April 10, 2018 – Tues. – 2nd Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Magdalen of Canossa (March 1, 1774 – April 10, 1835)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy

Acts 4:32-37 – Psalm 93 – John 3:7b-15

“God helps those who help themselves.” NOT!

“God helps those who have no one else to help them.”

 There are many Xtians who subscribe to that first statement, above, as if it were a quote from the Bible. But it’s not! Our Responsorial Psalm for today reminds us that “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”

In these days between Easter and Pentecost we might tire of hearing the same themes repeated over and over. But I think that the Church does that in order that we see how necessary it is for us to renew our commitment to follow the resurrected Jesus on a daily basis. These early sections of John’s Gospel are often seen as more “theological” than “practical” and we long for the accounts of healings and miracles that come later. Everybody loves a miracle and John has a special way of presenting them. But he always gives and calls for much more than just the physical.

We are not called to follow a miracle worker. We’re called to follow Jesus who is one with the Father and fortified by the Holy Spirit. That’s why John spends so much time weaving that tapestry that portrays Jesus as part and one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Take a moment to pray that familiar doxology, “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”

Again, this is a familiar part of our liturgical life and we might have a tendency to just whip it out with us being on auto pilot. Take some time to repeat that theological statement. It might help you get a better grip on what John and the Acts are presenting us with in these days. And back this up with the Responsorial Psalm refrain, “God hears the cry of the poor” – and helps those who have no one else to help them. Amen!





April 9, 2018 – The Annunciation of the Lord

 Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy

Isaiah 7:10 -14 – 8-10 – Psalm 40 –Hebrews 10:4-10

Luke 1;26-38

 “Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will.”

 Christian art down through the ages has probably done a disservice to Mary by portraying her as some “fairy-tale-like creature” who just sat around waiting for something important to happen in her life. Yet we know that life in her time was hard work and living in an unforgiving land of dust and dirt mere existence occupied a substantial part of ones daily life. When the scriptures tell us that “Jesus was like us in all things but sin” it also means that Mary was more like us than an angel.

Yet, despite living in a harsh land, she was still able to be attentive to God’s presence in her life.

I’ve often said, “God is smart enough to figure out anyway He wants to break into our world. But He does it in as natural a way as possible given the time and place of His Incarnation. When the Angel comes to Mary and tells her this “good news” she, very much like us, asks the question, “How can this happen…” but then makes the most important response ever, “be it done to me according to your word.”

Somebody once said, “God created us with two eyes, two ears and one mouth. He must have meant for us to listen and see, four times as much as speaking!”

At first Mary questions. And we all have questions about how God becomes a part of our lives. But then she quickly responds by saying, “Let it be!” “Fiat.” “Amen!” This is where most of us break stride with “the holy” and fall back on our human intuition by trying to reason with God about what’s happening in our life. We become more like Abraham in his dialog with the Angel of God about to destroy Sodom and Gomoriah, “… begging your pardon, Lord. But what if there are less than 50 just people…”

Listen, listen, listen. Don’t speak! Today’s Feast is about “Letting Go and letting God.” That’s the title of a little poem that might be good for us to hear: “As children bring their broken toys to us for us to mend. I brought my broken dreams to God because He was my friend. But then instead of leaving Him to work on them alone, I hung around and bothered Him with ideas of my own. And then I snatched them back and said, “How could you be so slow?” What could I do, my child, He said, “You never did let go.” Amen.

April 8, 2018 – Second Sunday of Easter

Today is also the Sunday of Divine Mercy

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 4:32-35 – Psalm 118 – 1John 5:1-6 – John 20:19-31

All of us have that “prove it to me” attitude about many aspects of life and religion. It’s a natural quest. We want to know for certain about all kinds of things: how long will I live? Will I get sick? Who will take care of me? Will my resources run out? The early Xtians had these same ?s and they grouped together and pooled their goods so that no one was in any need. But even that early community wasn’t a perfect group. There were some who held back (for a rainy day?) some of their resources. How much security do I need? Can I trust my Dominican community to be there for me down the road? Do I need proofs that all will be right? What about the Dominican community here in San Francisco?

Do I trust these guys to have the same commitment as I have? Do I doubt some of their concepts of “common life?” What are my fears? What kind of proof do I seek? Can I trust this concept of following a Risen Lord if in the midst of the San Francisco? Life is forever changing and all of us need to be able to adapt. I find myself falling back on that old saying “Be here now! This is the only time we really have and if it can’t work here it won’t work out any where else. Amen!

April 7, 2018 – Sat. in the 1st Week of Easter

Today’s Saint: John John Baptist de la Salle (April 30, 1651 – April 7, 1719)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 4:13-21 – Psalm 118 – Mark 16:9-15

“Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature”

These words at the end of today’s Gospel are the “marching orders” for the early church and are based on the conviction of those who have encountered the Risen Lord. “What we have witnessed and seen with our own eyes we now proclaim to you.”

With those words firmly rooted in their lives they “go out” to all the world and proclaim “Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.” They didn’t spend years in seminary study and were simple people who were uneducated and probably couldn’t even read or write. But they had faith! This kind of faith takes us beyond all our ready-at-hand categories and we often speak of it as something that we “have.” We would be better to speak of it as something that we “do” or something that we “are” by God’s gift. Be that as it may. It was enough to get the early Church going.

I am reminded of the saying, “If you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Again, it’s not that Christianity has been tried and failed. It’s more likely that it hasn’t been tried with conviction. The early followers of Jesus were convinced of His resurrection so much so that they told the powers that be, “how can you tell us not to speak of these wonders that we have seen with our own eyes?”

We have 2,000 years of tradition behind our belief and yet some of us have still not translated that into a living faith. I don’t have all the answers to many questions but I still believe that God raised Jesus from the dead that – way, this far down the road of history – I, Brother Daniel Thomas, a Dominican Brother in the 21st century can encounter this Risen Lord even if I have to say, with my name-sake, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” It doesn’t take much of a spark of faith to cause a great fire to get going in our lives. But we have to accept it not just once. But every day of our lives.

That’s why we go through this “Easter thing” for seventy days! Amen!

April 6, 2018 – Friday in the 1st Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Crescentia Hoess (Oct.20,1682 – April 5, 1744)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 4:1-12 – Psalm 118 – John 21:1-14

The sign on the shop door read: “Gone Fishing!”

 This somewhat familiar saying packed with it a sense of, “I’ve had it! I need to get out of the ‘rut.’ I’m going fishing!”

The disciples are still in a quandary about what’s happened. They have a myriad of stories about the risen Lord but they are confused: “we thought He was to be the one who would free us from the tyranny of living under an oppressive government” and here they are: not any different from before.

We have to remember that the Gospels are the written record of the preaching of the early Church and are intended to give us ample examples of what it means to follow Christ. Contrary to some of the popular “prosperity gospel preaching,” the early followers of Jesus felt abandoned and alone so they did what many of us would do: they went fishing!

That is, they went back to their old ways forgetting all the blessings they had experienced in the short time of walking with Jesus. Even when they experience a miraculous catch of fish they forget that Jesus told them, “from now on you will catch people not fish.”

This section of the Gospel of John is thought by many scripture scholars to be an appendage that was added on later to further remind us of all that Jesus promised. So we are given some more examples of how it all fits together. The images are all there if we have eyes to see: the whole sense of the failure of a night’s fishing (like being tossed on a stormy sea); Peter’s jumping out of the boat (but not sinking this time); Jesus fixing breakfast of bread and fish (the multiplication of the loaves story.) It all goes back to the simple fact that we can never find full happiness going back to the way we were but always have to be in this now moment of salvation and ready to get on the way … whatever that might mean for each of us. Amen!





April 5, 2018 – Thurs. the 1st week of Easter

Saint for the day:Vincent Ferrer (Jan 23, 1350 – April 5, 1419)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 3:11-26 – Psalm 8 – Luke:24:35-48

Words, by their very definition are limited. Imagine Jesus standing before you – not speaking but able, still to communicate this Gospel scene. How do you “see Him bringing “Peace?” How do you know about His wounds? What do they look like? Does He beckon you to touch Him? Does He indicate that He is hungry? When we say that words in themselves are limited we have to also say that our words about Jesus & Heaven are also very limiting. Jesus is the word. The logos. That which is before and beyond time, space, and our concept of being. All our worries and questions from the time of the crucifixion and on are tied up in our limited words. We must go beyond these limitations in order to know the resurrected (real) Jesus. We need to put aside all those “wordy concepts” in order to be able to see/know Jesus. Amen!


April 4, 2018 – in the 1st week of Easer

Saint for the day: Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – April 4, 636)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 3:1-10 – Psalm 105 – Luke 24:13 – 35

What is it about the Risen Christ that kept the disciples from recognizing him? Sometimes the scriptures tell us, “their eyes were restrained.” Surely God could have revealed Himself in a way that everybody could easily see …. And believe. Yet he chooses to do it on a one-to-one basis. Take the transfiguration, for example. He could have done that on the Mountain of “Loves & fish” but He did it with just the chosen three. He could have done the death and resurrection in a Broadway, “Super Star” sort of production yet He chose to do it to Mary Magdalen & these two guys on the road to Emmaus.

The Emmaus guys eyes were restrained in order for them to gradually come to a deep, heart-felt realization that burned inside the core of their being. Those babies that were baptized on Easter Sunday haven’t a clue as to what happened to them. They will have to eventually come to that “Emmaus point” where it will begin to make sense and they can say, “where not our hearts burning…?”

April 3, 2018 – Tuesday in the 1st week of Easter


Saint for the day: Benedict the African: (1526 – 1589)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 2:36-41         – Psalm 33 – John 20:11-18

“I heard the Lord call my name. Listen close and you’ll hear the same.”

One of the most rewarding times of my life was the semester I spent in Israel in late 1983. The program was offered by Catholic Theological Union (Chicago) and we were housed in a former Franciscan seminary in Ein Karem, a short distance from Jerusalem. On occasion I would stay overnight in the Old City and I usually “book ended” this time by visiting the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchral in the late afternoon (when most of the tourist crowds weren’t around) and early in the morning for the 4:30 Mass in the Tomb. There is something spectacular about being at the Tomb of Jesus for Mass. Especially in the dark and quiet of the early morning. I also remember sitting quietly in the little space at the entrance to the Tomb – called the “Angle Room” – usually all by myself – and, in the late afternoon. The familiar Gospel song “I heard the Lord call my name. Listen close and hear the same” would float through my mind. I would sometimes expect to open my eyes and see an angel standing there and asking me, “What are you doing? He is not here. He’s been raised!”

It was always a reminder to me that we so often are more comfortable sitting quietly somewhere expecting that the Lord will visit us, forgetting the second part of that greeting, “Go out from here and get on the Way that’s where you’ll meet the Risen Lord.”

Then there’s the other aspect of our encounter with the Risen Lord that, like Mary Magdalene, we want to hold Him close to us. But, again, He tells us “Don’t cling to me. I [am not finished with what my resurrection is all about] and have not yet ascended to my father and your father.”

So, we come to our “bottom line” for today: a reminder that the Lord’s resurrection and ascension is a cycle that must be completed in order for the Holy Spirit – the creative power of God – to be active in our lives. As much as I wanted to remain in the quiet of that little room adjacent to the Tomb – where I wasn’t bothered by any cares of the world – I knew that I must be “out and about” to meet the Lord “on the Way.” Interestingly, it’s our own St. Catherine of Siena who reminds us, “It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven!”

Monday April 2, 2018

April 2, 2018 – Monday in the Octave of Easter

Saint for the day: Francis of Paola (March 27, 1416 – April 2, 1507)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy

Acts 2:14, 22-33 – Psalm 16 – Matthew 28:8-15

Easter, and, in case you didn’t’ get it right today: we have seven weeks to work on this! . The familiar saying, “…you can’t see the trees for the forest” might easily fit to these days of the Resurrection since we will hear over and over again Gospel accounts of those who were closest to Jesus during his lifetime – not recognizing him when they encounter him in various situations. A helpful note for us might be the reoccurring fact that most of His appearances happened when they were on the way. Mary Magdalen – on the way to tell the disciples that the tomb is empty, presumes that someone has taken the body of Jesus. She encounters Him on the way. And even when she sees Him she doesn’t recognize Him and thinks He is the gardener.

The two disciples –on the way to Emmaus don’t recognize Him until He breaks bread and explains the scriptures that apply to Himself. “I am… the truth(explaining the Scared Scriptures) and the Life. – the Bread of Life, the Eucharist.

Peter and John, on the other hand, come to believe just by seeing the burial cloths folded up nicely in the place where they had placed the dead body of Jesus. This should have been a clear indication to them that Jesus was not going to be recognized using their memory of what He looked like in life. If we apply all these interesting connections to our own lives we might more easily compare ourselves to Thomas who is most familiar to us as the doubting Thomas: “unless I see with my own eyes and hands…”

So, it should be obvious that any encounter with the Resurrected Jesus is going to require our ability to “see” with the eyes of faith. And still, like Thomas, we will probably have to say, “Lord, I believe … help my unbelief!”

On our journey through life – both physical and spiritual – we need to meditate on these three “qualities” that Jesus proclaimed: “I am the WAY, the Truth and the Life!

Whenever we get discouraged or down we need to see where we are. Are we on the way? Or have we taking a detour into self-indulgence or some other fault that prevents us from seeking – and living – the truth? And, are we honestly participating in the life of Jesus by frequent participation in the Eucharist? Something to think about on this Monday in the Octave of Amen!

April 1, 2018 – The Resurrection of Jesus

April 1, 2018 – Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord

Mass for the Holy Night of Easter

The various rituals of the Church in these days of “Pascal Triduum” should give us an experience of the mystery of our redemption. Be careful that we don’t get caught up trying to figure it all out and make sense – in a human sort of way. Don’t try to count 24 hour days & then say that Jesus rose on Easter Monday!   “One day with the Lord is as a thousand elsewhere.” These Holy Days are rituals & soaked in symbol. Holy Thursday: the commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. But the Church doesn’t give us a Gospel from John (on the Bread of life) or the Hoy Spirit giving life to the cultic priesthood. Rather the Gospel is Jesus washing feet! Think about it. On Good Friday the focus is on the suffering servant who is our great “high priest” but is crucified between two thieves. He dies and is buried. On Holy Saturday night we wait. What should we expect to gain from our participation in these rituals. What does it all mean to the many who don’t participate in it? Something is surely missing here in Africa to give and pass on the solemn meaning of these days. But it’s not just here in Africa that the mystery is lost. It is everywhere. So what should each of us do to re-capture the essence of this great mystery? We must ask ourselves, “What do I believe in and why?” Let the images of these Holy Days fly through our minds but don’t stop there. Go beyond to that quiet place where the spirit speaks to the heart. It will take you from celebration to darkness to cold, loneliness and, hopefully on to resurrection Glory.  Amen!