Feb. 13, 2018 – Tues. in the 6th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Giles Mary of St. Joseph (November 16, 1729 – February 7, 1812)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

James 1:12-18 – Psalm 94 – Mark 8:14-21

In the BBC series, “Planet Earth” I watched the segment “Oceans Deep” and was amazed that even the experts haven’t really grasped the vast realms of all the oceans.. I think of this as a simile for Heaven. Space is another side of the same equation: we haven’t even scratched the surface of the vastness of either the oceans or space. Yet we are busy disturbing both with our clumsy footprints. If I were God I think I’d really be ticked! I think I’d just let the people destroy it on their own – we are already well on the way – and then start over again.

If this scenario was to play out, how would God start over or would He just say, “That’s it! I’ve given them too many second chances. Now they’ve really blown it!” God might be angry but Jesus is the key to “pushing ahead.” But He gives us fair warning to be careful to avoid the yeast of the Pharisees – or Herod. Interesting that He puts the Pharisees & Herod in the same sentence: the religious absolutes & the absolute evil man-Herod.

Maybe this is a warning for us to be more honest in our “Religiosity” and to avoid evil deeds. The Pharisees couldn’t “see” Jesus because they were unable to look beyond the words of the Lord and therefore missed the word make flesh. Herod only saw everything as a potential risk to his ill-gotten fame and in the end he was eaten up from the inside by his own greed. The law is a means to an end not the end in itself. Leven in overdose kills rather than being that which subtly changes us into something beautiful for God. Amen!

Feb. 12, 2018 – Mon. in the 6th Week of the Church year.


Saint for the day:Apollonia – Died c. 249

Scripture Readings for today’s :Liturgy:

James 1:1-11 – Psalm 119 – Mark 8:11 – 13

“From Glory to Glory He’s changing me

In the opening of his letter, James says, “Consider it a joy when you encounter various trials since your faith is tested in this way.” This reminds me of something St. Theresa said, “Lord, if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!”

Trials and hardships are always there so we don’t have to look for them. The bottom line, though, is how we deal with them when they touch our lives in some kind of direct way. If we put the reading from James up against today’s Gospel which is asking for signs we might be able to get some clear understanding how all this fits together.

In this short Gospel they ask Jesus for a sign and we have to ask ourselves, “what are signs for?” When I’m moving around the city I only need signs when I’m not sure of where I’m going. When I know my destination I can almost get there with my eyes closed.

Jesus tells us, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” This, coupled with, “I will never leave you…” should be enough for us to stay close. Another quote from St. Theresa was on a bookmark found in her prayer book in which she had written: “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes.  Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices.”

 If we have this understanding and know where we are headed we should not be fearful about our lives. Jesus tells us that He goes to prepare a place for us and what we are to become has not yet been revealed. But we know, that when it is revealed we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He really is. Remind me to tell you about making pop corn last night and how amazing that transformation is. And I ended up singing, “From Glory to Glory He’s changing me…” Amen!

February 11, 2018 – 6th Sunday of the Church Year


Today’s Feast: Our Lady of Lourdes

Scripture Readings for today’s Feast

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46 – Ps 32 – 1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11-1

Mark 1:40 – 45

“What do you want of me, Lord?”

 Today’s Gospel story about the healing of the leper begins with the leper saying to Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” The Gospels only give us two instances where lepers are healed: this one and the one about the ten being healed with only one coming back to give thanks. Most of the healings in the Gospels begin with the person seeking the healing making the first move: “If I but touch the tassel of His robe…” Or, “Son of David, have pity on me.” And Jesus does want to make us whole. And this Gospel’s healing points out that Jesus places Himself in a potentially threatening position by reaching out to touch the leper which would have made him ritually impure in the sight of the S & P’s.

So what’s our “bottom line” in this story? If we only do “safe” things in our Christian walk we will be like the person who received the one talent: “I knew you were a clever man so I played it safe: here’s your one talent back. Nothing lost. Nothing gained.” And the guy gets thrown into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth!

Our walk with Jesus can never be just a stroll down “easy-street” as can be attested by the lives and deaths of the Church’s early martyrs. We have to be willing to go the extra mile knowing that Jesus promised to be with us all the way. The quote from GK Chesterton, “It’s not that Christianity has been tried and failed. It’s that it hasn’t really been tried.” Maybe we need to approach Jesus with, “If you wish you can make me a good follower…” and then stay there as He reaches out to touch your life with His healing hand. Amen.

February 10, 2018 – Sat. in the 5th week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Scholastica (c.480 – February 10, 542)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

1 Kings 12:26 ….34 – Ps 106:6 …22 – Mark 8:1-10

“Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!”

 As so often happens in our liturgies, today, we are given more than enough to contemplate. Even if we skip comment on St. Scholastica we still have the saga of the Israelites struggle to be the “chosen people of God” and this second telling of the “Miracle of the Loves and Fishes.”

In first place we have to understand that in order for God to break into our world He is bound to do that where we’re at. So, as in these OT accounts, God has to come to us – even if it’s in some desert place where we might have gotten caught up in local, pagan practices. Isn’t it encouraging, though, that He doesn’t just throw up His hands and say, “To Hell with you.”

“Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!”

 As so often happens in our liturgies, today, we are given more than enough to contemplate. Even if we skip comment on today’s saint we still have continuing saga of the Israelites struggle to be the “ chosen people of God” and this second telling of the “Miracle of the Loves and Fishes.”

Today’s Gospel of the “Miracle of the Loves” has garnered many interpretations down through the ages. Some would even go so far as to say the “miracle” was simply that Jesus was able to convenience the crowd, who actually had sufficient food hidden away, to share it with the others. I don’t like to take this stance and prefer to see this as a real miracle similar to God providing Manna for the Israelites as they wandered in the desert wasteland.

Miracles happen! Look at all the miracles that have happened at Lourdes. Sure, there are some who would say, “that wasn’t really a miracle the person just changed their inner attitude which brought about a physical healing.” To that I say, “Hey! A healings a healing.

So, when we look at this miracle of the loves and fishes the “miracle” is that the people were fed. How did God do that? I haven’t the slightest idea. But then, I don’t always understand all the ways in which God “acts” (or “miracles”) in my own life. The beauty of “miracles” is in the fact that they can’t always be taken apart.

Thomas, meeting the Risen Jesus, pokes his finger into the wounds of Jesus and simply says, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.” Let us not get caught in the endless circle of trying to “figure out” how God touches our lives bur, rather, rejoice that He does! Amen!

Friday, February 9, 2018

February 9, 2018 – Friday in the 5th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Jerome Emiliani (1486 – Feb. 8, 1537)

1 Kings 11:4-13 – Ps. 106 – Mark 7:24-30

A note to my faithful readers of Scratchpads

 I’m up against a slight computer problem which I should be able to fix soon. Thanks for you patience while I work out getting back on track.

            As ever Brother Daniel

February 8, 2018 – Thursday in the 5th week of Ordinary time

Saint for the day:Josephine Bakhita (c. 1869 – Feb. 8, 1947)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Kings 11:4-13 – Ps. 106 – Mark 7:24-30

Foreigners often play a significant role in the Gospel accounts of healings and cures, Our understanding of who is invited into Christ’s redeeming love is often put on the line. Our following of Jesus always stretches us beyond our own limited view of things.

In our reading from 1 Kings Solomon’s faith in the one God is challenged by his foreign wives who bring in their various “gods” for him to consider. He, like his father, David, falls out of favor with God but in the same way that God dealt with David, God holds back His wrath because He sees something worth saving. So, once again, we are reminded that we never see the total picture and often make our judgments based on fragmentary evidence. Remember how David was first called and how we are given that warning, “God doesn’t just look at the outward appearance but sees to the inner depth of the heart (my own, loose translation.) These stories remind us that we can have a kind of inter-action with God. In this Gospel, the Syrophoenician women gets into a “tet-a-tet” with Jesus. It reminds me of the same thing that happened when God was going to wipe out Sodom and Gomorrah “… what if there were ten less than…” We, on the other hand, jump to conclusions while God stretches his love and mercy to include rather than exclude.

All we have to do is look at any part of our world today where there is turmoil and we can see that at its root is some degree of a stance, “I’m inside and you’re outside and unacceptable.”

Our Scripture readings in these day before we begin Lent are telling us over and over again that we need to “put on the mind of Christ” and try as best we can to see with God’s eyes that there just might be something worth saving in …(here you can insert any person, place or thing) that God sees better than we do. Amen!

February 7, 2018 – Wed. in the 5th Week of the Church Year


Saint for the day: Colette (January 13, 1381 – March 6, 1447)


Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Kings 10:1-10 – Ps. 37 – Mark 7:14-23


“Pray for an ‘understanding heart.”


Today the Church gives us two very different examples of “wisdom:” the wisdom of Solomon or the (false) wisdom of the Pharisees. Two very different examples of who can become a saint. In today’s liturgy we are also given two very different approaches to our understanding of “wisdom.”   We remember hearing just a few days ago about Solomon, worried about how he was going to “step into his father, David’s, shoes to lead the ‘People of god’ and how he asked for an “understanding heart” and not riches or long life. Today, we hear Jesus telling the Pharisees that their understanding of “purity” doesn’t come from outside the person but, rather, from the evil desires of the heart. They thought that their following of all 613 precepts of “the Law” could make them pure and acceptable to God. It was a false wisdom that only made it harder and harder to find their way to God. Solomon’s request for “an understanding heart” is his key into entering into the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees, however, never missed one jot or tittle of the Law and saw themselves separated away from any thing or person that would defile them. Jesus, on the other hand, like so many of our saints sought out the very people whom the Pharisees shunned.

Our prayer, today, like that of Solomon, is for that ‘understanding heart’ to see what God desires of us: to take care of widows and orphans; heal the sick and set captives free. Amen!.

Feb. 6, 2018 – Tuesday in the 5th Week of the Church year

Saints for the day: Paul Miki & companions. Died: 1597

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

1 Kings 8:22 . . . 30 – Ps. 84 – Mark 7:1-13

“Don’t just ‘talk the talk’ – like lip service…”

 This morning there are many thoughts and images swirling around in my mind and so I have to sort through them to arrive at some thought that might help me (and you, too) have a deeper understanding of God’s presence in our lives.

Solomon built a magnificent temple to honor God’s presence to the Israelites even though he knew that nothing humans could ever build would give just honor to the God and creator of all that is. In today’s Gospel Jesus is challenged by the S & P’s about His disciples not following the strict Jewish laws that were a burden on the shoulders of the people. He warns them about only offering “lip service” while their hearts are far from His love.

With these thoughts and images in mind we try to sift through them and find what is most important. “Temple Worship” in its broadest sense is still important to all of us even in this modern, technological era. But we need to keep it in focus: the building in all its magnificence is still a means to an end. Not an end in itself.

It’s another reminder that even the strict following of “the law” is a means to an end, not the end in itself. The familiar saying, “Put your money where your mouth is” might be better put by saying, “Don’t just talk the talk (lip service) but walk the walk” in the sense that Jesus is the “Way…” and our hearts are restless ‘till they rest in Him.” Amen!

Feb. 5, 2018 – Monday in the 5th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Agatha (c. 230 – 251)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Kings 8:1-7,9-13 – Ps 132 – Mark 6:53-56

“How close can you get to Jesus?”

The Scripture Readings for our weekday Liturgies are presented on a two year cycle: one year with selections from the Old Testament; the other year with Scripture selections from the Letters of Paul. Both years have the same Gospel. In the end we’re given what we might call “two sets of bookends” and a wider appreciation of how the Old Testament and New Testament form a more complete picture of God’s intervention into our lives.

In the Old Testament the people went to great lengths to “bring the Presence of God” into their midst. They built a magnificent temple where they could go in and sense the “Glory of God in the Holy of Holies.”

In the Gospels, Jesus, the true ‘God of God and Lord of Lords” goes back on the road as the visible presence of God’s healing power. He doesn’t march out like the Old Testament warriors but moves quietly among the people – where they’re at. And the people know that he is known for His ability to heal and cure people of every kind if illness. And people know that they only need to “touch the tassel of His cloak” to be healed.

What does this tell us about Jesus? What does it tell us about how we should approach Him?

In the first place “they recognized Him” and knew that He had a relationship with God that brings about healing. Also, they knew that they only needed to get close enough to “touch the tassel” of his garments to be healed. This is the crux of our relationship with God/Jesus: as in the Old Testament, we need to honor and respect the presence of God in our “temples.” But we also must remember that we are told that we are the “temples of God” and the living stones of the Church. The other “bookend” of this theory is that we must be able to meet Jesus out on the roads of our up and down lives and at least get close enough to Him to just reach out and touch the tassel of his garment. Can you get that close to Jesus? Try it. You’ll like it! Amen!

February 4, 2018 – 5th Sunday of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Joseph of Leonissa – January 8, 1556 – February 4, 1612

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy

Job 7:1-4, 6-7 – Ps. 147 – 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23  Mark 1:29-39

“Oh come, let us worship God and bow low befoe he Godwho made us, for he is the Lord our God.” Psalm 95

The contrast between Job sitting along on his ash heap and Simon’s mother-in-law surrounded by crowds pressing in upon her is dramatic. Two ways in which healing can dome to us. There are times when we need to dialogue with God, “What’s going on here? If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.” And there are times when we need others to either bring Jesus to us or to take us to Jesus. Jesus wants to heal all. Job was trying to find the “why” of suffering. Mrs. Peter just waited upon the Lord who came to her and raised her up. If we expend all our energy trying to find out why there is evil in the world we are spinning our wheels in the sand. Better to depend on the faith of others to bring us to Jesus than to sit on our worries & stew in our own juice.

Bottom line? Life is tough! Except that and move on. Then you might meet Jesus on the way. Short but sweet. Amen!