June 14, 2017 – Wednesday in the 10th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Albert Chmielowski (August 20, 1845 – December 25, 1916)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

2 Corinthians 3:4-11   –   Psalm 99   –   Matthew 5:17-19

“Jesus said to his disciples; ‘whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 5:18)

 Today’s Holy Gospel could be a problem for some if they take this passage without considering all of Jesus’ teachings. It’s important for us to “look back” but only in so far as we do this to see where we are going. Whenever I hear people bemoaning the state of the Church in these times and they say to me, “I wish we could go back to the way it was,” I stop them in their tracks and ask them to be specific: “How far would you go back?”

 Going back – or un-doing the fabric of faith that has been woven for our journey TO the Kingdom will do nothing to make our life of following Jesus any easier.

The ending of today’s Holy Gospel – “… whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven” seems to be our “key.” What is the “commandment” that Jesus gives us? We go back to the Last Supper where we hear Jesus say, “I give you a new commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.” And note that Jesus says this in the context of washing the feet of His disciples! I don’t think it was accidental that Jesus gave His best show of what it means to follow Him by washing feet of His disciples. Many of us would rather jump ahead to ministries of eloquent words rather than have to wash feet.

Many of us can “talk up a good show” but Jesus doesn’t seem to be looking for that. If you want to be great in the Kingdom become the servant of all.” Amen!

June 13, 2017 – Tuesday in the 10th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Anthony of Padua (1195 – June 13, 1231)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

2 Corinthians 1:18-22    –    Psalm 119    –    Matthew 5:13-16

“Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)

 The above captioned quote is from the end of today’s Holy Gospel and very fitting for this time since I just celebrated my 76th Birthday! Even as I sit here and think about what to say I have to be honest and tell you that I never in my wildest imaginations ever thought about living this long. It hit me, though, that I’m now as old as my father was when I looked at him and said, “I don’t think I’ll ever be as old as that!” Yet here I am. And on this day, I will focus on today’s Responsorial Psalm, 119 which I hope can be my theme psalm for this coming year as I head for my 77th!

The Psalm beings with the verse, “Lord, let you face shine on me” which is repeated six times during the recitation of the psalm. It goes on, Wonderful are your decrees; therefore I observe them. The revelation of your words sheds light, gives understanding to the simple. I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands. Turn to me in pity as you turn to those who love your name. Steady my footsteps according to your promise and let no iniquity rule over me. Let your countenance shine upon your servants and teach me your statutes. “Lord, let your face shine on me!” Today’s Holy Gospel could also be a part of my prayer for today: a reminder to all of us to “be the salt of the earth, and light of the wo

June 12, 2017 – Mon, in the 10th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Blessed Jolenta (Yolanda) of Poland (c. 1235 – June 11, 1298)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

2 Corinthians 1:1-7    –    Psalm 34    –    Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3ff)

 The quote above from today’s first Scripture reading is long, and, in typical Pauline fashion, is one, long sentence! But I think it holds the key to our understanding of today’s Holy Gospel where we hear Jesus proclaim The Beatitudes.

In the quote above, notice that the word, encourage or encouragement appears five times and would seem to be the key to understanding the Beatitudes. Many spiritual directors might suggest that we approach the Beatitudes in various different forms such as, “when am I ‘poor in spirit’” or “how am I poor in spirit? That’s a good spiritual exercise but we always need to let the Holy Scriptures explode in as many ways as possible.

Another way might be to take that quote above and put it into “active voice” and then read the Beatitudes with the question, “How have I encouraged the poor in spirit? How have I encouraged those who mourn? Have I been a source of encouragement to those who are persecuted?”

 If we can see this new way of following the Beatitudes in just a few of these statements we should be able to experience the ending of today’s Holy Gospel: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” Amen!

June 11, 2017 – Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

June 11, 2017 – Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Exodus 34:4b -6,8-9 –  Daniel 3:53-56 – 2 Corinthians 13:11-13  –  John 3:16-18

“If I find favor with you, oh, Lord, do come along with (us) for we are a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 34:9)

 If Moses, who came the closest of any to actually encountering God, admits that he is part of a ‘stiff-necked people’ then it follows that we, too, ‘stiff-necked’ as we are, should find hope as we make our roundabout journey through the desert of our own lives.   This Feast of the Most Holy Trinity tries to show us the extent of God’s love for his people: in the way he created us even knowing that we would stray from that love and then taking us back 70 times 7 times. Even with that in mind I think it’s good for us to go back to the very beginning and see, in some sense, that God the Father wanted to create a world and a people who would reflect his perfect love. God’s Spirit blows the breath of life into the first human beings and God looked about and said, “It is good!” even knowing what would eventually happen. We might even say that it was God’s sorrow that brought about the Son’s redemptive presence. And there in a nutshell we have a beginning concept of the Trinity. And the story goes on.

Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” And that’s after Peter has denied Jesus at his arrest. Remember, it’s upon Peter that Jesus entrusts the leadership of His Church. In today’s second scripture reading from Corinthians St. Paul says, “In the meantime, we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2nd Corinthians 13:11)

Then we can easily see the presence of the Holy Spirit which keeps it all together: hovering over the chaos of our lives and bringing those fruits of his presence: love, joy, peace, patients, goodness, self-control. If we would live in the Trinity we must allow the Holy Spirit to bring those fruits into our lives. Without that we are nothing but a clanging gong! In the end, though, we have to complete our journey through this earth before we can fully understand and realize what the Holy Trinity really means.

They tell the story of a Bishop coming to a local church for confirmation. As was his custom, he asked the young folks, “Who can tell me what the Holy Trinity is?” A young person stood up and said something but the Bishop said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.” So the youngster gave the answer a second time, which the Bishop still said, “I can’t understand what you’re saying.” That was when the student almost shouted, “Of course you can’t understand! It’s a mystery!” And so we all continue to search for the fullness of understanding while we make our way to the Kingdom. That quote that I began today’s reflection with needs to be our own prayer: “If we find favor with you, oh, Lord, do come along with (us) for we are a stiff-necked people. Amen!”

June 10, 2017 – Saturday in the 10th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Blessed Joachima (1778 – 1854)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Tobit 12:1 ……20    –    Tobit 13:2, …..7-8    –    Mark 12:38-44

Dear faithful readers of Scratchpad Reflections I’ve had a slight computer problem and, at the last moment I somehow lost the reflection for today. You’ll just have to hold your breath and hope I get it right by tomorrow. Brother Daniel

June 8, 2017 – Thursday in the 9th week of the Church Year

 

Saint for the day: William of York (c. 1090 – June 8, 1154)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Tobit 6:10-11 ….8:4-9    –    Psalm 128 –    Mark 12:28-34

“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. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (The “Shema Israel.” Deuteronomy 6:4)

 When Jesus gives the questioning scribe the answer that he knew he already knew (every good Jew – if he didn’t know anything else – would know the “Shema Israel”) He ends by saying, “You are not from the Kingdom of God.”

How many of us can honestly say that we follow that basic precept: “love God with all your: soul; mind; strength … and your neighbor as (you love) yourself?”

If we stop and take that statement apart we might get a better insight into the depth of those words.

“With all your heart!” That place where our life force is generated. The heart which pumps life into every part of our body even to the tips of our little finger. When “neighbor” asks us for something they might use the phrase, “Have a heart… help me!”

 “with all your soul” that part of us which is made in the image and likeness of God. That which makes us an extension of God’s Love and should allow us to see things as God sees them.

“with all your mind” which brings us just a little further down the road of our understanding of what it is that makes this the “greatest of the commandments” heart, soul and clear thinking.  Then comes “strength!”

 Sometimes when we have scripture passages like these it’s important that we keep them in the order in which they are given. If we just approach situations starting with our strength we’re more like a fighter than an extension of God’s love.

Just for today, try to reflect on what these four “commandments” mean in your life. Ask yourself, “how do I love God ….; when do I love God…’ where do I love God? After you’ve done that you can say, Amen!

June 6, 2017 – Tuesday in the 9th Week of the Church Year

“One day with the Lord is as a thousand elsewhere!

As our Church moves into the season called “Ordinary Time” June 6, 2017 – Tuesday in the 9th Week of the Church Year I find myself in an unique period that I’ll call, “Un-ordinary time.” It all centers around the fact that I am away from my home base in San Francisco and spending a few days of Easer Break

On the California Coast. Being at this lovely, picturesque spot is always a wonderful time for me to re-charge my my own batteries while still be able to write my Scratchpad Reflections. This time, however, I seem to have neglected to include the “power cord” of my computer and I will not be able to post as I usually do the Evening before the actual date.

 

I think I’ll be able to get this reflection posted and I’ll have to see how long the batteries hold up. I’ll be here until Friday, June 9th and then I return to San Francisco. So, enjoy today’s post while it lasts and I’ll be back on line as soon as I get access to power. I think there might be a lesson in all of this that could be worked into our own reflection about the journey in following the Resurrected Lord. Amen!

June 5, 2017 – Monday in the 9th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day:  Boniface: (c. 675 – June 5, 744

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Tobit 1:3: 2;1a8    –    Psalm 112    –    Mark 12:1-12

In today’s Holy Gospel Jesus tells the story of a vineyard owner and the tenants who were hired to take care of it. In this story Jesus says, [the owner] had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’

We don’t have to be Scripture scholars to see the obvious connection between this “story” and the reality of God’s sending His only begotten Son into our world – “our vineyard.”

 We also get a lesson in “salvation history” as Jesus is pointing out the Old Testament history of all the “prophets” who came down though the ages trying to let the people see that it was God’s desire to create a “people of His own” who could flourish in the chosen land and be “the People of God.”

 But it’s not hard to see that history repeats itself even in our own time. We have all the gifts and abilities to be “the People of God” but we continue to – “cut off our noses in spite of our face” or, as another saying goes, “we shoot ourselves in the foot” in our attempt to have it our own way.

The age-old image of the vineyard seems to be the key to our understanding of our relationship to God who desires to have us be His People and to be like the choicest vines which produce much good, red wine! We, like the grape vines, have to spread out from our roots – a reminder of our commissioning to “Go out into all the world…” But we have to stay connected to the vine. The problem that most of us fall into is that we see how “blessed” we have been by being called the “children of God” and then, like the prodigal son we take off on our own – cutting all the ties to our heritage. When will we ever learn how important it is to stay connected to Jesus as the source of all of our fruitfulness? Something to think about. Amen!

June 4, 2017 – Pentecost Sunday

Today’s: Blessed Angeline of Marsciano (1376 – July 14, 1435

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 2:1-11   –   Psalm 104   –   1 Cor 12:3b – 7, 12-13   –   John 20:19-23

“There was a great wind. And suddenly the whole place where they were gathered shook. And Jesus stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me so I also send you.” And He breathed on them the breath of the Holy Spirit.”

Pentecost, in the first place, is a feast of the HS and, as such, is a feast of re-creation. It is a feast of re-ordering as when the Spirit hovered over the immensity of waters at creation. The HS brings order out of dis-order but not necessarily perfection. In other words, the HS at the time of creation set the world in order but also allowed it the freedom – the same freedom that was given to Adam and Eve – to “run its course.” In other words, God allows the world to play out, as it were, without keeping his finger in the pie all the time.

I loved that quote on the Feast of St. Ephrem that essentially said, God created Adam and Eve full-well knowing that they might stray from that perfect path of creation but also knowing that he would then be able to offer them the opportunity to come back to him. Remember, the tomb at the base of the 12th Station in Jerusalem is traditionally held to be the tomb of Adam which signifies that the death of Jesus brought redemption to all of his creation.

So, on this Feast of Pentecost we are reminded that the “creative love of God’s Spirit” is always there to re-create us and bring us back but not there to forbid us ever to deviate. God’s Spirit is always there but ever so patient to let us, like the Prodigal Son, to “have our way” full-well knowing that mercy and forgiveness are more powerful than staying locked in an upper room of fear. Amen!

June 3, 2017 – Saturday in the 7th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Charles Lwanga and companions. (d. 1885 – 1887)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 28: 16-20, 30-31    –    Psalm 11    –    John 21:20-25

“Jesus said, ‘What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?’” (John 21:22)

These words, quoted above from today’s Holy Gospel indicate a common concern of people of all times: we want to know the whole story and see the plan clearly laid out. Give us the answers to all our questions right now. And to all those concerns Jesus simply says, “YOU follow me!”

 These words follow pretty sequentially what we’ve been hearing in these days from the “Priestly Pray of Jesus” in John’s Gospel. To pick up on the theme of yesterday’s Holy Gospel, we know that this “following” of Jesus is meant to be a progressive following. We don’t say, “yes” and let it go at that but we say that “yes” that draws us more deeply into the love that Jesus has for us which is a love that begins with Jesus asking us if we love Him as “friends” – using the Greek word, ‘”Philip.” But we must progress to the “agape” level of being willing to lay down our lives. We need to remember that Jesus never promised us that we would never die but that we would gain eternal life in the Kingdom. I always like to remind people that even Lazarus who was raised from the dead after being in the grave for four day didn’t live forever! All the miracles that Jesus performed were just a means to an end and not the end in them. That’s why a “prosperity Gospel preaching” is so far off the mark. When Jesus speaks about “the Hundred Fold” He’s not talking in terms of monetary gain. He’s talking about the Kingdom. It should be encouraging for us to realize that even the disciples who were so close to Jesus had to struggle getting the essence of what it meant to follow Him. To all the other questions that they – and all of us might – have, Jesus simply said, “What concern is it of yours?”

 And with that we’re right back to the basic, “You follow me!” To this end, I like to use an image of us trying to keep up with Jesus. It’s like He’s in a speedboat and what we need to do is get close enough that we can easily travel in His “wake,” pulled along by the power of His love. Sure, there’s a little bouncing around but we’ll have a net gain in the end – staying close to Jesus on the way to the Kingdom. Don’t ask me where I came up with this concept but I think it might help us better understand the concept of “follow me” that Jesus desires of us all. And we might be able to grasp it a little more completely realizing that in yesterday’s Holy Gospel, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me” – as you would a friend (using the Greek word, “Phleos”) but ultimately drawing us closer and closer so that we are willing to go to the next level “Do you love me” in the lay-down-your-life kind of love –here He uses another Greek word – ”agapen” (or agape)?

I hope you can see – in both today’s and yesterday’s Holy Gospel that Jesus is not pushy. He’s leading us ever more deeply to that point where we can honestly love Him in that Agapen type love. Amen?