Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday March 14th reflection

The Gospel from Matthew today finds Jesus using certain Pharisees as an example for his disciples once again.  Note that he tells his disciples to listen to them when they speak of the law, but don't always imitate the way they act.   In short, Jesus is telling us that these Pharisees are good people who have some parts of their lives that they are getting wrong.  Just like the rest of us.

It's easy to blow through Gospel readings like this, automatically dividing the disciples  and Pharisees into "us and them" categories.  Don't be like them.  Them's bad!    But that's not the point.  Jesus is warning us that it will be easy for us to be like "them" and we have to be continually aware and on guard against that happening.

As I reflected on this passage of Matthew, I thought about all of us...clerics and lay folk...involved in the work of the Church, which has been my "day job" now for about eight years.   It is very easy for us to fall into the Pharisee trap if we are not careful.  I know it can be for me, and I have seen it in others as well.  All good meaning people, all with their hearts in the right places, but sometimes it can creep in.  A subtle version of "Hey, look at me, I'm holy!"  

  It's not my objective to be judgmental here.  This is a great case of  not being able to cast the stone because I'm as guilty as the next party.

It's just an observation that Jesus may actually be reminding those of us....in ministry and service or not...   who strive to move closer to him each day to keep our heads up and be aware that each of us can be as susceptible to this temptation  as the next person.   The antidote?  Humility.  Jesus calls us to live humbly.  A confessor once put this in easy-to-understand perspective for me.   "Make an effort to put acts of charity in your day."    What a great Lenten practice!

Mt. 23:1-12

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A. Thursday Ramble

Thursday of the 22nd week of Ordinary time and the gospel is from Luke, chapter five, verses 1-10.

Jesus teaches from Simon's boat and then instructs Simon to go out and cast the nets.  What I love about this reading is Simon's response.  We've fished all night and caught nothing, he tells Jesus, but
"If you say so, I will."    So off they go and catch two boat loads of fish.

Simon gives us a single sentence definition of faith.   His professional experience says that he doubts any catch will happen, but his answer expresses just enough  faith to give it a try.  He has been reached in that undefinable way that God can touch us, a touch personal between God and ourself.

When I think of those filled nets, I think of God's love toward us.  How he can fill our hearts if we say so and follow.  How his love expresses itself in ways we can't imagine because our human imagination lacks the scope to do so.  How is love is both mysterious and personal.  I can't define exactly what it can be for you.  I know how it works for me...but even then, I often don't recognize it  until after it has come.

I'm not talking emotional Jesus highs here.  That's not who I am and that's not how he comes to me.

Think of it this way.   He told Peter to cast his nets.  Made sense for Peter who was a fisherman.  Compare that with how he reaches Philip.   Would he say "get a boat and cast some nets?'  Doubt it.

Listen for what he says to you.  Be aware and awake as Peter was.  Then cast the nets.  You gotta cast the nets, whatever they are.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Good and Evil on Labor Day (talk about work!)

Good morning from Northeast Indiana...where summer is playing the grand finale with sun and 90 degree temperatures.

So today Jesus takes up the secret challenge of the Pharisees (Luke 6:6-11) and asks them the killer question.  "Is it permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life, or to destroy it."

It's a killer question because it causes all of us to stop and reflect.  The truth is that even some of our "holy" actions can be evil actions because they are rationalizations that keep us from truly turning to the good and giving ourselves to God.   Evil actions can take on camoflauge...they can appear to be good, but are they truly in line with being in a loving relationship with God.   That is what Jesus was creating when he opened eyes, cleared ears and straightened withered hands...loving relationships.

Anyway, it's worth a little spiritual look-see.  Are my actions, are my thoughts, is my reasoning turning to the good?  Not the perceived good, but the Good.  Or are they turning away from the Good, which would be the definition of evil.

Hey, enjoy the brats today. Happy Labor Day.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Trinity Sunday

I’m not really going to attempt to get into some deep explanation of the Holy Trinity here.  I would leave that to those with greater theological knowledge and wisdom than I have.  Besides, the one thing I have learned in my own faith journey is that understanding him is not as important or as necessary as just living in his love.

And that’s what the Trinitarian God makes possible for us.  To live in his love. Living in his love is what He seeks for us, and living in his love will bring each of us the fullness of our human dignity.  This is what God wants for us and this is what he calls us to do.

Saint Paul understood this.  This is what he means in the letter to the Romans,  “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”   

Sons of God. In the family.  The FAther loves his children, sons and daiughters.  This perfect Father, who's essence is love, loves us so much he calls us to be with him, but in his love.  And as Paul says, it is the Spirit working in us to bring us to this union of love.

As Paul goes on to say, “You did not recieeve a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through whom we cry “Abba, FAther."  We are close to Him as Sons and daughters..   We call him "Abba," a term  of praise and glory...and of intimate love.

Paul continues by saying “the Spirit bears witness with our spirit. that we are Children of God...joint heirs with Christ, if only suffer with hime so that we may be glorified.

Paul is telling us that the essence of the Trinity is our loving Father who gives us life out of that love,

Jesus Christ, the Son, who suffered and died for us and by joining ourselves to his suffering and death, we are also joined to his resurrection and like Christ become sons and daughters of God and can share in the inheritance of the Father...the love of the Father.  

Finally the Holy Spirit is the presence of God with us, in us,  that guides us and leads us as children of God.    

I once heard this descirbed as the Father who loves, the Son who is loved and the Spirit who is the love.   The Father sends the Son out of Love, the Son sacrifices himself for us to the Father out of love, and the Spirit is the love that is ours through baptism.

"God is love" is more than just some feel good sounding phrase on a banner.  God’s love allows us to find joy in the darkest hours, peace in the most difficult times, purpose in a world devoid of purpose and hope for a future that we have yet to arrive at.

God's love allows us be in him, to live in him, to have him with us always, not some distant God who's favor we seek and controls us like puppets, but the loving parent who guides us, gifts us and cherishes us.

God’s love comes to us in the graces of the sacraments, starting with baptism and especially in the eucharist.  Grace is that gift of God to his children that enables us to share in this life of love.  It is grace that leads us to humility, to charity, to hope.  It is grace that leads us to act in love to those around us.  Grace is the life of the Church, the presence of Christ here and now.

In Matthew's Gospel, we read his account of the ascension.  The Son, Jesus Christ, continues his work of freeing us from sin, now with the Church as his body on earth.  As members of that Body, the apostles are commissioned to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  We are baptized in that way and we are sent as the apostles were sent.  

Jesus final words are  "I am with you always."  This is what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit give us...the love that comes from being with God always.

Monday, May 18, 2015


The Broom Tree is still here.  I just haven't been watering it much lately.  Quite frankly, I've been thinking about:

a.) resume watering it
b.) transplant it
c.)  chop it down altogether.

Option C, would just be calling an end to the whole thing.  Thought about it, prayed about it, and even though I don't know what the future of the Tree holds, chopping it down really never was much of an option.  Even so, not considering it's demise was not an option I could ignore.

Option B got more consideration.  But transplants are a lot of extra work that I really don't want to do.   Besides I've done transplants already and have left dead brush behind as a result.

So, that leaves Option A.

I will resume watering it.

Here's where I am and what I do the rest of my days.  A little over a year ago I returned to radio, my first love, my long love, and the home of the few talents I have.  However, I returned to the only place I would go, which was Catholic radio.  Redeemer Radio in Fort Wayne gave me the opportunity to put together a morning show, and to once again experience the joy of getting up at half-past dark five days a week to, as the late great Larry Lujack so aptly put it, slave over a hot microphone.  Now nearly a year old,  Redeemer Mornings does interviews, has news, and my co-host and I yak about anything Catholic...almost.   Got to admit, its kinda fun.    The work involved in show prep is something else.

But wait, there's more...

I'm finishing getting (finally) my MA (theology) from Notre Dame.  Comps this summer. Prayers needed, thank you.  More work.

But then....

I have agreed to take over my parish's RCIA program.


I do homilies, and the assorted other duties of a parish deacon,  And I get asked to give talks and things like that around the diocese.

So, you can see where the challenge of getting under the Tree came from.  Plus, I wondered about the direction and purpose of the Tree.

I have the watering can and the hose.   More to come.  Or is it stay tuned...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Be Still...

There are days when you are empty and simply feel motivated to do nothing more then sit.  Not sleep, because you are not exhausted.  Simply sit.  No thoughts arise to distract you.  Worries and concerns cannot reach you.  You are simply still.  You look out the window, and everything looks the same but different at the same time.  You do not need, nor care for, any outside stimulation to  fill the time.

You just get to be still.

An Easter gift for sure.  I am thankful.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Third Day

Imaginative title..

  Had been hoping to do a short daily piece each day during Lent, but you can see that that got off to a great start!

But it's still early, so a a few thoughts for today on Lenten practices.

Whatever you choose to work on, whatever you choose to abstain from, whatever fasting you undertake,  may it come from a prayerful choice.  

Better just one or two things than an impossible list.   Don't phone it in, do something that really needs work in your life, which  to me means your entire life in order with God. (I no longer use the term "spiritual life."  That sounds too much like a hobby you undertake on a quiet Sunday afternoon.)

As for me, I have decided to abstain from one particular habitual act.  By abstaining with prayer and with the complete work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it could mean great strides for me being the loving human God so desires of me.  Just one thing.

Continue to pray and discern your choices.  It will weed out the uneeded.

Don't worry about perfection.  Think more about growth.

Pray always.