Sunday, November 30, 2014

Communion through Communication

Pray and Practice Advent
Waiting and Willing


November 30 First Sunday in Advent
ISAIAH 63:16 to 64:7; 1CORINTHIANS 1:3-9; MARK 13:33-37
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Communion through Communication

Advent makes us conscious of waiting. What are we waiting for?

Don’t you vibrate with Isaiah’s plea: O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” What would you want God to do for you if he did?

Paul says God comes to “call us into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus.” To unite us in mind and heart with himself and others. For this he “enriches us in speech and knowledge.”

We enter into fellowship through communication. Through “word and Spirit” God communicates to us “what no one has heard, no ear has perceived.” Through speech we communicate to each other the knowledge God communicates to us. This is the way we keep each other “awake,” so that we will listen together for the voice of God and recognize it when he communicates with us.

During Advent the Church invites us to focus on knowing God. Do you want to turn to him? See his face? If so… what are you waiting for?


Pray (all day today):Lord, make us turn to you. Let us see your face and we shall be saved.


Practice: Read something in Scripture each day and share with someone else the knowledge you receive.

A Wake-up Call: “Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!”

November 29: Saturday of Week 34 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 22:1-7; Psalm 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7; Luke 21:34-36
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.



Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

A Wake-up Call
“Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Responsorial: see 1Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20).

This is the last day of the liturgical year. Predictably, it announces a beginning: “Behold, I am coming soon!”—the theme of Advent.

After showing John “what must happen soon,” the angel declares, “Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.”

Prophecies are entrusted to messengers for the good of others. Every Christian is a “steward” of the Good News. “Blessed are we” if we “keep” and share it.

The message is the promise of “the river of life-giving water, the tree of life, medicine for the nations.” All we need and long for is ours if we believe; persevere in hope; surrender to love.

Jesus warns that three things make our hearts “bad soil,” unable to accept his message:

1. “carousing”—just “living it up,” following the “beaten path” of a culture hardened against the seeds of God’s word.

2. the “drunkenness” of addiction to superficial input that keeps us from reflecting deeply on God’s word.

3. the “anxieties of daily life” that compete with the challenge and values of the Good News.

These are the hard, rocky (shallow) and thorny ground of Matthew 13:1. If we don’t stay alert to them, our hearts become “drowsy.” Then Christ’s coming into our life will “catch us by surprise,” and find us in a “trap” of our own making.
  
PRAY: “Lord, make me a waker-upper.”


PRACTICE: During Advent, wake up and wake up. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Listen: “My heart and flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84: 2).

November 28: Friday of Week 34 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 20:1-4, 11 to 21:2; Psalm 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8; Luke 21:29-33
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.



Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Listen
“My heart and flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84: 2).

It seems that everything changes. Summer to winter, life to death. But there is an unchanging constant in our hearts. Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Whose “word” is it when our “heart and flesh cry out for the living God”? We know “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6). And though “we do not know how to pray as we ought,” we know that Spirit is praying within us “with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

We need to listen to our hearts. Television and externals draw our eyes, iPods and cellulars our ears. Pleasures attract our bodies. These can drown out the words both we and God are speaking in our hearts.

But not forever: “Heaven and earth will pass away.” We don’t need faith to know that. We may choose not to think about it, however, unless faith assures us that something—Christ’s words—“will not pass away.”

Faith feeds and is fed by fidelity. If we think of ourselves as “stewards of God’s mysteries,” then, “like good stewards of the manifold grace of God,” we will be “trustworthy” in serving both ourselves and others by remembering and using “whatever gift each of us has received” (1Corinthians 4:1-2; 1Peter 4:10).

Like faith.

PRAY: “Lord, let me hear my heart.”


PRACTICE: Give yourself some silence. Listen.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Know, Praise, Thank “Know that the Lord is God” (Psalm 100:3)

November 27: Thanksgiving Day
Sirach 50:22-24; Psalm 145: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11; 1Corinthians 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19

Thursday of Week 34 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9; Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5; Luke 21:20-28
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Know, Praise, Thank
“Know that the Lord is God” (Psalm 100:3).

When Jesus cured ten lepers (Luke 17), he was surprised only one “returned to give thanks to God.” That is thought-provoking. Thanking God is a basic human duty, especially for Jews and Christians, who know better than anyone what God is doing for the human race.

Christians have a special reason to thank God: we have the answer to all fear. Others may “die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world.” But Luke tells us (chapter 21), “when these signs begin to happen, raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Then we “will see the Son of Man coming with power and great glory,” and we will hear an angel crying out the words we proclaim in every Mass: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).

Paul promised God can “keep us firm to the end,” because Christians are “enriched in every way, with all knowledge.” We are awaiting “the blessed hope and the manifestation (epiphaniam, Titus 2:13; or ‘revelation,’ apokalupsin, 1Corinthians 1:3-9) of the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Waiting keeps us open. Faithful stewards manage “what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52), drawing on the past and the future. In this way, Sirach says (50:22), God “fosters growth from the womb.”
  
PRAY: “Lord, let thanksgiving give me hope.”


PRACTICE: At Mass, “Enter with thanksgiving… Give thanks to him” (Psalm 100).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Time Framing: “He comes to rule the earth” (Psalm 98:9).

November 26: Wednesday of Week 34 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 15:1-4; Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 7-8, 9; Luke 21:12-19
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.



Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Time Framing
“He comes to rule the earth” (Psalm 98:9).


Is Jesus contradicting himself when he says to the “faithful stewards” of his kingship, “they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name… and they will put some of you to death… but not a hair on your head will be destroyed”? Unless his followers are all bald, “destroyed” must not mean to Jesus what it means in ordinary speech.

It doesn’t. For Jesus, short-term destruction—and defeat—is long-term survival and triumph. Earthly kings have eyeblink reigns and momentary power. Jesus alone is “king of the nations” who will reign forever, and “of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33).

Who will not fear you, Lord, or glorify your name? For you alone are holy.
All the nations will come and worship before you.

The waiting we proclaim during the Rite of Communion at every Mass is intrinsic to Christianity: we “await the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus  2:13). Christian living is synonymous wth perseverance. The value of the present depends on its relevance to the future.  As his stewards, especially, Jesus cautions us to “be dressed for action and have your lamps lit, like those who are waiting for their master to return (Luke 12:35).


PRAY: “Lord, give me “steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6).


PRACTICE: “Press on toward the goal, for the prize of the heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Value Clarification

November 25: Tuesday of Week 34 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 14:14-19; Psalm 96:10, 11-12, 13; Luke 21:5-11
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.

Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Value Clarification
“Say among the nations: The Lord is king.” (Psalm 96:10).

Jesus says believers are not impressed by “awesome sights and mighty signs from the sky.” Our job is to remind “the nations” that “the Lord is king.” He is in charge, and we work for him as “stewards of his kingship.”

The only significance believers should see in “wars and insurrections… earthquakes, famines, and plagues” is what they say about us: our concern or lack of concern for each other on earth; and whether or not we are doing our job as “stewards of creation.”

People are important. Buildings, cities, even empires (political or industrial) aren’t. When Jesus saw people admiring the temple with its “costly stones and votive offerings,” he said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon a stone.”

Nothing is permanent but the Church, the people who, “in him” are “living stones,” the “temple of his body,” built upon “the foundation of the apostles, with Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” This is “something greater than the temple.” And we are still under construction, being “built together spiritually and growing into a holy temple, a dwelling place for God (Matthew 12:6, John 2:22; 1Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:20).

We are all sub-contractors, responsible for doing everything we can to make the building perfect. Take responsibility.

PRAY: “Lord, don’t let me sweat the small stuff”.


PRACTICE: Keep your eye on the ball: the one that’s going somewhere. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Look Inside

November 24: Monday of Week 34 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 14:1-5; Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Luke 21:1-4
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Look Inside
“Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face” (Responsorial, Psalm 24).

Desire is what life is all about. It is the source of all the good and bad we do, and, ultimately, of everything we become.

Sometimes religion begins at the wrong end, talking about behavior, when our first look should be at attitudes and values. Before we teach children what they should and should not do, we should teach them what to desire. To “examine our conscience” means to examine what we deeply accept and reject in our heart. Evaluating our performance comes afterwards.

First question: Do I really want to know God? Do I “long to see his face”? What proof of that do I find in my behavior? Do I find love for God in my heart?

Clarification: Love is not feeling. St. Teresa of Avila says love for God consists “in the firmness of our determination” to do his will. That is a choice of the heart.

Catholics are stewards, “fund-managers,” of a 2000-year tradition of responding to the mystery Jesus revealed. There is no excuse for us to be superficial law-observers, or mere repeaters of orthodox doctrines. For example, if we have not made the Mass the experienced “source and summit” of our Christian life, for ourselves and others, we are “unfaithful stewards” of the mystery it makes present in celebration. And we don’t understand Baptism.


PRAY: “Lord, put a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).


PRACTICE: Examine your heart. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

King Means Shepherd

November 23: Feast of Christ the King
Thirty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A:
Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17; Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6; 1Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; 
Matthew 25:31-46
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

King Means Shepherd
“I myself will look after my sheep” (Ezekiel 34:11).

The readings present Jesus as a king who sees himself as a shepherd. When he claims his power he says, “I myself will look after my sheep… I will rescue them, pasture them, give them rest, seek out the lost, bring back the strayed, bind up the injured, heal the sick.”

The “enemies” he destroys are “every sovereignty and every authority and power” that can harm his sheep. He will separate the bad from the good, “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

And “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” “In Christ, all shall be brought to life.”

When Jesus “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father,” it is “so that God may be all in all.” “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more… The one seated on the throne says, ‘See, I am making all things new… I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’” (Revelation 21:4).

When the Psalmist says, “The Lord is my shepherd,” he understands that to mean, “There is nothing I shall want.” To have Jesus as King is to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” in security and peace.

To be “stewards of the kingship of Christ” means to be managers of mercy.


PRAY: “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done!”


PRACTICE: Shepherd Christ’s sheep.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Deal, New Game

November 22: Saturday of Week 33 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 11:4-12; Psalm 144:1, 2, 9-10; Luke 20:27-40
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

New Deal, New Game
“Our Savior has brought life to light.”

In the Gospel, Jesus is not just answering the Sadducees. He is giving hope—and an answer—to everyone dealing with insoluble problems on earth.

The Sadducees’ projection of life after death was based on the assumption that what they had to work with in the present would remain unchanged. Jesus said everything would be different: people, marriage, the body, physical and personal relationships. The problems will not exist, because the players will be different.

This answers both our fear of change and our dread that nothing will change. We imagine ourselves, unchanged, experiencing things in the future the way we experience them today. We resist giving up something—alcohol, drugs, affluence, prestige, some teaching or practice in the Church—because we can’t imagine a change in us that would make us no longer want it.

But Paul testifies: “I regard everything I have lost as rubbish because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). The truth is, “Our Savior Jesus Christ has brought life to light through the Gospel” (Alleluia verse; 2Timothy 1:10), and under his new light we see and feel things differently. Our desires change.

That is why “good stewards of the multi-faceted grace of God” are always “bringing out of their storeroom new things as well as old” (Matthew 13:52).

PRAY: “Lord, give me a taste for your new wine.”


PRACTICE: To live fully, change frequently (Blessed John Henry Newman).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sweetening The Sour

November 21: Friday of Week 33 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 10:8-11; Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131; Luke 19:45-48
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Sweetening The Sour
“My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27).

Sometimes, when we hear God’s words, we feel like singing the Responsorial: “How sweet to my taste is your promise!” But when we see how they are actually lived out, it makes us sick to our stomach. The angel warned us: “In your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey, but it will turn your stomach sour.”

God’s words are true; we just have false expectations. Like seeds, God’s words need good ground to grow in (see Matthew 13:3). And providing the good ground is our job. As “stewards of the kingship of Christ,” we are responsible for creating the conditions that help people live what they learn.

We have Christ’s example. When he entered the temple and found people selling things, he drove them out, quoting Scripture: “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.

By Jewish rules, Jesus had no more authority over the Temple than any other layman. But by relationship with the Father, he had the right of a son.

So do we. When anything is not right in our Father’s house, our baptismal consecration as “kings” authorizes us to intervene, providing we respect the rights of others. It even obliges us, unless countermanded by prudence or charity. Laziness and cowardice are common, but sinful, excuses.


PRAY: “Lord, give me zeal for your house.” (John 2:17).


PRACTICE: Exercise the rights that come with your responsibility. 

No Search For Meaning

November 20: Thursday of Week 33 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 5:1-10; Psalm 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9; Luke 19:41-44
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.

Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

No Search For Meaning
“If this day you only knew…” (Luke 19:41).

Recognized or not, it is hard to live on this earth and not know what life is all about.

I am writing from Sweden, where everyone we meet is kind and friendly, and almost nobody goes to church. We ate today with an unchurched son of atheists, whose compassionate love for others testifies he will live forever in heaven. But anxiety keeps him awake at night. He is lost. He doesn’t see the whole picture. He said, “It must be nice to believe.”

The reading from Revelation says Jesus is “worthy to receive the scroll and break open its seals.” Jesus has the right to reveal the future and the meaning of life, because he is responsible for both.

Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation… in him all things hold together… and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things… by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:13).

We know why we are on earth: Jesus has “made us kings and priests to our God” to establish the reign of God’s truth and love in every human heart on the planet. We may not know how to do that, but at least we know what life is all about. Our search is for means, not for meaning.

It is nice to know.


PRAY: “Lord, live and reign in me and through me.”


PRACTICE: Keep your focus. Work for the goal. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

God Invests Himself—In Us And Through Us

November 19: Wednesday of Week 33 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 4:1-11; Psalm 150:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Luke 19:11-28
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five ) 

God Invests Himself—In Us And Through Us
“I chose you to go and bear fruit” (John 15:16).

As “good stewards of the multi-faceted grace of God” (1Peter 4:10), we are charged to manage—for our good and the good of others—the knowledge of God that Jesus gives us.

God is very different from us. God would never say, like the king in Jesus’ parable, “Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.” And God’s only “investment” is love. For God, to “love us” is to invest everything he is in what we can become.

God gives so that we can get—and give to others. The only “return on his investment” that he wants is our growth in divine life—in faith, hope and love—by which we are impelled to help others grow, together with us, into that “life to the full” that Jesus came to give (John 10:10).

Knowing this is makes the angels cry out, day and night, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty…”

Knowing this, we cry out, “Father, hallowed be thy name!” And because, like Paul, we think of ourselves as “stewards of God’s mysteries” (1Corinthians 4:1), we strive to make God known until the whole world cries it with us.

PRAY: “Father, hallowed be thy name! Make yourself known to me and through me in everything I do.”


PRACTICE: Manage God’s investment. Strive to grow. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Come Down And Stay

November 18: Tuesday of Week 33 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22; Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5; Luke 19:1-10
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Come Down And Stay
“Remember then what you received and keep it” (Revelation 3:3).

When Jesus tells Zacchaeus, “Come down (katabeino) for I must stay (abide, meno) at your house today,” he is echoing words usually used of himself: “No one has ascended into heaven except the one who came down from heaven…I am the bread that came down from heaven… Abide in me as I abide in you… Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit… If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish… If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (John 3:13; 6:41; 15:4, 7; Matthew 27:40).

Paradoxically, “being with” God depends on humans “coming down” from an unexamined “upper class” lifestyle and mentality. Wealth and prestige bear the deadly fruit of pride, and close our minds to the Gospel. Zacchaeus “came down” from more than the sycamore tree: “Half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone, I will pay back four times as much.”

If Zacchaeus was a “good manager” (steward) of the grace he received, his response was more than a superficial, passing gesture: he “remembered what he accepted and kept it.” Those whose conversion “goes down” to the roots of their attitudes and values, Jesus, lifts up “to sit with me on my throne.”


PRAY: “Lord, come down. Live in me.”


PRACTICE: “Walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Seeing Requires Looking

November 17: Monday of Week 33 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Revelation 1:1-4, 2:1-5; Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6; Luke 18:35-43
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.



Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Seeing Requires Looking
“Lord, please let me see” (Luke 18:41).

There are different ways to be blind. The most common may be selective seeing, based on selective looking. Pope John Paul II, for example, would not let even bishops look at some questions—contraception, married priests, ordination of women—and discuss them freely. Even saints are not perfect. Perhaps God said to him, as he said to the “angel” of the Church in Ephesus, “I know you cannot tolerate the wicked… you have endurance and have suffered for my name… Yet I hold this against you…”

Pope Francis invites the whole Church to discuss anything that is not defined dogma. Bishops are divided over how to treat homosexual and divorced Catholics. But the issues are being looked at. Through dialogue and discernment, those in error can avoid the “temptation to hostile inflexibility… not allowing oneself to be surprised by the God of surprises… wanting to close oneself within the certitude of what we know [instead of being open to] what we still need to learn and to achieve” (Francis’ concluding speech at the Synod).

Because Francis believes Jesus saying, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me—wherever I lead—will have the light of life” (Alleluia verse), and has faith in an unfettered Church’s ability to recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice, Jesus can say to the Church he leads, “Receive your sight; his faith has saved you.”

PRAY: “Lord, please let me see.”


PRACTICE: Keep looking.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Grace Managers

November 16: Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A:
Proverbs 31:10-13,19-20,30-31; Psalm 128:1-5; 1Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


Thoughts to help us take responsibility as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
(To support  Reaching Jesus: 5 Steps to a Fuller Life ... Step Five )

Grace Managers
“Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

If a wife tried her heart out to be the “efficient woman” Proverbs describes, but simply couldn’t, wouldn’t her husband love her all the more, just for trying? Wouldn’t he do everything he could to convince her that her value was in herself, not in “the fruit of her hands” (Proverbs 31:31; Psalm 128:3)?

Jesus chose us “to go and bear fruit.” How? Simply by living and acting in union with him: “Whoever remains in me bears much fruit” (Alleluia verse, John 15:5, 16).

Jesus himself failed as the Messiah people expected; he died without changing anything in Jewish society. He couldn’t convert his own people, and his handpicked disciples deserted him (see Luke 4:28; Matthew 11:23; 23:37; 26:56). But the Father loved him for being what he was. And for living out his heart.

As Christ’s body, “children of light,” we don’t “sleep as the rest do,” dreaming of impressive accomplishments, but “stay alert” to what is already within us. We put on “the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” If we cultivate faith, hope and love in our hearts, and live by these in action, Jesus says to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant…Come, share your master’s joy.”

First and foremost, we are “managers of the gift of divine life” (see 1Peter 4:10), giving it by living it.

 PRAY: “Lord, keep me awake!”


PRACTICE: Look in before out.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Recognizing Divinity

November 15: Saturday of Week 32 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
3John 1:5-8; Psalm 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Luke 18:1-8
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.


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

Recognizing Divinity
“…to send them on in a way worthy of God” (3John 1:6).

It makes no difference whether “worthy of God” refers to the helping or the journeying; John is telling believers to be divine in the way they help people who are also divine. The key to Christian living is maintaining awareness of “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you”—and in everyone who shares in the divine life of God by grace. The Alleluia verse confirms it: “God has called us through the Gospel, to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christians see every interaction between the baptized (including “anonymous Christians” with “Baptism of desire”) as God dealing with God in Jesus interacting with Jesus. St. Augustine said, “In heaven there will be just one Christ, loving himself.” That is what good stewards of the mystery of “Christ in us” should be striving to bring about on earth.

The problem is, we forget who God, we, and others are. That is why Jesus urges us to “pray always without becoming weary.” Not because we “think we will be heard because of our many words,” but to keep us conscious that God is our Father and we his children. He “knows what we need before we ask him” (Matthew 6:7, 26-32). But if we don’t ask him, and keep asking, we will forget this.
  
PRAY: “Live, Jesus, in my heart."


PRACTICE: In every human interaction, be conscious of Jesus in you and others.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Believing Is Seeing

November 14: Friday of Week 32 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
2John 1:4-9; Psalm 119:1, 2, 10, 11, 17, 18; Luke 17:26-37
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.



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

Believing Is Seeing
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law [of love]” (Psalm 119:18).

John says the greatest deceivers are “those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” Bypassing the gnostic heresy John attacked, we can apply this to those who fail to see Jesus present, living and acting in the flesh of all the baptized, the members of his body on earth. Without denying, they ignore Saint Paul’s core message: “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Ignoring this mystery is the greatest obstacle to establishing the reign of God on earth.

If all Christians got up every morning to let Jesus work with them, in them and through them that day, we would soon transform human life on this planet.

If only all Christians treated every other as the living body of Jesus, it would radically diminish divisions, injustice, discrimination, exploitation and violence throughout the world.

Personal and family life, even when characterized by suffering, would be close to paradise. Work sites would be revitalizing. Politics would be peaceful and productive. If we only opened our eyes. If we only lived out the mystery we profess to believe: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

PRAY: “Lord, open my eyes to see you where you are.”


PRACTICE: Form the habit of saying the WIT prayer all day long: 
“Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.” 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Trash Removal or Love

November 13: Thursday of Week 32 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Philemon 1:7-20; Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10; Luke 17:20-25
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.



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

Trash Removal or Love
“The Lord sets captives free” (Psalm 146:7).

Paul had no civil authority to free the runaway slave Onesimus. But he furthered the reign of God the best he could by urging his master to treat him as the equal he had become through Baptism: “no longer as a slave but… a brother.”

A modern equivalent to slaves are convicts. Pope Francis told delegates from the International Association of Penal Law that the death penalty, life imprisonment and the existing prison system are incompatible with our faith and a violation of the reign of God:

“All Christians and people of good will are called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty.”

He added, “Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty” (Catholic News Service, October 23, 2014).

How does our desire for revenge and security weigh against our belief in repentance and hope for another’s salvation? To kill a prodigal child of God is like abortion: we cut off a future. Destroying fear and selfishness prevail over nurturing hope and love.

To imprison and “throw away the key” is also to throw away faith, hope and love. It makes rehabilitation pointless. Why fix what will never get to function?

Our prisons are trash removal, not human care. We sin by paying for restraint, not rehabilitation.

PRAY: “The Lord sets captives free.”


PRACTICE: Visit a prison.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nondiscriminatory Collaboration

November 12: Wednesday of Week 32 of Ordinary Time, Year A-II:
Titus 3:1-7; Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6; Luke 17:11-19
Click here for the complete text of today’s readings.



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

Nondiscriminatory Collaboration
“Be open to every good enterprise” (Titus 3:1).

Paul insists we are not saved “because of any righteous deeds.” But we do them—not as obeying laws of human morality, but as “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1Peter 4:10), impelled and empowered by the divine “bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

We make known the “hope of eternal life,” unveiled “when God’s kindness and love for humans appeared.” Baptism made us stewards of that revelation, responsible for creating a society that allows the whole human race to be aware of it.

Allows, not forces. As Christians we claim freedom to express divine truth publicly, so long as we don’t force others to pay attention, because this does not diminish anyone’s humanity. But as humans we oppose the public expression of some false attitudes and values, such as gross vulgarity, hate-mongering, and racial-religious prejudice, because they create a dehumanizing environment that blocks appreciation for “the good, the true and the beautiful” in creation itself. This is not inconsistent. It is preserving humanity, not imposing divinity. We fight against slime.

As stewards of the kingship of Christ, human and divine, we are “open to every good enterprise,” human or divine. We collaborate with all who seek solutions “to the problems of our time” (Vatican II, “Church in Modern World,” 10). This is responsible stewardship.
  
PRAY: “Thy Kingdom come!”

PRACTICE: Collaborate with everyone of good will.