January 12, 2018 – Friday in the 1st Week of the Church year

Saint for the day: Marguerite Bourgeoys (April 17, 1620 – January 12, 1700)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22a – Ps. 89:16 – 19 – Mark 2:1-12

What is that familiar saying? “No man – or woman – is an island unto themselves” Rich or poor, we all depend on others in some way or other. In God’s eyes, monetary status is not what brings us into the healing – or growing – presence of God/Jesus. In fact, we know that Jesus, himself, will say “how hard it will be for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God

 My Western Dominican Province has a legendary character, Blessed Jedidiah of Cle Elum (a lumbering town in Washington state) who sought entrance into the Dominicans way back in the 1800’s. He arrived at the novitiate with just the clothes on his back and a small bindle stiff on his shoulders. But he was a few days early and they told him that he wouldn’t be able to stay just yet. With that he stated his now famous personal mantra, “I ain’t never asked nothing from nobody,” and went off to camp in the marshes of Benicia until the day he could enter as a novice.

The fact that he’s a “blessed” is based on his dramatic conversion wherein he discovered that if he clung to his “motto” he would never achieve true holiness. The reality In all our lives is that we are all dependent on others whether we are rich or poor. It will be those around us – the friends of the paralyzed man – who will help us get to Jesus where we can experience his healing presence. Bl. Jedidiah had to come to the understanding that he needed others to lower (or lift) him into Jesus’ presence. All of us need a few friends who will lead us to Jesus. None of us can make it totally on our own. “Therefore, let us strive to enter into His rest.” Amen!

January 12, 2018 – Friday in the 1st Week of the Church Year

 

Saint for the day: Marguerite Bourgeoys (April 17, 1620 – January 12, 1700)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

  • Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22a – Ps. 89:16 – 19 – Mark 2:1-12

What is that familiar saying? “No man – or woman – is an island unto themselves” Rich or poor, we all depend on others in some way or other. In God’s eyes, monetary status is not what brings us into the healing – or growing – presence of God/Jesus. In fact, we know that Jesus, himself, will say “how hard it will be for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God

 My Western Dominican Province has a legendary character, Blessed Jedidiah of Cle Elum (a lumbering town in Washington state) who sought entrance into the Dominicans way back in the 1800’s. He arrived at the novitiate with just the clothes on his back and a small bindle stiff on his shoulders. But he was a few days early and they told him that he wouldn’t be able to stay just yet. With that he stated his now famous personal mantra, “I ain’t never asked nothing from nobody,” and went off to camp in the marshes of Benicia until the day he could enter as a novice.

The fact that he’s a “blessed” is based on his dramatic conversion wherein he discovered that if he clung to his “motto” he would never achieve true holiness. The reality In all our lives is that we are all dependent on others whether we are rich or poor. It will be those around us – the friends of the paralyzed man – who will help us get to Jesus where we can experience his healing presence. Bl. Jedidiah had to come to the understanding that he needed others to lower (or lift) him into Jesus’ presence. All of us need a few friends who will lead us to Jesus. None of us can make it totally on our own. “Therefore, let us strive to enter into His rest.” Amen!

Jan. 11, 2018 – Thursday in the 1st Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Blessed William Carter (c. 1548 – January 11, 1584

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 4:1-11 – Psalm 44 – Mark 1:40-45

“Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.” (Today’s Psalm response verse for Psalm 44)

 The verse, above, form today’s Responsrial Psalm might be important for us to meditate upon as we make our way in to this new liturgical year. However, it doesn’t look very good for the Israelites in our first scripture reading from 1 Samuel where we learn that they were not very successful in their fight with the Philistines and ended up loosing thirty thousand foot soldiers. This is all part of the story of “God’s Chosen people were like many from their own time who expended a great part of their lives fighting one enemy or another in order to get to some kind of promised land. The bottom line in all of this has to be a warning to all of us that warring and plundering is never going to be the way for us to find our way to God. We don’t have to look very far in our own time to see that warring is not the way to be found by a God who wants to save us and lead us to the Promised Land.

When are we going to understand what our “walk with the Lord” is all about? Today’s Holy Gospel might give us – yet another way to look at our Christian lives: how many times have we heard the words of Jesus say things like this: “caring for those who have no one to help them.” Reaching out to those who are downfallen; Giving a drink of water to someone thirsty. Etc. etc. Just take a moment to think of ways you might reach out to someone in some kind of need and give them some hope – which doesn’t cost you anything. Just think of all the ways you could bring help and hope to someone you know. Maybe, it’s just by being kind to someone who perhaps doesn’t have any caring family to help them know that they are someone in need of a touch of love and care. It usually doesn’t ever cost us anything so it’s well worth the effort. “Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.” (Today’s “Responsorial verse to Psalm 44)

 

Jan. 11, 2018 – Thursday in the 1st Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Blessed William Carter (c. 1548 – January 11, 1584

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Samuel 4:1-11 – Psalm 44 – Mark 1:40-45

“Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.” (Today’s Psalm response verse for Psalm 44)

 The verse, above, form today’s Responsrial Psalm might be important for us to meditate upon as we make our way in to this new liturgical year. However, it doesn’t look very good for the Israelites in our first scripture reading from 1 Samuel where we learn that they were not very successful in their fight with the Philistines and ended up loosing thirty thousand foot soldiers. This is all part of the story of “God’s Chosen people were like many from their own time who expended a great part of their lives fighting one enemy or another in order to get to some kind of promised land. The bottom line in all of this has to be a warning to all of us that warring and plundering is never going to be the way for us to find our way to God. We don’t have to look very far in our own time to see that warring is not the way to be found by a God who wants to save us and lead us to the Promised Land.

When are we going to understand what our “walk with the Lord” is all about? Today’s Holy Gospel might give us – yet another way to look at our Christian lives: how many times have we heard the words of Jesus say things like this: “caring for those who have no one to help them.” Reaching out to those who are downfallen; Giving a drink of water to someone thirsty. Etc. etc. Just take a moment to think of ways you might reach out to someone in some kind of need and give them some hope – which doesn’t cost you anything. Just think of all the ways you could bring help and hope to someone you know. Maybe, it’s just by being kind to someone who perhaps doesn’t have any caring family to help them know that they are someone in need of a touch of love and care. It usually doesn’t ever cost us anything so it’s well worth the effort. “Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.” (Today’s “Responsorial verse to Psalm 44)

 

January 10, 2018 – Wed. in the 1st Week of the Church Year

 Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

1st Samuel 3:1-10 – 19 -20 – Psalm 40 – Mark 1: 29-39

“Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. (today’s Holy Gospel according to St.Mark)

 We’re still in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel and we can see that crowds of people are following him with their sick and hurting people who are in need of his healing touch. “The whole town was gathered at the door.” Most of us who feel called to follow Jesus in some way or other would probably stay around thinking, “how could I turn my back on people in need?” Yet Jesus gives us a very important lesson that we need to pay attention to. If He, who is God Incarnate, could do all things and heal everyone with a sweep of His holy arm, pauses to go off to a deserted place to pray … who do we think we are to skip this important part of our following of Him? If the entire town was crowding around our door step most of us would stay there trying our best to meet the needs of all those people. Yet the example that Jesus gives us is that we need to keep our focus on God – through prayer – in order to have the where-with-all to carry out the mission of healing sick and hurting people that knock at our door. Sadly, though, the first thing that most of us drop when the demands of ministry become great is our prayer. I think I just mentioned this the other day but I always remember the time I encountered a young man when I was on my way to our Evening Prayer. He said, “Brother, I just need to talk to someone … I’m really in a bad spot.” When I told him that I was on my way to prayer he immediately shot back, “…Oh, yes. Go. We need you to pray. My problem will last and I can see you later. But please, go and pray for me!”   Prayer is the first “pillar” of our Dominican Spirituality yet it is often the first thing to get dropped. If Jesus, who is God, realized that he needed to fortify himself with prayer how much more do we mortals need to follow his example? Amen?

January 9, 2018 – 1st Week of Ordinary Time

A note about today’s Liturgy: Because the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord was on Monday (the 1st Week of Ordinary time) the omitted scriptures assigned to yesterday may be joined to the scriptures assigned for today so that the continuity is not lost. I’ll leave it up to you to look up those scriptures if you decide to “catch up” at this starting of a new Liturgical year.

 I’ll leave it up to individuals to make the necessary connections and go ahead with the reflection for today, Tuesday in the 1st week of Ordinary time.

The Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy are as follows:

1st Book of Samuel 1:9-20 – Psalm 1 Samuel 2:1 8 – Mark 1:14-20

 “The Kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the Gospel.”

 Our Holy Scriptures are often like a can of worms. Once you start fooling around with them you often find yourself more confused than enlightened. Once the Church began to move some of the celebrations connected with Christmas cycle we sometimes were left at odds about how we move from Christmas, to Epiphany, to fit it all in. So, today, we’re being invited to “catch up” since yesterday was the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord with scriptures that were specific to that celebration. That’s why the Church allows yesterday’s regular cycle to be added on to today’s selection so we don’t miss any important points.

What is man that you should care for him… yet you have crowned him with Glory and Honor.”

God, who holds the waters of the ocean in His hands: how great thou art. One of the “perks” to living in San Francisco is the proximity to the Ocean where I can get on a pleasant bike ride through Golden Gate Park. There is something beautiful about sitting at the edge of the world – or at least at one of the edges and looking out at the vast expanse of Ocean. I can only marvel at God’s handy work. The tide comes in to let us see how hard God works trying His best to clean up the white sands coast that we have littered with all our man-made junk which is not of His creation and which He can’t break down in His “washing-machine-like cleaning process. We can’t blame God for all the things that are going bad in the world for we have caused so many of them by our careless attitude about the junk we have created. If we were more in tune with God’s creation things might be better. God set this world up to be self-sustaining and it would work if we were more in harmony with His ways. As the waves churn back and forth He is able to break down all the natural flotsam & Jetsam and re-cycle it back. It’s all the plastic junk that we’ve made – and tossed out that He can’t deal with. So… bottom line: harmony with God and all His creation is key to seeing the wonder of God who holds the waters of the oceans – and us – in the hollow of His hand. Amen!

January 6, 2018 – Saturday before Epiphany

January 6, 2018 Saturday  before Epiphany

Saint for the day: Andre Bessette (August 9, 1845 – January 6, 1937)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

1 John 5:5 – 13 – PS. 147 – Luke 3:23 – 38

Sorry, the links to the above scripture readings for today’s Liturgy don’t work. I hope this is only temporary.

 Now I think my computer is about to have some kind of breakdown and I’ll have to seek some outside heap. Maybe tomorrow will be a “brand new day!” Sorry about this

January 5, 2018 – Friday before Epiphany & 1st Friday

Saint for the day: John Neumann (March 28, 1811 – January 5, 1860)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 John 3:11-21 – Psalm 100: 1-5 – John 1:43-51

“Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” (1 John 3:15)

Those are pretty hard words and there’s not much way around them to soften them. Most of us would rather go back to the nice, quiet scene of the stable in Bethlehem rather than moving on. But our Gospel jumps us way ahead to where Jesus is beginning to assemble his chosen disciples. It’s obvious that we are at a “liturgical crossroads” and just when we’re about to celebrate the feast of Epiphany.

But we have to remember that the word, “Epiphany” means “manifestation” and that manifestation is that this “Baby Jesus” – with His little arms outstretched in welcoming both shepherds and Kings – is the same Jesus who is destined to stretch out His arms on the Cross for our salvation. And He won’t do this just alone and by himself but in the context of gathering “apostles” (ones who are sent) who will witness why He had to die on the cross in order that we might have life.

On this coming Sunday we celebrate Epiphany and then the following Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and then on January 20th were back to the “Second Sunday in Ordinary Time” and our march will ultimately lead us to the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Holy Week and Easter.

But first, let me interject a ‘footnote’ about the word “ordinary time.” There’s nothing “ordinary” about the way Jesus chooses his disciples or teaches them about His mission. Our use of the word, “ordinary” comes from the Latin word; “ordinal” which really translates “numbered” or “counted.”

I think it’s a shame that most of us think that we leave the wonder of the birth of our Messiah and slip into ordinariness Easter. There is nothing “ordinary” about our calling to until follow Jesus. It begins in the quiet of the Bethlehem Stable, passes through His death and resurrection and leaves us with His legacy “go out … I will meet you on the road.”

January 4, 2018 – Thursday before Epiphany

January 4, 2018

Saint for the day: Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 – 1821)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:1 John 3:7-10 – Psalm 98 – John 1:35-42

“What are you looking for?” (Today’s Holy Gospel according to St. John)

If the scriptures don’t raise questions in our thoughts then we are not really hearing them in any deep sense of the word. The scriptures are meant to explode in ways that draw us deeply into following Jesus in all ways.

n the early 60’s the Western Dominican Province acquired a southern California “Dude Ranch” to be established as our novitiate. Over the main entrance, the name of the place, “Comancious” was carved into the lintel. Most people pronounced the word as, “co-maa!- che-usbut it was really supposed to be pronounced, “come and see us!” We didn’t ever change that since it seemed appropriate for a novitiate where young men asking the question, “how can I find fulfillment in my life” “come and see us” for themselves.

Today, the Church quickly switches gears from the Christmas celebrations to the call and meaning of “discipleship” and asks and answers the question, “What are you looking for?” with the answer, “come and see us.”

Behind this question is my oft quoted saying of my friend, Fr. Richard Roah, “Where your thoughts go in your idle moments … there is your treasure!” Scary, isn’t it? I often tell people that when I close my eyes – say in prayer – it’s like fireworks flashing with all kinds of thoughts bouncing off the walls of my brain: some very wonderful and pious; others of a much lower caliber. This is where we need to work on those words of St. Paul, “let your minds be renewed in Christ.”

“What am I looking for?” “How do I answer that?” These are the questions of the day. Today’s “saint,” Elizabeth Ann Seton got to a point in her life where she faced – and answered – these questions in a remarkable fashion. But she didn’t do that just on her own. Her conversion and success in founding a religious community and establishing the parochial school system in the US began with her belief and focus on the Eucharist. She “went to Jesus,” found where He lived. And stayed with Him. We can look at any of the lives of saints and find this same pattern. Most of us don’t even ask that first question and therefore don’t go to “check it out” and wonder why we are not making headway in our Christian walk. Today, I pray that Jesus would transform the “fireworks” inside my head into a “theophany of God’s loving presence” and keep me on the path to the Kingdom. Bottom line: “what are we really looking for?”