Sunday, July 31, 2016

Treasures in Heaven: Mercy Meditation, July 31st, 2016


Treasures in Heaven

Today’s readings all remind us of the transience of life on earth, and the importance of seeking what is beyond: the treasures of heaven. Through God’s mercy and love, the joys of heaven can be experienced while we are still here on earth if, in faith, we focus on “what is above.” St. John Paul II expressed his thoughts on this message in his general audience of July 21, 1999, saying:

“The depiction of heaven as the transcendent dwelling-place of the living God is joined with that of the place to which believers, through grace, can also ascend… Thus heaven becomes an image of life in God. In this sense Jesus speaks of a “reward in heaven” and urges people to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (M 5:12, 6:20; cf. 19:21).

…Since believers are loved in a special way by the Father, they are raised with Christ and made citizens of heaven… The fatherhood of God, who is rich in mercy, is experienced by creatures through the love of God's crucified and risen Son, who sits in heaven on the right hand of the Father as Lord.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church sums up the Church's teaching on this truth: ‘By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has ‘opened’ heaven to us...’ This… can be anticipated in some way today in sacramental life, whose centre is the Eucharist... as we pass through this world we are called to seek “the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col 3:1)…”

Keep your eyes on Christ, hidden in the Eucharist, listening always for His voice in your heart, seeking to do His will, and the treasures of eternity will be yours.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pray Always - Mercy Meditation for July 24th, 2016


The Prayers of Ten Good Men Can Save a City

In the first reading for July 24th, we get to listen in on an extraordinary discussion between Abraham and the Lord about the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham, in his humble and somewhat crafty way, says, “See how I am presuming to speak to the Lord, though I am but dust and ashes!” Then he proceeds with his bargaining on behalf of the citizens of these cities, ultimately persuading the Lord to spare the cities if just ten innocent men are found there. Intercessory prayer in action!

In the Gospel, Jesus, teaching the Apostles how to pray, gives us the perfect prayer: the Lord’s Prayer. It begins with praise for our heavenly Father and concludes with petitions for ourselves and for the world – for the bread of life, for forgiveness, for strength against temptation. Jesus continues teaching about prayer in the next passage, encouraging us to persistently ask the Father for all that we need, and He, who gives His children all good things, will hear and answer our prayers. We should trust completely in the merciful God who will not deny the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who seek Him.

Jesus’s teaching – and Abraham’s conversation with God – both assure us that our prayers are heard in heaven. We even learn that the prayers of just ten good people can save a city. Sadly, those ten were not found in Sodom and Gomorrah.

In our own times, when sin abounds even more than it did then, it’s more important than ever to pray and intercede for each other, for our cities, and for the world. Be one of the ten. Pray always, and trust in the mercy of God. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Good Samaritan - Meditation on Mercy, July 10th, 2016

Photo from St. Henry Catholic Church, Ohio - Wikimedia Commons
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Who are you in the parable of the Good Samaritan? Have you ever reached out in mercy to someone wounded by the side of the road? Have you ever walked by someone in need, with your eyes averted? Or have you experienced the helplessness of being the one who has been beaten, robbed, and left for dead, dependent on the mercy of strangers?  Most of us have played all these parts, including me. Sometimes, I am the wounded one lying in the street, rejected and abandoned. More often, I am the one who swiftly walks by, pretending not to see. Very rarely, I am the one who picks up and cares for the wounded one.

The Samaritan is ultimately the figure of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. It is he who picks us up and cares for us. Yet in these times, no one seems to care. No one even says thank you. No one even knows it happened. That’s what is so amazing. They rise the next day in the inn, just thinking, “I picked myself up, I cleaned my own wounds, I don’t need God, I don’t need anyone, I am independent.” Somehow we have come to believe only in self, not in God, not in Jesus. Even many of those who were brought up to love God and to know Jesus just reject it all and live their lives apart from Him.

In the prophecy of Hosea, we hear how much God loves us, as a father loves his children. Although we turn away from Him, refusing to recognize Him and breaking His heart, He loves us still. He offers us mercy and healing; He will not come in wrath.

When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them, the farther they went from me,
sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms;
but they did not know that I cared for them.
I drew them with human cords, with bands of love;
I fostered them like those who raise an infant to their cheeks;
I bent down to feed them…
How could I give you up, Ephraim, or deliver you up, Israel?
My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred.
I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again;
For I am God and not a man, the Holy One present among you;
I will not come in wrath. Hosea 11:4-9

Our dear God must be so much offended. And I know I have offended him more than anyone else. I spent decades offending God. And I know others will find their own path to Him but I just pray it takes shorter than it did for me. I just pray that it does not come too late. I don’t know the end of the story, but I want to be ready and I want my family and all my loved ones to be ready, to know God and love him so that they may spend eternity with Him no matter what becomes of this earth or each of us. Just let me never forget the healing given to me by the Good Samaritan. Don’t let me credit the innkeeper, myself, or someone who walked by, not knowing the one who loved me. Let me know and serve the Lord in this life that I may be happy with him forever in the next.

Dear Lord, convert my heart. Draw me, day by day, nearer and nearer to your Sacred Heart. There, as I can bear the lesson, teach me your blessed ways. Amen.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Lord of the Harvest - Mercy Meditation, July 3, 2016

"It is really God himself, the "Lord of the harvest", who chooses his labourers; his call is always undeserved and unexpected. And yet, in the mystery of God's covenant with us, we are called to cooperate with his providence, and to use the powerful tool which he has placed in our hands: prayer! This is what Jesus himself asked us to do: "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest!" (Mt 9:38)....
Prayer moves the heart of God."

John Paul II

Today’s Gospel tells of Jesus sending out His disciples with the simple mandate to proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom. They are to take nothing for the journey, but depend on the generosity of those they meet. These men are to be received and cared for as if God Himself had entered each village. Those who welcome the disciples receive the peace of God; those who reject them will suffer severe consequences.

These disciples might be said to have experienced the call of God to the priesthood, and their primary duty, then as now, is to proclaim the Good News of the coming of the kingdom of God. God, in His great mercy, desires that not one soul be lost. To achieve this mission, God has empowered His disciples to cast out evil in His Name, even giving them the authority to pass judgment on those who, in rejecting them, have rejected God. This amazing empowerment continues in the Church and the priesthood to this day, and yet Jesus reminds us, rejoice not in the authority and power given to the Church, but in the fact that the names of those who remain faithful to her are written in heaven.

In contrast to the Gospel’s strong depiction of the disciples’ mission, the first reading from Isaiah uses tender imagery to depict the Church, the New Jerusalem, comforting God’s people as a mother comforts her child. But the message is the same; both readings describe the Church’s loving mission of bringing the Good News of God’s kingdom to the whole world. This mission and mandate to seek out the lost, visiting every village and home, will continue until the end of time. The Church continues to offer peace and mercy to all whose hearts are open to hear the Good News, welcoming His chosen disciples as if they were welcoming Christ Himself.

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

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