Friday, July 21, 2017

In the first reading today we see the institution of a ritual so important that God told the nation of Israel to set it as the head of their calendar. The most important date of the year, the beginning of time itself, was held on the same day as the Passover sacrifice.

July 21, 2017

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 393

EX 11:10—12:14

PS 116:12-13, 15 AND 16BC, 17-18

MT 12:1-8


In the first reading today we see the institution of a ritual so important that God told the nation of Israel to set it as the head of their calendar.   The most important date of the year, the beginning of time itself, was held on the same day as the Passover sacrifice.   The Jewish people did not just believe they were partaking of a new Passover each time, but that in some way they were transported outside of time back to the original Passover.   It wasn’t another Passover, not a new event, but the one and same event being made present to them in the ritual.  That’s quite a bit different than the theology that some have where it is just a ‘symbolic ritual.’   Where as some would say that it represents the original Passover, most would rather it be said that it “makes present” the Passover.

The New Testament authors, including St. Paul, were quick to say that Jesus was indeed our Passover.   It is in Christ that we find the true liberation from sin, the true freedom from the Egypt of this world.  We find it so hard though to not only trust that promise but even more so to live it out in our daily lives.   As children of God, we have been given the freedom to reject sin and to make choices that are not guided by our lower, base instincts.   We aren’t irrational animals at the mercy of our chemical reactions no matter how much some scientists would have you believe.   Our minds are greatly complex and above all the animal kingdom, as far as we know, we are the few that possess the ability to reason out our response and overrule our instinctual desires.  

There are two erroneous ways that people then look at the ‘rules’ of the Church.   Either they view them as a trap and constricting, something that takes away their freedom, or they tend to view them as something that must be followed at all costs, regardless of the result.  Christ reminds us in the Gospel today that these rules are what bring us freedom.  They aren’t there to make life miserable or to cause people to starve.   The Sabbath was created for man, to give man rest.   The rules aren’t there for the Sabbath as it has no need of them, it’s just a day.   They are there to give freedom and rest from the toils of the world.   To relax in the arms of our loving savior.  All of these rules, regulations, even canon law, are there to provide us a means of freeing ourselves.   To help us make correct decisions because our future doesn’t depend just on the moment and what feels right, but on where we will spend eternity.  Hell is real.   It’s not just something old people told kids to scare them decades ago.

With that in mind, that’s why we are so serious as Catholics about the Eucharist.  Many say we should just open the table to anyone who wants to come, any age, race or creed.  St. Paul had a different statement about the Eucharist, he said that anyone who receives it unworthily is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:27).   He also reaffirmed time and again that the bread and wine we receive are not just bread and wine, but truly the body and blood of Christ.  When one steps forward in a Catholic Church to receive Christ in the Eucharist, that Amen they say?   That is a statement that means “This is true.  I believe.”   What is true?  All of it.  Everything the Church teaches and everything it believes, I also believe.   That’s a big statement and an even bigger responsibility.  If it were just bread and wine, or even crackers and grape juice… that Amen doesn’t mean much.   But if it’s truly what we believe… Christ himself… body, soul, divinity….. Do we approach it as such?  How important is it in our lives?   If Christ is our passover, is He the first thing in our calendar? Or just something we add in when we find time? If like the Jewish Passover, the Eucharist transports you back in time making present the Cross at Calvary, how reverent and cautious should we be kneeling at the foot of The Cross?


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Today in the news we see another famous and influential artist having taken his own life. The man in question was one of immense talent and his fame showed that this was evident to all.

July 20, 2017

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 392

EX 3:13-20

PS 105:1 AND 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27

MT 11:28-30


Today in the news we see another famous and influential artist having taken his own life.  The man in question was one of immense talent and his fame showed that this was evident to all.  Somehow though, all of that did not make him content with life.  I cannot tell you what he was thinking in his last moments, or even the events in his life that led up to this point.   What I can tell you is that for many life becomes burdensome, it becomes difficult, it becomes so hard to handle that for some they think that taking their own lives will be better for them and their friends than their continued life.   If you ever find yourself thinking those thoughts, call me, text me, email me, come find me.  This world is a better place with you in it.  It was a better place with him in it as well, and I am sorry that we have let him down.

You see I find that anytime someone commits suicide that it is a reflection on the rest of us as a society.  It is a failure on our part, especially those of us who claim the title Christian, to help carry the crosses and burdens of those around us.  Like Simon of Cyrene, we must reach out to those in need and lift that cross that has them pushed to the ground.   To carry it with them in the journey and lead them to Him, the one who offers them a lighter burden, an easier load.  Pretending that we can unburden ourselves, that somehow if we work hard enough or do enough of this, or own enough of that… is a failure of understanding that only in Christ can we be unburdened.  It’s when we join with Christ in the carrying of the cross that we can find a lighter load.

That’s a paradox, isn’t it?  The Cross.   I am here writing to you that the Cross is the easiest of all burdens to carry.  The same Cross that Jesus fell under the weight of three times.   The same horrible death that made all of the disciples but one flee into the night.   The same cross whose threat loomed in the rising of the morning sun made Peter deny the Master three times as the rooster crowed its alarm toll.   That is the easiest one to bear.   Because He bears it with and for us.   Because it is Christ who carried the cross, and when we hand our suffering over to Him, when we stop trying to be in control, that’s when it all becomes easy.

We are in the land of spiritual bondage, our own Egypt, enslaved by the world.  Our slavery to things, monies, and desires is just as real as those of the Israelites thousands of years ago, and in some cases even more damaging and dangerous.   God says to us the same thing He said to them: I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated; so I have decided to lead you up out of your misery and into a land flowing with milk and honey.  Are you ready to turn it over to Him?   To allow Him to carry this load?  To realize that the only true happiness comes from being free of all those burdens that you have been saddled with, and to trust in God?    Always remember, I am here to listen if you ever need to talk.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

We often villainize the other until they are no longer human to us. The Pharaoh's daughter heard a baby crying while out bathing in the river. Even though this baby was of the Hebrews, a slave race, she was moved to pity at the sight of the child.

July 18, 2017

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 390

EX 2:1-15A

PS 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

MT 11:20-24


We often villainize the other until they are no longer human to us.   The Pharaoh's daughter heard a baby crying while out bathing in the river.  Even though this baby was of the Hebrews, a slave race, she was moved to pity at the sight of the child.   It does not escape me that we in our modern society tend to prevent the children from crying so that we don’t have to deal with the emotions that come from that experience.  We instead claim them to be non-human, a blob of cells, simply a “part of the woman’s body.”  How many of these abortions would be prevented if the mother were to hold the child for a moment, alive outside the womb?  Likely most of them.

I often say something to people when I notice that haven’t been coming to Mass, and I say it with all sincerity:   We are more complete with you.   As members of the body of Christ, we cannot do things alone.  Each of us performs a unique function that no one else can fulfill in the same way, with the same thoughts, with the abilities that God has given you and only you.   You make us better.  Instead of realizing the vast damage we have done to the whole of humanity by removing the uniqueness of millions of lives before they could be born into the world, we celebrate our own selfish interests and laud a world in which the Pharaoh's command to destroy the children of an entire race is perpetuated and held up as the golden cow.

I often imagine Jesus speaking to each of us as he says in today’s Gospel: “Woe to you!  If you had seen the miracle going on around you, you would long ago have repented.”  The miracle of life.   The miracle of the Eucharist.  The Miracle of freedom from sin.  The miracle of God becoming a man.  How many miracles have we missed because the one whose faith would have prayed for them had been aborted?   Hillary Clinton famously asked Mother Teresa why she thought we had not had a woman President yet in the united states.  Mother replied, “Maybe you aborted her.”   Maybe we have indeed.  

It is the time we as a nation, and more especially as a Church, “turn to the Lord in our need, and we will live.”  We cannot remain silent about the blatant sin that goes on in our society.   The sacrifice on the altar of progress, the declaration that the only way a woman can be free is if she sacrifices her children for her own career, success, and personal feelings.  The demonic notion that a father is only a seed donor and can walk away free leaving the mother to care for, or discard the children into the river of Pharaohs hate.  We must stand up for the family.   Without that basic unit of society, this nation which many of us still love will crumble and die.  Some would declare that a good thing.  How many innocent lives will be lost in the process?

Today we see one of the most famous scenes from the Old Testament when Moses encounters the presence of God in the burning bush on Mount Horeb.

July 19, 2017

Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 391

EX 3:1-6, 9-12

PS 103:1B-2, 3-4, 6-7

MT 11:25-27


Today we see one of the most famous scenes from the Old Testament when Moses encounters the presence of God in the burning bush on Mount Horeb.    In Sacred Scripture going up the mountain symbolizes going up to meet God.  The giving of the commandments, the transfiguration, the Beatitudes, the still small voice;  all of these are on mountains.  They remind us that we too are challenged with encountering God in our lives.   That’s why many Christians will talk about their ‘mountain top’ experiences.   That doesn’t mean that they actually happened on a mountain, though for some they do.   What it does mean is that at some point in their life they came face to face with God in some tangible way.

Jesus reminds us that while we don’t have to give up our reason and logic, that sometimes it requires simply reaching out with our emotions as well.   It doesn’t require giving up your desires or dreams.  God created you with all of those.   He created you to be who you are.   What it does mean is self-surrender.  It means taking off your shoes because you are finding yourself on Holy Ground.   The presence of God in the burning bush changed the very nature of the place they were in.  God required Moses to touch it with his bare feet, not to walk with soiled sandals with the grime of the world.  That calls out to us as well, we must become like children, leaving behind the burdens of the world, the dirt of the flesh so to speak, and disciplining ourselves to draw closer to God in His holy places.

We often forget that we are one of those Holy Places.   Through Baptism we are made children of God.   St. Paul describes it as God’s temple.  Do we treat our body with the reverence it deserves?  Do we avoid the things that will defile that temple?  Both physically and spiritually?  The wonderful thing about a young child is that often they will listen to the parent or grand parent when they tell them something is dangerous.   They may not understand, and they may ask lots of questions.  They trust though that this older human knows what they are talking about.  We forget that with God.   We want what we think looks good, feels good, and society tells us we should have it if we want it.  God wants us to have something better… something greater than anything the world has to offer.   Himself.   That’s why He gave us the Eucharist.  That we could receive Him every time we worship.    

How do we take off our shoes?  How do we get ready to enter the presence of God in the Eucharist?   How do we return to that innocent state of forgiven grace that we receive in our Baptism?  Confession.   If we truly believed what we say we believe about Confession, that it is an encounter with Christ where in we are restored to relationship with our Church family that we have injured by our sin, would anyone be able to get inside the door?  The line would be out into the parking lot and wrapping around the building several times.   Open your entire body, all of your faculties to God in innocence and trust, then watch as He turns you into a new burning bush for the world to see… a soul so on fire with the love of God that it radiates into the world for all to see.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Our past often defines who we are and is how we understand and view the events of our lives.

July 17, 2017

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 389

EX 1:8-14, 22

PS 124:1B-3, 4-6, 7-8

MT 10:34—11:1



Our past often defines who we are and is how we understand and view the events of our lives.   There are two dangers though.  The first is that we live only in the past and never advance in our understanding.  Tradition just for the sake of tradition is something that simply stagnates growth and prevents innovation.  The other mistake is just as bad, if not worse.   That mistake is to ignore all of our past and only focus on the now.   We must learn from our past if we are to have a better future.   Too often we forget not only who we were, but who we are now, and that prevents us from becoming who we were created to be.

The story of the Israelites in Egypt is one that had powerful beginnings.  Joseph rose to power with Pharaoh and his people were living in prosperity.   Then came new rulers who didn’t know the past, didn’t know the history.  They put the Egyptians into slavery and forced them to work for them, even killing their children to keep them from becoming more powerful and taking over.  The problem is that often when people are persecuted and oppressed it’s not just their captors who forget who they are, they themselves begin to question their own worth.  When we hear the story of the Exodus in the next few weeks we will see the Israelites forgetting what freedom is and longing to be back in Egypt with its flesh pots and comforts.

I think we Christians have done much the same in today’s society.   We’ve become so much a part of the daily life that we have separated ourselves in many cases from the Church of the first Christians, and have forgotten who we were.   We also have taken on the characteristics of the world and allowed in many denominations the religion to become so much like the worldly desires and passions of the flesh that you can scarcely tell who the Christian is and who the non-Christian is.  They all begin to look just like each other.  Becoming Christ like is not something that only happens after death.  It’s something we should be trying to do now, here, every moment of our lives.  

Just like the Israelites in the desert, we find that our flesh desires comfort, so much so that we forget the beauty of what Christ has given us.  We reject the food from the Heavens for the more familiar food of our youth and our comforts.   It becomes a habit to the point that we would rather be at a baseball game than at Church.  Our friends pressure us to do this or that, it’s just one more drink!  Loosen up, you can miss Church one weekend!  Why do you gotta be so strict, live a little! That’s exactly what Jesus is reminding us to steel ourselves for in the Gospel.  When we reject the morality of the world, when we begin to try to live authentic lives of piety and good works, it drives a wedge between ourselves and the fleshpots of our own Egypts.  The question is: are we going to follow Jesus in our Exodus to freedom?  Or are we going to mope around in the desert of this world missing the things of our past?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What does it mean to love God? I’ve been meditating on that thought for a few days now.

July 14, 2017

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

Lectionary: 387

GN 46:1-7, 28-30

PS 37:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40

MT 10:16-23


What does it mean to love God?   I’ve been meditating on that thought for a few days now.  After spending another few days in silence on the banks of the Mississippi, I realized how much I missed my wife and children.  I longed for their company.   I found myself getting excited at the thought of seeing my wife as I stood with the generous and loving men who waited with me for her to arrive at the Diocesan Administration Building when we got back.   Just seeing her face when I got back brought a warmth to my heart that truly made me feel loved.   That’s what it means to love.   She didn’t have to do anything to trigger that feeling in me, just seeing her, just being in her presence brought it about.


So do we love God?  Do we look forward to the Mass on the weekend with that sort of enamored joy that I felt while waiting for my wife?  Does our relationship so extend to him that when we aren’t in his presence for a time we begin to long to do so?  I do know that when I miss a Mass on Sunday I feel different.  The day doesn’t feel as if it is going as smoothly and everything feels off.  Sunday just isn’t Sunday without worshipping God.  But what about the other 6 days of the week?   Mass isn’t just there on Sunday.   Do I find myself missing Him?  Longing to go and be with Him?  Yes, I know he is present everywhere, but he is more substantially present in the Sacraments.  Do I run to confession after a week?  A month?  A year?  How long does it take for me to miss Jesus as much as I miss my wife after just four days?


Today’s Saint, Kateri Tekakwitha, loved God.  She loved him so much that she became a slave, literally, for her faith.   As a convert, she was only fed on the days she worked.  She refused to work on Sundays.   So on Sundays, she didn’t eat.  She was persecuted, abused, and eventually had to flee to find another community where the Natives were Christian.  She loved Jesus so much she wasn’t going to give him up, even if it cost her life.  How many things do we put before that relationship in our lives?   Can we truly claim to love Christ if everything else comes first?  Sports?  The gym?  Our health?  Even our comfort?  Jesus tells us to be ready for persecution, that people will persecute us for our faith.  Kateri took that seriously.   I think in our overly sanitized and softened Christianity we often don’t.   


Are you ready to give up everything, including your children if need be?  Do you love God?  Or are you in love with the therapy he seems to provide in your life?   What will it take for you to miss him?   That’s what Hell is… his absence.   Where do you want to spend your eternity?  Because where you spend it right now is a good indicator of where you’ll spend it then.

A couple of weeks ago I posted on Facebook about the little garden we had begun in front of our house. It isn’t a large garden. Just a few plants for some extra food throughout the summer.

July 16, 2017

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 103

IS 55:10-11

PS 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14

ROM 8:18-23

MT 13:1-23


A couple of weeks ago I posted on Facebook about the little garden we had begun in front of our house.   It isn’t a large garden.  Just a few plants for some extra food throughout the summer.  My daughter and her friend helped me to prepare the area.   We took out any big rocks we found.  Added in some good quality potting soil.   Then we planted our peppers, tomatoes, and squash in the ground followed by a nice, deep watering.  They are doing quite well.  In the right environment, just a few plants can produce a great amount of quality fruit for the harvest.

I found that image to be one that I was meditating on quite a bit on my silent retreat.  Harrowing.   That’s a theme that I wrote about last week.   It also applies very appropriately to today's readings.  Jesus in his parable talks about soil.  It’s easy for us to place ourselves into one or more of these categories.  Especially those of us who go to church on a weekly basis, live a life of attempted piety, and really strive to be in a relationship with Christ and his body.   We want to be that rich, nutrient rich soil that he speaks of as having received the word and nourishing it into great fruit.   We want to be one of the 30, 60, or 100 fold producers in the garden of the Lord.

I think we have to be careful though.   Yes, we must go through a cleaning process to remove the stones and rocks.  We need to make sure the environment inside our soul is open and receptive to the Lord’s Word.  That means making an examination and finding out what is helping and what is hindering.  The thing about the little garden I planted is that not only are the plants I want to grow nourished and growing, all the little seeds and particulates that the birds drop in, and any left over seeds in the soil from before are also thriving.   Each day, as I walk by, I find myself having to stoop down, discern what is a plant for food and what is a weed, and then removing the ones that I don’t want in my garden.   I don’t want them choking out the good plants, nor do I want them stealing the nutrients my fruit need to survive.

Our spiritual life is much the same.  It’s not enough to simply prepare the soil and hope the Word sticks.   We have to spend time examining our lives daily.   Asking ourselves is this thing in my life helping them to grow?   Are the seeds being planted by the music I listen to, the television I watch, the games and social media I involve myself with on the internet; are all of these things drawing me deeper into a relationship with Christ?  Or are they hindering?  It’s so easy to fall back into old habits.  The problem is that when we have freed up our time from those things which distract, when we fall back into the old we seem to fall back even harder and deeper than before.  The weeds tend to grow faster than the fruit.  That is often the most frustrating part.  

Isaiah speaks of the rain and snow coming down to the ground to water it.  Water means life.  We have to make sure that our soul is watered by the water of Baptism, and renewed constantly with the nutrients and moisture that it needs to nourish the seeds which God wants to grow in us.  That means spending time in the Sacraments.   Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, cleaning out the new weeds and rocks in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and for those of us who are married, clinging to the grace we receive through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to produce fruit in our lives with our spouses.  As a man whose primary vocation is marriage, it’s not just my garden I must work with.  My primary goal is to help my wife get to heaven.   That means I must also make sure that like the birds who frequent my garden, I have to make sure the seeds I present to her are seeds that will bear fruit for her soul and not weeds that can choke out her spiritual life.

All too often it's the ones we are closest too that we bring down with us.  In the world where the mindset of Luther has been watered down into a “personal relationship only” with Christ, we often forget that our actions do matter.   Not only do we hurt God with our sins, but we hurt each other.   That’s why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the first place.  It’s not just to make things right with God, it’s to reach out to the community we are damaging by bringing sin into our lives and saying I am sorry, I want to be a part of that community again.   We also have to look at our relationships, especially with those we spend the most of our time with.   Am I influencing them to be better producers of fruit?  Am I introducing them to holy activities that will draw them closer to God?  Or are my actions dragging them down?  Introducing foreign contaminants into the garden that might choke or damage the fruit that is growing there?

While we have experienced salvation, we are still being saved, and hope to be saved.  Our flesh fights against our soul to try and satisfy all its needs and desires.   Those needs and desires are not a bad thing.  God created them in us.  The problem is our flesh doesn’t care how they are met, just that they are met.   When looking for release or comfort, it isn’t too picky about how we get it.  It’s not concerned with the fruit of the moment, let alone the fruit of eternity.   All it wants is to have its desires met.    That’s why we must spend time in the Scripture, time in the teachings of the Church fathers, and time in prayer with Jesus that we can learn how to direct those desires and passions to their true fulfillment.  

St. Paul calls it the glorious freedom of the children of God.  Some would say that we aren’t free.   That all this work we have to do to make sure our fleshly garden is clean of debris is even more bondage.   Yet others would claim that you don’t even have to watch what you do or guard your tongue or gird your loins, but simply declare your faith and believe.  The freedom we have is one that requires effort.   It’s a freedom that allows us to choose holiness over sinfulness.  Righteousness over immorality.  If you’ve ever watched someone, or you yourself have suffered from addiction, you know what I am speaking about.  It’s a horrible sensation to not have a choice.   To have to do the thing your flesh desires even when your mind and soul scream for something better, something pure.   That is the freedom that Christ offers us as the Word of God.

It’s a freedom that starts first and foremost with a choice.  Choosing to work toward your salvation.  Not because you can earn it.  Salvation comes by grace and grace alone.   The thing is we have to apply it.   Jesus on the cross gave us everything we need to get to Heaven.   He gave us a church born out of his side in blood and water.   He gave us, the beloved disciples, a spiritual Mother, the ultimate example of what it means to be a disciple, Mary most holy.   He gave us his death that we might have life everlasting.   Just like a bucket of paint given to you for free must needs be dipped into with a brush, so too must the Sacraments be received with a prepared heart and willing mind.  True freedom is not without effort, it's realizing that you have a choice to participate with God who will never over power your free will, but will continually ask you as He asked Mary, “Do you want to be a part of my plan?”

It’s time for us to get serious about our gardening.   If we aren’t making a daily examination a part of our lives?   It’s a good place to start.    Frequent confession?  Yes, please.   Daily communion for those who can, a holy hour at lunch, or even just some serious prayer time to help grow towards God.   Spend some time in scripture.   Pray the Liturgy of the Hours.   It’s a powerful and beautiful way to pray the Psalms.   St. Ambrose called the Psalms a gymnasium of the soul, as it includes all the emotions of the human experience.  The ups and the downs, the sadness and the joy, the fear and the confidence.   Find a way to make the Word a part of your daily life, and then safeguard it with all joy.

St. Francis, when he would find a scrap of parchment strewn about containing some snippet of scripture, would take that paper and put it in a safe and holy place.   Even the smallest hand written scrap of paper was sacred to him if it contained the Word of God.   How much we could learn from this little gesture, we who often throw our reprinted bible verses in the recycling, and leave our bibles on the shelf collecting dust.   It is time to remove all things that prevent us from becoming what Christ has called us to be.   That means making time for Him, daily.  Not just time, but making sure that all of our time... No matter what it is we are doing, or where we are, a prayer to him.  Offering up our lives as a pleasing and sacred aroma, by offering a contrite heart to the Lord and allowing Him to tend our garden through the Church he established to do so.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Joseph, like most of us, had a bit of a grudge against his brothers. So much so that he threw one in prison and demanded they bring the youngest out before him. I imagine being sold into slavery had weighed heavily on his mind.

July 13, 2017

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 386

GN 44:18-21, 23B-29; 45:1-5

PS 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21

MT 10:7-15


Joseph, like most of us, had a bit of a grudge against his brothers.  So much so that he threw one in prison and demanded they bring the youngest out before him.   I imagine being sold into slavery had weighed heavily on his mind.  Maybe had even slipped his mind for a time as his life took a turn for the better.   He had a family, a wife, wealth, and good health!  Imagine the shock at seeing his brothers for the first time in all those years.   The thought of getting revenge might have seemed a pleasant one, and in his position, Joseph could have easily have done so and no one would have asked any questions.   Joseph’s true freedom though, became when he let go of the past and forgave those who had wronged him.   It was a healing moment for both his brothers and himself.

Jesus in the Gospel sends his disciples on a mission.  He reminds them to not allow the physical things of life tie them down.   Don’t get attached to wealth or what you are to eat.   Simply go and trust God to provide.  That’s one of the hardest things to get into our thick skulls.  We often say “I trust God” then we go about preparing our backup plans in case God isn’t watching as closely as we want, or in case his plans don’t match ours.  He tells them not only to go without supplies but also without money to provide them.  Then he even tells them not to charge for what they are doing, but simply to give freely and generously.  That requires a great deal of faith.

I think that both stories remind us of the same simple truth.  We can’t allow the physical or emotional baggage of our lives weigh us down.   It’s in forgiving those who have wronged us that we ourselves are set free.   All those grudges and painful scars can be heavier than any backpack filled with supplies, but even fretting over everyday minutiae can make life into an unceasing toil.    It is important for us to not allow the past to trap us, blind us, or bind us.   It can freeze us in our tracks and prevent us from moving forward, prevent us from loving or sharing our hearts.   Jesus tells us to jump into his arms, not preparing ahead of time, not making sure it’s safe… but trusting.   Are we ready for that?  Are we ready to free our hearts of all that is holding us down and soar on the wings of eagles?


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Abraham trusted in God’s promise that he would own all of the lands that he could see. He also trusted that his offspring would be a great nation as numerous as the stars in the see.

July 12, 2017

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 385

GN 41:55-57; 42:5-7A, 17-24A

PS 33:2-3, 10-11, 18-19

MT 10:1-7


Abraham trusted in God’s promise that he would own all of the lands that he could see.  He also trusted that his offspring would be a great nation as numerous as the stars in the sky.  Then Abraham died owning only the land he had purchased for his wife’s tomb and his son, Isaac, had yet to marry and have children.  Imagine the faith it takes for a man to die well not being able to see the promises of God in his future.  Too often we worry about making bucket lists and experiencing life on this side of death and less about being the kind of person who inherits eternal life.  Why do we so often concentrate on what seems to be a speck of time when eternity awaits us?  


In Joseph, we begin to see a glimpse of God’s plan for all humankind.   Here the rejected son has been catapulted into authority in Egypt.  Not only his own family but all to the known world have to come to his feet to obtain the food necessary to survive.  Joseph, a descendant of Abraham, has now become one of the most powerful men on the planet.   In this time of famine, it is he who directs who gets food and who does not.  It is Joseph who is the gateway of mercy for the Pharaoh, or even the judge who determines guilt and throws whomever he chooses into prison.   This Joseph is an image of the Christ to come.   The true ruler of all nations, the dispenser of mercy, and the one who will feed us the food of eternal life.


How much more than do the words of Jesus mean when he gives the Apostles the authority to cast out demons and cure disease and illness?   When the true right hand of God says to Peter the same words that were said to Eliakim when he was installed as prime minister of the kingdom?  He who controls the gateway of mercy hands the keys over to the Church, to the Apostle Peter, with the authority to bind and loosen.  The authority to forgive sins!   It is in this that the true fulfillment of the promise to Abraham came to fruition.  Not just a nation of one race, but an entire world welcome to the wedding feast of the lamb.  Offspring of every race, tongue, and creed are now part of the family through the human ancestry of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  


We are living in a world of moral famine in which everything wrong is being lauded as the answer, and everything right is being seen as old-fashioned, bigoted and hate filled.   Why do we search then among the pleasures and joys of the world for sustenance when Christ himself offers the bread of life to us each and every day through the Sacraments of His Church?  He has given us a promise as well, one that also requires that we like Abraham set out on a journey through a strange and inhospitable world.   Are we willing to trust that plan?  Even to our death?  Even when we can't see with our own eyes the promises being fulfilled?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sometimes it feels like this life is a never ending battle of our conscience versus our flesh. News stories have gone from being facts about specific events to emotional diatribes that rile up the passions and inflame the heart.

July 11, 2017

Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
Lectionary: 384

GN 32:23-33

PS 17:1B, 2-3, 6-7AB, 8B AND 15

MT 9:32-38



Sometimes it feels like this life is a never ending battle of our conscience versus our flesh.  News stories have gone from being facts about specific events to emotional diatribes that rile up the passions and inflame the heart.  The authority of parents has been reduced by their portrayal as bumbling idiots and absentee parenting in most major media.  The government itself seems to be undermining the ability of those who wish to raise children by reducing their influence, providing children with the ability to go behind their parents' backs and procure procedures and pills without any sort of consent or even knowledge.    It can be frustrating if not downright disheartening.   All too many never even realize that it is truly a battle between good and evil, between angels and demons, principalities and powers.

We all have those struggles, especially when trying to grow closer to God or discern his will in our lives.  Nothing will put a target on your back faster than dedicating your life to bringing about the Kingdom of God here and now.  There are those who will brand what you are doing as evil, for even when Jesus cast out demons and freed people from bondage he had men claim he was doing the work of the devil.  That spirit that accused the savior is still alive and well today.  It is a spirit of hedonism and lies.   One that tries to convince people that all that matters is what feels good.  That somehow truth is really subjective and only is determined by society and the social norms of the time.  We as Christians would disagree completely, declaring Truth to be a person outside of ourselves.  That from God comes truth and with that, some actions will always be wrong, regardless of who says they are right.

The Old Testament reading for today shows Jacob wrestling with God.  That too is something we all end up doing at some point.  Our will often conflicts with His, and we all too often consider it a win if we get our way.  Jacob's example though, is that wrestling with God should change us.  Any encounter with the divine should alter our lives, our actions, and even the way we look.  Jacob went from being a swindling man who was shrewd and conniving, to a limping old man named Israel whose heart was true and only for the people.  St. Benedict also was changed by his encounters with the divine and gave a rule to his fellow men to follow. A rule that I think on this feast day we should all take a moment to read and see where we might do the same in our own lives.  Let us then put on the armor of Christ, arm ourselves with a secure and personal relationship with Jesus and his Church, and march forth into battle unafraid.  For if God is for us, who can be against us?

One other thing, when you have discerned what is good, what is right, and what is holy... just like Jacob, refuse to let go.  Hang on to God and everything else will fall into place.


 Note: The Rule of Benedict can be a lot to digest in one sitting.  I suggest that one takes a single section, one that speaks to where they are in their life right now, and read that section and meditate on what it might be saying to you.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14  

Monday, July 10, 2017

I had a discussion recently with a friend about holy places. That friend seemed to think that every spot on the planet is exactly the same as any other place. (click the link to read more)

July 10, 2017

GN 28:10-22A

PS 91:1-2, 3-4, 14-15AB

MT 9:18-26




I had a discussion recently with a friend about holy places.  That friend seemed to think that every spot on the planet is exactly the same as any other place.    That the place that we believe Jesus might have been born is worth no extra honor than the spot where we ourselves were born.  As a Catholic, I disagree, and not just because the Church and Sacred Scripture both tell us that a place can be holy, but also because of personal experience.   I’ve been to shrines, churches, and even retreat centers that were different.  You could feel the presence of Christ there in a way that it’s not just everywhere.   That doesn’t mean he isn’t present everywhere, but it does mean that he is present in different ways. 


Jacob built a shrine at the spot where he had the vision known as Jacob’s ladder.   He realized that this was a special place, and eventually it became known as the shrine of Bethel.   The image in his mind showed him that he was close to God here, and it was treated as a special land for many years until it was destroyed sometime around the Roman occupation in Jesus time.  He was so moved by the presence of God that he declared that if God protected him, then he would begin to worship God and God alone.   Those experiences aren’t common.   Not everyone has an astounding vision or hears a voice.  The thing is God is speaking to all of us though.   In the silence of our hearts, in the happenings of our days, if we just take the time to listen. 


The ladder that Jacob saw was a precursor to Jesus Christ.   Jesus is the image of God, the place where angels will ascend and descend.   He is the connection to God that we have all been searching for.   It is in the Sacraments that each and every one of us can encounter God, and that is why we Catholics hold the Sanctuary to be a special place.   It’s not that Jesus isn’t with us when we leave, but he is there in a special and substantial way in the Eucharist that should be reverenced and adored.   That’s why we don’t make a lot of noise, we genuflect, we pray on our knees.    It’s because Christ is there.   Then we receive Him and go out into the world to share him with others. 


How do we do that though?   By first off realizing that He is with us in every place.  That His sacramental presence means that everything we do must be Holy.   The actions we do, the things we say, where we go and what we watch... They all must be something that we would do with Him right there with us because he is.   It also means that like the event recorded in the Gospel today, we are to be healers.   We reach out into the crowd for the marginalized, the oppressed, the downtrodden.   We get them back on their feet and to good health.   We extend our hand to those in sin and help them rise up to life in Christ.  Are we doing that?   Would we put God’s name on the movies we watch?   The way we drive?   The people we hang out with and the discussion we have?   All things to meditate on today as we continue through Ordinary Time. 


His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14