August 10, 2017 – Thursday in the 18th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Lawrence (c. 225 – August 10, 258)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

2 Corinthians 9:6-10 – Psalm 112 – John 12:24-26

 We are hearing again the theme of dying in order to live which to most of us is somehow alien. In today’s world we are bombarded with slogans like, “Live life to the full by using such and such product!” And, for most of us – even those of us who are ‘professional religious’ – death is not something that we strive toward. So what are we to do with all these teachings of Jesus about dying to self in order to live in the spirit?

In the first place we would be considered idiots if we denied that death existed or that there might be a way ‘around it.’ Jesus’ words, “if you love your life (in this world) you most certainly will lose it” need to be understood in order that we do not lose heart. When anyone speaks about ‘loving his life’ what does that person really mean?

If ‘loving our life’ means despising death then we have missed the point. After all, none of us will be able to avoid coming face to face with our own end. So what are we supposed to do?

The first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that we should place more emphasis on how we prepare to die rather than on how we expend our energy on living. Does this mean we have to become like ‘Mortisha’ and walk around dressed in black and looking like we are already dead? I think not.

When Jesus talks about ‘dying’ he most often puts it in the context of a seed falling to the earth – buried in the good soil – in order – for it to rise to a new life. So, bottom line, we need to seek that good soil. Live our life while walking on the path (or road or Way) that leads us more and more toward the Kingdom. As we make our way through life we – excuse the pun – must ‘put on a happy face.’ We’re not people who have no purpose in life but people who have come to know that, since we cannot escape death we in some way need to embrace it by a life that reflects our awareness that we are on our way to the kingdom.

Not many of us are going to be able to imitate the life of St. Lawrence and I don’t know what I would say if placed on the grill. Most likely, “Get me out of here, Lord!” So, what made it possible for him to say, rather, “I’m done. Turn me over.”

The answer has to be his relationship with the living Jesus. Losing our life in this world is to see the Glory of the next while we are on the way. Let us pray for the ability to have a peek into Heaven so that we might say, “I’m ready. Beam me up, Jesus!” Amen.

August 9, 2017 – Wednesday in the 18th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Benedicta of the Cross (October 12, 1891 – August 9, 1942)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Numbers 13:1-2, 25 14:1 …26-29..34-35 – Psalm 51 – Matthew 15:21-28

“Then Jesus said in reply, ‘O Woman great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed from that hour.” (Matthew 15:28)

At first glance at the Holy Scriptures that are presented to us today we might not come away very encouraged. The first Scripture reading from the Book of Numbers (notice that it really does hop, skip and jump through this 13th chapter) doesn’t give us a very loving picture of God’s desire to lead the people into the Promised Land. So we need to look below the surface to see what God is really doing with His “Chosen People.”

 In the first place He is trying to get them to understand that He is always with them. Remember, they’re the ones who wander around and get into trouble and it’s almost as if He’s saying – like a frustrated parent – “You want to see trouble? I’ll show you trouble!”

 Most of the time, the difficulties that we find ourselves in are the result of our own desire to “do it my way!”

In today’s Holy Gospel it appears that this Canaanite woman is, at first just a bother to Jesus. But she persists and refutes Jesus’ claim that it’s not right to “take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” But she goes on and says, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

 Be careful not to miss a couple of important points in this story: this non-Jewish women has some awareness of Jesus and calls Him Lord and only asks for the scrapes of His healing power which gains her Jesus’ response, “O woman, great is your faith … and her daughter was healed from that hour.”

 Once again we are shown that it only takes a faith the size of a mustard seed to experience the healing, loving power of Jesus. Never give up on God! He never gives up on us! Amen!

August 8, 2017 – Tuesday in the 18th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Dominic (August 8, 1170 – August 6, 1221)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Numbers 12:1-13 – Psalm 51 – Matthew 14:22-36

A note about today’s Liturgy

Since today’s “saint” is the founder of the World-Wide Religious Order – “The Dominicans” – also, formally known as “The Order of Friars Preachers” places staffed by Dominicans will have special scripture readings as listed below:

Isaiah 52:7-10 – Psalm 96 – 2 Timothy 4:1-8 – Matthew 5:13 – 19

There is something very special when we come to celebrate this Feast of Our Holy Father, Dominic. We both look back to contemplate his life and look here and forward to our own living out of the heritage he left us. The main difference, though, is the fact that HE is a saint and most of us are still on the road struggling to live our lives as he did.

In doing this, however, we must remember that Dominic was a product of his time and we are trying to follow him with our feet planted in the 21st Century. We simply can’t just pluck him out of his time and drop him into our era. So… how do we manage to live in the ‘Spirit of Dominic’ in this, our age?

In the first place we might look at those familiar ‘Four Pillars’ that he based the foundation of the Order upon: Prayer, Study, (in) Community and Ministry. It is my firm belief that if we put our focus on these basics – and kept them in their proper order – we, too, could be successful in our lives and ministry.

Dominic is known for his ‘Nine forms of prayer’ which involve the total person. In other words, he was distinct from the Albegensians (who saw the body and material things as evil) and he let his prayer be supported by his bodily actions of bowing and imploring the mercy of God.

Our problem is that we often let our prayer life slide into a minimalistic place and then wonder why we’re not successful in our pursuit of study, our living in community, and our ministry. The words of Dominic – which I think are based on Ephesians 4:28 (let all your words be for the building up of the community) – in which he is quoted as saying, “I wish only to speak either TO or ABOUT God.” Think about it: he based his entire life on that principle and at the same time was able to travel all over the then-known world as a very successful preacher and founder of many communities of both women and men.

It is very much like G K Chesterton’s statement: “It’s not that Christianity has be tried and failed. It’s that Christianity HASN’T really been tried!”   In so many ways we modern-day Dominicans haven’t really TRIED to emulate the wisdom of our Holy Father Dominic. Let’s give it a try and see what happens. But you better prepare yourself for a roller-coaster ride into the Kingdom once you have opened yourself to the Grace and Mercy of God! Amen!

 

August 7, 2017 – Monday in the 18th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Cajetan (October 1, 1480 – August 7, 1547

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Numbers 11:4b – 15 – Psalm 81 – Matthew 14:13-21

“God will provide!” All of us have a tendency to enjoy being disgruntled about the way things turn out. The Israelites don’t like the Manna that God has provided for them. They would rather prefer the “flesh-pots of Egypt’s slavery. When God provides for us do we have the right to complain that we don’t like what has been done for us? When gifts are given they must be received. “Gift” is the key word here. On the Hillside Jesus multiplies 5 loves and 2 fish and not only feeds 15,000 (5,000 men, 5,000 women and 5,000 children minimum) But there is enough left over to fill 12 wicker baskets! All these people had followed Jesus eager for His words of wisdom (is not this the carpenters’ son?) & for healing & release from a type of slavery. They threw all” caution to the wind” in getting out to the hillside only thinking of being with Jesus not about what they were to eat. We, however, want to know the whole story and want to see the 5-year plan before we take off on a whim. Can we get ourselves to that place where we can know & trust God to provide and not complain that we don’t like the taste of the food that He has given? We Dominicans of the Western Province should have this day as our “Feast Day” since the “motto of our Province is: “God will provide!” a very simple verse but one that all of us need to meditate on and take to heart. All of us might benefit if we made these three words part of our “morning offering” prayers as we begin another day of trying to follow the Lord as best we can. We all need to be reminded that it’s not by might or our own cleverness that we are able to follow the Lord, but, rather, by the gift of His grace which He pours out to us all the time. Today’s “Alleluia Verse” should be our theme song: “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God!” Amen!

August 6, 2017 – Transfiguration of the Lord

Transfiguration of the Lord

“clic” on the link above: to read about today’s celebration.

Click here for today’s Scripture readings:

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 – Psalm 97 – 2 Peter 1:16 – 19 – Matthew 17:1-9

“When Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.           (1 John 3:2)

-This Feast is one of my favorite feasts as it is a peek into the other side of reality. The Light of Heaven’s Glory shines through and in Jesus. In the Funeral Liturgy the reading from 1st John tells us, “… life is changed, not ended. What we are to become has not yet be revealed to us.”

In these days when we are recounting the Exodus of the Israelites with all the problems and infidelity that they experienced, it’s good for us to have this Feast of Encouragement so that we don’t despair along the way. We are reminded that “from glory to glory He’s changing me from earthly things to the Heavenly.” Our journey through life is just like that of the Israelites and all of us have “fallen short of the Glory of God” but we don’t despair and just wallow in our failings or sins. Jesus has transformed us too! All we have to do is go with Him up the mountain and enter into his Glory. That Transfiguration Light purges us of all our weakness and allows US to hear those same words of God: “YOU are my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.” Amen!

August 5, 2017 – Saturday in the 17th Week of the Church Year

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”  (Today’s Alleluia Verse.)

A note about yesterday’s “reflection:” Every once in a while we have to be reminded that the glories of the computer are not without occasional glitches when they try to show us that they are really the ones in charge. Don’t ask me how Friday’s reflection got lost. It was written but somehow I must have hit the wrong button and didn’t even notice. But, in keeping with one of my oft repeated sayings, “We can’t always go back and maybe someone needed to hear those words a second time.” (At least, that’s the excuse that I’m using!) Here, though is the correct reflection for Saturday!

Today’s Feast: Dedication of Saint Mary Major Basilica

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Leviticus 25:1, 8-17 – Psalm 67 – Matthew 14:1-12

“The earth has yielded its fruits; God, our God, has blessed us. May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear him!” (Psalm 67:7-8)

 In the liturgies for weekdays the Holy Scripture readings are not automatically complimentary of each other. At this time we are going through the OT Book of Leviticus and the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. Each of these scriptures is more or less presented sequentially and the Responsorial Psalm is chosen to be a kind of “bridge” between the two. Sometimes it seems to work easily; other times – like today – it’s a bit harder to see any connection. Let me see what I can come up with.

The bottom line of this passage from Leviticus has as its “goal” justice for all and it goes to great lengths to lie out the exact manner in which this can be achieved. But we all know that “true justice” requires a deeper base than written law can give.

In today’s Holy Gospel, Herod – pleased with the dance of the daughter of Herodias – makes an outlandish statement in front of all his guests – “I will give you whatever you might ask for!” This reminds me of the “wish of Midas” to turn anything he touched into gold and what that actually brought him! I have to ask, “What did seeing the head of John the Baptist on a platter do for the daughter of Herodias?” What does storing up barns full of wheat do for a person who doesn’t have charity for others?

I have to come back to a verse from Deuteronomy (Deut. 30:19) “Behold! I set before you life and death… Choose life that you might live!”

 Something for us to think about: what do I really want God to do for me? And don’t forget that other saying, “Put your mind in gear before you engage your mouth!” Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 3, 2017 – Thursday in the 17th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: John Vianney (May 8, 1786 – August 4, 1859)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Exodus 40:16-21,34-38 – Psalm 84 – Matthew 13:47-53

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!” (Today’s Psalm response)

Today we come to the end of our trek through Exodus and are given a description of the ‘dwelling place of God’ who is always with us on our journey. We are also reminded, once again, of one of the images of ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ in a repeat of the parable of the “Kingdom” using the image of a great dragnet in the sea. Then, this passage ends with the words, “…[we should be like] the head of the household who brings out of his storeroom things both old and new.”

While the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness they constructed a portable ‘sanctuary’ for the Ark but we know that eventually they ‘settled’ and constructed Solomon’s Temple. Maybe they were thinking, “that was old: this is new!”

When Jesus uses those words I think he means that we should always be able to both look back – to see where we’ve come from – and look ahead to where we are going. Again: not either or but both and. There is a growing movement within our Church by some people to go back – not in the sense of ‘remembering’ but in the sense of saying ‘that was the golden age and we should never have left it.’ This is not what is meant when Jesus says these words. The Israelites not only had to leave Egypt. They had to enter into the promised land. Now we’re back to Moses first encounter with God who says, “I AM” Not, “I WAS” or “I WILL BE” but “I AM” [with you till the end of the age.] When the Israelites got settled (out of the wilderness) they didn’t continue to build a “tent” to house God’s presence but, instead, built the Beautiful Temple in Jerusalem. How do we get on that thin line of remembrance (of where we’ve come from) but always with the thought that we are still ‘on the way.’

We can never forget where we’ve come from and all the ways that God has watched over our journey and blessed us. And we can never forget that he promised to be with us till the end of time. How do we get to that point where we can say, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Were not our hearts burning within us as we recognized Jesus?” Amen!

August 3, 2017 – Thursday in the 17th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Peter Julian Eymard (February 4, 1811 – August 1, 1868)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38 – Psalm 84 – Matthew 13:47-53

“Bless the Lord, O my soul and never forget all his benefits.” Ps. 103

Today we come to the end of our trek through Exodus and are given a description of the ‘dwelling place of God’ who is always with us on our journey. We are also reminded, once again, of one of the images of ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ in a repeat of the parable of the “Kingdom” using the image of a great dragnet in the sea. Then, this passage ends with the words, “…[we should be like] the head of the household who brings out of his storeroom things both old and new.”

While the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness they constructed a portable ‘sanctuary’ for the Ark but we know that eventually they ‘settled’ and constructed Solomon’s Temple. Maybe they were thinking, “that was old: this is new!”

When Jesus uses those words I think he means that we should always be able to both look back – to see where we’ve come from – and look ahead to where we are going. Again: not either or but both and. There is a growing movement within our Church by some people to go back – not in the sense of ‘remembering’ but in the sense of saying ‘that was the golden age and we should never have left it.’ This is not what is meant when Jesus says these words. The Israelites not only had to leave Egypt. They had to enter into the promised land. Now we’re back to Moses first encounter with God who says, “I AM” Not, “I WAS” or “I WILL BE” but “I AM” [with you till the end of the age.] When the Israelites got settled (out of the wilderness) they didn’t continue to build a “tent” to house God’s presence but, instead, built the Beautiful Temple in Jerusalem. How do we get on that thin line of remembrance (of where we’ve come from) but always with the thought that we are still ‘on the way.’

We can never forget where we’ve come from and all the ways that God has watched over our journey and blessed us. And we can never forget that he promised to be with us till the end of time. How do we get to that point where we can say, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Were not our hearts burning within us as we recognized Jesus?” Amen!

August 2, 2017 – Wednesday in the 17th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Eusebius of Vercelli (c 300 – August 1, 371)

Scripture Readings for todays Liturgy:

Exodus 34:29-35 – Psalm 99 – Matthew 13:44-46

As we continue our journey through the Book of Exodus we are shown how Moses’ outward appearance was changed because of his face-to-face encounter with God. Putting this up against today’s Holy Gospel, we might be able to say, “The Kingdom of heaven is like our meeting up with Jesus on the road.” The two disciples on the road to Emmaus end up saying, “Were not our hearts burning within as he spoke to us…”(Luke 24:32) and I might imagine that their faces were like the face of Moses after he was speaking with God. As I jump ahead to think what our “bottom line” might be I keep two things in mind: if our encounter with God/Jesus doesn’t change us in some way we will need to look more closely at what it was that we encountered and why that didn’t substantially change us. The other point could be a quote from our Holy Father Dominic, who is famous for his statement, “I wish only to either speak to or about God.” How many of us can make that claim? Yet any encounter with God/Jesus must change us in some way or we might have to go back and review what we thought was a genuine encounter.

St. Ignatius of Loyola – who’s feast we celebrated lsat week is well known for his “Spiritual Exercises” which rely heavily on our ability to envision what our encounters with God are all about. He encourages us to let our imagination explode with all the wonder of God’s glory in any ways possible so that we are changed from the inside out. Just for today, try thinking of ways you could complete your own “word pictures” of: “for me, the Kingdom of Heaven is …” and see if this helps you have a better understanding of God’s love for you. Thank you Jesus!

August 1, 2017 – Tuesday in the 17th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Alphonsus Liguori (September 27, 1696 – August 1, 1787)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Exodus 33:7-11;34:5b-9, 28 ; Psalm 103 : Matthew 13:36-43

Today the Church offers us the continuing story of the Exodus – and the up and down, in and out journey of the Israelites – and a continuation of the section from Matthews Gospel on the parables and the meaning of the wheat and weeds. Then, there’s also the celebration of the memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori one of the early followers of St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus – also more commonly called “The Jesuits.”

Yesterday, because of the Sunday celebration we didn’t hear the episode of Moses destroying the tablets because of the Israelites fascination with worshipping the Golden Calf. Now they are given a second chance. I have always been attracted to this story of the Exodus since it so mirrors our own journeys that vacillate between heartfelt following of God and the inevitable wandering into our own fancies.

The Gospel gives us a repeat of an explanation of the parable of the wheat and weeds which we’ve heard before. Remember, the word “explanation” means to “flatten out.” And that’s like trying to explain a joke: if you have to explain it you’ve failed in making it a joke!

Charles Read (don’t know who he is) has said, “Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” God sows good seed into our lives and we are left with the responsibility to nurture that in a way that it will yield a fruitful harvest. The Israelites were given every opportunity to know God’s presence in their lives yet they failed to follow through time after time. Still, God did not abandon them and was patient with their fickleness. This should be an encouragement to all of us: God never gives up on us. In the Gospels Jesus tells us, “Come unto me, all who are wearied and over burdened and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

He doesn’t say, “I will put my bit in your mouth and whip you into subjection” but rather I will be teamed up with you and carry half the burden with you and usually this means he will carry more than his share of our worries. And God, who knows us better than we ourselves knows exactly how much we can bare and never gives us more than we can handle. Say “Amen!”