May 12, 2016 – Thursday in the 7th Week of Easter

“Scratchpad Reflections” are daily meditations on the scripture readings for the day noted and are written by Dominican Brother Daniel Thomas to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the daily liturgies and Masses of celebration. Here is the reflection for:

May 12, 2016 – Thursday in the 7th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Pancras (d. 304?)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11     –     Psalm 16     –     John 17:20-26

Shepherd

“With boldness let us approach the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace as a timely help, alleluia. (today’s Entrance Antiphon: Hebrews 4:16)

 We are still in John’s Gospel: “That they may be one as I am one with the Father.” And so, as we move towards Pentecost we seek that unity that Jesus has with the father. Our lives are fragmented. Here we have no lasting city. We are on our way to something better. Something that has a perfection that we know is missing from our lives. I can’t find some papers that I know I saved and put in a place that would be easy for me to find them. For the life of me, I can’t find them and it is frustrating since I can’t remember if I might have given them away or done something else with them. Then the words of Sr. Bernice Cunningham that I quoted in yesterday’s reflection come to mind: “50 years from now ain’t nobody gonna know the difference!” What are the things that hold my attention and how many/much are they things that fit into that “50 years from now category?” Those opening words of Jesus from today’s Holy Gospel that I highlighted above: “That they may be one as I(Jesus) am one with the father,” is the goal that I know that I have not yet obtained. “That they (we) might be one …” The life – long pursuit of being a totally integrated person. Balanced in a unity that has Jesus at its core. I have such a long way to go in this regard! In today’s Acts, Paul divides his persecutors and they end up fighting each other. Jesus still speaks of unity. How much of my actions divide and how much do and say unify? When I am selfish and self-centered I prevent Jesus from being the center of my life. That I might be one in Jesus is my prayer and that I might let the rest of the world (other Dominicans, classmates, friends, etc) come to Jesus at their own pace. Jesus has not yet appointed me to be in charge of converting the world. I have more than enough to do working on my own conversion! Amen!

May 11, 2016 – Wednesday in the 7th Week of Easter

“Scratchpad Reflections” are daily meditations on the scripture readings for the day noted and are written by Dominican Brother Daniel Thomas to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the daily liturgies and Masses of celebration. Here is the reflection for:

May 11, 2016 – Wednesday in the 7th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Ignatius of Laconi (1701-1781)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 20:28-38     –     Psalm 68     –     -John 17:11-19

“When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send you, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness, says the Lord, alleluia.” (today’s Communion Antiphon: John 15:26 -27)

Holy Spirit Comes

Here’s a quote from John Henry Neuman that caught my attention: “I don’t know what my mission is but I’ll find out in heaven.” Since I was curious to see where it came from I looked it up. Here it is in full: “God has created me to do him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have a mission – I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nothing. Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am; I cannot be thrown away.” Take a moment to let those powerful words sink in. Even Dr. Suesse picked up on this theme and I have used his way of saying almost the same thing in previous reflections. He wrote, “Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. Shout loud I’m glad I am what I am and not just a ham or a clam or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam.”

In today’s Gospel Jesus doesn’t promise to take us OUT of this world but he does promise to stay WITH us and help us conquer “worldly things.” So we are in the world but not of this world. So what are we a part of?

The answer is we are a part of Jesus. Again, “What we SHALL be has not yet been revealed.” I love this quote of Cardinal Newman since I truly believe that we aren’t called to greatness or success but to faithfulness. That’s a quote of Mother Therese. And here’s another one of my own quotes; “If in all our life we can be the cause of one person re-directing their life more toward God, that’s enough reason for us to have been born; for our parents to have been born; for their parents … and on and on back as for as you want. For God would have sent His only begotten son into the world if I was the only person in need of salvation. Isn’t God wonderful? Amen!

May 10, 2016 – Tuesday in the 7th Week of Easter

“Scratchpad Reflections” are daily meditations on the scripture readings for the day noted and are written by Dominican Brother Daniel Thomas to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the daily liturgies and Masses of celebration. Here is the reflection for:

May 10, 2016 – Tuesday in the 7th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i (1840-1889)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 20:17-27     –     Psalm 68     –     John 7:1-11

Holy Spirit

“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of all that I have told you, says the Lord, alleluia.” (today’s Communion Antiphon: John 14:26)

Be sure to “click” on today’s “saint,” Damien of Moloka’I to read his heroic story and see how he took the Lord’s words, “to tend to the sick and the poor” to heart in his service to those suffering from leprosy.

This section of John’s Gospel still has us at the Last Supper. We’re in what is called, “The Last Discourse” with the “The Priestly Prayer of Jesus.” What we have to remember while reading this section is that it was all written down almost a century after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It would be much like you putting together a story about your grandparents. You’d want to put things in some certain order so that the readers would come to know who they were and what they were all about. You’d be very careful to present your grandparents in a good light and highlight certain events and sayings that you thought important.

This is what the early Christian community did with the story of Jesus. Remember. Nobody was there with a tape recorder or cell phone camera recording these events. And the church was more interested in presenting a theological view of Jesus and His relationship with His Father than a day-by-day account of His activities. This is why you often find discrepancies in the Gospels around the actual events, sayings and miracles. That’s why John’s Gospel is more interested in getting across the “Trinitarian” relationship between Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is why we hear Jesus pounding away at the fact that He desires that we be one as He and the Father are one. It isn’t any secret that most of us are “fragmented” with our lives running is so many directions. We all need the grace to bring our lives into focus and see what is really important!

Years ago, in the late 60’s I volunteered at a “store-front rescue mission” in San Francisco’s Skid Row. Two dynamic black Baptist ladies ran the mission and taught me a lot about real faith and trust in God. They were all called, “Sister this” or “Brother that.” One of the ladies, ‘Sister’ Bernice Cunningham had a deep, but simple faith. One time, while I was serving up the hearty stew to about 80 or 90 “guests” some of the first who had gotten their meal were already coming back with their empty trays. One man had not finished his stew and, in flash movement, sister Cunningham grabbed the bowl, dumped it back into my serving pot with a quick, “Fifty years from now ain’t nobody gonna know the difference!”

 That experience taught me an important lesson: we are so often worried about what will come about … somewhere down the road … when what we really have to be focused on is this moment right now. How are we letting this “Priestly Prayer of Jesus” come into and touch our lives? What was it that allowed Damien of Moloka’i to become a saint? Ty to focus on this “now moment of salvation” and don’t worry about fifty years from now.

May 9, 2016 – Monday in the 7th Week of Easter

May 9, 2016 – Monday in the 7th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Catharine of Bologna (1413-1463)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 19:1-8     –     Psalm 68     –     John 16:29-33

Jesus comes again“You will receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you will be my witnesses, even to the ends of the earth, alleluia.” (Acts 1:8) 

As we move into this last week of Easter I find myself thinking, “All’s well that ends well” and next Sunday we will celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, actually the fiftieth day of Easter. I guess that I am just old enough to remember the meaning of 40 days of Lent (not counting Holy Week) followed by 40 days of Easter which went to Ascension Thursday. 40 was a number reflecting the usual length of a generation which the early Church saw as 40 days of Lent followed by 40 days of Easter celebration which brought us to Ascension Thursday. A lot of that symbolism was lost when the Church transferred the feast of Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday in order for working people to be able to celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. In the end, though, next Sunday will actually be the 50th Day of Easter; 50 being a number that represented “perfection” to ancient peoples. In the end we have to realize that the early Church used these kind of helpful hints to solidify the faith of people who often didn’t read or write. I think there might be a lesson in all of this for the rest of us even though we have our computers and high-tech I phones. When it comes push to shove we all need to let the Lord Jesus be a real part of our day-to-day lives. We need to be able to meet the Lord as we make our journey through life. Any help we can get in keeping us aware that we are all making our way to the Kingdom can’t do us wrong. Even though we can say, “One day with the Lord is as a thousand elsewhere” we still need to allow the Lord to be a real part of our day-to-day lives. Still, we can all take heart knowing that if we don’t get it right this year we’ll still get another chance next year. This is where we need to be able to hear the Lord, Jesus saying to us, “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you again, and your hearts will rejoice, alleluia.” (today’s Communion Antiphon)

Ascension of the Lord

May 8, 2016 –   Ascension of the Lord

Click on the above link to read more about today’s Liturgy.

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 1:1-11     –     Psalm 47     –     Ephesians 1:17-23     –     Luke 24:46-53

Ascension

“God mounts his throne to shouts of joy; a blare of trumpets for the Lord.”

 The above verse from today’s Responsorial Psalm sets the tone for today’s solemnity and marks the end of Jesus’ physical presence on the earth. However, we still have three more significant celebrations – Pentecost Sunday, Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi before we move back into the “counted weeks” which are called, “ordinary time.”

“Why do you stand here looking up to the sky?…”

The answer to this question seems to be wrapped up in the notion of letting go. Or, as the great American radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey would say as he finished one story and was about to move on to the next: “Page …two…” with a slight upbeat to the “two.”  Today’s feast of the Ascension marks a significant turning point in the life of the early Church. As Jesus told them, “Unless I return to the Father the Holy Spirit (the Creator and re-newer of life) will not come!”

But most of us don’t like that notion. We want things to stay as they were. We don’t like having to “step out” in faith. We’re just like the Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration, “Lord, it’s good that we are here. Let us build a monument (out of solid stone) to keep you here.” My own loose translation. But the bottom line message of Jesus is, “Go out to the ends of the world and tell them of this good news: I have conquered sin and death…”

The problem that we face is that we simply don’t have the proper words to describe Heaven. In the movie, “Charlie St. Cloud” the story tells of Charlie, a teenager, and his younger brother who are involved in a tragic automobile accident. The younger brother dies but the older brother is revived and lives. Yet, he has experienced something of life “on the other side” and he gets to see his younger brother almost every day. Finally, the younger brother comes and Charlie can’t see him and he is told, “Charlie, I’m on my way. You can’t see me because you simply couldn’t comprehend what I really look like. Don’t just stay here waiting … go on with your life.” If you haven’t seen this move, check it out. It’s a great way to help you understand today’s feast.

In the end, Charlie “goes on” with his life with a new sense of purpose. He “goes back on the road…” just like all of us have to do. “Lord, it is good to be here but we’ve got much to do and we’re going out on the road!” After all, “It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven!” Amen!

May 7, 2013 – Saturday in the 6th Week of Easter

“Scratchpad Reflections” are daily meditations on the scripture readings for the day noted and are written by Dominican Brother Daniel Thomas to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the daily liturgies and Masses of celebration. Here is the reflection for:

May 7, 2016 – Saturday in the 6th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Rose Venerini (1656-1728)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 18:23-28     –     Psalm 47     –     John 16:23b-28

“Whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you.”

cup of water

The above quote from the opening words of today’s Holy Gospel has probably been the most miss-used and misunderstood of all the words Jesus said. The proponents of the ‘prosperity gospel’ build there congregations on the thought that Jesus desires that you will live on “easy street,” drive a nice car and have no worries in this world.

When Jesus tells his disciples to ask the Father in my name He is saying this in the light of the quote “…this is the sacrifice that I desire: that you untie the yoke that burdens the poor. That you free captives and give sight to the blind.” (Matthew 9:13) Then we have the words of Jesus in the Agony in the Garden – “not my will but yours” pulls us back to the beginning of our salvation history where we hear the words of Mary, “be it done unto me according to your word.” And that word: “that your joy may be complete.”

Yesterday’s Gospel gave us the image of a mother giving birth which includes some obvious pain but also joy that a child has come into the world. How is it that so many give up on God because they didn’t get what they wanted? When we ask “in Jesus name” we have to understand that we will only get what we want when we pick up our cross and follow Him! Mary said, “yes” and a sword pierced her heart. She was humble and the Lord exulted her. We remember her words at the Cana wedding, “do whatever He tells you” and the abundance was given – mostly because they didn’t ask for themselves but that the wedding couple would not be ashamed.

We should take this example to heart. When we think of the needs of others and ask God to do some miracle for them we often find a blessing in our own life in ways that we didn’t at first realize or expect. When we have concern for the other and lift the burden from their shoulders our joy will be complete.” Amen!

Friday in the 6th Week of Easter

“Scratchpad Reflections” are daily meditations on the scripture readings for the day noted and are written by Dominican Brother Daniel Thomas to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the daily liturgies and Masses of celebration. Here is the reflection for:

May 6, 2016 – Friday in the 6th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Bl. Gerard of Lunel (13th century)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 18:9-18     –     Psalm 47     –     John 16:20-23

Jesus sends us

“Were not our hearts burning within us as He explained the Scriptures to us?”

These words of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus sum up all that we’ve been hearing in these six weeks of Eastertide. Yet the Gospels don’t bother to recount what the disciples learned in this encounter. Rather, they take us back to the Gospel of John and all the words Jesus spoke about relating to His impending death, resurrection, ascension and glory in Heaven.

From there ‘The Church’ has added symbolism to help us understand better what the life of Jesus is all about.

There are some scripture scholars who believe that the resurrection, ascension and decent of the Holy Spirit all occurred as one event: one, two, three done! ‘The Church’ has added in the “time frame” in order to help us grasp events that are totally outside of our natural understanding.

Today’s Gospel uses the analogy of a women giving birth to show that all the suffering that we might go through in this life will be turned to joy when we can see the reality of Heaven. That’s an image that women can easily identify with but one that leaves the rest of us on the “male side” at a loss for a clear appreciation of the “joy of birth into a new world.

Comedian, Bill Cosby – talking on the subject of “birth” and our male inability to fully grasp the image – told men to grab on to their upper lip and stitch it up and over the top of their heads in order to experience the real pain of childbirth!

All of the scriptures – from Genesis to Revelation – are about “birth into something new, different and totally beyond our natural understanding and comprehension.

At the risk of being boring and repetitive let me give you my own analogy about the “after life.”

“A developing life in the womb is to life in the world as life in the world is to life in Heaven.”

If it were possible to go into the womb and tell a developing baby: “wait till you get out of here! You’ll be free of this ‘tomb-like existence’ and able to go and do whatever you want!” That little baby would respond: “Why should I leave here? I’ve got everything I need. I’m fed; watered and kept clean; taken everywhere I need to go; don’t have to do anything; life here is bliss!”

That’s how different life will be when we break through this world’s limited existence into the Joy of Heaven. Amen!

May 5, 2016 – 6th week of Easter / Ascension Thursday in some places

Thursday in the 6th Week of Easter or: (in some places) Ascension Thursday.

 Scripture Readings for Thursday in the 6th Week of Easter:

Acts 18:1-8   –   Psalm 98     –     John 16:16-20

Scripture Readings for the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

Acts 1:1-11   –     Psalm 47     -Ephesians 1:17-23     –     Luke 24:46-53

Ascension

“Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age, alleluia.” Mt.28:20

A note for “what it’s worth:”

I might begin today’s reflection with the popular phrase, “Win some; loose some” as it applies to the way our liturgical cycles are set up. Given the reality that nobody knew the exact dates for the resurrection, ascension of the Lord or the coming of the Holy Spirit the Church settled on an easy way to fit this in. Therefore, we had 40 days of Lent: remembering both the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness and the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert. Watch out if you start counting because it may or may not include the three days after Ash Wednesday or the Sundays or the Paschal Triduum. But there are 40 days somewhere in there. Then we are given another 40 days of Easter which would land us on what used to be called, “Ascension Thursday.” Then, in a sense of rounding it off, the Church added another 10 days to get us to Pentecost – the word actually means 50 – a perfect number in Biblical terms. Part of the reasoning behind making these moves was based on the fact that Ascension Thursday was not a public holiday which made it more difficult for people to celebrate it as a Holy Day of Obligation. Be that as it may, this might call us to remember, “One day with the Lord is as 1,000 elsewhere” and so, no matter where we are we still have some obligation to honor the Lord in all that we do. In the end, though, we still have 50 days from Easter to Pentecost and the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. We are given another chance to be renewed by the coming of the Holy Spirit who shacks us loose from our doubts and fears just like the disciples in the locked upper room. Still, we have to remember that we are not renewed just to feel comfortable where we are. We are sent out to proclaim that the Lord is risen and given us a promise of a new life fired by the Holy Spirit. “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and we shall be recreated and you shall renew the face of the Earth.” Amen!

Wednesday in the 6th Week of Easter

“Scratchpad Reflections” are daily meditations on the scripture readings for the day noted and are written by Dominican Brother Daniel Thomas to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the daily liturgies and Masses of celebration. Here is the reflection for:

May 4, 2016 – Wednesday in the 6th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Bl. Michael Giedroyc (died: 1485)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 17:15,22 – 18:1     –     Psalm148     –     John 16:12-15

“I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord, and have appointed you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last, alleluia. (today’s Communion Antiphon. Cf. John 13:16, 19)

sending out

We are made in the image of God with the ability to go out into our world to do some created good for others. Still, many people turn that around and say, “God: made in our image!” a play on the words taken from the Genesis story of creation. Still, as presumptuous as they are, they are words that ring true for many people down through the ages. People, without the Holy Spirit to guide them, will create worlds that fit into their finite understanding of God. In today’s Gospel Jesus tells His disciples, “I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now.” The Holy Spirit, the author and giver of life, will come upon you and re-create youin the Image and Likeness of God! One of the friars once asked me, “Aren’t you beginning to run out of things to say in these reflections?” And I would have to respond that it is a challenge to make fresh comment on the repeated themes, “love me. Love one another. Be one in Me as I am one in the Father. Love, love, love! After all, I’ve been writing these reflections since 2008! Still, though, the Easter Season always gives us lots to think about. But then we switch gears as we move closer to the Pentecost Feast: the coming of the Holy Spirit. How could we ever run out of things to say about the Holy Spirit? From the beginning of Genesis all the way through to the end of Revelation the Holy Spirit is the life force that keeps us going. It is the Holy Spirit who brings order out of the chaos at the beginning of creation and it is the Holy Spirit who breathes life into the first humans. It is the Holy Spirit that shakes the room where the disciples are gathered in fear. But it’s the same Holy Spirit that comes to Elijah in the cave where he realizes that the Holy Spirit of God is also a still, quiet voice – or breath of fresh life.

In today’s reading from Acts, Paul admonishes the so-called sophisticated Athenians who think that they have contained God in their shrines and temples that God cannot be limited in any way. He goes on to say, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” It is this Holy Spirit, the source of God’s Love, that re-creates us and gives us the ability to continue our journey along the Way to Heaven. And how could we ever run out of things to say about the Holy Spirit! Amen!

Tuesday in the 5th Week of Easter

“Scratchpad Reflections” are daily meditations on the scripture readings for the day noted and are written by Dominican Brother Daniel Thomas to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the daily liturgies and Masses of celebration.  Here’s the reflection for the date listed above.

Saints for the day: Philip and James (1st Century)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 Corinthians 15:1-8     –     Psalm 19     –     John 14:6-14

“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (today’s Gospel)

This is my body

The response that Jesus gives is one that we’ve been hearing many times in these weeks after Easter: “If you’ve seen me you have seen the Father. The Father and I are one.” My first response to this would be to ask the question: “What would be enough for me?! The Apostles – the inner core of Jesus’ foundation of the new Church and those who walked with Him during those three years of His public ministry – still wanted more. Even though they had seen him perform many miracles they seemed to be wise enough to know that just looking at Jesus as a miracle worker wasn’t all there was to being a follower and disciple of Jesus. This response of Jesus, “If you’ve seen me…” seems to be key to our present-day following of Jesus. This is perhaps why the Church was cautious when the Charismatic movement first got started back in the late 60’s. There’s always the tendency to go for the spectacular and become a “miracle follower” rather than a “follower of Jesus.” We see this same thing happening when news of some “miracle” – the face of Jesus appearing on a tortilla or a host or statue that appears to bleed. That’s when Jesus’ words, “If you have seen me…” are so important to us. That’s why we have to ask ourselves, “How have I seen Jesus?” And what am I looking for when I come before Him?

When Jesus appeared to various followers after His resurrection He repeatedly told them, “Don’t cling to me … but go out and proclaim…”

 So, once again, we are reminded to be “apostles” – one’s who are sent and – like the apostles on the road to Emmaus – we will see Him in the breaking of the bread (our daily liturgies) and it’s in this context that He opens our minds to grasp that “He and the Father are one.” No spectacular fire works. Just the simple reality of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. “Just say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

That’s enough for me! Amen!