August 31, 2016

Aug. 31

August 31, 2016:  Wednesday, 22nd week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Hands' pin:  He laid his hands on each of them and cured them (gospel)
  • 'Infants' tie: "I talked to you as infants in Christ." (1st reading)
  • 'Cow' pin: I fed you milk because you couldn't take solid food (1st reading)
  • 'Olympics' pin:  "When there's rivalry, you're not behaving as spiritual people." (1st reading)
  • 'Plant' pin:  "I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth." (1st reading)
  • 'Clock' pin:  "Our soul waits for the Lord" (psalm)
  • 'Hearts' suspenders:  The Lord fashioned our hearts; our hearts rejoice in him (psalm)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season

  • Fat baby/ Grant (1st reading:  can't take solid food)

  • Fever/ Cooley, Blackwell (gospel-inspired :-)

Pope Francis Audience
Jesus Christ saves those whom people reject:  In the gospel account of Jesus curing the woman with hemorrhages, the woman, considered impure according to the law, trusts in Jesus’ mercy and saving power to free her from her illness and isolation.  The woman, with deep faith, reaches out and touches his garment in a gesture of quiet prayer and a sign of hope and courage.  Jesus’ response of tenderness acknowledged her dignity; he treats her with love and heals her.
Faith in Christ brings salvation; it offers healing, restores right relationships and affirms our dignity.  How often have we felt inwardly rejected because of our sins?  But the Lord says, “Courage!  Come; I don't reject or discard you.”  This is a time of grace, forgiveness, and Mercy, and Jesus asks us all to trust in his word and, having experienced his mercy, be a leaven of that mercy.

    "You can't take solid food"
  • 1 Cor 3:1-9  I had to speak with you as infants in Christ; you couldn't, and can't, take solid food.  When there's jealousy and rivalry, you're not spiritual.  Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, only God, who causes the growth.  We're God’s co-workers; you're God's field, God’s building.
  • Ps 33:12-15, 20-21  "Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own."  God looks down on everyone; he made them and knows their works.  We wait for and rejoice and trust in the Lord, our help and shield.
  • Lk 4:38-44  They interceded with Jesus about Simon's mother-in-law, afflicted with a severe fever.  He rebuked the fever, it left her, and she got up and waited on them.  All who had sick people brought them to him, and he cured them all.  Jesus left for a deserted place, but they found him and tried to keep him from going.  “I've been sent to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom, so I must go to the other towns too.”
    • Creighton:  The focus of Ordinary Time liturgy is Christ's work in accomplishing the Father’s mission.  Today's readings challenge us to consider that God’s perspective on his kingdom is different from ours.  From the psalm:  “God beholds all who dwell on the earth; he fashioned our hearts and knows our works”; God has the “insider” view, knowing the speed every individual and community can move and grow.  God’s pace may seem slow sometimes and lightning fast other times, and his choices of people may seem strange to me.  In today’s gospel Jesus doesn't stay to finish all the work but moves on.  God’s way isn't my way!  Lord, give me discernment, patience, and humility....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "One bread, one body":  The Corinthians couldn't function well because they were "infants in Christ," spiritually weak from spiritual malnutrition, inability to take solid food.  Division results in spiritual malnutrition, weakness, and deprivation.  Jesus prays for our unity.  "Preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force."  "Forgive each other."  "Be ministers of reconciliation, even to laying down your life.  "If you recall someone has anything against you, go be reconciled."  "How good and pleasant where brethren dwell in unity!"  Be one, in communion, through, with, and in Jesus.
      Christ Healing the Mother of Simon Peter’s Wife/ Bridges
    • Passionist:  Cure, restore, purify, renew, mend, remedy, repair, make right, rehabilitate, rejuvenate, reinvigorate, resuscitate, reconcile, settle, patch, recuperate, cleanse, recover, heal:  so many ways to express the need for personal, spiritual, emotional, or physical transformation.  We cry to God in our broken relationships, pain, resistance, fragile health....  In the gospel about healing the sick, we recognize the people crying out in faith for Jesus’ saving power and love.  We're all like the gospel's sick:  outcast, isolated, sore, brokenhearted.  Challenging as it is, I have to ask for help from "our help and our shield.”  As in the gospel, Jesus touches even the most scarred and injured.  However we may feel, God grabs us, holds us, and shows his love.  How often have things seemed hopeless?   How often have I been impatient with God?  But God always walks with us.  Bring your brokenness to Jesus; he's waiting.  Who is God using to reach and heal you?  How is God working in/through you to reach out to another?...
    •  "He laid his hands on everyone and healed them":  When Peter brought Jesus to his home for the Sabbath meal, Jesus heard Peter's prayer and healed his mother-in-law.  Jesus' healings demonstrated his power and authority, the "good news."  Jesus put human need ahead of all else, showed compassion and concern for all in need, gave people God's word, and healed them.  Do I allow Jesus to be Lord and Healer in my life, family, and community?  He's ready to restore us to health and to active service and care of others.

    August 30, 2016

    Aug. 30

    August 30, 2016:  Tuesday, 22nd week, Ordinary Time

    • '?' tie pin:  Who knows about a person..?  Who has known the Lord's mind?  (1st reading)
    • 'Owl' tie pin:  "We speak not with words of human wisdom but words taught by the Spirit" (1st reading)
    • 'Fool' tie:  "To natural people, what pertains to the Spirit is foolishness" (1st reading)
    • 'Crown' tie bar:  "Lord, your Kingdom is for all ages, and your dominion endures" (psalm)
    • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season
    • DISC t-shirt:  I'm in Springfield helping to plan DISC 2017; watch for updates
    • "Holy Spirit" chain (oops; forgot to pack; see here):  "The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God" (1st reading)

    Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia capsule:  A love that reveals itself and increases
    The love of friendship unifies all aspects of marital life and helps family members to grow.  This love must be generously expressed in words and acts.  Use three essential words:  "Please," "Thank you," "Sorry."   When I ask, "May I?," when I say thanks, and when I realize I did something wrong and say "Sorry!," my family experiences peace and joy.  Repeat these words day after day.  For “certain silences are oppressive, even within families, between husbands and wives, parents and children, among siblings.  The right words, at the right time, protect and nurture love.

    This occurs through a process of constant growth.  Marriage is called to embody the charity which "by its nature, has no limit to its increase, for it's a participation in the infinite charity which is the Holy Spirit….  As charity grows, so does its capacity for increase" (Thomas Aquinas).  “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love...”  “Concerning fraternal love… we urge you, to do so more and more.”  Don't defend marital love by presenting indissolubility as a duty or repeating doctrine, but by helping it grow.  Love that doesn't grow is at risk, but it can only grow if we respond to God’s grace through acts of love, frequent, intense, generous, tender, cheerful acts of kindness.  Become conscious of your unity and experience it more deeply.  God’s love poured out upon the spouses is a summons to growth in grace.

    It doesn't help to dream of idyllic love needing no stimulus to grow.  Don't forget the best is yet to come; fine wine matures with age.  “The perfect family, proposed by consumerist propaganda, don't exist.  It's a fantasy where no one grows old, and there's no sickness, sorrow, or death, not like facing our limits, defects, and imperfections and growing together, bringing love to maturity, and strengthening the union, come what may. (IV:133-135)
    • 1 Cor 2:10b-16  We've received the Spirit from God, so we may understand what God gave us and speak with words taught by the Spirit.  Natural people can't understand, but spiritual people can judge everything.  “Who has known the mind of the Lord?”  But we have the mind of Christ.
    • Ps 145:8-14  "The Lord is just in all his ways," gracious, merciful, kind, good, compassionate, faithful, and holy.  Let your works and faithful ones bless and speak of your power and glory.  Your Kingdom is everlasting.  You lift the falling and raise up all who are bowed down.
    • Lk 4:31-37  Jesus taught with authority; people were astonished.  Man with the spirit of a demon / Jesus:  “Jesus, have you come to destroy us?  I know you're God's Holy One!” / “Quiet!  Come out!”  The demon came out without doing harm.  Amazed, they said, “What is there about his word?  He commands spirits with authority and power and they come out.”  News of him spread.
      • Creighton:  The 1st reading tells me the wisdom of something or someone blossoms when we love it/them.  I think Paul was trying to insure the church's spiritual focus.  The more enthusiastic we are about something/someone, the more we want to learn about it/them and respond; may my relationship with God grow out of such enthusiasm.
      Capernaum was a new beginning for Jesus:  he'd left his home town, and the people didn't know him, so their presuppositions didn't constrain him.  He established his authority and leadership in the synagogue and the community.  He gave a new interpretation of the Scriptures, he showed he could bring about internal transformation by healing the demonized man.  Fear, doubt, lack of trust, and my "false self" can hinder me.  I need to establish a direction and priorities and trust God.  Lord guide us in our new beginnings.
        Christus heilt in der Synagoge von Capernaum
        einen Besessenen
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Singing spirituals":  The Spirit teaches us all we need and guides us to all truth, but only spiritual people can accept that teaching and guidance.  Baptism made us spiritual, but we have to live out our baptism to hear the Spirit's word of truth and life.  If we don't heed the Spirit, we can be deceived, deprived, and defeated.  May we live our baptism, giving ourselves in love to the Lord, and receive the life of the Spirit....
      • Passionist:  Words have power:  they amuse, anger, bless, curse, charm, repel, heal, hurt, unite, and divide; they change things, people, nations.  God expresses himself in a Word that is a Person, Jesus, God's self-revelation, expressing God's love.  In today's gospel he speaks, “Come out,” the unclean spirit leaves, and people wonder about Jesus' word.  Through baptism we're Jesus' living “words,” sent out.  May we choose words of love, welcome, help, apology, forgiveness, encouragement, gratitude, interest, hope, affirmation, and blessing, soothing, healing, support, community building, and truth, manifesting the Word today.
      •  "His word was with authority and power":  Do you hear God's word with indifference, selective submission, or full faith and obedience?  Jesus spoke God's word as no one had before:  rabbis supported their statements with others' authority, prophets spoke with delegated authority, but Jesus was authority incarnate, God's word made flesh. When he commanded, even the demons obeyed.
        "The bystanders, witnesses of Jesus' great deeds, were astonished at the power of his word.  He performed miracles without asking for power from anyone.  Since he's God the Father's living and active Word, in himself he crushed Satan and closed demons' mouths. (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 12).  God's Word has power to free us and heal us in body, mind, and spirit.  Jesus speaks his word to us so we may walk in freedom, love, and truth.  May we approach God's Word with humility and eagerness to do all the Lord desires.
          • St Anne Line (Heigham), taught children, took vows, kept safe house for priests, martyred
          • St. Margaret Ward, martyr, arrested after helping priest escape prison; under torture she refused to reveal his hiding place or renounce her faith.
          • Bl. Ghebre Michael ("Servant of Michael"), convert, monastery reformer, considered martyr

        August 29, 2016

        John the Baptist's passion

        August 29, 2016:  Passion (Beheading) of John the Baptist

        • Crucifix:  "I resolved to know only Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1st reading)
        • 'Owl' tie pin:  "My message demonstrated God's spirit and power... so your faith might not rest on human wisdom..." (1st reading)
        • 'Sheet music with skulls as note heads' tie:  dance, then beheading (gospel)
        • 'Headless skeleton' tie bar:  John's beheading (gospel)
        • 'Silverware' tie bar:  Herod's birthday banquet (gospel)
        • '?' tie pin:  Herod was perplexed when he heard John; "What shall I ask for?"  (gospel)
        • 'Blood drop' pin, red shirt:  John's martyrdom, color of today's celebration
        • DISC t-shirt:  I'm in Springfield helping to plan DISC 2017; watch for updates
        • Paper clip:  Unfortunately I needed it to reset my laptop this morning

        • Dance of the Seven Veils, from Salome/ Strauss fits the gospel; find one yourself if you can tolerate possible adult content.
        Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia capsule:  Marrying for Love
        Marriage gives the means to ensure the growth and endurance of love.  Love is more than outward consent or a contract, but giving marriage a visible form by making commitments shows its importance, manifesting the seriousness of their decision to leave individualism behind and belong to one another. Marriage expresses that we've left the security of the home we grew up in to build other ties and take on new responsibility for another person.  It's more meaningful than spontaneous association for mutual gratification, which would turn marriage into a private affair.  Marriage protects and shapes a shared commitment to one another and to deeper growth in love, for the good of society; that's why it's so important.  It derives from our human nature and social character.  It involves obligations born of love so serious and generous that it's ready to face any risk.

        Choosing marriage expresses a decision to join paths, come what may. This serious public commitment of love can't come hastily, nor can it be postponed indefinitely.  Committing exclusively and definitively to a person is risky, but unwillingness to do so is selfish and calculating; it doesn't acknowledge the other's rights or present them to society as someone worthy of unconditional love.  When two are in love, they show others.  Love expressed in the public marriage contract indicates and protects the “yes” the couple speaks freely to each other.  The “yes” tells them they can always trust one another won't be abandoned when difficulties arise or new attractions or interests present themselves. (IV:131-132)
        • 1 Cor 2:1-5  I didn't proclaim the mystery of God with sublime words or wisdom I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came in weakness, fear, and trembling, but my message demonstrated spirit and power, so your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on God's power.
        • Ps 119:97-102  "Lord, I love your commands."  I meditate on them; they've made me wise.  From every evil way I withhold my feet...
        • Mk 6:17-29  John the Baptist to Herod:  “It's wrong for you to have your brother’s wife [Herodias].”  She had a chance to get him killed at his birthday banquet:  her daughter danced, delighted Herod, asked for John's head.  He had him beheaded; John's disciples buried him.
          • Creighton:  Herod lived in a time and place where everyone knew that he lived in immorality.  Though people were offended at his marriage to his sister-in-law, it was his own secret fears and conflicting desires that led to John's beheading.  Herod was drawn to John the Baptist him but also feared him.  Perhaps he was fascinated with John and his speak the truth, but he refused to see the truth of his life or probe his desires or conflicts.  He chose to honor his oath to Herodias’s daughter and save face over regarding John’s life.  His secrets blinded him.
          Willingness to be vulnerable and disclose our fears and desires saves us from blindness and immorality.  We meet others, and God wants to meet us, in our weakness and fear.  By bringing them into the light we're freed from fear of judgment and shame and become more human, whole, and free to make lifegiving decisions.
          • One Bread, One Body:  "Head lines":  It only took a dancing girl, her mom, and her insecure dad's weakness and pride to buy the head of the greatest prophet before Christ.  The Lord greatly valued John's head, but the rulers valued it little.  Today Christians are being beheaded in the Middle East for their faith, though Jesus cherishes even the hair on our heads.  Jesus allowed his head to be pierced, and God changed his pain to glory....
            Salome with the Head of John the Baptist
          • Passionist:  “What's your super power?” is a question that helps us think about the special gift ('charism') God has given us to assist others and build up the Body of Christ.  John the Baptist knew his was to proclaim the Messiah's coming.  He put his life on the line to speak truth, confronting Herod Antipas about his marriage to his brother’s wife.  The king couldn't stand up to the truth when his wife asked for John's head; he didn't humble himself and say no, seeming weak, not keeping his promise.
            We need to know what to do with the power given to us.  Today's readings give us two examples:  using it for a greater good may cost us, or using it to make us “king of the hill” may trample others and ignore truth on our way up.  Society tells us it's OK to climb our way up at others' expense.  Our faith says we can all climb together, helping each other build up the Body of Christ.  What are your talents, and how are you using them?
            •  "Herod feared John, a righteous and holy man":  John the Baptist bridged the Old and New Testaments, pointing the way to the Messiah.  John suffered violence for announcing God's kingdom.  King Herod had all he wanted except a clear conscience.  He respected John as a prophet and servant of God, but John rebuked him for his adulterous relationship, and Herod had him imprisoned, then beheaded.  Herod's power was badly flawed; he favored pleasing others over doing right.  His taking a strong stand on the wrong things was a sign of weakness.  The Lord gives strength and courage to those who acknowledge their dependence on him.  He knows our weaknesses better than we, pardons and heals those who ask, and guides us.
            God's kingdom has suffered violence and persecution from John's time till now.  Martyrs' testimony to the truth and willingness to suffer and die for their faith prove victory.  They know with the "eyes of faith" that nothing can separate us from God's love.  The Holy Spirit fills us with courage, love, and boldness to make Christ known and loved.  We don't need to fear our opponents because Christ's love, stronger than fear and death, conquers all, even our fear in the face of opposition.  Lord, fill me with the power and grace of the Spirit....
            • Universalis:  John the Baptist and Joseph are the only saints with two feasts:  June's celebrates John's birth; today's, his death.  John was a prophet from the womb, leaping inside Elizabeth to announce Jesus' coming.  He courageously announced he was least in the kingdom.  When the great or talented come across someone greater, they'll feel like we do.  Pray they, like John, may pass that test.

            August 28, 2016

            22nd Sun., Ordinary Time

            August 28, 2016:  Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

            • 'Owl' tie pin:  "The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs, and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise". (1st reading)
            • 'Castle' pin:  The home God made for the poor (psalm)
            • 'Fire' pin:  "Water quenches a flaming fire" (1st reading); "You haven't approached... a blazing fire..." (2nd reading)
            • 'Angel with trumpet' pin:  "...and a trumpet blast" (2nd reading); "You've approached angels in festal gathering..." (also 2nd reading)
            • 'Blood drop':  "...and the sprinkled blood that speaks eloquently" (2nd reading)
            • 'Sheep' tie bar:  "Your flock settled in the land" (psalm)
            • 'Food' tie:  wedding banquet (gospel)
            • Green shirt: Ordinary Time season

              Jesus taught through parables, the first of which regarded guests at a banquet:  "Don't take the place of honor, or else the host may ask you to give your place to a more distinguished guest and you'd proceed with embarrassment.  No; take the lowest place, so the host may invite you to move up higher.  For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."  The second regarded the host:  "Don't invite your friends, relatives, or wealthy neighbors, in case they invite you back and you're repaid.  Rather, invite the poor, the lame, the blind; blessed will you be because they can't repay you.  You'll be repaid at the resurrection."
              Thanks to the many of you who heed the call and help at shelters and soup kitchens, feeding the hungry and performing other works of mercy.  Ask the Virgin Mary, humble all her life, to lead us on the way of humility, so we may welcome the marginalized, seeking nothing in return, and becoming worthy of the divine reward.
              • Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29  Humble yourself.  The wise appreciate proverbs, have attentive ears.  Alms atone.
              • Ps 68:4-7, 10-11  "God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor."  Rejoice!  Lord favors orphans, widows, prisoners...
              • Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a  You've approached the city of God, angels, the just in heaven, Jesus and his blood.
              • Lk 14:1, 7-14  When invited to wedding banquet, take the lowest place.  "Friend, move up higher."  Exalt self; be humbled.  Humble self; be exalted.  When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, blind; you'll be repaid at the resurrection.
                • Creighton:  Fear, inferiority, anger, vengeance, or laziness may lead us to say no in response to an invitation from God.  Reflect on the invitations to become involved with others' needs, to use our gifts to serve the poor.  How have we responded, and what have we received in return?  Jesus continues to offer reversals.  The 1st reading echoes Jewish teaching about right conduct:  remember God's gifts to you, be grateful, and experience God's love.  A wise person listens deeply, searches, and befriends mystery.  Generosity to the poor extinguishes the fire of past sins.  Humility is gratitude that allows us to be at home in our own shoes; covering up or withdrawing pridefully says we should have been created with more gifts.
                The other invitees are watching Jesus to trap him, and later Jesus notices their pharisaical practices in jockeying for recognition.  It's about how we sit at the table of life.  We're invited to eat what's placed before us and sit where we find ourselves.  The Inviter will bless those who have eaten well and thankfully for the whole meal,  The “higher position” would be a place of honor, of distribution to the needy....  
                Interior at-homeness, humility, makes us truly attractive.  Humility is truth in action, generosity in public, and joyfulness in being invited.
                  The poor invited to the feast/ Mafa
                • One Bread, One Body:  "The humblest humbleness":  Jesus invites us to humble ourselves by taking the lowest place and inviting those who can't repay us.  The One who commands us to humble ourselves washed his disciples' feet, "humbled himself, obediently accepting death on a cross," and gives himself to us in the Eucharist, looking like bread and wine....
                • Passionist:  How do we practice humility?  How do we focus on the less fortunate?  How do we walk together?....
                •  "You'll be humbled if you exalt yourself":  Today's parable probes our motives for seeking honor.  Self-promotion is often achieved at others' expense.  True humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves, vs. low self-opinion focuses attention on ourselves.  Humility is truth in self-understanding and action, seeing ourselves as God does.  The humble assess themselves realistically, without pretense, regarding themselves as neither smaller nor larger.  Humility frees us to be ourselves, avoiding despair and pride.  The humble don't have to put on a facade to look good to others; they're not swayed by externals like fame, success, or failure.  Humility undergirds the other virtues because it lets us judge ourselves as God does; it leads to self-knowledge, honesty, realism, strength, and dedication.  It frees us to love and serve selflessly.  The Lord gives grace to those who seek him humbly.

                August 27, 2016


                August 27, 2016:  St. Monica

                • 'Money' tie:  The master gave 5, 2, and 1 talents to his servants... (gospel)

                • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  "The Lord's eyes are on those who fear and hope in him" (psalm)

                • 'Hearts' suspenders:  Our hearts rejoice in the Lord (psalm)
                • 'Owl' tie pin:  "Christ Jesus became for us wisdom from God" (1st reading)
                • White shirt:  color of St. Monica day

                Pope Francis video to the Church in the Americas
                As Paul told his beloved disciple, “I'm grateful to our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service.  But I received mercy, and grace overflowed with the faith and love that are in Christ.  Christ came into the world to save sinners; I received mercy, so that in me, foremost sinner, he might display patience.”  Paul invites, motivates, even provokes, us; his words can't leave us indifferent.
                Paul knows he's a sinner and doesn't conceal it; he dwells on his sinfulness so Timothy, and we, can identify with him and share his experience.  We too have received mercy:  Jesus has drawn near.  Remember the many times the Lord looked upon us, drew near, showed us mercy, trusted, bet on us.  How good to remember our sin, grow in a humble awareness of when we turned away from God, and be amazed by God’s mercy.
                Paul doesn't say “The Lord told me...” or “The Lord taught me...,” but “He treated me with mercy.”   His relationship with Jesus was sealed by how he was treated.  Mercy is a concrete way of touching weakness, bonding, drawing close, meeting people where they are; it makes us give our best so others can feel the last word has not yet been spoken, feel relieved at being given another chance.  Mercy is the concrete act by which God seeks to relate to us.  Paul the receiver of God's action; he only allows himself to be shown mercy.  God starts a movement from heart to hands, unafraid to draw near, touch, and caress without being scandalized, condemning, or dismissing anyone.  If we accept what God does for us–trust us and expect us to change–our way of treating others must never be based on fear but on God's hope in our ability to change.  Acting out of fear separates, divides, tries to distinguish sides, creates false security, and builds walls.  Acting on the basis of hope encourages, incites, looks ahead, makes room for opportunity, and keeps us moving forward.  Acting out of fear bespeaks guilt, blame, punishment; acting out of hope of transformation bespeaks trust, learning, getting up, generating new opportunities.  Treating people with mercy awakens creativity; it's about their faces, lives, history, existence; it seeks what's best for them, in a way they can understand.  This engages all our abilities; it makes us step out.  Acting out of hope sets our heart pounding and readies us for action.  We could be scandalized about how the Merciful Father treats his younger son upon his return.  We start being scandalized when spiritual Alzheimer sets in:  when we forget how the Lord has treated us, and judge and divide people, creating groups of good and bad, saints and sinners.  The memory loss makes us forget the richest reality we possess.  The Lord has treated us sinners with mercy.  Paul never forgot.  Mercy isn't a theory to brandish so people will applaud our condescension, but a history of sin to be remembered and love to be praised.
                We're part of a fragmented, throwaway culture tainted by exclusion of whatever threatens the interests of a few, seeing the elderly, children, and minorities as threats, promoting the comfort of some increasing the suffering of the rest, sedating the young instead of accompanying them, squandering the wisdom of indigenous peoples and not caring for their rich lands.  Society is hurting, bleeding; the most vulnerable usually pay the price.  But the Lord sends us to this society and culture, urging us to bring his healing presence, to treat each other with mercy, to be neighbors to the defenseless by bonding with them inspired by what God has done, remembering we've all come from afar and were brought out of slavery.
                We recall the Aparecida invitation to become missionary disciples.  Paul gives us a key:  showing mercy.  What made him an apostle was how he was treated, how God drew near and trusted him despite his sins.  We may have the best plans, projects, and theories, but if we don't show mercy, our pastoral work will be cut off.  Do we teach the path of showing mercy?  Daily we have to ask for the grace of that form of bonding.  We're "missionaries of mercy" in theory but often mistreat instead of treat well.  We've failed to inspire, accompany, and encourage a pedagogy of mercy, and teach that the heart of pastoral work is showing mercy.  Be pastors who treat and not mistreat.
                Show mercy to God’s holy and faithful people, to people who come with their sufferings, sorrows, and hurts, and to people who don't come to our communities but are wounded and hope to receive mercy.  Mercy is learned from experience, from sensing God's trust in us and call to us to treat others like he's treated us.  Draw from your own story.  Our peoples don't need us to add to the suffering already in their lives.  Learn how to become neighbors, unafraid of the outcast and those “tainted” by sin.  Hold out your hand to the fallen, without fear of what people will say.  Treatment without mercy turns into mistreatment.  Empower paths of hope that encourage good treatment and make mercy shine.
                We celebrate how God has treated us.  Say, “Lord, I've let myself be deceived; I've shunned your love, yet here I am to renew my covenant with you.  I need you.  Save me, Lord; take me into your redeeming embrace” (Evangelii Gaudium, 3).  Be grateful that God trusts us to repeat the acts of mercy he's shown us, and that this encounter will help us go forth and pass on the joy of the Gospel of mercy.  Full text 
                • 1 Cor 1:26-31  Few of you were wise, powerful, or of noble birth, but God chose the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, and the lowly and despised to reduce the proud.  Because of him you're in Christ who became wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.  Whoever boasts, boast in the Lord.
                • Ps 33:12-13, 18-21  "Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own."  The Lord's eyes are on those who fear and hope in him, to deliver and preserve them.  We wait for, rejoice in, and trust in the Lord.
                • Mt 25:14-30  “A man entrusted his possessions to servants left then returned to find two doubled their money and one buried his.  To the doublers:  ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I'll give you great responsibilities.  Come, share your master’s joy.’  To the other:  ‘You wicked, lazy servant!  You should at least have put my money in the bank to earn interest!  Everyone who has will grow rich, but those who don't will lose the little they have.  Take his money and throw him outside...’”
                  • Creighton:  None of us is strong or perfect or capable on our own, but God calls each of us to use the gifts we're given in service to God and others, doing our best with what's entrusted to us.  May my actions be good and faithful; I want to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  "To everyone who has, more will be given..." sounds daunting when you're insecure, but it's logical when you trust.  It allows you to break out of something you're good and successful at, when so called.
                    Mother and son
                    (SS. Monica and Augustine)
                  • One Bread, One Body:  "Out of fear":  The servant who received the five thousand feared his master the right way; he immediately went to work on his master's behalf.  His "fear of the Lord" caused him to delight to receive the master's gifts and respond with "industrious, reliable" service.  The servant who received the one thousand feared the wrong way, afraid to make a mistake and be punished.  His fear was self-, not master-centered.  When God calls us, he provides the grace we need; we need trust."  He'll never send me without empowering and equipping me.  We can respond to his gifts and trust of us Jesus We can respond to the Lord by joyfully and fearfully exclaiming "You entrusted me" or "You burdened me....".
                  • Passionist:  “Master, I know you're demanding,... so out of fear I buried your talent.  Here it is.” / “You wicked, lazy servant!”  How often do I let fear dictate my actions?  To build God's Kingdom around me I can't bury my good instincts out of fear.  How often do I think to say a good word or show compassion but hold back because it might not be received as I hope?  How often do I not challenge injustice out of fear?  How often does fear stifle the Spirit in me?  We can “bury our talents” out of fear.  What do I do with what I'm given?  God’s love is freely given, like the talents.  How do I use it to build God's Kingdom?
                  •  "The master will settle his account with them":  Wealthy merchants often had to travel and leave the business to others to handle till they returned.  Jesus' story tells us the Master trusts his servants, rewards the faithful, and punishes the idle.  Each servant was faithful to a point, though the one who buried the money was irresponsible; money can grow in circulation, not in the ground like seeds.  The Lord entrusts his subjects with gifts, with grace and wisdom to use them fittingly, and lets us choose how to use them.  As the parable shows, God honors those who use their gifts for doing good.  No one can stand still for long in the Christian life.  We get more or lose what we have; we advance towards God or slip back.
                  • Universalis:  St. Monica, woman of faith and virtue, married young, had Augustine and other children, was exemplary mother.  Her prayer for her wayward son's conversion was answered.  Reformed problem drinker (Confessions IX.8.18)
                  Special greetings to and prayers for all at