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July 3, 2014

July 3, 2014 – Thursday in the 13th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day:  St. Thomas the Apostle

Scriptrue Readings for today\\\'s Liturgy:
Ephesians 2:19-22
Psalm 117
John 20:2-29

“Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’” (John 20:29)

Since my surname is “Thomas” I’ve always considered this to be our “Family’s Feast Day.”  But it wasn’t until I was a Dominican and came in contact with the German, Dominican Sisters at our House of Studies, that I learned how to really celebrate a “feast day.”  These sisters knew how to make a feast day special and so they approached their work – in the kitchen or the landry – differently than on all other days.  They put away their “work habits” and put on their “Sunday-go-to-church best, heavy, wool habits and only did the work that was actually necessary.  With this in mind, go back and read today’s first Scripture from Ephesians which tells us something about our identy and followers of Jesus.  “We are no longer strangers and sojourners, but … fellow citizns with the holy ones and members of the household of God.” But don’t stop there.  Go on to the Responsorial Psalm which tells us what we need to do in claiming this “citizenship:”  “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.” (The response verse from Mark 16:15)  Maybe poor Thomas was out doing just that when Jesus came and found the others locked in the upper room.  We have to ask ourselves, why is Thomas marked as “doubting” when they, themselves believed on the basis of having seen Jesus?  The others only tell Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.”   But it’s Thomas who maks the dramatic, ‘faith statement,’ “My Lord and my God!”  Sacred art makes a big deal out of this sceanerio, depicting Thomas poking his finger into the wounds of Jesus.  But the Holy Scriptures don’t actually say that Thomas  did that.  He just makes his, now famious declaration, “My Lord and my God!” The only thing the others are recorded as saying was, “We have seen the Lord!”   I think our “bottom line” might be to put it all together so that we can say, both, “I have seen the Lord” and “My Lord and my God.”

Then, we need to go back to that verse from the Responsorial Psalm, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.”   Put on your “Sunday Best” and have the courage to go out from the security of some kind of a locked, upper room and be able to say, “I have seen my Lord and my God!”

July 2, 2014

Wednesday in the 13th Week of the Church Year.

Saint for the day:  St. Oliver Plunkett (1629-1681)

Scripture Readings for today\\\'s Liturgy:
Amos 5: 14 … 24
Psalm 50
Matthew 8:28-34

“Seek good and not evil, that you may live; Then truly will the Lord, the God of hosts, be with you as you claim!” (Amos 5:14-15)

There are times when I can read through the appointed Scripture readings for the day, and immediately see some stiring point to focus on.  That isn’t the case today!  In fact all three of the Scriptures for today leave me confused and out there, almost in the dark.  This is compounded by the fact that I, myself, am sitting here in the dark of our little chapel before the Blessed Sacrament and reading that the Lord doesn’t seem to like what I’m doing:  “Away with your noisy songs!”(Amon 5:21)  Then I drop down to the responsorial psalm and it doesn’t get any better:  “Israel, I will testify against you!” Oh, well.  Maybe the Holy Gospel will give me some encouragement; only to find the story of the two demoniacs lurking around the tombs with their plea, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come to torment us…?”  I found it amuzing that the demons get into a bargaining game with Jesus and settle for leaving the domoniacs by entering the pigs.  There are several elements in this story that we need to be aware of:  in the first place Jesus is passing through pagan territory and near a cemetery. Two stricks already.  Cemetaries were considered unclean for the Jews. But that wasn’t all there was to the bad side of this account.  There were also pigs present who were unclean to the Jews.  Once the demons enter the pigs they throw themselves over the cliff in to the sea.  For the Jews, the sea was the home of Liviathan, the devil and it was fitting that the possessed pigs should end up there.  It would appear, at first glance, that Jesus had done some good  by freeing the demoniacs and bringing order even in a place like a cemetery.  Yet when the people come out to see what’s going on they beg Jesus to leave their district!  I remember a time when I encountered a street person who was begging.  It was when I was helping out at a little store-front mission and I told the begger, “you don’t have to stand out here begging.  Let me show you where you can go to get some food and help.”  I was taken aback by his turning away from me with a curt, “No, sir.  Thank you very much.  I’ll be OK”  Jesus always call us to some kind of change which many of us don’t really want.  I guess it’s a matter of “the devil we know rather than the devels we don’t know.”  Even our worship and praise can be tainted by this theory that we have it all together and don’t need any help from outside.  Jesus purified the Gadarenes area and the people begged him to leave!  We always need to be like those desciples at Emmaus:  “Stay with us Lord.  It is getting towards evening.”  (Luke 1234??)   And He does stay with us and we recognize Him in the beaking of the Bread.  Seems like we always come back to this encounter with the presence of  Jesus.  “Were not our hearts breaking within as He spoke to us?” (Ibid)

July 1, 2014

Tuesday in the 13th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Blessed Junipero Serra ( 1713-1784)

Amos 3: 1 -8; 4:11-12
Psalm 5
Matthew 8:23-27
“Seek Good & not evil.”  “Lord Jesus stay with us.”

God will always come down hard on the people who are not honest about the way they follow the Lord.  Hypocrisy – like that of the S & Ps in the Gospels will always draw a sharp indictment from Jesus.  In the OT reading from Amos God promises to be with the people but warns them not to only give him lip service.  It calls all of us to look at the way we show honor to God and cautions us about our fancy songs & empty offerings.  In the Gospel story of the “swine Devils” it’s the possessed who call out to God/Jesus to be saved.  The locals beg Jesus to leave their town.  Why didn’t they want Jesus around?  Perhaps the answer lies in the perennial fact that Jesus always calls us to something better and that often means we have to change something in our lives.   Many poor & disadvantaged people never seem to be able to get out of the hole they’re in because it’s all they have.  Take them out of it and they have nothing.  Jesus offers a new way – a change – but many would rather dive into a deeper hole!  Amen!


June 30, 2014

Monday in the 13th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day:  Blessed Raymond Lull (1235-1315)

Scripture Readings for today\\\'s Liturgy:
Amos 2:6 … 16
Psalm 50
Matthew 8:18-22

“The one that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to the one that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)

Today’s short gospel makes three important points that we might consider.  The first line might tell us something about our own ministries and that huge crowds of followers aren’t necessarily an indication that we are doing the right thing.  Jesus turned away from the crowd and went to the other shore.  This might be an indication that our first priority in following Jesus is to be a missionary.  Or, at least, to be out there “on the way!”  Read the little blurb on today’s saint, Raymond Lull, to see that there really isn’t anything new under the sun.  In today’s Holy Gospel, when the scribe proclaims that he will follow Jesus wherever He goes, Jesus tells him that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.  Another indication that His followers are not to stake claim on living a secure and safe life.  Even those close ties to family are not to get in the way of our being out there on the way to the Kingdom.  I don’t think that Jesus is asking us to be disrespectful to our parents but He is asking us to not let anything get in our way of following Him.
If you read the Gospel for today first; and then go back to read the passage from the Book of Amos you might get a little deeper sense of what following the Lord requires.  Don’t forget to then read through today’s Responsorial Psalm since it gives us a kind of outline or checklist that might help to keep us on the right track.  You might go back and read the reflection for yesterday – the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul – to get a different slant on these two “pillars of the Church” – which might give you a little edge on what they had to go through in order to follow Jesus and arrive at that rock, solid faith in spite of their previous life struggles.  Under all of this keep those words of Jesus before you at all times:  “I will be with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Amen!

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