Saturday, January 28, 2017

Upside Down Blessings - The Beatitudes

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” ~Matt 5:3

A commentary on the Beatitudes from the Sisters of Life
“As consecrated Religious, we profess the vow of poverty, and yet Jesus tells all of His followers, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  … the natural and human response is to recoil and step back from the Blessedness that Jesus teaches us.  At every point in our life we tend to seek comfort and riches, and not poverty, mourning, hunger, thirst, persecution.  The Beatitudes leave us uncomfortable!”

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

The greatness of man lies in his conformity to the likeness of God. We have been made to look like Jesus Christ.  He is the blueprint. The Beatitudes are the road map that sets us on the right path… Beatitudes are paradoxes – when we begin to see through the eyes of God – the values of the world are turned on their heads…

This is what it means to be poor in spirit; to have a radical trust in God for everything; to trust that God will meet all of our very real needs and desires, and so not to worry about anything for ourselves…

Our God longs to be with us, to give us His life, peace, joy, strength, freedom, healing, forgiveness and mercy.  He constantly desires to draw us deeper into His Sacred Heart to show us His Divine Love for us...

Why is it ‘blessed’ to be poor?  Our God came to us as the poor one and He remains with us in the Eucharist, longing to give us the Kingdom of Heaven- the gift of Himself… When we let go of all the attachments of this world and participate in Christ’s poverty, nothing can compare to the joy and interior freedom of living wholly for God in service to vulnerable human life.”

Jan. 29th, 2017 - Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Zep 2:3; 3:12-13 ~ Psalm Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10 ~ 1 Cor 1:26-31 ~ Mt 5:1-12a

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Light of the World - Overcoming Darkness

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen”
Today’s readings speak about the Light of the World being extended to all peoples, not just those of Jewish heritage but also to the pagan Gentiles dwelling in “the shadow of death.” Most of us would be among this group - the non-Jewish peoples to whom the Light of Christ was made manifest. What a wonderful grace and gift to us all - no one is excluded but all are invited to live in the light. For over 2000 years, this Christian message has survived and spread throughout the world. Although Christians have faced death and persecution from the beginning, first under Rome’s pagan rulers right up until our own times when anti-Christian ideologies from atheistic Communism to radical Islam have again made Christianity the world’s most persecuted religion, the Light of Christ has never been extinguished.

But there is something destructive and dark upon our nation, a new attack against Christianity, a great evil that has often succeeded in masquerading as good. This is what John Paul II termed “The Culture of Death.” We live in a society that has accepted abortion as “health care” for 44 years and now in many places accepts physician-assisted suicide as “compassion”; a society that accepts relative truth and denies objective truth about good and evil, life and death; the society in which Christians are silenced or accused of bigotry by many loud voices in our neo-pagan culture of death and darkness. Will this dark shadow eventually succeed in extinguishing the light of Christ, where death and open persecution has failed? What can we do to bring Christ’s light to those who are now living in the shadow of death?

Let us, as Catholics, be not afraid to speak the truth with mercy and love in all the places and to all the people in our lives, and to allow the Light of Christ shine out into the world, despite the consequences. Will we be persecuted? Perhaps. Is it worth it? Completely. It’s a matter of life and death.
Readings for Jan. 22, 2017 - Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 8:23-9:3 ~ Ps 27 ~ 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17 ~ Mt 4:12-23


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Becoming Children of God - The Blessing of Baptism

My daughter & her Godparents on her baptism day. 
“The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
To those who accepted Him, He gave power to become children of God.”
 The Baptism of Jesus opened the way for all of us to be adopted as God’s own beloved children. What a blessing and a gift baptism is! This is not something I always understood, especially during my years away from the Catholic Church. But even while I was still far off, I felt there was something special and necessary about baptism.
When my daughter was born, I wanted her to be baptized but was still away from the Church. My mother-in-law invited us to her Protestant Church, and we met with the pastor to make arrangements. He asked why we wanted our child baptized, and in reply, I mentioned the cleansing of original sin. I was surprised when he responded that baptism was simply a sign of the child being welcomed into the Christian community. After a somewhat uncomfortable conversation, we did go forward with the baptism. Despite the misunderstandings, God accepted His new little daughter with joy. After her baptism, we returned home to see a huge double rainbow arched over our house.
Since then, I’ve learned that, although my daughter’s baptism was valid, the pastor’s view of baptism was mistaken. Baptism indelibly changes our very being, sanctifies us, and washes away original sin. By our baptism, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we become the beloved children of God. The beautiful thing about infant baptism is that from the very beginning we are adopted into God’s family. Our parents and Godparents promise to guide us and teach us the Catholic faith. As we grow up, the graces and gifts of baptism remain with us, helping us to grow in our faith and eventually take responsibility for our baptismal promises.
What an incredible gift to give to your child! Parents, don’t delay; if you have questions, ask, and the Church will help you understand this beautiful Sacrament. Praise God for His mercy in becoming man, so that we, too, have the power to become children of God. 
My son and his Godparents on his baptism day.

Readings for Jan. 15th, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 49:3, 5-6 - Psalm Ps 40 - 1 Cor 1:1-3 - Jn 1:29-34



Saturday, January 7, 2017

Wise Men and Holy Innocents - The Epiphany

We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage. Mt 2:2

Today’s Gospel tells of the visit of the magi, who follow a star to find the newborn king of the Jews. These men stop in Jerusalem seeking direction from King Herod and his scribes and high priests. Herod is “greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him,” at the news of the birth of the prophesied king of the Jews. Herod’s reaction is not one of joy and amazement to realize that the ancient prophecies of his people are being fulfilled in his time. Instead, he immediately begins scheming to find and destroy this child who he sees as a threat to his power.

It is interesting to note that the whole city is troubled at this news. Does the city represent worldly power and its opposition to the radical message of Christianity? The citizens, even the chief priests and the scribes are perhaps too comfortable in their roles as leaders to be open to the message of the prophets, that one day, a little child will lead them. Do they somehow sense that such a King will ultimately ask them to discard earthly honor, power, and wealth? They cling to the power structures that they are familiar with, unable or unwilling to recognize God’s will in the events that are about to unfold.

The magi, “having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,” protect the little king they have come to worship, and “depart for their country by another way.” Joseph will also heed the voice of God whispered in the night, fleeing to safety with Mary and Jesus. Sadly, Herod’s rage will soon be vented by the murder of the holy innocents.

In cities and nations of the world today, Herod’s attack on the child - God’s own image - is starkly played out in the battle between pro-life and pro-abortion forces. Our challenge is to listen to the small, still voice of God in the night: Rise up, protect the child! Let us say “yes” to life as Mary did, and protect the lives of the innocent as Joseph and the wise men did, even if it means facing the wrath of “kings” who are set on their destruction.

Readings for the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 8th, 2017
Is 60:1-6 ~ Ps 72 ~ Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6 ~ Mt 2:1-12



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

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