February 28, 2018

Feb. 28

February 28, 2018:  Wednesday, 2nd week, Lent

  • 'Hands' pin:  Into your hands I commend my spirit; in your hands is my destiny (psalm); command that my sons sit at your right and left hand...; the Son will be handed over... (gospel)
  • 'Crucifix' chain:  ...to be crucified (gospel)
  • 'Cups' tie: "Can you drink from my cup?” (gospel)
  • 'Ruler' tie bar: "The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them" (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders and shirt: Lenten season

    For gospel

For Psalm 31
Pray for our brothers and sisters in the martyred nation of Syria and for all persecuted Christians.
The Lenten journey is a chance to make a determined effort at conversion and spiritual renewal and reawaken authentic faith.  Love is the style of life that distinguishes the believer.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the preparation of the gifts of bread and wine, an invitation to offer our own lives completely to the Lord, and receive the grace to live our vocation to grow in holiness and serve the coming of his Kingdom.
Can you drink from the chalice?
  • Jer 18:18-20  “Let's plot against Jeremiah, noting his words to destroy him by his own tongue.”  Heed me, Lord, and listen to my adversaries.  Must good be repaid with evil?  Remember I spoke to you on their behalf to deflect your wrath.
  • Ps 31:5-6, 14-16  "Save me, O Lord, in your kindness."  You'll free me from their snare.  Into your hands I commend my spirit.  They're plotting to take my life, but I trust in you.
  • Mt 20:17-28  Jesus to the Twelve, “The Son of Man will be condemned to death, mocked, scourged, crucified, and raised.”  Mother of Zebedee's sons:  “Command that my sons will sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”  Jesus / James and John:  “Can you drink the chalice I'm going to drink?” / “We can.” / “You will, but sitting at my side is for those my Father prepared for it.”  Jesus, when the others got indignant:  “Don't be like rulers who make their authority felt.  Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.  The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as ransom for many.”

  • Creighton:  In today’s gospel, Jesus is again trying to prepare his closest friends for his death, telling them he'll be handed over, condemned, crucified, and raised.  Are they beginning to accept it?  The mother of James and John breaks the silence, disregarding what Jesus said and demanding that her sons have a place beside him; Jesus asks whether they can drink the cup he'll drink then reminds them that his kingdom is one of service, not privileged places.  We are on intimate terms with Jesus. What service is he asking of us today?
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Desire-able":  Jeremiah prophesied the hard message God charged him to deliver; the Israelites responded by deciding to kill him, preferring prophecy from their favorites.  Jeremiah wanted God to punish them, but God didn't.  James and John wanted something from Jesus:   having laid down their lives to follow him, they wanted to rule with him, as he also wanted.  But they also wanted to sit on thrones next to him, and that didn't match God's desire.  The Lord challenges you about your desires that don't match his.  Bring them to him, leave them there, take delight in him alone, and he'll give you your heart's desires.
  • Passionist:  What's your answer to "Can you drink the cup?"  Lord, hold us in your mercy when we turn away in fear, say "let me think about it" but don't, or find it too hard to say yes.  It was hard even for Jesus to drink the cup.  May we die to our pride, greed, and selfishness, and be open to embrace the cross and gain life in the Lord.
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Can you drink Christ's cup?"  Jeremiah's prophecy was at odds with what the people wanted; he met opposition and threats and pleaded with God.  Jesus also met opposition; he prophesied he'd be rejected and crucified.  He called himself "Son of Man," a Messianic title.  Daniel was given a prophetic vision of a "Son of Man" with power to rule on God's behalf.  Isaiah foretold the "Suffering Servant," "God's Chosen One," would atone for sins through his suffering and death, then be raised and establish justice.  Jesus paid for our redemption with his life, then rose; to share in his victory, we need to follow him, renouncing our will for his way of sacrificial love.
Mrs. Zebedee et al.
After Jesus prophesied his death, James and John's mother brought her sons to him and asked him to place them above their fellow disciples.  Jesus tells them they don't understand what they're asking.  When the others hear, they become indignant; Jesus called them all together and told them to serve others.  Authority without love oriented to others' good can become self-serving.  To be great, serve; to be first, become a slave.  Servants had to serve their masters; they had no choice.  But Jesus' model of servanthood is based on choice and freedom:  choice to put others first, freedom to serve them with compassion.  "For freedom Christ set us free....  Be servants of one another."  Jesus, our example, "came not to be served but to serve."  The motivation for servanthood is love, not pride or fear.  Jesus' death to self frees us to offer our lives for him and others.
The Lord Jesus asks us too,  "Can you drink the cup"  of sacrificial service and death to self?  What cup does the Lord have in mind for me:  physical suffering, a routine Christian life of daily sacrifices, disappointments, struggles, and temptations,...?  We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service of one another....
  • Universalis:  St. Oswald, Benedictine monk, bishop, revived monastic life, celebrated liturgy well, loved the poor.

February 27, 2018

Feb. 27

February 27, 2018:  Tuesday, 2nd week, Lent

  • Tie with red and snowmen:  Though your sins be like scarlet/crimson, they may become white as snow (1st reading)
  • Blue and white shirt:  Wash yourselves clean! (1st reading)
  • 'Silverware' tie bar:  If you obey, you'll eat the good things of the land (1st reading); "the scribes and the Pharisees love places of honor at banquets" (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes (1st reading); I'll draw your misdeeds up before your eyes (psalm); the scribes and Pharisees perform their works to be seen (gospel)
  • 'Fire' pin:  Your burnt offerings are before me always (psalm)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  The scribes and Pharisees lay burdens on people's shoulders but don't lift a finger to move them (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders: Lenten season
Ask for the grace of conversion, growing close to God, and changing your life.  Today's 1st reading is a call to conversion; it shows God doesn't threaten but calls us gently with kindness and gives us confidence.  After pointing out to the rulers the evil they should avoid and the good they should do, the Lord tells them, "Come, let us reason together."  He does the same with us:  he doesn't frighten us.  He's like a father correcting his child who's pulled a prank, approaching with trust and confidence, not a stick.  Since God knows his child is thinking, "But I did something wrong…," he adds, "Even if your sins be like scarlet, they may become snow white...."  Jesus inspires trust and confidence, to bring us to a change of heart, as he did when calling Zacchaeus and Matthew; he helps us see how to take a step along the path of conversion.
The Lord gave his life for us and is looking for a way to our heart; he doesn't want to beat and condemn us.  Priests should have this attitude when they hear confessions.  The Lord, like a father whose child thinks he's grown up but isn't, knows we need to hear, "Come; don't be afraid; there's forgiveness."  This encourages us.  Go to the Lord with an open heart; he's waiting for you.
  • Is 1:10, 16-20  Wash yourselves clean!  Cease doing evil; learn to do good.  Make justice your aim.  Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white.  If you obey, you'll eat well...
  • Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23  "To the upright I will show the saving power of God."  Why recite my statutes when you hate discipline?  I'll correct you.  Offer praise as your sacrifice and do right.
  • Mt 23:1-12  Do what the Scribes and Pharisees tell you, not what they do; they don't practice what they preach.  Don't be called ‘Rabbi’ or ‘Master’ or call people ‘Father’; God is the only Father.  Serve; humble yourself and be exalted.
  • Creighton:  Today's readings invite us to set things right with God, go the right way, looking to God for guidance, instruction, and encouragement.  We're invited to make justice our aim, cast away our misdeeds, be renewed in heart and spirit, be humble, and see God's salvation.  God does not want obedience that looks like burnt offerings but faithfulness that offers praise as a sacrifice....
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Humble yourself; be exalted":  We want others to see us at our best.  God sees us as we are, in need of his mercy and help.  Isaiah warned the people to listen humbly and submit to God's teaching.  Jesus warned Israel's teachers and rulers to teach and serve with humility and sincerity; in their misguided zeal they sought honor for themselves rather than God and made practicing faith a burden, not a joy.  Jesus warned his disciples and the religious leaders against seeking honors that draw attention to ourselves rather than God.  Respect for God inclines us to humble ourselves and submit to him.  Pride tempts us to put ourselves first.  "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."  "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."  "You have one teacher, and you're all brothers....  Don't put yourself forward to be called teacher; you know that when you perform well, it's Christ within you.  Whoever is greater among you, let him be the servant of all" (Origen).
Respect for God and his ways inclines us to humility and simplicity, readiness to seek the one true good, God.  True humility isn't low self-esteem, which focuses attention on ourselves; it frees us from preoccupation with ourselves.  Humility is truth in self-understanding and action, seeing ourselves as God sees us.  The humble assess themselves realistically and don't put on a façade to look good to others.  Humility frees us to be ourselves, avoid falling into despair or pride, and not be swayed by reputation, success, or failure.  It enables us to see as God sees; it helps us be teachable so we may acquire true knowledge and wisdom.  It directs us to give ourselves to something greater than ourselves; it frees us to love and serve others for their sake, not ours.  Jesus is the greatest model:  he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death on a cross.

February 26, 2018

Feb. 26

February 26, 2018:  Monday, 2nd week, Lent

  • 'Boundless mercy' pin:  Yours, Lord, are compassion and forgiveness! (1st reading); Be merciful like your Father (gospel)
  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  "We the sheep of your pasture will give thanks..." (psalm)
  • 'Ruler' tie bar:  "The measure you measure will be measured to you." (gospel)
  • White shirt, socks:  Yesterday's Transfiguration gospel
  • Purple tie and suspenders:  Lenten season
Pope Francis homily
“Don't judge and you won't be judged.”  None of us can escape God’s judgment; we'll all be judged, personally and universally.  This reality helps the Church reflect on its behavior toward one another and God.  This is an invitation to renewal.
Beyond not judging, we're called to forgive.  Each of us might think: ‘But I never judge, I don’t make myself a judge.’ ”  Examine your conscience.  When I've been at a meeting, or meal, how many minutes have I spent judging others?  The Lord is the only judge.  We're invited to be merciful with others as the Lord will be merciful to us.  God’s justice is mercy.  To receive God’s mercy, we must be humble, recognizing we're sinners.  When we meet God’s justice with our own shame, we find forgiveness.

  • Dn 9:4b-10 “Lord, we've sinned, but compassion and forgiveness are yours!”
  • Ps 79:8-9, 11, 13 "Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins." O God, help us, deliver us, and pardon our sins; then we'll will give thanks and praise you.
  • Lk 6:36-38 Be merciful like your Father. Stop judging, stop condemning, forgive, and give; the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
  • Creighton:  What's my relationship with God and people in my life?  Do I value these relationships?  How do I show my gratitude?  Why am I quick to judge and criticize?  I 'judge' others to soothe my own sense of failure, reaffirm my importance, and regain a sense of control.  But as God loves me in all my imperfection, I need to share that love in times of others' imperfection.  Thank God for his and others' forgiveness of me.  May I similarly show others such care, compassion, and love.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "More or less?":  In Jesus' time people wore ankle-length robes and sowed seeds by going to the pile, grabbing their hem at the knees, pulling it up toward their waist to make a pocket to pour seed into, carrying the seeds into the field, and sowing till the pocket was empty, then repeating.  Jesus promised that givers will receive in "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, into the fold of" their garment.  If we give to Jesus, we'll receive more work to do but also more resources to serve him with, resulting in a great harvest.  May we work for Jesus more than ever; he yearns for all to be saved.  He longs to gather his estranged children.  "The fields are shining for harvest!"  "Do whatever He tells you."
  • Passionist:  Some people just can’t be happy with who they are.  Others need to be against the pope, the president, their boss, a coworker, their spouse, or others.  Why?  How can a follower of Jesus be so angry, even hateful?  What does it say about us when we can’t find good in those we're against?  What does it say about those who spend their energy being against?  May we fill our hearts with love....
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Be merciful like your Father":  Jesus took our sins on himself so we could receive pardon, freedom, and healing.  God's mercies never cease, but anger, resentment, and unwillingness to forgive can keep us from receiving his mercy and healing.  The Lord offers us freedom to walk in his way of love and forgiveness, mercy and goodness.  We are called to be merciful as our heavenly Father has been merciful to us.  Do you quickly forgive those who wrong you or cause pain?  Daniel prayed daily for his people, and his persecutors.  He was 'shamefaced' because of his people's sins and unfaithfulness, but instead of judging them, he begged God for compassion, pardon, and restoration. Our shame will turn to joy and hope if we confess our sin and ask for God's love and mercy.
"We judge with mixed motives, impure hearts, and prejudiced minds.  "Don't judge unjustly, so that you may not be judged" is like "Forgive, and it will be forgiven you."  One who has judged with justice should forgive in accordance with grace, so that when he's judged with justice, he may receive forgiveness through grace. Don't seek vengeance or condemn from appearances or opinion, but admonish and advise" (Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Tatian's Diatessaron 6.18B, paraphrased).
True Christians show grace, treating others as God wishes them treated, with forbearance, mercy, and kindness.  God shows his goodness and love to all, always seeking what's best for each of us and teaching us to seek others' good.  We must show others the kindness and mercy God has shown us.  Our prayer for those who do us ill breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love.  God gives us power and grace to love those who harm us; he works in and through us by his Spirit, to purify us and help us do the right.  God's love conquers our hurts, fears, and prejudices; it can heal, restore, and transform us.  Only Christ's cross and victory can free us from hatred, revenge, and resentment and give us courage to overcome evil with good.

February 25, 2018

2nd Sun., Lent

February 25, 2018:  Second Sunday of Lent

See 14 connections with today?
Legend below
For Psalm 116

Pope Francis Angelus
Jesus' Transfiguration was related to what had happened six days before, when he revealed to his disciples that in Jerusalem he'd have to suffer and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise again.  This announcement had challenged Peter and the other disciples, who rejected the idea that Jesus would be rejected and killed.  By leading Peter, James, and John to a high mountain and showing them his glory, the Lord was enabling the disciples to face his passion in a positive way, without being overwhelmed.
The transfiguration helps the disciples, and us, understand that the passion of Christ is a mystery of suffering, but above all a gift of Jesus' infinite love.  His transfiguration also makes us understand his resurrection better; if before the passion there had not been the transfiguration with God's declaration, "This is my beloved Son," Jesus' paschal mystery would not have been as easily understood.  We need to climb the mountain with Jesus, stop, be more attentive to God, let the Spirit envelop and transform us, live out the experience of contemplation and prayer, not escaping life's harshness but enjoying familiarity with God.

  • Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18  God tested Abraham, asking him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.  As Abraham took the knife, the angel stopped him.  "I know now how devoted you are to God.  I'll bless you abundantly."
    Transfiguration/ Ivanov
  • Ps 116:10, 15-19  "I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living."  I believed.  Precious in God's eyes is the death of his faithful.  I'm your servant; you loosed my bonds.  I'll offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon your name.
  • Rom 8:31b-34  If God is for us, who can be against us?  How will he who handed his Son over for us not give us everything else?  Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones:  God who acquits?  Christ at his right hand interceding for us?
  • Mk 9:2-10  Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a mountain and was transfigured before them.  Elijah and Moses appeared and were conversing with Jesus.  Peter:  “It's good we're here!  Let's make three tents....”  Voice from cloud:  “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”  Suddenly they only saw Jesus with them.
  • Creighton:  How could God could put Isaac, and Abraham, through that test?  Does God really test us?  What if God isn’t testing Abraham because God needs to know of his devotion but because Abraham needs to understand how devoted he is to God?  And what if Jesus, fully human, "needed" the Transfiguration as affirmation from God to bolster his courage for what was ahead?...
  • One Bread, One Body:  "He loves me; he loves me not...":  "God is for us."  He who handed his own Son over for our sake grants us all things.  But God does, and allows, things we can't understand, and we can question God's love instead of our understanding.  The Lord doesn't explain our suffering, but he suffered and died for us.  "God with us" joined us in our sufferings.  To learn the lessons of love in the midst of suffering, we must listen to Jesus speaking of the cross. Because Jesus is our transfigured Lord, we listen.
  • Passionist Going, Going, Gone:  The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, based on a CARA study, says that many stop practicing their faith because they feel judged.  Saul was a good Jew, a committed rabbi, intense, zealous, willing to die or kill for his faith.  Certitude can be delusional and dangerous. Paul speaks of his woundedness, confesses the sin he can't control, and has a sharp conflict with Barnabas and Peter.  Maybe that’s the real conversion. Paul is healed by the Damascus community, transformed by acceptance and care.  May we love others into more abundant life....
  • DailyScripture.net:  Through the eyes of faith Abraham recognized God's call on his life and hoped in God's promises.  The Lord Jesus reveals his glory in fulfilling his Father's will.  Am I prepared to see God's glory?  The Lord wants to share it with each of us.  Origen re how the transfiguration can change us:  "When he's transfigured, his face shines as the sun that he may be manifested to the children of light who walk honestly as in the day.  He'll shine on them not simply as the sun, but as the sun of righteousness." (paraphrased)  While Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep.  How much do I miss God's glory and action because I'm spiritually asleep?  May I be awake and alert. "We, with unveiled face, behold the Lord's glory and are being changed into his likeness; this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
Dress legend
  • 'Angel' pin:  The Lord's messenger called to Abraham (1st reading)
  • 'Fire' pin:  Abraham offered a ram up as a holocaust instead of his son (1st reading)
  • 'Wood block' tie pin:  Abraham arranged wood on the altar he built (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  Angel:  "Don't lay your hand on the boy" (1st reading); God 'handed' his Son over for us all; Christ is at God's right hand (2nd reading)
  • 'Star' tie pin:  "I'll make your descendants as countless as the stars" (1st reading)
  • 'Walker' tie pin:  "I'll walk before the Lord" (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  Precious in the Lord's eyes is the death of his faithful (psalm)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  Angel 'called' to Abraham (1st reading); I'll 'call' on the Lord's name (psalm)
  • 'Alps' pin:  Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain (gospel)
  • White shirt:  Jesus' clothes became dazzling white (gospel)
  • 'Cloud' tie:  A cloud came and from it a voice (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

February 24, 2018

Feb. 24

February 24, 2018:  Saturday, 1st week, Lent

  • 'Sun' pin:  Your Father makes his sun rise on the bad and the good (gospel)
  • 'Heart' pin:  Observe God's command with your whole heart (1st reading); blessed they who seek the Lord with all their heart; I'll give you thanks with upright heart  (psalm); love your enemies (gospel)
  • 'Walker' pin:  Walk in the Lord's ways (1st reading, psalm)
  • 'Children' tie:  Love your enemies... that you may be your Father's children (gospel)
  • 'Money bag' tie pin:  Even tax collectors love those who love them (gospel)
  • Purple shirt:  Lenten season
Pope Francis at Diakonia of Beauty symposium
Thank you for your talents.  The Lord called you to develop them in the service of all.  The gifts you've received are a responsibility and a mission for you.  Work without letting yourself be dominated by the search for pride, popularity, or profit.
You're called to propose another way to understand life, not obsessed with consumption but service especially to creation.  Develop your talents to contribute to an ecological conversion that recognizes the dignity of each person, their value, their creativity, their ability to promote the common good.  Promote a culture of encounter; build bridges in a world where so many walls are raised out of fear.
The Church relies on you to make the beauty of God's love visible, to allow each one to discover the beauty of being loved by God and bear witness to it in the attention shown to others, especially the excluded, wounded, and rejected.
  • Dt 26:16-19  Moses:  “God commands you to observe these commands; do it with your heart and soul.  You're agreeing to walk in God's ways, and the Lord is agreeing to make you his own and raise you high.”
  • Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8  "Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!"  I'll give you thanks and keep your statutes.
  • Mt 5:43-48  “You've heard it said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say, Love your enemies.  So be perfect, just like your heavenly Father.”
  • Creighton:  Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it.  When he "quoted" Lv 19:18, he added the Essene addition "Hate your enemy" to "Love your neighbor."  He used it to correct the sense and add his own "Love your enemies," based on the Father’s goodness to the bad and the good, the just and the unjust.  But redemption is incomplete till we recognize our need for it and freely accept it....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Life's covenant dimension":  Our responsibility in the old covenant was "to walk in his ways and observe his statutes...."  Incapable of such obedience, we broke the covenant.  Then God made a new covenant to be God and Father. We are to be his children, not only obedient but perfect, acting like God to the point of loving our enemies. How could we who failed in a lesser covenant be perfect?  God sent Jesus to bring about the new covenant. We must believe and be baptized and so receive a new nature with the grace to become perfect. Following the Holy Spirit, we live in grace, holiness, perfection, light, freedom, power, and miracles....
  • Passionist:  "God's kindness and goodness":  Kindness makes God present.  Kindness gives when help is needed but doesn't demand justice.  How cruel the world would be if we were given strict justice, if God gave us what we deserve.  God owes us nothing, not even life.  We're creatures of God’s kindness.  Biblical justice is not quid pro quo but doing right.  At the last judgment, we don't want justice but merciful love.  “Without mercy there's no way we can be saved” (Anselm).
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Love and pray for your enemies":  God's love can free us from every evil:  selfishness, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, envy....  Jesus transforms the old law of justice and mercy with grace and loving-kindness.  God, whose love embraces everyone, teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even our enemies. Our love must show the same kindness and mercy God shows us, though it's hard when we expect no return.  Our prayer for them breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love.  God gives us power and grace to conquer our hurt, fear, prejudice, and griefs, frees us from malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment, and gives us courage to return evil with good and so bring healing.  Jesus' command to "be perfect" parallels God's telling Abraham to "be perfect" or "blameless" before God; 'perfect' originally meant 'complete,' 'whole,' 'not lacking in essentials.'  Another parallel is God's command to Moses and the Israelites: "Be holy, for I am holy."  God who made us in his image calls us to grow to be like him, to love as he loves, choose to do good, and reject what's contrary to his will.  God who knows our sinfulness assures us of his love, mercy, and help.  Holy Spirit, transform so I may walk in the joy and freedom of the Gospel.