Monday in the 11th Week of the Church Year.
Saint for the day: St. John Francis Regis (1597-1640)
1st Kings 21:1-16
Before we get into today’s reflection, be sure to click on the “link” to today’s saint: John Francis Regis. There, you’ll see what the Church was going through in France in his time. It makes me think, “There’s nothing new under the sun!”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. ‘ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. … Turn the other cheek.”(Matthew 5:38-39) It’s a shame that only the daily Mass attendants will hear the readings for today’s liturgy and have the opportunity to ponder how we are to follow Jesus in respect to the evil that might be all around us. There are so many conflicts going on in every corner around our world. Even our Dominican Friars in Iraq are asking for our prayers as terror seems to rage all around them. And we can’t overlook the violence in our own country and the merciless shootings – even by young people – that terrorize schools and communities everywhere. Evil has been present since the very beginning. Perhaps Adam and Eve’s desire to better themselves and become like God’s is the first case of jealousy. Certainly, Cain and Abel’s conflict that ended in death was an indication that there is the tendency toward evil in all of us. Today’s first scripture reading from the First Book of Kings gives us the story of conniving Jezebel who promises that she will get the land that her husband covets – by less than righteous means.
In our world today, so many of the conflicts are over land boarders. How Biblical is that? People have been fighting over land since the beginning of time. Yet we are told, “Here we have no lasting city.” Jesus says, “Turn the other cheek” stay on the road to non-violence. But the Old Testament says, “An eye for an eye … if someone steals from you chop off his hand!” and there are many places in our world where this is practiced with vengeance. How can you and I bring the words of today’s Gospel into reality? There are two thoughts that come to mind: St. Francis’ “stone by stone” theory. And the old, standby hymn, “If everyone just lit one little candle what a bright world it would be.”
World powers will never bring about peace. Maahatma Gandhi tried his best but he\\\'s gone. Peace and justice will only come when enough individuals come to grips with the evil tendency within themselves and make a conscience decision to be peaceful and loving. Today’s Gospel is not an easy one to put into practice but we need to start somewhere. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!” (from the 1955 song written by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson)Amen!
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June 15, 2014 – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Click on the above link to read about today’s Solemnity.
Exodus 34:4 …9
Psalm Response: Daniel 3:52…
2nd Corinthians 13:11-13
“If I find favor with you, oh, Lord, do come along with (us) for we are a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 34:9)
If Moses, who came the closest of any to actually encountering God, admits that he is part of a ‘stiff-necked people’ then it follows that we, too, ‘stiff-necked’ as we are, should find hope as we make our roundabout journey through the desert of our own lives. This Feast of the Most Holy Trinity tries to show us the extent of God’s love for his people: in the way he created us even knowing that we would stray from that love and then taking us back 70 times 7 times. Even with that in mind I think it’s good for us to go back to the very beginning and see, in some sense, that God the Father wanted to create a world and a people who would reflect his perfect love. God’s Spirit blows the breath of life into the first human beings and God looked about and said, “It is good!” even knowing what would eventually happen. We might even say that it was God’s sorrow that brought about the Son’s redemptive presence. And there in a nutshell we have a beginning concept of the Trinity. And the story goes on.
Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” And that’s after Peter has denied Jesus at his arrest. Remember, it’s upon Peter that Jesus entrusts the leadership of His Church. In today’s second scripture reading from Corinthians St. Paul says, “In the meantime, we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2nd Corinthians 13:11) Then we can easily see the presence of the Holy Spirit which keeps it all together: hovering over the chaos of our lives and bringing those fruits of
his presence: love, joy, peace, patients, goodness, self-control. If we would live in the Trinity we must allow the Holy Spirit to bring those fruits into our lives. Without that we are nothing but a clanging gong! In the end, though, we have to complete our journey through this earth before we can fully understand and realize what the Holy Trinity really means. They tell the story of a Bishop coming to a local church for confirmation. As was his custom, he asked the young folks, “Who can tell me what the Holy Trinity is?” A young person stood up and said something but the Bishop said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.” So the youngster repeated the answer, which the Bishop still, had to say, “I can’t understand what you’re saying.” That was when the student almost shouted, “Of course you can’t understand! It’s a mystery!” And so we all continue to search for the fullness of understanding while we make our way to the Kingdom. That quote that I began today’s reflection with needs to be our own prayer: “If we find favor with you, oh, Lord, do come along with (us) for we are a stiff-necked people. Amen!”
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Saturday in the 10th Week of the Church Year
Saint for the day: St. Methodius I (Died: 847)
1st Kings 19:19-21
“Jesus says, ‘Let you “yes” mean “yes” and your “No” mean “No.” Anything more is from the Evil One.’”(Matthew 5:36-37)
This quote from the end of today’s Holy Gospel fits in quite well with our first scripture reading from the 1st Book of Kings. Even though it’s quite coincidental that they fall together like this since they are both on their own tracts. In the first reading we hear of the rather sudden “call” of Elisha by Elijah. There are several connections in this first reading that we might not catch and so I’ll bring them to your attention. In the first place Elijah is “out there” almost like our familiar Gospel admonition to be “on the way.” He comes upon Elisha busy plowing and approaches him and throws his cloak over him almost in a protective way and as a means of drawing Elisha into the “ministry of prophet.” But, of course, Elisha wants to say “good bye” to his family but Elijah is calling him to drop everything. But Elijah gives him an “out” by saying, “Go. Do what you want. I haven’t any power over you.” Elisha senses the urgency of his call and does something quite extraordinary: he slaughters his pair of oxen, uses the wood from the plow to make a fire and gave the cooked meat to his workers. Then he left everything and followed Elijah. Later on, when we get into the 2nd Book of Kings, chapter 2 we’ll see that Elijah is carried off in a fiery chariot but he looses that cloak in the ascent. It falls to the ground where Elisha dons it and thereafter continues “in the spirit of Elijah.” What has any of this to do with the quote above that opened today’s reflection? There’s always a sense of urgency in our response to God’s call. We have all been “cloaked” with a garment of salvation at our baptism and are called to keep that as a sign of our commitment to stay close to Jesus. I think I told you of my experience with preparing for my First Holy Communion. Of course we all had to make our “First Confession” prior to that Holy Encounter with Jesus. Afterwards I have a clear memory of telling one of my 2nd grade classmates, “That was easy. But why would anyone want to sin when you are being given opportunity to be with Jesus.” Remember: that was Second Grade; seven years old. I hadn’t been out there on the road of life for very long. What we need to always keep in mind is the fact that God calls us to follow him full well knowing that our “YES” might well be a challenge as we make our way down the road of life. It’s another case of us our having to respond to a whole string of questions to which we must always say “Yes” to Jesus/God and “No” to the evil that is all around us. Think in terms of seeing the “cloak of God’s love and forgiveness” being offered to us all the time. See yourself being clothed and protected by God’s Love. Many of the saints kept their awareness of God’s love by using some kind of “Jesus Prayer” and keeping that “Name above all Names” ever on their lips. St. Dominic did it and we have his quote: “I want only to either speak ‘of’ or ‘to’ Jesus.” And so we pray, ”Jesus, Lord Jesus. Clothe me in your Love and keep me close to you. Amen!
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Friday in the 10th week of the Church year
Saint for the day: St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231)
1st Kings 19:11-16
“Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
How does the Lord make His presence known to us? In strong winds? Earthquakes & fire? Today’s beautiful scripture reading from 1st Kings gives us the account of Elijah’s search for the Lord. He hides in the cave of Horeb waiting for the “word of the Lord” to speak. He is told to “Go out from the cave because the Lord will be passing by.” At the entrance to the cave he encounters a strong and heavy wind which crushed the rocks … but the Lord was not in the wind. Then the earth quaked and fire burst forth … but the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake or the fire. It’s only after this fantastic display, that he hears the sound of a tiny whispering wind and he hid his face in his cloak as the Lord spoke to him.
The beauty of this story has its strength in the fact that it is the story of most of our lives. We all want to be in the presence of God and somewhere along the line we got the notion that God comes to us with all kinds of “hoopla” and “pizzazz!” Yet in reality, the Spirit of God is a gentle presence like that of a soft, cool breeze. But most of us, in our effort to get close to God tramp around making all kinds of noise and then wonder why we haven’t encountered His presence. Today’s Holy Gospel – which is going along at its own speed – catches us up quick with its warning about adultery and the evils which we can do with our bodies. We even hear, “… everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The only consolation we can get from this is to go back to the first Scripture from 1st Kings and realize that there will always be all kinds of distractions in our lives. They may not be earthquakes and hurricanes but they often seem like that’s what they are when they are happening to us. And just like our sense of God’s presence can be perceived – in the soft, gentle breeze; our downfall can come through something as subtle as a wink of the eye. I think the bottom line might be that earthquakes, hurricanes and fire – just like lust – are destructive of the life of the Spirit. All of us are warned to step away from these kind of destructive elements in our lives in order for us to be in the “still, gentle presence of God” that is like that soft, quiet breeze. That line from today’s Responsorial Psalm tells us to “Wait for the Lord with courage; and to be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” I think that word, ”courage” has its roots in the French word for “heart” and “age” put together we are to wait for the Lord in our “heart age.” Then, if we separate stouthearted into stout hearted we get a double whammy, doubled! We’re told to wait for the Lord at the beginning of that phrase and again at the end. Maybe we are to hear that twice since we are so often impatient with the Lord. Pray that we might be more stout hearted. Amen!
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The very Rev. Fr. Lewis Mary Shea, OP was a Dominican friar from the Chicago Central Province of St. Albert the Great,...
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8