Thursday, June 22, 2017

I like buffets. My all time high weight of almost 400 lbs really showed that on the outside. For years when my family would ask where I wanted to eat, my main requirement was that there be a lot of food. (click the the link to read more)

June 22, 2017
Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 368
2 COR 11:1-11
PS 111:1B-2, 3-4, 7-8
MT 6:7-15


I like buffets.  My all time high weight of almost 400 lbs really showed that on the outside.   For years when my family would ask where I wanted to eat, my main requirement was that there be a lot of food.   The beautiful thing about a buffet is that everyone can find what they want.   At a place like Golden Corral, I can find some decent vegan food, even fruits and vegetables, and my kids can have pizza or whatever else their heart desires.   An entire family can eat different entrees, as much as they like, and all be satisfied.  The problem with buffets is that we both don’t know when to stop and we often avoid those things which are healthiest for us.  I’ve rarely seen my kids come back from a buffet trip with steamed broccoli, a baked potato, and salad. I also would rarely see myself doing that either.

In America, the idea of a buffet has invaded all of our cultures, and in the mind of some, it has even invaded their religious practice.  Many take what they love about the Church's teaching and hold on to that, but the parts they disagree with they push to the side or never even put on their plate.   Like the steamed vegetables that are very healthy for them, they never take them off the buffet because the taste isn’t as pleasing as the other things in their life that it would require them to walk away from.   Paul reminds us of the danger of picking and choosing, or of following a newer Gospel, a more pleasing one to the ears.   In another scripture verse, he declares even if an Angel of the Lord were to appear with a different message we should cling fast to the original Gospel.

If we look back historically to the first Christians we find them unapologetically Catholic.  The faith of “Our Fathers” is one that has been spoken of well before Constantine and though it has developed over time, can even be seen in the writings of Justin Martyr, who would likely recognize the Mass if he were to walk into a Catholic Church today.   That faith is built on the rock of the Founder, Jesus Christ, who established a teaching authority in the Church.  That authority has handed on for centuries now beautiful prayers, like the Our Father given to us by Christ himself, as guides and rules to show us how to get to the table.   It doesn’t mean that we don’t have it all!   You can have your cake and eat it too.  But at some point, you also have to have your steamed vegetables!  That key line, “Thy will be done,” is one of the ones left on the serving line all too often.  Are you ready to make that deep a commitment to Christ?  Every household has rules.  When people look at you do they know you are part of the family?

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Growing up I was taught that “tradition” was a bad thing. In fact, one of the Churches I went too prided itself on the fact it never did the worship service in the same way. (click the link hear more)

June 21, 2017
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
Lectionary: 367
2 COR 9:6-11
PS 112:1BC-2, 3-4, 9
MT 6:1-6, 16-18

Growing up I was taught that “tradition” was a bad thing.   In fact, one of the Churches I went too prided itself on the fact it never did the worship service in the same way.   One day they’d preach first, sing some music, then have an altar call.   The next day they’d altar call first, sing some music, preach, and then maybe even sing again!  At the time I didn’t realize that in and of itself was a tradition.  Tradition can be beautiful!   We humans seem to thrive on structure even though we often don’t realize it.   Having habits can be both good and bad.   Good habits increase our lives, bad ones send us spiraling down.

In both the readings today we are reminded that what we do not only has an effect on what comes back to us in this life and the next, but it also affects those around us.   Jesus in His message today isn’t condemning public prayer or worship.   He isn’t telling us that there isn’t a proper place to have the tradition or that we should just get rid of ‘religion’ altogether.   In another place, He tells us “Those on the seat of Moses are hypocrites, but do what they teach you not following their example.”  Clearly, He didn’t mean for us to stop having a relationship with God that showed the world we were different, holy and set apart.   What He did mean is that hollow religion, actions done for the wrong reason, are worthless.

That’s why it is so important that we actually believe what the Church teaches and understand why.   So many homes are broken and divorce has become something of a standard practice these days.   Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it’s necessary for sanity and health.   I myself am a divorced man who received an annulment and am remarried in the Catholic church.  I don’t expect anyone to stay in an abusive relationship, neither physical, emotional or spiritual.   What I do realize, especially as a stepdad, is that those broken relationships don’t just hurt the couple who split up…  They harm society itself.   The children are in direct line of the shrapnel from the explosion, and all their friends are impacted as well.  Our faith shouldn’t be hidden for the sake of hiding it.   It should impact every part of our lives and show a lasting change.   It’s not enough to say I believe all of these things and then be an impatient curmudgeon when the world encounters me... And believe me, I can be just that.

That’s what we can learn from Saints like the one from today.   This man knew his faults and would continue to stand with his eyes on the ground anytime a woman would be around him.  Not because he was shy, but because he didn’t even want to take a chance at having a lustful or improper thought.   He went on to die in the service of others, contracting the plague in a hospital while trying to help the sick and infirm.  His actions were all the public prayer he needed.   When we pray the rosary or the divine office in public, we must make sure we are doing it for the right reasons… not to be noticed, but to show our love for God.   In all instances though, we are to be at service to those around us.   Some think they should build a prayer space or a hidden closet in their home, and that’s commendable.  I have a few spaces set up in my own home for that purpose.   That shouldn’t be our only prayer.   Rather we should have a space set up in our own hearts, building a hidden room where all of our actions are lifted up to God with contrition and love.   That way our life can become a pleasing sacrifice, united with the Work of Christ on the Cross, and Our Father who sees what is hidden will repay 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


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

If you turn on the news today, you’ll find many young men and women who have everything they could ever want materially.... The money they have achieved, the fame, the drugs and the lifestyle haven’t brought them to some magical nirvana, but seem to have instead left them empty and broken. (click the link to read more)

June 20th, 2017
Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 366
2 COR 8:1-9
PS 146:2, 5-6AB, 6C- 7, 8-9A
MT 5:43-48

If you turn on the news today, you’ll find many young men and women who have everything they could ever want materially.   Through their natural, God-given skills they have created careers that have lined their coffers and even those of their friends, families, and agents.  There seems to be a pervading darkness there that lies under the surface though.  From Miley to Katy Perry, we find that these men and women aren’t happy.   The money they have achieved, the fame, the drugs and the lifestyle haven’t brought them to some magical nirvana, but seem to have instead left them empty and broken.   Suicide is rampant among the rich and famous, as is drug use, pedophilia, and various other dark deeds that aren’t spoken of in polite company.  All of these things are a search for something to make them happy, something to give them hope.

Why then is it so hard for us to let go of the very thing that we know doesn’t make us happy?  It seems like every time I turn on the radio someone is asking for money.   The Church has a yearly fund drive, the Pastoral Council wants to build another house, the guy at the train station wants another handout, and my kids need this or that.  God has gifted me with what little money I have to make a difference in the world.  To care for my family and friends.   The simple act of being asked to give up some of that abundance that He has so generously given me is almost a litmus test to my commitment to the Church and to the Kingdom.   Do I have enough faith to let go of the providence I have already received in the belief that it will come to me again?   Do I believe God will follow through on His promise to always take care of me?

Paul has spoken the need of a monetary commitment to the community but Jesus, as He always does, gets to the root of the problem.  Do we truly love?  It’s not the ones who show us love that test our faith and our conversion.   The person who gets on our nerves, the one who we don’t know, the one who squanders their own blessings and then expects mine.   That’s when our faith is tested.   That’s part of what giving to the Church is about.   When we find ourselves saying things like “I’ve given them for every project, I’m not doing it anymore!”, we are stepping into that same trap.  We are holding to the money that will never bring us happiness, instead of giving and trusting in God to provide.   That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t ever consider where their money is going, or do their research to find out that it’s actually going where it says it is.   What it does mean though, is that the true stress test of whether or not you are a Christian is: do I believe the promises that Christ has given me?  Or am I just going through the motions?

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, June 19, 2017

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that in order for things to change one person in a conflict has to be the adult and stop the cycle. (Click the Link to Read More)

June 19, 2017
Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 365
2 COR 6:1-10
PS 98:1, 2B, 3AB, 3CD-4
MT 5:38-42

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that in order for things to change one person in a conflict has to be the adult and stop the cycle.  Paul today talks about the kind of things that happen to people in this world.  Paul had suffered so many things at the hand of others.   Thrown into prison, beaten during riots, even left for dead after stoning at one point.   Paul shows us that while these things are intended to silence us, they don’t obscure the image of Christ in us but further reveal it.   It is our response to persecution that shows who we truly are.   I need to learn this lesson as much as anyone else.  I often pray the prayer attributed to Saint Francis that says “May I not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.”    Then on the same day, I’ll get annoyed if someone doesn’t pay attention to me or if they seem thoughtless or narcissistic.  

The funny thing is we often makes things self-centered, even when I worry about the vanity of others, it is me that I am thinking of.   When we read the Bible we often have that in our heads too.   We try to read it based on what we already know, what we believe, what we feel.  God wouldn’t do that because I wouldn’t!   The same with Jesus today when He speaks about the Old Testament rule of an “eye for an eye.”   Many today read this in light of popular politics and socioeconomic standards as some sort of endorsement for revenge.   What we have to do is look at the standards of the time in which they were written.   The people of that time were warring, tribal nations that were violent and explosive.  An eye for an eye was not a rule to allow revenge, but one to cap violence at a standard.   If you took my tooth, it wasn’t permission for me to take your tooth, but a prohibition for me that I couldn’t knock out all your teeth or kill you.   Its intent was to show love, to reform a world of violence and revenge.

Jesus takes this further.   He shows that the intent of the law wasn’t just to lower violence or cap it at a certain level but to seek reconciliation between God and man.   It was forgiveness.  Jesus reminds us that true change begins inside.   It isn’t in spending all our time looking at what someone else is doing.   Rather, we are to be spending time with Jesus in the Sacraments and in our personal prayer life that we might grow to be the kind of person that forgive slights so powerfully that He would hang on a cross naked while others gambled over His earthly possessions.   That’s where the power of God shows forth from us.   The Spirit we received in Baptism is most powerfully displayed when love and forgiveness emanate from us as we carry our own cross toward our own Cavalry.  The world may try to hide that Spirit you have been infused with but it’s still there, it’s up to us to make our life Christocentric (Christ at the center) rather than anthropocentric (man at the center, self, ego).


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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Growing up I didn’t know about the Eucharist. What I did know is that Jesus had promised that greater miracles were coming and that if we asked we would receive it. (click the link to read more)

June 18, 2017
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Lectionary: 167
DT 8:2-3, 14B-16A
PS 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
1 COR 10:16-17
JN 6:51-58

Growing up I didn’t know about the Eucharist.  What I did know is that Jesus had promised that greater miracles were coming and that if we asked we would receive it.   I started out in the Baptist church, as many know.   I remember the particular brand of Baptist that my grandfather was being very strict and rigid morally.  As I walked the journey toward the Church I wandered through various other religions.   The one I settled into for many years was in a very Pentecostal/Holiness style of worship.   The one thing that can be said of those men and women is that they truly believed in Jesus promises.   We didn’t speak about communion much.   I don’t remember ever saying the Lord’s prayer.   What I do remember is preachers so passionate about what they were saying that if you sat in the front row you might have to wipe some spittle off your face.

I also remember one woman in particular who had a bad knee.   She had a really structured brace placed from her ankle to her thigh.    During a particularly intense session of a revival, she stood up and declared herself healed.  She ripped off that brace and began to stomp her foot, dance, and shout about God’s glory.   It was a moving thing to witness.  Later in the week, she would go on to have surgery for the damage that had been done in that moment.   One could say she was silly, or stupid for doing it.   I say she had faith.  Had a miracle occurred?  Maybe.  How do I know that at that moment her knee wasn’t healed?   Or that God had used that moment to draw someone closer to Him?  Maybe even to draw me in?   It definitely increased my faith for years to come.

That wasn’t the only thing I witnessed in those years of wondering.   I attended communities that worshiped with music alone, others that had no structure but just let the Spirit move them, and even some with some sort of liturgy.   I went to Churches where men drank poison and lifted up vipers.  Where women fell out in the aisle unconscious and babbling.   Prayer services that lasted for days.   Speaking in tongues was prized and touted as a true sign of a believer.  All of these signs were things I truly believed in.   Why?  Because Jesus said it.   If Jesus said it?  It must be true.

Over the years that hasn’t changed about me.  I still believe in miracles.  I am certain that happen every day in ways that many of us just miss or don’t even have the ability to understand.  I don’t conceive of a God who is so transcendent that He has in some way forgotten us and left us on our own.  I believe in a personal God who wants us to be in a personal, albeit communal, relationship with Him and His Body.   I believe in a God so humble and generous that the Son emptied Himself of all that and became a man that I too might be able to meet God and understand Him.

The past few weeks have really pointed to this day.   The Ascension, Pentecost, the Holy Trinity, and now Corpus Christi.   Each of these points to a reality that is beyond what we understood on our own, but something that was revealed to us in the person of Christ.   That is, that Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God.   He is a part of the divine Godhead.   All of his life, death, and especially resurrection point to that simple, yet complex truth.   Jesus is God.  Let that settle in for a moment.   2000 years after this event that changed the history of humanity we often gloss over that.   All of the power in the universe, the very essence of what it means to exist, became a man that we could live for all of eternity.

That which was most powerful became defenseless in the body of a child.   He who had created humanity now depended on a family to take care of every need.  Who once molded and hung the stars now flailed with limbs out of control in search of comfort from the world He had to learn to understand.   In doing so He went from being the penultimate of all of the universe to one of the weakest and most vulnerable of His creations.  Laying in a manger, the feed trough of the brutish animals, was the bread that sustains all of creation and gives life to all things.

Yet somehow people refuse to believe that the same God who did all of these things to prove His love, was somehow limited in His ability to turn bread and wine into His Body and Blood.  How could I believe that men in a small rural church in Virginia could lay hands on one another and receive healing, but that somehow the Apostolic line had lost its authority and power?  A huge percentage of the Christian world reject this miracle or explain it away as a symbol, superstition or something that the first Church never intended.  Yet, Paul in his writings is clear.   “Isn’t this bread we partake the body of Christ?  Isn’t this wine His blood?”  The answer to both is yes.   That’s why Paul also warns in another place that anyone who receives this gift unworthily is guilty of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  

Genesis begins with the statement that God spoke and the universe came into existence.   “Let there be light.”   We do not doubt the power of this statement.   We also watch as God changes people and their names.   As He commands the sea to part, the earth quakes and hills jump like yearling sheep.   All of this we believe because He is God.   When He speaks it is truth which is the very basis of our relationship with Him.   He formed a covenant with us based on His word, an unbreakable bond that created reality as He spoke it.  How then do we doubt that when Jesus, fully God, said: “This is my body” that somehow His word returns void?  

That is why I am Catholic.   All of the other things the Church has to offer are found elsewhere.   I could go to a concert any day of the week and get my fill of good and pleasing music.  I could read the Bible on my own or tune into preachers on the Television or Radio who are often more animated and enjoyable to hear than some of the homilies that challenge me or cause me to squirm in discomfort.  A hundred different fraternities, clubs, sports teams, and organizations are vying for my attention and time.   No one else can offer the Eucharist.   Some churches even offer some of the Sacraments, Baptism and Marriage being two of the more common ones.  Some Churches even offer Confession though they don’t speak of it much.  The Eucharist?  That’s Catholic.   Only the Catholic Church believes in transubstantiation, that the substance of the bread and wine is truly transformed literally into the Body and Blood of Christ though the accidents remain the same.

Why does it matter?  Because of the very discourse that is our Gospel reading for today.  Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you have no life in you.   When some of His followers challenged this and said this is a hard saying, surely you don’t mean literally?   Jesus said no, I mean it.   So much so that the verb He used to say “eat” was the one we would use to describe a starving dog ripping into a corpse.   Many walked away.   Even today people are walking away from this challenge.  Less than 40% of Catholics today believe the teaching of the Church and that Jesus is truly present.  Do you?

The Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and with good reason!   If it is truly Jesus present in a substantial and powerful way, then where else would you want to be?   If the Eucharist is truly God, choosing an even more defenseless form, in order to come closer to you and unite with you that you might have life?  Then who wouldn’t be running to Mass?  That’s what our “Sunday Obligation” is about… if Jesus is there present fully, asking to become one with you, to unite with you in a way that brings you joy and eternal life?   Why would you want to be anywhere else?  Definitely something to be meditating upon this Corpus Christi.

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

Someone made a comment the other day about not needing to bring a sacrifice to the altar, and in a way that’s entirely true. Jesus Christ died on the cross for us. Everything we receive from that work of His and His alone is through grace and not any merit we have of our own. (Click the link to read more)

June 16, 2017
Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 363
2 COR 4:7-15
PS 116:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
MT 5:27-32

Someone made a comment the other day about not needing to bring a sacrifice to the altar, and in a way that’s entirely true.   Jesus Christ died on the cross for us.   Everything we receive from that work of His and His alone is through grace and not any merit we have of our own.   However, we do have to offer a sacrifice at the altar.   Ourselves.   We come to the altar unworthy with a sacrifice that is blemished by our own failures and sins.  That sacrifice is united with the only sacrifice worthy of God’s love, Jesus Christ himself.   That’s the sacrifice we must bring to the Mass… a complete giving of ourselves to God through His Son.

St. Paul reminds us today what that looks like.   It’s not simply getting ready at Mass, our work begins much earlier.   It begins the moment we walk out at the sending from the Last Mass we attended.  Our work begins by dying to ourselves every moment of every day that Christ might live in us.   That same God who died on the cross now resides in our mortal bodies as though in a Temple created just for Him.   All the power of the universe, the life force that animates all life, and sustains the universe itself has been received by us in the Eucharist and if we allow our own frailty, thoughts, and desires to die away can change us into the men and women that we were created to be.

Sometimes we think our thoughts and fancies are harmless.   Who do they hurt?   Especially for the married people, they hurt not just ourselves but they sap away the strength of our resolve.   They weaken our love for the other and embolden our own selfish desires.   They undermine our dedication to a single person and drain the very love and devotion we have toward our spouse, our neighbor, and our God.   That’s why Jesus reminds us that it’s not just our actions that we must work on, but our thoughts towards others.   Our cross is not always just an external situation that is difficult to walk through but is also the nails of our own wants desires, and appetites.   In offering those to God, in allowing the things we want that will hurt us to die in ourselves, we can journey with Christ toward Calvary in an even more powerful way… by accepting the cup that God has given us, regardless of what we want in our own lives.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

There is beauty and a depth to the Sacred Scripture that is often missed by those who read it casually. For many, it is because they read it as if it were dictated by God as a set of rules (click the link to read more)

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 362
2 COR 3:15—4:1, 3-6
PS 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14
MT 5:20-26

There is beauty and a depth to the Sacred Scripture that is often missed by those who read it casually.  For many, it is because they read it as if it were dictated by God as a set of rules, instead of inspired by God and recorded by those who were learning who God was with their own limited human faculties.  Some see the God of the Old Testament as being angry, violent, and rigid; while at the same time believing the God of the New Testament as being different: loving, kind, generous, and forgiving.   God doesn’t change.   The Sacred Scriptures grow in understanding, just as those who lived out their relationship with God grew in understanding.   The problem is our own minds often veil us from the true Spiritual realities of what it means to be in a relationship with God.  Sometimes the very use of words themselves often limits the reality of who God is and what He asks of us.

Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians describes it as a veil over the mind that prevents us from seeing clearly through to the purpose of the law.   When one reads the Old Testament on a superficial level, on a level that does not use Christ as the key to understanding it, they can confuse it with simply a list of dos and don’ts.   That was one of the major mistakes of the Pharisees and is still a common error today.   The law was not given to us to simply give us 613 rules to follow that God might separate us based on our ability to conform to them.   It was given to change us on the inside.   To make us into the kind of people who could live out the two great commandments as Christ simplified the law: Love God and your neighbor.

That is the line of thought that Jesus gives us in this section of the Sermon on the Mount.   It’s not enough to simply follow the “rules.”   We have to work on the things that make us break those rules.   Not simply to not murder, but to root out the evil thoughts and anger that make us want to do such things.   We can’t simply actively avoid committing adultery.  We must also stop thinking thoughts of lust and the viewing of pornography. We must always avoid desiring someone in a way that removes their human dignity and turns them into an object for our own pleasure.    Why?   Because these thoughts and actions offend the purity of God.  How can we claim to be in a relationship with Him if we do not act in a way that allows us to draw close to Him?  If our actions push Him away from us and hurt Him constantly?   Our relationship with God is still growing in understanding.  We still have a long way to go on human dignity when it comes to our relationship with the LGBT community, the refugee, the alien, and those who cannot speak or protect themselves.   The key though will always be Christ and internal change, not just outside rules and regulations.   That’s what the Church is for.  To help guide us through this world and give us guidelines that help us not just do external works, but to change who we are… that we might become more like Christ and more fully who God created us to be.

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


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Today is June 14th. That means it's my 40th birthday. It's also Flag Day. One of the least noticed holidays in our country. (Click the link to read more)

Lectionary: 361
2 COR 3:4-11
PS 99:5, 6, 7, 8, 9
MT 5:17-19

Today is June 14th.   That means it's my 40th birthday.  It's also Flag Day.   One of the least noticed holidays in our country.   If we just look at the flag as a symbol of the current state of American politics in which someone shoots another for just being in a different party, it doesn't seem like such a great thing to celebrate.   The flag though is much more than that.   It was adopted as a symbol of freedom from tyranny.   A new country being born into this world in which all men would be created equal and the dignity given to man by God would be declared immutable by the government, or any of mankind for that matter.   The flag doesn't just stand for those of us who are American now, but for all those who have fought and died for our freedom and our right to pursue justice, truth, and happiness in this world.

That's one of the things that we humans have a bad habit of trying to do.   Just like with Moses who just experiencing the presence of God, we sometimes mistake the glory due to Him for something we have earned.  The Israelites were so enamored and enthralled by this glowing of Moses face that he had to start wearing a veil that they wouldn't forget what they were going to speak to him about.   The flag also has a glory attached to it, a glory that is given by those who have earned it.  Those who have bled, who have died, and who have labored to make this country what it is.  There is this sense of entitlement among many Americans today that somehow the gift we have received in being born here means we deserve to be treated a certain way or deserve certain things from others.   When in fact, what Paul reminds us is that the only glory any of us have comes from God.   The glory of the flag comes from what it stands for.   As the declaration says: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  (emphasis mine)  


Those rights mean nothing if they only come from the government or from the common consensus of society.  It's only when we realize that the true glory of the American ideal is when we acknowledge there is Something outside of us that makes humanity worth loving.   Something outside of us that gives us the rights we have and that no human can take them away.  Our worth does not come from our own actions, the amount of money we have, nor even where we were born.   All men, including those in other countries and other faiths, are created equal.  We have all been given the chance to love one another.  The chance to be redeemed through the work of Christ on the Cross.   He came to fulfill a law that we couldn't live, that we could live a life that we don't deserve.  That puts a great duty on the shoulders of all of us who claim to be Christian.   Are we living up to the commands that Christ gave us?   The beatitudes?  The Ten Commandments?   The law of Love and Freedom?  Or are we binding ourselves with sin and anger, lowering ourselves to a place that involves us treating others as if they don't deserve the same rights we have because they are them?  The other?  The stranger, the widow, the orphan?  

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I try to avoid watching the news as much these days. Our national media machine seems to simply be aiming for shock, awe, and fear; rather than truth and dissemination of information. (click the link to read more)

Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest, and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 360
2 COR 1:18-22
PS 119:129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135
MT 5:13-16

I try to avoid watching the news as much these days.  Our national media machine seems to simply be aiming for shock, awe, and fear; rather than truth and dissemination of information.  Occasionally though I’ll tune it to find some senator or politician speaking.   I am constantly amazed at how some of these individuals can speak for several minutes without ever actually saying anything.   A question will be put forth that is clearly a yes or no question, and the skillful orator that they are, they speak rapidly in circles without ever actually addressing the question and often just hitting their campaign or party platform bullet points on the way.

Paul seems to be suffering from this in his relationship with the Corinthians.  They are accusing him somehow of speaking out both sides of his mouth.   Saying different things to the same question.   It’s almost as if someone has been going around accusing Paul of being a modern day politician.   Giving a different answer based on where he is, and who he is talking to.   Paul is clear in his rebuttal of this.   He not only declares that his answers are clear and concise but they are as trustworthy as Christ himself.   As Jesus taught simply, let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.   Everything we say should be the truth.

That’s what it means to be Christian, right?   Jesus in the Gospel calls us the salt of the earth.   People have spoken much more eloquently about this amazingly deep image than I could ever do.   What it brings to my mind though are two simple things.   First, that we are the first “bible” that most people see.   It doesn’t do much good to claim to be Christian and have your life look just like everyone else’s.   To follow Christ means to be different.  If we listen to the same music, watch the same shows, wear the same clothes, and act the same way… how do we change them?  Or even ourselves?   Our actions must point to the love of God and shower it on all we meet.

 Secondly, the powerful thing about salt is that it enhances the flavors that we already have.  It doesn’t destroy that which is enjoyable, it makes it taste even better.  Our lives shouldn’t become dour and taciturn, devoid of joy and happiness… but filled with a joy that is set in its proper place.  Watching movies with your family is good, but choose movies that glorify God.   The same with music, dancing, going out to dinner, and anything else you do… in all things give glory to God.  That way the salt of our faith can enhance the beauty of this world and point to a greater thing than ourselves.

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, June 12, 2017

Why do things have to be hard? I was speaking to someone on the phone just yesterday about life. That was the question she posed to me. Why can’t some things just be easy? (click the link to read more)

June 12, 2017: Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 359
2 COR1:1-7
PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
MT 5:1-12

Why do things have to be hard?  I was speaking to someone on the phone just yesterday about life.   That was the question she posed to me.   Why can’t some things just be easy?  Some things are easy but when everything is going wrong it all seems to gather and grow like an out of control snowball rolling down a mountainside.  It’s easy to get stuck in that mindset as well.  The thing is God never promised us a life without pain or sorrow.  His own Son suffered and died a horrible death after being tormented, abused, and ridiculed.    Somehow we think that Christ on the cross meant we wouldn’t have to suffer.  Christ, though, continually reminded us to take up our own crosses and follow Him.    Where is He leading?  To Calvary.   To our own deaths, our own suffering, our own difficulties for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Saint Paul reminds us in the first reading that we aren’t to simply suffer in silence or alone.   We are to share with one another not just the suffering but the blessings and fruit that comes from it.   Our attitude can be one of gratitude and growth, or sorrow and stagnation.   We can choose to come through our suffering or live in our suffering with joy.  How difficult that can be at times.   We don’t just roll over and accept our suffering without prayer, yearning, and effort.     We also don’t reject our suffering as some fault of our own sin but rather we can offer it up for the sake of the body of Christ.   That’s a beautiful Catholic teaching there, that I can continue to suffer as a prayer.   For some reason, I missed that as a Protestant all those years.   I believed completely in the statement of “Pray at all times without ceasing.”   Yet, would I have prayed and been filled with joy at suffering because it was a prayer as well?

Jesus reminds us in the beatitudes of the simple notion that our vulnerability, our weakness, is where God can meet us and strengthen us.   When we have it all together, what need have we of anyone else?  It’s in our sorrow, in our meek attitudes, in our poverty that we have need of a savior.   By submitting ourselves to His Holy Will, which is love and mercy itself, we open ourselves to His Spirit to change us.  When my stomach is full I don’t notice the food that lays around the house.   When I have been fasting for 23 or 24 hours it’s all I seem to notice.  The same with all pleasures of a sensate nature.   How then can we expect God to fill our lives with His presence if we are constantly filling them with our own hedonistic pleasures?  In a land of plenty, it’s easy to forget discipline.   To forget that in the sermon on the mount Jesus reminds us that true obedience to God, true adoption as Children of God, means being like Christ himself.  Meek, poor, humble, empty of our own wants and desires and filled instead with a heart to follow God’s will for us and the world.  Lord help me to have the strength to do just that.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It’s difficult for some people to wrap their mind around the love that God has for us because of the image of the parent. For those whose parents are good, loving, and kind; the idea of a God who loves them unconditionally comes quickly and easily. How about those whose parents abused them? (Click the link to read more)

June 11th, 2017: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Lectionary: 164
EX 34:4B-6, 8-9
DN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 5
2 COR 13:11-13
JN 3:16-18

It’s difficult for some people to wrap their mind around the love that God has for us because of the image of the parent.  For those whose parents are good, loving, and kind; the idea of a God who loves them unconditionally comes quickly and easily.  How about those whose parents abused them?  Neglected them?  Or even twisted them against their other parent because of a bitter divorce or anger?  How can we reconcile the love of the Father with the father who does not love?  In the inner cities of America alone we have twenty million families living without fathers in the home.  Many of these men have walked away from the responsibility of being a dad and left their children to wonder if they loved them?  Some even wondering who their dad is.  Others angry and hurt because their dads did not love them.

My grandfather was a hard man.   I remember clearly some of the things that at the time I did not understand.   The prohibition of poker cards in his house.   The fact that some of our textbooks had to stay on the porch.   The times he would tell us we weren’t allowed to continue the conversation we were having because it was sinful.   Yet, this man also gave me my first bible.   He spoke to me of the love of God.   Back then I thought if God had a thing against biology and games, if God disliked having fun, why would I want to be a part of that?  These days I understand what my grandfather was trying to show us.   I still don’t agree with his methodology, but I know in his own way he was trying to protect us from things he had seen lead people down the wrong road.

My own father is also sometimes a hard man.  He is quick to anger and slow to forgive.  Growing up we knew that he worked night shift and I can remember learning to walk softly upstairs and that if we were to make too much noise his voice would thunder throughout the house.  He provided for us well.   He worked hard as long as his body would hold out.   He did everything he could to make sure we had what we needed.  The rules were the rules though.   When my brother and I decided at one point to teach dad a lesson, it was he who taught us.  I don’t remember exactly how but my 5’7” father left me upside down in the corner and my brother didn’t fare much better.

These were the images of dads that I had growing up.  So when the preachers in the various churches spoke of God the Father and Jesus the Son, I already had an image of what that was supposed to look like.  Dad makes the rules, and the Son follows them.   When He doesn't dad thunders and the house shakes, and someone has to pay for breaking the rules.  If you don’t get rid of the things that he tells you to, they will either be taken from you forcefully or you get thrown out.  That became sort of an image of God for me for years.   The thundering, stamping angry man in Heaven just looking for a reason to erase my name from the Lamb’s book of Life, yet again.  That’s not to say that either of those men in my life weren’t good men or loving men.  They were.  They were examples of men doing the best they could with what they had, with the education they had been given, and the understanding of what God expected of them that they had received.

They fell short though, just as I fall short, of displaying the love of God in the world.  Today’s Gospel is from John and is one of the best known Gospel verses in the world.  John 3:16 has been quoted by people in every venue, and even used for a popular wrestler at one point.  The thing is this verse shows us the truth about two things.  The depth, breadth, width, and height of God’s love for us; and the sacrifice the Son made and what it truly meant.  As a father now myself, I understand even more the fear that my father and grandfather had about the things of this world.   The moment I saw my daughter born into this world I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do for her, even to die if I had to in order to protect her.  I feel that way about all four of our girls.  This verse though says that God gave His Son for us, that we too might be saved.  To give the life of your child for those who do not appreciate you?  For those who do not appreciate the child either?  For those who won’t even accept the gift?

I’d be hard pressed to let my child even get her feelings hurt for someone else.  To choose for her to die that others might live?   I don’t know that I have that in me.   God did.   That’s the love of God for us.   A love so pure, so powerful, so complete… that it formed a third divine person.   The Holy Spirit is the living personification, the embodiment of the love of God sent into the world.  That’s because the mystery of God is so deep, so powerful, so complex and profound that God becomes family.   Father and Son love each other so much that the Holy Spirit proceeds forth from them, showering their love to the four corners of the universe.    The gift of the Paraclete is a gift of love!   That’s something we forget so often.

It also shows us how we should interact as a family.  The scriptures today remind us to meditate deeply on this mystery.  On the Father who is “merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”   The Holy Spirit who unites us in peace, joy, and fellowship; guiding us to love one another as a family born out of the sacrifice of the Son.   The Son who is obedient to His Father, accepting even death, death on a cross.  With all of this mystery comes the simple truth that we Christians can count on… that it is in belief and obedience to the life and teachings of Christ that we can find our way to eternal life.  Not because we deserve it.  Not because we have learned to walk quietly to avoid the Father’s anger, but because we have a mediator, an intercessor who stands between us, who died in our place that we too might be a part of that eternal family.

Do you think about that when you think about the Holy Spirit?   The Holy Spirit is the love that flows between the Father and the Son.   Much like the love in our homes makes us family, that it reminds us that even when we aren’t getting along, that we are a unit.   That choice we make to support one another even when we don’t understand one another.   Something more than just a feeling, something more about action and submission, giving and taking.   That the perfected version of that love, the third person of the Holy Spirit, now chooses to reside in us as His Temple?   That love… that pure, unadulterated love… is in us and flows from us to the Father and back, making us a family of God himself?

There are no words to explain how powerful and immense a gift that is, one that was purchased with the blood of a child, a brother, a friend.   A gift that should overwhelm us with joy and gratitude, but is often left dusty on the shelf like the Scriptures themselves.  True love is right here.   It’s among us inspiring us, reminding us of His words, guiding our Church and if we let it, our families.  As I said above, I fail often.  Sometimes my dad comes out of my mouth and my children hear me roar, especially if I’m napping and they stampede through the roof of my room.  Then at other times, my grandfather comes out and I demand this or that be removed from the house.   Yet, God reminds me to love.   To choose the better part.  To be like the father of the prodigal son, ready to run out and embrace them with open arms before they ever get to where I want them to be.   Better yet, to walk with them toward the Father himself and ask His love to continue to flow in our lives, that both of us can experience a glimpse through the veil, past the cloud of unknowing, into the realm of God himself where words no longer have meaning and all that exists is love and mercy itself.

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Here today we see the homecoming of Tobiah to Nineveh in which he brings not only the cure for Tobit’s blindness but also his new wife. Tobit has been in darkness, blinded (click the link to read more)

Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 357

TB 11:5-17
PS 146:1B-2, 6C-7, 8-9A, 9BC-10
MK 12:35-37

Here today we see the homecoming of Tobiah to Nineveh in which he brings not only the cure for Tobit’s blindness but also his new wife.   Tobit has been in darkness, blinded by the unfortunate event of sleeping under a wall where birds were nesting.    While Tobiah has been gone people have had to lead him around and even now we find Tobit sitting blindly at the gate waiting for the return of his son.  His wife, Anna, serves as his guide and watches the road for him and likely for herself.   As their son returns Tobit is healed, Anna feels completed, and a daughter is added to the family.   An event that could easily have been a sour one now brings joy to Tobit and glory to God.   His blindness was not God’s desire, but God has taken something unpleasant and made it into something powerful.

The message here to me is not that God will heal every pain or deficiency.   Life is full of suffering that God doesn’t intend for us.   Many of those circumstances we bring on ourselves.  Sometimes we get diseases that we don’t know why we have them, or conditions that leave us unable to work, or even like Tobit, leaving us in physical blindness.   I still believe God can and does heal some of that.  I also think that true healing can occur without removing those physical ailments at all.  Attitude.  Gratitude.   How do we respond to life?   Do we bring glory to God?  Joy to those around us?  Do we have gratitude for the mystery of life and the mystery of who God is?

Jesus tries to awaken those around Him in Mark’s Gospel this morning as He tries to broaden their understanding of who the Messiah is.    They are looking for a Son of David, and Jesus fits that bill.  He’s not the only one though.  The line of David isn’t exhausted and He has many cousins that we hear about in other parts of the Gospels.   What Jesus wants people to realize is they are in darkness.  They have limited their vision of who the Messiah is and God wants them to understand the entirety of the message, suffering and all.  That the Messiah will be not a warrior king who comes to free Jerusalem from physical oppression, but a Spiritual King who will die for their sins and free them from the Spiritual bondage they are in regardless of where they live.  True freedom is being joyful to God regardless of where we live, how much we have, or the conditions we find ourselves in.  Notice those around Jesus respond with joy.  “The great crowd heard this with delight.”  How do you respond to the Gospel?  The presence of God in your lives?  The mystery of suffering and redemption?  That’s the true mystery of the Messiah, giving us freedom from sin that we might find joy even in the midst of the storm.




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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

When Julie and I first got married I had no idea what a Sacrament was. Growing up in the mountains of Virginia I had never heard that word used inside of any of the Ecclesial Communities I had the privilege to attend. (click the link to read more)

Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 356


TB 6:10-11; 7:1BCDE, 9-17; 8:4-9A
PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
MK 12:28-34

When Julie and I first got married I had no idea what a Sacrament was.   Growing up in the mountains of Virginia I had never heard that word used inside of any of the Ecclesial Communities I had the privilege to attend.    A marriage had always seemed like more of a contract to me than what I now know to be Holy Matrimony.   Scott Hahn once said, “A covenant differs from a contract almost as much as marriage differs from prostitution.”  That’s a bold statement.  It’s one I have come to agree with over the years though.  In a contract people exchange goods or services.  “I’ll give you 10 dollars, you give me that clock.”   A covenant is an exchange of people.  “I’ll give you me and you give me you.”  Nothing is held back.  Everything I am belongs to her and everything she is belongs to me.   All of this means very little unless God is involved.

That’s the beautiful thing about the example set forth by Tobiah and Sarah!   Even on their wedding night they stopped before consummating the marriage and went before God together in prayer.  When I first read that book during my conversion process I was astounded at the fact I had never really involved God in that particular area of my life.  The bedroom had always been a physical release between two people.  Yet, in the covenant with God He phrased it “I will be your God and you will be my people.”  All of me.   Every aspect.   Not just the parts that I want to share, but my entire life.   Praying at all times without ceasing.   Julie and I had some frank discussions after that.   Then we did something that many people react interestingly to when they find out about it.   We began to live as brother and sister.   We stopped being intimate with one another during our annulment process until we knew for sure that our previous marriages were not sacramental and that this one was.  We waited for the Church's approval, for God’s approval, before continuing to love each other in that way.

So many walk away from Church over sexual sin.   Be it that they have taken a vow of chastity and have decided they want to be intimate with someone, or that they want to have relations that the Church and natural law declare disordered; they decide that because they ‘love’ someone they should be able to love how they see fit.   Jesus reminds us today of something very important.   In the Gospel He says the greatest command is to love God.  Yes, love your neighbor is close to it and second, but the greatest is the very first one.  That means we put Him first even in our marriage, even the sacred act of the sacramental bond.   Saint Pope John Paul the Second wrote in the Encyclical Dives in Misericordia that “openness to Christ, who as the Redeemer of the world fully reveals man himself, can only be achieved through an ever more mature reference to the Father and His love.”   That is, the only way for us to truly know ourselves and be able to offer ourselves to another person in true love is the know the Father through knowing Christ.  That means putting Him first in all things, that we can then offer a gift of love to our spouses that flows from the love of God whose love for our spouse is beyond even the greatest love we have ourselves have to give.    That’s what I should want for my wife, that my love for her begin to resemble God’s love for her… the best love, because she deserves better than what I have to offer on my own.

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

One of the things we must keep in mind as evangelists is our audience. When speaking to a man who only knows farming, one would not speak of quantum mechanics and electrical theory in order to convey the Gospel. (click the link to read more)

Lectionary: 355
TB 3:1-11A, 16-17A
PS 25:2-3, 4-5AB, 6 AND 7BC, 8-9
MK 12:18-27

One of the things we must keep in mind as an evangelist is our audience.   When speaking to a man who only knows farming, one would not speak of quantum mechanics and electrical theory in order to convey the Gospel.  Nor would one speak to a physicist who had never even been in a garden about the need for planting crops in a certain order, rotating fields, or the various challenges of the harvest.   Speaking to children we would not use words like transubstantiation or metaphysics, and speaking to theologians we would probably avoid bedtime stories and simplified versions of parables.  We meet people where they are and speak of things they understand.  That’s the genius of the Gospel and Jesus own ministry.   Each of His parables and teachings is spoken to a specific community at a specific time with the very words they needed to hear.

Still though God in His infinite wisdom chose a topic for the redemption of man that we all have in common.  Not all of us are scientists, nor are all of us, seamstresses or farmers.   The theory of music may be clear to some but confusing to others.   There is one thing we all have in common though.    One thing that all mankind has experienced regardless of wealth, station, or aptitude: suffering.   The Cross itself is something that everyone who has lived a human life on this planet has in some way experienced.    As we see today, Tobit and Sarah who are miles apart on the planet both are suffering a common thing, albeit in different ways.   Tobit has lost his job, his ability to support his family, and is being shamed by those who know him.   Sarah has been barren and her own handmaids are teasing her relentless and reminding her of that shame.   Just as Jesus on the cross experienced the taunting and ignominy of those passing by who ridiculed Him as the God of the Universe allowed Himself to be powerless in the hands of those He created and loved.

In the Gospel, we see some of that teasing and the habit of man to think He is smarter than the other.   The irony of the Sadducees coming to Jesus in their smugness and trying to trap Him by using human logic to try and describe the great Mystery of eternity should not escape us.   Face to face with life itself, they ask questions, not about God and relationship, but try to trip Jesus up with a question to harkens back to Sarah’s own ordeal.  How humbling it must be to stand before God at the judgment and realize it was He they were trying to ensnare.  Yet, don’t we do the same daily?  Every time we try to figure out how far we can go without being in sin.  When we flirt with that which we know will make us fall into our old habits.   “I’ll just watch one video.”  “I won’t actually smoke, I’ll just hang out with those who do and smell it.”   “I’m only going to have one drink at the bar, I can handle that much.”  “What point of Mass do I have to be there for for it to count?”  Every time we set the bar lower than perfection we too are like the Sadducees looking for a way to inveigle the Lord of all Creation into doing things our way.   When, if we would just Humble ourselves, He too would send angels to minister to us in our need just as He provided for Tobit and Sarah.

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


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

When I first had my back surgery I struggled with my identity. Especially as a man who grew up in a place where a man’s worth was directly tied to his ability to provide for his wife (click the link to read more)

When I first had my back surgery I struggled with my identity.  Especially as a man who grew up in a place where a man’s worth was directly tied to his ability to provide for his wife, I floundered to find a new way to be a husband, father, and friend.   I empathize with Tobit who has gone from being a breadwinning man of virtue to an unemployed blind man who seems to have very few friends in the world.   As the tension grows in his life, even the generous gift of those who want to reward his family with grace causes him to distrust God’s providence and his wife’s honest, hard work.   She comes back with a statement to remind Tobit of who he is.   “Where are your kind deeds now?”   It’s easy to be generous and kind, to bury the dead in opposition of the enemy when he could see.   Now that he’s blind, unable to function in society, and reliant on others… his doesn’t seem to be as quick to forgive or trust.

That’s easy for us all to fall into, isn’t it?   When things are going swimmingly and our health is strong and robust we find time to do the things God requires of us.  It’s when we are down on our luck, our health is failing, our social roles are broken and we are left to seemingly fend for ourselves that our trust in God and others begins to waver.   The God of the mountaintop is still God in the valley.   How do we get to that point?  Faith.  For me it required time.   It took a long time for me to see my situation as a blessing.  To realize that my daily struggle with pain was an opportunity to grow closer to God in faith and in action.  Serving others in spite of my own trials has led me to realize that even in the darkest of valleys there is a glimmer of hope and light.

When I was a Protestant I spent a great deal of time worrying.  I looked for the end of time symbols and I tried to figure out all the symbols in the book of revelations and put faces and names into the message to see where the devil was at work.   The government seemed an evil.   Organized religion was the furthest thing from my mind.   Jesus reminds us of two simple truths in his short message today.  One, the governments of this world are nothing compared to our God.  Revelation isn’t a message of fear, it’s a message of hope.   We’ve seen the end and He wins.   Secondly, it reminds us that being a good Christian means being a good citizen.   It means working to change our government, our laws, and our society to reflect the values of the kingdom.   That doesn’t mean something crazy like Sharia law or forced conversions!   What it does mean is that we look to make society as good as we can, and always remember that we are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom.   That we work for the good of all mankind and not just the ones who are right here with us, not just our family and friends… but all of the world.   It means even when we are in the darkest of places, spiritually or physically blinded by what the world throws at us, that God’s still there with us and never forget who we truly are.

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

Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 354
TB 2:9-14
PS 112:1-2, 7-8, 9
MK 12:13-17


Monday, June 5, 2017

Tobit is a powerful reminder of the need of the faithful to remain in fidelity to the covenant. Here we see a man who has already lost his livelihood for his continued obedience (click the link to read more)


Tobit is a powerful reminder of the need of the faithful to remain in fidelity to the covenant.  Here we see a man who has already lost his livelihood for his continued obedience to the Traditions of worship as set forth in Jerusalem.   Tobit refuses to take on the new habits of worship established by King Jeroboam in Dan, where the Northern tribes are worshipping the golden calves at Dan.    Terminated for burying the dead at the proper time, we find Tobit in today’s reading risking it all again by again following the Traditions of his people.  He reminds the people of Israel that their faith does not simply change or disappear away from the Temple in Jerusalem but is something that must permeate their lives no matter where they live or under whose political rule they discover themselves.

In direct contrast to this, we have a Parable in the Gospel of people who utterly rejected the message of God.  Colored by our understanding of Christianity and the fall of the temple in the year 70 A.D.,  we Christians see this parable as a reminder that this vineyard we live in is not our own.   God has been sending out His prophets to the chosen people, Israel, for centuries.  The rejected and murdered many of those faithful men and women.   The nation fell into exile and they were unfaithful.  The Scriptures often compare it to adultery.   Then the owner of the vineyard sends His own Son to the people in trust that they will at least respect Him.  Yet, instead of accepting God in their presence in the Son, they kill Him.  We often see direct parallels to this message in the history of Judaism and the Christian people, as did the men who reacted to the parable and wanted to arrest Jesus for His words but feared the crowds.

What then do we take this to be about for us today?  Well, I think part of the message is that this vineyard is not our own.   We often treat it like God made it for us to do with as we please.  Yet, there is a large difference in dominion, which we have been given, and domination, which is the realm of tyrannical rulers.    We are to take care of the vineyard in anticipation for the return of its owner, not just for our own comforts and wants.  In a world where Global Warming is debated or outright denied, it’s even more important that we realize that the concern should not just be for us but for all generations in the future.   Even more importantly, we should be preparing for the return of the owner and tending the garden He established for us to live in.  It reminds us that we too are often the tenants who rejected the Son and murdered Him.   Every time we turn our back on our faith in a public setting, each moment in which we deny Christ or choose another thing before Him, whenever we break any of the commandments and fail to love God with our whole heart, strength, and mind and love our neighbor as ourselves; it is our Sin that murders the Son… that stripes His most sacred body with the flagellation that we deserve… and nails Him to the cross with the three spikes of our infidelity.  

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

June 05, 2017 - Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr
TB 1:3; 2:1A-8
PS 112:1B-2, 3B-4, 5-6
MK 12:1-12

Saturday, June 3, 2017

When I was a young man I began to look around for a Church that was more vibrant, more active. Though I was very happy with the Christianity I had been shown in the Baptist church, there was something missing. (click the link to read more)

When I was a young man I began to look around for a Church that was more vibrant, more active.  Though I was very happy with the Christianity I had been shown in the Baptist church, there was something missing.  I didn’t understand the Methodist Church and its symbols.  I didn’t even know the Catholic Church in town was an actual ‘church.’   For that matter I didn’t know anything about theology, Christology, or that there had been 2000 years of writings outside of the Sacred Scriptures that I had never been exposed to.   What I did know is that there was a girl that I fancied who went to one of the churches where they shouted Amen and did some strange things.  I ended up settling there in a Holiness/Pentecostal environment for a few years.

My first experience there was one that I will never forget.   As the service began the preacher was loud and animated.   People began to shout Amen often and emphatically.  Hands would have in the air.   Sentences were often punctuated with “That’s right” or “Preach it, brother.”   It was exciting but also confusing at times.   Then something strange happened.   The woman behind me began to scream.  The blood-curdling scream of someone in pain, as if an assault was occurring the pew behind me.    I turned around the first time it happened.   She had a glassy look to her face as if she were in some other place and not even aware that we existed.   I didn’t know what to do.  This was not something I had ever seen or even heard of.

The next time it happened I turned stood up and turned around and asked her if she was O.K.   One of the Church elders put his hand on my shoulder and said “She’s fine boy.  She is just falling out in the spirit.”   It shook me to the core.   It wasn’t something I was comfortable with at all.  I accepted it though.   When I asked about it later someone pointed to Pentecost and speaking tongues.   They explained to me that “in order to be saved” we all had to do it at some point.   I fell in line.  I began to shout Amen.   I watched as others spoke tongues.   I even gave testimony to God in my life and eventually joined that little Church in the mountains and had my name added to their membership roster. For years I stood up in the congregation waving my hands, shouting out praises, and to be honest, enjoyed myself quite a bit.

Then one day I felt a tugging of my heart.   I had begun to study Scripture in earnest.  What I was finding in there didn’t line up with what was going on in the Church.  When I asked questions I was told to avoid those questions and just listen to the Elders.  I had joined a Bible study at the Church and some of the things being taught there not only didn’t jive with what I had been reading on my own, but they were in many ways prejudiced and racist.  A few weeks later I told God when you tell me to raise my hands I will, when you tell me to shout I will, when you tell me to speak tongues I will… but until then I won’t do it.  I realized all along I hadn’t been doing it because God had told me to, I was doing it because someone else had said that’s what I had to do to be “saved.”

In the first reading today we see the primary example of ‘speaking in tongues.”  It’s not something disorganized and disruptive.   It’s not people shouting over each other to see who can pray the longest or the loudest.   It’s also not something every person must do.   Instead, it’s a beautiful display of God’s desire to know each and every one of us, regardless of our ethnic backgrounds.   Every person present there heard in their own native tongue.   God was no longer hidden behind the language of the Hebrews or the learned, but instead was speaking to each person exactly as they best could understand him.   As a man who has been trying for years to become fluent in a second language, I understand not only the practicality of this but the necessity.    I understand many things in Spanish, even some things in Latin.   The truth be told though, when it’s in English it’s much more likely that I will gain a full insight into what I am reading.  I don’t miss the nuances of the language or the ‘slang.’   Rather, I get the entirety of the message.

God loved us so much that He gave a gift to those men and women at Pentecost that they could speak directly to all the cultures present.   Those cultures represented the entire world.  At Vatican II the Church wanted to emphasize this.  For many hundreds of years, the Mass had been in Latin, the language of the Church.   Providently, now it would be in the vernacular, the language of the local culture.  That meant that people would be able to better understand what was going on.   It’s much easier to participate in a Mass when you know what is being said, how it’s being said, and why.  There is still something Holy about a Latin Mass.  It’s somber, beautiful and uplifting.   In English, though I don’t miss the subtleties.  I don’t miss the phrasings or the verbiage.   I know what’s going on.

That’s what all the readings today point to.   The gift of the Holy Spirit.  God loved us so much that He sent His own Spirit to reside in us.  He made us humans into Temples for His Presence.  Do I still believe it’s possible to speak in tongues?  Very much so.   Do I still raise my hands when God tells me to? You better believe it.  Though I do know one Priest who asked me not to because it distracted him and he couldn’t think.  I appreciate that honesty.  Sometimes in Adoration, though I get lost in the moment, swept away in the current of God’s love and mercy, that I can’t help myself and those hands float up into the air to praise God on their own accord.  I am very charismatic and pentecostal in my beliefs to this day.   There is room for that in the Catholic Church, the original Pentecostals.  

What I realize though is that none of our gifts are just for our benefits.  Each of us is given a set of particular skills and specific ways of doing things that only we are capable of doing in our way.  Sure every one of us can take on a role if needed that is outside of our comfort zone… but no two of us will ever think the exact same way, or perform things in a precise manner that another would.   Some of us are good with numbers, others with our hands, some with our brains and still others with our bodies.  There is room for all.  God will speak to each of us in the language we understand best.   By that, I don’t just mean the vernacular, but the language of our hearts.  Love.   He is love itself, and on the very base level of who we are created to be, we respond to Love fully and completely.

One of the most important things about the readings today is found in the Gospel.  For years as a Pentecostal Protestant, I would have told you that my sins were between me and God.  Why would I need to go to a man to forgive them?  Yet, in the reading from John’s gospel, Jesus very words say something different.   He breathes on the disciples long before the moment of Pentecost, the first ordination of men to perform the role of Jesus the Priest in the world.  At this moment Jesus breathed directly on His disciples and said: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you retain are retained.”   That’s what Confession is all about.   It’s going to that same line of Priests thousands of years later and saying, “I trust in Jesus words when He said that you could forgive my sins and I reach out to Him in mercy through His Holy Church and ask for that forgiveness.”   It’s a channel of grace, instituted in a Sacrament that is so much more than a symbol.  It’s an encounter with Christ and the Holy Spirit, and encounter with the infinite that our human minds cannot understand, so God gives it to us in simple terms that we can fathom.   He gives it to us through each other, in the only language, our hearts can understand... Love and mercy itself.

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

A reading for the Feast of Pentecost: June 4th, 2017