Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The First Thing First


September 30: Tuesday of Week 26 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23; Psalm 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8; Luke 9:51-56

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 
(To support Reaching Jesus:5 Steps to a Fuller Life... Step Five).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Jesus…resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

The First Thing First

Not many people say like Job, “Perish the day I was born!” But more than we think may long to leave this earth for heaven, “where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.” They are giving in to discouragement. They “cannot see the way,” feel “fenced in,” see nothing ahead that they can and want to get to.

If anyone had reason to be discouraged, Jesus did. Few listened to his words; fewer still followed them. He failed to convert his home town, Capernaum and Jerusalem (Luke 4:28; Matthew 11:23; 23:37). Finally, he had nothing to look forward to but the total defeat of capture, torture and death. But “when the days drew near for him to be taken up,” he “resolutely determined” to go to Jerusalem and die. Why?

Jesus came to give humans the fullness of life. But more basically it was “to do the will of him who sent me.” He preached because “the Father has given me a commandment about what to say.” When, in the garden, he felt the futility of his life and death, his response was, “Your will be done!” (John 6:38; 10:10; 12:49; Matthew 26:42).

Our first job is “to do the will of him who sent us.” Success or failure is irrelevant. Faithful stewardship is to “keep on keeping on.”

PRAY: “Lord, help me to do your will.”


PRACTICE: Keep trying, regardless of results.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Seeing Truth

September 29: Monday of Week 26 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Job 11:6-22; Psalm 17: 1, 2-3, 6-7; Luke 9:46-50

















Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5; John 1:47-51

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 
(To support Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


“His dominion is an everlasting dominion” (Daniel 7:14).

The readings teach us not to judge by appearances. Often it seems God is weak and evil strong; the good suffer, the violent prevail. When “Lucifer” (“Lightbearer”) was so impressed with himself he rebelled, God responded through “Michael,” whose name means “Who is like God?”

Children and “nobodies” don’t impress us, but Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes a child in my name welcomes me, and … the least among all of you is the greatest.” We have standards to determine who “belongs.” Jesus says, “Anyone who is not against you is on your side.” He declared Nathanael “a true child of Israel, in whom there is no deceit” because he read his heart

When greed and selfishness seem to prevail, Scripture keeps reminding us: “God’s dominion is an everlasting dominion… his kingship shall not be destroyed.” Our job is not to judge what God is or is not doing. Pope Francis says we act “like spiritual masters and pastoral experts who give instructions from on high, talking about ‘what needs to be done’ in endless fantasies while we lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of our people.” Instead, “like good stewards of the manifold grace of God” entrusted to us,” we should all just keep “serving one another with whatever gift each has received.” (Joy of the Gospel 96, 1 Peter 4:10).
  
PRAY: “I will sing your praises, Lord.”


PRACTICE: Do what can be, not what should be done.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

One For (or Against) All

September 28: Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life... Step Five).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Let each of you look… to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

Ezekiel gives a clear choice: life or death. Jesus does too, in the Gospel. Those who believe God’s words and act on them find happiness. Those who don’t destroy themselves.

But no one lives in a vacuum. The diseased infect others. The reckless put others at risk. Non-litterers beautify the streets. Those who don't cuss enhance the environment. The violent lead the country into war. The mediocre drive others out of church. Individuals make or break society.

God told Ezekiel (3:17, 33:7) “I have made you a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning…If you do not speak to warn the wicked I will require their blood at your hand.”

Sentinel, steward: both have responsibility for the well-being of the community. We became both by our baptismal anointing as sharers in Christ’s kingship. More than Cain, we are “our brother’s keeper” by Christ’s foundational command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” His love led him to die for others and leads us to live for them.

Paul writes: “Have in yourselves the same attitude as in Christ Jesus.” Jesus was the Word made flesh; he spoke out. So must we, “whenever we hear a word from his mouth”—or from his Spirit—addressing what is around us.


PRAY: “Lord, open my lips.”


PRACTICE: Cry “Wolf!” when there is one.

Communal Management

September 27: Saturday of Week 25 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8; Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17; Luke 9:43-45



What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 

(To support Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life... Step Five).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“They were afraid to ask him” (Luke 9:45).

When Jesus foretold his death, his disciples did not understand,” and they “were afraid to ask” about it.

In today’s Church the laity are obliged to ask about anything Church authorities are doing that they do not understand. Why? Because they are just as responsible for the quality of the Church’s life and work as the clergy are. By baptismal anointing as “stewards of Christ’s kingship,” we are all part of “management.” It is our right and duty to know what is being done and why.

The Church is neither a monarchy nor a democracy, but a “pneumocracy.” The Spirit governs the Church through communal spiritual discernment practiced in collegiality. The role of authorities (pastors, bishops) is 1. to insist on the discernment process; 2. to involve everyone in it as much as possible and appropriate, given the nature of the decision; 3. to make the final decision about what the Spirit is saying.

We see Pope Francis doing that through his international team of eight cardinals, through synods, and through consistent consultation. He invites those who agree with him and those who don’t to participate. Only thus can he discern what the Spirit is saying.

The clergy sin if they do not invite participation; the laity if they refuse the invitation. All were equally baptized into the responsibility of “managing” the Church and the world as “stewards.”


PRAY: “Lord, prosper the work of our hands!”

PRACTICE: Observe, question, dialogue. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Time to Speak

September 26: Friday of Week 25 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:  
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Psalm 144:1, 2, 3-4; Luke 9:18-22

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“The Son of Man came to serve” (Mark 10:45).

“There is an appointed time for everything.” We, Scripture says, are living in the “fullness of time” (Mark 1:15; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10). Everything required for the accomplishment of God’s plan on earth has been put in place and set in motion. The Savior has come, lived, died, risen, and is living now in us, his body on earth. He has sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts, so that we might “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). To “serve” is to accept this responsibility.

There is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak.” Most Catholics grew up thinking that for them it was “a time to be silent,” because the spirit of clericalism in the Church taught us to be passive sheep who never questioned our shepherds.

That was wrong. Almost every time the Scripture calls those charged to care for God’s people “shepherds,” it is to condemn them. “My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders!” They are “stupid,” “asleep,” their “flock is scattered.” They “have fed themselves, and not my sheep.” They do not “care for the perishing, seek the wandering, heal the maimed, or nourish the healthy” (see Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah). When that is the case, the laity must act for the Good Shepherd. They must speak out.


PRAY:Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!


PRACTICE: Speak when it is “time to speak.”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Everything New Under The Sun

September 25: Thursday of Week 25 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17; Luke 9:7-9


What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 





(To support Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life... Step Five).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Fill us at daybreak… that we may shout for joy” (Psalm 90:14).

God inspired Qoheleth to express the hopelessness humans often feel: “What has been, will be... Nothing is new under the sun.” But in the New Testament “new” appears forty-eight times. For example:

This cup is the new covenant in my blood… So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! You have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge … God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus… In accordance with his promise, we wait [and work!] for new heavens and a new earth… for the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”

Christianity is authentic only as long as it is news to us. And we are authentic Christians only if we are making things new in the world: revealing new insights, embodying new values, introducing new policies and practices where we live and work; in short, creating a new culture in our society. If we have nothing new to offer, we are not offering Christianity—or experiencing it.


PRAY: “Lord, make me new wine here.”


PRACTICE: Shine new light on everything. Get it from reading Scripture.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Deceitfulness of Silence

September 24: Wednesday of Week 25 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Proverbs 30:5-9; Psalm 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163; Luke 9:1-6

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Put falsehood and lying far from me” (Proverbs 30:8).

Jesus gives “power and authority over all demons and diseases,” not just to the Twelve, but to everyone he sends to “proclaim the Kingdom of God”—that is, to every person anointed in Baptism to continue his messianic mission on earth as “Prophet, Priest and King.”

We have “power” over the demons of entrenched cultural attitudes, policies and practices. We have “authority” to call for the cure of diseases that debilitate the influence of truth, love and justice in family and social life, business, parish ministry and politics.

Our power is the love that makes us speak out, sometimes at our peril. Our authority is the authority of truth that Jesus appealed to when he answered Pilate: “You say that I am a king… I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).

Paul wrote” “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one… whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? (Romans 10:13).

How will society be saved from the demonic and destructive if no one has the courage to proclaim what everyone needs to hear?

“Silence gives consent.” Silence in the face of falsehood is lying.

PRAY: “Lord, falsehood I hate; your law I love.”


PRACTICE: Respond to every falsehood with truth.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Speak Out Or Die


September 23: Tuesday of Week 25 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Proverbs 21:1-6,10-13; Psalm 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44; Luke 8:19-21



What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 
(To support Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life... Step Five)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed are those who hear the word of God…” and express it (see Luke 11:28).

Proverbs says, “Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases him, he directs it.” For the author, “king” meant the ruler of a country. For us, a true “king” is anyone who shares in the kingship of Christ by being anointed “priest, prophet and king” at Baptism.

We can hardly measure the good or the harm done by those in “high places.” A teacher-friend talks of the morale-building and morale-crushing difference between successive principals in her school. Political corruption is stifling progress and maintaining poverty—visibly in some countries, invisibly in others. The example of Pope Francis is breathing new life into the universal Church, while “clericalism, legalism and triumphalism” are suffocating its spirit locally.

We say, “If only the heart of every authority were ‘like a stream in the hand of the Lord,’ being directed ‘wherever it pleases him!’”

Wrong focus. We ourselves are the “kings.” By baptismal anointing we were given responsibility for reforming and renewing the Church, civil society, family, social and economic life. We are “stewards of the kingship of Christ.”

Every responsibility confers rights. Our responsibility for renewal gives us the right to speak out: to bishops and employers, pastors and peers.

If we do, we may suffer for it. If we don’t, the whole world will suffer.

PRAY: “Lord, direct my heart.”

PRACTICE: See, judge, speak.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Keeping The Faith

September 22: Monday of Week 25 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:Proverbs 3:27-34; Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5; Luke 8:16-18



What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five).


“No one who lights a lamp conceals it” (Luke 8:16).



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


At Baptism we received the gift of divine enlightenment. Before we were able to understand God’s truth in human thoughts or express it in human words, we received the gift of sharing divinely in God’s own act of knowing. This is the reality of the gift of Faith, which is one component of “grace,” the mystery of sharing in God’s own divine life.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us God made this gift as an investment. He didn’t give it just for us. He put his light in us so that we might enlighten others. This is faithful stewardship. Peter wrote to the Church (1 Peter 4:10), “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”

That is the paradox: if we just “keep” the Faith, we lose it. Like breathing: if we just take a breath and don’t let it out, we die.

Francis (Joy of the Gospel 39, 88) says: “Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love… and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others... True faith is inseparable from self-giving…” To “keep the Faith” we have to “keep faith” with God and the human race by sharing it with others.

PRAY: “Lord, let your light shine in me and through me.”

PRACTICE: Look at everything around you with eyes enlightened by faith.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Selective Scoreboard

September 21: Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 

(To support Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me” (Philippians 1:22).

All the readings speak of hope. Everyone wants a life that counts for something. The Gospel says God asks only that we work for him. Productivity is nothing more than dedication. When God “hires” us, he doesn’t measure how long we work or how effectively. He rewards us, not for results, but for taking responsibility, because responsibility is the fruit of love and fidelity. If we keep trying, that is all we are graded
on.  

Even if we waste years of our life in selfishness or stupidity, living and working only for what this world can give us, when we at last “change our minds” (metanoia) and begin to live for God, God counts that time as our whole life. If we die serving him, then God says we served him all our life. To us this sounds strange, but God doesn’t see things the way we do: “‘my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,’ says the Lord.”

Our “life” for God means the time we spend living out the New Life we received at Baptism. Everything else was annihilated when we died with Jesus and in him at Baptism and rose with him as a “new creation.”


PRAY: “Lord, let me live for you now.”

PRACTICE: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near…” that is, everywhere and always.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stewards of the Seed

September 19: Saturday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49; Psalm 56:10-12, 13-14; Luke 8:4-15

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And bear fruit through perseverance (Luke 8:15).

God’s word is seed entrusted to all who are baptized. We are “stewards of God’s word,” charged to plant and preserve it in our hearts and in the hearts of others until it bears fruit.

The obstacles are:
  1. the “devil”—the spirit of evil in the culture that keeps God’s word from even penetrating; 
  2. superficiality—the lack of reflection that keeps it from reaching the depth of concrete choices;
  3. “anxiety” that comes from attachment to the “riches and pleasures” of this life. It is our responsibility as stewards to “put the ax to the root of the tree” and counteract the causes that make God’s word sterile in ourselves and others.


This calls us to: 
  1. work at transforming the culture through changes; 
  2. engage in and promote Scriptural reading, reflection and discussion; 
  3. find ways to put focus on value clarification at home, at work, in our circle of friends.


Does it really? 

If Jesus identified the three main threats against the seed entrusted to us, can we be “faithful stewards” if we don’t take steps to neutralize them?

We need to “put the ax to the root” in our own hearts by going to the root, the beginning of our Christian life. In Baptism we were solemnly anointed by God to continue Christ’s mission as Prophet, Priest and King.


PRAY: “Lord, keep me faithful.”


PRACTICE: Do one of the three things above.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Go For Broke

September 19: Friday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Psalm 17:1, 6-7, 8, 15; Luke 8:1-3

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Are you covering your bets? Betting on an afterlife, but making sure you get your money’s worth in this one all the same?

For Paul it was “all or nothing at all.” He would look aghast at the preachers of “feel good” religion. Not that religion doesn’t or shouldn’t make us feel good—but what does authentic religion give us to feel good about? Our response to God, or God’s response to us? Freedom from pain, or the promise of relief? A supportive relationship with others, or an experienced relationship with God that lets us give to others, demanding nothing in return?

This is painfully relevant to Catholics: If what we seek on Sunday is inspiring preaching and fellowship, it sometimes appears that “we are the most pitiable Christians of all!” But if we unite ourselves with Jesus on the cross, offering ourselves with and in him at Eucharist, we can receive the Bread of Life.

Ideally, our parishes should provide both. When they don’t, they make us face our priorities.

What we look for in liturgy shows us what we are looking for in life. We can “have our cake and eat it now” or we can participate in preview at the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.”

PRAY:Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.


PRACTICE: Put mystery first; then “meaningfulness.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What Is First And Last?

September 18: Thursday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 28; Luke 7:36-50

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“For I handed on to you as of first importance…” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

In all that we “hand on”—to our children, to those we live and work and recreate with, to the next generation—what for us is “of first importance”?

Let’s look deeper into our relationship with others, even if it’s scary. What is “of first importance” in making us “family”? Common genes? Common growing-up experiences? A common heritage of world-view, principles and values? Of relationship with God?

Do you “drop out” of the family only when you “renounce your inheritance” in the financial sense? Or when you break with the beliefs and value-system of your family, which means you will not pass these down to your children? What will make your children a stranger to their relatives? What will make their ancestors strangers to them?

Few parents “disown” their children. But how many young adults unthinkingly “disown” their parents, grandparents and other relatives? Besides property, what is the “ownership” we have in others’ lives? What is “of first importance” in any relationship, family or other?

If we renounce our family’s religious past, and our family’s religious expectations for the future (as in atheism), what real relationship do we have with our family in the present?

Is there a “stewardship” of family heritage? If so, what is “of first importance”?


PRAY: “Let the house of Israel say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’”


PRACTICE: Think deeply about your relationships. What makes them real?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Go For The Gold

September 17: Wednesday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Psalm 33:2-3, 4-5, 12, 22; Luke 7:31-35

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31).

The Corinthians were so enthusiastic about the bubbles they weren’t tasting the champagne. Paul said, “You want to experience the new life of Christ? Concentrate on loving.”

The sad truth is, too many of us were taught to concentrate just on keeping laws. We weren’t “striving” for any “spiritual gifts,” much less “eagerly.” We didn’t even know what a “spiritual gift” was.

Do you? How many can you name? Which ones are you conscious of having? What are you “striving” for in your spiritual life?

Is this too challenging? Would you rather read something that makes you feel good, or something that helps you actually be good? Being is the only lasting source of feeling. Feelings that don’t arise from what you are fall into the category of “uppers.” There is such a thing as spiritual drug abuse.

Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). The best dying for others is living for others.

How? By letting Jesus live and act in you as Prophet, Priest and King. Bear witness as a “prophet” by your lifestyle. Minister to every person as a “priest in the Priest” by expressing love in every encounter. Take responsibility for transforming the Church and the world as a “steward” of Christ the King.

The name for this is love.

PRAY: “Lord, teach me to love.”


PRACTICE: Live to give.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dead or Alive

September 15: Tuesday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31; Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5; Luke 7:11-17

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"The dead man sat up and began to speak" (Luke 7:15).

We will recognize the presence of Jesus in the Church when all those who are dead in the pews sit up and begin to speak. Paul says “all the parts of the body, though many, are one body… and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” There is no difference between clergy and laity in this. We all have equal voice in the Church. It is a sin not to use it.

To paraphrase Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil in the Church is for the laity to leave everything to the clergy.” Experience makes that evident.

When did you last read Vatican II’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity?

2. The Church was founded to spread the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth… that through the work of every member the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ… No part of the structure of a living body is merely passive… so, too, in the body of Christ (see Ephesians 4:16).

The Vatican II documents are “required reading” for any disciple of Jesus aiming higher than a C.

Grading system: A = Authentic; B = Barely Christian; C = Conformist; D = Dead Weight; F = Fool.

Passing grade: B or higher.

PRAY: “Jesus, say to me ‘Arise.’ Live with me; live in me; live through me.”


PRACTICE: Look out. Speak out. Reach out.

What Is Wrong?

September 15: Monday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Corinthians 11:17-26, 33; Psalm 40:7-8, 8-9, 10, 17; Luke 2:33-35 (or John 19:25-27)

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Your meetings are doing more harm than good” (Corinthians 11:17).

People are leaving the Church because of what they experience (or don’t experience) at Mass. Paul says the Corinthians’ liturgies were worse. But anytime Mass is “doing more harm than good,” we have to look for the cause. And fix it.

The Corinthians were separating the rich from the poor. We generally do that by parishes rather than by seating arrangements. Inside church the most common separation is between those who sing and participate (who sit up front) and those who are silent in the back pews. Or those who, like teenagers, are silent wherever they sit. Yes, Mass might be doing the passive more harm than good. The expression, “to damn with faint praise” (google it) also applies to praising God.

The more lively Protestant churches are filled with Catholics who have given up on Mass. Don’t count on the bishops and clergy to do anything about it; often they are part of the problem. It is up to the laity. Up to you as a “steward of the kingship of Christ.”

Do you speak up or write when you can’t sing the hymns, listen to the homily, find devotion in the way the lectors read and the presider says the prayers? Do you offer suggestions? Take action yourself?

Jesus suffered “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Are you revealing yours?

PRAY: “Lord, open my lips.”


PRACTICE: See, judge, act.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What is Fulfillment?

September 14: Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 78:1-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).


“He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” (Philippians 2:7).

What is the one thing we most need to change in the mentality of our culture if we want to save the world from violence, division, oppression, injustice and poverty? What, more than anything else, closes us to love, mercy, unity and peace with others?

What did Jesus show us? He, “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.”

The starting point of world peace is for every individual and nation to give up the desire for possessions, power and prestige, and be dedicated to the service of others. We must want to be the servants, not the masters; to serve rather than to be served; to follow economic practices that will make others richer, even if they make us poorer; to invest in mercy, not might; in providing for others rather than in protecting ourselves.

In other words, the exact opposite of everything we vote for.

 “Seraphs,” literally “fiery ones,” can mean angelic “seraphim” or serpents whose bite kills. If what destroys us is being “bitten” with desire to be exalted like the seraphim, the remedy is to look at the cross, where all glory is transformed into self-emptying. Scripture presents it as the only remedy. Our choice.

PRAY: “Lord, save us!”


PRACTICE: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Celebrate, Absorb, Implant

September 13: Saturday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Psalm 116:12-13, 17-18; Luke 6:43-49

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 

(To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

*********************************************************************************

“Whoever loves me will keep my word” (Alleluia verse, John 14:23).

In the readings Jesus tells us, “Every tree is known by its own fruit.” So be what you celebrate. Live what you hear. Reproduce what you are.

Receiving “the bread we break” at Eucharist is “a participation in the Body of Christ” that brings about what it expresses: “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one Body.” As “stewards of this mystery” (1 Corinthians 4:1) we are responsible for preserving unity in the Church—and creating unity throughout the world. Every Mass should send us out recommitted to overcome division wherever it exists.

Unity reproduces itself. Christians establish their identity by working toward unity and love. Christianity is incompatible with racism, with a nationalism that wants to preserve “America for Americans” instead of admitting other immigrants after ourselves, with exclusive concern for the rich or the poor, with automatic acceptance or rejection of anything identified with one political party, and even more with “hate campaigns” against an incumbent President.

Jesus prayed “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe you have sent me” (John 17:21). Division is from the devil. Paul warned us: “You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.” We work for unity or we deny the faith.


PRAY: “Lord, make me a steward of your peace.”


PRACTICE: Listen to Christ’s words and act on them.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Love, Truth, Stewardship

September 12: Friday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-27; Psalm 4:3, 4, 5-6, 12; Luke 6:39-42

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 

(To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

********************************************************************************

“Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth” (Alleluia verse, John 17:17).

Paul felt obliged to preach the Good News. He did it willingly. But he said that even if he were unwilling, he had a stewardship [oikonomian] entrusted to him to which he had to be faithful.

Are you conscious of being personally entrusted by Jesus Christ with the task of establishing his reign throughout the whole world? Of converting hearts and changing society? Do you see yourself as his steward, his administrator, the manager of his interests where you live and work? Have you accepted the responsibility? Willingly or unwillingly?

Stewardship is not a general exhortation. We were individually consecrated and committed to it by baptismal anointing. It is intrinsic to the gift of grace.

Grace is a gift. The gift is love. Those who love want to give to others. Therefore, if we do not want to give to others what we have received, we do not love. And we do not have grace. That is scary.

This doesn’t have to be a felt desire. Love is a choice, not a feeling. Where love sees emptiness, it wants to give “life to the full.” Where love sees greater capacity, it wants to encourage growth. Where love is not fruitful, it yearns to create union of hearts. For love to live it must give.


PRAY: “Lord, give your gift with me, in me, through me.”

PRACTICE: Share your truth. Activate your love. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Radical Is Right

September 11: Thursday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 8:1-7,11-13; Psalm 139:1-3, 13-14, 23-24; Luke 6:27-38

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 

(To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

*******************************************************************************

“If it causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again…(1 Corinthians 8:13).

What Jesus says in today’s Gospel is so radical we don’t even preach it. “Love your enemies” is acceptable only until Jesus spells it out: do good to those who hate you, pray for those who mistreat you, give to everyone who asks of you, give extra to those who cheat you, if someone takes what is yours do not demand it back, lend and don’t expect repayment. This is a whole new way of living in this world. In general, Christians don’t preach it or practice it.

That is why we need a “New Evangelization.” We haven’t heard the Good News ourselves. How can we announce it to others?

Personal reform is essential but not enough. We have to reform our culture; transform attitudes and values; change the principles that determine priorities and practices in family and social life, business and politics. Beginning with ourselves.

Are you willing to give up perfectly legitimate possessions and practices in order to bear striking witness to the values Jesus preached? A “good” lifestyle doesn’t change anybody. A Christian lifestyle raises eyebrows. If it doesn’t, it isn’t Christian. How much are you willing to invest in transforming the world?


PRAY: “Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and our hearts will be regenerated. And you will renew the face of the earth.”


PRACTICE: Don’t do what is just good; do what will bring about change.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Is Your Focus?

September 10: Wednesday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 7:25-31; Psalm 45:11-12, 14-15, 16-17; Luke 6:20-26

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 

(To support Reaching Jesus ... Step Five).

********************************************************************************

“Let those who use the things of the world, do so as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:25-31).

All vision is filtered. We see everything through the lens of our existing attitudes, values, priorities and preferences. This is “cultural conditioning.” Its bad elements are inseparable from Original Sin.

Jesus threw Original Sin into reverse gear when he declared, “Blessed are you who are poor.” That, and the rest of the Beatitudes, flies in the face of everything we are brought up to believe, even in the most Christian families and schools. Our whole culture is organized around the unchallenged assumption that it is normal to try to become affluent, and that it is not good “when people hate you, exclude and insult you.”

The na├»ve think they are “nonconformists” when they stop going to Church. But churchgoers are just as deceived if they think they are hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a parish that takes affluence and social acceptability for granted. To them Jesus says, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” To authentic Christians, “stewards of his kingship,” he says, “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 7:7; 15:19).

PRAY: “Lord, let me be faithful.”


PRACTICE: Challenge attitudes, values, policies. Work for change. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pneumocracy

September 9: Tuesday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 6:1-11; Psalm 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9; Luke 6:12-19

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? 

(To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

********************************************************************************* 

“Do you not know we will judge angels? Then why not everyday matters?” (1 Corinthians 6:1).

When we read about Jesus choosing his twelve apostles, we may miss what this says about the rest of us. “Apostle” means “sent.” And we are all sent. True, the Twelve had special authority in the Church, exercised now through the bishops. But Christian authority is unique: it is neither monarchy nor democracy. We can call it “pneumocracy,” meaning “government by the Spirit.”

In the Church, all “obedience”—from “ob-oe(au)dire,” to “listen to”—is listening to the Spirit. The Church is governed through communal discernment. Authorities simply have the last word in the discernment process.

We call the pope the “first among equals” (google it) among his fellow bishops. The truth is, every Christian authority (e.g. bishops, pastors) is “first among equals” among all fellow Christians. What those with authority to command really have is authority to declare what the Spirit is saying. And, yes, we must listen; but for the Spirit, to the Spirit, in the Spirit. When Church officials govern in any other way, they abuse their authority.

The greatest fault lies with the laity who let themselves be governed like passive sheep. All—without exception—have the duty to participate in the government of parishes, dioceses, and the universal Church by listening to the Spirit’s voice and lifting up their own. Silence is a sin against stewardship.


PRAY: “Lord, open my lips.”


PRACTICE: Look, judge, speak.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Who Are We?

September 8: Monday of Week 23 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 5:1-8; Psalm 5:6-7, 7, 12; Luke 6:6-11
Also: The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Micah 5:1-4 or Romans 8:28-30; Psalm 13:6; Matthew 1:1-16,18-23.

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).


“Make of yourselves fresh dough” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Every birthday is a new beginning. But our real birthday was our Baptism, when all of us (except Mary, who was born “full of grace”) were reborn with divine life as the body of Christ and children of the Father. “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29).

Everything in Christianity is rooted in our Baptism, when we were incorporated into the body of Jesus on the cross, died in him, and rose with him as a “new creation” to live from then on for one purpose only: to let Jesus continue his life and mission on earth in our body—acting with us, in us and through us in everything we do.

In us, in Christ’s living presence in our bodies, the Gospel promise is fulfilled: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

Baptism explicitly anointed us to share in Christ’s kingship as his stewards. We are responsible for bringing to completion what he announced: “The kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15). For this we have to go beyond a religion of mere law-observance and “stretch out our hearts” (see Luke 6:10).

PRAY ALL DAY: “Thy Kingdom come!”

PRACTICE: Form the habit of noticing what is needed. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

True Love of Neighbor: Criticism

September 7: Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).


“If you do not speak out...” (Ezekiel 33:8).

How often do we confess the sin of not saying something? Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Ezekiel warns us what will happen if we don’t say anything. The key word here is responsibility.

We have known since Genesis that we are “our brother’s keeper.” Baptism made us more. Now we are the “keepers” of society itself. As consecrated, anointed “stewards of the kingship of Christ,” we are “response-able” for everything on earth that is not submitted to God’s reign of love.

Actually, we are “response-accountable.” We may not be “able” to right what is wrong. But we are responsible for making a prudent judgment about what we can do. Our greatest sin may be the failure to say anything.

Jesus tells us how—in three steps, beginning with “go and discuss the fault between you and the other person alone.” Then go, taking mutual friends to facilitate. As a last resort, appeal to authority. This is one of the most ignored instructions in the Gospels. We usually brood in silence, gossip destructively, gather a lynch mob, or denounce people secretly to authorities. But just keeping silence is a sin. It is a refusal of our baptismal responsibility.

Ezekiel says we will be judged on the judgments we don’t express.


PRAY: “Lord, open my lips.”


PRACTICE: Speak, write to your pastor, bishop, political representatives.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Religion and Culture

September 6: Saturday of Week 22 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 4:6-15; Psalm 145:17-18, 19-20, 21; Luke 6:1-5

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

Religion and Culture
“The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5).

Paul is saying there is no point in jealousy, rivalry and bickering, because fundamentally we are all equally nothing. “What do you possess that you have not received?”

More important is the truth that we all have received. We are receiving right now existence itself from God. And life. We are even receiving divine life, because God is letting us share in the life the Father, Son and Spirit have been living together for all eternity.

What we have from ourselves is nothing. What we have from God is everything. We are at one and the same time nothing and everything.

Paul was glad to be stripped of anything he might boast of—human wisdom, strength, honor, even the necessities of life—because the experience of having nothing that he could give himself or hold onto as his own made him aware that everything he did have was from God. And this kept him aware that he could count on receiving from God everything God wanted him to have. No one needs more than that.

Jesus challenged and changed the Sabbath observance, a major root of Jewish culture. He declared himself “lord of the Sabbath.” We claim the right to challenge and change the very roots of our human culture. Because all truth and goodness comes from God, Jesus is lord of every culture.

PRAY: “Jesus is Lord”


PRACTICE: Let Jesus reign in everything you do. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Maintenance or Mystery?

September 5: Friday of Week 22 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:

1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Psalm 37:3-4, 5-6, 27-28, 39-40; Luke 5:33-39

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

Maintenance or Mystery?
“It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Paul says we should see ourselves “as stewards of the mysteries of God.” Were you taught that? Is that the awareness you wake up with every morning? What does it mean?

“Stewards” manage what is entrusted to them. We have been entrusted with “the mysteries of God.” To manage them—to understand Christianity ourselves and share it with others—we have to “put out into deep water.” Christianity is about plunging into mystery, not puttering around with maintenance.

Jesus came to give “new wine.” His teaching is news: the Good News of call and empowerment to live on the level of God. By Baptism we are “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have to be, if we are to act divinely. This means that we—and all human culture and society—have to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may discern what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). “New wine must be poured into fresh wine skins.” We are stewards of the one who said, ““See, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Our task is to transform the attitudes, values and priorities of our culture, beginning with ourselves.

When we shoulder this responsibility, we become “faithful stewards of the mysteries of God.”

PRAY: “Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and renew the face of the earth.”


PRACTICE: See everything in the light of Christian mystery.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Do Not Be Afraid

September 4: Thursday of Week 22 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 3:18-23; Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Luke 5:1-11

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship? (To support Reaching Jesus... Step Five).

Do Not Be Afraid
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1).

Who are we working for? We are stewards of the kingship of Jesus Christ, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth. Paul writes, “Everything belongs to you… the world, life, death, the present, the future: all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.” Our job as stewards is to make that fact the visible, experienced reality of life on planet earth.

We do it by the power of God. How else could we even dream of doing it?

The truth is, it is natural for people, ourselves included, to dream of doing it by human power. Some individuals have subjected most of their known world to their domination: e.g. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Kahn. Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen Victoria ruled over vast empires. The Church has outlasted them all. And Christ will reign forever. But not through human power.

“The wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God… So let no one boast about human beings.”

Jesus showed his vast power by helping some Galilean nobodies catch fish! Then he sent them out to draw—not force—the whole world into the Church. If at times the net seems to be full of holes and emptying, he says, “Put out into deep water.”

Think about that.

PRAY: “Lord, I believe in your power.”


PRACTICE: Don’t ask whether; ask how we can transform society.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Light of Christ

September 2: Tuesday of Week 22 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 2:10-16; Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 13-14; Luke 4:31-37

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship?

The Light of Christ
“The Spirit scrutinizes everything.” 1 Corinthians 2:10

Things aren’t the way they seem. Where we see law, order, and a desirable way of life, God frequently sees the fruit of justice perverted for personal gain; the disorder of an unequal society; and comfortable lifestyles dependent on neglecting the needs of the poor.

Paul says those who are formed by the culture “do not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God. To them it is foolishness. They cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually.” Christians, however, “have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” Those gifts let us see what is not right in the world. We need to use them as “faithful stewards” by taking responsibility for bringing about change.

Let’s be clear about it: poverty is the work of the devil. Wherever there are poor, the devil is triumphing in the hearts of all those who are not trying to do anything about it. The “rich man” who went to Hell in Luke 16:19 was guilty only of ignoring the poor man outside his gate.

To bring about inertia the devil uses two tools: selfishness and hopelessness. But Jesus “commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they come out.” If we are not selfish, we need to have confidence and act.


PRAY:The Lord is just!


PRACTICE: Look around with love. Notice.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Anointed to Change

September 1: Monday of Week 22 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Psalm 119:97-102; Luke 4:16-30

What is Jesus saying to us as stewards of his kingship?

Anointed to Change
“He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” Luke 4:18

Each one of us was anointed specifically at Baptism to “bring glad tidings to the poor.” Jesus began by announcing, “The reign of God is at hand”; in our Baptism he gave us responsibility for bringing it about. We were ritually anointed as prophets, priests and stewards of his kingship. A steward’s job is to be responsible for managing the leader’s affairs. Jesus describes what they are: He was sent by the Father with the power of the Spirit:

to bring glad tidings to the poor.
to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free.

Our job is to give hope to the poor and neglected by setting in motion reforms. It is to free those in slavery to their peer group—social or professional—by challenging cultural attitudes, values and practices. It is to give sight to the blind by showing how the word of God lets us see everything in a new light.

Jesus said this would cause conflict, even within families (Luke 12:51 ff.). The people Jesus himself grew up with tried to kill him. We need to be prudent but persistent; gentle but insistent; to go slow, but to keep going.

Seek peace, but work for change.

PRAY: “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”


PRACTICE: Start noticing anything God would want changed.