Monday, May 31, 2010

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Mary in the mystery of her annunciation and visitation is the very model of the way you should live, because first she received Jesus in her life, then she went in haste to give her to her cousin Elizabeth; what she had received, she had to give.
You must be like her, giving in haste the word you have received in meditation.

The Visitation of Mary

Blessed are you who believed! (Luke 1:45)

Don’t you find it remarkable that God chose to bring about his work of redemption through two human babies and their mothers? Jesus was still in Mary’s womb, yet in his presence, Elizabeth and her own unborn son, John, were filled with the Holy Spirit the moment Mary arrived. This short but powerful scene gives us a glimpse of the forceful love of God, who simply can’t wait to pour out his life. What a foreshadowing this is of the glory of the risen Christ, who wants to pour out his Spirit on all people!

Elizabeth’s pure and humble response to the work of God in their lives must have brought great comfort to Mary. In Elizabeth, she finally found someone with whom she could share her joy and awe at what was happening in her. Who else at this time could understand the song welling up within Mary’s heart (Luke 1:46-56)? Rather than being jealous of her younger relative’s exalted position, Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary and embraced her own supportive role. For her part, Mary did not wait for Elizabeth to come to her but hastened to her side.

While this meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is unique, there is something here that we can all experience. As baptized believers, each of us is capable of bearing Christ to others. If our eyes were opened to the glory of this truth, we too would rejoice and be humbled in the presence of so holy a vessel as a sister or brother in Christ. Even nonbelievers would move us to great reverence because they too are created in God’s image and have just as much potential of being filled with the Holy Spirit. If God has so highly honored human beings this way, how can we fail to show them equal honor?

God used Jesus, even when he was just a fetus in the womb, to pour out divine life. Everyone, no matter how young or old, no matter how strong or weak, has been created as a dwelling place for God. So how can we long for God’s presence and yet disregard him in the people all around us?

“Lord Jesus, as you opened Elizabeth’s eyes in the presence of Mary, open our eyes to those who also bear Christ. Help us to honor the potential of each person to be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Most Holy Trinity

Gospel of St. John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,

he will guide you to all truth.

He will not speak on his own,

but he will speak what he hears,

and will declare to you the things that are coming.

He will glorify me,

because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

Everything that the Father has is mine;

for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine

and declare it to you.

Meditation for today : Feast of the Most Holy Trinity May 30/2010.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Every time we make the Sign of the Cross, we acknowledge the central mystery of the Christian faith: that our God is not one but three—three divine Persons in one God. It is the one statement that separates us from all of the other religions in the world, and it is the foundation for everything else that we profess and believe as Catholics.

But the teaching of the Trinity really explains much more than mere metaphysical propositions. It tells us about the inner life of God—the intimate love and communion that is constantly flowing between the Father, Son, and Spirit. God is far from an isolated being or uninvolved deity. His very existence has to do with relationships.

If it is God’s nature to share himself, and if we are created in his image and likeness, it follows that we too are meant to share our lives with each other. As Paul reminds us, we are the body of Christ, and a body “is not a single part, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:14). We were made to be in communion with one another, joining together to build the kingdom and to proclaim the gospel to all of creation. It’s a tall order, and anyone who has tried to do it alone knows that it just doesn’t work!

But the Trinity is more than just a model for togetherness: It also gives us the power to live it! We really can love one another as fully as Jesus loves us—if we draw from the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus promises that as we deepen our relationship with one another, our lives will start to reflect the very life of the Trinity—and that’s how we can experience the joy we are meant to know as Christians!

“Holy Spirit, draw us all into the love that you share with the Father and the Son! Stir up your gifts within us, so that we may pour out that same love on one another!”


Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Discussion

Proverbs 8:22-31, Psalm 8:4-9, Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15

1. Reflect on the following verses in the First Reading: “the Lord possessed me, the beginning of his ways,” “from of old I was poured forth,” “then I was beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of the earth; and I found delight in the human race.” In what way do they give us a glimpse into the relationships and intimacy within the Trinity?

2. In the Responsorial Psalm, we see the primacy of man: “You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.” Why should this truth motivate us to be good stewards over God’s creation? How well would you rate your own stewardship? What steps can you take to improve it?

3. The Second Reading tells us that “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Can you share a time in your life when you have “experienced” God’s love for you, not merely “known” about it?

4. In the Gospel, we also get another glimpse into the Trinity through these words of the Lord Jesus: “He (the Holy Spirit) will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” What do these verses tell us about the relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

5. In the meditation, we hear these amazing words: “But the Trinity is more than just a model for togetherness: It also gives us the power to live it! We really can love one another as fully as Jesus loves us—if we draw from the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus promises that as we deepen our relationship with one another, our lives will start to reflect the very life of the Trinity—and that’s how we can experience the joy we are meant to know as Christians!” What steps can you take to build or deepen your relationships with other men or women in your parish?

Let's Not Play Dumb!

We do not know. (Mark 11:33)

Have you ever felt cornered by someone’s interrogations? You know that no matter how you answer, you’ll get yourself in trouble. Usually, this happens either because you really are guilty of the thing your questioner is pressing you about or because your questioner has so twisted the truth that there is no way out. Either way, you can’t salvage the situation, and you have to resign yourself to having lost a battle of wits.

Now imagine how the Jewish elders must have felt when Jesus asked them whether they believed in John the Baptist’s preaching. There was no way they could answer without placing themselves in a negative light. If they said they did believe, he would press them on the way they abandoned John to Herod. If they said they didn’t believe, they would appear to be on the wrong side of the people, who considered John to be a hero. So, they chose the path of least resistance and played dumb.

Mind you, Jesus wasn’t trying to make these leaders look bad. He just wanted them to confess that they had been wrong about John the Baptist. He hoped that reminding them about a shadowy part of their past would spur them to repentance and to change their position about John—and about Jesus himself.

Jesus may take a similar approach with us at times. He may bring to mind a situation where we mistreated someone. Or he may remind us of a long-standing grudge we have been holding or a sin from our past that we have not acknowledged—all in the hope that we will face it and turn to him in repentance.

The chief priests and scribes could have replied, “You’re right. John’s baptism was from heaven, and we didn’t believe him. We should have tried to defend him when Herod had him arrested. Even more importantly, we should have accepted his message.” Instead, they hardened their hearts.

Let’s not play dumb! If and when the Holy Spirit brings some past unpleasantness to the surface of our minds, let’s acknowledge it and deal with it. How else will we ever find freedom and peace?

“Jesus, thank you for giving me so many chances to repent and turn back to you. Give me the courage to listen to your Holy Spirit’s questions so that I can know even deeper freedom and a greater friendship with you.”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Job and Christ compared!

Second reading
From a sermon by Saint Zeno of Verona, bishop
Job was a type of Christ

Is Job a type of Christ? If I am right, he is, and the comparison will reveal the truth of my claim. But while Job was called a just man by God, God himself is the fountain of justice from whom all the saints drink. See what Scripture says: The sun of justice will arise for you. Job was called truthful, but the Lord is, as he says in the Gospel, the way, the truth and the life. And while Job was rich, the Lord is far richer, for the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world and all who dwell in it. All rich men are his servants, and the whole world and all of nature as well.

But we may compare Job and Christ in many ways. As Job was tempted by the devil three times, so too Christ was tempted three times. The Lord set aside his riches out of love for us and chose poverty so that we might become rich, while Job lost all that he possessed. A violent wind killed Job’s sons, while the sons of God, the prophets, were killed by the Pharisees. Job became ulcerated and disfigured, while the Lord, by becoming man, took on the defilement of the sins committed by all mankind. The wife of Job tempted him to sin, much as the synagogue tried to force the Lord to yield to corrupt leadership. Thus he was insulted by the priests, the servants of his altar, as Job was insulted by his friends. And as Job sat on a dunghill of worms, so all the evil of the world is really a dunghill which became the Lord’s dwelling place, while men that abound in every sort of crime and base desire are really worms.

The restoration of health and riches to Job prefigures the resurrection, which gives health and eternal life to those who believe in Christ. Regaining lordship over all the world, Christ says: All things have been given to me by my Father. And just as Job fathered other sons, so too did Christ, for the apostles, the sons of the Lord, succeeded the prophets.

Job died happily and in peace, but there is no death for the Lord. He is praised for ever, just as he was before time began, and as he always will be as time continues and moves into eternity.

RESPONSORY Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:4-5

Let us throw off every encumbrance and steadily run the race we have started,
– keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source of our faith and its goal.

Let us prove ourselves by patient endurance of trials, in times of difficulty and in distress, and when we are flogged or imprisoned.
– Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source of our faith and its goal

Friday, May 21, 2010

Perseverance with the Holy Spirit!

They had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. (Acts 25:19)

You’ve heard the adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That’s because most of our successes involve failings along the way. Babe Ruth was known for his home-run hitting prowess, but he also struck out 1,330 times in his Major League career—twice as often as the average batter of his time. And Thomas Edison tried thousands of times before inventing a light bulb that worked. “I have not failed,” he once remarked. “I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

In Acts chapters 25-26, Paul must have been frustrated to find that his evangelistic efforts before king and court were fruitless. No one was convinced by his preaching, and Paul remained a prisoner bound for Rome. But he didn’t give up. And like Paul, we too should never give up. After all, we have been called to announce the same good news of Christ’s love and salvation that he proclaimed.

So how do we get the word out? We can start by not being afraid of temporary setbacks. If someone seems turned off, don’t worry. Just pray that God will continue to work in that person’s heart. Try your best to be honest, authentic, and transparent, just as Paul was in his effort to “become all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22). If you persist humbly and gently, if you remain conversational rather than confrontational, if you let the Spirit work through you, then you can leave the rest up to God!

Not all of your efforts will meet with success, but that’s okay. Remember Mother Teresa’s remark: “God did not call me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.” Not everyone is going to get it, but don’t let that dissuade you from planting seeds whenever you can. You never know when someone will respond. And who knows? What you consider a failure may well bear fruit later. Or it may teach you something about God’s mysterious ways. Whatever happens, don’t give up!

“Holy Spirit, give me the courage and perseverance I need to share the good news of Christ. Take away my fears, and replace them with your love for the world!”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sing a New Song - Feast of St.Joseph the Worker

Sing to the Lord a new song. (Psalm 98:1)
Some days it’s hard to sing a new song, isn’t it? We wake up singing
the same old one: My spouse doesn’t understand me. I’m afraid.
So-and-so hurt me. That old song isn’t always wheezed out in gripes and
complaints, either. Sometimes it’s intoned in a dull plainsong lacking
any excitement, adventure, or joy—a monotone of routine: Go to work. Do
the laundry. Cook the meals. Change the diapers. Pay the bills. Nothing new
about any of it.
But every day, one thing is true: God has triumphed! His wondrous deeds and
his justice, his kindness and his faithfulness mean victory over every
threat to a joyful existence. His compassion and mercy are new every
morning as he continually offers us a new heart and a new spirit. All
because Jesus was raised from the dead, enabling us to live a new life. We
have plenty of reasons to sing a new song to the Lord, a song that declares
the wonderful, powerful deeds he has wrought in this world and in our lives.

So go ahead and sing! Sing of the many reasons you have to trust him. Sing
a song that proclaims God’s power in your life and his ability to heal
you, to relieve your worry, and to free you from the chains of sin and
fear. Declare his power—and his desire—to provide for your needs, to
forgive your sins, and to lead you in the way of forgiveness. Sing of his
generous gifts of wisdom, energy, patience, and whatever else you need to
live this Christian life. Sing of that life itself, a life of peace,
freedom, joy, trust, hope, confidence, and patient acceptance of things you
can’t change.
Sing, speak, or list such things on paper. Rehearse that list daily. Find
Scripture passages that state or reinforce your new song. Sing or speak
those words aloud during your prayer. Find some truth that has particular
meaning in the situations you face, and repeat it frequently, whether in
your thoughts or on your lips, throughout the day. Put away the old song,
and sing joyfully to the Lord. Break into song! Sing praise!!
"Lord, you are good! You have triumphed over everything that weighs me
down. Your faithfulness lifts me up, and your kindness carries me through
my day."

Acts 13:44-52; John 14:7-14