In a generous spirit… in a spirit of joy….

February 28, 2017 Tuesday, Week Eight, Year I Link to Readings: Sirach 35:1-12; Psalm 50; Mark 10:28-31. Most religions include some kind of conscious giving to God. This can take the form of ritual sacrifices or of explicitly religious support of the poor or of what we recognize as “God’s work,” regardless of who is doing it. But Sirach 35:1-12 says the first of all gifts is to “keep the law.” This is a “great oblation.” We make it when we “observe the commandments,” do “works of charity… give alms… refrain from evil… and avoid injustice.” We have to give something. “Appear not before the Lord empty-handed.” But what gives value to the gift is the attitude of the giver. What God sees in our

Perspective Changes Everything.

February 27, 2017 Monday, Week Eight, Year I Link to the Readings: Sirach 17:19-27; Psalm 32; Mark 10:17-27. The fact is that, though blessed by God’s light, we sometimes fail to walk in it. But for those with eyes to see, even our faults reveal God’s goodness by giving us the experience of his mercy. Sirach 17:19-27 assures us, “To the penitent he provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope.” Why? Why is God so willing to forgive, to make it so easy to return to him? Why doesn’t he just give up on those who give up on him? We do. It is because, even though we are in the image of God, He is infinitely better. How great is the mercy of the Lord, his forgiveness to those who r

In God Alone

February 26, 2017 THE EIGHTH SUNDAY OF YEAR A Inventory Are you ever anxious? Stressed out? Who isn’t? But how do you deal with it? What is your response? (And how does it work for you?) Input The Entrance Antiphon gives the response God inspires: “The Lord has been my strength.” But not just strength to endure: “He has led me into freedom.” We can be free of stress and anxiety. The bottom line: “He saved me because he loves me.” If he who is Power Itself, the Source and Sustainer of all existence, loves me and chooses to keep willing me into existence, even sharing his own divine life with me and uniting me to Jesus Christ as his continuing body on earth, what do I have to worry about? The

FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION: WEEK 7

The Seventh Week of Ordinary Time: The book of Sirach. also called Ecclesiasticus, invites us to reflect on creation, life and relationship to God. Invitation: To grow in desire for wisdom and commit ourselves to discipleship. Ask yourself in prayer and others in discussion, for each statement below: “Do you see this in the Scripture reading? What response does it invite? Sirach 1:1-10: We need to seek wisdom where it can be found; in God’s word. The first step into discipleship is to declare yourself a learner through some visible form of concrete commitment. Knowing I am committed to grow as a disciple is a mystical experience. We don’t realize we are committed until we don’t feel like doi

Fear Minus Fright = ?

February 25, 2017 Saturday, Week Seven, Year I Link to the Readings: Sirach 17:1-15; Psalm 103 Mark 10:13-16. The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him. Sirach 17:1-15 takes us “back to basics.” But the basic truths of life are often the ones we never look at deeply. And seldom think about. Our loss. “The Lord created humans out of earth, and in his own image he made them.” We don’t just exist. If we can see the hand in front of our face, we know it has no reason to be there, nothing within itself to explain its existence. Nor does anything else in the universe. Sirach says we are “created.” There is a self-explanatory Being whose existence is such that it needs no explanation

The Seductive Power of Culture

February 24, 2017 Friday, Week Seven, Year I Link to readings: Sirach 6:5-17; Psalm 119; Mark 10:1-12. When we see how things go on this earth and the paths that people follow, what overwhelms us is the seductive power of culture. Children grow up in Christian homes. Their parents have the faith and form them in it. But once out of the house, the youth stop going to Mass. The last thing on earth youth want to hear is that they are “conformists.” But in fact, their behavior is predictable. They will conform to the attitudes, values and behavior of their peer group. First in college; later in business and politics. They were taught that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. But in fact, th

Read, Reflect, Respond

February 23, 2017 Thursday, Week Seven, Year I Link to Readings: Sirach 5:1-10; Psalm 1; Mark 9:41-50 Discipleship is all about conversion. God has no reason to give us more light if we don’t intend to walk by it. In John’s Gospel Jesus is identified as Light and Life interchangeably: “In him was life, and the life was the light of all people…. to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power….” Pow er to live and act: “to become children of God.” [1] In fact, when one meditates on Scripture, what opens the door to its meaning is a practical focus. The three “R’s” of Scriptural meditation are “Read, Reflect, Respond.” But sometimes our reading and reflection seem barren: we d

The Chair of St. Peter, Apostle

February 22, 2017 The Responsorial (Psalm 23) “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want” lifts up our eyes to heaven. This feast brings them down to earth. We are celebrating the “Chair” or official function of St. Peter in the Church and of those elected to represent him in continuing it: the bishops of Rome. This confronts us with the central mystery of Christianity: the Word made flesh, God made human in Jesus Christ. This is also the central mystery of the Church: a human organization that is also the divine body of Christ. A community of sinful human beings, governed by sinful human beings, that nevertheless proclaims itself — and is — “holy” and guided by the Holy Spirit.

O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.

Same Day: February 22, 2017 Wednesday, Week Seven, Year I Link to Readings: Sirach 4:11-19; Psalm 119; Mark 9:38-40 What advantage is there in embracing discipleship? What does “wisdom” give us? Sirach 4:11-19 lists some advantages: Wisdom “instructs her children and admonishes those who seek her.” Disciples want, and get, input: both general instruction and insight into their own failings. Those who want wisdom “love life,” because they want to grow into more life, into “life to the full.”[1] Those who seek wisdom “win her [God’s] favor” just by desiring to grow. But to be authentic, desire has to pass into action. And only those who “hold her fast” through perseverance will “inherit glory

Commit Your Life to the Lord

February 21, 2017 Tuesday, Week Seven, Year I Link to Readings: Sirach 2:1-11; Psalm 37; Mark 9:30-37 A once-popular love song begins, “I never promised you a rose garden.” Sirach 2:1-11, however, does. But he is honest about the thorns. To those who “come to serve the Lord” he says, “Prepare yourself for trials.” Good and evil are at war in our world, and in each one’s heart. If you get into the fight, you are going to get hit. Be ready for it. For in fire gold is tested, and those who are worthy in the crucible of humiliation. If we “cling to the Lord,” however, and “forsake him not,” he promises, “Your future will be great.” If we persevere. God wins — in the world and in each of us. Ben

The Lord is king; He is robed in majesty

February 20, 2017 Monday, Week Seven, Year I Link to readings: Sirach 1:1-10; Psalm 93; Mark 9:14-29 In Genesis God’s story about creation gave us “a version with vision.” Now the Liturgy of the Word invites us to go beyond basic understanding and explore the deep wisdom literature that teaches us to live in this world with “appreciation for spiritual things.” Sirach is also known as Ecclesiasticus (“church book”) because of the use the early Christians made of it for moral teaching. It was written by Jesus Ben Sira around 180 B.C. In 132 B.C. his grandson translated his Hebrew into Greek. The Christians accepted it in the “canon” or list of inspired books, but after the first century the Je

Accepting the New Commandment

February 19, 2017 THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF YEAR A Link to Readings: LV 19:1-2, 7-8; 1COR 3:16-23; MT 5:38-48 Inventory Today, is it possible to be fully human without being “fully divine”? What, for a Christian, does it mean to “be holy”? What does it mean to “be perfect”? Can we? Input The Entrance Antiphon (Psalm 13) focuses us on God’s love and faithfulness: “I will sing to the Lord for his goodness to me.” This is the focus we ask for in the Opening Prayer: “Father, keep before us the wisdom and love you have revealed in your Son.” They are the same: the height of God’s wisdom and love were both revealed in the “foolishness” of the cross and Christ’s insistence that to be his disciples we m

FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION: WEEK SIX

The Sixth Week of Ordinary Time tells us God the Creator wills life, not death. And so should we, being made in his image and consecrated “stewards of creation.” Invitation: To enhance life on earth in every way we can. Ask yourself in prayer and others in discussion, for each statement below: “Do you see this in the Scripture reading? What response does it invite? Genesis 4:1-25: If we kill anyone, we need to be aware that it is our brother or sister we are killing. We are called to love and care for all as brothers and sisters. God continues to give life because he looks at his creation and still sees “how good it is.” We need to have faith in the basic goodness of human nature. Genesis 6:

I will praise your name forever, Lord!

February 18, 2017 Saturday, Week Six, Year I Link to readings: Hebrews 11:1-7; Psalm 145; Mark 9:2-13. Unexpectedly, the liturgy ends this first set of readings from Genesis (to be resumed in Week 12) with a final reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (read during Weeks 1-4). Hebrews 11:1-7 was probably chosen because Genesis calls us to see the world through eyes of faith and this reading holds up as models for faith the three exemplary figures of the chapters we have read from Genesis: Abel, Enoch and Noah. Faith is "conviction about things we do not see." Genesis calls us to this from the very beginning. We understand through faith in what we read that “the worlds were created by the wo

Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be His own

Reflections for February 17, 2017 Friday, Week Six, Year I Link to Readings: Genesis 11:1-9; Psalm 33 Mark 8:34-9:1 A missionary in Africa noticed a new mud hut outside a village. Asking, he was told “That family did not get along with the chief. They moved out.” A few months later there were a dozen new huts. Then there were none. He was told, “A lot of people didn’t get along with the chief, so they moved further into the bush and started a new village.” In a country without writing, it would only be a matter of time before they were speaking a different language. When children asked, “Grandfather, why don’t those other people speak the same language we do?” God gave his answer in Genesis

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