March 18, 2018 – 5th Sunday of Lent

Saint for the day: Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315 – March 18, 386)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – Ps 51 – Hebrews 5:7-9 – John 12:20-33

Today we begin the last week of Lent and will soon enter into the holiest week of our Church year. There are two things that strike me from the scriptures that we just read: the fact that some Greeks came to the disciples and asked, “sir, we would like to see Jesus!” Again, it seems that foreigners are the ones who recognize Jesus while His own people miss the point.

Then we are given an analogy by Jesus, “Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it will yield a rich harvest.”

These two phrases are key to our entering into Holy Week. We must have that request that the Greeks have, “we want to see Jesus!” I’m sure that no one would dispute the importance of that request. What happens, though, is that the phrase about having to die and be buried in the ground is one that we have a hard time swallowing. Yet, who of us is able to avoid that basic reality?

In these days I seem to be more keenly aware of death as contemporaries on all sides seem to be dropping like flies. Friars from my US Province – many from my own era – have recently died. I just had word that a classmate of mine from my grammar school days also died. I get e-mails every day about some friend or another who has died. Since this is a reality of life, why am I so surprised when it happens “close to home?”

None of us has a problem with “wanting to see Jesus,” we just don’t want to see Him on the Cross. We would rather skip ahead and see Him in resurrection glory rather than having to die with Him in this world.

Why is this “death factor” such dilemma for us? Who of us can add even a single day to our lives? So we enter into this Holy Week and celebrate the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus and remember His words, “anyone who would save his life in this world will lose it.” So when we ask “to see Jesus” we need to see Him – not only as miracle worker – but as our Savior who was lifted up on the Cross in death that we might really know life.

As I move closer to my own 77th birthday I can’t but help think how much I need to take seriously this reality of wanting to “see Jesus” and what that really means. Amen!



March 17, 2018 – Saturday in the 4th Week of Lent


Saint for the day: Patrick (c.386 – 461)

Scripture readings for todays Liturgy

Jeremiah 11:18-20 – Ps.7:2-3 – 9 … 11-12 – John 7:40-53

“Were not our hearts burning within as He spoke to us along the road?”(Luke 34:32)

I once heard of a foreword stepping priests who ended the Mass with an unsettling word: “May the Peace of Christ profoundly disturb you!” As in, have you let the reality of the life of Jesus do something powerfully changing in you life?” This will go along with the brochure that I saw which proclaimed, “Come to such-and-such Community Church where nice people meet a nice God!” The first principle that we have to keep in mind is that the Gospels are put together backwards. They begin at the reality of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ and then reconstruct all the back– “Oh! Now I see what He was talking about when He said things like, “I am the bread of life. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.” So the Gospels are the lived and preached faith of the early Church from what they remember He said and did. There’s not much said about His childhood except that He got lost in the Temple and that “he grew in grace and truth.” If we want to know what’s important about Jesus just look at the early part of the Gospels up against how much is included about His passion, death and resurrection. John 3:16 seems to be the key: “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)   In a week’s time we will begin Holy Week where we will walk with Jesus from His triumphant entry into Jerusalem; to the upper room for the Last Supper – which, interestingly enough doesn’t give us the “institution account of the Eucharist” but, rather the washing of the feet. Then, we move into the most solemn liturgy of the Church year: Good Friday, the one day in the entire year when Mass is not celebrated. The Good Friday Liturgy shocks us by its dramatic difference from what we are used to participating in when we come to church. The center of the liturgy is the reading of the Passion account with its high drama that draws us into the reality of what our Christian life is all about. In this liturgy we’re not going to hear a “prosperity gospel” or about blessings gained by believing in Jesus such as miracles and speaking in tongues. We’re brought very dramatically face to face with the fact that Jesus gave His life that we might live with Him in paradise. We then become like the disciples on the road to Emmaus and say, “Were not our hearts burning within as He explained the scriptures to us?” But we won’t just come for Holy Thursday and Good Friday. We have to stay around for that still, quiet day – Holy Saturday – when the entire Church awaits the solemnity of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Week and the “Paschal Triduum” (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) bring it all together. Here we come to understand what our life is all about. Don’t miss any of it as it is one, weeklong liturgy that shouldn’t be sidestepped in any way. We want to get to that point where we can say, “were not our hearts were burning (with excitement) when we unknowingly met Jesus on the road.” Amen!


March 16, 2018 – Friday in the 4th Week of Lent

Saint for the day: Clement Mary Hofbauer (12/26/1751 – 3/15/1820)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy

Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22 – Psalm 34 – John 7::1-2, 10, 25-30

Both of the scripture readings for today’s liturgy give us a sense of exasperation which seems to be based on our inability to squeeze God into our way of understanding. We forget

Both of the scripture readings for today’s liturgy give us a sense of exasperation which seems to be based on our inability to squeeze God into our way of understanding. We forget

up in this matter is the fact that many people turn the equation around and try to get to resurrection without going through Calvary. “If you seek to be first you must take the last position and be the servant of all.” If our goal is to save our life we most assuredly will lose it and probably lose it dramatically.

The S & P’s are so caught up in thinking they know exactly how God will bring Messiah into the world and forget that “God writes straight with crooked lines” and it’s not so important to figure out the “how” as it is to know the “that.” Right that God doesn’t love us because we have “figured Him out” but rather because we can trust Him no matter what is happening in our life. The Psalm response, “God is close to the broken hearted” should give us courage to trust God no matter what is happening in our lives. God became incarnate in our world –“a man like us in all things but sin” to bring us into the possibility of finding the way to Heaven.

This is where the “prosperity Gospel preachers” have missed the point. God doesn’t come to make us rich or successful in this world but to be happy with Him in the next.” What gets us mixed from the start they are hanging around the Temple thinking for sure that is where Messiah will show up. After all, if God is going to break into our world He surely won’t be born in a cave in Bethlehem. So, Bethlehem and Calvary are two sides to the same coin. The Magi came to Bethlehem with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and the S & P’s come to Calvary with their fists raised with cries of “Crucify Him!”

We have to ask ourselves, “Have I tried to squeeze God into my finite mind or have I let God break into my life in a way that will surely lead me to Haven? God didn’t say that it would be easy but that He would never leave us or forget us. Amen!


March 15, 2018 – Thursday in the 4th Week of Lent

 Saint for the day:Louise de Marillac (August 12, 1591 – March 15, 1660

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

Exodus 32:7-14 – Ps. 106 – John 5:31-47

Both Scripture readings for today’s liturgy present us with a different picture of God. In the Exodus reading God comes across as being really ticked off with this people whom He has led out of slavery in Egypt. They seem tired of the journey and begin to look for something better than this endless wandering in the desert. Moses seems exasperated, also, and pleads with God to give them one more chance.

In the Gospel Jesus seems to be on the defensive in His dialogue with the Jews. In both readings we are given a picture of God and Jesus that’s mostly different from what we want to believe. What are we to make of these scriptures and how do we get to the deeper sense of what they are trying to tell us?

Certainly, it is clear from the Exodus reading that we need to be reminded of our own journey of faith and how and where we have wandered away from the love that God has poured into our lives over and over again. The Gospel scripture calls us to a belief in Jesus as savior and the Son of God. He is the light in the darkness and the way to the Father. Yet, like the Jews in His own time, we have difficulty understanding a God who would sacrifice His own Son for our salvation. Even for myself, I’m finding it hard to grasp the depth of these readings and maybe need to get back to basics: who is Jesus for me. And how do I envision God loving me so much that he would send His own Son to pay the price for my salvation? I’ll have to keep at this for awhile. In the meantime I’ll fall back on the Apostle, Thomas, “Lord I (want to) believe. Help my unbelief and bring me to that point where I can say, “now I see clearly..Amen.”

March 14, 2018 – Wednesday in the 4th Week of Lent

“I will never forget you, my people…”

Today the Church gives us this beautiful reading from Isaiah 49: “Could a mother forget the child within her womb. Yet, even if these forget, I will never forget you, my people.”

Then, in the Gospel Jesus speaks of Himself and the Father as one: “My father goes on working and so do I.” So we are given another insight into Jesus/God being Son, Father and Mother – the Sprit being the “creative” or “feminine “ aspect of God. And this “creative sense” of God is important for us to grasp as it is the essence of what we are all about. We are not static, stuck in one place people but people who are constantly being changed as “from glory to glory He’s changing us” into something beautiful for God. The problem with the S & Ps was that they were “stuck in the mud” of their own obstinacies and couldn’t see beyond the Law that they followed so solemnly. They couldn’t comprehend a God who could be compared with a mother loving the child within her womb. Yet this is the level at which we must understand God.

When the Holy Sprit comes upon the Apostles and Mary after the Ascension they are re-created and given the power to go on with the mission of spreading this notion that God desires a personal and intimate relationship with each of us.

This is what Lent is all about. It’s not an endurance test but a point at which we come to the fullest knowledge of who God is in our lives: a God who rescues us from our wanderings and forgives us of our infidelities and clothes us in a robe of glory while setting a banquet before us.

Our own St. Catherine reminds us, “It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven” and on the way God promises, “I will never forget you, my people.”  Amen!

March 13, 2018 – Tuesday in the 4th Week of Lent

Saint for the day: Leander of Seville (c. 534 – 600/601

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:  Ezekiel 47:1-9,12 – Ps 46 – John 5:1-16

“What do you want?”

If we could hear God/Jesus asking us this question, what would our answer be? Think about it.

One of the perks that we have in the season of Lent is that the Church picks the Scripture readings along the lines of “themes” rather than going sequentially through different books of the Bible.

So, today we hear the Gospel of the paralytic who has been waiting for a miraculous cure from the stirred waters for 38 years. To support this Gospel – and to tie it into the Old Testament – our first Scripture reading from Ezekiel gives us a picture of the “healing waters” that flow out of the Temple in all directions, and causing healing and health to all that it touches.

Yet, even with this picture so clearly painted for us Jesus still asks us the question, “Do you want to be healed?” Our answer might be a curt, “Of course! Why do you think I’m here?” This man in this story is like us in so many ways and he has gotten used to being carried – every day – to this same place. And he has let his infirmity become his ticket to a life of begging. He is like so many of the people who stand every day on busy corner of an intersection begging. Once, I tried to help an old man who wandered up and down the highway with a story of his need to get to a Veterans Hospital to get his teeth fixed. I let him stay in the Church Hall overnight and brought him a little breakfast in the morning. When I handed the food to him I said, “There is someone here in the parish who works with the Veterans Administration who can get the help you need.” Even before I finished he refused the food that I was offering and said, “That’s OK. I’ll just be on my way.”

We have to want to be healed and we have to be willing to let go of those things that we have become used to having as our “crutches.”

There is healing water flowing out from the Temple (hear we should read: from the resurrected body of Jesus) and we need to come to that water.

The man is this Gospel obviously had friends who carried him to the edge of the water and then left him there. Why didn’t they stay around until the “waters got stirred?”

I think the answer is obvious: friends can bring us to Jesus but I have to want to be healed. Jesus is still asking that question: “Do you want to be healed?” Amen!



March 11, 2018 – 4th Sunday of Lent

March 11, 2018 – Sunday  the 4th week of Lent

Sorry, this date is missing.

 March 12, 2018 – Monday in the 4th Week of Lent

 Sorry good friends of Scratchpad Reflections with some of the recent dates have gotten mixed up. I’m working on getting it all back together as soon as possible.   Thank you for being patient with my mistakes.

Brother Daniel

March 10, 2018 – Saturday in the 3rd Week of Lent


Today’s Saint: Dominic Savio (April 2, 1842 – March 9, 1857)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Hosea 6:1-6 – Ps. 51 – Luke 18:9-14

“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” (Today’s Responsorial Psalm 51)

 The above verse from Psalm 51 – the “mesericordia psalm” – often leads folks to “poo-paw” any sense of Lenten sacrifice since we repeat four times the response: “It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.” But doing that is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Look back at the end of the reading from Hosea which says, “…it is love that I desire… and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” This can only mean, that without love and knowledge of God, sacrifice – in and of itself – amounts to nothing. I’ve always tried to get people over the “hurdle” of Lent being a marathon race of holding your breath until noon on Holy Saturday. Love, mercy and knowledge of God. Another “three word phrase” that needs to be a part of our awareness of what Lent is supposed to be all about.   Authentic love always takes us out of ourselves and finds its completeness only when it bounces off another. In this case we make God the recipient of our love and the reverberation comes back to us in the form of mercy. When we come to this point we are experiencing “knowledge of God!” The problem that we are shown in the parable in today’s Gospel Scripture is that the Pharisee (that name means, separated ones) thought of himself as already there and in no need of God’s mercy. “Love” wasn’t probably even in his vocabulary and he certainly didn’t seem to have any real knowledge of God. For him, it was all externals: “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity …and look at all the things I do to please you!   When you come right down to the nitty-gritty of it – our “bottom line,” – we all have to come before God – not with a bag full of our accomplishments – but rather with a sense of what “knowledge of God” really means: His love and mercy towards us is inexhaustible. It’s not what I do for God but rather what God is doing for us. When we come to this awareness – knowledge of God – He surprises us with His “You ain’t seen nothing yet! You are not far from the Kingdom!” Amen!

March 9, 2018 – Thursday in the 3rd Week of Lent

I know that I’ve said it before – many times – but it bears repeating since it is the beginning of the Holy Gospel that we hear today: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:27ff)

FYI If there is only one thing that a faithful Jew knows it would be “The Shema, Israel” found in Deuteronomy 6 click on this link and read verses 4-9 This scripture passage is where the Orthodox Jews pick up the notion of the widened phylacteries and the practice of having that little symbol a – “Mezuzah” – that is attached to the door post that they reverently touch as the enter and leave the house.

What you’ll notice is that Jesus picks up on this well-known passage but then adds the clincher: “your neighbor as yourself!” Hearing these words of Jesus, the scribe responds, “You have answered wisely” and then Jesus says, “You are not far from the Kingdom!”

 It’s all like an outline:

— the Lord is Lord alone —love God with all your heart— with all your soul

— with all your mind— with all your strength— and your neighbor as yourself

You might try to use the above as a kind of “examination of conscience” during this Lenten Season. It might help to put it in the form of questions: “Is the Lord my Lord alone?” when / how have I loved him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?And then, don’t forget the “corker!” AND my neighbor as myself!

 If you can follow this as honestly as you can you’ll hear the Lord say, “You are not far from the Kingdom!” Amen!

March 8, 2018 – Thursday in the 3rd Week of Lent

Saint for the day: John of God – March 8, 1495 – March 8, 1550)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Jeremiah 7:23 – 28 – Psalm 95 – Luke 11:14-23

“In the beginning was the Word”

Whenever the Scriptures remind us that we are not listening to “God’s Word” I can’t help but go back to the very beginning. In Genesis we read: “In the beginning all was formless void and the Spirit hovered over the chaos and brought it all into order.” And God said, “Let there be… and it was. And it was good.” Yet, from that point on it seems like God had to struggle with us to get us to trust Him and His gift of creation. He gave us free will and time and time again, we make the wrong choices. “You will be my people and I will be your God.” Yet it doesn’t seem as if that was a good enough promise and one bite of the apple proved that it was a bad choice!

From then on, God has had to labor intensely to convince us that He is a God With Us: Emmanuel. We can look back at the history of Israel and say, “but that was then. This is now” but it’s almost all in the same moment. We perceive God’s presence in our lives and all the blessings that He grants to us. Then in a flash we turn our backs on His love and decide to take the pleasure of the moment over his promise to “be with us till the end of time.”

When Jesus is accused by the S & P’s of using the power of the devil to cast out devils He retorts with that familiar phrase, “any Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” So, here we are. Halfway through Lent and we need to be reminded that God has brought us out of darkness into His wonderful light in order that we might be His people and know the oneness of God that is promised us … over and over again!

Lucifer – the name means “light bearer” – promises us his light which is all “razzel-dazzel” a flash in the pan light that doesn’t last. I’m reminded of that simple song, “This little of mine. I’m gonna let it shine…” St. Paul tells us, “fan that spark of life that God has given you into a living flame. St. Dominic’s symbol is a “hound” carrying a

flaming torch in his mouth lighting up “fires of faith” throughout the world. Can we not forget all the wonders God has poured into our lives and even though it might seem as if the spark is about to go out let us gently fan it back into a flame of faith.

In the beginning God said, “let there be light” and so it was. He brought us out of darkness – time and time again. Can we still trust Him?

“I will be your God and you shall be my people!”