Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016 - Supplemental

Luke 8: 4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance.”

Man was put on the earth to care for the garden. When he sinned he was expelled from the garden and told that his living will only come after much work tilling the soil. Our hearts is that soil. God the Father is the sower and His Word, Jesus, is the seed. The Father sows Jesus into each and every heart. How have you prepared your heart?

Some hearts are stony hearts that the seed cannot penetrate. Other hearts are full of the love of self and material things. The seed is choked out by the thorns of desire. Some hearts have useable soil that is very, very thin. The seed germinates but cannot take root. It lives in the heart for a short time and then dies away. Such soil germinates many seeds but few can ever survive. Usually only scrub brush and weeds can survive in such a heart.

Being a good gardener is hard work. Because of sin we have to till the soil by the sweat of our brow. We have to weed and irrigate. The Word will not grow within us on its own. It takes dedicated, personal, and constant work on our behalf. We cannot till the soil in the spring, let the Father plant the seed, and then walk away expecting the plant to grow healthy on its own. Just as the Word can grown in rich soil, so too the weed. Seeds of hate, prejudice, bigotry, and evil all flourish in rich soil. We must be constantly vigilant to pluck these weeds out as soon as they germinate. Left unattended the garden will soon be overrun and the seed the Father plants will be choked out by the weeds we let creep into our lives.

Our hard work is rewarded by the many fruits of the Lord. A life lived with a well tended garden is in itself a reward.

Grab your shovels and your hoes and let’s get to work removing everything not planted by the Father in the gardens of our hearts.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

1 Corinthians 15: 35-37, 42-49

Brothers and sisters:
Someone may say, “How are the dead raised?
With what kind of body will they come back?”

You fool!
What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies.
And what you sow is not the body that is to be
but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind.

So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

So, too, it is written,
“The first man, Adam, became a living being,”
the last Adam a life-giving spirit.
But the spiritual was not first;
rather the natural and then the spiritual.
The first man was from the earth, earthly;
the second man, from heaven.
As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly,
and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly.
Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

How fitting this reading comes for me today. Today is the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. She left us last year after a long and painful battle with COPD and other lung related diseases. My mother was born on the seventeenth day of February and died on the seventeenth day of September. These days stuck in my mind as historically important. Then I realized, these were the days the bible tells us that the great flood started and ended.

It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.”

In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat.”

But September is the ninth month…

Actually, September used to be the seventh month (‘sep’ means seven). It only became the ninth month after July and August were added to the calendar to honor Julius and Augustus Caesar. Historically speaking, the calendar that we go by today is really only about 150 years old. The symbolism of this is not lost on me, a man who lives for symbolism in a Church rich with it.

My mother came into this world like a mighty flood and departed when it was  time for new life.

Our earthly bodies are nothing more than seeds for the next life. Inside a seed is everything needed to create a new plant. When it germinates a new life is set free. These bodies contain our soul, incarnate. Once planted we will germinate into the next life into an incorruptible, eternal, and perfect body.

Through Adam we have our earthly body and through Jesus we have our heavenly body.

Pray for the repose of my mother. Pray that through the mercy of God she is given a place in his heavenly Kingdom where she can flower with all her beauty.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

1 Corinthians 15: 12-20

Brothers and sisters:
If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,
how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
If there is no resurrection of the dead,
then neither has Christ been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching;
empty, too, your faith.
Then we are also false witnesses to God,
because we testified against God that he raised Christ,
whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead then our faith is in vain. All who have gone to their graves believing in Jesus will remain there for all eternity. My soul rests joyfully for I know our faith is not in vain and that Christ did conquer death. How can I be so assured of this?

Because something happened.

The Twelve had just spent three years learning from Jesus, both publically and privately. They were his trusted friends and they pledged to follow him to his death. Yet, when the guards came the Twelve fled in fear of their own lives. They ran and hid.

Jesus underwent his Passion alone, without those so close to him. Besides John, who accompanied Mary, none of the remaining disciples could bring themselves to visit Jesus on the cross. Jesus died and was laid in the tomb. The Twelve hid.

Can you imagine what was going through their minds? The last three years wasted. Christ was not the king they thought he was. They were on the verge of giving it all up and returning to their old lives. The stories Jesus had shared with them ended up being nothing more than stories. Hooie.

And then something happened.

The Twelve became embolden. The Twelve drastically changed. The Twelve proclaimed the Good News with a vigor and zeal no one had ever seen. They went from bumbling fools that could never get anything right when they were with Jesus to leaders that could stand the test of man. Each and every one, except John, went to their own torturous death for Christ.

One has to ask why. One has to know what changed in not one but all of the Twelve. What could have possibly happened that would have caused an immediate 180 degree swing in their attitudes and abilities?

Christ rose from the dead and appeared to the twelve. They saw with their own eyes that Jesus’ promises and teachings were true. They understood that death no longer had claim on them and that they had nothing to fear for in the end Jesus was the King promised to them. They knew they would find life by giving theirs up for God’s Kingdom.

That is all the proof I need to know that Jesus lived and died so that I will be raised up on the last day if I trust in him and live my life in the way he has asked me to.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

John 19: 25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

It is from this passage that the Catholic Church derives her teaching that Mary never had other children. If Mary had other children they would have been with her at the foot of the cross and they, by Jewish custom, would have been responsible for her well being going forward. Jesus would have never entrusted care for his mother over to John if she had other children and she would have never gone to live with John if other children existed.

At the foot of the cross Jesus entrusts the care of his mother over to his disciple John. Our Mass is a time machine, a conduit connecting heaven and earth, and each and every time we participate in Mass we are transported back to the foot of the cross to take part in the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even though we cannot see it with our earthly eyes, we are there, standing with Mary and John when Jesus entrusts Mary to John.

Imagine Jesus looking at each and every one of us directly. “Behold your mother.

Hail Mary, full of grace

Blessed are you among women

And blessed is the fruit of your womb


Holy Mary, Mother of God

Pray for us sinners

Now and at the hour of our death.

Mary, Mother of the living God, intercede for us with Jesus, your son.

Wednesday, September 14, 2017

Philippians 2: 6-11

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a slave to serve all of humanity. As a Christian, a “little Christ”, I am called to do the same. We are called to empty ourselves of our selfish desires and to put others first. This is sacrificial love. This is agape.

Jesus humbled himself and was obedient to the Father. The Father likes obedience more than sacrifice and Christ was both. He was the obedient sacrifice. And for this the Father raised him to the highest position there is. Jesus is exalted. Jesus is Lord. How much do we please the Father when we follow this example and are obedient to his command?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 14, 27-31A

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.

Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it.
Some people God has designated in the Church
to be, first, Apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;
then, mighty deeds;
then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,
and varieties of tongues.
Are all Apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

Head, heart, hand, and foot. Each a part of the body. Each with a different function. The foot does not function well as a head; the hand doesn’t work as a heart. Each body part knows its place and function within the body as a whole.

Jesus created his Church in the same fashion. He gave us our Holy Father – the Pope, bishops, priests, deacons, those in consecrated life, and laity, and each with an abundant array of talent. We all have our proper place within the body of the Church. The laity are not priests offering sacrifice; deacons are not the head of the Church. The Church works best when all parts of it do their part.

Yet, we live in an age where people do not like the roles assigned to them. Instead of doing the part for which they are called they take on a role of their choosing. They demand the right to a position they can’t have. They take that which God has not given. When this happens the Church, the Body of Christ, cannot function as it was designed to.

When a hand tries to function as a head it no longer thinks for the body. It concentrates on grabbing things. When a foot tries to function as a heart it is no longer content with love and wishes to wander. For the body to work as the body was designed each part must be content in doing the job it has been called to do. Let the hand be content with being a hand and do the best job a hand can do. The same for the heart, the foot, and even the head. The head is not a hand, nor is it a foot. The head shouldn’t have to grasp things or walk. The head should lead the body and allow the other parts to do what they were designed to do.

Parts cannot function as a body on their own. If the hand does not like where the foot is taking him he cannot leave the body and go where he will. If the heart, hand, and foot do not like what the head says they cannot leave the head and go their own way.

The devil does not want the body to function. He gets the foot to be jealous of the hand, the hand jealous of the heart. “You’re nothing but a lowly foot,” he says to the foot. “You are nothing unless you can do the hand’s job.” “You’re smarter than the head,” he says to the hand. “You don’t need to listen to him. He’s a bad head.” The devil gets every part to think it is the most important part of the body and then he gets them to think they no longer need the body.

As the hymn goes, we are many parts but we are all one body. For the body to work properly each part must do the best job of being that part as it can. Let each of us know our roles, do them with fervor, and not worry how the other parts are operating.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Luke 7: 1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people,
he entered Capernaum.
A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die,
and he was valuable to him.
When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him,
asking him to come and save the life of his slave.
They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying,
“He deserves to have you do this for him,
for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”
And Jesus went with them,
but when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
“Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.
For I too am a person subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
When the messengers returned to the house,
they found the slave in good health.

A mother baked an apple pie and placed it in her window. The aroma of the pie wafted over to a neighbor’s house. With a watering mouth the neighbor came and took the pie from the window.

“What are you doing with that pie?” the mother asked the neighbor.

“It smelled so good I just had to have a piece.” He replied.

“You did not bake that pie. It is not yours to do with what you wish.” The mother responded.

Can any among us say that they have created themselves? If I did not create myself then my body must not belong to me but to the one who created me. I do not have ultimate dominion over this body. I am nothing more than a steward of it. Like the centurion, I am a person subject to authority. I do not have the authority to abuse my body. If I were a woman I do not have the authority to destroy a life growing within me, a life that I did not create on my own.

I am not worthy to have Christ enter into my life and heal me of the things that are killing me. Yet, the Father is the author of all life and the only one with the right to give and take life. He made me and not me myself. I am his creation. He can choose to do with me what he wills. At his word my life is healed.

A good steward relinquishes control when the King returns. Am I a good steward doing right by the King or have I exalted myself to king?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

1 Timothy 1: 12-17

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.
To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,
honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am a man who has walked in the shadow of darkness. I am friends with the murderer, the prostitute, the adulterer, the lair, the thief, and the cheat. I, myself, have done many of these things and more. I am not worthy nor deserving of the mercy I have received. If God were solely a just God I would be cast into the abyss for all eternity to rot for the things I have done.

And yet the Lord has called me out of darkness. He has washed me clean of my iniquities. He has put me on a righteous path and guides my steps. I have renounced the man I used to be and have committed myself to his service.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.

Lord, guide my steps, that they always follow the narrow way. Guide my thoughts that they only be of you. Guide my words that they always be soft and full of love. And guide my deeds that they always reflect your love for all mankind. Make of me a lantern to carry the light of your love to all those still in darkness. My life is yours to wield as you will.

To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Luke 6: 43-49

Jesus said to his disciples:
“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?
I will show you what someone is like who comes to me,
listens to my words, and acts on them.
That one is like a man building a house,
who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when the flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it because it had been well built.
But the one who listens and does not act
is like a person who built a house on the ground
without a foundation.
When the river burst against it,
it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?

Is my faith not enough?

What is the proof of love? Is it not the works we are motivated to do because of that love? If you are married you tell your spouse, “I love you!” but is that all you ever do? Do you not go out of your way to show your spouse how much you love them? Do you get them presents, remember their birthday and anniversary? Do you tell them that they are beautiful? Do you bring them flowers and other gifts? Do you sacrifice yourself for them?

When we love someone we do all kinds of things for them to show our love. If you love Jesus shouldn’t you do what he asks of you? Another word for faith is trust and trust alone is meaningless if it is never tested or demonstrated. When you trust in Jesus what do you do? You listen to his words and you act upon them. To stand and listen to the Word of God and then go off and live any way you choose doesn’t demonstrate trust in the Lord. It does not show faith or love. In fact it shows just the opposite. You cannot love the Lord by faith alone.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

1 Corinthians 9: 16-19, 22B-27

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach, I offer the Gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race,
but only one wins the prize?
Run so as to win.
Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.
They do it to win a perishable crown,
but we an imperishable one.
Thus I do not run aimlessly;
I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it,
for fear that, after having preached to others,
I myself should be disqualified.

Diakonos – The Greek word from where we get the word Deacon. Diakonos meant “table waiter”. They were men ordained by the Twelve to wait tables while they offered prayer for the faithful. Wait tables is exactly what a deacon does at Mass.

First, the deacon greets the guests – “Peace be with you.”

Second, the deacon reads us the menu – “A reading….the Gospel of the Lord.”

Then the deacon sets the table – he places the bread and pours the wine.

The deacon then holds the wash bowl and towel for the priest to wash his hands.

The deacon elevates the precious blood.

The deacon is the main distributor of the precious blood when the Eucharist is offered under both species.

The deacon does the dishes – purifies the vessels after the Eucharist has been distributed.

Lastly, the deacon dismisses the guests – “Go forth, our Mass has ended.”

In this way the deacon performs his duties as table waiter for God’s Holy Table, the altar.

The deacon is also the primary proclaimer of the Gospel. It is a deacon’s responsibility to preach the Gospel. This reading from Saint Paul is a direct charge to the deacon. An obligation has been imposed on him to preach the Gospel willingly, without charge, without boasting, joyfully for all to hear. Deacon, nicely translated as servant, are really slaves to those they minister to. They are to bring the Word of God everywhere they go. They are to proclaim it joyfully for all to hear so that some may be saved by the Word.

As Saint Paul suggests, let us train our minds and our bodies so that we may proclaim the Gospel in all that we say and do. Let the Word not only pass from our lips but through our actions and by the way we live our lives. Let us not find it burdensome or view it merely as an obligation. As table waiters let all deacons prepare an inviting and joyous table for the Feast of the Lord, bringing to it people who have never feasted before. There is much rejoicing in heaven when a new person is brought into the family of God.

The Permanent Deacons from the Rockford, Illinois Diocese class of 2014. Twenty-one men ordained to preach the Word of God.
This is the largest class of permanent deacons in diocese history.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Matthew 1: 18-23

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,

and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”

The Lord, who created everything with just a breath, decided to dwell among his people as one of us. He did not come is splendor or majesty fitting the greatest king ever to walk the planet. He came to us as a defenseless baby born to poor parents in a barn. He came to us as one of us, as one of the lowliest of us.

Jesus came up through the family business. He was a techton, a day laborer. He was very much like the immigrants who gather outside of Home Depot waiting for someone to offer them work. He went to work each day with his foster father Joseph. “Got any work for me today, boss?”

Nothing in Jesus earthly life stood out as anything special. He was common. Even the name Jesus was among the most popular names for boys in the year 1 AD. Mary and Joseph were among the most common names of people of that day. Jesus was ordinary. I have heard it said that you couldn’t pick him out of a crowd of two.

God came to be like us in all things. He came to be ordinary. He came to understand the human condition the way only a human could. This is what makes Jesus the ultimate mediator for the human cause. He can speak humanly as God and divinely as man. He bridges the gap between the two worlds and makes perfect our relationship with God.

God reached across the chasm of infinity to be with us. We need to reach back to him in the godly way Jesus taught us. God pines for us to love him as he loves us. Let us put the love of ourselves aside and love God back, a God who humbled himself to the point of becoming one of us.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

1 Corinthians 7: 25-31

Brothers and sisters:
In regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord,
but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.
So this is what I think best because of the present distress:
that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is.
Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation.
Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife.
If you marry, however, you do not sin,
nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries;
but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life,
and I would like to spare you that.

I tell you, brothers, the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

For a Christian sex is reserved for marriage. Marriage is a vocation, a calling. For too many, marriage is a rite of passage, something they must and are expected to do. Few begin by asking the question, “Is God calling me to marriage?”

The first purpose of marriage is to reproduce. God wishes to fill heaven with his children and he chooses to do this with the cooperation of man. He calls man to a marriage vocation with the intention of extending the heavenly family. Godly vocations do fail but they fail at a much lower rate than a manly vocation. God gives sacramental marriages special grace.

The devil also calls man to vocations. The devil calls men into non-sacramental marriages. The devil wants marriages to fail. He wants marriages to be unfruitful. He wants marriages closed to life and ones who will murder their children still in the womb.

Saint Paul tells us that it is better for us to stay in the condition we are in; virgins should remain virgin and married should remain married. We should only enter into a vocation if the vocation is from God, not from the devil or one of our own choosing.

This world is passing away. It is not coming to an end. The Kingdom of God is at hand. In other words the royal nature of God is with us now. As adopted children of God we have inherited his royal nature. We are not called to live as this world lives. We are called to live as Jesus lived. In that manner, the world as it is has come to an end for the Christian and we live in the world as God wants us to.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Luke 6: 12-19

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground.
A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people
from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon
came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases;
and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured.
Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him
because power came forth from him and healed them all.

Jesus traveled with a crowd of students. From this group he chose twelve. Twelve is a number in the bible that signifies government. Jesus chose the Twelve to be the leadership of his Church. To them he would give special teaching and later pass all of his authority on to them. This is the beginning of Apostolic Succession.

The Catholic Church teaches with the authority of Jesus because he gave that Church the ability to do so. There are many who call themselves Catholic but don’t accept this simple concept. They believe the leadership has gone astray and is now being controlled by Satan himself. These catholics have forgotten that Jesus promised to always be with his Church and that even the gates of hell would not prevail against it. They believe Jesus no longer stands with his Church and that she has been infiltrated by Satan and his demons.

I choose to take Jesus at his word and believe that he himself still guides the Church and the leadership currently at the helm. He guides them to lead us where we need to be at this time. It is sad that others who claim to believe the Catholic faith seem to think differently. They are in good company throughout the ages.

What would be easier for the devil to do; defy Jesus and take over the Church Jesus began and continues to guide or persuade mere men to believe that the Church has gone astray and they are the only ones who have this truth? What convinces a man like Martin Luther that his opinion trumps official Church teaching that has been taught for 1500 years? Surely he can’t be guided by Jesus, who promised to guide the Church.

I have come to learn the hard way that where there is something I disagree with the Church on I am always the person who is wrong. I thank God for guiding me back to the source of faith and authority he gave us. I pray for those foolish enough to believe they have unlocked the secrets and have appointed themselves more an authority than those God put in place.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Luke 6: 6-11

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught,
and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely
to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.
But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

I have heard it said that God has a problem; he thinks he’s God. Doesn’t he understand that there are rules that have to be followed? Doesn’t he remember that he handed down the Law for all? Are we really that far removed from the Pharisees? Do we not argue about our rules?

I know of a woman who proselytized to her mother for years. She told her mother that unless she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior she would go to hell. On what authority did she base this on? Like the Pharisees she went by strict interpretation of what she read in the bible. The bible tells us that unless we accept Jesus we will not receive everlasting life in heaven.

The problem with this belief is it puts restrictions on what God can and cannot do. God can save whomever he pleases and it does not matter if the person accepted Jesus in this life, was baptized, did good works, or had faith. At the time of death Jesus will be his own best advocate. There will be a lot of atheists in heaven and a lot of christians in hell. That is for no one on this planet to decide.

A Saint is any person, angelic or human, living with God in heaven. The Catholic Church does not make someone a Saint. The Catholic Church does officially recognize a person as a Saint when there is evidence to make the claim. To date the Church has canonized over 10,000 people as Saints. Do you know how many people the Church officially recognizes as being in hell? Absolutely zero. Not Judas, not Pilot (a Saint in the Orthodox Church), not even Hitler or Margaret Singer. We do not know who is in hell because we do not know who the Lord grants salvation to in his great mercy.

We have been shown a way to ensure our salvation. We have been given a path to follow. This is for our benefit, not God’s. God does what he chooses to do. He can choose to let an atheist into heaven and he can choose to heal a cripple on the Sabbath.

God is God, we are not. The rules of the game are for us, not he who invented the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Luke 14: 25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

What is the cost to be a disciple of Jesus? Quite simply, it costs you your life. When you choose to be a disciple of Jesus you become a doulos, a slave, more commonly translated as servant. Everything that you have becomes his. One cannot be a doulos and still have the comforts and desires of their life. If you do not give all that you have and all that you are over to Jesus you are not really a disciple.

Everything that I have in my possession belongs to Jesus. I am his steward caring for these things until his return. I am to use the things in my possession to care for those under my care.

When I go to communion every week I do not go to receive something. I do not go to get. I go to give. I go to pledge an oath to the death that I am the Lord’s doulos, his slave. That I will live for him and die for him if necessary. If more people actually understood what happens when you receive communion I believe that the communion lines would be much shorter than the confession lines. In confession you go to receive, to receive absolution for your sins. You go to healed and made new. You go to communion to give that new, healed body to God for the glory of his kingdom.

This is the cross a Christian carries. We no longer belong to ourselves. We belong to God for him to use as he will. We don’t stand with the crowd as Jesus walks by with his cross. We don’t ride horse back with the Romans on the way to Calvary. We walk beside the Lord carrying the same cross that he himself carries.

Consider the cost carefully before picking up that cross and following the Lord. Know that you are pledging your entire self, all that you are, all that you do, and all that you have. You place everything in the hands of Jesus to do with as he sees fit.

Not my will but yours be done.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Luke 6: 1-5

While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath,
his disciples were picking the heads of grain,
rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.
Some Pharisees said,
“Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you not read what David did
when he and those who were with him were hungry?
How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering,
which only the priests could lawfully eat,
ate of it, and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

In the letter of the Law the Disciples were harvesting, threshing, and milling on the sabbath, work that was prohibited. The Pharisees concentrated on what could not be done on the sabbath instead of what the sabbath was created for. Man was not created for the sabbath. Sabbath was created for man. God gave us a day where we aren’t supposed to do anything other than rest and be with him. In the spirit of the Law the Disciples were doing exactly what the sabbath was made for – they were spending time with Jesus.

How do I spend the Lord’s Day? Do I spend it resting and spending time with God? Of course I meet my Sunday obligation but what about after? Sundays for me are usually the only day of the week that I get to catch up on things like yard work. It is my day to mow. By the letter of the Law I am as guilty as the Disciples. Yet mowing gives me time alone to think. Often that thought is Christ centered. I may be mowing but I am spending quality rest time with the Lord. In that way I am fulfilling the spirit of the Law just as the disciples did as they harvested, threshed, and milled wheat for a quick bite.

Friday, September 2, 2016

1 Corinthians 4: 1-5

Brothers and sisters:
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Now it is of course required of stewards
that they be found trustworthy.
It does not concern me in the least
that I be judged by you or any human tribunal;
I do not even pass judgment on myself;
I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
the one who judges me is the Lord.
Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time,
until the Lord comes,
for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts,
and then everyone will receive praise from God.

δούλος του θεού. I am a servant of God and a steward of the mysteries entrusted to me. Saint Paul reminds me that I am to be found trustworthy and will be held to a higher standard. But he also tells me that as long as I am being the best δούλος, doulos – servant, I can be I should not concern myself with the judgment of others. This is a reminder we all must take to heart for the devil will use this tactic against us if we allow him to.

Over Christmas break during Aspirancy 1 I came under such an attack. I do not have the perfect Catholic family (none of us do). My family is all new to the faith and learning it more as I move through formation. One afternoon I had a conversation with the devil that went pretty much like:

“So, you are called to be a deacon huh? What gives you the right to stand up and preach to the congregation on how they should be living a Catholic life? You can’t even get your family to follow even something as simple as no meat on Fridays during Lent. You are nothing more than a great big hypocrite.”

Hmm…sounds logical to me.

“Of course it’s logical. What could be more logical? Fix your own house first before you go off demanding others live accordingly. You’re just as bad as the Pharisees who tried to trap Jesus.”

Hard to argue with….

“If you can’t be a deacon, and that’s what you think you were called to be, why are you even still in this Church? You don’t deserve to be here. You’re nothing more than a two-faced hypocrite.”

I was distressed. I bought the lies. I was on the verge of not only leaving diaconate formation but walking out of the Church altogether. Luckily I had a loving wife who talked me in off the ledge.

I learned later that I was not the only one in my class the devil came after. After sharing this story others sought me out to share their similar experiences. Together we know better.

No, I am not a perfect Catholic. There has been only one perfect Catholic in human history and she received extraordinary grace from the moment of her conception. The Church isn’t for the perfect. It is for the flawed and broken. We all are flawed and broken. The more flawed and broken we are the more we need the Church.

I am called to be δούλος του θεού. I am not called to be perfect, not yet anyway.

God use my brokenness as a tool to bring others to a saving knowledge of your love.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Luke 5: 1- 11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.

Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.

God holds the fishing pole. We are the worm on the hook. We are to be the most enticing worm we can be so we can attract as many fish as possible. This is how we become the fishers of men.

Desire is a strong motivator. It causes men to do all sorts of sinful actions; lie, steal, cheat, and commit adultery to name a few. As followers of Christ we are to use desire to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We are called to live our lives in such a way that people looking on us want what we have. What is the source of your joy? Why are you so happy? How can I get what you have? Good question. Let me introduce you to my friend, my Lord and Savior. Wiggle, wiggle goes the worm on the hook.

When Jesus asks you to put down into the deep do you trust him to do so or do you keep trust in yourself? God often asks us to do things that don’t make sense to us. He knows where the fish are and how to catch them. When God calls trust that he knows what he is doing.

A net let down in the deep catches fish of every shape, size, and species. It is indiscriminate. We are called to be likewise. We are called to serve all of God’s creation, not just the ones of our liking.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

1 Corinthians 3: 1-9

Brothers and sisters,
I could not talk to you as spiritual people,
but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ.
I fed you milk, not solid food,
because you were unable to take it.
Indeed, you are still not able, even now,
for you are still of the flesh.
While there is jealousy and rivalry among you,
are you not of the flesh, and walking
according to the manner of man?
Whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another,
“I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men?

What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul?
Ministers through whom you became believers,
just as the Lord assigned each one.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.
Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who causes the growth.
He who plants and he who waters are one,
and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor.
For we are God’s co-workers;
you are God’s field, God’s building.

Those in ministry are nothing more than tools for achieving God’s will. The tool is not greater than the hand that wields it. Tools do not do work for their own good. There is a proper tool for every job and the proper tool makes any job easier to do. Using the wrong tool often does damage to the object being worked on as well as doing damage to the tool itself.

We each have been given gifts and talents, our attributes as tools. These are what define us and the jobs we are most suited to accomplish. Some of us screwdrivers used to tighten loose screws. Others are pliers used for gripping and adjusting nuts. Some are hammers used to drive home a point. God uses us in different ways to accomplish different tasks. It helps for us to know ourselves and what type of tool we are so we can work in the proper area where our gifts and talents can be best applied.

I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it.

We must remember that the people we minister to are in all stages of their walk with Christ. Some are just checking out the path so see how rocky it may be. Others may be in a transitional state. Some may be suffering from wounds that need to be tended. Our approach cannot be the same for each person and we cannot have the same expectation for everyone. Like Jesus, we need to meet people where they are at and walk with them at the speed of their choosing.

For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Luke 4: 31-37

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
“What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out.”
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

At the time of Christ, exorcist was a common profession. These exorcists expelled demons by invoking the name of a greater demon. They carried lists of names which they would use to do their profession and they were a highly guarded trade secret. Along comes Jesus and he doesn’t invoke greater demons. He doesn’t use names. He uses his authority. Of course, the competition of the day believes he doesn’t need to use names because he himself is a greater, if not the greatest of demons.

Throughout history all kinds of atrocities have been committed, “In the name of God.” Today we have millions of people who preach, “In the name of Jesus.” We are surrounded by pastors, ministers, and TV evangelists who speak with an authority not given to them. The sin of Eve was taking something God did not wish to give. This is the same sin committed by those who lead flocks with an authority taken and not given to them.

The leadership of the Catholic Church is based upon the concept of Apostolic Succession. Jesus passed his authority on to his chosen Twelve by the laying on of hands and breathing into them the Holy Spirit. The Twelve passes that authority on to their successors in like fashion. Every priest and deacon of the Catholic Church who has been properly ordained can trace the authority they have to complete their vocation all the way back to Jesus himself in an unbroken chain of Apostolic Succession.

I cannot come to your house and demand you open the door by the authority of the FBI. I have not been given such authority. Beware those who appear to speak in the name of God and Jesus. Question where they have gotten their authority to do so. The devil is a cunning adversary and uses the appearance of authority to gain trust before leading people away. False authority is easy to spot when the person using it teaches something contrary to official Church teaching. Anyone who teaches contrary to Church teaching is a false prophet without real authority.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mark 6: 17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

The life of a prophet is never an easy one. Because they proclaim truth they are hated by those who want to define truth for themselves. They are hated, persecuted, and even killed for speaking with the authority of God.

Prophet is one of the roles we are called to by our baptism into the family of God. We are to always speak in truth, giving glory to God in all that we say and do. Prophets today are no different than the prophets from the bible. They are still hated, still persecuted, still killed for their dedication to our Lord. Even in this land of the free, a country that was founded with religious liberty as a cornerstone, even here people who try to live by God’s command are mocked and persecuted. We are told to abandon our principles and to get with the modern way. We live at a time where people stand together at Mass and proclaim, “I believe…” and then walk out of the sanctuary saying, “But the Church is wrong on…”

We live at a time where over 50% of the Church in this country declares God’s teachings second to lifestyle and political candidate choices. A time where people can rationalize any abomination for themselves.

Holy Scripture is the prophet of our age. It declares the Word of God to us with authority. And like any prophet of old we celebrate it when it supports our beliefs, hate it when it doesn’t, and try to manipulate it and change it to align with our wills. How much longer until the rulers of our time demand to have its head on a platter? How much longer until it is laid in the tomb?

Saint John the Baptist pray for us.