June 29, 2014

12th Sunday of the Church Year.

Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul (d. 64 & 67)

Scripture Readings for today\\\'s Liturgy:
Acts 12:1-11
Psalm 34
2nd Timothy 4:6 … 18
Matthew 16:13-19

“Simon Peter said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (Matthew 16:17)

I hope you can see what the Church does for us in these days after Pentecost.  We pass through a parade of “solemnities” from top to bottom.  It’s like an outline of the important concepts of our faith and the persons that are key in making us understand the ups and downs of our following Jesus.  Today, we are given this “Solemnity” of two rough-cut figures:  Peter and Paul.  If you take a moment to think about these two men:  Peter, the hard-working fisherman.  Probably not too well educated but still tough enough to stand on his own.  And Paul:  just the opposite.  A Pharisee schooled in the Law and a convert in a most dramatic way.  They become a sort of “yang/yang pair” as they each teach us something about following Jesus.  Paul, a zealot; Peter, a little bit more tentative in his gradual understanding of which Jesus is.  Both of these characters are spotlighted in order to help all of us come to a deeper level of our faith in Jesus and what that means in our lives.  When Jesus asks the disciples who do people say that I am they give Him textbook answers:  John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets.  To these answers Jesus retorts, “But who do YOU say that I am?” Be sure not to overlook the “I AM” hint.  It’s Peter that gets the answer right and the one whom Jesus chooses to be the foundation “rock” of the Church.  We can’t forget that both of these great foundation stones of our faith still have to pass through a conversion phase which requires them to make a complete turning around as they come to a tried and true understanding of their roles as leaders.  Peter – who in this Gospel is the one who gets the answer straight – will later have some kind of lapse of memory when asked, in the dark of night at the High Priest’s house, if he knows Jesus.  Paul, on the other hand, has everything concerning God well defined according to his “Pharisaic training.”  He needs to be knocked to the ground in order to “see the light.”  Peter: the rough-tough fisherman who’s so confident when surrounded by the other disciples can boldly answer Jesus’ question.  When he’s alone in the darkness of night his confidence fades and, in fear, he says, “I don’t know the man!”  Three times!
Peter and Paul get paired up in our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus.  There’s always a little of both of these characters in all of our lives.  We’ll be confident and stouthearted in our allegiance in the daylight but come darkness – in whatever form trials come to us – and we forget everything we swore we would never do.  That’s when we need to be knocked down a peg or two in order for us to really “see the light.”  Today’s “solemnity” could be sub-titled, “The Feast of second chances” which most of us need many times in our lives.  Why do you think the Church has “confessions” over and over as we, like Peter, say, “leave me Lord!  I am a sinful person!”  Nothing is beyond the mercy of God as He makes our faith “rock-solid” and lit by the Light of Christ.  Amen!

June 28, 2014

To my faithful readers of Scratchpad Reflections:  we\\\'re having some technecal problems and are working on them.  Patience, dear friends.  We\\\'ll be back on line in no time.


We\\\'re still working to get back up and running.  Sorry for the delay.

Brother Daniel

June 27, 2014

Thursday in the 12th Week of the Church Year\"\\"heart\\"\"

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Scriptures Readings for today’s Solemnity.

Deuteronomy 7:6-11

Psalm 103

1st John 4:7-16

Matthew 11:25-30              “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

These words from today’s Holy Gospel are the invitation to all of us to find our rest and fulfillment in Jesus. That seems to mean that if we \"\\"rest\\"\"really come fully into the Lord’s presence we will find, even here on earth, something of perfect rest. Still, it’s important for us to remember that we can’t find that “green pastures kind of rest\\\" unless we are known by the Good Shepherd. If we look at the lives of almost any of the great saints we can see that they were able to do incredible works with almost a tireless stamina. They were, in a way, able to do this because they first centered\"\\"cabrini\\"\" their lives on the Love of Jesus. I can’t help but think of saints like St.Francis Cabrini who, in days when travel was anything but easy made all those trips back and forth from Europe to the US. And, she, herself, was deadly afraid of travel over water! St. Katherine Drexel is another example of one who first established her relationship with Jesus and was able to see through His eyes the needs of Native Americans – the poorest and least cared for people of her time. Our own St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena were able to undertake serious travel – often by foot – in order to share the vision that they had of \"\\"Drexel\\"\"the Love of Christ. I have to wonder how St. Catherine ever managed to even survive since she was the 28th child in her family!

The only answer to how holy men and women are able to do such incredible works can only be their focus on the love and presence of Jesus in their lives. Today’s Solemnity gives us another invitation to put our focus and attention on the Sacred Heart of Jesus whose heart was pierced for our salvation. I still have fond memories of my growing up years in Catholic grammar school where we paid special honor to the First Friday’s Mass. I can\"\\"shepherd\" still sing that old hymn, “Sacred Heart of Jesus, font of love and mercy, to thee we cry thy blessings to bestow…” There’s something key in the words to this hymn: “font of love and mercy” It tells us that we first have to come to Jesus if we want to be ambassadors of HIS love and mercy. Most of us get this backwards thinking that doing good works will eventually lead us closer to God. We have to “seek the Good Shepherd” first and then He will lead us into the green pastures. THEN we are able to go out into the world – sharing what we have received in seeking closeness with Jesus. All those holy men and women, down through the ages, weren’t able to do, what many would think impossible, because they were clever. They did it because they first found strength and life from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, “font of love and mercy!” Amen!

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june 26, 2014

Thursday in the 12th Week of the Church Year\"Love\" 

Saint for the day:

St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer (1902-1975)

Scripture Readings for today\'s Liturgy:

2nd Kings 24:8-17

Psalm 79

Matthew 7:21-29

“Help us, O God our savior, because of the glory of your name; deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.” (Psalm 79:9)

My routine in preparing these daily reflections begins on a practical level: a good, strong cup of coffee! Then, in the little house chapel, \"prayer\"before the Blessed Sacrament, I offer this day – a gift from God – back to God with some prayers of praise and re-dedication. After that I read the “saint for the day” just to keep in touch with those who have gone before us and are singled out as examples of all the many ways to follow the Lord. After reading the appointed scriptures for the day, I try to find some verse that jumps out at me as a kind of “keynote phrase” for the day. I usually pick a verse, like the one above, that renews my trust that God will “help us and pardon our sins.” This one, from today’s responsorial psalm, seemed to be a good connection between the – somewhat confusing – Old Testament story and the Gospel. Sometimes we too easily dismiss some of the Old Testament stories and miss the overriding thought\"Neighbot that God continues to bless us and call us even though we stumble and fall along the way. Today’s Holy Gospel begins by saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven … but those who listen to these words of mine AND acts on them.” And we’re right back to the beginning and the “greatest commandment” - the “Shema Israel” – “You shall love the Lord, your God … and your neighbor as yourself.” It’s important for us to notice that Jesus doesn’t say, you have to do mighty miracles or prophesy and speak in tongues. Then we’re given the example of building our faith on solid rock rather than on the sand. We have to get to the core of what our belief in God is all about. This is a vivid image for me, having grown up on the Western US \"houseocean coast. I’ve walked along beaches in California, Oregon and Washington and have seen places where people have built their homes on sand and what they have to do to keep their precious homes in tact. I think there’s an important concept for all of us in this analogy so that we can see that our faith and belief in Jesus must not be constructed on anything but the rock solid faith and belief that God will always protect us and keep us free of harm as long as we keep Him in the center of our lives. I know that I always have to catch myself when I’m walking along the beach and “day dreaming” about which of these lovely homes I would like to live in. Then, God somehow makes me look aroundat how many mega-tons of boulders the people have had to put in place right up to the beautiful, bay windows of their beautiful homes that constantly get buffeted by the crushing waves! This prompts me to keep in mind the quote, “Where your thoughts go in your idle moments, there’s your treasure!” As I walk along the beach I can see where the shoreline was not so many years ago and wonder how many of these dream houses will be able to withstand the ravages of time. Go back and read the opening paragraph of today’s Holy Gospel and let that be your meditation for today. Amen!