May 6, 2018 – Sixth Sunday of Easter

Saints for the day:Marian & James (d May 6, 259)

Scripture readings for today’ liturgy

Acts 10:25-26 -34-35, 44-48

-Ps 98, 1 – 4, 1 John 4:7-10 – john 15: 9-11

“Love one another…”

We’re moving close to the end of the Easter Season and – if we were proper liturgists we would celebrate the Ascension on this coming Thursday – 40 days after Easter so that 10 days later we would be at the 50th day: Pentecost. But, out of convenience to “the people of God” things are moved to Sundays. So some of the symbolism of 40 days of Lent; 40 days of Easter; 40 years of wandering – symbol of a generation gets lost.So, given the givens, what’s our bottom line? It might be found in today’s Gospel, “Love one another as I have loved you.” And out of that “love commandment” we are able to “lay down our life for our friends.” Not because of anything we have achieved on our own but only through the realization that “we did not choose to love God.” But, rather, God chose to love us.” We’re not in this as “lone rangers” but we are incorporated into something much bigger than we could ever have imagined: “Think of the love of God … that we are His children. What we will become has not yet been revealed. Then we will see Him as He really is.”(I John 3:1,2

April 30, 2018 – Monday in the 5th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Pius V (Jan. 17, 1504 – May 1, 1572)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 14:5-18 – Ps. 115 – John 14:21-26

Jesus says, “The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you”

 The Holy Spirit is the creative presence of God in the entire universe. It brought order out of chaos and “renews the face of the earth.” In the Old Testament God’s presence was observed in “theophany” – the thunder and lightening and quaking of the earth. Yet, as Elijah found out: God was not in all these phenomena but, rather in the still, quite breeze.”

I’ve already said that God is clever and could reveal Himself in any way He wanted. In the same way, Jesus could have shown Himself in some spectacular ways – floating above us in a fiery cloud. But He didn’t want us to come to Him only because of the “spectacular” but to come to Him because He loved us.

Paul and Barnabas have to run away from the crowd that wanted to treat them as God’s. In today’s Gospel Jesus puts everything on “love:” We follow Jesus because He first loved us. Not because of anything else. When we are led by the Spirit – that gift of God’s love – the broken parts of our lives are gradually brought together and we continue our journey to the Kingdom almost unaware that it is God’s love in us that brings about healings and renewal to those around us. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God – and His righteousness – and all these things will be added unto you.”

If we start out looking for the spectacular we will most assuredly – like Lucifer – fall in our own pride.

In the Gospel account of the miraculous feeding of the multitude it was Jesus’ love and concern for the people that brought about a miracle – not any kind of ‘razzle-dazzle.’ Who was it who said, “Love God … and do what you want?” Love seems to be the key to all of our efforts to know Jesus and to follow Him as here and now disciples. Jesus kind of paraphrases the words of the Lord’s Prayer when he says, “Whoever loves Me will keep my word and my Father will love him…” It’s this love, present in us, that heals and restores all that it touches. “love!” so simple that we often overlook it. Amen!

April 29, 2018 – 5th Sunday of Easter

Saint for the day: Catherine of Siena – (March 25m 1347 – April 29, 1380)

Acts 9:26-31 – Psalm 22: 26-32 – 1 John 3:18-24 – John 15:1-8

Today our Gospel scripture continues with more of the “I Am” statements of Jesus. Last Sunday we had “I am the Good Shepherd.” Today we hear Jesus saying, “I am the Vine you are the branches.” We have to give Jesus the credit in that He seems to know that not all of us have first-hand experience with sheep and shepherds so He gives us yet one more easily recognizable image of the vine and the branches.

Anyone who has any kind of garden around their house knows that – left along and unattended – shrubs and hedges get “woody” as all their energy is consumed in growing more and more out and away from the roots. And the more it gets distance from the roots the less leaves or fruit are produced. That’s an easy enough image for us to dwell on. In order for us to be “fruitful” we must allow for some maintenance to take place and who among us likes to be told “you have to be cut back!”

But Jesus also tells us, “ and my Father is the vine grower.” Another connection for us that Jesus and the Father are one.

This cutting back has to be seen in a positive and not a negative way. We have to see that we must stay close to the “root” which is Jesus. And since Jesus and the Father are one we must not get too strung out.

I like to come back to those “Four Pillars” of Dominican life: Prayer. Study. Community. Ministry. Our “fruitfulness” does not come from what we do but from our firm foundation in prayer – with honest study and supported by a like-minded community. When Jesus says, I am the way, the truth and the life we can easily see that we find “the way” in our prayer; “the truth” in our study; and “the life” in our community which is focused on the Eucharist.

But we must also remember that Jesus also says, I Am the vine and my Father is the Vine Grower which means that we will have to be “cut back” some. “Ouch! That hurts! There it is: the Cross. We can’t avoid that. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 27, 2018- Friday in the 4th week of Easter

 

 

Saint for the day Louis M. Grignion de montfort (January 31, 1673 – April 28, 1716)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

Acts 13: 26-33 – Ps. 2:6 – 11 – John 14:1-6

“Jesus said to [Thomas] ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

 The quote, above is the second-to-the last of the eight “I Am” statements that Jesus proclaims in the Gospel of John. It might be good for you to do some homework and see if you know all of them. In the meantime, I’ll check out to be sure if this is the last time that Jesus proclaims, “I am …” in the Holy Gospels. If you get stuck, you can “click” this “link” to get the answer. Meanwhile, the Church continues a kind of parallel journey through the Holy Scriptures on our way to the Feast of Pentecost. In the Holy Gospels in these times we are hearing of the final days when Jesus is still with His disciples. But our first scripture from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles relates how the disciples, now filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly go out preaching that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy. And, it’s important to notice that they still very much consider themselves faithful Jews and do most of their preaching in the synagogues. Recently, I was the one who did the second reading for our early-morning prayer. It was a letter from St. John Chrysostom, and the comment that caught my attention was that the criteria for selecting a replacement for Judas had to be someone who had witnessed the Resurrection. In fact it was said that it wasn’t enough to have seen all the miracles and wonder-works of Jesus if one hadn’t been an eyewitness to the Resurrection.

That got me thinking about my own following of Jesus and how I relate that to my life and His teachings. In the early days of the Charismatic movement – back in the late 60’s – there was a lot of focus on “miracles” and other signs of the presence of the Holy Sprit in one’s life. Everybody had to have the “gift of speaking in tongues” as if that was the penultimate gift of God. That reading from Morning Prayer, however, put the main focus on the belief in the Resurrection and not on miracles. In fact, in these days we’ve been hearing Holy Gospels that tell us – again – that the most important part of following Jesus is service: starting at the bottom by washing feet! I know it sounds silly but if we don’t begin with the basics of Jesus’ teaching, when we get up to the head, we won’t have any credibility or anything important to preach. We’ll just be like a clanging gong.

Maybe our prayer for today should be one that makes us more and more aware of the reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection and what that brings to our Journey to the Kingdom. After all, even Lazarus must have died again since he’s not around … as far as I know. Jesus’ Resurrection opened the Gates of Heaven for us and that’s the more important reality than all the miracles put together. Amen.

 

 

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April 24, 2018 – Tuesday in the 4th week of Easter

Saint for the day:Fidels of Sigmaringen (c. 1577 – April 24, 1622)

 Scripture readings for todays Liturgy:

Acts 11:19-26 – Psalm 87 – John 10:22-30

 “The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.”

 These words that we hear at the opening of today’s Holy Gospel are like the words of a playwright:   deep and filled with an element of suspense: “… and it was winter!”

 Most of us have an understanding of winter. It’s a cold, dark time when there isn’t much growth in the natural world around us. In many places where snow is part of the winter scene it is also a time of quiet beauty. The dirt and grim of our regular world gets coated in a white blanket like a costume that hides the imperfections and irregular characteristics of our lives. Winter: a chance for the world to rest and re-group.

But it was also the Feast of the Dedication: the “Festival of Lights” and the people want to know, “… are you going to keep us in suspense? ‘Tell us plainly: are you the Christ?”

 In St. John’s typical fashion” the Gospel writer is giving us a whole string of opposites: winter when there is little growth against the phenomenal growth of the early Church; the ‘Festival of Lights’ up against Jesus, “the light of the world.”

“How long are you going to keep us in suspense” up against: “I told you and you do not believe!”

The beauty of the Holy Scriptures – both Old and New Testaments – is that they are ever present. Even when they are telling us of events of the past they are also bringing it home and into the reality of our day in and day out lives. We can steal the words from Ecclesiastcs: “There is a season for everything under the earth: a time for birth; and a time for death …”  And, just like the early Christian community who had to come to grips with their past, familiar cycle of things, we, too, must allow the cycle of birth and death; light and darkness; certainty and doubt to come out from under their cover of darkness to follow Jesus, the Light of the World.

Jesus didn’t just wave His hand over the troubles of the world of His time but showed them how He would always be with them – even in the midst of their doubts. We’re still in the Easter Season and the “Feast of Pentecost” is still down the road. But it will come! Then, filled with the Holy Spirit we’ll have some thirty, plus weeks of growth and nurturing taking us full circle and … back, again to the First Sunday of Advent.

Will we “get it right this year?” Maybe not. And that’s he beauty of our Church: we always get another chance! Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 23, 2018 – Monday in the 4th Week of Easter

  Saint for the day:: George (c. 280 – April 23, 303)

 Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 11:1-18 – Psalm 42 – John 10:1-10

 “Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep … I know mine and mine know me.’” (John 10:11, 13)

 Of all the “I Ams” in John’s Holy Gospel, this “Good Shepherd” title – along with “The Bread of Life” – are probably the most well-known since they tell us of the protection and sustenance that God provides for His own. Along with these two titles comes the charge to go out from our comfort zones to seek out the lost and forsaken so that there will be one flock and one shepherd. In today’s first Holy Scripture from the Acts of the Apostles we are invited to be in St. Peter’s shoes as he learns that the joy he has received must be shared with – God forbid! – Gentiles! He has a vision of a huge sheet coming down from heaven and carried by angels. On the sheet are four-legged animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the sky. When Peter is invited to eat he refuses on the grounds that some of the things are profane or unclean. Remember: the apostles and early disciples still followed the strict, Jewish laws regarding food and it took three times for the voice from God to try convincing Peter to eat. I can’t imagine that Peter didn’t catch the connection between this and his three-time denial of Jesus in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house. There is also the three-time question of the Resurrected Jesus: “Peter, do you love me?”

 Bottom line: Peter finally gets the picture and agrees to accompany these men without discriminating. To his surprise, when he began speaking the Holy Spirit fell upon them … just as it had fallen upon the disciples in the locked, upper room! Imagine his surprise that “God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.” This is such an important concept – not only for the early Church – but also for all of us: “God’s gift of salvation is for everyone!” This is a perfect tie-in to today’s Holy Gospel of the God Shepherd: “That there be one flock and one Shepherd.”

April 21, 2018 – Saturday in the 3rd week of Easer

 

 

Saint for the day: Anselm (1033 – April 21, 1109)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 9:31-42 – Ps. 116 – John 6:60-69

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life!”

Here I am in the first part of the 21st Century reading about the Post Resurrection Church of 2000+ years ago! Yet, somehow, something of the faith of that early Church has been able to continue right up to this “now moment of salvation” for me sitting in the dark, quiet chapel in the early hours of the morning. I deliberately use the term, “now moment of salvation” because for God it is all the present and He would have sent his Only Begotten Son into the world If I was the only person that needed to be saved. The “how” and “why” God would have done that is not as important as the fact that He would!

I often like to think that rather than having been born into a nice, white, Catholic family in the US, I could have been born a poor, black child into a primitive tribe in the deepest, dark recesses of Africa and spent my life running around naked (wouldn’t that have been grand?) and worshiping some kind of “monkey god.” Why did God have me born the way He did? And what about those tribal people who have a hard time accepting a “white Jesus?”

I remember how amazed I was when I visited the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. There, in that beautiful, modern Basilica Mary is portrayed in the 15 porticos around that church in all the different styles of clothing and ethnic appearance. It was startling for me to look at Mary dressed as a Japanese women clothed in a Kimono with her hair all done up with flowery sticks. Yet this reminded me of the mystery of how God broke into our world to be the savior of all people. Not just my kind. But all people for all time.

Don’t ask me why or how God did (or does) this ‘cause I don’t know. So I fall back on the quote from Hebrews 11:1 “Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.”

And don’t ask me why I took this direction today. I just hope that it gives some better understanding of our faith to someone. “… to whom else can we go?”

April 19, 2018 Thursday, 3rd Week of Easter

To all of my faithful readers of Scratchpad Reflections I want to thank you for being a part of this “on line ministry” which I hope helped you get just a little more out of our daily liturgies.I am in the process of working out ways ways to make it even better and hope you will keep me in your prayers as I work on this goal.

Consequently, I may not always be able to get the daily post up-loaded at the proper time.  Your prayers will be the means of me getting all of this done in a timely manner.  Meanwhile,hopetohear from you via my e-mail address:  brotherdaniel@opwest.org

April 19, 2018 – Thurs in the 3rd Week of Easter

To all my faithful readers of Scratchpad Reflections  I will be cutting back a little in the next  few weeks and may not be able to post a daily reflections all the time.  Keep me in your prayers  while I work through ways in which to make these meditations better and better all the time.. Your prayers and words of encourgement will mean a lot to me and I look forward to hearing fro you, my faithful readers,

You can e-mail me: brotherdaniel@opwest.org

April 13, 2018

April 13, 2018 – Friday – 2nd Week of Easter

Sorry, the reflection for this day is missing.

 I’ll also be travelling in the next week and might not always have access to the internet. Check it out to see if I was able to post a reflection.  Sorry for the inconvenience.