July 23, 2016 – Saturday in the 16th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Bridget (1303?-1373)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Jeremiah 7:1-11   –   Psalm 84   –   Matthew 13:24-30

It’s difficult to find a link between these readings for Saturday in the 16th week of the Church’s year but we know that all scripture can be used to build up & enhance our understanding of the presence of God in our lives. Nothing is know for sure about the parents of Mary save the fact that she must have had a mother and father in order to have existed. Down through history various peoples have speculated on the origins of all sorts of the “characters” from the Bible. Even Jeremiah is probably a construct or compilation of a general, prophetic genre.

So we find ourselves always trying to lock God into the narrow confines of our limited understanding of heavenly matters and we always come up short! Even when e try to put flesh on a mystery it will never satisfy our yearning to hold on to the presence of God.

Bottom line: it’s more important for us to let God hold on to us rather than for us to try holding on to God. Jeremiah says, “You duped me, Oh, God and I let myself be duped.” None of us can ever grab on to the vastness of God. All we can do is let God’s omnipotence hold us in the hollow of His hand. We don’t have to worry about the weeds. God will take care of them. …. whatever. Just be here now! Amen!

July 22, 2016 – Friday in the 16th Week of the Church Year


Saint for the day: Mary Magdalene (1st Century)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Jeremiah 3:14-17 – Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12, 13  – John 20:1-2, 11-18

“Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way? ‘I saw the glory of the risen Christ, I saw his empty tomb.’”

Mary Magdalene – as ‘patroness of the Dominicans – is often referred to as “the preacher to the Apostles” since she is the first one to spread the news that Jesus is risen. Whether or not we mix her up with other “Marys” in the Gospels is not important. What is… is the fact that she is the first to know of his resurrection. The fact that she stood by the Cross (while others had fled) and was with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the other disciple (whom Jesus loved). Why then, didn’t he first appear to his own mother? Or at least to the disciple whom he loved (who leaned upon his breast at the Last Supper?

When Mary comes to the tomb she is coming to lament the loss of one who showed her how to really love. “LOVE” is the key. She comes in the dark hours of the morning. Coming by herself to be alone with the one she loved and who loved her in return. Picture the anguish of her standing at the foot of the cross watching her beloved die a cruel death. Perhaps she was among those who took the body and laid it in the tomb which they had to do quickly because of the Sabbath Law.

Now, she returns to, perhaps, do the customary rituals of Jewish burial rites. In her sorrow, she can’t recognize Jesus standing there. His countenance was different. “Don’t cling to me yet!” I have not yet (fully) arrived at what I really am. That tells me that resurrection and heaven are so radically different from what we can perceive that we are unable to “cling” to it in this earthly dimension. In our funeral liturgy we say, “life is changed, not ended.” In 1st John we can read, “… what we are to become has not yet been revealed. But we know that we shall see him as he really is.”

“Seeing him as he really is” requires us to know him fully as he “really was.” The disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize him until he explained the scriptures and ‘broke bread’ with them. So another ‘key’ is to meet Jesus in the Scriptures and “in the breaking of the bread.”

So, “bottom line (again)” The Cross; sitting at the feet of Jesus; meeting him in the Scriptures; knowing him in the ‘breaking of the bread; meeting him in the early hours of the morning when all is quiet and we can be alone. That’s when he will appear to us and call us by name. Amen!

July 20, 2016 – Wednesday in the 16th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Apollinaris (1st century)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Jeremiah 1:1, 2-10   –   Psalm 71   –   Matthew 13:1-9

“Jesus told them this parable: ‘A sower went out to sow and some seed fell on the path … some fell on rocky ground … some fell among thorns … but some seed fell on rich soil, and produced … a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

These words from today’s Holy Gospel – the parable of the sower – are familiar to most of us which means we have to be careful that we don’t just say, “Ho, hum! Heard that before…” What we have to do is look closely to see how it still speaks to us today. I think the bottom line might be that we need to be careful about how we put ourselves into this parable. It’s not so much a matter of trying to see which of the examples given reflect our lives but to perhaps see that there are times when we might be one or the other or even all four. I don’t think it would be difficult to look at our own lives and see how we let the love and mercy of God enter into our day-to-day experience of journeying with Jesus. But we also need to look at what robs us of the hundred fold yield that Jesus wants to give us? If God “gifts us” with the faith and we just let is sit there on the edge of our lives; not actively receiving it and making it a part of our faith walk then it is useless. I think I can let you continue on your own to see how this parable might apply in your own lives. Remember: our “journey of faith” is not a “once-in-a-lifetime-event” but an on-going way of life that must be nurtured by God’s love on a regular basis. You can use the parable of the “Talents” to help you see that the gift of faith is a two-way-street that requires each of us to – not only receive, but, also to act on. God’s love and mercy are always being poured out to us but it’s up to each of us to allow God’s love to reach into the depths of our lives where it can yield the “Hundred-fold” return. I love the last line of this Holy Gospel: “Whoever has ears ought to hear!” If we go back to the opening verse of St. John’s Gospel we hear: “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God. And the Word was God!” This is what we all need to “hear” and grasp and make real in our lives in order to produce that hundred-fold yield. Amen!


July 19, 2016 – Tuesday in the 16th Week of the Church Year


Saint for the day: Arsenius the Great (Died 450)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20   –   Psalm 85   –   Matthew 12:46-50

Jesus asks his disciples, “Who are my mother? Who are my brothers?”

Today’s Gospel is one that raises all kinds of questions about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. There are many who question the motives of a God who creates us as members of a family and then turns around and – apparently suggests – that we must look at the stranger – perhaps a foreigner – as our brother or sister or mother. So, rather than getting all disgruntled over these words of Jesus let us turn it around and try to see what Jesus is asking of his followers. In the first place Jesus knows that He is going to send His disciples out to announce the coming Kingdom of God. They’re going to have to leave family and kin to “get on the road.” Jesus is asking them to leave their “comfort zone” and the security of the home and go without any provisions to do as he showed them: heal the sick; give sight to the blind; lift up those who are oppressed. The “call of Jesus” is always out there. Even the hermit in his cave still has to leave the comfort of home to be available to those who are seeking healing and grace.

So, our bottom line is that Jesus is not asking us to deny our family heritage but, rather to embrace a mission that welcomes the stranger or foreigner in the same way we would welcome a brother or sister; father or mother. The problem that most of us have with this Gospel is that we see it as an “either –or” challenge rather than a “both-and.” When it comes to following Jesus extremes are always dangerous. As St. Thomas Aquinas would say, “in the middle is virtue.” Don’t turn down family in an effort to do ministry and don’t turn down (or avoid) ministry in order to love family. I never said it was going to be easy to balance this. But, as St. Paul was told, “My grace is sufficient!” Amen!

July 17, 2016 – 16th Sunday of the Church Year

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Genesis 18:1-10   –   Ps. 15   –   Colossians 1:24-28

Luke 10:38-42

 “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Before we go any further into today’s reflection may I ask you to go back to the quote above and put your name in place of Martha and say those opening words a few times: “Daniel, Daniel, you are worried about many things …”

Then ask yourself three little questions: “What am I worried about?” “What is the one thing that I really need?” And, “what do I choose to do about the predicament I’m in? Sometimes it’s important to write down your response so that it has a certain reality. It’s right there in black and white on a piece of paper. Most of the time we’d be embarrassed if someone saw our answer – given all the problems that people around the world are confronted with. All things being considered we have to ask ourselves, “What do I really need?”

 An interesting “side light,” while I was having my lunch I watched one of those “wilderness survivor shows on TV.” It was filmed on Vancouver Island just off the coast of Washington state. I didn’t see the entire program but I think it involved five people who were dropped in different, isolated spots, with little or nothing to work with. Since I was already thinking about this reflection, I paid attention to what the participants talked about vies-a-vie “what they wished that had thought to bring with them.” Given the little bit of the show that I saw, they all seemed to have every right to be worried. That program gave me a real and very visual insight into some of the basic things that are necessary in order to survive in the wilderness. That started me thinking about what I would have brought if I’d been on that show. The one thing that all of the participants missed was companionship with another human being. Of course, nobody mentioned anything about having a relationship with God/Jesus that might have been able to get them through some of their tough spots. Most of us – thanks be to God – won’t be in those circumstances often but it does force us to think about what we really need in this life. A relationship with the person of Jesus is key to our survival and we must all keep God’s presence in our lives alive. Bottom line: there is really nothing else that really matters to our survival. The companionship that God/Jesus can give us when we seem to be up against some impossible barrier is really all we need. Amen.

July 16, 2016 – Saturday in the 15th Week of the Church Year

Today’s Feast: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Scripture readings for today’s liturgy:

Micah 2:1-5    –    Psalm 10   –    Matthew 12:14-21

“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (today’s ‘Alleluia Verse’ before the Holy Gospel.)

On this feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel we know that hermits lived on Mont Carmel near the fountain of Elijah in northern Israel since the 12th century. By the 13th century they became knows as the “Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel” and eventually became known “Carmelites” with a special dedication to Mary, the mother of God. I can still remember my grammar school days when our entire class was enrolled in the “Scapular of Mt. Carmel.” The dedication must not have been very deeply rooted since I eventually entered the Dominicans and switched the brown scapular for the white! Nonetheless, today’s liturgy reminds us that the Blessed Mother – under a wide variety of images – promises to watch over those who seek her protection. And, there’s nothing wrong with that since it’s obvious that we need all the help we can get to follow her Son as best we can. Today’s first scripture from the Book of Micah opens with the words, “Woe to those who plan iniquity…” nothing you do can restore what you have given up through your plotting against your own people. We are, however, are given hope with the words of today’s Alleluia verse: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” This verse fits in well with what we have been hearing in these days: “… it is mercy that I seek.” With all the terror that is going on all over our world in these days we should be holding “Novenas of Mercy” to end this reign of terror. But this will only happen when people’s hearts are changed and their focus is not only on their own goals or goods but on the well being of the poorest of the poor – the ones that Jesus continues to lift up in the Holy Gospels that we hear in our daily Masses. Take that “Alleluia Verse” quoted above and ask yourself, “How has God/Jesus entrusted me with a message of reconciliation? We don’t have to change the entire world, just start thinking of others who might need help being reconciled with the people in their lives. We have to use St. Francis’ theory, stone by stone – little by little and you’ll begin to see results. Small, but still there. Amen!

July 15, 2016 Friday in the 15th Week of the Church Yea


Saint for the day: Bonaventure (1221-1274)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy:

Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8   –   Ps 38   –   Matthew 12:1-8

“I will look after my sheep, says the Lord, and I will appoint a shepherd to pasture them, and I, the Lord, will be their God.”(Today’s Entrance Antiphon)

Today’s Holy Gospel still gives us a reminder of the “mercy” theme that we’ve been hearing often in these days. We’re are also still hearing references to the “shepherd” image. So this must be important for us to take to heart. Our Old Testament scripture from Isaiah gives us an interesting account of Hezekiah’s near death experience and his remarkable recovery. Another example of God’s abiding mercy. This reading has lots of spectacular goings on and we have to be careful that we don’t just dwell there but see the greater miracle that shows God’s abundant mercy. I remember back in the early days of the Catholic Charismatic Movement when people were being drawn into a new experience of God’s presence in their personal lives. There was always a tendency to focus on some sort of spectacular example of what was thought to be a sign of God’s special love and care for the people. True, this is a good thing to be aware of but God doesn’t always do some spectacular example of His presence in our lives. Much more often, as we see in today’s scriptures, God’s action in our lives is given to us in order for us to be able to go out from ourselves and exercise the healing presence of His Divine love. If we spend all of our energy tracking down God’s spectacular events in our lives we will miss “that still, gentle breeze” of His passing by that we heard about when Elijah sought the Lord in the cave at Horeb. (1 Kings 19:5ff) This is another reminder that the “mercy” that the Lord desires of us is often going to be very transparent, and sometimes difficult to actually see. Just like the Gentle Breeze of Elijah rather a “wiz-bang earthquake.” It might be a good exercise for us to try to think back to an occasion when we might have thought we actually exercised “mercy.” It might not be easy but it should give us a better insight into what the Lord actually wants us to do! Amen!

July 14, 2016 – Thursday in the 15th Week of the Church Year

Saints for the day: Francis Solano (1549-1610) & Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19    –   Psalm 102    –   Matthew 11:28-30

“Jesus said: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” (the opening words of today’s Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew)

 These few words, taken from today’s Gospel, are jam-packed with imagery – even for us city-dwellers who have little actual experience with working the land.   It takes a certain amount of true humility to allow us to be “yoked” to another – even to be yoked to Jesus. But this is where the imagery is most beautiful: to be “humble” really means being “well-grounded.” The word comes from the Latin word, “humus” meaning ground or earth. No room here for important CEO’s sitting in plush offices pushing buttons of dispatch. Come, come unto me, and let us work together to make the ground fertile for accomplishing the 100 fold that I promise. My yoke is “easy” – really meaning, “well-fitting” or “tailor-made.” God knows us through and through. He “formed us and knit us together in our mother’s wombs” and He will not put us in any situation that is beyond our ability to stay yoked with Jesus as we make the journey along the way. We know what happens when we decide that we can “make it on our own,” I can’t help but think back to the 1960’s when the “hippy era” was all the rage in the US. The cry was “freedom from all forms of oppression” and the sky was the limit. No rules. No order to anything.

If we apply this notion to the images in today’s Gospel we can see what the “fruit” will be: no straight, easy-to-tend-rows; seeds planted in zigzag fashion with most of the effort landing on rocky soil where the sun burns them to a crisp. How easy this fits to the term that was common at the end of the “hippy era:” They are a people who are burned out! When we are “yoked with Jesus” we can experience what I call, the “Footprints in the sand” and we see that Jesus carries us along and takes most of the burden on His own shoulders.

Our prayer then becomes, “Lord, Jesus, give me the grace to allow you to fit that yoke to me which really means you will carry most of the load.” Amen! How sweet it is!

July 13, 2016 – Wednesday in the 15th Week of the Church Year

July 13, 2016 – Wednesday in the 15th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Henry (972-1024)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16    –    Psalm 94    –    Matthew 11:25-27

“Unless you become like little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”(Matt. 18:3)

Yesterday, I mentioned the fact that psychologists tell us that when someone is speaking to us we are talking to ourselves at a rate that is ten times faster than the person speaking. How often do we really listen.   The thing that got Jesus must upset was the S & P’s constant nit-picking on the Law. Even while He was telling them about the wonders of God’s love and mercy, they were working to formulate their re-brutal. You might be interested to know that our word “infant” comes from the Latin ‘in-fans’: meaning non-speaking.

How can we really listen to what God/Jesus is saying to us if we’re always trying to put together our own rebuttal? When we speak of the wonder of children we often use the term, “with eyes wide open” to describe the beauty of being like little children. Sometimes we just have to shut up and listen to what God is saying to us. How else will we hear Him say, “Come unto me and I will give you rest?”

Here’s a little “test” that might help you: try to articulate what you would really like to hear Jesus saying to you. Take some time. Don’t rush. But you might be surprised at what words pop into your mind. A good meditation for today and maybe, even something for you to work on.

Saints for the day: John Jones & John Wall (c. 1530-1598, 1620-1679)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Isaiah 7: 1-9    –    Psalm 48    –    Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus says, “I’m am sending you to open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.”

Psychologists tell us that when someone is speaking to us we are talking to ourselves at a rate that is ten times faster than the person speaking. What, then, is the effect? Even as we are hearing what’s being said or reading it, we are busy making our own defense or rebuttal.

Both of today’s scripture readings paint a “woe to you” picture and rather than trying to see how it applies to our own lives we jump into pointing fingers at things outside and around us rather than even thinking that some of what’s being said might apply to us.

I’m sure that many who hear these scripture readings immediately start attaching them to current geo-political situations around our own world. Doing that robs the scriptures of the power intended. When Jesus says, “Woe to you …” he’s not asking us to look at someone out there, but, rather, to see how we, personally, have not listened to God speaking to us.

In these recent days we’ve heard Jesus send his disciples out two-by-two without any provisions. We are sent out – not to make alliances with this or that political faction – but to bring real sight – insight – to those who walk in darkness. We don’t have to look very far around our world today to see that the political way of solving problems just doesn’t work. Alliances made on natural levels are like houses built on sand.

So, what’s our ‘bottom line’ here? We might have to answer the question that Jesus put to Peter, “… but you! Who do you say that I am?”

It’s interesting to look at our world and see that we, in the United States, aren’t the only country facing changes in leadership and we should be asking: are these candidates seeking ways to lift the burden that weighs heavy on the shoulders of the poor and downtrodden? Or are they looking for ways to increase their own standing and worth? By their fruits you will know them. But be careful when you point fingers at someone – out there! Look at your own motivation before you judge someone else and pray that good leadership will be found throughout our world that has an honest concern for all the people’s rights. Amen