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For steadfast is his kindness for us, and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.

I have a lot to be thankful for and I just want to share some of that with you today.

First, my youngest daughter turned 17 yesterday.  Most of her siblings and a few of her friends came over to the house yesterday and we celebrated with her.  Teresa is a beautiful girl with many talents and it’s hard to believe my baby is going into her Senior year of high school. God bless you Teresa – my eight wonder of the world.

Second, we celebrate another Feast Day today which means I don’t have to abstain from meat again today.  I think I’ll have to fire up the BBQ pit and do some brats and dogs.  Today is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle – who should be the patron saint of Missouri – the Show Me state.  Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  But because of his doubt and then his full conversion into believing, we have been giving what I consider the greatest blessing from Jesus…we can be call Blessed.  Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.  Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  from the Gospel of John 20:24

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.  That’s you; that’s me; that’s all of us who haven’t seen Christ, who haven’t touched His hands or put our hand in His side but still believe; we still go to Mass and profess Him as our Savior.  Thank you Thomas for your conversion, for your faithfulness to Christ and for allowing me to have a bratwurst for lunch today.

I’m gonna take a little side track right now.  St. Thomas the Apostle gives me some fond memories growing up in St. Louis.  Who doesn’t remember the Red and White striped jersey’s their soccer team wore?  Or their great soccer tournament they hosted every year.  Thinking back, the way I got to know most of the patron saints growing up was from playing in their soccer tournaments… St. Blaise (probably the best run tournament in my estimation.  OK, that is a biased opinion seeing that was my home parish); St. Sabina and St. Francis of Assisi ran a close second with theirs; St. Angela Merici, CSMAC (Corondelet Sunday Morning Athletic Club – they weren’t Catholic but most of the teams playing in it were and I still have my 2nd place trophy our team won in the tournament.  I also made their all-star game that year we took 2nd.)  St. Ann – who were are sworn enemy had a fun tournament but a horrible soccer field with a HUGE sewer lid that was in play on the field.  And of course, our soccer nemesis St. Charles Borromeo who we seemed to face every year in the District finals and lost to them every year but one.  Again, I digress.

Third, through all this tumult and stress going on at the statue of St. Louis, if I’m going to try and see the positive in all of this, my fellow Catholics have bonded with each other and have started meeting at the statue every evening at 6:30 PM to pray the rosary together.  I haven’t been down there with them – YET – but my son Tony has along with his cousin Fr. Schumacher (aka Stephen).  I will continue to pray for a peaceful resolution to all of the craziness going on not just in St. Louis and the States, but all over the world.  As I’ve said so many times in this blog, the only way to combat hate is with love.  Fighting hate and anger with hate and anger only causes divisions to widen and breeds more violence.  We, especially Christians who profess the Catholic faith, must always use the example that Christ set before us…show those wanting to persecute you the same love as those wanting to hug you.  This is a fight we must face and it doesn’t take  courage to “fight” back in anger and hate because that is the work of Satan.  True courage comes from our faith in God and that means to love all in all circumstances.  I have seen that example of courage at the St. Louis statue and I hope I can see that courage around the world.

Fourth, this will be my last post for the next week or so.  My wife and I are going on a vacation and although I’ll have a phone with me, I will not be bringing a computer with me for the first time in many years.  It is my intention to “unplug” from the tech world and plug into the beach world.  Pray that Sarah and I are able to unwind and recharge the batteries.  Pray for us as I will offer a prayer for all of you in my daily rosary.

Do something great for our Lord today – pray often and without having seen Him, believe.  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.  Have a safe and blessed 4th of July.  I do want to share with you the Psalm for today; although it is short, it is very meaningful and great way to start this holiday weekend…

Responsorial Psalm 117:1BC, 2

R.  (Mark 16:15)  Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R.    Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness for us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R.    Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

Seek good and not evil, that you may live; Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts, be with you as you claim! Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate…

Sage advice for all those “walking” the streets these days in protest; it is also sage advice for all those “commenting” on the people walking the streets.  I see nothing wrong in a peaceful protest BUT I struggle in my support of any cause that seeks violence as their means to an end.

As I was reading our Daily Readings today, for some reason it was the Gospel acclamation that grabbed my attention…The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.  This verse was taken from James’ first letter.  What I love about the USCCB’s website are the active hyperlinks they use.  Seeing that the gospel acclamation came from James’ first letter, I hit the link and read the first Chapter of James.  I am posting it here for you to read too (along with the footnotes).

1* James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings.a

Perseverance in Trial. 2b Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials,*3 for you know that the testing* of your faith produces perseverance. 4 And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.5 But if any of you lacks wisdom,* he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. c6 But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. d7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,8 since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.

9 The brother in lowly circumstances* should take pride in his high standing,e10 and the rich one in his lowliness, for he will pass away “like the flower of the field.”f11 For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass, its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes. So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Temptation. 12g Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation,* for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him.13* No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. h14 Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.

16* Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers: 17 all good giving and every perfect gift* is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. 18i He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.*

Doers of the Word. 19 Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear,* slow to speak, slow to wrath,j20 for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. k 21 Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.l

22 Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. m 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. 24 He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. 25 But the one who peers into the perfect law* of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.n

26* If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue* but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. o 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows* in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.p

* [1:1James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: a declaration of the writer’s authority for instructing the Christian communities; cf. Rom 1:1. Regarding the identity of the author, see Introduction. Dispersion: see Introduction.

* [1:2Consider it all joy…various trials: a frequent teaching of the New Testament derived from the words and sufferings of Jesus (Mt 5:1012Jn 10:11Acts 5:41).

* [1:38] The sequence of testing, perseverance, and being perfect and complete indicates the manner of attaining spiritual maturity and full preparedness for the coming of Christ (Jas 5:712; cf. 1 Pt 1:67Rom 5:35). These steps require wisdom (Jas 1:5).

* [1:5Wisdom: a gift that God readily grants to all who ask in faith and that sustains the Christian in times of trial. It is a kind of knowledge or understanding not accessible to the unbeliever or those who doubt, which gives the recipient an understanding of the real importance of events. In this way a Christian can deal with adversity with great calm and hope (cf. 1 Cor 2:612).

* [1:911] Throughout his letter (see Jas 2:54:1013165:16), the author reaffirms the teaching of Jesus that worldly prosperity is not necessarily a sign of God’s favor but can even be a hindrance to proper humility before God (cf. Lk 6:202512:162116:1931).

* [1:12Temptation: the Greek word used here is the same one used for “trials” in Jas 1:2The crown of life: in ancient Palestine, crowns or wreaths of flowers were worn at festive occasions as signs of joy and honor. In the Hellenistic world, wreaths were given as a reward to great statesmen, soldiers, athletes. Life: here means eternal life. He promised: some manuscripts read “God” or “the Lord,” while the best witnesses do not specify the subject of “promised.”

* [1:1315] It is contrary to what we know of God for God to be the author of human temptation (Jas 1:13). In the commission of a sinful act, one is first beguiled by passion (Jas 1:14), then consent is given, which in turn causes the sinful act. When sin permeates the entire person, it incurs the ultimate penalty of death (Jas 1:15).

* [1:1618] The author here stresses that God is the source of all good and of good alone, and the evil of temptation does not come from him.

* [1:17All good giving and every perfect gift may be a proverb written in hexameter. Father of lights: God is here called the Father of the heavenly luminaries, i.e., the stars, sun, and moon that he created (Gn 1:1418). Unlike orbs moving from nadir to zenith, he never changes or diminishes in brightness.

* [1:18] Acceptance of the gospel message, the word of truth, constitutes new birth (Jn 3:56) and makes the recipient the firstfruits (i.e., the cultic offering of the earliest grains, symbolizing the beginning of an abundant harvest) of a new creation; cf. 1 Cor 15:20Rom 8:23.

* [1:1925] To be quick to hear the gospel is to accept it readily and to act in conformity with it, removing from one’s soul whatever is opposed to it, so that it may take root and effect salvation (Jas 1:1921). To listen to the gospel message but not practice it is failure to improve oneself (Jas 1:2224). Only conformity of life to the perfect law of true freedom brings happiness (Jas 1:25).

* [1:25Peers into the perfect law: the image of a person doing this is paralleled to that of hearing God’s word. The perfect law applies the Old Testament description of the Mosaic law to the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings freedom.

* [1:2627] A practical application of Jas 1:22 is now made.

* [1:26] For control of the tongue, see note on Jas 3:112.

* [1:27] In the Old Testament, orphans and widows are classical examples of the defenseless and oppressed.

There is a lot to contemplate in this short chapter of the Bible.  Perseverance in Trial; Temptation; Doers of the Word – trying to follow that advice alone could take a life-time of discipline and I think that might be the point.  I can’t be good for one day a week, one week a month, one month of the year and so on.  I have to be good every second of every minute of every hour and so on.  If I’m not, then I need to acknowledge the wrong I’ve done and seek God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of whomever I’ve wronged and THEN hit the reset button and  get back to persevering, avoiding temptation and the near occasion of sin and being a doer of the Word.  And I think that would be my advice to all reading this.  We must all strive to be the good people that we were made to be because that good in us comes from God; we are all made in His image and likeness.

Do something great for our Lord today – persevere in your trials, avoid temptation and be a doer of the Word – the Word who was made flesh for us; The Word who died on the Cross to obtain our salvation; the Word who loved ALL because ALL  are made in God’s image and likeness.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your holy will which is Love and Mercy itself.

 

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles Mass during the Day Lectionary: 591

I love solemnities.  It is a day to sit back and rejoice for the good that God has done through His mighty deeds.  Today’s solemnity is no exception, but does remind us that God’s call may come with a price and it is my belief that we are seeing some of that reality take shape in our world today.  Let’s take a second to contemplate our readings for the day…

Reading 1 ACTS 12:1-11

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews
he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
–It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.–
He had him taken into custody and put in prison
under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made
to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,
Peter, secured by double chains,
was sleeping between two soldiers,
while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him
and a light shone in the cell.
He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,
“Get up quickly.”
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”
He did so.
Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
So he followed him out,
not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;
he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first guard, then the second,
and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,
which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley,
and suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
“Now I know for certain
that the Lord sent his angel
and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”

Responsorial Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R.    (5) The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R.    The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R.    The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R.    The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R.    The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Reading 2 2 TM 4:6-8, 17-18

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Alleluia MT 16:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

In our first two readings this morning we read about an imprisoned Apostle, the first one was Peter and the second was Paul.  What was their crime?  They were spreading the word of God, the message of the Gospel, to ALL.  Those in authority thought that by imprisoning these faithful Apostles they would stop the message from being proclaimed.  Little did they understand the faith of Sts. Peter and Paul and even less did they understand the power that God possesses.  The question for all of us to think about today is do we have the same faith, the same trust in God’s will that Sts. Peter and Paul had?  Each day that passes, it is becoming more concerting that our faith, especially in the Catholic church and all that it professes, is being challenged.  Am I – are you – prepared to face that challenge?

Currently in St. Louis we are facing a challenge from members of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths.  They are wanting the statue of St. Louis removed from Forest Park.  People have written graffiti on it; there has been many of loud argument for and against it in the Park and yesterday a mob chased after a young man with some violent intentions.  Again, am I ready to face this challenge?  I know my nephew Stephen was as he went to the statue to say some prayers with the people standing up for the statue and ended up “debating” with the angry protesters about the history of St. Louis IX, King of France.  (If you have twitter, just do a quick search of Stephen Schumacher and you’ll see his defense of St. Louis on Saturday at Forest Park.)

Both of my parish priests spoke of this challenge in their homilies yesterday.  They were both very passionate and spoke of the need to face those willing to harm the Church.  I thought Fr. Sieferts message was rather inspirational because he encouraged us to face this challenge armed with the same weapon that Jesus faced everyone of His persecutors with – Love.  The only thing Christ did was show Love and I believe that was Father’s message to all of us.  Don’t stand down from the challenge BUT don’t face your aggressors with hate.  Hate is the work of Satan.  Love has to be the only thing we arm ourselves with in this current battle; love will be the only thing that conquers the current hate we are experiencing.  Go back to the message being proclaimed to us in the Responsorial Psalm – it must be the driving message we proclaim to those wanting to persecute the Church today…

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Do something great for our Lord today – imitate the lives of His closest friends.  Live your life like the saint your are called to be.  Live your life for Christ and proclaim His message to all who need to hear it.  God is love for us and so we are called to be love for others.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments, we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will which is Love and Mercy itself.

Rise up, shrill in the night, at the beginning of every watch; Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your little ones Who faint from hunger at the corner of every street.

Everywhere I turn these days there is unrest.  We are a world that literally seems to be split into two factions – those who believe and those who are hell bent to destroy those who don’t believe.  Conservative/Liberal; Christian/Atheist; Black/White; Mask/Non-Mask; Trump/Biden; Democracy/Socialist…we are truly a world at odds with each other.  I write this next statement not of my own wisdom but from the Gospel itself…WE MUST ALL STOP THE HATE!  God’s light shines on the good and the bad; God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust.  We have all been made in the image and likeness of God.  So if that is true, then why the unrest; why all the turmoil?  Because running amongst God’s light and rain is Satan.  Satan was there to divide God from man in the beginning and Satan is still here dividing us now.  I can write this confidently and without hesitation – those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.  God gives us this message, this proverbial lesson,  everyday as He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in the stories we find handed down to us in the Bible.  Take a look at Today’s Readings and see if you can’t find some correlation to what’s going on in the world today.

Reading 1 LAM 2:2, 10-14, 18-19

The Lord has consumed without pity
all the dwellings of Jacob;
He has torn down in his anger
the fortresses of daughter Judah;
He has brought to the ground in dishonor
her king and her princes.

On the ground in silence sit
the old men of daughter Zion;
They strew dust on their heads
and gird themselves with sackcloth;
The maidens of Jerusalem
bow their heads to the ground.

Worn out from weeping are my eyes,
within me all is in ferment;
My gall is poured out on the ground
because of the downfall of the daughter of my people,
As child and infant faint away
in the open spaces of the town.

In vain they ask their mothers,
“Where is the grain?”
As they faint away like the wounded
in the streets of the city,
And breathe their last
in their mothers’ arms.

To what can I liken or compare you,
O daughter Jerusalem?
What example can I show you for your comfort,
virgin daughter Zion?
For great as the sea is your downfall;
who can heal you?

Your prophets had for you
false and specious visions;
They did not lay bare your guilt,
to avert your fate;
They beheld for you in vision
false and misleading portents.

Cry out to the Lord;
moan, O daughter Zion!
Let your tears flow like a torrent
day and night;
Let there be no respite for you,
no repose for your eyes.

Rise up, shrill in the night,
at the beginning of every watch;
Pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord;
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your little ones
Who faint from hunger
at the corner of every street.

Responsorial Psalm 74:1B-2, 3-5, 6-7, 20-21

R. (19b) Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
Why, O God, have you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your flock which you built up of old,
the tribe you redeemed as your inheritance,
Mount Zion, where you took up your abode.
R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
Turn your steps toward the utter ruins;
toward all the damage the enemy has done in the sanctuary.
Your foes roar triumphantly in your shrine;
they have set up their tokens of victory.
They are like men coming up with axes to a clump of trees.
R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
With chisel and hammer they hack at all the paneling of the sanctuary.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
the place where your name abides they have razed and profaned.
R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
Look to your covenant,
for the hiding places in the land and the plains are full of violence.
May the humble not retire in confusion;
may the afflicted and the poor praise your name.
R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.

Alleluia MT 8:17

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 8:5-17

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven,
but the children of the Kingdom
will be driven out into the outer darkness,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion,
“You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”
And at that very hour his servant was healed.

Jesus entered the house of Peter,
and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.
He touched her hand, the fever left her,
and she rose and waited on him.

When it was evening, they brought him many
who were possessed by demons,
and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick,
to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:

He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

So after reading and contemplating God’s word today, I will take away this lesson and try to live by it everyday of my life.  Jesus will take away my infirmities and bear my  diseases.  He will do the same for you; all we have to do is trust in the Lord and let Him guide our lives.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  If we truly want peace in the world; if we want to wash away the stain of prejudice and racism, there is only one way to do this – let Christ lead and us follow.  The only way to end the divisions caused by Satan, the divisions that are so evident in our world today, is to trust in the one who conquered Satan’s greatest tool – death – and trust in God alone.  God loves the just.  God also loves the sinner.  I have to believe that because I am a sinner and only through the Love and Forgiveness of God can I be saved from all that I have done wrong.  If I can be saved, so can you.  If we can be saved, so can everyone in this world – just or unjust.

Do something great for our Lord today – pray for your salvation; pray for my salvation; pray that all divisions soon cease.  Do not let Satan reign over us.  Lord, we are not worthy that You should enter under our roof but only say the word and our souls shall be healed.

 

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will which is Love and Mercy itself.

 

My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.

I will be brief this morning.  I apologize for not posting everyday as I have in the past, but it is for reasons of health that this now happens.  I wasn’t getting much sleep in the recent past and now try to get a minimum of 6-1/2 hours each night.  Some nights I get more, but with only so much time in a day, somethings have to give a little.  I hope you all understand.

I have come to believe we are given a message everyday of our lives through our readings at Mass.  I believe this is why Mother Church finds it so important to celebrate Mass throughout the day.  It was once said with all the Masses that are said throughout the World in any given day, it is a continual praise of God each and everyday as it should be.  Back to our message from today.

There is much turmoil going on not just in our town or our country but the entire world.  I believe a lot of this comes from two things.  A lack of self esteem and from governments/leaders who put down anyone in opposition to them.  Many people just don’t see their true worth anymore in the world today.  That is why I find today’s Psalm so empowering to each and every human who walks among us in our world.

Responsorial Psalm 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15

R.    (14)  I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R.    I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R.    I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R.    I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Here is the Psalm in its entirety (along with its footnotes)…

 

1 For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

LORD, you have probed me, you know me:

2 you know when I sit and stand;*a

you understand my thoughts from afar.

3 You sift through my travels and my rest;

with all my ways you are familiar.

4 Even before a word is on my tongue,

LORD, you know it all.

5 Behind and before you encircle me

and rest your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

far too lofty for me to reach.b

7 Where can I go from your spirit?

From your presence, where can I flee?

8 If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;

if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.c

9 If I take the wings of dawn*

and dwell beyond the sea,*

10 Even there your hand guides me,

your right hand holds me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,

and night shall be my light”*

12 Darkness is not dark for you,

and night shines as the day.

Darkness and light are but one.d

II

13 You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.e

14 I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

15 My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.*

16 Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;f

my days were shaped, before one came to be.

III

17 How precious to me are your designs, O God;

how vast the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands;

when I complete them, still you are with me.g

19 When you would destroy the wicked, O God,

the bloodthirsty depart from me!h

20 Your foes who conspire a plot against you

are exalted in vain.

IV

21 Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you?

Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?i

22 With fierce hatred I hate them,

enemies I count as my own.

23 Probe me, God, know my heart;

try me, know my thoughts.j

24 See if there is a wicked path in me;

lead me along an ancient path.*

* [Psalm 139] A hymnic meditation on God’s omnipresence and omniscience. The psalmist is keenly aware of God’s all-knowing gaze (Ps 139:16), of God’s presence in every part of the universe (Ps 139:712), and of God’s control over the psalmist’s very self (Ps 139:1316). Summing up Ps 139:1161718 express wonder. There is only one place hostile to God’s rule—wicked people. The psalmist prays to be removed from their company (Ps 139:1924).

* [139:2When I sit and stand: in all my physical movement.

* [139:9Take the wings of dawn: go to the extremities of the east. Beyond the sea: uttermost bounds of the west; the sea is the Mediterranean.

* [139:11Night shall be my light: night to me is what day is to others.

* [139:15The depths of the earth: figurative language for the womb, stressing the hidden and mysterious operations that occur there.

* [139:24Lead me along an ancient path: the manner of living of our ancestors, who were faithful to God’s will, cf. Jer 6:16.

a. [139:22 Kgs 19:27Jb 12:3.

b. [139:6Ps 131:1.

Do something great for our Lord today – know that you are wonderfully made; we are all wonderfully made – in the image and likeness of God Himself.  So chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and kindness.  Hey, that sounds awfully familiar.  As my dear friend Kennedy would say – be a child of God.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your holy will which is Love and Mercy itself.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

Don’t judge me man!  I’ve haven’t heard that line since my last post.  I’m going to use today as a “cheat” day and post for you some other thoughts on this.  First, the footnotes that offer a little more clarity on our Gospel this morning and then the beautiful thoughts of Bishop Barren.

* [7:112] In Mt 7:1 Matthew returns to the basic traditional material of the sermon (Lk 6:37384142). The governing thought is the correspondence between conduct toward one’s fellows and God’s conduct toward the one so acting.

* [7:1] This is not a prohibition against recognizing the faults of others, which would be hardly compatible with Mt 7:56 but against passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of one’s own faults.

* [7:5Hypocrite: the designation previously given to the scribes and Pharisees is here given to the Christian disciple who is concerned with the faults of another and ignores his own more serious offenses.

From Bishop Barren’s daily post…

Friends, Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel is one of the most psychologically and spiritually insightful remarks in the New Testament. Let’s face it: a favorite pastime of most human beings is criticism of others.

We delight in pointing out the shortcomings, moral failings, and annoying tendencies of our neighbors. This is, of course, a function of pride and egotism: the more I put someone else down, the more elevated I feel.

But it is also, oddly, a magnificent means of turning a mirror on ourselves, to see what usually remains unseen. Why, we ought to ask, do we find precisely this sin of others particularly annoying? Why does that trait or sin of a confrere especially gall us?

Undoubtedly, Jesus implies, because it reminds us of a similar failing in ourselves. I remember a retreat director asking each of us to call to mind a person that we found hard to take and then to recount in detail the characteristics that made the person so obnoxious to us. Then he recommended that we go back to our room and ask God to forgive those same faults in ourselves. His words were as unnerving and as illuminating as these words of Jesus.

Do something great for the Lord today – remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your holy will which is Love and Mercy itself.

Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety…

How many of you read today’s Gospel and thought to yourself – “Boy – I can relate to that?”.  St. Mary and St. Joseph seem to have lost the Savior of the world.  I think I might too be feeling a bit anxious.  My wife and I too have been there and done that – more than once.

My Uncle Bob had come to visit us while we were living in Decatur, IL and we decided to go out to eat one night.  We loaded everyone in the van and took off for our favorite Chinese restaurant.  My uncle, being the gentleman he is, held the door open for us and as we all filed into the restaurant (me being the last one through), he said to me “I only counted 5 children Jerry, but I could be wrong.”.  Sarah and I took a quick headcount and realized our 3rd child wasn’t amongst us.  I ran back to the car and took off for the house and as I pulled into the driveway, chastising myself the whole way there as to what kind of a father would do this, my daughter was sitting on the porch swing, arms crossed and red faced.  I don’t think she was scared but boy was she HOT.  I got an earful on the way back to the restaurant.  That is example one – there are more.  Hey – don’t judge me.

My next story fasts forwards us a couple of years and we had moved back to St. Louis BUT had gone back to Decatur for a weekend trip to see some old friends.  We were staying in a hotel for this trip and we heading up to go to a local watering hole to meet some old friends I had worked with in Decatur.  Loaded up the van – did a head count (because you can never be to safe) and left for the restaurant.  Thank goodness for cell phones.  We were sitting in the restaurant, talking and getting ready to order our lunch and Sarah’s cell phone rang.  It was the person working the front desk at the hotel.  It seems we left one of our children (Ruth) back at the hotel and they were curious if they should send her back to the room, call a cab for her or maybe we could come back and get her.  I excused myself from the table and drove back to get my daughter.  Example two; lecture from child number two.

Twice, eh.  I could go on – Mary and the Big Wheel; Richard and the nap between the bed and the wall; Walmart; all great stories but my point is Sarah and I can relate to the stress of not doing a proper head count – just like St. Mary and St. Joseph in today’s Gospel

Gospel LK 2:41-51

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

I love it when the Gospel comes to life for me like it did today.  It gives me hope that when people trusted to safeguard the Savior of the world can have days like Sarah and I – well that just gives me hope.

I would like to highlight one other point made in the Gospel and this gets rather personal for me and my children.  Each one of my children is a blessing and an honor from God and I love them dearly and would do anything to make sure that they stay on the path to God’s kingdom.  I know some of them read this Blog and I hope those that do pass this on to the others who don’t.  My children are my life and it is through them I am shown the love of the Father each and everyday of my life.  So what is the point I want to highlight from the Gospel?  It is this.  Jesus was the Savior of the World.  Jesus was the Word made Flesh who came to save us from our sin.  After St. Mary and St. Joseph found Him and told them of their anxiety, the Savior of the world did this…He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them…AND WAS OBEDIENT TO THEM!!!  Now that is a child you can be proud of – one who was obedient to His parents. 😉

Do something great for our Lord today – celebrate Father’s Day this weekend.  Kids, tell your Dad how much you love him; wive’s, give your spouse a hug for being there to help you.  But more than all of that, Dad’s tell your children and wife what a blessing they are in your life.  And in celebrating this day, let’s not forget two others.  St. Joseph, the human mentor for all of the father’s – a man who sacrificed his entire life to be the guardian of the Son of God.  And God, the Father – the Creator – of us all.  Without God, we ARE nothing; we HAVE nothing.  I woke up this morning to this Psalm running through my head and now I know why…

How can I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?  His cup of Salvation I will take up and I will call upon the name of the Lord.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you.  I hope your day is blessed with good things and plenty.  Glory and Praise to our God, who alone gives light to our days.  Many are the blessings He bears to those who trust in His ways…(where have I heard that before)…

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments, we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your holy will which is Love and Mercy itself.

 

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.

I have been doing this blog for a number of years now and it has always been my hope that the people who read this will (1) be inspired and deepen their relationship with God and (2) reach out if they are in need of prayer.  Well, after reading today’s Gospel and Bishop Barren’s reflection, I am writing this today to ask for your prayers.  Let’s read the Gospel and Bishop Barren’s reflection…

Gospel MT 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Bishop Barren’s Reflection…

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus prescribes the essential disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Let’s focus on fasting and almsgiving.

The appetites for food and drink are so pressing, so elemental, that, unless they are quelled and disciplined, they will simply take over the soul. They are like children who clamor constantly for attention and who, if indulged, will in short order run the house.

Therefore, if the passion for God is to be awakened, the more immediately pressing desires must be muted, and this is the purpose of fasting. We go hungry and thirsty so that the deepest hunger and thirst might be felt. In a way, fasting is like the “calming of the monkey mind” effected by the rosary: both are means of settling the superficial mind that darts from preoccupation to preoccupation.

But food and drink are not the only objects of concupiscent desire. Material things and wealth are also ready substitutes for the passion for God. Thus, a kind of fasting from what money can buy is an important practice. How often Jesus recommends that his disciples give to the poor, and how often throughout the Christian tradition has almsgiving been emphasized.

For years now I have struggled with my weight, to the point where it is causing physical complications – high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, gout.  I have tried countless diets and after having lost countless pounds, I feel like the character in the movie The Santa Clause who loses weight one day only to wake up the next and find that he has gained it (and more) back.  It’s frustrating.  I have recently started a program through my employer and although I’ve lost some weight, I am not at all excited about the weight I’ve lost.  I am a stubborn man though and I will not give up on the program; but I do need help.  So this morning I’m humbling asking for your prayers to assist me in this struggle.  I find this hard and uncomfortable to share with you but my physical efforts at this point aren’t enough.  If you could offer up a simple prayer for my determination and efforts to stay on track and to help me fight this demon of mine, it would be greatly appreciated.

Do something great for our Lord today – trust in Him.  Give your life over to His and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the strength of His Son in order that His will for you be your true desire in life.  God is the way; God is the truth; God is the Light.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith. (and one less helping at dinner)

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.  (Oh, how I wish…)

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean…(and thinner)

But you man of God, chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love , patience and gentleness (and a substitute for salt).  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly on us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments (of trying to lose weight) we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will with is Love and Mercy (and fat free) itself.

PS   pardon the little blurbs throughout the credo’s this morning – humor gets me through a lot of stress!

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

Yesterday we celebrated two significant solemnities – one that defines the Church and one that defines the Country.  Yesterday, in the Church, we celebrated Corpus Christi Sunday – the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ; our Country also celebrated Flag Day.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress took a break from writing the Articles of Confederation and passed a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

So, we have the age old question – is it right to combine the “Church and the State”.  Let me post for you an excerpt from an article that my wife sent me from a website that is put together by William J. Federer.  Take a minute to read and reflect on the message being given to us in this article.

That for the sins of a people God may suffer the best government to be corrupted, or entirely dissolved …
Nothing but a general reformation can give ground to hope that the public happiness will be restored.”
“The kingdom of Israel was brought to destruction, because its iniquities were full … because there remained no hope of reformation …
Their government degenerated in proportion as their vices increased, till few faithful men were left in any public offices …
… At length, when they were delivered up for seventy years into the hands of the king of Babylon, scarcely any remains of their original excellent civil polity appeared among them …”
“When a government is in its prime … virtue prevails — every thing is managed with justice, prudence, and frugality …
But vice will increase with the riches and glory of an empire;
and this gradually tends to corrupt the constitution, and in time bring on its dissolution …
… This may be considered not only as the natural effect of vice, but a righteous judgment of heaven,
especially upon a nation which has been favored with the blessing of religion and liberty, and is guilty of undervaluing them;
and eagerly going into the gratification of every lust …”
“They were a sinful nation … who had forsaken the Lord; and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger …
Their princes were rebellious against God … seizing the property of the subjects … and robbing the public treasury.
Every one loved gifts … they were influenced in every thing by bribery … they even justified and encouraged the murder of innocent persons to support their lawless power …
… And God, in righteous judgment, left them to run into all this excess of vice to their own destruction, because they had forsaken Him …
The public greatly suffered, and the people groaned, and wished for better rulers and better management.
… But in vain they hoped for a change …
when the spirit of religion was gone, and the infection of vice was become universal …
The whole body being so corrupted, there could be no rational prospect of any great reformation in the state, but rather of its ruin …”
“We must keep our eyes fixed on the supreme government of the ETERNAL KING, as directing all events …
… Yet if a general reformation of religion and morals had taken place, and they had turned to God from all their sins —
if they had again recovered the true spirit of their religion, God, by the gracious interpositions of His providence, would soon have found out methods to restore the former virtue of the state, and again have given them men of wisdom and integrity …
… We have rebelled against God.
We have lost the true spirit of Christianity, though we retain the outward profession and form of it.
We have neglected … the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy commands and institutions …
Their hearts are far from Him.
By many, the Gospel is corrupted into a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism …”
“Let us repent and implore the divine mercy. Let us amend our ways and our doings, reform everything that has been provoking the Most High and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interpositions of Providence for our deliverance …
… May the Lord hear us in this day of trouble … ‘
We will rejoice in His salvation, and in the name of our God, we will set up our banners! …
Wherefore is all this evil upon us? Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord?
Can we say we are innocent of crimes against God?
No, surely it becomes us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us in due time …
… If God be for us, who can be against us?
The enemy has reproached us for calling on His name and professing our trust in Him.
They have made a mock of our solemn fasts and every appearance of serious Christianity in the land …
May our land be purged from all its sins!
Then the Lord will be our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble, and we will have no reason to be afraid, though thousands of enemies set themselves against us round about.”
What a beautiful homily I received yesterday on the occasion that Corpus Christi and Flag Day were honored on the same day.  Whoever penned that was truly moved by all the turmoil going on in America today.  Racism, rioting, a Country divided and a Country that gives every indication to be moving away from God and the true message of God, which is to love all of His creation.  Its seems at this point in our history, we don’t believe that all men are created equal or that we are all created His image and likeness.  If you would like to get a hold of this man who wrote this “homily”, it may take a little effort because he does not have an email address, a twitter account or even a snail mail address.  The man is no longer with us here on earth.  This homily was given to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress six weeks after the Battles of Lexington and Concord by Harvard President Samuel Langdon.  It brings to mind again the statement, those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.
Do something great for our Lord today – pray that it doesn’t take another 40 years of wandering in our proverbial dessert to know that without God as our stronghold, we who are a stiff-necked nation will remain divided and will eventually fail – another lesson from history that we must understand.  Only in God will my soul be at rest; only in God will our Nation be at peace.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.
But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments we may note despair nor become despondent but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
And one more prayer to join in unity with the Diocese of Allentown in an effort to end racism…
Image

I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Looking for a good read?  My wife is always imploring me to read books that she has read and found both inspirational and challenging.  She just finished Immortal Combat by Fr. Dwight Longenecker and I’ve started reading it now too.  The Gospels these past few days and continuing into next week have been what I would call a good read, Matthew’s 5th Chapter of his Gospel.  I am posting it here in this hyperlink for you to have quick access to…just take a quick look at the topics discussed in this Chapter.

The Sermon on the Mount.  The Similes of Salt and Light.  Teaching About the Law.  Teaching About Anger.  Teaching About Adultery.  Teaching About Divorce.  Teaching About Oaths.  Teaching About Retaliation.  Love of Enemies.

Sermons?  Teaching?  Sounds like exciting stuff, eh?  Actually, with everything going on in our world, I believe it just doesn’t happen to be chance that these readings are showing up daily for us to contemplate.  God has a plan and talks to us daily, we just need to recognize that message.  Go back to the 1st reading from yesterday…

Reading 1 1 KGS 19:9A, 11-16

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave, where he took shelter.
But the word of the LORD came to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?”
He replied, “I have been most zealous for the LORD,
the God of hosts.
But the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant,
torn down your altars,
and put your prophets to the sword.
I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.”
The LORD said to him,
“Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus.
When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram.
Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel,
and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah,
as prophet to succeed you.”

After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.  God didn’t come to Elijah through a strong and heavy wind or a booming earthquake or the heat of a fire, but in tiny whisper.  How many times do we look for God in the earthquake or the fire but miss His message because it came to us in a whisper.  Our Gospels this week are that tiny whisper in which He is speaking to us, teaching us.

Monday:  When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.  He began to teach them…

Tuesday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?

Wednesday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

Thursday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.                        You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.  But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…

Friday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.  But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Saturday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.  But I say to you, do not swear at all…

Next Monday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.  When someone strikes you on your right cheek…

Next Tuesday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

Next Wednesday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

Next Thursday:  Jesus said to his disciples:  “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them.  Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

This is how you are to pray:

‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Whisper a prayer in the morning,
Whisper a prayer at noon;
Whisper a prayer in the ev’ning,
To keep your heart in tune.

God answers prayer in the morning,
God answers prayer at noon;
God answers prayer in the ev’ning,
To keep your heart in tune.

Jesus may come in the morning,
Jesus may come at noon;
Jesus may come in the ev’ning,
So keep your heart in tune.

Do something great for our Lord today – find Him in the whispers of your life.  Follow the lessons He reveals and teaches us in the Gospels.  They are the true Word, they are the Truth.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.