November 24,2017

November 24 2017 – 33rd Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Saint Andrew dung-lac-and companions (1791 Decmber – 1862)

Scriptures for today’s Liturgy

1 Maccabees 4:36 …59 – 1 Chronicles 29 …59 – Luke 19:45-48

The first Scripture reading gives us the basis of the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.   Follow this “link” Hanukkah origins and practices to read the short story of this celebration.

With today’s first scripture reading before us we can see how part of our journey with/to God involves constant re-dedication and renewal. We can’t just land in God’s presence and let it end there. Today’s Holy Gospel shows us that we can’t just passively worship God – sort of in a “status quo” mode but need to be attentive of the things that might have crept in without our really being aware of what’s happening.

It’s another reminder to us that God is constantly renewing and re-building His presence – His Temple – in our lives. That’s why – when some enthusiastic evangelical person asks me if I know when I accepted Jesus as my personal savior – I always answer, “why, just this morning when I got up and spent some time thanking God for His grace that brought me to the beginning of another day!” We can never just look back to some, albeit holy and spiritual event, and think that’s all we need to do.

The last verse of today’s response supports our continual need for renewal: “You have dominion over all, in your hand are power and might; it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29:12)

 Today’s celebration also helps us see that we need to have balance in the way we give God the honor due His name. Whenever we come to a point of renewal in our lives we often go overboard and let some of the externals get more attention than the spiritual reality of God dwelling within.

Yes! The Jews rebuilt the Temple and re-newed its grandeur. Yet they, like so many of us, went overboard and forgot that all the beauty of the Temple was a means to an end. Not an end in itself.

Our own Catholic Church hasn’t always kept this in balance, either. And that’s why we need continual reminders of what’s really going on in our Christian Journey. The mystics and saints of old would talk about a daily exam of ones status before God in order to keep their eyes focused – more on the end rather than on the means to an end. Let us always be eager to keep this “Temple of the Lord” – our very bodies – as a dwelling place of God and a house of prayer and not a den of thieves.” Amen!

November 23, 2017 – Thursday in the 33rd Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro (January 12, 1891 – NOvember 23, 1927)

Scripture Readings for the Thanksgiving Celebration

Sirach 50:22-2http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112317-thanksgiving.cfmhttp://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112317-thanksgiving.cfm4 – Psalm 145 – Luke 17:11-19

On this Day when we are asked tdo give thanks to our God for all the blessings we have receivd from a generous God I have found myself caughdt with several compuer glitches and therefore, for the first time in 10 years I am having to miss getting my Scratchpad RDeflection posted.in a timely manner. Maybe this is the way God reminds me that everything that I have is gift from a gracious God who hss always been at my side through thick and thin.. A lesson for all of us to be aware of in our journey through life.This is the fist time in more than 10 years that I have had trouble getting a reflection posted in a timely manner and I think that is something that I should not forget. God has been so gracious to me and for this I am very greatful.   Happy Thnksgiving to one and all and I’ll be back in business tomodrrow. Praise God for all the wonders He has done in our lives and let’s just keep moving along. Happy Thinksgiving to you.

 

Brother Daniel

November 22, 2017 – Wednesday in the 33rd Week of the Church Year

November 22, 2017 – Wednesday

Saint for the day: Cecilia (died 230?)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

2 Maccabees 7: 1, 20 – 31 – Psalm 17 – Luke 19:11- 28

In these days as we come to the end of our Church Liturgical Year we hear scriptures about the end times and Gospel passages about our accountability to the gifts that God has given us. Today we hear a variation of the “Parable of the Talents” and hear about a king who offers incredible possibilities to his servants. The first two servants take their gift and double it – just like the story of the talents – and are rewarded according to the “100 fold return.” The last one, out of fear, buried his gift and returned it just as it was given to him. In this story we have to be careful not to see it in “prosperity gospel terms” but, rather, in terms of how lavish God is with us and how even the tinniest hint of working with the gift, in a positive way, can win us salvation. I have to remember that God doesn’t expect me to be a “second Billy Graham” or a Kathryn Kuhlman. We’re only expected to allow the tinniest bit of His Grace to begin acting in our lives. In some ways this throws us back to the starting point where we first encounter the blessings of God in our lives. When the rich, young man asked Jesus, “Master, what must I do to be perfect?” (Matthew 22:36ff) Jesus shot back with another question: “What do you read in the scriptures?” The man, a faithful Jew, repeats the ”Shema Israel”- “to love the Lord with your whole heart and your neighbor as yourself. Most of us would be able to say that we sincerely try to love God; it’s loving our neighbor e.g. the people that we live and work with that gives most of us problems. Then, of course, there are those nameless, unknown people who occasionally cross the path into our lives. They need some touch of the love that God has given us. We look at this in terms of today’s Holy Gospel and see that the gifts God has lavished upon us are gifts that are to be shared. We are never “blessed” only in order for us to be rich in God’s wonders. That would be like the servant who went out and buried his gift. God blesses us in order for us to be able to share that with others who have not yet encountered the presence of God in their lives. Try to envision your Christian Life in terms of being given a spark of God’s wonder that you are able to share with people who only know a life of darkness. When I walk through St. Dominic’s Church in the afternoon I have, as my intention, to allow that light of Christ that has been lavished on me to lighten the burden of someone who has come into the church – perhaps in a last ditch attempt to find Christ. I can’t afford to miss an opportunity to share that light – even if it’s just by way of a, “Hello. How are you?” Sometimes I don’t even have to initiate the conversation. People just see me in my white Dominican habit and ask me to pray for them in a time of struggle. Even if God has only given you the ability to smile at people don’t bury it in a frown. Return it to them and see what happens. Amen

11/ 22, 2017 – Wed. in the 33rd Week of the Church Year.

 

Saint for the day: Cecilia (died 230?)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

2 Maccabees 7: 1, 20 – 31 – Psalm 17 – Luke 19:11- 28

In these days as we come to the end of our Church Liturgical Year we hear scriptures about the end times and Gospel passages about our accountability to the gifts that God has given us. Today we hear a variation of the “Parable of the Talents” and hear about a king who offers incredible possibilities to his servants. The first two servants take their gift and double it – just like the story of the talents – and are rewarded according to the “100 fold return.” The last one, out of fear, buried his gift and returned it just as it was given to him. In this story we have to be careful not to see it in “prosperity gospel terms” but, rather, in terms of how lavish God is with us and how even the tinniest hint of working with the gift, in a positive way, can win us salvation. I have to remember that God doesn’t expect me to be a “second Billy Graham” or a Kathryn Kuhlman. We’re only expected to allow the tinniest bit of His Grace to begin acting in our lives. In some ways this throws us back to the starting point where we first encounter the blessings of God in our lives. When the rich, young man asked Jesus, “Master, what must I do to be perfect?” (Matthew 22:36ff) Jesus shot back with another question: “What do you read in the scriptures?” The man, a faithful Jew, repeats the ”Shema Israel”- “to love the Lord with your whole heart and your neighbor as yourself. Most of us would be able to say that we sincerely try to love God; it’s loving our neighbor e.g. the people that we live and work with that gives most of us problems. Then, of course, there are those nameless, unknown people who occasionally cross the path into our lives. They need some touch of the love that God has given us. We look at this in terms of today’s Holy Gospel and see that the gifts God ha s lavishied upon us are gifts that are to be shared. We are never “blessed” only in order for us to be rich in God’s wonders. That would be like the servant who went out and buried his gift. God blesses us in order for us to be able to share that with others who have not yet encountered the presence of God in their lives. Try to envision your Christian Life in terms of being given a spark of God’s wonder that you are able to share with people who only know a life of darkness. When I walk through St. Dominic’s Church in the afternoon I have, as my intention, to allow that light of Christ that has been lavished on me to lighten the burden of someone who has come into the church – perhaps in a last ditch attempt to find Christ. I can’t afford to miss an opportunity to share that light – even if it’s just by way of a, “Hello. How are you?” Sometimes I don’t even have to initiate the conversation. People just see me in my white Dominican habit and ask me to pray for them in a time of struggle. Even if God has only given you the ability to smile at people don’t bury it in a frown. Return it to them and see what happens. Amen!

 

November 21, 2017 – Tuesday in the 33rd Week of the Church Year

Today’s Celebration: Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

2 Maccabees 6:18 – 31 – Psalm 3 – Luke 19:1 – 10

There is a transition here as we enter into the last week of our liturgical year. The memorial of the Presentation of Mary doesn’t get special readings so we’re left kind of hanging on a ledge and have to “go with the flow” of this last week of the year with the “memorial” tacked on for what it’s worth.

It should be no secret that so much of what surrounds this commemoration has to be approcrophal since there weren’t people around taking notes as Mary was presented in the temple. All we can really do is let various images float through our minds and maybe ask the question, “how important is it that Mary be kept “special” and free from any stain of original sin in order to welcome Jesus into her body? When the Gospels give us Jesus’ own words, “behold, I stand at the door and knock. Whoever (that includes all of us sinners and wayfarers) opens the door I will come in and dine with them and they with me.” Yet there are many prominent people from OT days who were thus “presented” to the temple in order that they might one day become important persons in the continuing saga of “God’s dwelling with us.”

Then we have this short passage from Luke’s Gospel of the poor widow and her two small coins. “She has given more than all the others put together because she gave out of her need and not out of her abundance.” So, bottom line: we all need to “enter in” to the presence of God in some way or another. We have to turn those tables around and not just wait for God to knock at the door of our heart. We have to place ourselves at the door of His presence and desire to enter into the realm of God’s presence – all the days of our life. Here there is no room for “general intentions” and we have to be pro-active in striving to enter into God’s way. St. Catherine: “It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven.” Amen!

 

November 20, 2017 – Monday in the 33rd Week of the Church Year

 

Saint for the day: Rose Philippine Duchesne (Aug. 29, 1769 – Nov. 18, 1852)

 Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

1 Maccabees 1:10:15, 41 ….63 – Psalm 119 – Luke 18:35-43

 “Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands. Though the snares of the wicked are twined above me your law I have not forgotten.” (Today’s Responsorial Psalm 119)

 Today we move into this last week of our Church Liturgical year and in two weeks we will begin all over again with the 1st Sunday of Advent. So, we are given yet another chance to try to get it right: “Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.”

Today’s 1st Scripture reading from 1st Maccabees is yet another example of how we, as a people saved on so many sides, so easily forget that God has called us back time and again to know His loving presence.   You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how easily this scripture reading could apply to many places in our world today. It’s a good thing that I’m not God ‘cause I would have given up on these people who I had rescued time and again from their folly.

But, therein, is the point that we need to understand: God never gives up on us and just like today’s Holy Gospel, we have to be like that blind man and beg God to allow us to see. And therein lies the secret: this man is asking for more than a physical ability of what we might call sight. He’s asking to see! To understand. To comprehend. To be able to grasp everything possible to know about Jesus. The Holy Gospel tells us, “Have your sight; your faith has saved you.” And he followed Jesus, giving glory to God.”

 We are like that blind beggar and we, too, need to know who It is that can save us as we cry out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on my!” But don’t forget! We have to leave our “begging place” and follow Jesus, giving glory to God.”

 Most of the time, once we have experienced some blessing from God we quickly forget where and from what we came as we return and go about our life as before. Every encounter with God gives us a new way of seeing His wonder. But it’s only the beginning of our journey to the Kingdom. The ending of today’s Holy Gospel is key: “When the people saw this healing they gave praise to God.”

Ask yourself: is my relationship with God something that draws people to know something more about God’s wonder? Amen!

November 19, 2017 – 33rd Sunday of the Church Year

 

Saint for the day: Agnes of Assisi (c. 1197 – November 16, 1253)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-2–30-31–Psalm 128–1 Thessalonians 5:1-6–Matthew 25:14-30

It must be important for us to hear this Gospel because we heard it just the other day for the Feast of St. Albert the Great. But on that day the liturgists chose to leave off the last few verses which condemned the “worthless servant” for not being pro-active with his gift.

This Gospel story is yet another example of how individualistic God is with each of us. He never demands that I be just like someone else but He does demand that I respond to what He gives – or asks – of me. Do we fear God and hold back when He “gifts” us or do we do with the little that we have, trusting that “God will provide.” That’s the motto of my Province but how often do we actually believe it? Like Thomas we say, “God I believe … help my unbelief.” Are we really willing to trust God or do we hide our heads like an ostrich fearful of what might be behind door #3?

The Xtian journey is one of risk and all we can do is trust that God will not pull the rug out from under us. But we have to trust that this little piece of carpet really can fly!

“Alleluia! Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” Amen!

November 18, 2017 – Saturday in the 32nd Week of the Church Yea

Today’s Celebration: Dedication of the Churches of Saints Peter and Paul

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9 – Psalm 105 – Luke 18:1-8

“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.” (Luke 18:1)

 This admonition from the beginning of today’s Holy Gospel needs to be taken seriously but with a clearer understanding that our needs or desires are always limited and we are usually praying from our perspective and not from God’s.

Bottom line – before we even get in to this: God doesn’t need our poor prayers but he does desire us to be prayerfully in His presence. Prayer, when it brings us into God’s presence, changes us more than it changes things outside of us. When we begin to seek God we are gradually eased into being able to see the things and circumstances around us in a new light.

They tell the story of “Hershel” who pleaded with God, “Oh, God hear my prayer. Let me win the lottery!” And God responded, “Hershel, meet me halfway. Buy a lottery ticket!”

There was a time when our Dominicans were at both Arizona State University and University of Arizona. Chaplains from both of the Campus Ministries were also chaplains for both football teams.   I always wondered what God did when both teams met for a “prayer service” hopping to win. Did their prayers cancel each other out? Or, did God just toss a coin to see who should win?

I often heard people saying, “Prayer changes things” but I think it’s more precise to say that “Prayer changes US more than it changes things outside of us. True, heartfelt prayer needs to move us closer into the heart of God in order for us to be able to begin to see what’s really important. As we refine and purify our prayer we will begin to see more clearly what our own, personal life is all about. Then, our real bottom line becomes our ability to have care for widows and orphans and to bring sight to the blind. To free those kept captive from knowing God’s healing and loving presence.

When our prayer becomes more about things outside of ourselves, rather than a “gimme, gimme” prayer we will see that God – on the rebound – has more than answered our prayers.

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God – and His righteousness – and all these things will be added unto you!” (Matthew 6:33) Amen!

 

November 17, 2017 – Friday in the 32nd Week of the Church Year

 

Saint for the day:

Elizabeth of Hungary (1207 – November 17, 1231)

 

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

Wisdom 13:1-9 – Psalm 19 – Luke 17:26 – 37

“Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the way of the Lord. Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart.” (today’s Responsorial Psalm)

 At first glance, today’s Scripture readings appear kind of grim. Very few people enjoy talking about death or their last days. Yet of all the realities of our world death will touch all of our lives for sure. One way or another! Along these lines I like to focus on the words from our funeral liturgies where we hear, “for believers, life is changed, not ended. … For then we shall see Him as He really is.”

 I don’t know which saint is credited with saying, when asked what he would do if he knew that on such and such a day he would be “called home,” said, “Nothing different from what I’m doing right now!”

That’s an important answer. We all know that our life here on earth will one day come to an end yet none of us takes the attitude of why bother doing anything in the meantime. We have been given the gift of life from God. We have been blessed with various talents and abilities. We are on our way to our true home, heaven, and we make the best of what we have in the time we are given to live.

When today’s Gospel says things like “one will be taken and one will be left” or “two people will be in one bed: one will be taken and the other left” we should be reminded that our face-to-face encounter with God in His Glory most likely will come at a time when we least expect it! When I was in a small airplane crash in 1970 I probably should have died but I didn’t. When I fell on the escalator in the airport on my way to Peru I could have died. But I didn’t. Why? Probably because the Lord is finished with me yet. He’s still got more work to do on me! All of us can look at different events in our lives with the same questions.

Bottom Line? Live your life as if this were the last day you will have. When Brother Robert Lavine died quite suddenly I was asked to straighten up his room. When I went in I found his bed made with a rosary and crucifix on the pillow. On his desk was a paper that said, “these are to people to notify in the event of my death!” There was also a bag with a bottle of Jim Beam Whiskey and a note that said, to be taken to McKenzie Bridge for Brother Daniel’s party! What a way to die! Amen!

(This “reflection” was one of my favorites and I’m happy to give it another run for the benefit of all my readers.)

November 16, 2017 – Thursday in the 32nd Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Margaret of Scotland (1045 – November 16, 1093)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Wisdom 7:22b – 8:1 – Psalm 119 – Luke 17:20-25

“Lord, help me to change the things I cannot accept; and accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference!”

 I don’t know who said those words but it leads me to think that today could be called, “Wisdom Thursday” since all three scripture readings seem to carry this theme. We are thrown back, once again, to that place where we come to grips with the reality that it’s not this or that but, rather, both and.

It might be good to go back and read the first scripture reading from the Book of Wisdom again in order to see all the aspects of this great gift. It begins with a long, 29 word sentence that gives us more than enough to work on for the rest of our lives! But don’t stop there. I like to use the model of putting statements like these into question form and ask myself, “when am I intelligent?   When am I Holy? Unique?” And then, maybe change it to “How am I subtle, agile, clear, unstained?”

Be sure to click on the link to today’s saint, Margaret of Scotland to see how she made these scripture passages real in her life. She didn’t charge in brandishing swords with threats to kill the non-believers, but came with the “Word of Life, Jesus Christ” that light that shines in the darkness of this world. “Your word, O Lord, endures forever; it is firm as the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)

 The “key” to the above verse has to be, YOUR word! Not mine. But that WORD that was made flesh and dwelt among us. The word that heals and builds up. The word that gives hope and meaning to our lives. The word that is planted in our hearts that motivates us to reach out and lift up and not destroy and kill.

And we’re back to square one: “Lord, give me the wisdom to know the difference!” Amen!