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

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