January 20, 2018 – Sat. in the 2nd Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Sebastan (c.256 – January 20, 287)

Scripture Readings fo today’s Liturgy:

2 Samuel 1:1-4 ….27 – Psalm 80 – Mark 3:20-21

“Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the world of your Son.” (Alleluia Verse)

 The line between holiness and craziness is often blurred and it is hard to tell the difference. That’s why most of us just dismiss someone whom we don’t understand and say that they’re “crazy!”

In today’s very short Gospel so many people are following Jesus and there isn’t enough room for them to eat. Then the relatives come to “seize him for they said he is out of his mind.” One of the commentaries that I read this morning brought up the fact that the Greek word, “he” is the same as, “them.” So, did Jesus’ relatives think he or them (the crowd) was crazy?

When we read the lives of many of the saints we might have the same reaction since some of the things they did appear very bazaar to our ways of thinking. Yet when we come right down to it we have to say that – without the eyes of faith – many of the statements of Jesus go against the grain of common thought. And therein is the crux: Jesus calls us to follow Him. He promises that “whoever tries to save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life will save it.” When Peter tries to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem Jesus tells him, “get behind me, you Satan. You’re thinking with human thoughts and not in Godly ways.”

Paul tells us, “let your minds (thoughts) be transformed in Christ Jesus” and we need to let this happen even if it appears on the surface to be somewhat crazy. We are called to follow Jesus but it’s not enough to just be a “crowd follower.” We must move to the next level of becoming “one with Christ.” “Now it is no longer I that lives but Christ in me.”

The words of the “Morning Offering” are a good way to start the day. “Oh, Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer thee all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Catholic Church throughout the world and with our Holy Father, Pope Francis and for … (whatever special need/intention you have.”)

Give it a try. It can’t hurt. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 19, 2018 – Fri. in the 2nd Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Fabian (c. 200 – January 20, 250)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

1 Samuel 24:3-21 – Ps. 57 – Mark 3:13 – 19

As we continue our first reading from 1Samuel we can see that there have always been rivalries between almost anyone who appears more blessed than another. Saul and David were used by God to bring about good for the “people of God” But, even they had to deal with their own frailty when seeing the other seemingly shining brighter then themselves.

blurred and it is hard to tell the difference. That’s why most of us just dismiss someone whom we don’t understand and say that they are “crazy!”

In today’s very short Gospel so many people are following Jesus and there isn’t enough room for them to eat. Then the relatives come to “seize him for they said he is out of his mind.”

The Church is never at a loss for giving us lots of images to ponder on any given day and today is no exception. First we’re given two early Christian martyrs: St. Fabian who was the first ‘layman’ to be chosen Pope. When he entered the Church, it is told, a dove flew in and landed on his head and he was immediately elevated to the Papacy.

In our Scriptures for today’s liturgy we continue in the saga of Saul and David which is filled with all kinds of drama: plots of murder, intrigue and jealousy.

The Old Testament story of Saul and David gives us a glimpse into how God can bring about ultimate good out of human weakness. David could have killed Saul but didn’t. But we know that we’re not at the end of the story yet. We’ll see much more of the two sides of David.

We could say the same about the selection of the first Apostles: a rag-tag collection of quite ordinary kind of guys who comprise all the varied characteristics that all of us face. Yet these are the men who will be sent out to be the foundations of the emerging new church. Here we are just beginning our year of 2018 and we’re still struggling to “get it together!”

But more importantly is the fact that, even though it seems like a never ending struggle, we stay with it knowing that Jesus told us that He would be with us to the end. And His prayer at the Last Supper still remains our prayer: “That they all might be one, as you, Father, are one with me.” Division and separation never bring about unity and here in the 21st Century we still are struggling to be at peace with one another. Let us take a lesson from Saul who finally realized the goodness of David and let him have his place. Let us take an example from the men that Jesus choose to be His “inner core of leadership” – human beings like you and me with all our frailty – and not give up on the possibility of being one with Him.

The challenge is always there. Will we do all this again next year? Yes. Will we finally get it right? Maybe. But let us never give up on our attempt to follow Jesus since he will never give up on us. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 17, 2018 – Wed. in the 2nd week of the Church year.

Saint for the day: Anthony of Egypt (251 – 356)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 17;32-33, 37, 40-51 – PS. 144 – Mark 3:1-6

There is no lack of themes on this Wednesday in the 2nd week of the Church Year. In the Scripture readings for Mass we hear the most popular of Old Testament stories of David and Goliath – although the Bible never names him but only refers to him as “the Philistine.” In the Gospel – here at the 3rd chapter we hear of one of the first plans to “get rid of Jesus” because He’s a challenge to the established status quo. I found it somewhat amusing that the Responsorial Psalm used the phrase, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock” and I remembered the Gospel of the calling of the first disciples and the fact that Jesus changed Simon’s name to “Peter” which is translated, “Rock.” Then all the other examples of this word, “rock” flooded into my mind – especially those that come to us through the Psalms. It was Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the Lord, and this I seek, to dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life,” that I had printed on my Holy Card on the occasion of my First Profession of Vows as a young Dominican in 1961. The next verse in this psalm: . … He hides me deep in his tent, sets me high on a rock” is another example of how God protects us from all harm. We can also think about where we have built our “house?” On shifting sands or on solid rock?

God seldom asks us to go out against fierce “Goliath’s” but He does ask us to “dwell in His House” where He sets us high on a rock above the tumult of the days problems.

Most of us, by virtue of our baptism as infants were dedicated to the Lord at an early age. But we can’t say that we’ve had it hard or didn’t have the advantages that some have since we just heard in yesterday’s readings that “God doesn’t judge from appearances but looks to the heart. Let us remember the words of Psalm 27 and have as our prayer, “… to dwell in the House of the Lord … high upon a rock of safety” (my very own loose translation) – but never forgetting that God still loves us “warts and all!” Amen!

Jan. 18, 2018 – Thurs. in the 2nd Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Anthony of Egypt (251 – 356)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 17;32-33, 37, 40-51 – PS. 144 – Mark 3:1-6

There is no lack of themes on this Wednesday in the 2nd week of the Church Year. In the Scripture readings for Mass we hear the most popular of Old Testament stories of David and Goliath – although the Bible never names him but only refers to him as “the Philistine.” In the Gospel – here at the 3rd chapter we hear of one of the first plans to “get rid of Jesus” because He’s a challenge to the established status quo. I found it somewhat amusing that the Responsorial Psalm used the phrase, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock” and I remembered the Gospel of the calling of the first disciples and the fact that Jesus changed Simon’s name to “Peter” which is translated, “Rock.” Then all the other examples of this word, “rock” flooded into my mind – especially those that come to us through the Psalms. It was Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the Lord, and this I seek, to dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life,” that I had printed on my Holy Card on the occasion of my First Profession of Vows as a young Dominican in 1961. The next verse in this psalm: . … He hides me deep in his tent, sets me high on a rock” is another example of how God protects us from all harm. We can also think about where we have built our “house?” On shifting sands or on solid rock?

God seldom asks us to go out against fierce “Goliath’s” but He does ask us to “dwell in His House” where He sets us high on a rock above the tumult of the days problems.

Most of us, by virtue of our baptism as infants were dedicated to the Lord at an early age. But we can’t say that we’ve had it hard or didn’t have the advantages that some have since we just heard in yesterday’s readings that “God doesn’t judge from appearances but looks to the heart. Let us remember the words of Psalm 27 and have as our prayer, “… to dwell in the House of the Lord … high upon a rock of safety” (my very own loose translation) – but never forgetting that God still loves us “warts and all!” Amen!

Jan. 16, 2018 – Tues. in the 2nd Week of the Church Year

Saints for the day: Berard & Companions (d. January 16, 1220)

Scripdture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 6:1-13 – Psalm 89 – Mark 2:23-28

In our first reading for the Mass today we continue to follow Samuel now as he heads toward Bethlehem to find the replacement for Saul. It’s a beautiful story as one after another Jesse presents his “best” for Samuel to pick from. However, “best” in our eyes is not always best in the mind of God. Jesse almost forgets that there is one more son out tending the sheep and our popular saying, “the last shall be first” plays into this story. For God “sees” to the heart whereas we rely on first impressions. Believe me. I take great satisfaction in knowing that God sees us through and through and still says, “it is you that I have chosen and I call you to be the means of making known my love for all of creation.” We all know the end of the story and the fact that David has his “shadow side.” Yet even with his faults God still used him in great ways.

In the Gospel Jesus is coming down hard on the S & Ps for their very rigid stand on Sabbath Law and gives us the tag phrase, “the Sabbath was made for man. Not man for the Sabbath.” So, we ask, “what does that really mean?”

In the first place we have to know that we can’t fool God. We just read that “God sees all the way to our inner core” so we have to get out of the mind-set that focused more on how much you did rather than on the quality of what was being done. In former times people often asked, “how late can I come to Mass before I have failed to keep holy the Sabbath?”

This attitude permeated much of our understanding of how we related to God. There wasn’t much thought on “how close can I get to God” but often we looked more at “how far can I stretch the rope that connects me to God before it completely breaks.”

The old Gospel song comes to mind: “Blest be the tie that binds” and today I will try to be sure that I make that cord as short as possible. “Try it. You’ll like it.”

January 16, 2018 – Tues. in the 2nd Week of the Church Year

 Saints for the day: Berard & Companions (d. January 16, 1220)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 6:1-13 – Psalm 89 – Mark 2:23-28

In our first reading for the Mass today we continue to follow Samuel now as he heads toward Bethlehem to find the replacement for Saul. It’s a beautiful story as one after another Jesse presents his “best” for Samuel to pick from. However, “best” in our eyes is not always best in the mind of God. Jesse almost forgets that there is one more son out tending the sheep and our popular saying, “the last shall be first” plays into this story. For God “sees” to the heart whereas we rely on first impressions. Believe me. I take great satisfaction in knowing that God sees us through and through and still says, “it is you that I have chosen and I call you to be the means of making known my love for all of creation.” We all know the end of the story and the fact that David has his “shadow side.” Yet even with his faults God still used him in great ways.

In the Gospel Jesus is coming down hard on the S & Ps for their very rigid stand on Sabbath Law and gives us the tag phrase, “the Sabbath was made for man. Not man for the Sabbath.” So, we ask, “what does that really mean?”

In the first place we have to know that we can’t fool God. We just read that “God sees all the way to our inner core” so we have to get out of the mind-set that focused more on how much you did rather than on the quality of what was being done. In former times people often asked, “how late can I come to Mass before I have failed to keep holy the Sabbath?”

This attitude permeated much of our understanding of how we related to God. There wasn’t much thought on “how close can I get to God” but often we looked more at “how far can I stretch the rope that connects me to God before it completely breaks.”

The old Gospel song comes to mind: “Blest be the tie that binds” and today I will try to be sure that I make that cord as short as possible. “Try it. You’ll like it.”

January 15, 2018 – Monday in the 2nd Week of the Church Year

 Saint for the day: Paul the Hermit (c. 233 – c. 345)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 15:16-23 – Ps.50 – Mark 2:18-22

Today’s Holy Gospel says it this way: “Why do [others] fast but your disciples do not fast?” (Mark 2:19-20) This is just another way of letting us know that our authentic following of Jesus means more than just saying the right words or doing some rituals.

Here at St. Dominic’s Church we have a very popular Shrine to St. Jude – the “Patron Saint of desperate and impossible situations. There are always “pilgrims” who come to ask for the intercession of St. Jude to help them. Often, when I’m in the church, people ask me to pray for them and their needs. I always tell them that the “miracle of St. Jude” begins with their faith and trust in God and His power to heal and restore order in their lives. The large statue of St. Jude isn’t a magic token that they only have to touch in order to get God’s attention.

We have to remember the Gospel story of the Pharisee and the Widow who both come to the temple to pray. When the Pharisee prays out loud, “thank you Lord that I’m not like this poor widow…” Jesus says, “… the poor widow, because she gave all she had, will know God’s presence better than the Pharisee.

’m not trying to say that it’s an easy call when it comes to the best way to pray or follow Jesus but it does require that we have first encountered Jesus – like those two disciples on the road to Emmaus – and “our hearts are burning within!”

 That seems to be the starting point and the way to follow Jesus. Then when we cry out, and wonder where God is and why we seem to be so alone … we’ll find out – “footprints in the sand” – that he was carrying us and we didn’t even know it! Thank you, Jesus. Amen!

January 14, 2018 – Second Sunday of the Church Year

Today’s saint Gregory Nazianzen (c. 325 – c.390)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 3:3b-10-11 – Ps 40 – 1 Cor. 6:13-15;17-20 – John 1:35-42

“I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.” (Psalm 40:2-3)

 

Today’s Liturgy begins with this beautiful story of the “call of Samuel” where he was sleeping in the temple. The first thing to note in this account is the gradual process that the Lord went through to get Samuel’s attention. Secondly, you want to hear the Lord say something important to you? Spend some time wherever you sense a greater presence of the Lord. Before the Blessed Sacrament is a good starting point. Then, the last part of this equation is the “follow-through” where Samuel finally says, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening. Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect. Don’t miss the point that this encounter wasn’t instantaneous. It took the Eli three strikes to finally get it right and tells Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Then, moving right into the Responsorial Psalm we are given the details of how we are to stay close to the Lord’s Word. Take some time to go through this psalm keeping the verse, “Here am I Lord; I come to do your will” every before you as you let the verses of the psalm give you hope. God doesn’t want sacrifice or offerings but, rather, “ears open to obedience … and your law written within my heart!” When St. Paul tells us, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ… and that we have been purchased at a price … to glorify God in our bodies.” (1st Corinthians 6:20) Then our Gospel is almost like a mirror image of the scripture reading from 1st Samuel when he is first called. Here, though, it’s Jesus who asks the disciples, ”What are you looking for?” When they call him, “Rabbi” they ask to stay with him and they stay the whole day. But they must have been busy running back and forth to get their brothers and others and Jesus changes Simon’s name to “Cephas” – which the Gospel says is translated “Peter” but which we also know can be translated “rock” – a play on words that Jesus will pick up later. So, what do we “get” as a bottom line for today’s liturgy? #1 We have to place ourselves in the presence of God – by some means or other – in order to be within hearing range … when he calls. Secondly, we have to be willing to say, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.” This Sunday’s Scripture readings are of specific note to Dominicans in the Western Province since we have just completed a significant meeting of friars – called a “Chapter” where leadership positions scrutinized and people are moved around to best serve the needs of all the ministries of the Western Province. Therefore, I pray, “Lord, guide us and give us the courage to step onto the road you place before us so that our work and ministry may always be done under the banner of your Holy Name, Jesus – the canonical title of the Western Province “Of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.” Amen!

 

 

January 13, 2018 – Saturday in the 1st Week of Church Year

“The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives.” (Today’s “Alleluia Verse” before the Holy Gospel)

 In these beginning days of our new Church Year we’re hearing from the Old Testament Book of 1st Samuel all about the journey of the “chosen people” struggling to find the best path to the “promised land.” Then, on the other hand, we jumped from our Christmas celebration right in to the start of Jesus’ public ministry. In many ways, the Old Testament folks are looking for a king to be their leader and rule over them while the Gospel stories that we hear have Jesus right away doing His “healing ministry.” The difference between the Old Testament and the Gospels makes it clear that can’t just expect to find some kind of leader – perhaps a king – who will take care of us and win our battles for us. This is made clear in the Gospels that we are hearing in these days after Christmas where Jesus does some healings which are clearly intimate, one-on-one, encounters that heal and restore persons to some kind of regular activities in their lives. I can’t help but make some comparisons to most of our present-day situations especially as it relates to life in so many parts of our world where leadership is often not at all seeking to better the lives of the people. Even in our own country where a change in leadership is just around the corner you would be hard pressed to find many honest, hard-working folks who have the common good of the people in mind. Our daily newspapers are filled with scandals of one kind or another that are made public in order to discredit an opponent. In this time in the Church year we’ll be following Jesus as He begins to form His “leadership team” that will eventually continue what He, himself has began: you’d have to be blind and deaf not to be able to see where and who Jesus picks to continue His ministry of healing and restoration of the downtrodden.   By and large he picks some very ordinary people who are not necessarily skilled in leadership abilities. Yet He trusts that in calling them from whatever they were doing to follow Him they will gradually gain the confidence that He was able to see in them and become powerful healers and teachers as He seeks to bring about the Kingdom of peace and justice that is so necessary at all times in our world. All of us need to pay attention to the Holy Scriptures in these days between Christmas and the beginning of Lent which is only three short weeks away. Then, we’ll have 40 days to work on how we allow Jesus/God to be a powerful part of our lives with His gifts of healing and love that He gives to each of us. On our part, we only have to let go and let God! Amen

January 12, 2017 – Friday in the 1st Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Marguerite -bourgeoys April 17, 1620 – 1700

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22a – Psalm 89 – Mark 2-1-12

Dear faithful readers of “Scratchpad Reflections:”

 I have just discovered problems with a couple of the programs that I use for putting together these Scratchpad Reflections. I will do my best to work toward getting on top of this problem as soon as possible. In the meantime, I can give you the daily information as to the “Saint for the day” and the link to the day’s scripture readings. It is my hope that I can get this all ironed out as soon as possible. This is the first time in all the years that I have been posting Scratchpad Reflections that this has happened. It just goes to show that we all have to work at coming to the best understanding of the Word of the Lord and transmit that to others. This has my goal in all the years I have been doing this. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t hurt to say a little prayer that all this gets straitened out as quickly as possible. Since I believe that all things that happen to us are part of our journey to the Kingdom. And nobody that I know has ever said that wasn’t something that we had to work at. I pray through the intersession of St. Dominic for a speedy recovering of this problem.

God Bless us all!