      
Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of Elisha, the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean of his leprosy.
Naaman returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before Elisha and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. Please accept a gift from your servant." Elisha replied, "As the LORD lives whom I serve, I will not take it;" and despite Naaman's urging, he still refused. Naaman said: "If you will not accept, please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth, for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the LORD."

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed.  And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?  Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."

As I pondered the readings of Sunday, I found my mind thinking about the common themes from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Naaman seeks a cure from Elisha and when the leprosy is cleansed, he returns to Elisha to express his gratefulness. That encounter with Elisha and Elisha's God changes Naaman's life forever.  Naaman becomes a believer, a faithful follower of the one true God. However, the cure was not as straightforward as we would hope.  Naaman at first refused to believe what Elisha told him to do and began to return home without a cure.  His servants encouraged Naaman to do as Elisha had said and Naaman changed his mind and did as the Word of God (through Elisha) commanded.  Thus the cure!

In contrast, the ten lepers met Jesus and cried to Him to have pity on them.  They obviously knew that Jesus was a healer. Jesus simply healed them without further action on their part. However, only one man returned to Jesus shouting praise and thanking Jesus. The others simply went on their way.  The man who returned, similar to Naaman, was an outsider, a Samaritan.  In both readings, it was the outsider who joyfully received the merciful gift from God. Both men leave their alienation from God and are healed by coming to God.

I am reminded to always seek the Lord; He is my healer, my blessing, may Savior. I am grateful for the undeserved mercy that the Lord gives me when I simply ask. If I begin to slip into that role of "outsider", I need only seek the Lord and ask to be returned to his flock.

May we each be a blessing to one another.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013


(a reflection on Luke 17:11-19)
by: Deacon Paul Rooney

There is a well-known yarn, one which may or may not be true, that you can find in the writings of a nephew of Mark Twain, writings about the famous author and Nobel Prize winner, Rudyard Kipling.  You remember the things Kipling wrote like "Gunga Din" and "The Jungle Book," both of which were made into movies.  Kipling sold one of his books for a price that netted him one shilling for every word, which might be about 40¢ a word today.  So sure enough, one wise guy mailed him a shilling, asking him for "one word."  Rudyard Kipling responded with one word: "Thanks."(1)  Well, in today's gospel (Luke 17:11-19) Jesus gave ten lepers something far more significant than a shilling: he restored them to physical wholeness.  Yet only one man responded with that precious word, "Thanks."

Two things make this episode unusual.  First, only one of the ten men returned to give thanks to Jesus for the healing.  Since Jesus made a pointed comment
about this, it highlights the direct connection between gratitude and faith.  One precious gift, faith, should lead everyone to the proper response, gratitude.  An obvious message is that every Christian should be so grateful for the gift of faith-that-leads-to-salvation that they will praise God daily for so wondrous a gift.  We believe in God's promise of salvation, and we recognize that he died to save us.  When we stumble and fall through personal sin, the Sacrament of Reconciliation once again restores us to spiritual wholeness.  Grace upon grace, gift upon gift!  Praise and thanksgiving for God's tender mercies should well up in us throughout the day, every day!

The second unusual detail in this gospel segment is that it was not the nine Jewish men, but only the Samaritan who demonstrated his gratefulness for being made whole.  He returned, throwing himself at the feet of Jesus in thankfulness.  Jesus had every right to be sad, seeing that only one person saw fit to return and thank him for the healing, especially since the other nine men were fellow Judeans.  Jesus did not "need" their thanks; he had experienced rejection before.  But he knew that the insensitivity of the nine men gave a glimpse into the condition of their heart and mind.  They may have been cured of leprosy of the body, but they now had spiritual leprosy of the mind, a condition of ingratitude and ungratefulness.

One can discern lessons for us today in this scripture passage.  For one thing,
the Christian should not expect to be rewarded with praise and thanks for doing what he or she is sent to do.  After all, the Master was rejected and forgotten; so that will be His disciples' destiny as well.  But just as importantly, we need to do a self-examination of our own attitude of gratitude towards God.  Hopefully we all pray in gratitude at mealtime.  But what about the rest of the day?  Are we aware of the priceless gifts that have been showered upon us?  Faith, Hope, Love, the awesome Incarnation, the sacrificial death of Jesus for my salvation, my very life and breath, my family, and many, many more...am I taking these for granted?  If not, what is my proof?

There is a reason that our Daily Examen begins with a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving!  It is to help us avoid contracting spiritual leprosy of the mind, an insidious disease for the lax Christian.  We need to be reminded of Who the Giver of all gifts is; that all is grace; and that a response is demanded from us.  The bible mentions the word thanksgiving (in it's many variations) about 140 times, which helps us to remember our obligation.  I pray that thanksgiving already is, or will soon become, a habit on your daily journey with God.

Deacon Paul Rooney

(1)"A Ken of Kipling" by William Clemens; http://archive.org/stream/kenofkiplingbein00clemuoft#page/104/mode/2up/search/shilling
Photo Credits:
Kipling: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudyard_Kipling
Nativity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity_of_Jesus
Praying Hands: http://www.watton.org/clipart/prayer/prayer.shtml

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

God's "NEON" Messages

God's "NEON" Messages
by: Deacon Paul Rooney
The readings for this Sunday, October 6, 2013 (27th Ordinary "C") are absolutely fascinating for me.  From the Old Testament we hear from Prophet Habakkuk (Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4), and from the Gospel we hear from Jesus (Luke 17:5-6).  Best of all, the Holy Spirit inspired the speakers to use quite vivid descriptions that would remain with us.  Both readings spoke to me about the relationship between faith, poverty of spirit, perseverance, and hope.  In my weekly Sunday scripture commentary on my website ( "Didja Know?" ), I spoke about what we might call these "bottom-line attitudes" that an Intentional Disciple of Christ must have.

Look closely at what God tells the prophet Habakkuk: "Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it."  Now, if you exercise by means of jogging, or perhaps the more common way of vigorous daily walking, you can appreciate what the Prophet is saying here.  God wants his message known so that everyone can see it.  It had to be on a very large tablet, because that would be the only way a runner or speed-walker passing by could have time to view it and understand it – which is why I call it a "neon" poster message.  (Maybe an image of a strobe light would be more engaging.)  And what is the message on that large poster?  It is the good news that salvation is coming; to wait for it patiently; to know that it has an appointed time and until then you must live in faith.  In fact, that is the prophet's conclusion: God's holy ones, the ones in right relationship with Him, live by their faith!  Neon tubes are luminous - - they are "full of light."  God's word is precisely that luminous light, and more!

Through the grace of God, I am able to help a few folks as spiritual director (I prefer the more accurate term, "co-discerner").  I know, as they all know, that faith is challenged many times during "dry" prayer periods, or times when we do not have the desire to pray.  That same challenge to our faith is also an opportunity for grace, because if we persevere despite these dark or dry times, then our faith grows much stronger.  That faith is a priceless gift.  It is the recognition that God is present, very luminous, even in our darkest moments.

In Luke's gospel today, Jesus teaches us that faith can move mulberry trees (Luke 17:5-6) and even mountains (Matthew 17:20).  This is powerful "neon poster" imagery!  How does one really move mountains?  I remember a former Trappist (James Finley) writing somewhere about working in a pig barn.  His job was to shovel manure.  But it seemed to take forever; so he learned to "shovel manure with integrity" - - he recognized that you can't move it all at once; you can only do one shovel full at a time.  Persevering in the task before you is what gets you to your objective. 

Faith is like that!  We must trust in the Lord's message, and live accordingly.  When life gets dark, even with persecution or significant illness, remember the goal, the objective: eternal salvation and life with God forever!  And then live life one day at a time, even one hour at a time, finding God in the "now" moment.  It is a "jogger's moment" – as we jog through life, we need to really "see" God's neon message of hope: he has redeemed us, he has saved us; now all we need to do is persevere in our hope, to live by faith, trusting entirely on the Lord!

- Deacon Paul Rooney

Photo credit: http://www.uskidsmags.com/blog/2011/06/08/so-you-wanna-get-dirty-do-ya/