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Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 10:12 AM
Brothers and sisters:
If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with Him in glory.
Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.
But now you must put them all away:
anger, fury, malice, slander,
and obscene language out of your mouths.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.
Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in
Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 4:01 PM
If you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, let him be your doctrine. Be rooted and built up in him; let faith be your principle, as you were taught, and your thanksgiving overflowing.
See that no one deceives you with philosophy or any hollow discourse; these are merely human doctrines not inspired by Christ but by the wisdom of this world. For in Him dwells the fullness of God in bodily form. He is the head of all cosmic power and authority, and in him you have everything.
In Christ Jesus you were given a circumcision but not by human hands, which removed completely from you the carnal body: I refer to baptism. On receiving it you were buried with Christ; and you also rose with him for having believed in the power of God who raised him from the dead.
You were dead. You were in sin and uncircumcised at the same time. But God gave you life with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of our debts, those regulations which accused us. He did away with all that and nailed it to the cross. Victorious through the cross, he stripped the rulers and authorities of their power, humbled them before the eyes of the whole world and dragged them behind him as prisoners.
Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them whom he called apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor.
Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood on a level place. Many of his disciples were there and a large crowd of people who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear him and be healed of their diseases; likewise people troubled by evil spirits were healed. All the crowd tried to touch him because of the power which went out from him and healed them all.
Christian faith does not rest on a dogma or any philosophical idea. It rests on a relationship with one person—the person of Christ. Everything else emerges from this personal and collective relationship with, and in Christ. Paul advises us: “Let Christ be your doctrine.” In him dwells the fullness of God. To him all cosmic power and authority belong. In him all beings converge. He connects the heavens and the earth.
Being one with God, he stands with us. Luke tells us poignantly: “Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood on a level place.” One who is God stands on a par with us and calls us to be his disciples. Let us gather around him, reach out and touch him, and receive the power that comes out of him and heals us all.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 6:40 AM
When I was a kid, I got the distinct impression there existed a two-track system in Catholicism. Some really decided to go for it. They became priests, nuns, and brothers because they “had a vocation.” They “gave up” lots of things. Like marriage, family, success in business, and lots of creature-comforts.
The rest of us, however, don’t “have a vocation” and therefore don’t really need to run for the gold. It is enough to just finish the race. We don’t have to deprive ourselves of what most people have. We can get married, have kids, climb the corporate ladder, acquire a vacation home and buy a boat. We just need to go to Mass on Sunday, avoid breaking the Ten Commandments, get to confession when we fail, and basically be decent people.
A few years ago I even heard this two track system clearly laid out in a Sunday homily. The priest said the gospel presents us with a radical Jesus and a moderate Jesus. Some, like Mother Teresa, choose to follow the radical Jesus. But we could pick the moderate Jesus if that was more comfortable for us.
In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus gives us no such choice. He says “NONE of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions.” And probably even more disturbing is this statement: “If ANYONE comes to me without turning his back on his father and mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and sisters, indeed his very self, he cannot be my follower.”
This is an up-front requirement. If you are not willing to do this, don’t bother getting started as a disciple, he says.
Wait a minute. I thought that good Christians are supposed to love their spouses, parents, kids. And how are you supposed to love your neighbor as yourself if you are renouncing both your neighbor and your self? Are we all supposed to leave our families, sell all of our possessions, and enter monasteries and convents?
No. That would actually be not only irresponsible but too easy. “Turning your back” on your family does not mean shirking the duty to care for your own. Renouncing your very self does not mean abusing your self. What Jesus means is being radically detached from family, friends and self-gratification in favor of attachment to God, his truth, his will. There is a love that is about giving and there is a love that is about enjoying. We can never stop giving to others what is for their true and deepest good. But there are times when we must renounce the enjoyment, opinion, and approval of others in order to be faithful to the truth.
The best way to see this is in the life of a very real person who lived out this radical vocation to holiness. Thomas More thought joining the monks who educated him, but realized that he was called to marriage and family. And so he took a job in with the government, got married, had kids. He rose through government service to become the Chancellor of England under Henry VIII. He had a magnificent mansion on the Thames river where he entertained his friend the King as well some of the most famous men and women of Europe. He had a great sense of humor, a deep relationship with his kids, a profound prayer life, and loved to write fiction, satire, and theology.
Then his boss Henry VIII divorced, remarried, and justified it by breaking allegiance with the Pope and making himself the head of the Church of England. He wanted all to take an oath swearing allegiance to his new order. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon. All of the bishops signed save one. All of Thomas’s friends did the same. But Thomas knew signing would violate his conscience, compromise his integrity, offend God, and encourage others in the doing of evil. He loved God, self and others too much to do this. So he lost the esteem of his friends and his king. He resigned his position and lost his income. He ultimately lost his head rather than deny his heart.
Few of us will enjoy the privileges enjoyed by Thomas or be called to make the same sacrifices. But little choices, every day, arise that show us where our true loyalties lie.
Saturday, September 7, 2013, 2:54 PM
Today Pope Francis has asked the world to fast and pray for peace in the world, in the Middle East and especially in Syria. In this spirit, we offer the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Friday, September 6, 2013, 8:02 AM
1st Reading: Col 3:1–11
So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, reveals himself, you also will be revealed with him in Glory.
Therefore, put to death what is earthly in your life, that is immorality, impurity, inordinate passions, wicked desires and greed which is a way of worshiping idols. These are the things that arouse the wrath of God.
For a time you followed this way and lived in such disorders. Well then, reject all that: anger, evil intentions, malice; and let no abusive words be heard from your lips.
Do not lie to one another. You have been stripped of the old self and its way of thinking to put on the new, which is being renewed and is to reach perfect knowledge and the likeness of its creator. There is no room for distinction between Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, foreigner, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.
Gospel: Lk 6:20–26
Lifting up his eyes to his disciples, Jesus said,
“Fortunate are you who are poor, the kingdom of God is yours.”
“Fortunate are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Fortunate are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Fortunate are you when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember that is how the ancestors of this people treated the prophets.
“But alas for you who have wealth, for you have been comforted now.
“Alas for you who are full, for you will go hungry.
“Alas for you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
“Alas for you when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of these people treated the false prophets.”In Matthew’s account of the beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12), Jesus sees the crowd and goes up to the mountainside. In Luke, Jesus comes down and stands on level ground with the people. In Matthew, Jesus “opens his mouth” and addresses the whole people generally. In Luke, Jesus “lifts up his eyes” and addresses the disciples.
In Luke, the pronouncement of woes follows the beatitudes immediately and is addressed to the disciples as well. They would be blessed or condemned depending on how they choose to live their discipleship. If the followers of Christ choose to be poor and hungry, share in the tears of people, and are so committed to Christ’s Gospel that the world hates them, they are indeed blessed. However, if they seek after wealth, privileges, comforts, worldly pleasures, and good name and fame, they are no better than false prophets and have no share in Christ’s glory.
When I look at my life, what do I find awaiting me: the beatitudes or the woes?
Thursday, September 5, 2013, 7:38 AM
Caring Lord, You blessed us with a beautiful example of holiness, Mother Teresa. She followed in Your footsteps by caring for the poor and dying. She taught the world by her actions, and her memory continues to inspire us. Help all of us, Lord, to follow where she has led – help us to tend Your flock, seeing Your face in every person we meet. Amen.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013, 6:28 PM
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
and Timothy our brother,
to the holy ones and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:
grace to you and peace from God our Father.
We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
when we pray for you,
for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and the love that you have for all the holy ones
because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.
Of this you have already heard
through the word of truth, the Gospel, that has come to you.
Just as in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing,
so also among you,
from the day you heard it and came to know the grace of God in truth,
as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow slave,
who is a trustworthy minister of Christ on your behalf
and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
Monday, September 2, 2013, 6:37 AM
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord Himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words
Sunday, September 1, 2013, 3:12 PM
Claiming Our God Given Selves
When we have been deeply hurt by another person, it is nearly impossible not to
have hostile thoughts, feelings of anger or hatred, and even a desire to take revenge.
All of this often happens spontaneously, without much inner control. We simply
find ourselves brooding about what we are going to say or do to pay back the person
who has hurt us. To choose blessings instead of curses in such a situation asks
for an enormous leap of faith. It calls for a willingness to go beyond all our
urges to get even and to choose a life-giving response.
Sometimes this seems impossible. Still, whenever we move beyond our wounded selves
and claim our God-given selves, we give life not just to ourselves but also to the
ones who have offended us
Sunday, September 1, 2013, 6:10 AM
“My God, You have given me intelligence, will, memory, a heart, eyes, hands, in a word all my bodily senses, all my soul’s faculties. You gave me all these things for Yourself, to use them for Your glory, for Your unique, Your great glory. My God, I have now decided that henceforth for the rest of my life, You and You alone will be the sole object to which will tend all my affections and my every act. To please You, to act for Your glory will be my daily task, the task of every moment of my life. It is my wish to live for You alone and that all else should be in You and for You.” Amen