Friday, March 27, 2009

5th Sunday of Lent Year B 2009


In the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah it becomes so clear that God longs to be a part of our lives.

God is not just some powerful force to be reckoned with.

He is not some vengeful God waiting for us to screw up,
rather He longs for a relationship with us.

And in this relationship…
He doesn’t want us to do the right thing just because we are afraid of being punished.

He doesn’t want us to do the right thing just because it’s the rule or the law.

In this beautiful passage we learn that God wants us to do the right thing because we love Him.

He longs for us write his name on our hearts … just like to two young lovers carve their initials in a tree.

As Jeremiah said so beautifully

I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

When a person is in love… they are never satisfied with giving the bare minimum, rather they willingly and happily pour out their lives for the other.

People in love often pour out their lives until there is nothing left to give.

Love, real love allows us to do heroic things.

Look at loving parents who make sacrifice after sacrifice for their children.

Look at saints whose heroic lives could only be motivated by love not fear.

Look at the martyrs who heroic deaths clearly testify to the incredible power of love. No one gives their life away just because of a law.

The Catechism says that this new covenant…this new relationship that God longs to have with us
begins on Calvary.

It begins on Calvary with the death of Jesus God’s Son.

With this cross God shows us just how far he is willing to go.

With the cross he shows how much he is willing to give.

With the cross he proves how much he is willing to pay for the price of each and everyone of our souls.

With the cross God teaches us how we should love.

“Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains a simple grain”

When we hear that all of us should ask ourselves am I willing to fall to the ground and die ?

Do I love anyone enough to fall to the ground and die for them?

St. Thomas More Parish – Boynton Beach FL senior-hands

They were always late for Church they usually made it in the front pew for the handicapped around the opening prayer.

He would hold her with his hand around her waist and guide her into the front pew…

Her shuffle and her absent gaze spoke volumes.

When communion time came he would guide her up the communion line and he would always say the same thing to the priest..

Please Father just give her a little piece just a little piece.

Then he would beg her
Come on honey… open your mouth open your mouth sweetheart and I would place a tiny piece of the Body of Christ on her tongue.

Then from somewhere he would produce a sippy cup with water and he would place it at her lips and she would almost instinctively drink from it.

Then he would guide her back to the pew.

One day after Mass everyone was standing outside talking …

It was too early for the early bird specials in the local restaurants that all the senior citizens loved.

The man and his wife were there… a woman came up to the man began to talk…

After a while she said to the man

You are a “young” man and you still have your health
you should put your wife in a home and enjoy life.

There was an audible gasp from the people standing around her.

We were all trying to figure out how someone could say something so inappropriate.

The man looked angry for a second and then he responded to her very gently.

This is my wife and I love her
I love her when she is sick and I love her when she is healthy
and as long as I can manage, as long as it is good for he,. she is going to live with me in her home.

Then he looked the woman right in the eye and he said.
Even now as sick as she is she is God’s greatest gift to me.

That man’s heroic care for his wife was not motivated by any law or rule.

Rather it was motivate by a covenant of love.
His witness was so powerful to everyone present.

Holy Ones…

God longs for us to love Him

And he wants our actions and lives to be motivated by love.

St. Augustine understood that he said..
Love God and do whatever you want.

On the Cross God teaches us what love is
and He shows us how much He loves us.

How much do we love each other?
How much do we love God?


Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies….

Amen

Friday, March 20, 2009

4th Sunday of Lent Year B 2009

Ours is a God who just won’t who just can’t give up on us.
He can’t give up because love never gives up.

In the first reading the Book Chronicles recounts an incredibly sad story.

Because they abandoned the rightful practice of their faith… because they were unfaithful to the covenant…
because they refused to listen to the numerous prophets the God sent them and kept sending them over and over again to call them back to fidelity….

…in desperation God allowed them to be defeated by the Persians.

He allowed His temple to be destroyed and His people to be taken into exile.

It must have seemed like the end of the world them
as the temple was torn down and Jerusalem set afire.

It must have seemed like all was lost as they were led away in exile.

And I am sure that God wept with them as they walked down the road to Persia victims of their own lack of faith.

He wept because he loved them.
He wept because they had abandoned their friendship with Him.
He wept because they had become so stuck in their sin that there was no other way to win back their hearts.

Only after 70 years of exile and slavery would they be allowed to return to Jerusalem and re-establish the covenant.

In the Gospel we hear a similar story.

Nicodemus  a holy man comes to Jesus in the dark of night.
He came in the night because he is afraid to be seen. 

He was afraid to be seen as a follower of Jesus or
as someone who believed in His word or His works..

Yet he was drawn to Jesus and it was
almost impossible for him to stay away.

As and Jesus tried to explain to him how God longs for all men and women to be saved Nicodemus’ heart must have been moved.

But when Jesus said that the Messiah would have to be lifted up on the cross of the Romans this was too much for Nicodemus to take.

This was so contrary to the type of Messiah the Jews expected that Nicodemus refused to believe refused to surrender.

And he walked back out into the darkness, confused and unwilling to become His follower.

Yet one day it would be this same Nicodemus who would boldly walk up to Pilate in full light of day and request  the body of Jesus.

The Jews were unfaithful
They suffered the consequences of their sins
And they were redeemed

Nicodemus
Was intrigued by the powerful witness of Jesus
But he was afraid.
Afraid of what discipleship would cost him

And so he walked back out into the darkness of confusion and cowardness o
nly later would he be able to experience the saving power of Christ lifted high on the cross.

Failure 
suffering
Redemption

Failure 
suffering
Redemption

Failure 
suffering
Redemption

It is the story of the people of Israel.
It is the story of Nicodemus.
It is my story and your story.
It is the story of all of Humanity.

Until we embrace the will of God completely and whole heartedly… until we accept the love and mercy of God completely.
We are condemned, better yet we condemn ourselves to repeat this pattern over and over and over again.

Think about
How much of our suffering …
How much of our pain…
How much of our hurt our confusion…
How much of our unhealthy relationships, our addictions, our lack of peace..

has its roots in our sins
In our pride
And in our selfishness

Only Jesus Christ
Can reach in to the confusion of our lives…
Only Jesus Christ can reach into the darkness of our doubts our fears…
Only Jesus Christ can save us from our self imposed exile.

For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that all who believe in him might not perish but have eternal life.

Ours is a God who just won’t
who just can’t give up on us.
He can’t give up because love never gives up.

Amen

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Third Sunday of Lent 2009 (RCIA) Year A

He was tired and hot and hungry
He had traveled a long way
All he wanted to do was sit down and rest a moment

But there she was confidently carrying her bucket to the well.
He knew her.
He knew her story.
He knew her fears.
He knew that her confidence was a fa├žade to cover and protect her.
He knew everything about her and he loved her
He loved her because he was God
Tired or not
Samaritan or not
Woman or not
Stranger or not
He reached out to her
He is God…

But he knew that if he approached her too quickly it would be another wound another hurt.
He knew that if he approached her too quickly she would run and hide that was her normal “modus operandi” when she was afraid
find someone else.
He knew that if he held up the mirror and showed her clearly who she had become it would be too painful

So even though he was tired and thirsty and just wanted to sit
He approached her
He took the first step
He broke all the rules…
don’t talk to samaritains
don’t talk to women.
Don’t take water from someone who is unclean

He approached her humbly asking a favor
He began to establish a simple relationship with her
He bantered with her
And she began to trust him

She began to trust him so much that she
even challenged him.

“How are you going to give me water you don’t even have a bucket”
She said with a little swagger
She has let her guard down

And when the moment was right
with a few simple words he showed her who she had become

There was no anger or self righteousness
There was no tone of disappointment in his voice
He didn’t say “Look how you let me down”
He simply listed her sins

He showed her all of the desperate compromises she had made
And she did not run away

She began to hope
Maybe she could start anew
Maybe she could be forgiven
Maybe she could offer sacrifice
That’s probably why she wanted a clarification.
Where should she go to make amends to offer sacrifice
in Jerusalem or on Mount Horeb?

She asks him what her next step should be
He doesn’t get pulled into the polemic between the Jews and the Samaritians

His answer is simple

“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.”

You can find God where ever you want
He tells her
Where you are there God is.

The conversation continues and she tells him that she hopes for the Messiah
She longs to understand “He will tell us everything”
And now after all of that preparation
He reveals himself to her
“I am he the one who is speaking to you”

Jesus gently shows her who she has become and reveals himself to her.

When the disciples returned they begged him to eat something
And he responded I have food about which you do not know
What was this food
When did he eat..
His food was loving that woman at the well
His food was building up a relationship with her
His food was restoring her to hope

So moved by his compassion and his interest in her
she does not just go back to her daily life or keep thinking of her own needs

She goes back to her village, her people and she brings them to him
How did she get them there to walk out to the well ?
She must have begged them
She must have pleaded with them
She must have cajoled them,
Somehow she shook them out of their daily routine

Like he had done for her
They all came

And after a few days they also believed
No longer because of what she had said but
Because they too had met him.

You know it seems like a simple story at first glance
It seems like normal moment in a normal day
A thirsty tired man asks for some water
Yet it is so much more

God is always looking for a way in.
Every single soul is precious in his sight
He is never scandalized by our wrongs
He really does long for us to have life, life to the full in Him

The characters in this Gospel are simple
God who loves
Broken humanity who dares to hope in that love again
And once healed brings others to it

All of us go to the well
All of us go through life doing the things we have to do
Some are tedious and monotonous like drawing water
Study
Laundry
Cleaning your room (Some of you don’t do that too offen)
Going to class

At different times in our lives
All of need to be forgiven
Actually almost all of us need to be forgiven constantly

Do we ever look at who we have become
Or What compromises we have made

Hope needs restored
No matter what our sins might be.
Will we, do we, dare to hope again
Do we dare to believe in God love

When God revealed himself to the woman
She was so much in awe that she brought others to him

Who have we brought to God
Who have we helped accept the mercy and forgiveness that God so longs to give

Where should we pray on this mountain or in Jerusalem

“You can find God anywhere”
Where you are there he is….

Most of the time He finds you..
ask the woman at the well

Thursday, March 05, 2009

2nd Sunday of Lent Year B - 2009

At first glance the first reading doesn’t make sense.
God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son, his beloved son.

God obviously knew how the story would end so the test was not for His benefit.

That means that the test had to be for Abraham’s benefit. Abraham had to understand that you could not go wrong trusting and obeying God.

Abraham had come a long way… there were moments his his past where he had doubted God and God’s will.

Now God was asking him for the ultimate test.
God was asking him for radical abandonment.
God was asking him to sacrifice his son.

In the second reading from the Letter to the Romans.
Paul reminds us that God is for us and that nothing else or no one else can be against us.

And the proof of this incredible truth can be found in the fact that God did not spare His Son.

God who is all good all loving all just… did not rewrite the rules for Himself.

Humanity owed a debt to justice a debt to goodness.

And since we couldn’t pay it because He loved us God, paid it for us

He paid our debt with the blood of his Son on the cross.

radical abandonment.

In the Gospel Jesus had just told his disciples that he will be rejected by the elders, suffer terribly and be killed.

This was exactly the opposite of what the Disciples hoped would happened.

They had hoped that Jesus would become the leader of the people.

The had hoped that he would be respected by all and help rid Israel of the Romans.

It was very difficult for them to let go of their dreams… like it was difficult for Abraham to consider sacrificing his son.

Like it was difficult for God to pay the price of our sins with the blood of his Son.

The disciples hearts were so hardened.
It was so hard was it for them to let go of their preconceived dreams that Jesus had to take desperate measures.

He had to take them up on a mountain top and reveal His glory to them so that they would not loose hope.

Only with a lot of effort and time were they finally able to embrace the way that God intended to save humanity…. with sacrificial love of His Son.

Radical abandonment Abraham tied up his son and was about to kill him.

Radical abandonment God did not spare his Son

Radical abandonment Jesus would have to suffer and give his life for our salvation.

Radical abandonment the disciples would have to let go of their dreams of grandeur and also embrace the road to the cross.

Abraham finally was able to trust God enough… to Love God enough… to sacrifice is Son.

Perfect love, God’s love enabled God to surrender even the life of His Son for our salvation

Jesus loved us so much he was able to die for us. It wasn’t easy don’t for get the garden of Gethsemane.

The disciples loved Jesus enough that they would eventually also surrender their lives rather than renounce their faith in him.

The readings today all point to one common theme.

Love is all about surrendering.
Radical abandonment

When I say I love you I am also saying I surrender myself I abandon myself to you… even my desires, my dreams, my hope, my plans… and even my life if you need it.

A long time ago a Dad whose Son was in big trouble said to me… “I’m not happy now but I love him so much still I would step in front of a train for him and thank him for the privilege of doing it “

I have repeated that over and over again.

Love is not a sentiment.
Love is not just a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Love means letting go and it means letting our lives to drop from our hands.

Love means radical abandonment..

If radical abandonment had to be a part of Abraham’s Life and if God had to abandon his Son for our salvation.

And if Jesus had to radically abandon his life

And if the Disciples would eventually had to abandon their hopes and their dreams and their lives

And if all the Saints had to abandon their lives to God in faithful loving obedience to God’s will.

And if the martyrs had to surrender their lives.

Why or how do we somehow convince ourselves that radical abandonment does not have to be a part of our lives.

What keeps us from loving?
What do we have to let go of?
What do we have to surrender?

Love is not easy if we think it is we are not loving

Love is Radical abandonment that’s at least one of the many messages the Word of God calls us to reflect on today.

Amen

Photo found with google images Author: Azlin Ahmad

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pray as you go ....

I don't know if anyone is more hyper that me. I find it hard to just sit. I often say I only have two speeds fast forward and sleep... I enjoyed this little prayer time this morning maybe you will too.

I found this a long time ago then lost it... it found it's way back into my live via the website of the Diocese of
Juneau Alaska... long story. Every morning the Irish Jesuits podcast a simple meditation on the Gospel of the day with music. It takes about 4 minutes... here is the link for today's meditation.. I found it most helpful in my spiritual life maybe you will. The main site's link is http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/

God Bless you all...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Ubuntu ?


Last year when we visited Kigoma Tanzania on a service trip. Bro. Stan a Brother of Charity spoke frankly about their need. He spoke about the need for books lots of them especially in areas like social work and nursing and education. He spoke about the need for computers and information systems that could connect Kigoma to Libraries and give the people there access to good professional journals.

He requested that we send them a shipping container filled with these essentials. I have to admit the project seems stalled. There is a committee and interest but we just can't seem to get beyond stage one. It is frustrating for me I am sure it is also frustrating for Bro. Stan.

I have to say though that we made just a little progress this weekend. CUA buys new computers every year. The hardware requirements of Windows just keep growing and sometimes a hard drive or a mother board or something goes bad. The university has give us access to all of the used computers some are in really good shape, and we have been trying to figure out how we could use them. We don't have the money to provide Microsoft liscenses for all of these machines but we have explored open source operating systems. These are programs that people work on together and provide free of charge. These last two days I have been "playing" perhaps "fighting" is a better word with Ubuntu it is a free linux based operating system with which runs Open Office a Microsoft Office clone. It is really stable and did I mention it is free and viruses are not really a big issue for linux based machines. This is huge because it brings us a small step closer to reconditioningthe best of those used computers and sending them to places that could really use them.

Right now I am typing this on a Intrepid Ibex machine (that the name for version (8.10 of Ubuntu)

We shall see.... If anyone one knows anything about Ubuntu and wants to help let me know.

Peace...