Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jesus's Distressing Disguise - Mercy Meditation, Sept. 25th, 2016


via Wikipedia Commons
 

At the hour of death when we come face-to-face with God, we are going to be judged on love; not how much we have done, but how much love we put into the doing.
― Mother Teresa

Today’s Gospel reading reminds me of our newest Catholic saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta. She spent her life lifting “Lazarus” out of the gutter, providing tender care for the poor, the sick and the dying. She was motivated always by her great love for Jesus, “in His distressing disguise,” saying, “When we touch the sick and needy, we touch the suffering Body of Christ.”

Yet this little saint of the poor spoke often of another kind of poverty. She knew that the greatest gift she could give to the abandoned and the poor was the gift of love. She reminded us that the lack of love was the greatest poverty, and she recognized that this poverty afflicted even the rich, saying, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for... There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

The place to begin to serve the poor is in our own homes and families; wherever God has placed us. The poverty we encounter there may not be physical but spiritual. For many of us in affluent America, this is where we must reach out with the love of God: to the lonely, the lost, the addict, the young woman facing a crisis pregnancy, our elderly neighbor living alone. Mother Teresa reminds us, “There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.”

 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Renewed by Merciful Love - Mercy Meditation for Sept. 11, 2016



Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord.” -Psalm 51:12



The word “create” in Psalm 51 is the same word found in the creation story in Genesis. In Christ, we have the chance to be recreated, made new, washed clean of sin, just as we were originally created by God before the fall. We are reborn! The free and gracious gift of forgiveness and redemption has been won for us by Christ’s victory over sin and death.

But there’s more to it; there is the part we sometimes forget to talk about – what we must do to be ready for this awesome and undeserved gift. That is repentance.  

David repented of his sin against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah before composing the beautiful psalm that is sung today, the Miserere. Paul repented of his past role in the persecution of Christians after his experience on the road to Damascus. He never takes credit for his own salvation, always remembering the merciful love of God that transformed him into a disciple of Christ. With mercy and gentleness, Jesus seeks out the lost and calls the sinner to repentance, conversion, and discipleship.

The longer version of today’s reading includes the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son: a story of hope, unconditional love, and restoration. But it is important to realize that the Father did not go out to find his son in the pigpen, although he may have wanted to. It was only when the son changed his heart, repented, and resolved to return and beg forgiveness that the Father ran to meet him, welcoming him home with rejoicing.

Jesus longs for our return, but He will not force us to accept His mercy and love. He calls our names and invites us to the feast. Listen for His invitation and turn back to the Lord; you, too, are invited to the banquet. Turn, and enter into the joy.
 
 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Trusting Jesus With All Your Heart




“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.” (Lk 14:25)
 
The first time I read this passage, I was surprised by Jesus’s words. How could Jesus, who admonishes us to love one another, tell us to hate our own families? Referring to the footnotes in my study bible, I learned that in the Hebraic culture of the time, the use of the word “hate” in this context was an emphatic way to express total detachment.

This admonition holds special meaning for those called to forsake family life for a priestly vocation, but it is also a reminder to all Christians that no one should ever take the place of God in our lives. Many of us can recall at least one time in our past when a romantic relationship, a close friendship, or a beloved family member occupied the place in our hearts that was meant for God alone. If our commitment to follow Christ is not strong, we might find ourselves idolizing a person in place of God.  

In Paul’s letter, he speaks of his dear friend Onesimus, who had become like a son to him, a beloved child of his old age and a comfort in his imprisonment. Although he finds it difficult to let Onesimus go, Paul does not cling to this relationship. Releasing him to his previous master, Paul says, “I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you,” asking that he be received as a brother in Christ, no longer a slave.

Be willing to let go of whomever or whatever concerns you, even your child, “your own heart.” Give God full authority over your life, your worries, and your family members; consecrate all that you love to His Divine Mercy and trust Him to care for them better than you could yourself.

 

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

Photo from theFederalist.com     My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was ...